Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Governor’s Vetoes to the FY’15 State Budget

Today the Massachusetts State Senate is scheduled to debate vetoes made by the Governor to the Fiscal Year 2015 State Budget that was enacted by the House of Representatives and the members of the Senate on June 30th.  To view today’s session online, please click here to visit the State Legislature’s page.

Posted below are Governor Patrick’s vetoes:


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Media Alert: On the Air with WBZ-TV’s Jon Keller

Recently I was interviewed by WBZ-TV’s Political Reporter Jon Keller for his Sunday segment Keller@Large Report.  Jon and I discussed various political topics regarding the Commonwealth, including the situation the nation faces with the influx of immigrant children currently crossing the border and what that potentially means for Massachusetts, and Thursday’s Probation Department trial verdicts, where three former officials were found guilty of fostering a job-rigging scheme.
Please tune in on Sunday at approximately 8:30am to watch our lively discussion.


Friday, July 25, 2014

Media Alert: “Broadside” with Jim Braude

Please tune in to tonight’s “Broadside” at 6:00pm on New England Cable News (NECN), where I’ll be discussing with host Jim Braude and State Senator Brian Joyce the potential political consequences of yesterday’s Probation Department verdicts, Governor Patrick’s plan to house border-crossing children in Massachusetts, and the recent Market Basket dispute.
“Broadside” re-airs at 7:30pm, 2:30am, and again at 4:00am.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Nearing the End of Formal Sessions

With July 31st nearing quickly, signifying the end of formal sessions, there is a great amount of work still to be completed by the legislature. Currently, there are several bills within conference committees, which are committees of six members (three from the House and three from the Senate) that are formed after the House and Senate engross their own respective versions of a particular bill and work together to produce a final version of the legislation.  Those bills in conference committee include:

·         An Act promoting economic growth across the Commonwealth;

·         An Act relative to the reduction of gun violence;

·         An Act enhancing protection for victims of domestic violence;

·         An Act financing information technology equipment and related projects; and

·         An Act providing for the preservation and improvement of lands, parks and clean energy in the Commonwealth.

Recently, the House and Senate also passed their own versions of a capital bond bill; however, a conference committee has yet to even be appointed.  Including today, there are only 8 days left of formal sessions for the conference committees to file their reports on the various bills in order for the legislature to have the opportunity to debate and possibly enact them.

Also of concern, there are several important measures still awaiting committee action before the legislation can be brought to the floors for a vote.  Those bills include:

·         An Act relative to the penalty for killing, maiming or poisoning of animals;

·         An Act establishing a Massachusetts seafood marketing program;

·         An Act relative to the expansion of the state DNA database; and

·         An Act relative to local housing authorities.

With time running out, the legislature needs to act swiftly to ensure these matters get the attention they deserve.  Keep checking back to read updates on these measures and others as the legislature continues to progress towards the July 31st deadline.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Cycling to Cure Cancer

This past Sunday, July 20th, I assisted with the 10th annual Reid’s Ride, an inspiring event named in honor of Reid Sacco, a young man who was tragically lost to cancer at the age of twenty. Reid’s Ride welcomes bicyclists of all ages to participate in a 28-mile bike ride along a scenic route spanning from Lynnfield High School to Stage Fort Park in Gloucester. The event has raised awareness, support, and significant funds since its start in 2005.

The proceeds from the event go directly to the Reid Sacco AYA Cancer Fund, a fund dedicated to researching and discovering treatments, and ultimately a cure, for adolescent and young adult cancers. Reid’s Ride has provided many donations to the Foundation from generous riders, local businesses, and supporters, and has facilitated the growth of the Reid R. Sacco AYA Program at the Tufts Medical Center in Boston, along with other treatment centers throughout Connecticut.

The event drew an impressive turnout from local communities, and I am honored to have had the chance to support the cyclists and donors in their fight to end cancer.

To learn more about Reid’s Ride, please click here.

Below are several photos I was able to capture from Sunday’s fundraiser.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Press Release on the Passage of a Senate Environmental Bond Bill

On Tuesday I distributed the following press release regarding the passage of a Senate Environmental Bond Bill, which included an amendment I secured regarding the Conservation Land Tax Credit:

Tarr Amendment Increases Conservation Land Tax Credit in Enviro Bond Bill

Measure Aids Private Donors, Conserves Land for Public

Boston- On Thursday, July 10th, the Massachusetts State Senate passed its version of a $1.9 billion environmental bond bill, and a major amendment secured by Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) seeks to expand the Conservation Land Tax Credit (CLTC) program.  Currently, the CLTC program provides a refundable tax credit of 50% of the appraised donation value, with a maximum cap of $50,000.  The Tarr amendment, which passed unanimously by a roll call vote of 38-0, would raise the max to $75,000 allowing for greater land conservation investments at a fraction of the cost, while benefiting both the general public and private land owners.

“Conserving and preserving open space is important for our environment, our quality of life and the character of our state,” said Senator Tarr.  “This tax credit has a proven track record of success, and strengthening it in the environmental bond bill will make a good tool even more powerful and effective.”

The Conservation Land Tax Credit was first signed into law in 2008; however, the application did not become available to the public until 2011.  Since then the program has conserved land for an average cost at just under $1,000 per acre, and for every $1 in tax credit provided by the Commonwealth, $5.60 has been generated for the state in land value. To date Massachusetts has conserved over 5,100 acres of land valued at over $21.3 million, while only costing the Commonwealth $3.8 million to purchase. 

The CLTC program has a $2 million cap limit for each calendar year, even though the tax credit has gained in popularity since becoming first available.  During the 2013 calendar year the program exhausted its cap limit from just 44 approved requests, and thus far, 2014 has at least 24 requests totaling $1.15 million, more than half of the program’s cap limit.  In July of 2011, the Massachusetts Commission on Financing Forest Conservation, which was also established by the legislature, recommended increasing the program’s cap to $20 million per calendar year.  With the vast benefits gained by the state, Senator Tarr is committed to increasing the CLTC program’s cap limit for future years to increase conservation land investments.

“Bonding and spending state money isn’t the only way to conserve land, we can also provide incentives that are equally or more effective.  By increasing this modest tax credit we can partner with private land owners to create a win-win situation that is extremely cost effective in promoting open space acquisition in our state,” said Senator Tarr.

The Senate passed the environmental bond bill by a vote of 38-0.  The House of Representatives previously passed its version of the bond bill on June 4th by a vote of 138-5; however, because the Conservation Land Tax Credit program was not included in the House version of the environmental bond bill, the amendment is subject to negotiation in an upcoming House-Senate conference committee.



Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Celebrating the U.S. Navy in Rockport

Friday, July 11th marked the commencement of the annual Rockport Navy Weekend, a special tradition commemorating the celebrated and rich history of the US Navy and its unique connection with Rockport. The weekend’s festivities were appealing for all age groups, featuring events such as United States Naval Academy sailboat tours, a pancake breakfast, a free concert performance from the Northeast Navy Pops Ensemble, and kickball games with mixed teams of sailors, midshipmen, and children.

I am honored to have had the chance to join the hundreds of current military personnel, veterans, and enthusiastic Rockport and Cape Ann community members in the weekend’s celebrations, where I was also able to present a citation to MA1 Jose Gonzalez after his re-enlistment ceremony during Saturday’s softball game.

I am always impressed with the Rockport Navy Committee’s job in coordinating the weekend’s festivities, and was happy to see such a great turn out from the community. Posted below are several photos I was able to capture from the weekend’s events.