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Briefings: Senate to Be Talking About “Y Generation…”

The Debut of the Generation Y initiative. Rosenberg, second left is hoping to the Senate can reach more Millennials, like Senators Downing, Lesser and Fattman, all born in the 1980's.

The Debut of the Generation Y initiative. Rosenberg, second left is hoping to the Senate can reach more millennials, like Senators Downing, Lesser and Fattman, all born in the 1980’s. (image created via malegislature.gov & Google image search)

With the oldest millennials reaching their mid-30s and Generation Y potentially proving a more significant factor in politics and government, the Massachusetts Senate is kicking off an effort to better engage young citizens born in the 1980’s and after. Senate President Stanley announced the initiative in new conference at the State House, alongside his chamber’s youngest member, Eric Lesser who will lead the effort.

Rosenberg has teased plans for more millennial engagement in interviews over the last few months. Last September, while speaking to WMassP&I, he noted that the generation has a notable communitarian outlook. However, many millennials remain skeptical of government as a means to achieve their goals. By reaching out to those under 35, soliciting them for important issues and the building legislation around them, senators hope to show that generation there is a place for them in government.

In a release issued jointly by Lesser and Rosenberg’s offices, among those legislative priorities lawmakers are already looking at are student debt, social media privacy and the “gig” economy, such as driving for ride-sharing services like Uber or Lyft.

“It’s important for us to learn more about what state government can do to promote policies that help engage Millennials,” Lesser, who will turn 31 this month, said in the release. “Together, we can make progress on specific issues that most directly impact my generation.”

Rosenberg indicated that this effort was a natural outgrowth of the Commonwealth Conversation the body launched early in 2015.

“Last year the Senate listened to the concerns of thousands of residents during our Commonwealth Conversations tour. This Initiative focuses on the concerns of millennials, who have important perspectives and ideas that deserve to be heard,” the release quoted him saying.

In an interview with WGBH News, the senate president also hinted at another aspect of this endeavor. His generation, the Baby Boomers, are getting on in years, and the torch shall need to be passed despite millennials’ wariness about politics.

“Based on the polls, they were very interested in social action, but they believed you only had to work in nonprofits and as volunteers and that the political system was not worth engaging in,” Rosenberg told the Boston public broadcaster.

Sen. Stan Rosenberg has been hinting about greater engagement with millennials (a.k.a. Generation Y) for months. (WMassP&I)

Sen. Stan Rosenberg has been hinting about greater engagement with millennials (a.k.a. Generation Y) for months. (WMassP&I)

On Friday, Lesser and Rosenberg will hold the initiative’s first event, a roundtable with students and young professionals in Springfield at TechSpring, a healthcare startup incubator. Those participation are slated to including individuals from ages 16 to 35 and from a range of backgrounds and professions.

In addition to that 3 p.m. event at the end of the week, this outreach effort will include Twitter town halls, visits to top tech companies’ headquarters in Cambridge and events with the college student wings of both the state Democratic and Republican parties.

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