I hope you all are doing well. I know many of you were probably focused on the elections this past week, and I thank all of you who participated in our democracy by voting. No matter who you voted for, it is critical that we move forward from this election in a united fashion. We can truly accomplish so much more when we work together, and we must always remember that there is more that unites us than drives us apart.
This week the Governor announced new measures aimed at slowing the recent uptick of COVID-19 cases. As of November 6th, everyone above the age of five in Massachusetts is required to wear a mask in public, regardless of whether social distancing is practiced. Furthermore, the state’s indoor gathering limit will be lowered from 2 5 to 10 people. The Governor also announced a 9:30 closure time for many businesses, which does not include takeout and grocery shopping. Lastly, the Governor has instituted a Stay-At-Home advisory for residents from 10PM to 5AM with exceptions for work and other essential activities. The number of cases in our communities is steadily rising, and it is critical that we remain vigilant and cautious as we head into the winter months.
This week I had a series of meetings regarding the state budget. As some of you may know, the Governor released his revised budget recommendations for FY21 two weeks ago. This week the House released their FY21 budget. The next steps include: a debate between House members concerning potential amendments, the release of the Senate’s version of a budget followed by a Senate debate and then a conference committee in which Hou se and Senate members work out differences between their budgets. I have been meeting with organizations throughout the district to hear about their needs and concerns and have been advocating on their behalf in meetings with my colleagues. While everyone is going to be asked to do more with less this year, it is critical that those struggling are getting the necessary funding. I will be sure to keep you all updated as our budget debates begin in the coming days.
Last Sunday I was honored to join the Westfield Spanish American Association for the 25th Puerto Rican Flag Raising Ceremony in-front of Westfield City Hall. In addition to celebrating the contributions of our Puerto Rican community, the ceremony was also dedicated to two members of Westfield’s Puerto Rican community who we lost this past spring.
I also met with Holyoke Superintendent Dr. Vázquez Matos, State Representative Vega and Representative-Elect Duffy this week to discuss how the school year is going and to go over some of the challenges they are facing in their new structure. Our schools and educators have truly adapted in incredible ways throughout this pandemic, and it is so important that we continue to support them going forward.
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.
John C. Velis