PEABODY — The city’s Massachusetts House and Senate delegation have plenty of planned legislation, from budget amendments to proposed bills.
“It’s a very busy time in the legislature as the Senate undertakes its FY22 budget debate and the Commonwealth moves toward its new normal,” said state Sen. Joan Lovely. “As we progress forward, I will be working closely with my legislative colleagues, regional leaders and stakeholders to make sure there are safeguards in place to support families, businesses, employees and all residents.”
Lovely has proposed a budget amendment that would provide $75,000 for a master plan for Peabody’s Centennial Park, as well as funding for the Home Works program, which provides education for children living in emergency shelters, and for child sexual abuse prevention.
In addition, she secured funding in the state’s Economic Development bill for the Peabody Trolley, which will help improve transportation between the city and neighboring Salem and reduce the number of cars on the road.
The House of Representatives has finished the budget process, and state Reps. Tom Walsh and Sally Kerans have supported amendments that passed.
Walsh proposed including $100,000 to fund repairs to the Route 128 overpass in Peabody, which he said is very important.
“If you drive underneath the Route 128 overpass, you’ll see the facade is in dire need of repair,” he said. “You can see the rebar sticking out in patches.”
In addition to those successes, Walsh had an amendment fail to pass which he is hoping to pass legislatively. He hopes to use federal relief funds related to COVID-19 to create a fund for restaurants that were not eligible for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) money.
He said that some businesses, including ones incorporated after the PPP deadline of June 30, 2019, still needed help getting back on their feet after the pandemic.
Kerans, who represents West Peabody as part of her district, is the newest member of the legislative team. She is also supporting a bill that did not make it into the House budget which would support the state’s local and regional public health departments and make it easier for them to collaborate.
“During the pandemic, we saw communities come together and do a nice collaboration, but it wasn’t easy for them to get permission,” Kerans said. “We are only as strong as our weakest public health department. Peabody has an extremely strong public health department, and we want to make sure that we try to have that everywhere or have the capacity to join with another community.”
Walsh is sponsoring a bill that would require training for employees at hotels and motels to recognize the signs of human trafficking and display human trafficking hotlines prominently.
“This came about through conversations with my own police officers in Peabody,” he said. “Something that is a small thing in the whole scheme of things is just another tool that may help some people.”
Walsh is also sponsoring or co-sponsoring bills to require critical incident drills in public schools and prevent deceptive calling practices by the telemarketing industry.