Opinion Editorial

Velis: SPEED Act will support military families



By John Velis

I hope you’re all doing well and have been able to enjoy some of the nice weather we had this week. This was an especially busy and exciting week in the Legislature as my bill, An Act Relative to Military Spouse-Licensure Portability, Education and Enrollment of Dependents, unanimously passed the Senate on Thursday afternoon. Otherwise known as the SPEED Act, the bill supports military families who relocate to the commonwealth, and I was proud to speak on the Senate floor and see it pass.

Massachusetts has always been a leader in terms of caring for active servicemembers and veterans, but I strongly believe we need to do more for the families of servicemembers who also call Massachusetts home. Military families move an average of 6-9 times throughout their servicemember’s career, and this uprooting can lead to academic gaps for children and periods of time for spouses where they are without a source of income.

The SPEED Act speeds up the professional licensure process for military spouses to ensure they can continue their careers, allows for advanced and virtual enrollment for military children to resolve disruptions in education, provides in-state tuition continuity for military-connected college students, and establishes a Purple Star Campus designation to identify public schools that show a major commitment to military families.

Anyone who has worn the uniform or has a family member who has worn the uniform knows that the sacrifice of military service goes far beyond the individual servicemember. This bill is our commonwealth taking care of our thousands of military families, and I am grateful to all my colleagues for supporting it. Now the bill will go to the House of Representatives for their consideration.

Although the SPEED Act kept me busy in Boston in this week, I still had a number of events in the district as well. On Tuesday, I joined Local 104 for the exciting ribbon-cutting of their new state-of-the-art training facility, Union Hall, on Westfield Road in Holyoke! Back in 2018, the union ran out of space in Chicopee to accommodate the amount of new interest in trades. The new building in Holyoke has a training facility for hands-on indoor instruction, welding shops, and classrooms for the evening apprenticeship program available for individuals who work during the day. Expanding trade and skills programs in our region is so important and it was great to be a part of this exciting ribbon cutting.

I began Wednesday morning at the West of the River Chamber of Commerce’s legislative breakfast. It was great to see businesses from throughout Agawam and West Springfield in attendance, and share updates about the Legislature’s work to support small businesses. This wasn’t my only Chamber meeting of the week, as I also joined the Westfield Chamber of Commerce on Friday for a great event at the Tekoa Country Club. Our region’s Chambers do a tremendous job of advocating for the businesses they represent, and it is a priority of mine to stay connected and continue to work alongside them.

Today is ArtoberFest in downtown Westfield! From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., you can explore downtown Westfield and emerge yourself in free community art and cultural experiences. Presented by ArtWorks Westfield, this event has dozens of artists along Elm Street, over 20 authors and writers on the Green, and performance dance and music all around. I encourage you all to check the event out!

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, Montgomery, Russell and all or part of seven other cities and towns in the state Senate.

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