US HOUSE JUDICIARY SUBCOMMITTEE TO HOLD FIELD BRIEFING IN BOSTON

March 30, 2010

The US House Judiciary Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law announced that will be holding a Congressional Field Briefing in Boston on Monday, April 12th, at 1:00pm in the Gardner Auditorium.  The purpose of this hearing will be to inform the Subcommittee on the recent release of the OxyContin and Heroin Commission report with a focus on the federal government’s response to the opioid epidemic.

“I am pleased that the US House decided to hold this important hearing in Boston.  The epidemic of addiction continues to plague our citizens and does not discriminate based on age, sex, race or economic status. With as many as two individuals in the Commonwealth dying each day of drug overdoses, we must continue to be aggressive and change our response, both as a state and nationally, to a crisis that is crippling our communities,” said State Senator Steven A. Tolman (D-Brighton).  “I commend Chairman Cohen and Congressman Delahunt for looking at the federal response to this issue and I look forward to engaging with the Subcommittee to develop new federal policies.”

“The report put forth by the Massachusetts OxyContin and Heroin Commission is excellent, and reflects an in-depth review of an epidemic that is devastating to individuals, families, and the community,” said Congressman Bill Delahunt.  “Moreover, until it is successfully addressed, healthcare costs will continue to escalate and impact our economy.  This crisis is not limited to Massachusetts, and therefore I am holding this field briefing so that Members of the Judiciary Committee can understand how the federal government can assist states and communities in addressing the issues highlighted in the report. I would be remiss not to note the leadership of Senator Tolman, and thank him and every member of the commission for their extraordinary effort and commitment.” 

The hearing is the product of coordination between the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation and the OxyContin and Heroin Commission to address substance abuse issues nationwide.  The hearing is open to the public; however, testimony is by invitation only.  Senator Tolman was the chair of the recent OxyContin and Heroin Commission and served as chair of the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse from 2005-2007 in the Massachusetts General Court.

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JOINT COMMITTEE ON WAYS AND MEANS FY 2011 BUDGET HEARINGS

February 8, 2010

The full schedule of 2010’s Ways and Means budget hearings can be found here. The hearings are open to the public and each focuses on specific state agencis.  The hearings will be held over the next month, culminating with a public hearing on March 5th in the Gardner Auditorum of the State House.  All hearings will begin at 10 a.m.

Are you having a Housing Crisis?

February 4, 2010

If so, the Housing Corporation of Arlington may be able to help.  Housing Corporation of Arlington (HCA) is a non-profit community development organization based in Arlington.  HCA advocates for and provides affordable housing and homelessness solutions to low-income members of the community.  HCA is announcing the launch of Arlington’s Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP), which provides funds to help individuals and families in danger of becoming homeless.

As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provided HPRP funds to communities across the United States in order to help individuals and families facing housing instability.  Households who earn at or below 50% of Area Median Income (AMI) and are in danger of becoming homeless are eligible for assistance.  HUD determines AMI on an annual basis.  Below are the current 50% of AMI limits by household size.

1 Person:     $31,550 or under       2 Persons:   $36,100 or under

3 Persons:   $40,600 or under      4 Persons:    $45,100 or under

5 Persons:   $48,700 or under      6 Persons:    $52,300 or under

7 Persons:   $55,900 or under      8 Persons:    $59,550 or under

Individuals and families that meet the income requirements are eligible for a wide range of services.  HPRP funds can assist with the following:

Back rent; Moving expenses; Utility bills; Rental assistance; Security depositis; Tenant-landlord mediation; Housing search; Credit counseling; Money management; Housing-related legal services

HPRP  funds cannot assist with the following:

Direct payments to applicants; Cable bills; Telephone bills; Mortgage payments; Internet bills; Insurance bills

For more information contact the Housing Corporation of Arlington located at 20 Academy Street in Arlington or by phone at 781-316-3451.  HCA offices are located in the ground floor of the Arlington Senior Center at the corner of Academy and Maple Streets.  For easy access to the offices, enter through the 27 Maple Street entrance of the Center.  Enter through the glass doors into the lobby and take a right.   Offices are located on the left.

Massachusetts Life Sciences Center announces launch of new Small Business Matching Grant Program

February 4, 2010

 The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center is announcing the launch of its new Small Business Matching Grant (SBMG) Program. This program, created by the Life Sciences Act of 2008, reflects the Center’s ongoing commitment to supporting early-stage life sciences companies that will grow jobs, promote manufacturing and product commercialization in Massachusetts and stimulate innovation across the Commonwealth.

The primary objective of the SBMG is to provide support to companies that have developed new commercialization-ready technologies so that they may reach production and create jobs in the Commonwealth. Target applicants are emerging life sciences companies whose products are production-ready and have high market potential, but are in need of some small level of financial support to enable that commercialization. These companies are poised for rapid growth that will create jobs in the Commonwealth and are positioned to draw additional (non-state) financing.

As with all of our programs, the Center is committed to casting a statewide-net for prospective applicants so as to receive a rich pool of competitive applications from every corner of Massachusetts. 

About the Small Business Matching Program (SBMG)

Created through the Life Sciences Act of 2008, the SBMG will provide “matching” support – capped at $500,000 per company — to Phase II or Post Phase II SBIR or STTR grants already received by applicant companies.

Applicants must have received at least the equivalent of a Phase II small business innovation research (SBIR) or small business technology transfer (STTR) grant from federal agencies such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF), or Department of Defense (DOD).

The Life Sciences Center has established a web-based interface where companies may apply for a grant under the SBMG Program.  The solicitation period for applications is February 1 – March 1, 2010. The Center anticipates that awards will be announced by the end of May 2010, subject to approval by our Board of Directors. 

On-line applications are now being accepted. The Center will be offering information sessions on Friday, February 12th and Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010, for interested and/or prospective applicants to the Small Business Matching Grant Program. The information sessions will be conducted from 8-10 a.m. at the Bay Colony Corporate Center Conference Room, located at 1100 Winter Street in Waltham, Massachusetts.  RSVP for either session by emailing lsmith@masslifesciences.com.

Those interested in obtaining more information and/or applying to the Center’s Small Business Matching Grant Program, please visit the center’s web site: www.masslifesciences.com.

The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center is a quasi-public agency of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts created by the Economic Stimulus Bill of 2006.  The Center is tasked with implementing the Massachusetts Life Sciences Act, a ten-year, $1 billion initiative that was signed into law in June of 2008. The Center’s mission is to create jobs in the life sciences and support vital scientific research that will improve the human condition. This work includes making financial investments in public and private institutions that are advancing life sciences research, development and commercialization as well as building ties between sectors of the Massachusetts life sciences community.

House of Representatives Passes School Nutrition Bill

January 29, 2010

State Representative Sean Garballey joined his colleagues in the Massachusetts House of Representatives in passing legislation that would ban the sale of unhealthy competitive foods and drinks in Massachusetts public schools.

The bill – modeled after the recommendations of a 2007 Institute of Medicine (IOM) report – calls for a ban on unhealthy competitive foods and beverages that do not meet scientifically based nutritional standards and are not part of federal meal programs. It would also require schools to sell non-fried foods and vegetables at any location where foods are sold.

The bill’s provisions will apply to public elementary schools, middle schools and high schools. The legislation does not prohibit high school students from purchasing food sold off school ground during breaks. Additionally, parents will still be allowed to give their children any type of food to bring to school.

Other provisions of the bill include: continuing education of school nurses, nutrition and exercise instruction in schools, collection and reporting of obesity trends and the establishment of a farm to school program developed by the Departments of Elementary and Secondary Education and Agricultural Resources.

The legislation establishes nutrition standards as set by the IOM’s April 2007 report, “Nutrition Standards for Foods in Schools: Leading the Way Toward Healthier Youth.” This groundbreaking report was commissioned by Congress and was written in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in order to make recommendations for the appropriate nutritional content of foods sold in competition with federal meal programs. 

The American Heart Association has confirmed that childhood obesity is one of the most critical public health issues facing our nation today, threatening to reverse the last half century’s gains in reducing cardiovascular disease and related deaths. One-third of children aged two to five years are either at risk for being overweight or are already overweight. In Massachusetts, 29% of middle school students are overweight or obese. Studies show that these children are more likely than their peers to be absent from school, experience low self esteem and become obese adults.

Obesity-related diseases such as Type II diabetes and heart disease will ultimately require life-long chronic disease management that can significantly reduce quality of life while increasing health care costs. In fact, from 1979 to 1999, obesity-associated hospital costs tripled for children and youth.