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Keeping an eye on Western Massachusetts issues from the State House


Legislative Viewpoint

Greenfield Recorder 02/21/2015, Page C07

By State Representative Paul Mark, Second Berkshire District

A new legislative session began in early January and brings along many changes for Franklin County and all of Massachusetts.

We have a new governor, and with that will come different ideas and a new perspective on the issues facing the Commonwealth. We will work hard to find common ground on policies that affect Franklin County and push the new governor to visit Western Massachusetts and remember that we are just as important as the communities in the Boston area.

There is also a new Senate President, Senator Stan Rosenberg, who has represented Franklin and Hampshire Counties for the past 20 years. With that comes a great opportunity to keep the priorities of our region at the forefront of state government.

The challenges we face in the new session of the House of Representatives are both familiar and ever changing. Fighting to make sure that seniors are being treated with dignity and receiving their fair share never changes for me. But the issues that need to be addressed in order to keep the promise of a better life for people 55 and over are complex and require constant attention in a constantly changing world. The state budget is always a battle as we seek to efficiently spend limited resources in a way that maximizes the benefits for all people of Massachusetts. The budget process this year will be especially difficult as cuts are sought and balanced with the need to provide adequate services. Services for seniors are always a priority for me because it pains me to see people who have worked hard all their lives go without the resources they need.

Increasing the availability of rural broadband; improving access and affordability for healthcare services including mental health and drug treatment options; fighting for a clean environment for the sake of ourselves, our children and our grandchildren; maintaining excellence and increasing opportunities in education and workforce development; and keeping our community affordable, safe, and thriving are priorities for me and our delegation.

Keeping in regular contact with the people of our district helps me to continue fighting effectively for the priorities of this region. When people engage in advocacy and build relationships with their local elected officials, our awareness of which issues are important increases, and you make us better advocates for you at the State House. I hold weekly office hours in Greenfield on Mondays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., in Charlemont on Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon, and in Northfield on from 1 to 4 p.m.Additionally, I hold office hours at the Greenfield Senior Center on the first Friday of every month, quarterly at the Bernardston Senior Center, and throughout the year in each town I represent as often as possible. Check out the full schedule atwww.representativemark.com. Please come visit, let me know how I can help, and together we can continue making Western Massachusetts a wonderful place to live.