LAWRENCE – State Sen. Barbara A. L’Italien (D-Andover) along with Senate President Stanley Rosenberg (D-Amherst) announced today that the Senate will host a Town Hall-style meeting Feb. 23 at Salvatore’s Restaurant on Merrimack Street in Lawrence.
The event from 7 to 8:30 p.m. is open to the public and is part of an eight-stop listening tour of Massachusetts for senators to gather input from residents before setting their agenda and priorities for the coming year.
Attendees are encouraged speak about the Merrimack Valley’s most pressing issues and to offer ideas for solving the region’s greatest problems and challenges.
Sen. L’Italien, whose district includes Lawrence, Andover, Dracut and Tewksbury, stressed any and all issues are open for the discussion at the forum, which will be broadcast live online and translated in Spanish
“Making sure the issues and concerns of the people of the Merrimack Valley are fresh in the minds of senators as we begin setting our agenda and priorities for the coming year is of utmost importance,” said Sen. L’Italien, chairman of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government. “I am so pleased Senate President Rosenberg and the rest of my colleagues in the Senate are able to hold this forum in Lawrence to hear directly from the people of the Merrimack Valley whom we all work for.”
L’Italien said the statewide forums are designed to develop ideas for improving and spurring economic development, education, the environment, human services, job-creation, housing and public safety.
Some key local issues expected to be discussed in Lawrence include how to create more jobs and educational opportunities, the region’s worsening heroin addiction crisis, plans for a new Lawrence police station and the proposed Kinder Morgan fracked-gas pipeline. The company’s preferred main route runs from Pennsylvania to Dracut, traversing parts of western Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire before ending in Dracut. Smaller lines would then travel through Andover along the Tewksbury border.
Local senators heading up the Merrimack Valley stop include Sens. L’Italien (D-Andover), Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester), Kathleen O’Connor Ives (D-Newburyport), Thomas McGee (D-Lynn), Joan B. Lovely (D-Salem), Kenneth J. Donnelly (D-Arlington) and Jason Lewis (D-Winchester).
Issues brought up by the public at the first two forums in Holyoke in Worcester included the high cost of health care and home care, universal full-day kindergarten, public transportation, the rising of cost of cable television and internet service, unfunded educational mandates, root causes of incarceration, animal rights, farm policy, housing foreclosure assistance and funding for public libraries.
President Rosenberg and Minority Leader Tarr are expected to attend all eight forums with a revolving panel of local senators.
“In my swearing-in speech I spoke about shared leadership and civic engagement,” said Senate President Rosenberg. “These conversations will help us craft our agenda and engage the public in the good work that we hope to accomplish this legislative session.”
The forum will take place at Salvatore’s Functions Facility – Entry B, 354 Merrimack St.