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A Monthly Newsletter from Senator Julian Cyr 
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March 2020

The first day of spring is in sight and despite this recent unexpected snow, some welcomed seasonal changes are coming. We had quite the bustling winter on Beacon Hill; I led on a major mental health bill, the Mental Health ABC Act, which was the culmination of months and months of hard work and collaboration with hundreds of stakeholders across Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket, and further afield across the Commonwealth. I'm proud that the legislation that resulted from this work passed the senate unanimously, more details below. 

I am also keeping a close eye on the spread of the Covid-19 virus, and share the latest updates from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the CDC, and other local organizations below.  Having worked at DPH through the H1N1 epidemic, I witnessed first hand and was impressed by the robust response the state was able to mount.  I expect nothing less - if not an even greater effort - in response to this new pandemic.

I will also be hosting office hours in Orleans tomorrow, on March 10th.  Information about how to sign up for an appointment to meet with me on Tuesday can be found below.

There's much more to come as we enter into spring.  The Senate Budget debate is just around the corner in May, so my office is receiving outreach on budget priorities of importance for the Cape and Islands, so stay tuned.  And as always, it's your input that informs my priorities, so please continue to chime in.

Respectfully,

 

Information on COVID-19 (Coronovirus)
As of writing this, there have been eight confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported in the Commonwealth.  While the risk to residents remains low, each of us can take steps to protect ourselves and the health of those around us.  These simple steps include:
  •  Washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 Seconds (sing happy birthday twice while washing);
  • covering your coughs and sneezes with a tissue;
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth;
  • Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces;
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick;
  • Staying home when you are sick except to seek medical treatment.
Take a look below for further guidance from the CDC and MA DPH. 
Information from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
The latest up-to-date information from the Center For Disease Control and Prevention can be found here.
Information from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health
INSERT UPDATED PRESS RELEASE MONDAY MORNING WITH EIGHT CASES UPDATE
Legislative Update
The Mental Health ABC Act
An introductory video announcing the Mental Health ABC Act

Simply put, too many people in Massachusetts struggle to access the mental health services they desperately need and deserve. That's why I am thrilled that the Massachusetts State Senate unanimously passed the Mental Health ABC Act on February 13th. 

The reasons are many and complicated: mental health care is treated differently than physical health, it is often not covered by insurance, it is difficult to access, and it is hard to talk about.

With this bill, the Senate is living up to our promise to begin to transform how Massachusetts addresses mental health. I am grateful to Senate President Karen Spilka for her leadership and example and to my colleagues Senator Rodrigues and Senator Friedman for their partnership in this endeavor.

More about the bill can be found in my press release here and in coverage from the initial press conference here.

The videos below will provide a lot more context as well.  The first one is of my speech on the Senate floor on the day the Senate took up the debate of the bill; the second during a public rally for mental health held at the State House shortly after the bill was passed by the Senate.

My speach on the Senate floor during the debate of the Mental Health ABC Act
Public rally for mental health at the State House
Recent News Coverage

Take a look at the links below for some local and state-wide news coverage from the past month.


The Cape Cod Times
Mental health bill deserves swift passage
Local Agencies Back Mental Health Bill
 Cyr Has personal Interest In Mental Health Reform Bill


The Martha's Vineyard Times
ABC Act breaks down barriers to mental health care on-Island

CapeCod.com
Cyr Disappointed with Lack of Bridge Replacement Funding
State Senate Passes Mental Health ABC Act: Addressing Barriers to Care

CapeCodToday.com
Senator Cyr Reports Passage of Mental Health "ABC" Act

The Boston Globe
Mental Health Care is Vital to Routine Health Care
Go the Distance for Mental Health Parity


Boston25 News
Massachusetts Senate approves mental health parity bill

MassLive
Mental health program to reach youth in rural areas shows promise (Editorial)
Mental health needs to be for everyone’: Massachusetts Senate passes bill to improve behavioral health care access

WBZ
Sweeping Massachusetts Mental Health Care Bill Unveiled

WGBH
Mass. Senate Passes Mental Healthcare Overhaul
Mass. Cities And Towns Demand Large Payouts From Marijuana Companies

WWLP
Senate passes bill to boost mental health care access


 
Latest Events
Back on Nantucket
I recently spent a beautiful late winter's day on Nantucket with my friend Rep. Dylan Fernandes, with a packed agenda.  We started out by joining the Nantucket Rotary Club to deliver an update on recent legislation in both of our chambers.  Next, we toured the impressive new fire station with Chief Stephen Murphy.  I then went to the Nantucket Chamber of Commerce where I hosted a meeting with local restauranteurs to discuss the challenges that Nantucketers especially face in such a seasonal community; topics such as workforce and housing were central in the conversation.  This conversation directly contributed to work being done by the Restaurant Promotion Commission, of which I am a member (more about this can be found further along).  The commission has engaged consultants to assist us in analyzing the industry; these consultants joined by phone to participate in the conversation and hear feedback directly from those in attendance.
Later in the evening Dylan and I joined the Nantucket Select Board meeting to deliver another legislative update.  You can see a recording of the full update and discussion below.
Rep Fernandes and me speaking with the Nantucket Select Board
Restaurant Promotion Commission
The Restaurant Promotion Commission was established to review and develop recommendations and best practices for the promotion and continued growth and vitality of the restaurant industry in Massachusetts. I have been appointed as one of the Senate members on the committee.  The RPC is collecting data and feedback from stakeholders in the industry to inform and guide our work to promote restaurants across the commonwealth.

I recently hosted the commission for a meeting at Scargo Cafe in Dennis, to hear from local restauranteurs about the unique challenges they face running their businesses in seasonal communities here.  We discussed workforce and housing challenges, as well as how to tap into local resources to train, develop, and retain talented professionals here on the Cape and Islands.
Ocean Acidification Commission
I joined colleagues and friends at the recent Ocean Acidification Commission meeting at Salem State University.  We discussed climate change impacts on the seafood industry, as well as had a tour of the Cat Cove Marine Laboratory which is one of the three aquaculture centers in the Commonwealth, where we learned about work on sustainable clams and mussels.
Local Information
2020 State of Our Waters Legislative Brunch
Massachusetts residents are invited to join State Senators Paul Feeney and Julian Cyr and other legislators in support of clean water 
 
Watershed Action Alliance of Southeastern Massachusetts is organizing a legislative breakfast, 2020 State of Our Waters, at the Massachusetts State House on March 31 from 9:45 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

State Senator Paul Feeney is the legislative sponsor and will speak about his efforts in support of clean, plentiful and connected waters in the region.

State Senator Julian Cyr will also provide remarks on the work he has done in promoting the same on the Cape and Islands. The public is invited to this free event.

More information and registration is available at www.watershedaction.org.

Other legislators in attendance will comment on their work to keep the waters of the Commonwealth healthy for people and wildlife. Watershed association representatives will share stories of successful projects restoring rivers, ensuring safe drinking water for all, improving water quality, engaging diverse populations in water conservation, and much more.

The event will be capped off by small group visits to legislators’ offices to enable face-toface discussions of the issues of greatest concern in specific districts. 
Our water resources are threatened by increasing population and development pressures in southeastern Massachusetts. Keeping them clean and healthy requires prudent management, realistic planning and effective regulation for protection of waterways, recreational areas, aquatic wildlife and drinking water. State agencies that work towards these goals need adequate funding. We must work now to plan for a future with clean and plentiful water, restored rivers with abundant wildlife, and safe and efficient ways to treat wastewater and stormwater. Watershed Action Alliance invites the public to join them in striving toward this end and to demonstrate to legislators that there is a vocal and active constituency supporting them in their healthy water efforts. 
 
Event sponsors include Island Foundation, Neponset River Watershed Association, Weir River Watershed Association, Six Ponds Improvement Association, Herring Ponds Watershed Association, Three Birds Consulting, Barnstable Clean Water Coalition, The Gulf Association of Cohasset/Scituate, North and South Rivers Watershed Association, Save the Bay – Narragansett Bay, and SumCo Eco-Contracting. 
Spring artist exhibit at the Cape Cod National Seashore
Three Artists Living in a Postcard
Cape Cod National Seashore to Host Exhibit:
 
WELLFLEET, Mass. – What’s it like to have a national seashore in your backyard? If you’re an artist, it means boundless opportunities for inspiration! From March 9 through April 29, three local artists will share their works at Salt Pond Visitor Center in an exhibit titled, Three Artists Living in a Postcard.
 
Robin Wessman is a contemporary realist painter who focuses on seascapes and still lifes. Willow Shire paints landscapes in her studio and en plein air. Mary Anne Tessier’s works showcase animals and flowers.
 
The three artists are members of the Eastham Painters’ Guild. For the past several summers, guild painters have encouraged conversation and shared their inspiration with seashore visitors and neighbors during plein air painting sessions at seashore sites.
 
IF YOU GO: Salt Pond Visitor Center is located at 50 Nauset Road at the intersection of Route 6 in Eastham, and can be reached at 508-255-3421. The center is open daily from 9 am to 4:30 pm, with staff to assist with activity planning. Visit the museum, view the new park film, enjoy panoramic views of Salt Pond and Nauset Marsh, and shop in the gift and bookstore featuring national seashore-related items. For more information about the seashore’s programs, visit the www.nps.gov/capecod.
Resources for Families Struggling with Addiction
Grayken Center for Addiction, Partnership for Drug-Free Kids Announce New Statewide Resources for Families in Crisis

The Grayken Center for Addiction at Boston Medical Center (BMC) and the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, the nation’s leading nonprofit dedicated to helping families whose son or daughter is struggling with substance use, are collaborating to close a gap in desperately needed support for parents of young adults struggling with addiction.

New resources, which are free and available online or over the phone, will offer evidence-based support and guidance to provide Massachusetts families with the tools and information they need for support at a critical time in their lives.

Parents can access help from trained parent support specialists either online or over the phone. They can also be connected with trained parent coaches, whose own family has experienced addiction, where they can learn evidence-based skills and receive advice on approaches to addressing a child’s substance use disorder. The support specialists and coaches arm parents with proven strategies that increase the chances of recovery and overall better outcomes for the family.

These resources are available to anyone in Massachusetts who is concerned about their child or young adult and can be accessed through:
  • A dedicated phone and text Helpline for Massachusetts families (call 844-319-5999 or text HOPEMA to 55753), where parents can connect with master’s level specialists and be referred to parent coaches, who will listen to their challenges and help them develop an action plan toward their child’s recovery
  • A Partnership and Grayken Center website – www.graykenaddictionsupport.org – highlights details on resources and tools Massachusetts families can access
A new study indicates that twenty percent of deaths in people between the ages of 15 and 34 nationwide are related to opioid overdoses. In Massachusetts specifically, about one in five of the 65,000 nonfatal overdoses in the state between 2011 and 2015 was a young adult.

Public service announcements featuring parent coach and volunteer Paul Kusiak of Beverly will be featured on TV, radio and print outlets across the state, thanks to the generosity of Massachusetts media.

This collaboration will provide parents with much-needed resources under one umbrella, including evidence-based alternatives to ‘tough love’ and ‘detaching.’
Bay To Sound Neighbors; Yarmouth & Dennis

Bay to Sound Neighbors is a community-based, non-profit membership organization developed for the sole purpose of helping older members of the beach-side communities of Yarmouth and Dennis on Cape Cod “age in place” for as long as possible through the support of volunteers in the community.

Bay to Sound Neighbors is part of a new and exciting national movement of people who are taking charge of their futures as they age. The "Village Movement" is an aging-in-place initiative that is at the forefront of an innovative approach to aging. Over 200 Villages already exist in the U.S. and nearly that many more are in development, just like us!

Our Village will offer members an array of services that include transportation, minor household repairs and friendly visits, just to name a few. We will provide the volunteer services for our members that are essential for continuing to age effectively in the neighborhoods we all cherish.
 

Take a look at the suite of services provided, and to learn about opportunities to become a part of the community here.

Volunteer with Meals on Wheels! 
As always, there is a significant need for meals to be delivered across the Cape. Please consider volunteering. Drivers are needed across the Cape; shifts run from 10 AM until noon, Monday through Friday.

Please contact Dawn Ericson-Taylor at Elder Services of Cape Cod at 508-394-4630 ext. 530 or Dawn.Ericson-Taylor@escci.org for further information.
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Copyright © 2019,Senator Julian Cyr, All rights reserved.
A monthly newsletter from Senator Julian Cyr

Our mailing address is:
Senator Julian Cyr
Massachusetts State House, Room 309
Boston, MA 02133

Website: www.SenatorCyr.com


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