Welcome to my blog, “Jamie’s Beacon Hill Blog.” As part of my efforts to be in touch with the people of the Middlesex & Worcester District, I’ll be using this blog to speak directly to constituents, and get feedback about legislation I’ve filed, proposals I’ve made, and concerns in the district. I plan to post at least once a week, and make myself available to respond to readers’ comments as much as possible.
It is simply amazing how quickly direct online interaction between politicians and constituents has grown over the past year. On any given day, I’m contacted by constituents through email, Facebook, LinkedIn, or through my website. I pride myself on the close contact I keep with my constituents, whether electronically, or over the phone, or in person at an event or personal appointment.
Given the economic crisis that Massachusetts and the rest of the country is facing, this personal interaction is even more important when you consider that many people are contacting my office because they’ve lost a job, are upset that a state program is being cut, or want to know how legislation like the federal stimulus package is going to help their community. If you share these concerns, or have any other request, I hope that you will contact me.
As the State Senator for 14 communities and over 160,000 people, there are dozens of things that I’m working on now for the people of the Middlesex & Worcester District, and I look forward to talking more about them on this blog. I feel incredibly blessed to be an elected official, and am excited to help move the district forward over the next two years.
However, for today I want to write about something that I get asked about rather often from people I meet. That is, “What do you do as a state senator?” There is often a mistaken impression that legislators either spend all of their time in their legislator chamber, debating each other for hours at a time, or that the job is merely a part-time pursuit.
On both counts, nothing could be further from the truth. The job is, first of all, a full-time job, especially for a State Senator. Generally my work hours are from 7:30 am to 10 pm, Monday through Saturday, and often times Sundays, too. A legislator generally has a schedule that is molded by the needs and demands of his or her constituents. Early morning legislative breakfasts, personal appointments with constituents, meetings with issue advocacy groups, charity dinners, policy forums, and legislative conferences fill my schedule.
Out of these interactions come legislation to file, budgets requests to fight for, calls and letters to state agencies, memos to write, more meetings to arrange, speeches to give, and outreach to stakeholders on any particular issue.
On top of this of course is traditional “legislating.” When the Senate takes up major legislation like the recent transportation reform bill, debate on the bill takes up at least one full day. And of course, before any bill is debated on the floor of the Senate, there are public hearings, meetings between legislators reviewing the bill, and negotiation between the House, Senate and Executive branch.
This kind of schedule ensures that I get a good idea of how the constituents that I represent feel about the issues that I’m working on, and the positions that I have. It’s a wonderful, chaotic, demanding, and intense profession, and one that is incredibly rewarding.
Why? Because there are real opportunities to make a difference in people’s lives, ranging from helping one constituent in getting an answer from a state agency to guaranteeing a civil right for an entire group of people in the Commonwealth. Because working together with the public and other elected officials, I can be a part of making progress for the people of Massachusetts. And finally, because bringing people from all walks of life together to create change is the most challenging, complex, satisfying and emotional jobs in the world, and it’s a privilege to wake up every morning and fight for this kind of change.
I hope my first blog posting as State Senator gives you an idea of how I can help you, the challenges I face trying to help you, and that you feel encouraged and welcomed to contact me. Hope to hear from you soon!