In this newsletter, you'll find updates on:
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Happy summer! I hope you are all enjoying sunny days and the great events that Somerville and Medford have to offer. I recently attended ArtBeat in Somerville and Circle the Square in Medford Square. These kinds of events continue to make me glad that I live and work in such vibrant communities with active citizens.
I'm excited to share with you an update of goings on at the State House. As always, please contact me at with any updates, issues or suggestions!
Since I’ve last written, the House and Senate have agreed to what’s called a Conference Committee Budget, or a compromise between the two branches. I’m proud that many of my priorities made it into this budget, which we approved on July 8.
Next in the budget process, Governor Baker vetoed funding for a number of key programs. But I'm happy that the legislature voted to override many of these vetoes to restore the compromise budget and fund critical work in our communities.
A few budget wins:
Green Line Extension News
You’ve probably noticed construction in our communities related to GLX infrastructure, and there are a lot of recent updates about the Green Line Extension:
* Gilman Square – the station design for the Winter Hill area is nearly complete. See the model here.
* Ball Square – This station is also designed. See the station design.
* College Ave Station – As you may have heard, Tufts University is working with the MBTA to construct a building over the new station at College Ave. The design is being developed, and more information is here.
* Route 16 – I continue to support the GLX to Route 16 and am working with our communities to keep funding for the project in the state transportation plan.
Back to top
City officials and advocates from Somerville Community Corporation recently came to the State House to testify on Somerville's Jobs Trust Actthat will help train and place workers in local jobs.
In the News
Funding for Mystic River Master Plan, Aquatic Invasive Species Control Included in State FY2016 Budget
Read about two crucial appropriations for the Mystic River that were included in the Legislature's final FY2016 Budget. Both requests, $250,000 for the Mystic River Master Plan and $100,000 for Mystic River Aquatic Invasive Species Control, were fully funded.
Get in touch with Christine
Coming to your neighborhood!
Over the next few weeks, I'll be going door-to-door in different areas of Medford and Somerville to introduce myself and listen to constituent concerns. I hope to see many of you!
Upcoming Office Hours
Medford, Ward 5 (Main St): Cafe Deia
Thursday, September 10th, 9-11AM
Somerville, Ward 7: Angelina's
Friday, September 18th, 10AM-12PM
Somerville, Assembly Sq: PAUL
Friday, October 2nd, 10AM-12PM
Medford, Hillside: Danish Pastry
Friday, October 9th, 10AM-12PM
Contact me any time.
Call the office: (617) 722-2430
Reach me at home: (617) 410-6025
Stop by the State House!
Come by Room 236 to meet my aide, Claire, or email her to make an appointment with me.
Community Events, Meetings and News
- National Night Out events promote safety and building relationships in our community. On the evening of August 4, join Somerville at Foss Park and Medford at Mystic Place Apartments.
- Join Teen Empowerment and the Somerville Police Department in a Walking Dialogue of Ten Hills. August 19, 6-7:30PM at Grimmons Park.
- The MBTA wants to know what you think about service. A survey, available in a number of languages, is here.
Christine talking with advocates atMass Senior Action about affordable health care before they traveled to the State House to testify on bills that impact them.
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
It seems that I was just sworn in to office, but somehow it’s already spring and our work is well underway. The Legislature has begun the budget season – in which we spend months debating and deciding how to best spend the Commonwealth’s annual budget of approximately $38 billion. A quick refresher on the budget process: the Governor presented his version of the budget in March. Then the House Ways and Means committee released a budget on April 15, after which House members had 48 hours to file amendments to make any changes or add in funding. This past week, House members debated the budget and 1,096 amendments that were filed. Now, the budget will head to the Senate to undergo the same process. Finally, it will go to a conference committee to iron out differences between the House and Senate versions, and then we will vote on final passage. This whole process takes a few months, often through July.
Developing the state’s budget is one of the most important responsibilities we have in the Legislature. How we decide to spend taxpayer funds speaks to our values for the Commonwealth. Overall, I am happy with the choices made in the House budget. One of my major priorities, investment in housing subsidies through the MRVP (Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program), received a significant increase in funding, which will create over 700 additional vouchers to help at-risk families throughout the Commonwealth stay out of shelters and be able to afford housing. I also supported amendments to improve upon other areas of the budget, several of which were successful. These include increased funds for legal aid, safe play spaces for homeless children, domestic violence and sexual assault services, HIV/AIDS prevention, and funds for Teen Empowerment.
I sponsored two amendments to the budget. One was to fund the design of projects in the Mystic River Master Plan, a document that the Department of Conservation and Recreation created to improve the river and areas surrounding it. Through the leadership of the Somerville and Medford delegation, this funding was included in last year's budget, but was unfortunately was cut due to budget limitations during the year. This year, I am happy to report that the House approved $35,000 to devote to the Mystic River Master Plan.
My second amendment would have made more people eligible for a program to help move families into housing and reduce shelter use, known as HomeBASE. Currently, families in domestic violence and substance abuse shelters have few resources available to them, and do not qualify for HomeBASE. My amendment would have opened access to HomeBASE for families in these shelters. While this amendment was not ultimately adopted, it is an issue I believe is critical. Finding effective ways to help move families from shelters into housing is something I will continue to work toward.
Finally, I appreciated hearing from so many constituents who voiced their priorities during the budget process. Please continue to let me know which areas you care most about by email at Christine.Barber@mahouse.gov.
In the Community - Screening of The Anonymous People; Housing Families breakfast; ArtsMatter!
In April, Christine hosted Somerville Overcoming Addiction and Massachusetts Organization for Addiction Recovery (MOAR) in a screening of the film “The Anonymous People” about reducing the stigma of addiction and recovery. Over 50 people, including students from local recovery high schools, participated in the event.
Christine speaking at the Housing Families breakfast in March, where many families shared their stories of being homeless and finding permanent housing through the services provided by Housing Families.
Advocates from Somerville visited the State House on ArtsMatter! day in March. Thanks for your work supporting local artists! Christine is a strong supporter of the budget amendment increase funding for the Massachusetts Cultural Council up to $15 million. These funds are distributed to local areas to support the work of Somerville and Medford’s cultural councils.
Have a concern or just want to say hi? Come to Office Hours!
Upcoming office hours:
*Saturday, May 9, 3PM-4:30PM at Angelina's Pizza, 230 Holland Street, Somerville WITH ALDERMAN KATJANA BALLANTYNE!
*Tuesday, May 19, 6PM-8PM, South Medford Fire Station Community Room, Zero Medford Street, Medford
*Friday, June 5, 10AM-12, Danish Pastry House, 330 Boston Ave, Medford
Contact me any time.
My office contact is Christine.Barber@mahouse.gov or (617) 722-2430, or reach me at home at (617) 410-6025.
Or stop by my State House office in Room 236 and meet my aide, Claire.
Community Events, Meetings and News
In this section, I share events in and around our communities. Feel free to send me events to cover.
* Teen Empowerment 2015 Youth Peace Conference, Saturday, May 9 at 12:30PM, Somerville High School
* Somerville Homeless Coalition Save Our Homes Walk, Sunday May 17 at 2PM, Somerville High School
* West Medford Open Studios, May 16 - 17, all over West Medford
* Landlords needed: Housing Families is seeking landlords interested in joining the Section 8 program to help families with vouchers find safe and appropriate housing. More information here.
In the news:
Welcome to State Representative Christine Barber's first newsletter
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Welcome to my first newsletter as State Representative for Somerville and Medford! It has already been a very eventful few weeks and it is my hope to keep you updated and encourage you to reach out to me about issues.I plan to send out a brief newsletter every month or two. Sections will include updates on legislation and statewide issues, local events and happenings of interest, and community news. Please feel free to send this to friends and encourage others to sign up for updates.
If you have events, information or in-depth topics you would like me to include in a future e-newsletter, please send me an email at Christine.Barber@mahouse.gov.
Getting started in the State House
It’s been a busy few weeks of putting together an office and getting to work at the State House. We had a one-week deadline to file bills after being sworn in. I sponsored bills on health care protections, children’s vision screening, multi-family housing, and the T (see below). I’ll send more information about these issues over the next few months.
In addition, we had three weeks to co-sponsor, or support, other legislators’ bills, of which there were over 5000 filed. I heard from many constituents about different issues and chose about 100 bills to support through co-sponsorship, on issues ranging from education to the environment to labor. I am particularly looking forward to supporting Rep. Sannicandro’s bill to expand affordable access to public higher education, Rep. Smizik’s bill to create an adaptive management plan for the Commonwealth to address climate change, and Sen. Wolf’s bill to implement $15 an hour wages for employees of fast food chains and big box retail stores. Over the next two years of the legislative session, I will be working on these bills (and many others) to help move them forward in any way that I can.
Finally, last week I was appointed to serve on four committees over the 2-year session, and I’m fortunate to have great assignments. I will be on the Committees on Health Care Financing; Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture; Public Health; as well as Personnel and Administration. Key issues faced by our communities will come up in these committees, and I will keep constituents updated throughout the year.
Christine with fellow members of Somerville Community Corporation's Land Use Committee at SCC's Annual Meeting in February.
Over the next few weeks and months, I will continue to sit down with many organizations and local groups in the Somerville and Medford communities. I’m looking forward to doing outreach and strengthening relationships with local groups. If you have an event, site, or organization that you think I should visit, please reach out to my office. We are happy to set something up.
Christine with Rep. Paul Donato, Middlesex Sheriff Peter Koutoujian, and Congresswoman Katherine Clark at Medford High School to celebrate National School Breakfast Week.
Visit my upcoming office hours:
*Friday, March 13th, 12-2PM at the Senior Center, 167 Holland Street (TAB Building), Somerville
*Friday, March 27th, 10AM-12 at the Mystic Activity Center Community Room, 530 Mystic Ave, Somerville
*Tuesday, April 7th, 6-8PM, South Medford Fire Station Community Room, Zero Medford Street, Medford
*Friday, April 24th, 10AM-12, Danish Pastry House, 330 Boston Ave, Medford
Or contact me any time.
My office contact is Christine.Barber@mahouse.gov or (617) 722-2425, or you can reach me at home at
I would like to introduce my new Legislative Aide, Claire Teylouni. Claire comes most recently from the Martha Coakley campaign, and is a great addition to my office. I hope many of you will get to know her over the next few months! You can reach her at my office phone number or atClaire.Teylouni@mahouse.gov.
Community Events, Meetings and News
In this section, I'll share events in and around our communities. Feel free to send me events for future meetings.
* Medford Overcoming Addiction Candlelight Vigil, Sunday, March 22 at 5PM, Medford City Hall
* Somerville Homeless Coalition 30th Anniversary Dinner, Saturday, April 11 at 6PM, Center for Arts at the Armory
*And in Washington, D.C. this June, the American Public Transportation Association will host its Youth Summit and is looking for applicants. Students from across the country who will be high school juniors and seniors in the fall come together June 28 - July 2 in Washington, D.C. to learn the environmental benefits of public transportation; how communities can prosper with increased services; the role local and federal policies play in public transit; and educational and career opportunities in the public transportation industry. More info:www.apta.com/youthsummit
In the news:
Medford Transcript: "New Medford state Rep. Christine Barber files bills aimed at improving healthcare"
Medford Daily Mercury: "Medford-Somerville state Rep. Barber helps welcome Big Sister Assoc. to State House"
Close up on the MBTA
Over the past few weeks, I have heard from many constituents about the poor service of the MBTA and our need for a world-class public transportation system. I wanted to share some of my thoughts about this complex issue. If you would like to tell your story or provide ideas, please feel free to contact me.
As a T rider, I share in the deep frustration of having an unreliable transit system. I agree that it is unacceptable that we cannot count on public transportation to get us to our jobs, school and activities without undue delays. This is too important an issue to our region and economy to wait any longer to be fixed.
I am strongly committed to investing further in the T to improve maintenance and service. Filing legislation is one way I am advocating for improved investment; HD3492, which I filed with Rep. Garballey, would relieve the T of some of the legacy debt that it carries from Big Dig projects. Currently, the transit system spends nearly 25 cents of every dollar on debt reduction. By relieving the MBTA of a portion of this debt, money saved could be used for better infrastructure and on-going maintenance of the system.
In addition, in 2013, the legislature made some investments in transit through a small increase to the gas tax and dedication of motor vehicle sales taxes. While the indexing of the gas tax to inflation was repealed by voters in the fall, other changes are slated to build investments in the T over the next few years. This was a modest improvement, and I recognize that it is not enough. I will continue to work with my colleagues to build support for greater investment in T maintenance and infrastructure over the next few years.
It is my hope that the crisis over the past few weeks helps us to galvanize support, both among legislators and the public, for greater investment in public transportation.