(Holyoke) (Boston) At the beginning of the new year, State Representative Aaron Vega is reflecting on the year just past. “I was honored in my first year as State Rep to support important legislation around Higher Education investment, job creation and transportation financing,” said Vega, who is preparing for the second year of his first term as the Fifth Hampden State Representative.  “These are my priorities and are crucial to addressing Holyoke’s challenges and promise.”

In 2013, the House passed major legislation pertaining to economic development, transportation, education, welfare, compounding pharmacies, and election laws. This includes two major finance bills, the FY14 budget and the transportation finance bill, both of which are designed to stimulate economic growth.  “This year, through strategic investments and reforms, we positioned the Commonwealth for even greater growth as we continue to strengthen our economy,” House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo said. “I’m proud of the work we’ve done to support our citizens and municipalities, and believe the legislation we’ve passed this session will improve the lives of people across Massachusetts.”

Some of the legislative highlights for 2013 include:  bolstering both Chapter 70 funds for local public schools and funding for the University of Massachusetts, which will prevent tuition and fees increases in the coming year; passing the VALOR Act which provides veterans with property tax relief and job training as they make the adjustment back to civilian life; ensuring the continuation of programs such as Manufacturing Futures and Mass Works designed to help individuals achieve economic independence; providing heating assistance to our most vulnerable population; and addressing important infrastructure improvements necessary to our transportation system.

The highlights are summarized below:

  • The FY14 budget, a $34 billion plan, allocates essential funds that advance the growth of the local economy and support the Commonwealth’s essential services and programs.
  • The transportation finance bill is designed to solve long-standing financial problems through continued reforms and a future, stable funding source without placing too great a burden on working families.
  • Following the 2012 meningitis outbreak linked to contaminated drugs, Massachusetts became the first state to pass comprehensive legislation relative to compounding pharmacies. This legislation  addresses a previous lack of consistent standards, at both a state and federal level, governing the operations of specialty pharmacies engaged in sterile compounding by improving oversight, licensing and quality standards.
  • The Economic Independence Act enhances the efficacy of the state’s welfare system through new initiatives and reforms.
  • Approval of election legislation that establishes early voting for presidential elections and provides resources to local officials and residents to make the voting process more efficient. This bill is expected to significantly decrease wait times on Election Day and allow greater access to voting.
  • Passed legislation to ensure that students with disabilities have Individualized Education Plans (IEP) that includes short-term objectives and benchmarks. The inclusion of short-term goals in a student’s IEP is important in order to measure the impact of special education instruction and services.
  • Expanded efforts to require national background checks through fingerprinting of teachers, daycare providers, and persons living or working on facility premises. The new law, which stemmed from the Federal Bureau of Investigation recommendations, also requires address-based sex offender checks of early education and care facilities.
  • Creation of another August sales tax holiday in an effort to boost sales for local businesses.

For more information, contact Aaron Vega at 413-650-2727