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.