Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Time to Act on the Sales Tax Free Holiday Weekend

My office distributed the following press release regarding the tax free weekend bill today.

Boston- With the Legislature prepared to follow a planned month long break from formal sessions, Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) wants to make certain that consumers and retailers have an opportunity to engage in a weekend free of state sales tax.

The Senate adopted legislation, sponsored by Senator Tarr, designates August 15 and 16 for suspension of the collection of sales tax on items less than $2,500.

 “We know that the Sales Tax Holiday will put people to work, save consumers money, and generate economic activity during a traditionally slow period,” said Senator Tarr. “In simple terms, this is a win-win-win situation and we should make certain that we deliver this bill to the Governor’s desk.”

Retailers report that the retail sector employs 17% of all workers in the state and that the tax holiday generates additional work opportunities, increased staff income, and enhanced numbers of buyers. They say that consumer spending rises in Massachusetts during the tax holiday and dampens sales that might otherwise migrate to New Hampshire or online. The Senate adopted the tax holiday bill on July 15. The legislation is now pending before the House of Representatives.



Media Alert: Tonight on New England Cable News

I will join Kelly Bates, host of New England Cable News Broadside show, and Representative Straus to talk about the collapse of the Boston 2024 Olympics. Tune in at 6 PM.


Monday, July 27, 2015

US Olympic Committee and Boston 2024 Withdraw Bid

Boston– Today, State Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) issued the following statement regarding the mutual decision of the United States Olympic Committee and Boston 2024 to withdraw Boston’s proposal to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2024:

Given all of the involved circumstances, today’s decision to withdraw the bid by Boston 2024 to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games nine years from now represents prudence, statesmanship, and responsibility to the citizens of Boston and our Commonwealth.

The fact that the United States Olympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee viewed the campaign by Boston 2024 and its partners to be competitive and worthy of consideration reaffirms the greatness of our state and its capital city, and reflects the tremendous effort produced by those seeking to bring the Olympics to Massachusetts. While that effort has come to a close, it will certainly have continuing benefits.

Lasting far beyond the excitement caused by the idea of the Olympics and Paralympics possibly coming to the Bay State will be the way that idea has caused us to think and re-think just how together we can best utilize our strategic resources to grow the economy, improve transportation, produce more workforce housing, and make a great quality of life even better.

The Olympics and Paralympics could not, and should not have, come to Boston and the Commonwealth with a financial burden for our citizens and taxpayers, and the possibility of that burden is now gone. Yet, what remains is our understanding and reconfirmation of the fact that we live in a great state with a world-class capital, and what endures is our responsibility to carry them to new heights.


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Senate Approves Tarr Beachgoer Protection System

“Caleigh’s Bill” Enhances Safety With Uniform Flag Warning Standard

Boston- Today, the Senate unanimously approved a bill sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester), intended to enhance the safety of millions of swimmers attracted to public beaches by summer heat through the establishment of a color-coded flag system. Tarr filed the legislation, known as “Caleigh’s Bill”, following the tragic loss of Caleigh Harrison, a two-year old Gloucester girl, who is believed to have been swept out to sea while on Rockport’s Long Beach in April 2012.
“The memory of Caleigh’s disappearance will live with all of us for a very long time; her family’s loss is a great tragedy and an inspiration for us to act,” said Tarr.  “Her uncle, David Harrison, spurred our legislative efforts when he learned about the uniformity of water warning systems in other states and countries.  In adopting this bill, Massachusetts will promote greater awareness of the potential dangers that the ocean can present so that we can protect lives and enhance enjoyment of our coastline.”
Senate Bill 1956, a bill creating uniform beach warnings, co-sponsored by Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante and Senators Vinny deMacedo, and Donald F. Humason will:

·         Require the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) to develop a uniform warning and safety flag program to be used at all public beaches maintained by DCR, by providing a uniform size, shape, color, and definition for each warning and safety flag,

·         Allow a municipality to adopt the uniform flag warning and safety program by requiring a vote by a city council, town council, or town meeting,

·         Create a water quality procedure that ensures timely and accurate updates.

The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for further consideration.




Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Rockport Navy Weekend

Each July, the coastal town of Rockport hosts the U.S. Naval Academy Offshore Sail Training Squadron Navy Committee on Rockport Navy Weekend.  This event is ably hosted by the Rockport Navy Committee (RocNavCom) and the town of Rockport, with the assistance of many volunteers and families that host midshipmen.

This year, the Naval Academy midshipmen and their advisors were joined by sailors from the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine, the USS Constitution, and the Navy Band from Newport, R.I.
The sailors and midshipmen participated in a kickball game with Rockport children, a softball game, and a benefit pancake breakfast.  On Saturday and Sunday, a uniformed gun team gave demonstrations of a 5,800 pound 1812 USS Constitution replica long gun.

Once again this year I had the opportunity to meet with the midshipmen, the Navy personnel, host families, committee members and volunteers, and to thank them for providing us with a tremendous opportunity to learn about each other, while also thanking those serving in the Navy for their service to our nation.
I hope you will consider joining us next year for some or all of the events that make this a very special weekend.  To learn more about the committee and its work, please visit http://www.rocnavcom.org/.  Posted below are some photos I captured of Sunday’s activities at the Sandy Bay Yacht Club.



Monday, July 20, 2015

A Wall That Heals

Thousands of visitors came to Gloucester recently to see The Wall That Heals, a traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.  The Wall That Heals was greeted at the Massachusetts state line, and given a motorcycle escort, by members of the State Police, Gloucester Police and many non-profit veteran rider organizations.

A public ceremony was well attended and Governor Baker offered moving remarks about the sacrifice of our veterans and their families. The Wall That Heals gave many of us an opportunity to honor those who were involved in the war and to help give comfort to those still wounded by painful memories.

This memorial, which serves as an invitation for public examination, makes the enormity of loss so visible that it also inspires private reflection.  I had several other opportunities to experience that reflection, by day reading the names inscribed on the wall, and at midnight I returned; even at this hour others were there in quiet contemplation. Some left personal items, others left tears, but I am sure all of us left feeling better for the opportunity to honor our dead.

Thanks are due to the United Veterans Council of Gloucester, the Gloucester Veterans Service office, the many volunteers (pictured below), and public officials who made it possible for the Wall That Heals to be with us.  Here is a link to The Wall That Heals Website  so that you can learn more about the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.


Thursday, July 16, 2015

Tarr Priorities Reflected in State Budget

Governor Baker’s Approval Expected by Saturday

Boston- In addition to advancing several policy initiatives with state-wide implication in the $38.1 billion annual state budget, Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) notes that, upon Governor Baker’s signature, our region is slated to receive substantial support across an array of needs.

Some regional budget highlights championed by Tarr include:
  • $75,000.00 for the Grace Center in Gloucester, which serves individuals dependent on shelter housing with a wide array of programming and support services.
  • $120,000 for the North Shore Health Project’s Hepatitis C program.
  • $50,000 for skills training to be conducted by the Gloucester Marine Genomics Academy. These funds will provide training for those seeking to enter the marine sciences and biotechnology fields, building on the success of the Gloucester Marine Genomics institute.
  • $100,000 for an opiate diversion and treatment program in Gloucester and potentially two other communities.
  • $20,000 in funding to assist the town of Rockport in further exploring the creation of dockage and other facilities through a 600 foot extension of Granite Pier and other changes in the harbor.
  • $300,000 to fund a Buy Local Seafood program including locally harvested seafood.
  • $50,000 to continue a phragmites mitigation plan in marshes between Gloucester and Salisbury.
  • $25,000 to conduct research by the University of Massachusetts Extension program relative to honey bee mortality, as well as to provide general support and make recommendations on preventing hive loss to the apiary inspection program, county beekeeping associations and statewide pollinator stewardship efforts.
  • $100,000 for a Great Marsh green crab trapping program.
  • $15,000 for a North Reading Safety Grant for the Community Impact Team’s efforts in community safety.

The budget was given final approval by the House and Senate on July 8th, Governor Baker has until Saturday the 18th for his final approval of the budget document. Gubernatorial vetoes can only be overridden by a two-thirds vote of both the House and Senate.