By Lillian Ilsley-Greene
BU News Service
BOSTON – In a voter outreach initiative, state Senator Jo Comerford, D-Northampton, has planned a series of online seminars aimed at opening the legislative process to constituents.
Each session of the seven-part “March Academy” will concentrate on an issue facing western Massachusetts and delve into the details of bills that Comerford has filed and co-sponsored. The first webinar will be March 4 at 12 p.m. and will tackle education concerns.
“I think that the program is an opportunity for the Senate team and I to really pull back the curtain on the legislative process in the name of transparency,” Comerford said.
The initiative was inspired by a desire to bring Boston politics back to her district, Comerford said, closing a gap of over one hundred miles. She and her staff were looking for ways to more deeply involve voters in the democratic process and hold elected officials, including Comerford herself, accountable.
An aim of the webinars is to make information on bills readily and easily available to constituents, Comerford said, rather than searching through pages of online text. And, constituents who are unable to attend district hours can participate.
The first session will focus on the Cherish Act, a bill filed by Comerford to increase funding for public colleges. The docket lists several other pieces of legislation, concerning aid to schools with declining enrollment, and incentives for school building projects.
“[The program will] make sure that constituents hear from us directly on the bills we filed and co-sponsored in their name,” Comerford said.
All webinars will be led by Comerford and her district office staff.
Comerford appears to be the first state legislature to hold such a program – one that, she said, can be held from anywhere.
“I could be in a meeting and open my laptop right there,” Comerford said.
Each session has a cap of 100 participants and will run for 45 minutes. Over the course of the month, the sessions will address topics of energy and environment, civil rights, and health care, agriculture, and the role of state government. Webinars will be recorded and posted on Comerford’s website.
|When||Topic||Link||Phone number||Webinar ID|
|March 4, 12 p.m.||Education||https://us04web.zoom.us/j/210690681||(929) 436-2866||210-690-681|
|March 6, 6 p.m.||Health care||https://us04web.zoom.us/j/933240978||(929) 436-2866||933-240-978|
|March 10, 4 p.m.||Role of state govenment||https://us04web.zoom.us/j/650572418||(929) 436-2866||650-572-418|
|March 12, 12 p.m.||Energy & environment||https://us04web.zoom.us/j/313402410||(929) 436-2866||313-402-410|
|March 13, 6 p.m.||Regional development, agriculture & economic equity||https://us04web.zoom.us/j/921123883||(929) 436-2866||921-123-883|
|March 18, 12 p.m.||Civil & human rights||https://us04web.zoom.us/j/818487393||(929) 436-2866||818-487-393|
|Marth 26, 6 p.m.||Revenue||https://us04web.zoom.us/j/316015174||(929) 436-2866||316-015-174|
This article was previously published in the Daily Hampshire Gazette.