As I write to you, we are entering the final week of July, and I am reflecting on all that our team has accomplished over the first two summer months. I have had the pleasure of meeting with constituents and elected officials alike, attending and speaking at various community gatherings, and advocating for causes and bills that I believe to be essential to our Commonwealth. Although some of these meetings have been held virtually, I have been thankful for the opportunity to attend many in-person gatherings as well. With patience, we will eventually return to a state of everyday life uninhibited by the pandemic.
I began this past week by meeting with MassDOT administrators and Southwick officials for a discussion of the current state of transportation systems in Southwick. On Tuesday, I joined state legislators for a meeting with Judges and Officers at the Roderick Ireland Courthouse in Springfield to discuss the courthouse’s need for repairs. The deficiencies in the building, which include ventilation problems and mold, are putting the health of those in the building in jeopardy. It is completely unfair to expect members of our community to work under these concerning conditions, and we must devote time and attention to rectifying this problem.
On Wednesday, the Senate voted unanimously to pass a supplemental budget which will provide much-needed additional funding to programs across the Commonwealth. This week the Baker-Polito Administration also announced construction grants to municipalities through the Shared Streets & Spaces program. I am happy to announce that Holyoke received $73,100 to install pedestrian safety beacons to better serve recreational and open spaces. Southampton also received $123,644 for new sidewalk to improve safety and walkability among key locations, including Town Hall, the Senior Center, and the library.
Later on Wednesday, my colleague Senator Finegold met with me to talk about Holyoke Medical Center. Senator Finegold has several community health centers in his Lawrence district, and we discussed how we can collaborate to support these smaller health centers in our respective districts.
On Thursday, I attended the Easthampton Fire Department swearing in ceremony for new firefighters. I want to extend my congratulations and appreciation for these new firefighters. You provide a vital service for your community, and we are extremely grateful for your decision to serve.
Lastly, I would like to provide an update on the work I have been doing as Vice-Chair of the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery and as part of my Opioid Policy Fellowship with the National Council of State Legislatures. It is very important to me to be as informed as possible on every aspect of fighting the opioid crisis, from both a medical and legislative standpoint. To further this goal, I have been meeting with experts in their field in order to learn all that I can.
On Tuesday, I met with the RIZE Foundation to discuss Opioid Use Disorders. It was great to be able to learn from this admirable foundation and exchange ideas with regards to how we can take more steps to promote harm reduction practices in Massachusetts. On Wednesday, I conversed with Dr. Robert Valuck from the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention. We discussed steps that Colorado has taken in order to make medically assisted treatment more
available and ways in which our own state could learn from them. I am always thankful for these conversations as well as for the experts’ willingness to take time out of their days to share their thoughts and knowledge. I am hopeful that Massachusetts can continue to increase accessibility to resources for those suffering with substance use disorders. It will truly save lives.
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 my email: [email protected] or by phone: (413)-572-3920, and you can find me online at senatorjohnvelis.com, where you can also sign up for my newsletter.