2021 Quarter 1 | UPDATE
Dear Friends,

I hope this email finds you well and enjoying the spring weather and sunshine. It feels as if we have turned a corner not only on winter, but towards a new normal with the increased availability of vaccines leading to more of our economy opening up and students returning to school full-time. Massachusetts is one of only eight states with at least 60% of its adult population single-dosed, and 40% of Massachusetts residents have been fully vaccinated. Our daily new case rates are down, our hospitalizations have flattened and our confirmed daily deaths from COVID-19 are way down. Thank you to all who have worked so hard to get our residents vaccinated and if you have not already done so, anyone age 16 years and older who lives, works, or studies in Massachusetts can now get vaccinated. Our family is in process of getting vaccinated and among the four of us who are eligible, two have gotten Moderna, one has gotten Pfizer and one got J&J. 

In early January the 191st Legislative Session finally ended shortly before 4:30am on January 6th. Though the State House is still closed and legislators and staff are still working remotely, I was one of the legislators in the House Chamber for the formal session, voting on major bills till early in the morning that Conference Committees had just released. Two of my bills that were part of our major healthcare omnibus bill were passed into law – one to increase access to cancer clinical trials and the other to create a Rare Disease Advisory Council. The passage of these two bills, combined with my earlier legislation to strengthen local public health signed into law by the Governor in April 2020, made the 191st Legislative Session a very productive one for me. I also maintained a perfect voting record this past session, casting 474 roll call votes between January 2019 and January 2021. I made a quick trip home to shower and change, before heading back into the State House to be proudly sworn in by Governor Baker for my 4th term in office. 
As I left the State House excited for the 192nd Legislative Session and proud to have promised to uphold the constitution of the Commonwealth, I turned on the car radio and listened with disbelief, sadness, and outrage to the actions of violence in our nations’ Capitol building. While our democracy is fueled by public discourse, violence and those who incite it, should never be encouraged, or tolerated. This past year has been incredibly difficult and we continue to see violent acts perpetrated by people acting on their own intolerance of others and the ideals other people hold. I continue to believe that the strength of our nation lies in our democracy and that we must use the tools at our disposal – a right to free speech and the responsibility to vote – to affect change. 

Upcoming Election in Shrewsbury
As a seven year member of the Shrewsbury Finance Committee and an 18-year Town Meeting Member, I support the $9.5M operational override question on the May 4th ballot in Shrewsbury as the fiscally responsible decision. Our town leaders have worked hard to remedy the structural deficit that has challenged our community for many years. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and corresponding economic fall-out have exacerbated our fiscally tenuous situation, with revenue shortfalls and higher costs leaving a gap that can only be closed with passage of an override or substantial cuts to services, most keenly impacting students. You can learn more about the operational override here and I hope you will consider joining me in voting yes on May 4th.

Conversations with Hannah
I taped and released four episodes of Conversations with Hannah this winter - in January with Representative Kim Ferguson about the changes at the State House and the end of one legislation session and the beginning of a new one; in February with Representative Joe McKenna about the Rare Disease Advisory Council bill we filed together that was signed into law; in March with Winton Pitcoff of the MA Food System Collaborative discussing the work of the Food System Caucus and our shared priorities; and in April with Shrewsbury Town Manager Kevin Mizikar and Superintendent of Schools Joe Sawyer about the upcoming override operational vote. All episodes of Conversations with Hannah can be viewed here. Thank you to Shrewsbury Media Connection for ensuring that important updates and issues can be discussed locally!

Beacon Hill Update

My Session Appointments
House Minority Leader Jones re-appointed me for the third time as the Ranking Minority Member of the Joint Committee on Public Health for the 2021-2022 legislative session and has also appointed me as the Ranking Minority Member of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. I will also serve as a member of the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery and on the newly formed Joint Committee on Racial Equity, Civil Rights, and Inclusion, which will be responsible for reviewing current laws and new proposals with an eye on “dismantling systemic racism and promoting equitable opportunities and outcomes for all residents.” Finally, I was appointed to serve as the Minority Leader’s designee on the Rare Disease Advisory Council, which was created in an amendment I filed to the healthcare bill signed into law in January. I was also appointed by the Leader to the Commission on Malnutrition Prevention Among Older Adults. 

FY22 Budget
The Legislature is currently gearing up to debate the FY22 budget in our normal timeframe. Last session, the budget cycle was significantly altered by COVID-19 - instead of finalizing the budget in July as is typical, we decided to keep the state running through month-to-month budgets and did not finalize the complete FY21 budget until December. The FY22 budget was released by the House Ways and Means Committee on April 14th, and I filed several amendments, with debate beginning this week. Two of my priorities are an amendment to fund Youth Mental Health First Aid Training provided state-wide by Shrewsbury Youth and Family Services and an amendment to help fund police-worn body cameras for the Shrewsbury Police Department.

Bill Filing
Since a new legislative session started in January, all legislators were given a window of time to file bills for consideration this session, which closed in late February. I filed 33 bills, which can all be viewed here. “Late” bills are allowed to be filed at any point during the legislative session, but only “seasonably” filed bills are guaranteed a public hearing. 

Health Care Financing Public Hearing
On March 25th, the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing, of which I am the Ranking Minority Member, hosted a public hearing on the topic of healthcare spending. Massachusetts is one of 5 states with an established health care cost growth benchmark and it is 3.1% or under for Massachusetts. Dr. Michael Chernew, Leonard D. Schaeffer Professor of Health Care Policy and Director of the Healthcare Markets and Regulation Lab in the Department of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School was the keynote speaker and his research examines several areas related to controlling health care spending growth while maintaining or improving quality of care. The total health care expenditures in Massachusetts in 2019 was $64.1B, $9,294 per capita, which translated to a 4.3% growth rate per capita. Dr. Chernew indicated that the recent spending growth in Massachusetts is due to increases in prices. 
Rules Debate/Increased Transparency
I voted in February to support a series of proposed amendments to the rules that will govern Joint Committees of the Massachusetts House and Senate for the 2021-2022 legislative session. During floor debate in the House of Representatives, I supported several amendments designed to promote increased transparency and accountability in the committee process which were ultimately not adopted as part of the rules package. I cast votes in support of rules changes that would:

  • require 1 weeks’ notice for the posting of committee hearings and executive sessions, rather than the 72 hours required in the proposed joint rules.
  • mandate the posting of all members’ recorded votes on committee roll calls and polls on the General Court website.
  • make public testimony provided to committees available upon request.
  • require Conference Committee reports to be made available to the public and to legislators for a minimum of 72 hours before being voted on. 
  • provide a two-hour window for members to review bills being polled for release from committee to give members enough time to make an informed decision prior to voting. 
  • require all procurements by the House Business Manager or the Chief Financial Officer of the Senate totaling over $10,000 to be submitted to the state Comptroller and posted on the state’s Open Checkbook website.

Unfortunately, none of the amendments garnered enough support to pass, prompting me to vote against the proposed joint rules package, which passed on a vote of 128-31. The Senate previously approved its own version of the joint rules on February 11. Both branches are working to reconcile the differences between the two versions to produce a final set of rules governing the conduct of joint legislative committees over the next two years.

Mail-in Voting Extension
House Bill 73, An Act further providing for early voting by mail, was engrossed by the House on March 1 and enacted on March 11, with my support, and signed into law by Governor Baker on March 16th. The extension is needed to accommodate the large number of municipal elections that are scheduled to take place this year between April and June. It is part of a series of bills that have been passed by the House and Senate over the last 12 months to help ensure Massachusetts residents can safely exercise their right to vote during the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic. The mail-in voting extension expires June 30th.

Climate Legislation
The Governor signed into law legislation that had passed the House and Senate numerous times in the last two sessions. The law overhauls the state’s climate laws, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, advances the clean energy industry, and prioritizes and protects environmental justice communities. The final legislation set a state-wide net zero limit on greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and mandates emission limits every five years, as well as sub-limits for transportation, buildings, and other sectors of the economy. 

Sewer Discharge Legislation
On January 12th Governor Baker signed into law legislation I was a co-sponsor of that requires sewer system operators to issue public advisories within two hours of a discharge and every eight hours until the discharge has ended. Discharges often occur due to heavy rain in communities with combined wastewater and storm drainage systems when storm water floods the system and overflow is caused. We have experienced this type of contamination in Lake Quinsigamond and I am grateful to the Lake Quinsigamond Commission and the Lake Quinsigamond Watershed Association for their advocacy.

COVID-19 Unemployment/Relief
I joined my colleagues in the House and Senate to enact a bill provides a tax break to small businesses and emergency paid sick leave for employees impacted by the pandemic. Massachusetts employers were facing a 60% increase in their unemployment insurance (UI) rates for 2021, and this bill will assist business owners by freezing the UI experience rate at Schedule “E” for two years, mitigating the scheduled increase by limiting it to about 16%. The bill also waives state taxes on all forgiven federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans for businesses that are considered “pass-through” entities, as well as on federal Economic Injury Disaster Loans. The bill also provides tax relief for lower-income workers who collected unemployment benefits in 2020 and 2021 and whose household incomes fall 200% below the federal poverty level. Those individuals can deduct the first $10,200 in unemployment compensation received in both calendar years from their gross income for tax purposes.
Included in the bill is a provision prohibiting the Department of Revenue from imposing any tax penalties based solely on the failure to remit taxes on unemployment compensation received in 2020. Taxpayers who have already been assessed the penalty will receive an abatement. The bill also authorizes up to $7 billion in borrowing to repay federal UI loans and a temporary, two-year employer assessment to ensure the state’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund remains solvent. 

Unfortunately, one area that was not addressed in the legislation was the automatic statutory increase in the formula used to calculate an employers’ experience rating, with the annual UI solvency fund assessment jumping from 0.58% to 9.23% for 2021. This represents a staggering 1591% increase in just one year and will cost business owners thousands of dollars in additional expenses at a time when they can least afford it, including those employers who were able to retain their full workforce during the pandemic. I joined with 54 other colleagues in requesting that Governor Baker, Speaker Mariano and Senate President Spilka follow the lead of Maryland and other states by dedicating a portion of the federal COVID-19 relief aid Massachusetts is receiving through the American Rescue Plan Act or other available and relevant federal funds to replenish the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund. This issue is currently being worked.

Holyoke Soldiers’ Home
House Bill 3701, which reflects an amended version of a bill that was originally filed by Governor Baker, was engrossed by the House of Representatives on a vote of 160-0 on April 15th and now moves to the Senate. The bill authorizes the state to borrow up to $400 million for rebuilding the Soldiers’ Home. H3701 authorizes the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM) to begin the design and development phase for a new Soldiers’ Home that will meet federal standards and guidelines for long term care and adult day health services. Passage of the bill is needed in both legislative branches before the state can apply for up to $260 million in federal matching funds through the federal Veterans Administration’s State Veterans Home Construction Grant Program. 
Food System Caucus
I am one of six Co-Chairs of the MA Legislature’s Food System Caucus (FSC), which is currently the second-largest Caucus in the Legislature with 146 members, second only to the Democratic Caucus. This past January the Caucus created and distributed a survey to members of the legislature to gauge what legislators are seeing in-district in terms of issues related to food insecurity, farmland, and economic development in the food/agricultural/seafood industries. Senator Comerford and I, in our roles as legislative delegates to the Governor’s COVID-19 Food Security Task Force, compiled the results of the survey and shared them with the Task Force. The FSC also hosted several meetings this past winter, including an introductory briefing for newly elected legislators in February and our Annual Meeting in March. The FSC recently finalized our legislative priorities for this session, which can be viewed on our website. We also advocated for $13M for the Healthy Incentives Program (HIP), $30M for the Massachusetts Emergency Food Assistance Program (MEFAP), $750K for Buy-Locals, and $300K for the MA Food Trust, all which I am happy to report were included in the House Budget released on April 14th.

Massachusetts Caucus of Women Legislators
I am proud to have been appointed as a Board Member for the Massachusetts Caucus of Women Legislators for 2021-2022. This winter, I helped lead priority-setting for the MCWL for the 192nd session. The three strategic priorities we established as a Caucus are 1) COVID-19’s disparate impact on women; 2) health access and racial disparities; and 3) empowering women in government. This infographic created by Associated Industries of Massachusetts clearly illustrates the tremendous impact that the pandemic has had on women in the workforce.
Local Funding
Water Infrastructure
Westborough received an Asset Management Planning Grant of $80,044 through the State Revolving Fund, which is administered by the Massachusetts Clean Water Trust. 

COVID-19 Small Business Grants
The Baker-Polito Administration has so far awarded local businesses impacted by the pandemic in Shrewsbury and Westborough over $4M in grant funding. The grants are administered through the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation. More rounds of grant funding are expected to continue in this effort to support local business through a time of great economic hardship. 

Fire Safety Gear
The Shrewsbury Fire Department received $20,000 and the Westborough Fire Department received $14,946.85 in funding as part of the state-wide Firefighter Safety Equipment Grant Program. This grant program enables fire departments to purchase a variety of equipment to make firefighters’ safer, including protective firefighting gear, thermal imaging cameras, radios, rescue equipment, and gear washers and dryers. 

On-Demand Micro-Transit Service
MassDOT announced $3.5M in regional transit authority grants on March 23rd, including $527,986 for the Worcester Regional Transit Authority to continue operations of the Via-WRTA on-demand micro transit service in Westborough and expand the service area into Shrewsbury. On March 30th, I met with Via to better understand their mission and the project.
COVID-19 Grants for Local School Districts
In January, it was announced that more than $50 million in one-time state funding would be released to assist local school districts, charter schools and educational collaboratives with the costs associated with safely operating and educating students during the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic. Schools in Shrewsbury received a total of $218,950 in funding under the COVID-19 Response, Remote Learning and Student Support Grants program. Schools in Westborough received a total of $130,325 in funding. School districts can utilize the funding for a variety of purposes related to COVID-19, such as the purchase of personal protective equipment and hygienic supplies, and for the costs associated with socially distanced on-site learning, as well as remote and hybrid learning. The money can also be used to help low-income and other vulnerable student populations overcome technological impediments to learning, and to ensure that students have equal access to social services, mental health and behavioral health resources.

Bond Bills
Senator Moore and I secured $1.2M for sidewalk improvements in Shrewsbury and for the planning, design, and reconstruction of Route 140 from the Town Center to Route 290 in January’s Transportation Bond Bill, as well as $1.4M for the reconstruction of the Toblin Hill Bridge. I also worked with Representative Dykema and Representative Gregoire to secure $300,000 for costs associated with the expansion of commuter parking at the Westborough commuter rail station in the Transportation Bond Bill. Additionally, Senator Moore and I secured language in the Economic Development Bond Bill providing that not less than $500,000 be expended equally to Shrewsbury and seven surrounding communities (Worcester, Auburn, Grafton, Leicester, Millbury, Northbridge, Upton) for purposes of economic development. 

Shared Streets & Spaces
In early March, it was announced that the Town of Shrewsbury was selected as a recipient of a grant from the Shared Winter Streets and Spaces program, an initiative offered by MassDOT that enables municipalities to improve the condition of public spaces for safer transit and recreational activities. Shrewsbury received $45,000 to support the Shrewsbury Senior Center to provide residents with salt, buckets, and basic snow removal equipment - as well as new benches - for safer winter walking. 

Westborough PFAS/DEP
The Westborough Department of Public Works received $200,000 in grant funding from the Baker-Polito Administration in March for planning and design to be used to protect the Westborough water supply from harmful PFAS. 

Local Rapid Recovery Planning
The Town of Shrewsbury received $60,000 in funding from The Local Rapid Recovery Planning (LRRP) grant program this spring. LRRP focuses on understanding and diagnosing the challenges to a municipality's chosen study area that have emerged as a result of COVID-19. The Town of Shrewsbury’s LRRP application was approved for targeted placemaking investments to streets, sidewalks and public spaces in the Town Center; creating a plan for an online marketplace for study area merchants in the Town Center; and window clean up or vacancy camouflage strategies or facade and/or storefront signage improvements in the Town Center. 

Fire Services
Both Shrewsbury and Westborough received FY21 grant funding through the Baker-Polito Administration’s Department of Fire Services. Shrewsbury was awarded $6,380 in Student Awareness of Fire Education (SAFE) funding and $2,880 in Senior SAFE funding. Westborough was awarded $5,281 in SAFE funding and $2,680 in Senior SAFE funding. Funding allows for specially trained fire educators to work with classroom teachers and seniors to present on fire safety. 

Shrewsbury Council on Aging
The Council received $40,000 to contract taxi services to supplement the Council’s van service for seniors and individuals with disabilities, serving early morning, late evening and weekend transportation outside of business hours.
Workforce Training
This winter, AAFCPAs in Westborough was awarded $236,803 to train 143 workers and 40 additional jobs are expected by 2023. Aalanco Service Corp. in Westborough was awarded $13,735 to train 34 workers and 5 additional jobs are expected by 2023. The Workforce Training Fund is administered by Commonwealth Corporation, a quasi-public state agency that fosters partnerships between industry, education, and workforce organizations. 

Nonprofit Security Grant
Liberty Church in Shrewsbury was awarded a $14,061.72 grant for a surveillance system and two-way radio system for their security team through the Baker-Polito Administration.

Briefings & Forums

COVID-19 Variants
The Joint Committee on Public Health, of which I am the Ranking Minority Member, hosted a briefing on April 5th on the COVID-19 variants emerging in Massachusetts, what the data trends tell us, and what potential impact these variants may have on our health care systems. All three variants are being closely monitored and it is not unexpected that variants are emerging.
White House Briefings
The White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs continues to host the briefings to update elected officials that began last March, and I often listen in to these opportunities to be informed on federal actions.

Rare Disease Day
MassBio hosted an event recognizing Rare Disease Day on February 26th. The event included discussions on partnering with patients to improve drug discovery and health inequity in rare disease research, and also included a presentation from keynote speaker Chris Bombardier. My office works closely with MassBio on a variety of issues considering my ranking role on the Public Health and Health Care Financing Committees, and the organization was a key support of the Rare Disease Advisory Council legislation that Representative McKenna and I succeeded in passing and getting signed into law. 

Boston University School of Public Health
Boston University held a 3-day/3-part series titled Antiracism as Health Policy: Race, COVID-19, and Policy Reform. I found the first session I attended to be extremely informative and relevant to my work as a legislator on the Public Health, Health Care Financing and Racial Equity, Civil Rights and Inclusion Joint Committees.
Allston I-90 Interchange
The Allston Multimodal Project Task Force, of which I am a member and represent my Central MA legislative colleagues, met on February 23rd. The project involves improvements to I-90 and its abutting interchange in Allston and the creation of a new stop on the Worcester/Framingham Commuter Line to be known as West Station. The Task Force is composed of residents, business owners, and other local stakeholders with the goal to work through all details associated with the project. Learn more about the project here.

Fresenius Medical Care
I had the opportunity to take an excellent virtual tour of the Shrewsbury dialysis facility on Route 9 earlier this spring. I learned from company leaders and staff about how they responded quickly to the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that their 70 patients who require dialysis several times a week could keep access to this life-saving treatment despite the challenges presented. We also discussed several aspects of the Executive Orders the Governor authorized during the state of the emergency that Fresenius is advocating for consideration as permanent changes.
Sportsmen’s Caucus
The 2021-2022 organizational meeting of the MA Legislative Sportsmen's Caucus, of which I am a member, was held on February 9th. We learned about the National Assembly of Sportsmen's Caucuses and discussed the Massachusetts Outdoor Heritage Act, which is a priority of the Caucus. 

495/MetroWest Recovery Working Group
Convened by Representative Kate Hogan and coordinate by the 495/MetroWest Partnership Executive Director Jason Palitsch, our group focuses on how to support the MetroWest region to a full economic recovery. On February 9th, the Energy and Sustainable Development Committee of the 495/MetroWest Partnership hosted a forum on the impact of COVID-19 on our region and municipal government’s response to COVID-19 in 495/MetroWest. The panel of municipal leaders addressed topics including COVID protocols put in place in municipal operations, CARES funding allocations, permitting, efforts to support the local business community, working remotely while serving the public, and next steps with vaccination in sight. 

MA Food System Collaborative
The Massachusetts Food System Collaborative hosted a briefing on February 22nd for legislators and advocates to provide information about local food system bills filed in the 2021-2022 session. The Food System Collaborative is a critical partner to the MA Food System Caucus in advancing our shared goals and priorities and I spoke about my bill on food donations during the briefing.
India Society of Worcester
It was exciting to hear about all the tremendous work made on the expansion of the building at the ISW Annual Meeting held online, and I am looking forward to the grand opening targeted for this summer!

Health Equity
On February 9th, I joined a legislative briefing focused on the underlying socioeconomic and racial divides and the risk from COVID and future pandemics featuring Dr. Sandro Galea, a physician, epidemiologist, author, and dean of the Boston University School of Public Health. 

Shrewsbury Public Library Foundation Forum
The Foundation hosted a deeply impactful forum with Professor Ibram Kendi who leads the Center for Antiracism Research at Boston University. Over 500 people attended the online event, and I am grateful to the Foundation for providing residents this thought-provoking opportunity for engagement.

Acceler-8 I-90 bridge replacements
MassDOT hosted a public information meeting on the upcoming I-90 bridge replacement project on February 9th. The project includes the replacement of the superstructures of the six I-90 bridges (east and westbound) over Flanders Road, Parkerville Road, and Woodland Road. The two bridges over Cordaville Road will be replaced entirely. The project also includes the resurfacing of I-90 and replacement of the median barrier and guardrails along the entire length of the 3.3-mile project corridor. Work will take place over the course of summer 2021 and there is a traffic-mitigation plan. 
Community Events & Recognitions

Retirement Parade
While we couldn’t gather in-person, it was so fun celebrating Shrewsbury Police Officer Michael McGinnis’ retirement after 33 years of dedicated service! 
Letters in Literature
Congratulations to Adam Ahmad for being an Honoree in this year’s Letters in Literature program sponsored by the Massachusetts Center for the Book! Adam is a 6th grader at Al-Hamra Academy, and he wrote a letter to The Watsons Go to Birmingham author Christopher Paul Curtis. 

Shrewsbury Town Clerk
On February 23rd, I gathered with many others in an on-line retirement celebration for Sandy Wright after 34 years in public service. In the afternoon I visited Sandy to present her a citation and to also congratulate our new Town Clerk Sharyn Thomas. We are so fortunate to have such committed people working for the town of Shrewsbury!
Rockland Trust Opening
In late March, I attended the ribbon cutting hosted by the Corridor 9/495 Chamber of Commerce celebrating Rockland Trust’s new branch in the Lakeway Commons in Shrewsbury. Welcome Rockland Trust!

Speaking Engagements

Millbank State to State Learning Session
On January 7th, I participated in a virtual meeting with a legislative delegation from Utah looking to learn about how Massachusetts regulates marijuana through the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission. 
Enough is Enough
On February 5th, I met with several high school students from the student-founded and led advocacy organization Enough is Enough, whose aim is to end systematic racism through education and policy change and make it easier for police to be held accountable for unjust actions. I spoke with them about my career as a State Representative and the police reform legislation passed last session.

On February 23rd, I had the honor of speaking on a Biogen internal Lunch and Learn panel focused on Rare Disease Advisory Councils (RDAC). Moderator Krina Patel, Associate Director of State Public Policy & Government Affairs for Biogen’s Northeast Region led the discussion on the passage of my bill creating a RDAC in the Commonwealth. While each individual rare disease only impacts the lives of a relatively small group of people compared to more common diseases, the rare disease community as a whole is massive. There are thought to be around 7,000 rare diseases and between 25-30 million Americans living with one of these rare diseases. The RDAC initiative aims to give this community of millions of people a stronger voice in government.

Rare Action Network
On February 24th, I spoke at the National Organization of Rare Disorder’s Rare Action Network of MA virtual lunch-time Rare Disease Day event regarding my work to create the MA Rare Disease Advisory Council and my goals for it moving forward as a member of the Council. 

Shrewsbury Public Library - Women’s History Month
I participated in a video project “Community Voices” organized by the Shrewsbury Public Library in celebration of women’s history month. I spoke about books that have inspired me, including Patriots in Petticoats by Shirley Raye Redmond, and how I was inspired for public service by Margaret Chase Smith, a trailblazing, moderate Republican from Maine who was the first woman to serve in both the U.S. House of Representatives (1940-1949) and U.S. Senate (1949-1973). Watch the full video here

National Organization for Rare Disorders
I joined the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) as a panelist on March 4th at their virtual event on establishing Rare Disease Advisory Councils. I joined moderator Rose Gallagher, Associate Director of Policy at NORD, and other panelists to discuss the process of establishing a Rare Disease Advisory Council. It was a great opportunity to be able to join the panel to talk about the process we went through in Massachusetts to pass the bill and give tips on how other states can achieve the same.

UMass Lowell
I spoke with a Politics and Advocacy in Public Health class at UMass Lowell on March 1st about my work in public health and in food access/insecurity, and how these two topics substantially overlap. 

AstraZeneca & Women in Government
On March 10th, I joined Representative Danielle Gregoire and Lucy Gettman, head of Women in Government (WIG), on an employee forum hosted by AstraZeneca as part of International Women's Week. We discussed the changes to governing forced by the pandemic, as well as how we work together as colleagues here in Massachusetts and with other women legislators from across the country. Rep. Gregoire and I are both Massachusetts State Directors for Women in Government and I am grateful to AstraZeneca for their support of this non-partisan organization focused on providing women legislators with policy and leadership development opportunities.
Women in Government & Facebook
On March 22nd, Women in Government (WIG) and Facebook hosted me as a speaker at a virtual roundtable discussion regarding online safety for women legislators. The roundtable was moderated by Alaska State Representative Geran Tarr (Secretary of the WIG Board of Directors) and featured Florida State Representative Marie Woodson, Cindy Southworth (Head of Women’s Safety at Facebook), and me as speakers. We discussed how women leaders can inspire, serve, and foster an online community, as well as tips on how to stay safe online. I am honored to be serving as a State Director for WIG again this session and enjoy the opportunity to gather with women legislators from across the country. 

MCWL & Fulbright
I partnered with my Massachusetts Caucus of Women Legislators members Senator Lovely, Representative Haddad, and Representative Joan Meschino on March 23rd to talk to Fulbright Visiting Scholars from WorldBoston about our experiences as women in government and what we are working on this session.


State Vaccine Site Preregistration
As of March 12, 2021, a pre-registration tool is available for the state’s mass vaccination sites and several of the Regional Collaboratives. The pre-registration signup replaced the pre-existing booking platforms for mass vaccination sites for online booking and is available at www.mass.gov/COVIDvaccine.

Vaccine Scheduling Resource Line
All eligible residents who are unable to use or have difficulty accessing the internet may call 2-1-1 and follow the prompts to reach the Massachusetts Vaccine Scheduling Resource Line in order to schedule an appointment. The Line operates Monday to Thursday, 8:30 AM to 8:00 PM, and Friday to Sunday, 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM, and is available in English, Spanish, and about 100 other languages. 
Homebound Vaccinations
The Town of Westborough is coordinating vaccination of homebound residents through the fire department. Interested individuals should call the Town’s COVID-19 information line at 508-871-5111. 

The Town of Shrewsbury has opted to work with the Commonwealth to support residents through the State Program. Those who support individuals who are homebound and may require an in-home vaccination may refer to the State Homebound Vaccination Central Intake Line (1-833-983-0485) for screenings for appropriateness for an in-home vaccine: 1-833-983-0485, Monday through Friday, 9:00AM to 5:00PM. The Central Intake Line is available in English and Spanish and will have translators available to support residents in approximately 100 additional languages. 
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has a Frequently Asked Questions site that is continually updated as they receive new questions. Access the FAQs here. Questions can be submitted to COVID-19-Vaccine-Plan-MA@mass.gov.  
On March 22nd, the Baker-Polito Administration moved the state into Phase 4 of reopening. This opened a range of previously closed business sectors under tight capacity restrictions. The following large capacity sports and entertainment venues are now permitted to operate at a strict 12% capacity limit after submitting a plan to DPH: indoor and outdoor stadiums, arenas, and ballparks. Gathering limits for event venues and in public settings also increased on March 22nd to 100 people indoors and 150 people outdoors. Outdoor gatherings at private residences and in private backyards will remain at a maximum of 25 people, with indoor house gatherings remaining at 10 people. Effective March 22, the Massachusetts Travel Order was replaced with a Travel Advisory urging all people entering Massachusetts, including returning residents, to quarantine for 10 days upon their arrival if they have been out of the state for 24 hours or more. 

Contacting My Office
As a reminder, the State House is closed to the public and my Legislative Aide Anna Darrow and I are working remotely. We are fully accessible via email and we are constantly checking our office voicemail. I am grateful to the many people who have reached out to me to share how wonderful and helpful Anna was in working with them to resolve their issue. You can reach our office number at 617-722-2810, my cell number is 617-448-7304, and my email is Hannah.Kane@mahouse.gov. Anna’s email is Anna.Darrow@mahouse.gov and her cell number is 802-373-2294. 
While this email is not exhaustive of all my work, nor all that the Commonwealth is undertaking to battle COVID-19, I hope the information is relevant and helpful. My prior update emails can be found on my website, www.rephannahkane.com in the “Updates from Hannah” section and I will continue to post regular updates each day on my State Representative Facebook page. 
I remain grateful to all workers who help us each day through this public health emergency. Please join me in continuing to take every precaution to stop the spread and as always, please do not hesitate to reach out if I can be of assistance.

With sincere gratitude,
Hannah Kane
State Representative
11th Worcester District