Eldridge honored by Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council

State Sen. Jamie Eldridge with his Office Aide, Melissa Joy Reilly

Region – State Sen. Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton) was recognized as the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council’s (MDDC) 2018 Legislator of the Year during their 40th annual Legislative Reception at the Statehouse March 7.

“I was humbled and honored to receive the 2018 Legislator of the Year Award by the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council,” Eldridge said. “I’m proud of the strides we’ve taken to empower people with developmental and intellectual disabilities in schools and places of employment, and I was happy to celebrate with Minuteman Arc consumers, many of whom work at Quiet Logistics in Devens, one of my proudest partnerships with Minute Man Arc, and with my Office Aide Melissa Joy Reilly. I can tell you from personal experience that every office would be enriched by hiring a member of the I/DD community.”

“Senator Eldridge is a passionate, knowledgeable and unwavering voice for the Massachusetts disabilities community,” said State Sen. Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland), who introduced Eldridge for his acceptance speech. “It is my honor to help recognize Jamie for his tireless advocacy and his commitment to expanding access to meaningful employment and education, independent housing and community connections for people with disabilities. Our work together continues.”

Eldridge received the award for his advocacy on health care parity, special education, and anti-bullying legislation.  According to a press release from his office, he was a prime supporter of the Mental Health Parity bill and the Children’s Mental Health bill, to make sure that Massachusetts residents have equal access to mental health services. He was a lead sponsor on An Act Relative to Bullying, which passed unanimously in the Senate and was signed into law by then Governor Deval Patrick in 2010. The bill allows Individualized Education Programs for children with disabilities to include provisions that will help them handle and respond to incidents of bullying. The bullying ban extends to all school facilities, school-sponsored functions, school buses and bus stops.

For the current legislative session, in addition to co-sponsoring over a dozen bills to specifically benefit people with developmental disabilities and their families, Eldridge is a lead sponsor of An Act Providing Equal Access to the Bureau of Special Education Appeals and An Act Improving Access to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.