Here's a short excerpt:
Representative Natalie Higgins highlighted the "unimaginable sacrifices" veterans and their families make in the name of guarding the nation's freedoms.
"I'm so thankful for all of your sacrifices to make our community safe and to guarantee that we are free here in Massachusetts and the rest of the country," she said.
Read the rest of the article at: http://www.sentinelandenterprise.com/news/ci_31448298/day-remember-salute#ixzz55WbOyRXk
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 10, 2017
Contact: Representative Natalie Higgins, 978-602-3772
House Passes Legislation to Protect Women at Risk of Losing Birth Control Coverage
Underscores economic impact of contraception coverage
BOSTON - Representative Natalie Higgins (D-Leominster) joined her colleagues in the Massachusetts House to pass legislation to ensure that Massachusetts women have access to no-copay contraception. This action follows the Trump Administration’s decision to weaken critical provisions of the Affordable Care Act related to women’s health and preventive care.
This compromise bill requires insurers to cover contraceptives and contraceptive services in Massachusetts, including education, counseling and follow-up treatment, without any out-of-pocket cost to the patient. In an effort to contain healthcare costs, the bill only requires insurers to cover one version of a drug or device free of charge, if a therapeutic equivalent (generic drug) is available, unless otherwise directed by a patient’s doctor.
“All women deserve the right to affordable, reliable and safe contraceptive care,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop). “This is not only a health issue, but one of equity as well. Being able to make decisions about contraception is one of the most influential factors in whether women complete their education and achieve their career goals. I’m proud that Massachusetts did the right thing in the face of shameful decisions on the federal level.”
“Amid an environment of fear and uncertainty out of Washington, I’m proud that Massachusetts is standing up for the right to access to no-copay contraception,” said Speaker Pro Tempore Patricia A. Haddad (D-Somerset), co-sponsor of the bill. “Now, more than ever, we need to stand up to safeguard choices and opportunity for women.”
“Women should have access to contraception,” said Chairman John W. Scibak (D-South Hadley), co-sponsor of the bill. “But, this is not just a women’s issue. It’s a men’s issue, a family issue, and a societal issue. I’m proud that Massachusetts is doing the right thing and guaranteeing that women can exercise their choices and have free access to oral contraceptives.”
“The number one issue I hear about from constituents is access to reproductive healthcare,” said Representative Higgins. I believe this is one of the most important issues we’ll take on this session. We cannot afford to roll back these protections, regardless of what is going on at the federal level.”
In its October 2017 report, the Center for Health Information and Analysis (CHIA) notes that “increasing the dispensing period of contraceptives to a year facilitates access and may lead to a more consistent contraceptive use.” Understanding that consistency is critical to effective use of contraceptives, this bill allows patients to pick up a twelve-month supply of medicine subsequent to an initial three-month prescription.
The legislation also mandates no-copay coverage for emergency contraception with a prescription.
Access to preventive healthcare and affordable contraception continues to have a significant impact on the economic stability of women. Contraceptives make up about 30 to 44 percent of out-of-pocket healthcare spending for women. Since 1960, it is estimated that about one-third of the wage gains made by women are the result of access to birth control.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 10, 2017
Contact: Representative Natalie Higgins, 978-602-3772
House Passes Legislation to Support and Honor Military Veterans
(BOSTON) – Representative Natalie Higgins joined her colleagues in the House of Representatives to pass two bills to support Massachusetts’ veterans. These bills build upon the Commonwealth’s legacy as the first state in the nation for the number of programs and services it offers to military personnel, veterans and their families.
“I am immensely proud that Massachusetts ranks first in the nation when it comes to military-benefit programs and services,” House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo said. “This legislation sends a message to our heroes and their families that we appreciate their bravery, sacrifice and service. While these two bills are small steps, the House is continuing its work in providing critical and well-deserved supports.”
"We wanted to put these important bills out before Veterans Day to honor those who have served as a small token of our appreciation,” said Representative John J. Lawn, Jr., Chair of the House Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs.
“Our veterans, soldiers and their loved ones make sacrifices each and every day to serve and protect our communities, and for that I am so thankful,” said State Representative Natalie Higgins. “I am proud to stand with my colleagues and pass these two pieces of legislation as we honor them on Veterans Day.”
Under legislation passed by the House, every municipality in the Commonwealth will now designate one parking space at its town or city hall as “veterans-only parking.”
The House also took action to enable municipalities to more easily collect donations for their Veterans Memorial and Patriotic Celebration Funds. This legislation allows cities and towns to include a check-off box on municipal tax or motor vehicle excise tax bills through which residents can pledge donations to be used for the creation and restoration of monuments and other activities that honor the contributions and sacrifices of local veterans.
Originally published at: http://www.leominsterchamp.com/articles/leominster-continues-to-lead-the-way-in-manufacturing/
While we were all picking out our Halloween costumes in October, I also wanted to give a shout out to our Leominster manufacturers in honor of Manufacturing Month.
Throughout the month, I’ve gotten to tour some impressive local manufacturing businesses and even take an educational “field trip” to South Carver to learn more about Massachusetts cranberry farming and processing.
Leominster has played (and continues to play) a particularly influential role in manufacturing in Massachusetts and nationwide. While Leominster started out as a small farming community, our economy quickly shifted towards manufacturing at the beginning of the 19th century, thanks to accessible transportation routes and a strong workforce.
By the 1850s, Leominster and the surrounding communities were home to many industries, including paper mills, piano makers, and comb manufacturers. Most notably, comb manufacturing quickly grew to 24 different manufacturers cropping up in Leominster by 1853.
With the introduction of plastics, Leominster continued to lead the way, eventually became the “Pioneer Plastics City.” Leominster became home to the Viscoloid Company (which later merged with the DuPont Company), Foster Grant, Tupperware, Standard Tool Company, Selig Manufacturing Co. Inc, C.E. Buckley, Inc., and the Whitney Carriage Company. And no one can forget that the plastic pink lawn flamingo was invented in 1956 for Union Products, with the original design by Don Featherstone. I proudly have my Leominster pink lawn flamingos in my Leominster and Boston offices.
Manufacturing still remains a major player in our local and regional economy, accounting for one-quarter of all jobs in both Leominster and across North Central Massachusetts. Our region actually has the highest concentration of manufacturers in Massachusetts, as many other regions have seen manufacturing jobs disappear.
We should be proud of the training our own Center for Technical Education and Innovation provides our students. Just this month, thanks to a Skills Capital Grant application prepared by Machine Technology Instructor Steve McNamara and his wife Erin, CTEi was awarded a grant of $492,000 to continue necessary updates to program equipment. This will help round out the additional investment of $150,000 CTEi has already made in the program.
With such a promise of our past and present in the manufacturing industry, I am excited to continue to help connect the dots between our schools, our local Chambers of Commerce, and our area manufacturers to ensure Leominster remains an area leader. Many of these partners are already looking to ways to set the bar even higher, and to foster the growth of clean and renewable energy technology. There is so much more room for this Gateway City to grow and provide even more meaningful, high-quality, and well-paying jobs for Leominster residents.
Thank you for taking the time to read this month’s column. If you have any questions, or need to get in touch with me and my office, email me at Natalie.Higgins@mahouse.gov or call (978) 227-5278.
On Saturday, Oct. 28, Leominster hosted its first low-cost Pet Vaccine and Microchip Clinic at the Leominster Office of Emergency Management.
State Rep. Natalie Higgins worked with Sophie’s Mission, Friends of Fitchburg Dog Park, Be PAWSitive and the Massachusetts Animal Fund to bring the clinic to the city. Dozens of families and more than 100 pets participated in the clinic.
The low-cost vaccines and microchips were provided by veterinarians and staff from Second Chance Animal Shelter. Second Chance Animal Shelter has been helping animals since 1999. It is a no-kill shelter and 501(c)(3) nonprofit that has helped more than 26,000 pets through adoption, low cost spay/neuter, subsidized veterinary care, community outreach, educational programs, training, a pet food pantry, and other services.
If you are interested in participating in the future, the next vaccine and microchip clinic will be held March 24, 2018 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Fitchburg Fire Department, 33 North St., Fitchburg.
Higgins is working to secure a date to bring the clinic back to Leominster in the fall of 2018. If you are interested in helping organize the next clinic, email Higgins at Natalie.Higgins@mahouse.gov or call (978) 227-5278.
For Immediate Release
October 12, 2017
Contact: Natalie.Higgins@mahouse.gov, 978-602-3772
House Passes Legislation Banning Bump Stocks
Strengthens Massachusetts’ Nationally-Recognized Gun Safety Laws
BOSTON- Representative Natalie Higgins (D-Leominster) joined her colleagues in the Massachusetts House of Representatives to pass an amendment sponsored by Representative David Linsky to the 2017 Supplemental Budget banning the sale, purchase, or ownership of a “bump stock” and similar devices.
The amendment adopted by the House bans the possession, ownership, or sale of any device that attaches to a rifle, shotgun, or firearm, other than a magazine, which is designed to increase the rate of fire of said weapon. The legislation carries a punishment of imprisonment in the state prison by not less than three years nor more than twenty years, and goes into effect six months from the passage of the bill.
“I am proud and encouraged that the House’s 2014 gun law has resulted in Massachusetts having the lowest rate of gun deaths per capita,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo. “There’s no doubt about it: The stronger the gun laws, the safer the state. Today’s vote to ban bump stocks is a responsible, commonsense action to protect our citizens and make our laws even stronger. I thank Chairman Linsky for his initiative and I urge other states and Congress to take action on gun safety.”
“What we saw last week in Las Vegas was horrific,” said Representative Jeffrey Sánchez, House Chair of the Joint Committee on Ways & Means (D-Boston). “While we cannot bring those precious lives back, today’s bump stock ban prevents another tragedy from taking place in Massachusetts, and builds on our progress promoting sensible gun safety in the Commonwealth.”
“This legislation will ensure that no one in Massachusetts can legally possess a ‘bump stock,’ a device designed to increase the deadliness of these already deadly weapons,” said Representative Linsky (D-Natick). “These devices were created by gun manufacturers as a work-around of the federal law banning the sale and possession of automatic weapons, and there is absolutely no place for them in a civilized society.”
“When I woke last Sunday to the news of the tragedy in Las Vegas, I was distraught to learn that the devices the gunman used to help his semi-automatic guns mimic automatic weapons may fall under a loophole of Massachusetts law,” said Representative Higgins. “I knew we had to take action in the Massachusetts legislature and I am proud to stand with my colleagues to protect the safety of Massachusetts residents.”
A “bump stock” is a device that uses the recoil of a semiautomatic firearm to file several shots in succession, mimicking automatic gun fire. While the weapon still fires one bullet for every pull of the trigger, the “bump stock” automates the trigger-pull process, allowing shooters to fire at a rate of 400 to 800 rounds a minute. Twelve of the rifles the gunman in the Las Vegas mass shooting were modified with a “bump stock,” allowing him to increase the fire rate of his weapon.
“Congress has continued its failure to act in the wake of yet another gun violence tragedy, but I applaud Speaker DeLeo and the rest of my colleagues in the Massachusetts House for their willingness to take a stand on this issue of public safety,” said Representative Linsky. “We must continue to take the initiative at the state level to improve our state’s gun laws, and ultimately save lives.”
The Amendment, which passed 151-3, now goes to the Massachusetts Senate for debate.
Originally published in: http://www.leominsterchamp.com/articles/families-and-communities-can-make-a-difference/
Serving on the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery, I have had the privilege of hearing the stories of both the struggles and the successes from Massachusetts residents whose lives have been affected by addiction. Individuals who embrace recovery achieve improved mental and physical health and form stronger relationships.
We need to make more people feel as though recovery is possible.
Mental and/or substance use disorders affect people of all ethnicities, ages, genders, geographic regions, and socioeconomic levels. They need to know that help is available. These individuals can get better, both physically and emotionally, with the support of a welcoming community.
Families and communities can find hope and spread the message that recovery works by celebrating the annual National Recovery Month, an initiative sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Every other Saturday in Leominster, “Alone No More,” a support group for people who have been personally affected by the opioid epidemic and addiction in general, meets at the Unitarian Universalist Church on West Street. It is a safe place for the healing to begin, and also to have a support system to lean on for comfort. In addition to group meetings, the church’s volunteer staff is also available for one-on-one sessions. The next two scheduled gatherings are on Sept. 30 and Oct. 14.
If you know someone who is struggling with addiction, please let them know that free, confidential help is available 24 hours a day through SAMHSA’s National Helpline, (800) 662-HELP (4357) or (800) 487-4889 (TDD). Additionally, you can visit the Recovery Month website at https://recoverymonth.gov/node/1273.
Offering support to those experiencing mental and/or substance use disorders can make a huge difference. Together we can help others realize the promise of recovery and give families the right support to help their loved ones.
Thank you for taking the time to read this month’s column. If you have any questions, or need to get in touch with me and my office, email me at Natalie.Higgins@mahouse.gov or call (978) 227-5278. Hoping you have a fun and healthy fall!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: State Representative Natalie Higgins, 978-602-3772
September 18, 2017
House Reaffirms Commitment to Education, Safety and Health Care Funding
House Addresses Gubernatorial Vetoes
BOSTON – Representative Natalie Higgins (D-Leominster) and her colleagues in the House recently took action to restore vital funding that was vetoed by the Baker Administration. These veto overrides will enhance support for the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable residents, including those with dependent children, and bolster education initiatives.
The House voted to restore about $220 million in funding for MassHealth, including $209 million for caseloads, as well as funding for senior care and nursing home supplemental rates. The veto overrides also addressed funding for prostate cancer and pediatric palliative care.
“As elected officials, it is our duty to stand up for the voiceless and vulnerable,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop). “I thank my colleagues in the House for their extraordinary work to help those most in need while maintaining a responsible, balanced budget.”
“We restored funding to important statewide priorities and initiatives including monies for the pediatric palliative care and MassHealth to ensure full funding of the projected caseload while we continue to evaluate MassHealth reform,” said Representative Jeffrey Sánchez, House Chair of the Joint Committee on Ways & Means (D-Boston). “This returns us to Conference Committee funding levels, which are balanced and sustainable. We will continue to monitor state fiscal trends.”
“This was my first state budget process and the Legislature worked hard to pass a well-balanced, responsible, and bipartisan budget in July,” said Representative Higgins. “The Governor vetoed essential funding to programs assisting residents all across the Commonwealth, and I am glad to join my colleagues to restore those vital services.”
The House took numerous steps to support vulnerable populations and children including funds for:
The House has been a longstanding champion of early education and care (EEC) and in this year’s budget made unprecedented investments to support the workforce, provide access to high-quality learning opportunities, and help prevent and detect mental health issues in young children. The House overrode the Governor’s veto of $1.25 million for Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Services. The House also voted to restore funding for numerous other education programs and institutions including:
The House also voted to restore funding for essential safety initiatives including the Department of Fire Services and the Boston Regional Counter-Terrorism Center.