Officials lay out 2014 agendas

Schools, public safety and affordable housing are among many items on the 2014 agendas of Mission Hill’s elected officials.

State Rep. Jeffrey Sánchez said he has “a full plate” this year.

He will be working on legislation to further regulate the pharmaceutical industry, following the distribution around the country of tainted drugs made in Framingham last year.

The state legislature’s two houses are currently reconciling that bill, he told the Gazette.

At the same time, he has filed legislation to restrict the sale of electronic cigarettes, noting that currently, it is completely legal to sell them to minors.

“Our laws are silent in terms of sale of those products to kids. My 7-year-old could go to 7-Eleven and buy one,” he told the Gazette.

Sánchez and fellow state Rep. Liz Malia, who each represent about half of Jamaica Plain, have teamed up to assist a child care center based of Shattuck Hospital. The center lost its state subsidies and its location last summer.

Sánchez is also working on health care reform oversight and adding pedestrian crosswalks on Centre Street in JP, along with engaging in talks about upping the state’s minimum wage and working to ameliorate gun violence in his district.

“Plus, all the daily stuff like potholes and street lights and stuff,” he said. “That’s the stuff that endears people to you, so they trust you when something big is at stake.”

“This is my tenth year in,” he told the Gazette. “I’m lucky I’ve got my job. I take this stuff to heart and I feel like I’m getting stuff done.”

State Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz likewise has a lot going on.

She’s taken her position in the Public Safety Committee as an opportunity to focus on improving gun control and safety.

“That’s the reason I asked [to be on this committee],” she told the Gazette. Gun control and safety is “something I work on every term,” she said.

Chang-Díaz also heads the education committee, which “takes up the single biggest chunk of my time. It’s a huge priority every year,” she said. She will focus on legislation to give more options and flexibility to English Language Learners (ELL) and their teachers as well as stitching together various proposals to close the achievement gap in schools.

The education committee will push for better oversight and revision of the “foundation formula,” the state metric for determining how much it costs to educate students. That formula has gone without comprehensive review since it was implemented in 1993.

She will also push for the success of election reform and an increase in the minimum wage, as well as give strong support to SB 1947, An Act Improving Drinking Water and wastewater infrastructure.

“It’s like choosing between your children, which is your favorite,” she said of her full docket.

New Mission Hill-area City Councilor Josh Zakim will be working on a smooth transition from predecessor Mike Ross and “making sure our constituent services are really top-notch,” he told the Gazette.

His office will also be working on getting more K-8 schools in his district and “making sure city schools in general [do] better than they have been,” he said.

He added that he sits on the City Council’s Housing Committee and will be using that position to create “housing that families can access and middle-income people can access.”

City Councilor Matt O’Malley, who represents part of the Back of the Hill, has just filed an order with the city council to curb litter and encourage better city maintenance of its trash cans and programs. He also told the Gazette he is working on “making sure we’re doing more in our parks,” mentioning a new water filling station at Jamaica Pond.

He is also planning to focus on trying to reverse significant budget cuts for schools and on his district’s high schools and their programs.

“I feel like sometimes high schools gets short shrift in education,” he said.

Correction: This article previously named the wrong clean-water bill. Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz is supporting SB 1947, An Act improving drinking water and wastewater infrastructure.

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