Column: Massachusetts Senate Hits the Road to Hear from Residents

The Massachusetts State Senate launched Commonwealth Conversations in 2015 in order to make the Senate as a body more responsive and accessible to residents all across Massachusetts.  Similar to the Community Conversations discussions that I have organized in our district, these forums provide invaluable opportunities for dialogue and sharing feedback and ideas.

The way the Commonwealth Conversations work is that Senators visit other regions of Massachusetts, beyond their individual districts, to hear from residents representing diverse geographies and demographics. For example, at a 2015 stop in Melrose, about one-third of the entire Senate was on hand to discuss a range of important local issues with municipal leaders.  The occasion provided my Senate colleagues with greater insight into the unique needs and challenges facing our communities.

The Senate is proud to now unveil Commonwealth Conversations 2017, the next step in our ongoing efforts to make our government more responsive and accessible to you. Senators will be listening carefully to what you have to say, and working hard to make sure that we carry your voices and your ideas back to Beacon Hill. You can visit the Commonwealth Conversations webpage online at to see the schedule and stay apprised of updates on the tour, which will be occurring over the next two and a half months. The visit to our region of the state will take place on April 11, with the exact schedule of stops occurring on that day to be finalized soon.

One of the exciting features of Commonwealth Conversations this year is that there will be a heightened focus on regional transportation needs. In collaboration with the Boston-based Barr Foundation, each regional tour stop will include a session dedicated specifically to transportation issues. These transportation discussions, dubbed “MassMoves,” will feature in-depth presentations on relevant local and regional transportation issues. For example, at the April 11 stop in our region, I expect that we will have a robust discussion about the reliability and performance of the Haverhill and Lowell commuter rail lines and the MBTA orange line and bus service.

Commonwealth Conversations is about hearing your feedback firsthand and being as responsive as possible to your concerns. As Senate President Stan Rosenberg noted: “Everyone from Western Mass to Cape Cod will have the opportunity to offer their ideas and hopes about where the direction of our Commonwealth should head by hearing firsthand about people’s dreams and struggles close to home.” I hope that many of you will be able to join us at one of our stops in our region on April 11.