January 29, 2016
Votes in the House were cancelled because of the blizzard that struck Washington, D.C. which resulted in an unexpected district work week.
New England College of Optometry
I met with New England College of Optometry (NECO) President Cliff Scott this week for an update on the college’s activities, including research initiatives and the work staff is doing in the Boston public school system. The NECO provides extensive training and education for those interested in an eye care career with opportunities available for clinical rotations in area community health centers. Students also help staff the college’s mobile eye centers and its initiatives abroad. Faculty and students conduct research to gain a better understanding of the origin and treatment of conditions that impair eye health and threaten vision. The NECO also partners with the Boston Public Schools to offer onsite eye exams to students. President Scott gave me an overview of various ongoing research projects and how the college hopes they will impact eye health. I appreciated the update and thanked President Scott for taking the time to meet with me.
Massachusetts Association of Behavioral Health Systems
I met with representatives from the Massachusetts Association of Behavioral Health Systems (MABHS) to talk about the legislative outlook in Congress, specifically as it relates to mental health issues. The MABHS is a Massachusetts based trade association that advocates for psychiatric care and treatment for substance abuse. We had a far ranging conversation about the challenges facing mental and behavioral health providers, particularly regarding the surge in opioid use and addiction. I gained a better understanding of the difficulties facing individuals who provide this care. MABHS asked me to consider co-sponsoring HR 2646, “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2015.” While the bill is not perfect, I think it represents an important step forward in care for those in need of assistance and I am happy to co-sponsor it.
Boston Public Library
I had the great pleasure Wednesday of visiting the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library (BPL). I met curator Ronald E. Grim; acting BPL President David Leonard; and many of their staff, including those most closely involved with education in grades K to 12. This remarkable collection now includes 200,000 maps and 5,000 atlases. We viewed some maps that were truly works of art and others of great historical interest, including those featured in their exhibitions on the American Revolutionary and Civil Wars. Staffers design lesson plans to enrich the study of history with the use of maps. They also provide professional development for teachers. Maps help us understand how people saw and made sense of their world and how they continue to do so, now with digital maps. It is good to know that our students have access to these resources and are being taught about their significance.
The Leventhal Map Center has an excellent website, created through collaborations with other libraries, including the Library of Congress, and I recommend it to you. Here is the link: http://maps.bpl.org/view_collection
Randolph Chamber of Commerce
I spent an evening with members of the Randolph Chamber of Commerce at the organization’s dinner. I enjoyed catching up with the local business community, learning about the successes and the challenges of the past year. I always enjoy talking with local businesses in my district and learning more about how federal policies are impacting them.
Massachusetts Convention Center Authority
I met today with David Gibbons, who is the new Executive Director of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority. I hadn’t yet had the opportunity to meet Mr. Gibbons so today’s exchange was an introduction. We talked about Mr. Gibbons’ background as well as his vision for the convention center, which is a valuable economic resource for the Commonwealth. I enjoyed meeting Mr. Gibbons and learning more about his plans for the center.
I met this week with Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack and department staff. We are in touch regularly on a whole host of transportation issues, including, not surprisingly, the Green Line Extension (GLX). I reiterated my strong support for the project and my willingness to keep an open mind as the state reviews all aspects of the design. I am convinced that the state will not give up on the GLX, which will mean walking away from $1 billion in federal transportation funding. As I have noted in the past, this money can only be used for the GLX. I emphasized that in our meeting and we pledged to continue keeping the lines of communication open.
What’s Up Next
The next House votes are scheduled for Monday February 1st.