Velis: Busy week with new school talks, bail reform hearing



By John Velis

Hello, everyone!

I hope you’re all doing well. It’s hard to believe we’re already halfway through October … Halloween is just around the corner!

I began the week with a hearing for the Joint Committee of the Judiciary. I am a committee member, but also testified during this hearing on my bill, S1153, An Act to Safely Reduce the Use of Cash Bail. We all understand the issues associated with cash bail in our commonwealth’s judicial system. As we work towards moving our commonwealth away from reliance on cash bail, though, we must ensure that we are doing so in a safe way. By updating the list of “dangerousness-eligible” crimes, making it a penalty to break court conditions, and empowering police to monitor court conditions, this bill will allow our court system to reduce the use of cash bail while ensuring that dangerous individuals remain in jail. I am looking forward to working with committee members on this legislation as it moves forward.

On Tuesday, I met with Westfield’s school superintendent, Stefan Czaporowski, and local officials to discuss the new elementary school that the city is looking to build, and possible funding from the Massachusetts School Building Authority. It was a great conversation and I look forward to working with local officials as we move this project forward.

I began my Wednesday morning in Westfield for the grand opening of the Building Futures Child Care Expansion at the Greater Westfield Boys & Girls Club. This expansion will increase programming spots for so many children and families and is a result of a strong collaboration between state, local and community partners. Later on in the day, I joined some of my Western Mass. colleagues for a meeting with the Connecticut River Cleanup Committee and local water department officials. It is critical that our sewer and water systems function properly, and we discussed how ARPA funding may be helpful.

On Friday, I joined Holyoke City officials and community members to celebrate the beginning of construction of South Holyoke Homes, a 12-unit affordable housing building on South East Street that has been made possible with funds from the American Rescue Plan Act. It is so important that we continue to develop affordable housing units for our communities, and I was glad to attend the event. Later in the day, I had a virtual meeting with the TreeHouse Foundation in Easthampton, a community organization that works to support foster and adopted children throughout our entire region. I visited the organization over the summer and know how invaluable the youth programs are firsthand. I look forward to supporting their mission and work.

Today is Doors Open Holyoke! This is a rare opportunity to discover architectural and cultural gems in Holyoke and see behind doors that are rarely open to the public, all for free. I am thrilled to be partnering with Rep. Duffy to sponsor free rides on Holyoke’s historic Merry-Go-Round from 2 to 4 p.m., one of many events taking place. Check out www.doorsopenholyoke.com for a full list of activities.

As always, if there is anything I can do to assist you, please never hesitate to reach out to my office. I can be reached at [email protected] or 413-572-3920, and you can find me online at senatorjohnvelis.com, where you can also sign up for my newsletter.


John Velis, D-Westfield, represents Westfield, Southwick and all or part of nine other cities and towns in the state Senate.

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