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Institute helps educate newly elected Massachusetts legislators

New legislators learn the ropes

AMHERST - Newly elected Massachusetts senators and representatives went back to school Sunday to learn what being a legislator is all about.

More than 25 state representatives and senators attended the Academy for New Legislators, held at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

"We feel that we owe it to our community to host this event, where legislators can meet each other and prepare for what they will experience once they are in office," said Robert C. Holub, chancellor at the university.  

The academy, which will continue until Tuesday, gives legislators the opportunity to meet with re-elected members of the Senate and the House of Representatives and participate in workshops on everything from how to deal with the media to a simulated legislative session.

"I'm in my 11th term now and I wish there had been something like this when I was first elected," said state Sen. Stanley C. Rosenberg , D-Amherst. "It can be very overwhelming at first, and this is a great way to prepare for the real thing."

The academy is an educational program funded by the Donahue Institute.

State Rep. Brian M. Ashe, D- Longmeadow, was the only new legislator from Western Massachusetts at the academy.

"I'm excited to have this opportunity," Ashe said. "I knew what to do to get elected, but then where do you go from there? This gives us a chance to interact with each other and ask questions."

Salvatore F. DiMasi, Speaker of the House of Representatives, said the legislators should take the opportunity to get to know their fellow representatives and senators.

"All of the new legislators will be going through this learning process together," he said. "It can definitely be overwhelming when you are casting that first vote. They will be making some tough decisions."

Rosenberg said Massachusetts legislators are lucky to have the academy, which is fairly unique.

"This is somewhat of a model for other states. Most do not have a program like this," he said.

The academy has been held at the university eight times since 1994, and 170 newly elected members of the Legislature have attended.

Read article: New legislators learn the ropes

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