Thursday, February 25, 2010

“United We Fish” Rally Video and Photos

I was honored to join with thousands of recreational and commercial fishing stakeholders, elected officials and advocates at the “United We Fish” rally at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, February 24th.

Thanks to all who contributed to making this event a tremendous success, including the RFA organizers, and Congressman Frank and Congressman Tierney, who spoke at the rally and met with a group of stakeholders later, and Senator Kerry, who also met with a delegation from New England.

A very special thanks to Senator Scott Brown, with my deep gratitude for rearranging his schedule to not only speak at the rally, but also to engage in a substantive and heartfelt dialogue with stakeholders from our region in the afternoon. Your strong interest and advocacy for fishing issues in these early days of your service in the U.S. Senate are critical to our success, and most appreciated.

Below are photographs and videos of the day’s events, and please continue checking for more pictures and videos of the “United We Fish” Rally.


Discussing Health Care on NECN Tonight

Please tune in to “Broadside” tonight at 6:00pm on New England Cable News (NECN). I’ll be discussing today’s national health care summit with host Jim Braude and Tufts Health Plan CEO Jim Roosevelt.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Fishing Update with Michele McPhee

Please tune in tonight to WTKK, 96.9 FM, for the Michele McPhee show, which will feature a discussion of the challenges facing our commercial fishing industry and an update on Wednesday's protest at the U.S. Capitol. I'll be kicking off this discussion with Michele at approximately 9 P.M.


Friday, February 19, 2010

Update on Fisheries Rally Workshop

Working together at the workshop on Wednesday night, fishing industry stakeholders were able to develop five major themes. I am posting the preliminary phrasing of those themes here, with a cautionary note that this is a work in progress. Your thoughts on these expressions are welcomed as we evolve the final product for the rally on Wednesday, February 24th in Washington.

Our current plan is to preface these themes with an introductory statement of urgency, and to follow them with a request for co-sponsorship of H.R. 1584 and a request for a public hearing on this legislation.

Five Themes:

1) Over fishing in New England is ending, and stocks are rebuilding, through the conservation efforts and extreme sacrifices of fishing families and communities. The continuing success of these efforts is now in jeopardy.

2) Substantial numbers of good jobs are being unnecessarily lost in New England’s commercial fishing industry as a direct result of government actions, which can be changed.

3) Management decisions must use reliable, unbiased science for predictable regulations.

4) Current fishery management regulations are causing the unconscionable wasting of fish.

5) New England’s commercial fishing industry is threatened with extinction, with the loss of irreplaceable shoreside facilities and infrastructure, the unique skills of fishermen and fish processors, and a way of life being lost forever.


Fishing Industry to March on Washington

The information posted below has been provided to us by the Recreational Fishing Alliance, which is the organization facilitating a national fisheries protest in Washington next Wednesday, February 24th. I will be attending the rally in support of our fishing industry, our fishing families and fishing communities.

Fishermen to March on Washington


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Joining Together for Fisheries Rally

On Wednesday, February 24th at 12:00 noon recreational and commercial fishermen from around the country will gather at the United States Capitol to seek changes to our nation’s fishery management system, and in particular to the Magnuson Stevens Conservation and Management Act (MSA). The MSA is the federal statute which governs fisheries management in the United States.

Last night I hosted a workshop with State Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante to bring together fishing stakeholders from our region to develop a united message for the event on February 24th. The workshop was well-attended, with participants from Gloucester, New Bedford and the South Shore of Massachusetts as well as Rhode Island.

We engaged in a thoughtful, vigorous and productive discussion which resulted in five general themes, which will be posted here soon. Please visit the website of the Recreational Fishing Alliance,, for more information about the Washington D.C. event.

If you would like more information from my office or are planning to attend the Washington event, please contact Troy Wall in my office at (617) 722-1600, or

Here are some photos of the evening’s event:


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Budget Hearings Begin

Today the Ways and Means Committees of the House and Senate begin the process of holding hearings around the state to hear testimony about the state budget for the upcoming fiscal years, FY’2011. These hearings provide committee members with a sense of the financial needs and priorities that the budget should address. The hearing today, which I am attending as a member of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, is focused on the budget of our Constitutional Officers.

The schedule for other hearings is as follows:

February 19th, 10:00am, Waltham High School, Cannon Lecture Room, Waltham, MA

February 22nd, 10:00am, UMASS Amherst, Lincoln Campus Center Auditorium, Amherst, MA

February 23rd, 10:00am, Sudbury Town Hall, 322 Concord Road Sudbury, MA

February 26th, 10:00am, Mass. College of Pharmacy Auditorium, 19 Foster St, Worcester, MA

March 1st, 10:00am, Tantasqua Regional High School 319 Brookfield R Sturbridge, MA

March 2nd, 10:00am, Bristol County Comm. Commonwealth College Center 777 Elsbree St, Fall River, MA

March 5th, 10:00am, State House, Gardner Auditorium, 24 Beacon St, Boston, MA

While the committees hear substantial testimony from government officials at these hearings, public input is equally as important but not as common. I encourage you to consider participating in these events. Please contact my office if we can assist you in this regard.

Throughout the process of developing the budget for next year I will be seeking and exploring opportunities to capture savings, gain efficiency and create a climate for economic growth and job creation, and would welcome your thoughts.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Talking Issues with Emily Rooney

Tomorrow (Friday, February 12th) I’ll be discussing current events with host Emily Rooney on WGBH Radio (89.7 FM) at 12:00 noon. Joining me on a panel will be Sam Yoon and Andrea Cabral. Please tune in for a lively discussion.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Modernizing the Law to Protect Children

In response to the Supreme Judicial Court’s recent decision in Commonwealth v. Zubiel regarding the transmission of obscene messages to minors, I filed a bill yesterday that would expand the current definition of “obscene matter” to include “electronically generated or transmitted materials” to modernize the law. The SJC overturned on appeal the conviction of Matt Zubiel for disseminating obscene matter electronically to an undercover officer he believed was 13 years of age on the grounds that current law prohibits transmission of obscenity if it is handwritten or printed, but not if it is produced electronically. We have been working closely on this issue with Senator Robert Hedlund of Weymouth, from whose district the Zubiel case originated.

Changing technology clearly mandates that we modernize state statutes to protect children in our Commonwealth. The Zubiel case demonstrates that they are at risk, and we must act decisively to confront that risk.

My bill, “An Act to Protect Children of the Commonwealth from Online Predators,” disambiguates state statutes surrounding the dissemination of “obscene matter” by making it illegal to use electronic devices, including both internet instant message chats and text messages, to send harmful materials to minors. If passed, it will provide prosecutors the proper tools to convict. Thirty-three members from both the State Senate and House of Representatives have co-sponsored this bipartisan bill.

I have received strong support from my colleagues here at the State House, by obtaining a total of 33 co-Sponsors from both branches and political parties. The list of co-sponsors includes: Senators Robert Hedlund, Richard Tisei, Michael Knapik, Steven Baddour, John Hart, Richard Moore, Brian Joyce, Anthony Petruccelli, Susan Tucker, Michael Morrissey, Patricia Jehlen, Benjamin Downing, Michael Moore, and Susan Fargo, and Representatives Bradley Jones, Bradford Hill, Jeffrey Perry, Paul Frost, Lewis Evangelidis, Cleon Turner, Harriet Stanley, Todd Smola, John Rogers, Jason Lewis, Stephen DiNatale, Mark Falzone, Timothy Madden, Ann-Margaret Ferrante, James Dwyer, James Cantwell, John Keenan and David Sullivan.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Resorting to Tax Increases Again

A preliminary review by my office of Governor Patrick’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year, H.2, indicates he is resorting once again to increased taxes and fees to address the state’s fiscal challenges. We have compiled a new “top ten” list, which you can read by clicking on “Read more” below. You can hear my discussion of this list with WTKK talk show host Michele McPhee by clicking here.

Top Ten Taxes and Fees
Proposed By Governor Patrick in H.2

1. Increases the Medicaid co-pay for generic drugs from $2 to $3.
a. Cost to taxpayers: $8 million.
2. Repeals sales tax exemption for soda.
a. With candy, cost to taxpayers is $51 million, with proceeds dedicated to a “Health and Prevention Fund”
3. Repeals sales tax exemption for candy.
a. With soda, cost to taxpayers is $51 million, with proceeds dedicated to a “Health and Prevention Fund”
4. Imposes an annual surcharge on auto insurance to fund police training.
a. No cost estimate.
5. Expansion of bottle bill
a. Estimated taxpayer cost: $20 million, with $5 million dedicated to recycling and solid waste management.
6. Repeals sales and use tax exemptions for airplanes.
a. Estimated cost to taxpayers: $5 million.
7. Imposes the cigarette excise tax on cigars.
a. Together with the tax on smokeless tobacco, cost to taxpayers is $15 million, with proceeds going directly to the Commonwealth Care Trust Fund.
8. Imposes the cigarette excise tax on smokeless tobacco.
a. Together with the tax on cigars, cost to taxpayers is $15 million, with proceeds going directly to the Commonwealth Care Trust Fund.
9. Caps the job-creating film tax credit at $50 million for each of the next two fiscal years.
a. Estimated cost to job producers: $75 million per year.
10. Adds Managed Care Organizations to the list of groups subject to a surcharge to pay for the health care safety net.
a. No cost estimate.
• Caps life science tax credits at $20 million for each of the next two years.
Didn’t make top ten but of similar adverse impact on job creation as #10.


Monday, February 8, 2010

New "Outrage of the Day" with Michele McPhee

Please tune in to tonight's "Outrage of the Day" segment on the Michele McPhee Show on WTKK 96.9 FM at approximately 8:35pm. Tonight I'll be sharing a new top ten list of taxes and fees with Michele and her audience.


Friday, February 5, 2010

Talking Taxes with McPhee

I’ll be returning to the Michele McPhee show on 96.9FM on Monday night from 6-10pm with a new “top ten” list of proposed taxes. Please tune in.


Protecting Communities in Wind Siting Decisions

Today the Senate debated S.2455, “An Act Relative to Comprehensive Siting Reform for Land Based Wind Projects.” This legislation is intended to promote the development of terrestrial wind energy facilities in our state through an expedited permitting process, particularly in so-called “wind rich” communities.

In order to ensure that regional and municipal interests are adequately protected, I successfully amended the bill in two ways:

1) First, to specifically provide the Metropolitan Area Planning Commission with a voice in the regulatory process, to represent our region’s needs and concerns, and;

2) Second, to require that specific criteria be developed to determine those communities that will be subject to the strongest provisions of the expedited permitting process, and to further require public hearings to be held locally prior to any community being designated as covered by those provisions.

I continue to be a strong proponent of alternative energy development in our Commonwealth and at the same time believe that local input is essential to the energy siting process.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Managing State Waters, Protecting Fishing

On January 4th Ian Bowles, the state’s Secretary Of Energy and Environmental Affairs, released Massachusetts’ first Ocean Management Plan. This plan was the result of legislation which I co-sponsored with Senator Robert O’Leary of the Cape and the Islands District. We spent many hours working to ensure that this bill protected commercial and recreational fishing and established a proper framework to govern development in state waters.

I was honored to have the opportunity to collaborate with stakeholders in commercial and recreational fishing and many environmental organizations at every step in the process of engineering the legislation and the plan which has resulted from it.

When the bill was passed into law and signed by Governor Patrick, I went to work as a member of the Ocean Advisory Committee to guide the development of the plan. Joining me on the 17 member commission were, among others, Gloucester Mayor Carolyn Kirk and Gloucester resident Jack Clark, representing the Massachusetts Audubon Society.

I’m pleased that the legislation that we worked so hard to write and to pass has resulted in a plan which is the first of its kind in the entire country, and which:

---Supports our Commercial Fishing Industry
---Provides strong safeguards for critical environmental resources
---Sets standards and provides the opportunity for wind energy facilities in appropriate settings.

The plan is an important step, and builds on the work of former Gloucester State Representative Dick Silva, who was instrumental in creating Ocean Sanctuaries years ago.

You can view the plan by clicking here.


Monday, February 1, 2010

Off-Road Vehicle Bill Passes Senate

On Thursday, January 28th the Senate passed S.2257, “An Act To Regulate The Use Of Off Highway and Recreation Vehicles.” This broad bill addresses a number of issues, including;

-Noise standards for off road vehicles
-Funding for trail maintenance and development from the proceeds of fines and registration fees
-Age restrictions on off-road vehicle use

A summary of the bill’s major provisions is posted in the “Read more” section below, and the full text of the bill is available at

Thanks to the New England Trail Rider Association, who have played a key role in informing senators about the issues involved with S.2257, which now moves to the House of Representatives for legislative consideration and debate.

S.2251 – January 20, 2010
An Act to Regulate the use of Off Highway and Recreation Vehicles

Section 1:
• Allows persons in violation of Sections 21 to 24 inclusive to have a non-criminal disposition of their violation and pay a $250 fine

Section 2:
• Removes references to recreational vehicles from the Boating Safety Advisory Board such that it only reflects motor boats. The creation of the OHV advisory group in Section 3 replaces this effort.

Section 3:
• Creates an OHV working group, consisting of 13 members with staggered terms
• Amends Chapter 21A to create a retained revenue account called the Off Highway Vehicle Program Fund
o 100% of registration fees for OHVs will be deposited into the fund
o 75% of the fines collected from OHV violations will be deposited into the fund; 25% of the fines collected from OHV violations will be split between the applicable law enforcement entities involved in the issuance of the fines
• The funds may be expended for such purposes as additional enforcement activities, trail and land acquisition, trail maintenance and development, development of safety and training programs, hiring of environmental law enforcement officers

Section 4:
• Defines an all terrain vehicle
• Re-states the definition of law enforcement officer; does not include any new categories and strikes references to fish and game wardens since they no longer exist in statute

Section 5:
• Amends the definition of recreation vehicle to include off highway motorcycles, all terrain vehicles, dirt bikes, etc
• Provides agricultural, forestry, lumbering and construction exemptions
• Defines a new class of recreation vehicles – the recreation utility vehicle

Section 6:
• Requires that riders of recreation vehicles who are 18 years of age and younger must complete the rider safety program
• Requires that legal guardian of persons under the age of 16 to participate in rider safety course
• Requires operators to carry course completion card on their person

Section 7:
• Requires mandatory registration of all snow and recreation vehicles

Section 8:
• Provides fee waiver for mandatory registration for agricultural, forestry, lumbering or construction purposes
Section 9:
• Creates a noise standard for snow mobiles and recreation vehicles
• Requires that all persons file an accident report for those involving injury, death or property damage over $50

Section 10:
• Creates penalty for violation of sections 21 to 34 inclusive to be punished by a fine of not less than $250 nor more than $500

Section 11:
• Indicates that no person under 16 ½ may operate on a public way unless they hold a valid license or have appropriate supervision
• Allows recreation vehicle operators to cross a public way between trail heads after stopping and yielding to vehicular traffic
• Requires express permission to operate on un-marked public land

Section 12:
• Includes recreation vehicles in existing statutory sections regulating use of snow vehicles on areas adjacent to public ways

Section 13:
• Re-states helmet requirement (already exists in statute)
• Prohibits use of all terrain vehicles by all persons under the age of 14, unless operating in a sanctioned race, rally or event
• Creates an engine size restriction of 90cc or less for the use of an ATV between the ages of 14 and 16 years of age
• Requires adult supervision for ages 14 to 16
o Defines adult supervision
• Creates an exemption to the age 14 age restriction for those participating in a sanctioned and organized event; also allows a 21 day window to practice prior to the event
• Creates a violation category of knowingly allowing a person under the age of 18 to operate a snow or recreation vehicle in violation of the chapter
• Creates penalty for violation of sections 25 to 25D, and section 26B (relative to restrictions on operation on public ways, helmet usage, ATV use by persons under 14, usage by persons 14-16, use by persons under 18 and refusal to stop for police) of $250 for a first offense and for subsequent offenses a fine of $500 nor more than $2,500 and makes the vehicle subject to forfeiture
• Regulates the use on privately owned property, requiring proof of authorization to use the property in question (already exists in statute)
• Expands the violation category for the harassment of wildlife, wetlands and other priority environmental areas
• Loaded firearms regulations (already exists in statute)
• Creates a violation category of property damage
• Creates a violation category of operating a snow or recreation vehicle after a registration suspension or revocation
• Creates a violation category of unauthorized use of another’s vehicle
• Creates a penalty for violation of Sections 25G to 25L (relative to restrictions on use on private property, disturbance of wildlife or planted areas, firearms, collisions, operation with suspended/revoked registration and unauthorized use) of $250 nor more than $1,000

Section 14:
• Creates a category of violation for reckless or negligent operation endangering lives or public safety
o Penalty for such offense is by a fine of is fine of $250 nor more than $1,000
• Creates a category of violation for hit and run with property damage of more than $500
o Penalty for such offense is fine of $250 nor more than $1,000
• Creates a category of violation for failure to stop as requested by law enforcement officer and giving false information to a law enforcement officer
• Creates a category of violation for hit and run causing injury
o Penalty for such offense is fine of not less than $500 nor more than $1,000
• Creates a category of violation for reckless or negligent operation causing serious bodily injury
o Penalty for such offense is up to 2 ½ years in the house of correction or by fine of not more than $5,000 or both
• Creates a category of violation for reckless and negligent operation causing death
o Penalty for such offense is up to 5 years in state prison, or by a fine of not more than $5,000, or both
• Indicates that conviction of violations relative to incidents causing serious bodily injury or death result in suspension of driver’s license for certain lengths of time; provides for longer periods of suspension for subsequent offenses
• Creates a category of violation for OUI for age 21 years and older (redraft of existing statute)
o Penalty for such offense is fine of $500 nor more than $5,000; also includes suspension/revocation of driver’s license and revocation of off highway vehicle registration provisions
• Creates a category of violation for OUI for under age 21
o Penalty for such offense is fine of $500 nor more than $5,000; also includes driver’s license revocation provision; also includes suspension/revocation of driver’s license and revocation of off highway vehicle registration provisions
• Delineates which penalties are subject to vehicle forfeiture and allows for any profits from seizure be distributed such that 75% is deposited into the OHV fund and 25% to the municipality that was involved with the seizure proceedings

Section 15:
• States that owners of vehicles who knowingly allow persons under the age of 18 years of age to use their machines may be held liable jointly and severally with the operator for any damage or injuries caused by their actions
• States that owners of vehicles who knowingly allows persons over the age of 18 to operate a machine negligently may be held liable jointly and severally with the operator for any damage or injuries caused by their actions

Section 16:
• Requires minimum standards for enforcement of sections 21 to 34 inclusive and 26B to 26F inclusive

Section 17:
• Specifies that 75% of the fines collected pursuant to section 10H of Chapter 21A and sections 21 to 32 inclusive be deposited into the OHV Program fund; and 25% of the fines collected from OHV violations will be split between the applicable law enforcement entities involved in the issuance of the fines

Section 18:
• Strikes Section 35 of Chapter 90B, outdated reference to old recreation funds

Section 19:
• Amends Section 121A of Chapter 266 so that trespass fines are consistent with those in Chapter 90B

Section 20:
• Requires the updating of CMRs in 180 days so that they are consistent with passage of this act

Section 21:
• Requires the creation of fee registration exemption forms for recreational vehicles to be used for agricultural, lumbering, forestry and construction purposes.

Section 22:
• Allows the promulgation of additional rules regulating the age at which persons may operate an ATV, including engine size and speed. Creates a floor for age category

Section 23:
• Requires the adoption of the minimum training standards within 90 days of the act’s effective date

Section 24:
• Indicates that mandatory registration is effective 6 months after the effective date, but provides a grace period for violations and enforcement for 9 months after the effective date

Section 25:
• Indicates that grace period for lack of registration does not apply for hit and run.