I want to wish a happy belated Father’s Day to all the fathers and father figures out there. I hope that everyone was able to enjoy last Sunday and took advantage of the beautiful weather.
This week, I attended an Opioid Policy Fellowship Webinar with the National Council of State Legislatures. The conversation was centered around how other states are taking action to deal with substance use and what we can learn from them here in Massachusetts. As a part of this continued work, I also spent some time on Tuesday with Dr. Sarah Wakeman, Medical Director of the Substance Use Disorders Initiative at Massachusetts General Hospital.
On Monday, I met with Representative Duffy and Spiros Hatiras, President and CEO of Holyoke Medical Center. We discussed how the center is adapting to more normal operations due to the decrease in COVID cases across the state. If you have not had the chance to get vaccinated yet, please consider visiting vaxfinder.mass.gov to find a vaccine location near you. It’s important for me to stay connected with our health care system and I was fortunate this week to also meet with the Massachusetts Nurses Association to discuss their legislative priorities.
With in-person gatherings starting again in our communities, I was glad spend some time at district events this week. On Thursday, I was in Agawam to attend the ribbon cutting of the Morgan Sullivan Bridge project with Lt. Governor Polito, Senator Gomez, Mayor Sapelli and MassDOT officials. On Monday evening, I was fortunate to be at the retirement party for Southwick Police Chief Bishop. His service to the Southwick community is truly incredible and I wish him all the best in retirement. Later that evening I made it over to Granville for their Select Board meeting.
This week I was also fortunate to attend and speak at several Chamber of Commerce Meetings around the district. On Tuesday I gave a legislative update to the West of the River Chamber which consists of Agawam and West Springfield businesses. On Friday I was the keynote speaker at the Greater Chicopee Chamber’s meeting and then later joined the Holyoke Chamber of Commerce for a great discussion on workforce training and workforce obstacles.
On Thursday in formal session, the State Senate passed a critical amendment to change the line-of-duty death benefits standard for police officers. Many of you undoubtedly heard of the recent death of Worcester Police Officer Manny Familia, who died earlier this month trying to save a drowning boy who also passed away. This tragedy exposed a glaring loophole in the current benefits standards where pension benefits are only given to a police officer’s spouse if the officer is killed by assault or in a car crash. Drowning is not included, and in order for Officer Familia’s family to receive benefits, this loophole must be closed. Officer Familia selflessly and courageously put himself in harm’s way to try to save the life of a human being. The fact is police officers throughout our state do this on a daily basis, and when a tragedy occurs, it is our duty as a Commonwealth to take care of the family they leave behind. Passing this amendment was an absolute necessity, for Officer Familia’s family and for all the families of police officers in our state.
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.