I hope this email finds you enjoying summer with family and friends. Jim and I and our children are looking forward to time together as a family in early August as we escape on a summer vacation!
Last Friday marked my 100th day as State Representative for the 11th Worcester District.
I wake up each day excited and honored to be able to represent Shrewsbury and Westborough. I have worked hard to make an immediate impact on the lives of the people who live in the district, as well as on issues that impact many across the Commonwealth. These past 100 days have been very busy ones and I wanted to share some of my major areas of focus as well as a few key successes I was able to accomplish in my short time as your State Representative.
I was very pleased to be assigned to the following committees:
- Joint Committee on Transportation
- House Committee on Personnel and Administration
- House Committee on Redistricting
On Friday the Governor signed into law the FY16 Budget. Despite having to deal with a $1.8 billion deficit, the budget contained no new taxes, did not take a draw from the state's Stabilization "Rainy Day" Fund and held spending growth to 3.5%. Priorities included increasing education funding and local aid to our cities and towns, and also increased funding for transportation, homelessness and substance abuse treatment, as well as increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit.
I am very pleased that I was able to secure in the budget $1.75 million for vocational school transportation funding for school districts such as Shrewsbury that are mandated by the state to provide transportation but do not receive regional school transportation funding since we are not a member of the Assabet Valley Regional Vocational School, and instead pay tuition for our students to attend. In FY14 Shrewsbury had received nearly $90,000 in reimbursement funding for their transportation costs to Assabet from the state.
Prior to the adoption of my budget amendment in the House, this line-item had not been included in the Governor's filed budget or in the original House Ways and Means filed budget, and the line-item had been zeroed out in the FY15 budget as part of the 9C cuts last fall. For me, this was an issue of the Commonwealth keeping its' commitments and funding its' mandates, as well as a parity issue, as regional transportation funding as a whole was getting an increase in the budget while this line-item had been eliminated. I am grateful that leadership and my colleagues in the House and Senate prioritized inclusion of this critical education funding and that the Baker-Polito Administration's signed budget maintained this line-item.
As a member of the Transportation Committee, our primary focus the last few months has been on MBTA reform and reviewing the Governor's legislation to Fix the T. While the revised bill released by the Committee is now pending in House Ways and Means, we were able to provide in the FY16 budget several of the major elements of the reforms the Governor requested, most notably the creation of the Fiscal & Management Control Board and a three-year suspension of the law governing privatization of state services commonly referred to as the Pacheco Law, which will allow the MBTA with more flexibility in determining whether certain operations can be outsourced at a savings to the state's taxpayers.
Transportation Hearing on the Governor's MBTA reform legislation
Financial Literacy Task Force
The Minority Leader chose me as his designee to work on Treasurer Goldberg's Financial Literacy Task Force aimed at improving Massachusetts current failing grade for financial literacy in residents. I am on the sub-committee focused on K-12 education and greatly enjoy my fellow committee members from education, finance, non-profit and quasi-public agency backgrounds. Our task force is due to deliver a report with recommendations to the Treasurer by November.
Central MA Opioid Task Force
Worcester County District Attorney Joe Early asked me to join the Central MA Opioid Task Force and I am serving on the Treatment and Recovery sub-committee focused on making recommendations that will improve access to and success rates of our substance abuse programs. The sub-committee includes providers, medical professionals, law enforcement and representatives from the Worcester County Sheriff's office, people in long-term recovery and members of organizations helping substance abuse users seek help. I believe that this work is absolutely vital and I am dedicated to helping turn the tide on this flagrant epidemic.
I was also honored to be a speaker at the May opening of Spectrum's Charles J. Faris Recovery Center, a new state-of-the-art, 100 bed residential treatment facility in Westborough. I read a poem titled "Heroin" written by Natalie Cribari as a warning to her younger sister - Natalie wrote it 3 months before she overdosed and died. This poem struck such a cord with me. I chose to read it because I thought nothing I could say would demonstrate the depth of despair addiction brings as capably as the words of someone who knew with certainty that at age 20 she would soon perish from the demon she couldn't beat. I am including a link here to the poem here.
Co-Hosted Legislative Briefing: Impacts of Marijuana Legalization/Commercialization
Anticipating a November 2016 ballot question on the legalization of marijuana, my colleague Representative Kim Ferguson of Holden and I organized a briefing on "The Impacts of Marijuana Legalization/Commercialization" for our colleagues and staff at the State House. The briefing featured speakers from a youth marijuana prevention summit that Rep. Ferguson and I had attended, which was hosted by the MA Prevention Alliance and held at Assumption College. Looking to the experience of Colorado where marijuana use was recently legalized, we believed it was important to start the conversation here now about the negative impacts on our youth, health, society, public safety, as well as the fiscal consequences to the state of increased use.
In the District
While my work on Beacon Hill is important, it is my goal to always be directly impacting life in our communities. I enjoy hosting and participating in community events, as well as connecting 1x1 with residents, as this provides the opportunity to hear directly from constituents about the issues they care most about. Here is a sampling of what I have been up to in the district the last three months.
- Secured $250K for Dean Park capital improvements - working with Senator Moore who originally included the project in the 2014 Environmental Bond Bill, I worked to secure its funding in the Governor Baker's Capital Plan for Fiscal Year 2016.
- Met in April with the MA DOT District Highway Director Jonathan Gulliver to discuss the status of various local projects and to request re-prioritization of the Shrewsbury's Maple Avenue road paving and sidewalk repairs. This work was undertaken in late June and is essentially complete.
- Worked with area legislators and Congressman McGovern's office to restore the I-495/Rte. 9 and I-495/I-90 interchange improvement projects to the list of regional infrastructure priorities. This outcome was reached after learning that the projects were in jeopardy of being removed from the list of projects prioritized for state-wide infrastructure investment. The team working together was very grateful to the Baker-Polito Administration and Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack for swiftly re-prioritizing these 2 projects.
- Hosted an Armed Forces Day Event at Veteran's Inc. to thank our active and retired men and women for their tremendous service and sacrifice to serve and protect our country. My House and Senate colleagues that represent communities in the Central MA Veteran's Service District joined me and each spoke of a branch of the military while students read poems. Secretary of Veterans' Services Francisco Ureña was our guest speaker, introduced by Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. Many of the veterans attending remarked that it was a very moving celebration of their service and we gifted each veteran with a copy of veteran Dr. John Collins' new book, "A Korean War Memoir," which he signed for each veteran.
- I was honored to speak at the outstanding Westborough Memorial Day Observance and walk in the parade. It was a beautiful ceremony and the residents of Westborough should be proud of their patriotic and moving tribute to those who gave their last breath for enduring freedom.
- Participated in my first Service Learning opportunity with the Shrewsbury High School student volunteers. My daughter Caitlin and I planted summer squash at the Community Harvest Project in North Grafton with many SHS students. I am looking forward to supporting the ambitious Service Learning group and participating in many outstanding service projects!
- Presented citations to 6 Eagle Scouts in Westborough and Shrewsbury, as well as marking the retirements of a 44-year member of our Shrewsbury Fire Department and Shrewsbury's long-time Town Counsel.
- Began my monthly TV show "Conversations with Hannah." Our first episode was on the nearly complete Burns Bridge and the second episode was filmed at the Shrewsbury Farmer's Market and included a discussion with the market managers and Commissioner of Agricultural Resources John Lebeaux. We will be filming an upcoming episode in Westborough at the Farmer's Market with Phil Kittredge of the Westborough Food Pantry joining us.
- Inaugural Hannah Kane Charity Classic golf tournament will be held on Monday, August 17th at The Haven in Boylston. The tournament will raise funds for the Westborough Food Pantry, St. Anne's Human Services and Shrewsbury Youth and Family Services. We are excited to have a full field of 144 golfers and very generous sponsors who have stepped up to support these three critical community organizations. If you would like to donate an auction item, be a sponsor, or attend the reception, please contact Tournament Chair Beth Casavant at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Along with Matt Beaton, Beth Casavant and John Masiello, we are hosting our 2nd Annual charitable event during the Spirit of Shrewsbury festivities. This year the Shrewsbury Public Library Capital Campaign will be the beneficiary of the proceeds from the "Let Your Spirit Build" fundraiser held on Thursday, September 24 at Ski Ward, starting at 7pm. The event will feature DJ Jim Vuona. To be a sponsor or buy tickets please contact me at RepHannahKane@gmail.com.
- "Coffee with Hannah" will begin in September, where one morning a month I will visit a local coffee shop and look forward to meeting anyone who just wants to say hi or talk about an issue in an informal setting. I also host monthly office hours in Shrewsbury and Westborough for residents to stop in and discuss an issue or problem they need help with in a quieter environment. The upcoming times and locations can be found on my home page on RepHannahKane.com. I hope you can join me!
Thank you for all of your support. As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to me or my terrific Legislative Aide Charlyce Bozzello. Our email addresses are Hannah.Kane@mahouse.gov and Charlyce.Bozzello@mahouse.gov and our office number is 617-722-2430. I welcome your thoughts, perspectives and questions and please know that it an amazing honor to serve as your State Representative.
Onto the next 100 days!