Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Whittier Bridge/I-95 Advisory Overnight Ramp and Lane Closures Through Friday the 26th

The MassDOT’s announced that ramps and lanes for the Whittier Bridge will be closed the for nighttime paving operations Friday the 26th. Detour signs will be placed during the closure of the Route 286 Main Street on-ramp to I-95 South.

MassDOT encourages drivers to avoid the area and seek alternate routes to minimize delays. Those traveling through the area are asked to use caution and expect delays.

The following roads, ramps and lanes will be impacted:
  • Route 286 Main Street on-ramp to I-95 South – Wednesday, August 24, through Friday, August 26, from 8:00 PM each night to 6:00 AM the following morning,
  • Exit 59 from I-95 South to I-495 South – from 11:00 PM on Wednesday, August 24, through 4:00 AM on Thursday, August 25,
  • Two lanes on I-95 North between I-495 and Toll Road Bridge – Monday, August 22, through Friday, August 26, from 6:00 PM each night to 6:00 AM the following morning,
  • Two lanes on I-95 South between Toll Road Bridge and Route 110 – Tuesday, August 23, and Wednesday, August 24, from 6:00 PM each night to 6:00 AM the following morning,
  • Two lanes on I-95 South between Toll Road Bridge and Route 286 – Thursday, August 25, and Friday, August 26, from 6:00 PM each night to 6:00 AM the following morning,

Take Rabbit Road south and turn right on Route 110/Elm Street in Amesbury. After going under I-95, turn right to take the on-ramp to I-95 South. The detour route for I-95 southbound traffic destined for I-495 South is as follows: From I-95 South, take Exit 58 for Route 110. Merge onto Route 110 West/Macy Street. Take the ramp on the right to merge onto I-495 South.

Here is a link to the MassDOT website to stay informed about this important construction project- http://www.massdot.state.ma.us/whit…/DesignConstruction.aspx


Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute Launches Biotechnology Training Academy

This week I had the pleasure of touring the state of the art facility of the newest biotechnology center in the state; the Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute’s academy to train new workers in techniques that are the foundation for laboratory best practices for bioscience.

Leading the tour of the 3,200-square-foot facility where Chris Munkholm, Director of GMGI and board member Michelle May. We were joined by Bob Coughlin, CEO of Mass Bio, a not-for-profit organization that represents more than 700 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, and other organizations involved in life sciences and healthcare in the state and Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante.

Representative Ferrante and I collaborated in securing $150,000 through the House and Senate budget process for the Institute to develop and implement a middle skills workforce training program. This funding will assist with creating a career ladder for workers not necasarily interested in pursuing a college degree.

GMGI’s efforts will make Cape Ann a hub for biotechnology and create a network of companies and industries that can advance innovations that will benefit our economy, enhance the health and wellbeing of residents, and expand our knowledge of the fisheries.

The Institute, which seeks to accelerate our understanding of marine genomics, has hosted several science forums, pioneered modern research in commercial fisheries such as the cod genome sequencing project, and has attracted strong support from government, corporate and academic institutions. Founded in 2013 by three scientists with world-class experience in the sciences of genomics Greg Verdine, Marc Vidal and David Walt along with Gloucester businesswoman Sheree Zizik are taking great strides to leverage resources from the region and the state to make Cape Ann a leader in biotechnology.


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Healthy Children and Communities Through Collaboration

Excellent meeting with leaders of the Tri-Town Council and area legislators to discuss opioid and substance abuse education and prevention among youth and how we might be able to help one another with resources.

I was pleased to attend the legislative briefing held at the Topsfield Library which was hosted by Lisa Teichner, Executive Director of the Tri-Town Council and Meredith Shaw the Coalition Program Coordinator. Representative Brad Hill , Representative Ted Speliotis, Representative Lenny Mirra and Senator Joan Lovely attended this important discussion.

The Council’s mission is to reduce and prevent at-risk behavior and to promote the well-being of Tri-Town youth. Through collaborations with kids, parents, schools, local police officers, and community organizations they identify potential avenues to teach children how to be safe and healthy through good decision making.


Friday, July 29, 2016

Senate Takes Action on Human Trafficking

Far too many people in Massachusetts are at risk of the viscous crime of human trafficking; some as recovering victims while others are still bound to submission by fear and dangerous perpetrators.

The Senate has recently taken a significant step to expand protections for survivors and providing tools for enhanced public awareness, mandatory law enforcement training and resources for court staff, health professionals and educators.

I have been working for some time with my colleague, Senator Mark Montigny of New Bedford, on this issue. In 2011 we collaborated to enact one of the strongest human trafficking laws in the nation. Human trafficking is tantamount to slavery; victims are mostly vulnerable women and children forced into the sex trade or involuntary labor services. They live in fear that they or their families will suffer serious penalties if they resist.
  • This important bill was sent to the House after I was able to add amendments to: Requires notification to local police upon release of a person convicted of trafficking people,
  • Requires the collected court assessments paid by offenders be made available to the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security to provide for those who can identify and respond to trafficking; law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, public defenders and others who work in the justice system.

The bill include enhanced data collection to better track human trafficking crimes and identify any patterns or characteristics useful to law enforcement for investigations, arrests and prosecutions.

The bill include enhanced data collection to better track human trafficking crimes and identify any patterns or characteristics useful to law enforcement for investigations, arrests and prosecutions.


Thursday, July 14, 2016

Reform the Independent Contractor Law

Numerous economic and social studies have determined that Massachusetts has a well-defined need to generate new jobs. One important policy approach that should be included in a new statute is a reform to the independent contractor law.

This law, one of the severest in the country, causes detrimental burdens on many companies that rely on independent labor and as a result, a detraction on our economy at a time when we need to revive opportunities for labor growth.

Today I will be debating an amendment that I have offered to the Senate’s economic development bill, the Act relative to job creation, workforce development and infrastructure investment, Senate Bill 2423. My proposal will reform the independent contractor law with specific new thresholds to determine a person’s status as an contractor:
  • compensation equal to or greater than $30 per hour, or $1,200 per week, or $5,160 per month;
  • services requiring a professional certification or licensure, or conducting business in a franchise relationship subject to FTC rules and regulations;
  • work requiring the exercise of discretion and independent judgment; advanced knowledge in a field of science or learning; or creativity, originality or talent in a recognized field of artistic or creative endeavor; or
  • the individual is granted either ownership or copyright to the work product.

Our existing independent contractor law impacts more than 1 million workers, including contractors researchers, and artists. Misclassification weakens the competitiveness of law-abiding Massachusetts businesses and constrains our potential for job growth and an opportunity to revitalize our economy.


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

District Nets $200,000 in Marine Water Quality Awards

Five coastal communities in Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr’s district will be receiving Clean Vessel Act funds for the purchase, operation and maintenance of pumpout equipment including pumpout boats, shoreside pump stations and floating restrooms. The Baker-Polito administration announced the award of the funds which will curtail sewage discharge from recreational vessels and preserve marine water quality and habitats.

“Our marine environment is precious, and we must explore every available avenue to address its viability and sustainability,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester). “Funding through this grant program makes possible the kind of practical investments in pumpout facilities that make a real difference every day in keeping our waters clean so that we can all benefit from this.”

The Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries manages the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Clean Vessel Act program which is funded by the Sportfish Restoration Program.

“These pumpout projects all along our coast will make it easy and convenient for people who enjoy fishing and boating in Massachusetts’ coastal waters to help us keep those waters clean,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Through this collaborative effort with the federal government and our coastal communities, we are working to protect our important marine resources for generations to come.”

“These funds will greatly strengthen municipal and private efforts to keep the Commonwealth’s coastal waters pristine,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “Installing pumpout facilities provides a needed service to boaters while protecting public health and our marine ecosystems.”

Awarded district projects include:
  • Gloucester will receive $14,000 for a pumpout boat and a shoreside pumpout at the Cape Ann Marina and the City of Gloucester will use $76,000 for a pumpout boat and the installation of a new shoreside station and supporting float.
  • Ipswich will receive $64,750 to purchase a replacement pumpout boat.
  • The Manchester Marine will dedicate $3,000 for a pumpout cart and tight tank and the Town of Manchester will allocate $8,500 toward a pumpout boat.
  • Rockport will receive $8,500 for the purchase of a pumpout boat.
  • Rowley will receive $13,000 for a shoreside pumpout station, tight tank, and pumpout boat.

Since the program’s inception in 1994, Massachusetts’ harbors have put more pumpout boats in service than any other state. This extensive coverage, coupled with the many shoreside pumpout stations placed in service, provide the infrastructure needed to achieve and maintain the No Discharge Zone designation in all of the Commonwealth’s coastal waters.


Monday, July 11, 2016

Funding for Phyllis A Secured in Budget

For several years I have been working to build legislative support to bolster the efforts of the Phyllis A. Marine Association to restore on of Gloucester's most important surviving fishing vessel as it enters its next stage of restoration. Now that persistence is producing results.

When the Senate debated the state budget for the current fiscal year in May, I offered an amendment to provide not less than $60,000 for the restoration of the Phyllis A., and capitalized on the legislative support we have built by getting it passed. Next, the amendment was included in the final version of the budget by the House and Senate conference committee. Finally, Governor Baker approved and signed the budget which mandated the funding.

The historic nature of the iconic Phyllis A is significant and all who crewed her or were well served by her, will someday in the future, be honored by her stem to stern rejuvenation.

Now that state funding is assured under the new budget, I hope that others will be encouraged to give tangible support to the Association leaders and volunteers who have been working diligently to restore this culturally and historically important vessel.

Today, Sean Horgan of the Gloucester Daily Times reported on this effort, and you can read his story by clicking below.