September 5, 2014
I was very happy Tuesday to join state and local leaders for the official opening of the Assembly Orange Line T station. When I worked almost ten years ago to secure federal funding for a new transit stop in Somerville, this vibrant center of employment, retail and residential opportunities was very much a work in progress. Now it is a thriving destination with new businesses continuing to open. More than $16 million in federal tax dollars contributed to the construction of this station. This is the first new MBTA station to open in almost three decades and is a welcome addition to a transformed Assembly Square.
A Better City
I met this week with A Better City’s (ABC) Transportation Committee to talk about federal transportation dollars. ABC is a nonprofit organization that works to advance transportation and infrastructure projects it believes can improve both the City of Boston’s economy and its quality of life. They invited me to talk with members of their Transportation Committee about what I think will be on the Congressional agenda when it comes to transportation. You may recall that in July Congress voted to extend the current transportation authorization through May and shore up the Highway Trust Fund. ABC is concerned, as am I, about the lack of a long term legislative approach to funding transportation projects. Historically, transportation funding has been a bipartisan endeavor. Investments in transportation create jobs and benefit the economy. I told ABC that while I am hopeful a multi-year transportation authorization can pass, the way to achieve that is not clear. There are several funding proposals being considered but none have enough support yet to pass Congress.
Massachusetts Dietetic Association
I met this week with members of the Massachusetts Dietetic Association as well as a representative of the Greater Boston Food Bank, all of whom are Registered Dieticians (RD). I learned about their work to help people understand the importance of good nutrition. We also talked about several initiatives they have to help combat food insecurity and promote healthy eating. Nourish to Flourish supports school-based programs. The association is also involved with senior citizens, designing meals that help in the management of chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension. RDs are important resources in efforts to encourage wise food choices which contribute to overall health and wellness, and I thank them for taking the time to meet with me.
I had the pleasure this afternoon of joining staff and students at the Boston Conservatory for the grand opening of the school’s new studio and performance building. As the oldest performing arts conservatory in the country, the school offers hundreds of students training each year in theatre, dance and music. The new building expands the Conservatory’s capacity to educate students and gives them additional studio space to practice. Conservatory graduates have gone on to Broadway as both performers and technical experts. I appreciated the opportunity to participate in the celebration and was impressed by the new facility. The Boston Conservatory is an important part of the thriving Fenway neighborhood, next door to the Boston Arts Academy, and its expansion creates many additional opportunities for its talented students.
The Peace Corps
Last week I had the pleasure of meeting with former Peace Corps volunteers who had served in Asia, Africa, and South America. Many volunteered their services decades ago for the Peace Corps. All had inspiring stories of their experiences abroad and of their commitment to public and community service. For them, this commitment lasted a lifetime. The Peace Corps is one on the most important legacies of President Kennedy’s New Frontier. I learned a lot and was impressed by their stories of service.
Corporate Political Spending
This week the Corporate Reform Coalition announced that one million comments were received by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in support of political spending disclosure. This is a record number of filings and sends a very clear message. A corporation’s money belongs to its shareholders. It should not require a million voices to grant those shareholders a right to know how their money is being spent. With all of this support, the SEC should act quickly to require disclosure. If the SEC continues to delay action on disclosure, then Congress needs to step in. I introduced H.R. 1734, the Shareholder Protection Act of 2013, which would require authorization from a majority of shareholders before a corporation can spend money from its general treasury on political activities. H.R. 1734 would also require a Board of Directors vote to authorize each expenditure over $50,000 within the overall budget approved by shareholders. It would also require the disclosure of corporate political spending to shareholders, the SEC and the public on a quarterly basis. There is overwhelming support for simple transparency and I hope the SEC stands with the one million voices who weighed in on this matter.
What’s Up Next Week
The next House votes are scheduled for Monday September 8th. At this writing a schedule of legislation to be considered is not available.