Sen. Lewis to Host Nov. Office Hours in Reading, Stoneham & Winchester

Senator Jason Lewis is resuming in-person District Office Hours, where any resident is welcome to drop in to speak with him about help they need with state agencies or issues that are important to them.

Senator Lewis will also continue to host monthly Virtual Office Hours via the Zoom videoconferencing platform. The dates of Virtual Office Hours and the link to join can be found at senatorjasonlewis.com/contact/district-office-hours/.

November District Office Hours:

  • Winchester Office Hours: 11/1/2021 at 10:30am, Winchester Public Library, 80 Washington St, Winchester, MA 01890
  • Stoneham Office Hours: 11/1/2021 at 12:00pm, Stoneham Senior Center, 136 Elm St, Stoneham, MA 02180
  • Reading Office Hours: 11/1/2021 at 1:00pm, Pleasant Street Center, 49 Pleasant St, Reading, MA 01867

Office hours in Malden, Melrose and Wakefield will follow on the first Monday in December.

Office hours may be subject to cancellation due to public health mitigation measures or other contingencies, and residents are encouraged to contact Senator Jason Lewis at (617) 722-1206 or Jason.Lewis@masenate.gov with questions, concerns or any other requests.

Sen. Lewis Supports Landmark Voting Reform Legislation in Mass. Senate

On October 6, Senator Jason Lewis joined colleagues in the Massachusetts Senate to pass S.2545, An Act fostering voter opportunities, trust, equity and security (the VOTES Act). This comprehensive voting reform bill permanently codifies the popular mail-in and early voting options used in Massachusetts in 2020. The bill would also enact same-day voter registration, increase ballot access for service members serving overseas, and make a series of other improvements to the Commonwealth’s election administration process.

“Voting is a bedrock constitutional right for every citizen, and that’s why it’s vital that we apply the lessons of pandemic-era elections reforms to usher in a new period of strong ballot access and voter empowerment,” said Senator Jason Lewis. “In addition to establishing same-day voter registration, a standard in-person early voting period, and other important reforms, I’m particularly pleased that the VOTES Act will allow permanent no-excuse mail-in voting. Vote-by-mail has been a top priority for me ever since the 2020 elections proved that it is a secure, reliable and convenient way for many voters to exercise their franchise, and that’s why I filed legislation this session similar to the mail-in voting provision of the VOTES Act.” 

The VOTES Act contains the following key provisions:  

Same-Day Voter Registration 

  • Individuals would be able to register to vote during early voting periods or on the day of a primary or election.  
  • Twenty other states and the District of Columbia already use same-day registration. 

Early Voting In-Person  

  • The bill would require two weeks (including two weekends) of early voting in-person for biennial state elections and any municipal elections held on the same day.  
  • The bill would require one week (including one weekend) of early voting in-person for a presidential or state primary and any municipal elections held on the same day. 
  • The bill would allow municipalities to opt-in to early voting in-person for any municipal election not held concurrently with another election. 

Permanent No-Excuse Mail-In Voting  

  • The bill would require the Secretary of the Commonwealth to send out mail-in ballot applications to all registered voters on July 15 of every even-numbered year; the Secretary of the Commonwealth would have the option to include these applications as part of mailings already required to be sent by the Secretary. 
  • As in 2020, postage would be guaranteed for mail-in ballot applications and ballots.  
  • As in 2020, mail-in ballots would be accepted for a biennial state election if mailed on or by election day and received by 5PM on the third day after the election. 

Additional Flexibility For Local Officials 

  • The bill would give municipalities the option to set up secure drop boxes for mail-in ballots.  
  • The bill would allow election officials to pre-process mail-in and early voting ballots in advance of Election Day. 
  • The bill would give municipalities discretion as to the use of a check-out list at a polling location. 

Accommodations For People With Disabilities 

  • The bill would allow a voter with disabilities to request accommodations from the Secretary of the Commonwealth to vote by mail for state elections. 
  • Accommodations would include: electronic and accessible instructions, ballot application, ballot, and a voter affidavit that can be submitted electronically. 

Jail-Based Voting Reforms  

  • The bill would help ensure that individuals who are incarcerated who are currently eligible to vote are provided with voting information and materials to exercise their right to vote in every state primary and election.  
  • The bill would require correctional facilities to display and distribute information about voting rights and procedures, as prepared by the Secretary of the Commonwealth. 
  • The bill would require facilities to assist individuals who are incarcerated in registering, applying for and returning mail ballots. 
  • Through inclusion of an amendment, the bill would ensure that individuals who are incarcerated are properly notified of their right to vote upon release and given the opportunity fill out a voter registration form 

Joining the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC 

  • The bill would require the Secretary of the Commonwealth to enter into an agreement with ERIC no later than July 1, 2022.  
  • Thirty other states have already joined ERIC, which helps states keep more accurate voting rolls. 

The Senate passage of the VOTES Act follows previous action by the state legislature to temporarily extend vote-by-mail and early voting options through December 15, 2021.  

The VOTES Act now advances on to the Massachusetts House of Representatives for further consideration.  

Sen. Lewis Helps Lead Senate Action to Fight Child Hunger, School Meal Shaming

Senator Jason Lewis recently joined a unanimous vote in the Massachusetts Senate in support of An Act to promote student nutrition that would ensure that more children in Massachusetts have access to free and nutritious school meals. 

“We all understand that a hungry student is not ready to be a successful student, and so we need to do all that we can to ensure that kids have consistent access to healthy school meals without the burdens of meal debt or social stigma,” said Senator Jason Lewis, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Education. “As the Commonwealth continues to strive for an excellent and equitable educational experience for every child, regardless of their ZIP code or family income, this is another important step along the road to closing opportunity and achievement gaps in our public schools.” 

An Act to promote student nutrition requires schools and districts where a majority of students are low-income to enroll in federal programs—known as the Community Eligibility Provision and Provision 2—that enable them to provide free breakfast and lunch to all students. In addition to providing universal meals, these programs reduce administrative burdens for schools.   

The legislation minimizes families’ meal debt by requiring school districts to maximize federal reimbursement revenues and directing the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to assist them in doing so. When students do accrue meal debt, it requires school districts to determine whether they are eligible for free- or reduced-price meals.   

An Act to promote student nutrition also prohibits schools from targeting students who carry meal-related debt with punitive practices such as withholding report cards and transcripts, preventing students from graduating or walking at graduation, barring students from participating in no-fee extracurricular events like field trips, or throwing a child’s hot meal away and replacing it with an inferior meal. 

As Senate Chair of the Education Committee, Senator Lewis helped move this important bill through the legislative process. 

A similar version of the legislation has also been passed by the House of Representatives, and the bill is expected to reach Governor Baker’s desk soon. 

Sen. Lewis Joins Bipartisan Vote to Allow Non-Binary Gender Option on Mass. Drivers’ Licenses, Birth Certificates

Senator Jason Lewis recently joined a bipartisan majority in the Massachusetts Senate to pass An Act relative to gender identity on Massachusetts identification, legislation which would allow a non-binary option other than male or female on birth certificates and drivers license. 

“Vital records are the primary documents that serve as guideposts to our lives: they announce a child’s birth, affirm our most sacred relationships, and help get our affairs in order after we die,” said Senator Jason Lewis, who has been a longstanding advocate for ensuring that state records affirm the subject’s gender identity. “Thanks to the powerful and persuasive advocacy of transgender Massachusetts residents and their allies, the Senate has once again acted to ensure that important state documents can reflect and affirm the gender identity of every resident.” 

An Act relative to gender identity on Massachusetts identification would provide for a non-binary option other than male or female on birth certificates and drivers licenses. The bill also directs the state to begin the process of allowing a non-binary option for all state forms and instances where a gender choice is required.  

Under the bill, the gender on birth records could be changed by an adult, an emancipated minor, or the parent or guardian of a minor. The gender designations on a birth record could include “female”, “male” or “X”—which indicates that the person is another gender or an undesignated gender. No documentation beyond a self-attestation is required to make a change. 

The legislation also enables those who change the gender on their birth certificate to change the name on their birth certificate if they have already gone through the legal name change process. The bill provides three years to change the name on the birth certificate after the gender has been changed, or until the age of 21 for those who changed their gender designation before the age of 18. 

An Act relative to gender identity on Massachusetts identification now awaits action in the House of Representatives. 

Sen. Lewis Joins Bipartisan Vote to Pass the Healthy Youth Act

On September 23, Senator Jason Lewis joined an overwhelming bipartisan majority of state senators to pass the Healthy Youth Act in the Massachusetts Senate.  This bill will ensure that Massachusetts schools electing to provide their students with sex education use age-appropriate and medically accurate curriculum that covers a comprehensive range of topics. The legislation also calls for sex education to be inclusive and appropriate for students regardless of gender, race, disability status, sexual orientation and gender identity. 

“Providing comprehensive, age-appropriate, and medically accurate information to our youth is the best way to prepare them to make safe and healthy choices,” said Senator Jason Lewis, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Education. “I’m pleased that the Senate was able to advance this legislation that will strengthen education and reduce rates of teen pregnancy and transmission of sexually transmitted infections, while keeping parents informed as to students’ curricula.” 

Senator Lewis is a longtime champion of this legislation, and as the Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Education, he was a leader in the Senate advocating its passage this session. The Senate also passed similar versions of the Healthy Youth Act in prior legislative sessions. 

The Healthy Youth Act would ensure that Massachusetts schools electing to provide their students with sex education use age-appropriate and medically accurate curriculum that covers a comprehensive and inclusive range of topics. 

Currently, when Massachusetts public schools provide their students with health education that covers sexual activity, there is no way to ensure that students are being taught research-informed and comprehensive curricula. Schools are still able to utilize ineffective and incomplete abstinence-only or abstinence-centered programming, as well as curricula that excludes important information for LGBTQ+ youth and critical lessons on consent.  

The Healthy Youth Act changes this by requiring school districts that offer sex education to follow certain guidelines to ensure students are provided with age-appropriate, medically accurate, and comprehensive information, including: the benefits of delaying sex; effective contraceptive use; prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs); healthy relationship and communication skills; consent; and gender identity and sexual orientation.  

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education would also be required review and update the Massachusetts Comprehensive Health Curriculum Framework to be consistent with the provisions outlined in this legislation. The most recent Massachusetts Health Curriculum Framework is dated October 10, 1999. To ensure that the framework is periodically updated, DESE would also be required to review the framework at least every ten years.   

This legislation does not require schools to offer sex education and also protects parents’ right to remove their children from all or part of sex education if they choose to do so—an action protected by state law. In addition, it provides districts that teach sex education curriculum with updated guidance on how to notify parents about these programs. 

A 2018 poll conducted by EMC Research showed overwhelming bipartisan support for sex education in Massachusetts, with 92% of likely voters agreeing that students should receive sex education in high school and 89% of likely voters agree that sex education should include comprehensive information, such as how to build healthy relationships and understand consent. 

This bill now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration. 

Sen. Lewis to Resume In-Person Office Hours

Starting this fall, Senator Jason Lewis will resume in-person District Office Hours, where any resident is welcome to drop in to speak with him about help they need with state agencies or issues that are important to them.

Senator Lewis will also continue to host monthly Virtual Office Hours via the Zoom videoconferencing platform. The dates of Virtual Office Hours and the link to join can be found at senatorjasonlewis.com/contact/district-office-hours/.

October:

  • Malden Office Hours: 10/4/2021 at 10:30am, Malden Senior Center, 7 Washington St, Malden, MA 02148
  • Melrose Office Hours: 10/4/2021 at 12:00pm, Melrose City Hall, 562 Main St, Melrose, MA 02176
  • Wakefield Office Hours: 10/4/2021 at 1:30pm, McCarthy Senior Center, 30 Converse St, Wakefield, MA 01880

November:

  • Winchester Office Hours: 11/1/2021 at 10:30am, Winchester Public Library, 80 Washington St, Winchester, MA 01890
  • Stoneham Office Hours: 11/1/2021 at 12:00pm, Stoneham Senior Center, 136 Elm St, Stoneham, MA 02180
  • Reading Office Hours: 11/1/2021 at 1:00pm, Pleasant Street Center, 49 Pleasant St, Reading, MA 01867

Office hours may be subject to cancellation due to public health mitigation measures or other emergencies, and residents are encouraged to contact Senator Jason Lewis at (617) 722-1206 or Jason.Lewis@masenate.gov with questions, concerns or any other requests.

Sen. Lewis Accepting Applications for Autumn 2021 State House Internship

Senator Jason Lewis is seeking civic-minded candidates interested in a fall internship in his State House office. State Senator Jason Lewis proudly represents the people of the Fifth Middlesex District of Massachusetts, which includes the cities and towns of Malden, Melrose, Reading, Stoneham, Wakefield, and parts of Winchester. He currently serves as the Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Education, and he has been a leader in shaping public policy on a range of issues important to his district, region and the state, including education, healthcare, and economic opportunity for all.

Although unpaid, interns will obtain meaningful experience by witnessing and participating in the day-to-day functioning of a State Senate office with special focus on our work with the Education Committee. Due to COVID-19 precautions, operations may occur remotely for part or all of the duration of the internship.

Interns will report mainly to Sarah Zeiberg, Constituent Affairs Director, and will be responsible for assisting with a range of tasks from constituent correspondence to legislative research to social media projects. Interns may also be assigned projects related to early childhood education including attending bill hearings and meetings of the Early Education Commission, researching childcare providers throughout the state, and following the progress of several pieces of priority legislation throughout the fall. Interns in Senator Lewis’ office will gain the satisfaction of serving the Commonwealth and will be able to add valuable experience to their resume.

Interns must have excellent written and verbal communication skills and a high level of attention to detail. Candidates must also be comfortable with Microsoft Office, Google applications, and major social media platforms. Preference will be given to college students and young adults. Demonstrated interest in education, early childhood education and/or childcare a plus. Applications from the Fifth Middlesex District are strongly encouraged. Internships generally span from September through December. Hours are negotiable, ranging from 10-14 hours per week.

Our office does not discriminate in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy and gender identity), national origin, political affiliation, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, genetic information, or age. Applicants of color strongly encouraged to apply.

Candidates should send a resume, brief letter of interest, and writing sample to Sarah.Zeiberg@masenate.gov by Monday, September 20, 2021. References should be available upon request. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis, so interested parties are encouraged to apply promptly. With questions, please call (617) 722-1206.

Sen. Lewis Applauds State Grant for Local Head Start Provider

Senator Jason Lewis and other local state legislators hailed the recent announcement that the Department of Early Education and Care awarded a $2.5 million Head Start State Supplemental Grant to the Head Start and Early Head Start programs run by Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD). The ABCD Head Start and Early Head Start programs serve children and families from Boston, Everett, Malden, Medford, Melrose, North Reading, Reading, Stoneham, Wakefield, and Winchester.

“I’m very pleased to see our state providing this significant level of support to our local Head Start and Early Head Start programs,” said Senator Jason Lewis, who serves as the Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Education which has jurisdiction over early education and care programs. “The high quality early education programs run by ABCD are critical to the early development and well-being of many vulnerable children and low-income families in our communities.”

“We know the social and economic challenges Head Start families face, but more importantly, we know their children’s potential,” said ABCD President/CEO John J. Drew. “The pandemic severely impacted these folks, and we are grateful to the EEC, Senator Lewis, and all those who understand the value of the comprehensive education, health, and family support services that Head Start and Early Head Start provide and secured this critical funding.”

Head Start programs promote the school readiness of infants, toddlers, and preschool-aged children from low-income families. Head Start programs support children’s growth in a positive learning environment through a variety of services, and are available at no cost to children ages birth to 5 from low-income families. Families and children experiencing homelessness, children in the foster care system, and children with disabilities and other special needs are also eligible.

Stoneham and Wakefield Legislators Applaud $225,000 State Grant for Boys & Girls Clubs of Stoneham & Wakefield

Stoneham and Wakefield state legislators Senator Jason Lewis, Representative Michael Day, Representative Kate-Lipper Garabedian and Representative Donald Wong hailed a recent announcement from Massachusetts Commissioner of Early Education and Care Samantha Aigner-Treworgy that the Department of Early Education & Care awarded a FY 2021 Early Education and Out of School Time (EEOST) Capital Fund grant to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Stoneham & Wakefield in the amount of $225,000.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Stoneham & Wakefield will use the state grant funding to help pay for a number of COVID-related facility upgrades.

“This state grant funding will help ensure that the Boys and Girls Clubs of Stoneham & Wakefield will remain a safe, healthy and accessible setting for the young people served by the club, the hardworking staff, and the dedicated volunteers,” said Senator Jason Lewis. “I am pleased that the Commonwealth continues to provide support for our essential local child care providers like the Boys and Girls Clubs.”

“I am pleased that the Boys and Girls Clubs of Stoneham & Wakefield will receive a much-deserved $225,000 Early Education and Out of School Time (EEOST) Capital Fund grant,” said Representative Kate Lipper-Garabedian. “Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, I have been in touch and met virtually with the Club to discuss the important work on which it has led to support children and their families in our community. The capital upgrades made possible with the state grant will enable the Club to make renovations that will enhance the services and programming it offers.”

“This is very welcome news, as the Boys and Girls Clubs provide out-of-school programs and services that allow families to thrive,” said Representative Michael Day. “This investment underscores the importance and value of these programs and ‘the Club’ to our community.”

“We never closed during the pandemic.  Our staff worked tirelessly to support local families and help caregivers get back to work.  For some children this meant being with us for over 40+ hours a week, including meals, snacks, and virtual schooling.  Outside our walls we delivered groceries, 3D printed personal protective equipment, and provided virtual programming for those children who could not come to our Clubs.  All of these programs depend on a facility that can manage the additional stress of this additional use.  This investment by the state made that possible,” said Anthony Guardia, Chief Development Officer of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Stoneham & Wakefield. “It’s an investment that reflects our special relationship with our local legislators.  The legislators and their staff were in constant communication with us on how best we can meet this ongoing challenge.  We knew we could depend on Sen. Lewis, Rep. Day, Rep. Lipper-Garabedian, and Rep. Wong to support us and our kids.  They’ve been advocates, friends, and partners.”

The priorities and goals of the FY 2021 Early Education and Out of School Time (EEOST) Capital Fund are to provide center-based early education and out-of-school time care facilities with resources to make renovations that enhance health and safety, for costs that were incurred during the period between March 22, 2020 and September 30, 2021.

Sen. Lewis & Middlesex Fells Legislative Caucus Secure State Funding for Fells Improvements

Senator Jason Lewis, Representative Paul Donato, and members of the state legislature’s Middlesex Fells Caucus successfully advocated for a $75,000 earmark for the Friends of the Fells as part of the Fiscal Year 2022 state budget. This funding will support conservation efforts that protect and enhance the habitats of the Middlesex Fells Reservation.

Senator Lewis and Representative Donato serve as the co-chairs of the Middlesex Fells Legislative Caucus, which was formed earlier this year. The other members of the caucus include: Senators Brendan Crighton and Pat Jehlen, and Representatives Christine Barber, Michael Day, Sean Garballey, Kate Lipper-Garabedian, and Steven Ultrino. The goal of the caucus is to advocate for funding and policies that promote conservation and provide sustainable recreational opportunities for all to enjoy the Middlesex Fells. The caucus will be working closely with the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) which manages the Fells, as well as the Friends of the Fells and other stakeholder groups.

Senator Lewis and the Middlesex Fells Caucus were also successful in creating a new Middlesex Fells Reservation Trust Fund. This Fund will be able to accept both public funding and private donations that advance recreational, educational and conservation efforts, and support infrastructure improvements for the Middlesex Fells Reservation.

“The Middlesex Fells Reservation is a wonderful resource available to our communities, which even more people have discovered during the pandemic,” said Senator Jason Lewis, co-chair of the Middlesex Fells Legislative Caucus. “I’m thrilled that we were able to secure this funding in the state budget to support the vital work that the Friends of the Fells does to promote conservation, recreation, and education for all in the Middlesex Fells.”

“As co-chair of the Fells Caucus, I take great pleasure in the securing of important funding for Friends of the Fells as well as the Middlesex Fells Trust Fund,” said Representative Paul Donato. “It is our duty to protect the beautiful nature that is all around us in the Commonwealth. Nobody knows that better than the Friends of the Middlesex Fells as they tackle important conservation initiatives such as reducing rogue trails, managing invasive weeds, and so much more. It is my honor to support them, and it is all of our responsibilities to protect the nature that surrounds us here in Massachusetts.”

“The Middlesex Fells is one of the Commonwealth’s favorite nature spaces, and has proven to be essential natural infrastructure during the pandemic, providing a safe space to get outside, get active, and access the mental health benefits nature provides,” said Friends of the Fells Executive Director Chris Redfern. “This funding allocation to the Friends of the Middlesex Fells’ Sustainable Fells Campaign will strengthen our ability to care for the nature of the Fells and make sure it is a safe and welcoming space for everyone.”

The FY22 state budget is now on Governor Baker’s desk awaiting his action.