Sunday, January 13, 2019

Sharing The Energy To Lead

Massachusetts cities and towns have been taking important steps toward climate change resiliency and the state government is providing tools to help. The Mass Sierra Club asked me and Representative Tram Nguyen to host a summit for municipal leaders on renewable energy.

From solar, hydro, wind and others clean energy sources to expanding our state's portfolio of renewable energy power we are connecting people with important information so they can be better informed for the future.

Yesterday's event at Merrimack College in North Andover had more than 35 municipal officials and private citizens talking about clean energy solutions.


Friday, January 11, 2019

Keeping food fresh, local and fantastic tasting

Lobster is an important component of our state's seafood industry. The bill that I proposed will help consumers and business alike. Our lobsters should not have to be processed out of state. Keep food fresh, local and fantastic tasting.

 Gloucester Daily times:

Looking to process lobster at home

Tarr pushing bill to expand industry in Bay State


Community Resources Information Meeting

Congressman Seth Moulton has scheduled a constituent services session on Tuesday, January 15th at North Andover Town Hall from 2 pm - 5 pm. Staff will be on hand to provide information on community resources available during the federal government partial shutdown, take information for unemployment claims, and open cases for people unable to get in touch with federal agencies.


Unemployment Compensation Benefits for Furloughed Federal Employees

Federal employees who are not working due to the shutdown furlough may be eligible for UI benefits. When filing a claim, “lack of work” should be selected as the reason for separation. Federal employees will be responsible to repay the UI benefits if Congress approves retroactive pay for the furlough period.

Federal employees who are working their regular scheduled hours but not getting paid during the shutdown period will not be eligible for unemployment benefits because a person who is working (even if unpaid) is not treated as “unemployed” under the law.

To be eligible for unemployment benefits, individuals must:
•Have earned at least: •$4,700 during the last 4 completed calendar quarters, and
• 30 times the weekly benefit amount
• Be legally authorized to work in the U.S.
• Be unemployed, or working significantly reduced hours, through no fault of their own
• Be able and willing to begin suitable work without delay when offered

To qualify for benefits each week, the claimant must be physically able to work, available to work and actively looking for work (documented work search attempts made on 3 separate days). The claimant may also be required to register with a Mass Hire Career Center to complete mandatory work search seminars to remain eligible to receive unemployment benefits.

Once you’ve filed a claim for Unemployment insurance benefits, you should request benefits for each week you are out of work. Benefits can be requested each week Sunday through Saturday between 6:00am and 10:00pm (EST) by visiting and logging into your UI Online Account or, calling DUA Telecert at 617-626-6338.

For more information, you can refer to the Guide to Benefits and Employment Services for Claimants. If you need to find financial help or other assistance in your community, visit Mass 211 online or call 211 to be connected to local health and human services.


Engel & Völkers By the Sea​'s Gloucester Opening

Yesterday's ribbon cutting event at Engel & Völkers By the Sea​ was a great success. Engel & Völkers, a European originated firm focusing on residential real estate now has a new office in Gloucester at 120 Main Street. Congratulations to Karen Hanson​ and her colleagues.


Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Putting the Heat on Home Energy Assistance Funding

Today, I joined with House and Senate colleagues, leadership of Community Action Agencies in Massachusetts, MASSCAP, AARP Massachusetts, and others in front of the State House to raise awareness of an imminent shortage in home heating assistance for low-income households. With a freeze on the federal program I am requesting that the state government include funds in an expected supplemental budget.

Although Winter has only just begun, 48,000 households in the state will soon be using up all of their heating oil benefits according to the Massachusetts Association for Community Action, which said 160,000 households in the state are served under the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. The House and Senate have approved this kind of supplemental funding for the program more than a dozen times over the past three decades.

I view this as a public safety and public health issue. The program primarily assists the elderly, people with disabilities and working families, applications for this year's program have increased of over 20 percent from last year.


Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Senate Lawmakers Propose Bill to Expand Lobster Processing

Legislative Proposal To Boost Economic Activity And Satisfy Expanded Consumer Demand Lauded by New State Fisheries Report

Boston- Without reform, the state’s lobster laws are confounding consumers and the multi-million dollar seafood industry say a bi-partisan coalition of state Senator. Senate Docket 1, the first bill filed in the new Senate session, authored by Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R- Gloucester) will, according to a just released report by the Division of Marine Fisheries, result in economic benefits throughout the state’s seafood supply chain and give consumers greater access to desirable fresh seafood products at local retailers and restaurants without harm to lobster stocks.

Under existing laws, Massachusetts lobstermen and seafood vendors are required to sell or transport lobster out-of-state for processing and then bring them back for sale to consumers in the Bay State – often with a ‘Product of Canada’ label.

“Our state has the second-largest lobster catch in the country yet, without this bill, raw and frozen lobster parts are processed in Canada or Maine only to then be brought back to our local consumers,” said Senator Tarr. “This bill modernizes those lobster laws to bolster the fishing industry and give consumers, including local restaurants and food stores more choices all while sustainably supporting coastal fishing communities.”

While the sale of live, cooked, and canned lobster is legal in the state, the new law is needed to expand the industry market with the inclusion of other lobster products. Tarr notes that the Marine Fisheries study supports lifting limits on the processing, sale, and transportation of cooked and frozen in-shell lobster parts.

The December 31 study confirms that similar changes in other jurisdictions such as Maine and Canada have resulted in the development of new businesses and the creation of new jobs throughout the seafood processing and distribution industry. In-state lobster landings account for about 11% of the US lobster harvest and 5% globally.

“This report highlights that there is zero reason to further delay legislation to eliminate archaic restrictions on lobster processing. I look forward to working with my Senate colleagues to once again pass this bill so that businesses may finally expand and create jobs, especially in New Bedford,” said Senator Montigny, lead co-sponsor of the legislation.

Up to 80% of lobsters landed in the state are sent to out of state processing facilities and industry leaders say the move will facilitate opportunities to create and grow jobs in the state. The Marine Fisheries report notes that the lobster demand has spiked and has continued to evolve in favor of processed lobster parts.

“The Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association greatly appreciates Senator Tarr’s efforts over the last several years to modernize the lobster processing laws,” said Beth Casoni, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association. “This bill will allow our lobstermen to be competitive on a regional and international basis and we will work to ensure the bill’s passage.

The Marine Fisheries reports that the lobster market has continued to evolve to favor processed lobster parts. In 2016, the state’s lobster fishery landed over 18 million pounds of lobster in 46 ports worth $82 million. Modernizing the law for certified sustainable product would allow Massachusetts seafood businesses to process and sell this highly desirable certified sustainable product to Massachusetts consumers. Chain retailers, grocery stores, warehouse clubs and online distributors will be a major beneficiary of such a law change the report says. Many of these retailers currently sell a variety of shell-on lobster parts at their non-Massachusetts locations throughout the United States.

“I am glad to join my colleagues in the Senate in support of our Massachusetts lobster fishermen,” said Senator deMacedo (R-Plymouth). “These advancements in our approach to lobster processing will provide an important benefit to the lobster industry and the fishermen who play such an important role in our communities and economy.”

“This bill works to ensure the sustainability and viability of the state’s lobster industry, which will benefit consumers and lobstermen in coastal communities statewide,” said Senator Michael J. Rodrigues (D-Westport). “The lobster industry is a vital part of the Commonwealth’s economy and identity. I look forward to working with my Senate colleagues to support it.”

The lobster industry is a critical part of the Commonwealth’s economy and heritage. A similar law in Maine has boosted that state’s economy, produced local outlets for product sales, and created jobs. During the most recent ten years US landings have doubled from 80 million pounds to 159 million pounds annually.

“East Coast Seafood Group, the world’s largest processor of lobster and headquartered in Topsfield, is pleased with the tremendous progress made by Senator Tarr and the plan’s supporters,” said Bob Blais, Vice President of East Coast Seafood Group. “The lobsters harvested off the shores of Massachusetts and respective fishermen are the lifeblood of the state’s industry and we support the great efforts taken to ensure the sustainability of the lobster stock. It is with great pride our company will support the surrounding community by expanding our New Bedford operation with the investment in lobster processing equipment and partner in the shared development of what is likely to be hundreds of jobs in the state of Massachusetts.”

The bill, SD.1, An Act Regulating The Processing Of Lobsters, has continued to garner legislative co-sponsors and will be scheduled for a legislative hearing and will be eligible for passage in both the House and Senate.

Tarr expressed appreciation for coastal Senators Mark Montigny, Vinny deMacedo, and Michael Rodrigues for their efforts to strengthen the industry and in championing the bill.