In First Bill Filing, State Representative Blais Maintains Focus on the Needs of Rural Massachusetts

Blais Calls for the Creation of Office of Rural Policy

Boston, Mass. – Last week, newly elected State Representative Blais (1st Franklin) submitted her first piece of legislation: An Act relative to the rural policy advisory commission (HD 3142). The bill will be joint presented with Rep. Paul Mark (2nd Berkshire). The deadline for bills to be submitted was Friday, January 18th, by 4:59 pm.

If passed into law and funded, the legislation would create an Office of Rural Policy whose mission would be to enhance the economic vitality of rural communities and to advance the health and well-being of rural residents.

“The goal of this legislation is to provide an office with an Executive Director whose only job is to look out for the needs of rural Massachusetts,” said Blais. “The Office will focus on the issues that are critical to the welfare and vitality of rural communities including economic development, education, environment, health, housing, infrastructure, technology, and transportation.”

The Office would be an independent public entity overseen by the Rural Policy Advisory Commission (RPAC), an existing 15-member board that was established in 2015.

“Since its creation, the RPAC has worked diligently to strengthen our rural communities and I am proud to support their efforts,” said Blais. 

According to the legislation, a rural community is defined as a municipality with a population density of less than 500 persons per square mile.

“Throughout the campaign, many voters told me that they felt as though rural western Massachusetts was being left behind,” Blais explained. “I want voters to know that I heard them and that this legislation is in direct response to their concerns.”

In total, Blais filed 19 pieces of legislation. A complete list can be found at malegislature.gov/Legislators/Profile/NMB1.

 

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Natalie Blais is the State Representative for the 1st Franklin District serving the 19 communities of  Ashfield, Buckland, Chester, Chesterfield, Conway, Cummington, Deerfield, Goshen, Huntington, Leverett, Middlefield, Montague, Plainfield, Shelburne, Shutesbury, Sunderland, Whately, Williamsburg, and Worthington.