Friday, September 30, 2011

Expanded Gaming Debate

On Monday, September 26th the Senate began debating Senate Bill 2015, “An Act Establishing Expanded Gaming in the Commonwealth”. Thus far debate has been completed on 82 of the 182 amendments that have been filed regarding the bill. 28 of those were approved.

Some important amendments that passed include one that would provide a “cooling off period” of one year before a legislator who leaves office could acquire a position at a casino or an applicant for a casino license, another that would provide surrounding communities an avenue to express support or opposition of a casino site location, and one that would eliminate the ability for a council on aging to use state funds or property to support trips to and from an out-of-state casino. Amendments which I have filed that are awaiting floor action include provisions to use some proceeds from expanded gaming to reduce the sales and income taxes, and to reform education aid for our local school districts.

Debate for expanded gaming is expected to continue next week. To read the actual language of the bill and the status of the amendments please click here. A summary of the bill is posted below.

SWM 2011.09.16 Gaming as Redrafted


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Happy Rosh HaShana

I would like to wish everyone in the Jewish community peace, prosperity and happiness for the year ahead! L’ Shanah Tovah!


Friday, September 23, 2011

Media Alert: On the Air with Jeff Katz, Fox25

With the Senate scheduled to begin its expanded gaming debate next week, I will be calling in to the Jeff Katz radio show on Monday morning to discuss some of the nearly 200 amendments to the bill that have been filed. Be sure to tune in just after 7:30 A.M. on Talk 1200 radio to listen to the discussion.

Also on Monday, I will be appearing live in the Fox 25 Beacon Hill studio to discuss a new illegal immigration bill set to be unveiled next week. The segment will air at approximately 8:15 A.M.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Monday Morning’s Conversation with Jeff Katz

On Monday morning I had the opportunity to discuss with Jeff Katz of the Jeff Katz Show on Rush Talk 1200AM Boston the upcoming expanded gaming debate in the Massachusetts Senate. To listen to our lively discussion please click here, and to read the actual text of the bill please click here.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Votes to Note: Pension Reform

Yesterday the Massachusetts State Senate voted to engross a pension reform bill by a margin of 24-10. To read more about the bill please click here to view an earlier blog post. To see how each individual senator voted please click “Read more” below. The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for their consideration.

Pension Reform Roll Call Vote:

Roll Call Votes: Yea/Nay

Steven A. Baddour: Yea
Frederick E. Berry: Yea
Stephen M. Brewer: Yea
Gale D. Candaras: Yea
Harriette L. Chandler: Yea
Sonia Chang-Diaz: Did Not Vote
Katherine Clark: Yea
Cynthia Stone Creem: Yea
Sal N. DiDomenico: Nay
Kenneth J. Donnelly: Nay
Eileen Donoghue: Yea
Benjamin B. Downing: Yea
James B. Eldridge: Nay
Susan C. Fargo: Nay
Barry Finegold: Yea
Jennifer L. Flanagan: Yea
John Hart: Yea
Robert L. Hedlund: Yea
Patricia D. Jehlen: Nay
Brian A. Joyce: Yea
John Keenan: Nay
Thomas P. Kennedy: Did Not Vote
Michael R. Knapik: Yea
Thomas M. McGee: Nay
Mark C. Montigny: Yea
Michael O. Moore: Yea
Richard T. Moore: Did Not Vote
Senate President Therese Murray: Yea
Marc R. Pacheco: Did Not Vote
Anthony Petruccelli: Yea
Michael Rodrigues: Yea
Stanley C. Rosenberg: Did Not Vote
Richard J. Ross: Yea
Michael Rush: Did Not Vote
Karen E. Spilka: Yea
Bruce E. Tarr: Yea
James E. Timilty: Nay
Steven A. Tolman: Nay
James Welch: Yea
Daniel Wolf: Nay


Media Alert: On the Air with Jeff Katz

On Monday morning I will be speaking with Jeff Katz of the Jeff Katz Show on Rush Talk 1200AM Boston to discuss the upcoming expanded gaming debate in the Massachusetts Senate. Today the Senate Committee on Ways and Means released the Senate’s version of the bill which can be read by clicking here. Please tune in or click here Monday morning at 7:35 AM to listen to our lively discussion.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Recognizing a Dedicated Young Woman

Today Senators Ross, Timilty and I had the privilege to present Sarah Killough of Attleboro with an official Senate citation for her commitment and dedication to the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) Program. Sarah has been involved with the D.A.R.E. program for years and currently serves as the Massachusetts representative to the D.A.R.E. Youth Advisory Council.

She has worked tirelessly in promoting the virtues of D.A.R.E. and is an excellent ambassador to the program. Sarah recently marched in the Topsfield Fair and was a summer counselor at the D.A.R.E. camp located at Camp Finberg in Norton, MA. To learn more about the D.A.R.E. Program please click here to visit the official D.A.R.E. website. Sarah has recently created a Massachusetts D.A.R.E. Facebook fan page which can be accessed by clicking here.

Below are two photos of Sarah being presented her citation by me and my senate colleagues in the Senate Chamber. We are joined by Sarah’s mother, father and grandmother and the Vice President of the Massachusetts D.A.R.E. Association, Officer Michelle Nowak of Boxford.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

This Week’s Pension Reform Debate

In the face of state unfunded pension liabilities in excess of $17 billion and the concerns raised by the state’s bond rating agencies, the Senate is preparing to act on the pension reform legislation (S.2010, “An Act Providing for Additional Pension Reform and Benefits Modernization”) in a formal session on Thursday.

Below is a brief summary of the major provisions of the bill, which can be viewed in its entirety by clicking here.

SWM Pension 9-13-11


Monday, September 12, 2011

Honoring Our Active Duty Troops

Today Representative Vallee and I filed legislation requiring the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) to provide special active duty license plates to Massachusetts residents currently serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.

The proposal would allow full-time active duty military personnel serving in the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard or Air Force to request a distinctive emblem from the RMV designating their branch of service. The emblems – which would be subject to a fee of not more than $35 to cover production costs – would be designed to be affixed to the license plates of private passenger motor vehicles and motorcycles.

Our state has always had a strong legacy of men and women serving our country and protecting our freedoms, and since the terrorist incidents of September 11th, their sacrifices have been substantial. Now, more than ever, it’s important that our state give official recognition to the service men and women who make us proud every day to be Americans. The distinctive license plates created by this proposal will also allow all of us to understand who these brave men and women are, and to offer our gratitude whenever possible.

We are hoping to draw strong bipartisan support for our bill by making it available for co-sponsorship to our colleagues in the House and Senate.

Connecticut recently passed similar legislation. Ohio also allows active duty military personnel to receive special recognition on their license plates. To read the actual text of the bill please click "Read more" below.


“SECTION 1. Section 7 of Chapter 4 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2008 Official Edition, is hereby amended by adding the following paragraph:-

Fifty-ninth, “Active Duty” as used in Section 2 of Chapter 90 shall mean full-time duty in active military service of the army, navy, marine corps, coast guard or air force of the United States, but shall not include active duty being served for the purpose of training as a reservist in the army national guard or air national guard.

SECTION 2. Section 2 of Chapter 90 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2008 Official Edition is hereby amended by inserting, as a new paragraph, after the word “registration.” in line 423 the following language:-

The registrar shall furnish, upon request, to owners of private passenger motor vehicles and motorcycles who are residents of the state and serving in active duty as defined in clause Fifty-nine of section seven of chapter four and upon presentation of evidence deemed satisfactory by the registrar, a distinctive emblem to be affixed to the plate that identifies the branch of the armed services in which such owner serves. The registrar may charge a fee directly attributable to the cost of issuance of such emblem, provided however that this fee shall not exceed $35. Any member of the armed forces who is dishonorably discharged shall return such plates to the registrar not later than thirty days after such discharge. The registrar shall not renew the license plate of a dishonorably discharged armed forces member until confirming that the distinctive emblem is not affixed to the plate.”


Thursday, September 8, 2011

AG Certifies 23 Citizen Initiative Ballot Questions

Today Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced the certification of 22 of 30 possible ballot questions for 2012 and 1 possible constitutional amendment for the 2014 ballot, thus allowing the citizen initiative petition process to advance to the signature gathering stage. Proponents must now collect an additional 68,911 signatures to be filed for certification by mid-November.

Some of the potential ballot questions include the amending of the “Do Not Call List” law, limiting the amount by which water and sewer rates may be raised, permitting the use of medical marijuana, the sale of beer and wine in grocery stores, and the evaluation of teacher performances. Many of the initiative petition sponsors have submitted multiple versions of a petition on the same topic. To view a list of the certified proposed ballot questions please click here. To read a summary of the steps of the citizen petition process please click “Read more”.

The basic steps for a proposed law are:

1. the initiative measure is signed by ten voters and submitted to the Attorney General by the first Wednesday in August (August 3, 2011);

2. the Attorney General determines (usually by the first Wednesday in September, i.e., September 7, 2011) whether the measure meets the requirements of Amendment Article 48;

3. if certified by the Attorney General, the measure is filed with the Secretary of State;

4. thousands of additional voter signatures are gathered (this year, the requirement is 68,911) and filed with local election officials by late November and then with the Secretary of State by the first Wednesday in December;

5. if enough are gathered, the measure is sent to the Legislature in January of 2012;

6. the Legislature either approves or disapproves the measure, proposes a substitute, or takes no action;

7. unless the Legislature has enacted the measure before the first Wednesday in May of 2012, the proponents gather still more signatures (this year, 11,485 signatures are required) by early July;

8. if they gather enough, the measure and any legislative substitute are submitted to the people at the next biennial state election (in this case, November of 2012).

Additional information on the petitions or petition process can be located at on the Attorney General Website. You may access this location by clicking here.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The AG's Decision not to Certify Competitive Electricity Contracts

Following the Attorney General’s decision not to certify a proposed ballot question on competitive electricity contracts for the 2012 state election ballot, I released the following statement today:

“Finding and developing sources of alternative energy is important, and doing so should not be tainted by bidding and procurement practices that avoid competition and transparency. The way to advance alternative energy is to make it practical and cost-effective, and not to isolate it from the economic pressures that families and employers in Massachusetts are facing every day when it comes time to pay their electric bills. While voters have been denied their chance today to provide transparency in energy pricing, my hope is that they will soon have an opportunity to support this goal through the legislative process and that today’s ruling will not discourage any of us from pursuing the right path when it comes to buying and paying for electricity.”

To read the actual language of the proposed ballot question please click here.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Special Recognition by Protect Mass Children

Recently Protect Mass Children, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting children from sexual predators, honored me for my years of supporting stronger penalties and tougher laws for those who choose to prey on children.

Below is a picture of me being presented with a plaque from Protect Mass Children President and Co-Founder Joseph DiPietro (left) and Vice President John Magulas. To read a press release that the organization issued by please click “Read more” below.

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr recognized by Protect Mass Children for his advocacy in protecting children from predators

NORTH ANDOVER - Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) was recently recognized by Protect Mass Children for his years of advocacy in support of passing stronger state laws to protect children from sexual predators.

“Senator Tarr has worked to protect the community throughout his entire career; it is an honor to be able to recognize Senator Tarr for his sincere and longstanding commitment to protecting our children,” Joseph DiPietro, President of Protect Mass Children, stated. “In 2008, Senator Tarr was a strong voice and advocate for Massachusetts’ version of Jessica’s Law, and was instrumental in helping to pass minimum mandatory sentences for certain sex crimes against children. While there is still a good amount of work ahead to protect our children from such heinous acts, Senator Tarr has been a strong advocate for children and continues to be today.”

Senator Tarr recently filed legislation in a bipartisan effort calling for strong mandatory sentences for child predators and life sentences for repeat sex offenders. Commonly referred to as “three strikes you’re in,” Senate Bill 884 would:

• require individuals convicted of child rape to serve a minimum of 15 years in prison;
• require individuals convicted of child rape by use of force or during the commission of another crime to serve a minimum of 30 years; and
• require those convicted three or more times for sex offenses against children to be imprisoned for life, without any possibility of parole.
“Our organization is thrilled to stand behind a leader like Senator Tarr,” DiPietro said. “We are confident his bill will pass and make a significant difference for the safety of thousands of children. The public wants stronger laws to protect children, and Senate Bill 884 is a great tool for the Commonwealth to do just that.”

“I am truly honored to be recognized by Protect Mass Children,” said Senator Tarr. “Under Joseph DiPietro’s leadership, the organization’s dedicated staff has been working tirelessly to protect some of our most vulnerable residents from being sexually abused and exploited. Working together, I am confident we will be able to make significant changes to Massachusetts’ child predator and sex offender laws that will protect our children from these horrific crimes.”

Protect Mass Children is a nonprofit organization committed to protecting the children of Massachusetts from sexual predators through education and legislation. More information can be found at


Friday, September 2, 2011

Reaching a Milestone Towards Energy Independence

Massachusetts reached an important milestone this month when the state completed the weatherization of the home of Gloucester resident Stephanie East. Stephanie’s is the 10,000th home to benefit from a federally-funded energy-saving program administered by the Commonwealth, which promises average savings of 35 percent – or $700 per home per year – on fuel oil costs.

I recently had an opportunity to attend the official celebration marking this historic occasion, and it struck me how this one project represents a single important step that will contribute with many others to the achievable goal of significantly increasing the energy independence of our state and our nation.

It’s important for all residents of the Commonwealth to find ways to conserve and use energy more efficiently, even if it’s done in incremental steps. The weatherization of the East family’s home may seem small in the grand scheme of things, but when you add up what’s taking place in communities across the state, it’s possible to see that we all have a role to play and, collectively, we can make a big difference.

As Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu once said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Today’s Fox 25 Appearance

Today I had the opportunity to be a guest political analyst on the Fox 25’s Morning News segment “Tolman and Gray” aka “Tarr and Company”. Boston City Councilor Michael Ross and I discussed Hurricane Irene and the recovery efforts after the storm and President Obama’s upcoming address to Congress. To watch today’s segment please play the video posted below or click here.

Tolman and Gray: