Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Propossed Commuter Rail Schedule Changes Delayed

Because so many commuter rail riders have contacted my office with deep concerns about schedule changes that were planned to take effect on December 14, we have been working with the leadership of the Executive Office of Transportation and the MBTA to avoid significant problems those changes could cause for people depending on the Rockport, Newburyport, and other lines.

Through the collective efforts of area legislators and others, our actions produced positive changes, as Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack announced in a letter released last night that the changes will not go into effect as planned. Instead, the MBTA will take the prudent step of carefully considering schedule changes, and doing so in light of concerns that have been raised, and the difficulties they could cause.

Secretary Pollack’s letter is posted here, so you can read it in its entirety.

The letter, indicating a course of action that produces a new plan for changes to be implemented in May, makes it clear that we all have to remain focused on this issue and work together to ensure that the commuter rail system is responsive to the needs of the people it serves. I am committed to continuing that effort, and appreciate Secretary Pollack giving us that opportunity.

Thanks to the Secretary and everyone who got involved and made a difference on this important issue.


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Governor Baker Signs Fentanyl Trafficking Law

Today, I joined Governor Charlie Baker, AG Maura Healey, Speaker DeLeo and Senate President Stan Rosenberg for the signing of a bill that creates, for the first time in our state's laws, a penalty for trafficking fentanyl.

Although fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, is significantly more potent than drugs such as heroin or morphine, under existing law traffickers can only be charged with the lesser crimes of possession.

Without this law, prosecutors could not charge fentanyl distributors with penalties that reflect the dangerousness of the drug. Under the new law, convictions for trafficking could result in up to 20 years in state prison.


Monday, November 23, 2015

North Andover Senior Center Visit

This morning I had the pleasure of joining several legislative colleagues at the North Andover Senior Center for the “Meet Your Legislative Delegation” event. The Senior Center and the Northern Essex Registry of Deeds have partnered together to create a lecture series; this morning we also had time for a lively questions and answers segment.

Register of Deeds M. Paul Iannuccillo offered introductory remarks and began our discussions. Joining me for the conversation were Senator Kathleen O’Connor Ives, Representative Diana DiZoglio, and Representative James Lyons.

The seniors asked insightful questions on education issues, road safety, and the Meals on Wheels nutrition program.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Senate Republican Caucus Secures Child Exploitation Protections

My State House office distributed this press release today -

Boston- The Senate Republican Caucus today succeeded in securing an amendment that will raise awareness of child abuse and exploitation in a bill that changes the state’s sexual health education law.

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) authored the legislation which directs the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to include among sexual health curriculum, guidelines for child exploitation awareness education for school districts.

“Sadly, experience has taught us that some in our society will put children at risk for abuse, neglect or maltreatment,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester). “Tens of thousands of suspected child abuse reports are filed with the state each year and child safety experts confirm that raising awareness of the warning signs of exploitation can make a significant difference in keeping children safe.”

The Tarr amendment was inspired by Erin Merryn, a childhood sexual assault survivor and the namesake of Erin’s Law.

Erin’s Law requires public schools to include a prevention oriented child sexual abuse program. Tarr’s amendment will better inform school personnel about child sexual abuse, assist parents in recognizing the warning signs of child abuse, and empower children to guard against exploitation.

Following debate on the matter the Tarr amendment was adopted by the Senate by a unanimous vote of the members.

If signed into law by Governor Baker Massachusetts would move into a majority of states which have adopted it. 26 states have adopted Erin’s Law and it is currently pending in 17 others.


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Media Alert: Fox 25 News Talks With Me About Social Media Privacy Protection

Kathryn Burcham of FOX25 News and I spoke about legislation that will be voted on in the Senate tomorrow. Senate Bill 2034, an act relative to social media privacy protection, will prohibit employers or schools from requiring a person to disclose a user name or password for personal social media accounts.

Watch Fox 25 News to learn more about this bill.


Final Formal Legislative Session Bills for 2015

On Wednesday, lawmakers on Beacon Hill will bring to a close the formal legislative session for 2015. The legislature will continue to hold sessions through the end of the year to advance bills that do not require debate or roll call votes in what we often refer to as informal sessions.

A number of bills have been advanced in House and Senate chambers; I want to provide you with an opportunity to become aware of the bills that we expect to see scheduled for debate in the Senate.

There are five significant bills which honor the valor and contributions of our veterans and military members, they are:
• H. 3243 - An Act providing free park access to Purple Heart Recipients,
• H.3173 - An Act relative to the removal of veterans, police and fire, commemorative flag holders,
• H.1306 - An Act relative to veterans' grave markers,
• H.1600 - An Act providing further penalties for intentional loss or damage to a gravestone or other gravemarker,
• H.1641 - An Act concerning the false representation of military status, stolen valor.

Other bills that will likely be voted on in the session include:
• S.757 – An Act regulating notaries public to protect consumers and the validity and effectiveness of recorded instruments (Notaries)  Sets forth the terms, qualifications and requirement for notaries. Prohibits a notary, who is not an attorney, from - advising clients with regards to immigration issues, real estate closings, or providing legal advice. Creates fines for initial and subsequent violation of law up to $5,000 and up to one year in jail.

• S.2052 – An Act establishing the Massachusetts Paint Stewardship program (Paint Stewardship)  This bill creates a program to collect, reuse and recycle post-consumer architectural paint. The bill requires retailers to collect an assessment on the sale of paint on containers of less than five gallons. Requires paint producers to submit to the Department of Environmental Protection a plan to implement paint stewardship

• S.2053 – An Act supporting military leave (Military Leave)  Provides an individual employed in the state who serves in the Army National Guard ,the Army Reserve, the Marine Corps Reserve, the Naval Reserve, the Air National Guard, the Air Force Reserve, and the Coast Guard Reserve the same rights and privileges given under the federal uniformed services employment and reemployment act.

• S.2054 – An Act relative to social media privacy protection (Social Media)   Prohibits employers, or school from requiring a person to disclose a user name or password for personal social media accounts.

• S.2048 – An Act relative to healthy youth (Healthy Youth)  School districts that offer sexual health education are required to provide content that is medically accurate and age appropriate. Mandates that all schools must adopt a written policy ensuring notification to parents and guarantees an opt out mechanism for them to withdraw a child from the program without penalty.

• S.2047 – An Act to promote quality physical education (Physical Education)  Age appropriate physical activity, fitness and nutrition are included in the definition of physical education. Updates the requirements that physical education be taught in all public schools including charters.

• H.3854 – An Act relative to solar energy (Net Metering) Net metering allows customers of electric distribution to generate their own electricity resulting in an offset in their electricity consumption and allows customers to receive credits for any electricity that they generate but do not use. Increases the current cap in utilities ownership of solar generation, creates a new “market net metering credit”, increases the private net metering cap from 4% of utilities’ peak load to 6%. Increases the public net metering cap from 5% to 7%.

The Senate may also take up H3798 – An Act relative to the trafficking of fentanyl. This bill updates the state’s drug trafficking laws to include a penalty for trafficking fentanyl. Although fentanyl is significantly more potent than drugs such as heroin or morphine, under existing law, traffickers can only be charged with the lesser crimes of dispensing. Convictions for trafficking could result in up to 20 years in state prison.

Our sessions, be they formal or informal, are always open to the public and records of our actions are available free of charge at our Website – You may contact my office for information about these and other bills that are of interest to you.


Monday, November 16, 2015

Standing With the People of Paris

Senate President Stan Rosenberg joined me in the Senate Chamber today to place a bouquet of flowers at the marble bust of the Marquis de Lafayette to show our support for the people of France.

As a courageous teen, Lafayette left France and enlisted in the Continental Army. He service under the command of George Washington and his efforts to secure independence and liberty in America, and in his native France, will forever be remembered.

With the support of Lafayette and the people of France, our capital city is known throughout the world as the cradle of liberty.   Boston and Paris share similar values in that we honor peace and the essential freedoms of an open society.   The violence and terror that was inflicted on innocent civilians will not dim the city of light – just as Bostonians stood strong after the Marathon bombing so too will Paris find that its friends and allies will stand shoulder to shoulder for liberté, égalité and fraternité.