Punxatawney Phil, our trusty groundhog, was unfortunately right. This last week was even snowier than the first week of February. Hopefully with March around the corner, Spring is on its way.
This week, like the last couple, has been filled with zoom meetings after zoom meetings as the Legislative Session fully begins. Hopefully, we can resume normal life relatively soon as vaccine rollout progresses. If you’d like to stay up to date with the vaccine rollout info, visit my website at https://senatorjohnvelis.com/covid-19-updates/ to sign up for our weekly COVID-19 updates.
On Monday, I met with John Hurst from the Massachusetts Retailers’ Association. He and I had a very productive conversation on how the Massachusetts legislature can aid retail businesses in the Commonwealth. Retail has been one of the worst hit sectors of our economy during the COVID-19 pandemic and we need to do everything in our powers to help our local businesses recover.
Later that afternoon, I joined the Gateway cities caucus for another virtual Zoom meeting. A gateway city is a medium sized, semi-economically independent city (Westfield, Holyoke, Chicopee) that serves as an intermediary between more rural towns (Southwick, Russell) and larger metros (Springfield, Boston). Gateway cities are in very unique position economically and as such, they have their own specific needs that larger metros and smaller towns do not need to address. I along with legislators from other Gateway cities had a very productive discussion on how the Legislature can best address these types of cities’ needs.
This Tuesday marked another hearing for the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home Oversight committee. The committee heard testimonies from the Board of Trustees, Secretary of the Department of Veteran Services, Cheryl Poppe, and Secretary of Health and Humans Services, Marylou Sudders. The purpose of these hearings is to find out the underlying institutional causes that led to the tragedy at the Home last spring and the committee will make our official recommendations to the Senate by March 31st.
Later in the week, I met with members of the Association for Behavioral Healthcare. Everyone has been hit hard by the pandemic, but residents with substance use disorders have been faced with a new set of challenges. Meeting with this organization will help me better identify legislative solutions I will be able to bring forth as a state Senator. After that, along with other Western Massachusetts legislators, I met with the Commissioner of the Department of Early Education and Care to discuss COVID-19 testing to ensure our children and families are as safe as possible in our region.
Recently, I also started sending quarterly newsletters from my office that can be sent right to your email inbox. If you would like to sign up for the newsletter, head to www.senatorjohnvelis.com/quarterly-newsletter/
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.