Rep. Blais looks to focus on rural transportation for western Massachusetts

BOSTON (WWLP) – Representative Natalie Blais represents a rural district, which comes with its own challenges. 22News State House reporter spoke with Rep. Blais about how she became a state representative and her priorities for the session.

A Vermont native, Natalie Blais has called western Massachusetts home since 2005 and she’s focused on the unique needs of her expansive district. Blais represents 17 towns with populations ranging from 118 to over 8,500 in a district that spans over 450 square miles.

She decided to run for office after Representative Stephen Kulik announced his retirement after 25 years. Blais is now in her third term and believes the best way to represent western Massachusetts is by working alongside the other elected officials in the region.

“I think that we’ve been incredibly effective as a western Mass. delegation in terms of working together to ensure that the voices of our constituents are heard very loudly on Beacon Hill.”

Blais was named the chair of a commission that looked at the fiscal challenges facing rural schools. She is offering a bill this session to address the needs that the commission recommended, which addressed everything from rural school transportation to special education. Blais is also focused on supporting regional transit authorities by increasing their accessibility through reliable service.

“If we’re serious about looking at the future of public transportation beyond the MBTA we need to raise that funding floor for our RTA’s. So, the bill would set the floor for state contract assistance for RTA’s at $150 million, so that all agencies can provide daily and evening service in the communities that they serve.”

That bill would also establish an RTA fund in statute, so there is a constant funding stream.

If you need to speak with Rep. Blais, she holds regular virtual office hours, as well as office hours at Montague Town Hall every fourth Monday and at the Greenfield Senior Center every second Monday.

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