Boston- State government affects nearly every facet of our lives. However, opportunities to learn about the inner workings of state government and to truly engage in the legislative process can be few and far between. That is why State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D-Pittsfield), is pleased to announce that, upon his nomination, two of his constituents have been chosen to participate in the Sixty-second Citizens’ Legislative Seminar this Spring at the State House.
These seminars, established in 1979 through a collaborative effort between the Massachusetts State Senate and the University of Massachusetts, were designed to further engage the Commonwealth’s citizenry in state government. Presently, Senate President Therese Murray and Speaker of the House Salvatore F. DiMasi have entrusted the Legislative Education Office with the design and the administration of the program.
Participants are nominated by their state Senator or Representative from both public and private sectors and are chosen through a highly selective process. Downing’s district will be represented by two participants, Peter White of Pittsfield and Paul Tacy of Ashfield.
Throughout the five-week program, seminar participants will listen to presentations from Senators and Representatives. A simulated committee hearing, a simulated Senate session and discussion groups are all part of the learning experience.
Downing has been asked to take on an active role during the program as a panel member discussing the Senate’s legislative agenda and fielding questions from the audience. “These seminars represent a rich opportunity for interested citizens to learn and become more actively involved in the legislative process. People who attend will walk away better equipped to be effective advocates and participants in our democratic system,” said Downing. “I applaud Peter and Paul for their interest in this opportunity and hope that they find the series to be a worthwhile and engaging experience.”
Paul Tacy, Vice President of the Massachusetts Federation of Building Officials and Building Inspector in Hampshire County, learned of the Seminar in the Greenfield Recorder and immediately contacted Senator Downing to record his interest. “As Vice President of the MFBO, I regularly advocate and provide a unified voice for the needs of all building officials across the Commonwealth,” said Tacy. “Attending this seminar will provide me with a much more detailed understanding of the legislative process and allow me to better serve the MFOB membership. I’m looking forward to it.”
Peter White, Pittsfield resident and active member of the Morningside Initiative will also be attending the Citizen’s Legislative Seminar. “This is a great opportunity and I want to thank Senator Downing for nominating me,” said White. “I expect to learn more about the working of the State House and how what happens there affects us in the western part of the state. I intend to use the knowledge gained to be a better advocate for the organizations I’m involved with including my work on the Morningside Initiative and at the Brien Center.”