As the weather is getting hotter, and my weeks are getting busier! This week was packed full of constituent meetings and events in the district, with plenty of Senate business and legislation as well.
This week I was named to the legislature’s Holyoke Soldiers’ Home Oversight Committee that will be tasked with making recommendations for changes at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. We need to do everything we can to make sure that the Home has the support, resources, and funding it needs. The committee’s work will involve looking at all aspects of the facility, including levels of staffing and medical care, and will make recommendations on infrastructure and administrative changes. I will continue to advocate for the Home wherever possible, and hope the work we accomplish on the committee will substantively improve the home for years to come.
Earlier this week, I spent the early afternoon at Lorraine’s Soup Kitchen & Pantry in Chicopee. Lorraine’s is an amazing organization in our community, and has provided resources to those struggling with food insecurity for over 30 years. At Lorraine’s I was lucky enough to have Imani, a high school student volunteer, as my drill instructor and supervisor as I helped prepare grocery packages. Imani expressed interest in becoming an attorney someday, and I’m so inspired to know there are youth like her in our community. Shortly after, I had a call with Secretary Sudders of the Executive Office Health and Human Services to receive updates on the Commonwealth’s unemployment and workforce numbers. Later that afternoon I continued my listening tour of the district and had a meeting with Mayor Morse of Holyoke. Among other things, we had an extensive conversation on the impact that COVID-19 has had on mental health issues, and what the best path forward for recovery is.
Wednesday morning, I visited the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Westfield. I was honored to present Jenalyse Ayala, the Club’s Youth of the Year, with an official citation from the Massachusetts State Senate! I spoke with Bo Sullivan and William Parks, two of the Club’s great leaders, about how things have been going during the pandemic, what changes have been made to their programs, and how plans for the fall are shaping up. After a virtual Senate Caucus with my colleagues, I then had a number of constituent meetings in the afternoon, including a great conversation with members of GreenMoneyMA and Climate Action Now about climate and carbon legislation. I am proud to have signed on to my colleague Senator Pacheco’s recent letter urging the legislature to pass a climate bill before the end of session.
Thursday morning, I drove to Easthampton to present Captain Chris Patnode with a Senate citation in honor of his last shift. Captain Patnode has dedicated so many years to the community of Easthampton, and we are lucky to have him as part of our law enforcement. Thursday afternoon, the Senate convened in formal session. During this session, S.2829 was passed, a bill that will support over 200 craft brewers in Massachusetts, by creating a pathway out of harmful brewery-wholesaler relationships and establishing a process to compensate wholesalers for a terminated agreement. Additionally, S.2835 was passed, a bill expands EMS worker authority to help to prevent death and disability from strokes. This bill would allow EMS workers to take a
patient to the hospital best suited for their condition, instead of the closest one which might lack the necessary expertise and resources. With little time left in this legislative session, the Senate will be meeting rapidly and consistently throughout next week to get many other important legislative matters across the finish line.
On Friday morning, I had a meeting with SolaBlock, a tech start-up in Easthampton that is pursuing exciting advancements in solar power technology. They are creating their products locally in Western Mass, and are hoping to help the push to net zero carbon emissions. Later in the morning, I toured Victory Theatre in Holyoke, and in the afternoon I had a meeting alongside State Representative Vega with Girls Inc., an organization in the Pioneer Valley that focuses on empowering girls and providing them with educational resources and mentorship. I capped off the day by touring Westfield-Barnes Regional Airport, where I learned more about how the Airport operates.
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 phone: (413) 572-3920.
John C. Velis