Broadband Bill Becomes Law

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Gov. Deval Patrick announces the broadband initiative last fall in Becket.
GOSHEN — A new public-private collaborative effort to bring broadband access to underserved and unserved communities in rural areas of the state was launched with Gov. Deval Patrick's signature.

The governor returned to the Berkshires to the sign the $40 million measure he proposed last year in Becket with the strong support of the Berkshire delegation.

"With the signing of this legislation, a world of business, educational, and cultural opportunities will open up for thousands of people all across the commonwealth," said state Rep. Daniel E. Bosley, D-North Adams, in a statement. "This is a remarkable step forward for the entire state."

The act creates the Massachusetts Broadband Institute and will aid in leveraging public and private resources to make high-speed Internet available in the state's 32 communities that currently lack access to broadband, mostly in the western and southeast part of the state. The new law calls for the expansion to be completed within the next three years.

"Broadband is an essential resource in today's world and economy. This new law is a resounding victory for the residents, students and businesses in communities that have gone without it for too long," said Patrick. "Expanding access to broadband will create substantial opportunities for economic, academic and cultural growth."

The new law will bridge the digital divide that persists predominantly in Western Massachusetts by providing $40 million in bonds from the new Broadband Incentive Fund to construct fiber, wireless towers and other critical and long-lived broadband infrastructure. Targeted state investments will attract and complement private sector investment, making it more cost-effective for private providers to deliver complete solutions for customers in regions without broadband coverage.


"High costs pose a significant entry barrier for the private sector and are a root cause of the broadband inequities we're experiencing now," said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Daniel O'Connell. "Strategic investment by the state will bring private companies to the table and ignite the competition that will make broadband accessible and affordable throughout the commonwealth."

Housed within the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, the Massachusetts Broadband Institute will be led by a nine-member governing board consisting of key state policymakers and industry experts appointed by the governor. In addition to overseeing the Incentive Fund and selecting private firms to partner with through a competitive procurement process, the institute will also be responsible for assessing existing service conditions across Massachusetts and developing a comprehensive plan to address deficiencies in the 63 additional towns with only partial broadband service.

"Going forward, the institute will tailor a public-private model to close the state's most acute broadband gaps in western Massachusetts and to meet the needs of other regions," said Department of Telecommunications and Cable Commissioner Sharon E. Gillett. "A regional, long-term approach will enable every community to be active participants in and beneficiaries of our 21st-century, knowledge-based economy."

In the 95 communities with either limited or no broadband availability whatsoever, more than 220,000 households and over 25,000 businesses lack adequate broadband. Studies show that communities with broadband access experience measurable increases in jobs, business expansion and property values. Other broadband-enabled benefits include improvements in public safety and access to health care, educational opportunities and civic participation.  Additionally, the new law will create efficiencies across municipal and state government. The Department of Revenue estimates that the commonwealth will save $300,000 annually once every town hall can conduct its business online.

"For far too long, residents of the communities I represent have been blocked from the on-ramp to the information superhighway," said state Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, D-Pittsfield. "Today we see true progress, backed by a $40 million state investment, to bring broadband to Western Massachusetts. It has been a pleasure working with my colleagues in the delegation and the Patrick administration to secure swift passage of this legislation, and I look forward to continuing our collaborations to achieve of our collective goal: universal broadband access in all of Massachusetts."
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October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

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Domestic Violence Community Action Plan

 

While the responsibility for domestic violence lies with the perpetrators of these crimes, we all play a role in creating a culture of respect and preventing violence. 

 

Help us raise awareness about domestic violence this month. Commit to action for National Domestic Violence Awareness MonthBelow are some steps you can take. 

 

1. Add a Facebook Frame to your profile picture:

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2. Stand Out Against Domestic Violence with MICinc

 

Tuesday, October 20, 2020 - 5:00PM to 6:30PM

North Adams City Hall

Join Men Initiating Change in North County (MICinc) and Elizabeth Freeman Center as we stand out (or show up) for domestic violence as part of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

 

Social distancing and masks are required. Bring a sign or use one of ours!

Check out the Facebook event for more info!

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3. Purple Challenge 

 

Thursday, October 22, 2020 is National Wear Purple Day

Wearing purple is a simple, yet meaningful way to raise awareness about domestic violence. Get your friends, family members and coworkers to join you in wearing purple.

 

Snap a selfie! Or take a group shot of your friends/family/co-workers all wearing purple.

 

Post it on social media with #PurpleChallenge and #DVAM. Don't forget to tag us!

  • Facebook: @ElizabethFreemanCenter
  • Instagram: @Elizabeth_Freeman_Center

4. Call Your Representatives

 

Advocating for budget priorities and legislative changes can better protect the rights of victims and improve access to services, resources, and justice for survivors. Call your representatives and let them know where you stand on the issues below.

 

Elizabeth Freeman Center Budget Priorities 

We understand the impact of COVID-19 on our state's revenue has been significant. That said, the complex needs of survivors are only increased by the isolation of this pandemic. EFC is urging the legislature to prioritize the needs of survivors and challenge any cuts to these line items. 

 

DPH Line Item 4513-1130: Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Prevention and Treatment Services 

Total Funding Request: $45,233,631 ($5.38 million increase over H2)

There is a resounding need for programs to increase their advocacy and outreach in order to meet the needs of survivors especially now during the  COVID-19 crisis. Any cuts to sexual and domestic violence service providers would be devastating to the safety and wellbeing of all residents of the Commonwealth.

 

DPH Line Item 4513-1131: Healthy Relationships Grant Program

Total Funding Request: $1,000,000 (level funding with H2)

Maintain violence prevention education programming to youth across the Commonwealth with an emphasis on programming for marginalized identities, including EFC’s new program with Taconic High School and 18 Degree’s Live Out Loud Youth Project.

State Legislators

 

Senator Adam Hinds

Phone: (413)344-4561 or (413)768-2373

Email: adam.hinds@masenate.gov

100 North Street, Suite 410

Pittsfield, MA 01201

 

Rep. John Barrett, III

Phone: (413)743-8300

Email: john.barrett@mahouse.gov

8 Park Street

Adams, MA 01220

 

Rep. Paul Mark

Phone: (413)464-5635

Email: paul.mark@mahouse.gov

PO Box 114

Dalton, MA 01227

 

Rep. Smitty Pignatelli

Phone: (413)637-0631

Email: rep.smitty@mahouse.gov

PO Box 2228

Lenox, MA 01240

 

Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier

Phone: (413)442-4300

Email: tricia.farley-bouvier@mahouse.gov

PO Box 3798

Pittsfield, MA 01202

Legislative Priorities

 

An Act to Remove Obstacles and Expand Abortion Access (ROE Act) (S1209/H3320)

Survivors access to all reproductive health options is critical.

 

An Act Relative to Sexual Violence on Higher Education Campuses (H4418)
Legislation to address policy, prevention and services to student experiencing sexual assault at institutions of higher education.

 

Act Relative to Healthy Youth (S263/H410
Ensure that sexuality education, when taught, is age appropriate and medically accurate.
 

An Act to Lift Kids out of Deep Poverty (S36/H102)
Set a floor on cash assistance at 50% of the federal poverty level.
 

Rights and Safety of All MA Residents (Safe Communities Act) (S1401/H3573) 
Preserve and restore community trust in police by separating law enforcement and immigration, making it safer for survivors to come forward to seek support and services.
 

 

5. Like & Share 

 

Keep up to date with Elizabeth Freeman Center and help us continue to raise awareness by following us on Instagram and Facebook and sharing our posts.

 
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Elizabeth Freeman Center Statement on Racial Justice

Why Our Anti-Violence Work Is and Must Be Anti-Racist

 

Elizabeth Freeman Center (EFC) stands in solidarity with local, state and national movements, including Black Lives Matter, in demanding civil rights, justice and liberation for our Black, Brown and Indigenous communities.

 

As the domestic and sexual violence response center for Berkshire County, we at EFC see daily how individual violence and systemic racism are intertwined. Black, Brown and Indigenous people endure more violence, face disbelief or blame when they talk about it, and are often punished by the systems ostensibly there to help, including the police, courts, and state agencies.  Our anti-violence work is – and must be – rooted in anti-racism to combat these realities.  We will continue to fight until the lives, stories, and safety of survivors of color are valued.

 

Read the full statement here.

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The world changed, but the violence continued.

These are dangerous and unprecedented times. The very necessary steps we take to stop the spread of Coronavirus also create the very conditions that result in increased domestic and sexual violence. And we are seeing it. 

 

Elizabeth Freeman Center is OPEN! Our hotline is answered 24/7. Our offices are open to help with emergencies, receive walk-ins, provide basic assistance, i.e. food, shelter, safe phones and transportation, and help with forms and protection orders. In addition, our shelter is open and we continue to motel survivors fleeing danger when our shelter is full. 

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