Happy St. Patrick’s Day Folks,
It was another busy week here in the State Senate. This week marked the first hearing on the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home Bond Bill. Elected officials, family members, veterans’ advocates, and myself testified before the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight on the specifics of the bill, which would allow the state to build an entirely new facility. The need for a new Home has existed for far too long and the tragedy that occurred there this past spring has only made that more apparent. Our veterans are the best of us and therefore they
deserve the best from us.
This past Thursday’s Senate session was fruitful as well. The Senate passed a coronavirus relief package aimed at small businesses. Among other things, it would make PPP loans non-taxable income and extend the tax filing deadline until May 17th. As the light at end of the tunnel for this pandemic gets brighter and brighter, it’s paramount that the legislature continues to focus on the keystone of our economic recovery: small businesses.
In addition to the hearing about the bond bill this week, the Special Oversight Committee on the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke also held a hearing on Friday. We heard testimony directly from Mark Pearlstein, who was appointed by the Governor to conduct an independent investigation on the COVID-19 outbreak at the Home. The purpose of these hearings is to find out the underlying institutional causes that led to the tragedy at the Home last spring and to make sure something like this never happens again.
Friday morning I also joined some of my colleagues and officials from Mercy Medical Center for their virtual legislative breakfast. It was an informative meeting where we heard directly from Mercy leadership about how the Center has adapted to COVID-19 to serve our communities.
On Wednesday I had the pleasure of presenting citations to two retiring Westfield Police officers, Terry Manos and William Ulrich. With a combined sixty-four years on the force, they did an excellent job serving and protecting our community. Thank you to the both of them and everyone here in my office is wishing them a happy retirement.
I’d also like to commend the staff and students at Holyoke Community College for being ranked amongst the best community colleges in the United States by AcademicInfluence.com this week. They were 20th out of 839 schools across the country. They’re deserving of it and I know they
will continue to help build a stronger workforce for the entire region.
This week, the Governor also announced new updates to the Vaccine eligibility timeline. On March 22nd, individuals 60+ and workers in certain sectors will become eligible. On April 5th, individuals 55+ and those with one comorbidity will become eligible. And on April 19th, the general public will become eligible. If you have any questions on your eligibility, please visit www.mass.gov/covid-19-vaccine or my website link which I mention below.
Recently, I also started sending out both quarterly newsletters and weekly email updates regarding the COVID-19 vaccination rollout. To sign up for my COVID-19 updates, head to senatorjohnvelis.com/covid-19-updates/ To sign up for my quarterly newsletter, head to 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.