Thursday, May 31, 2012

State House Commemorates Missing Children’s Day

On Wednesday family members, law enforcement officials, legislators and others gathered at the Massachusetts State House for the 12th annual commemoration of Massachusetts Missing Children’s Day, a solemn remembrance sponsored by the Molly Bish Foundation. The event, moderated by Magi Bish, whose daughter Molly was lost in 2000, featured touching accounts by family members and speeches by elected officials, all centering around a common theme of “In Our Hearts Forever”. Also in attendance were family members of Caleigh Harrison, the little girl from Gloucester who has been missing since April 19.

During the event I was recognized for my work on behalf of missing children with a special award in “Appreciation for Your Many Contributions” by the Molly Bish Foundation. I have worked on a number of initiatives supported by advocates for missing children, including comprehensive legislation passed last year to combat human trafficking, and pending legislation to reform the state’s license plate system.

That legislation, named “Molly’s Bill” in honor of Molly Bish, would simplify general issue license plates in Massachusetts by reducing the number of alphanumeric characters on each plate, and utilizing commonly recognizable symbols to improve recognition and recollection of license plates in times of emergency. Current six-character plates can yield matches of approximately 1 n 4,300 vehicles when combined with information about a vehicle’s color and at least 3 license plate characters, whereas the EZ-ID system contained in Molly’s Bill has the potential to reduce matches to approximately 1 in 123 when combined with information about a vehicle’s color, the symbol on the license plate and at least 2 alphanumeric characters.

We need to keep our efforts to protect children and prevent tragedies in the forefront, and today’s ceremony reminds us of why it’s important to provide law enforcement officials, families and concerned citizens with every possible tool to promote the safety of our children.

I encouraged everyone who was unable to attend yesterday’s event to express their support for Molly’s Bill, S.1798, by calling legislators as soon as possible. Information about the bill is available at, and legislator contact information is available at Below is a picture of me with members of the Bish family and missing children advocates at the rostrum in the Senate Chamber.

From left to right; Paul Holloway, Heather Bish, Amanda Doyle, Magi Bish, Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester), John Bish, Sr., John Bish, Jr., Mikaela Gresty, Gweneth Richard, and Gary Richard.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Supporting Our Cities and Towns

Among my top priorities for state spending is revenue sharing for our cities and towns and local school districts, because they perform some of the most important functions of government, such as police and fire protection and education. Thus, I believe that a major accomplishment of the FY’2013 state budget approved by the Senate last week is an increase in the major accounts that support these functions. Posted below is a chart which describes the increases. Amount Comparisons- Municipalities and Regional School Aid


Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day 2012

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty. -John F. Kennedy

May we all take time today to remember our veterans who have perished while serving this great nation, for without them, we would surely not have the freedoms we enjoy today.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Senate GOP Advocates for Release of Municipal Road Funding

The Senate Republican Caucus is calling on a transportation conference committee to expedite the release of $200 million in Chapter 90 funding for municipal road and bridge projects.

The funding was previously approved by both the House of Representatives and the Senate as part of a $1.5 billion Transportation Bond Bill. Release of the funding has been delayed, however, due to policy differences in other parts of the bond bill that remain unresolved and are still being worked out in conference committee.

In a letter hand-delivered to Transportation Committee co-chairs Senator Thomas M. McGee and Representative William M. Straus and the four other conferees, the Caucus has requested that the bond bill be reported, in part, by releasing the Chapter 90 funding while negotiations continue on the other sections of the bond bill.

Under the Chapter 90 program, funding is allocated to cities and towns based on a formula that takes into account factors such as population, employment levels and the total number of miles of local roadways in the community. Although communities have already received notification of the funding amounts they can expect to receive, municipalities cannot sign project contracts until the Legislature delivers a bill authorizing the release of the funds to Governor Patrick for his signature.

CAUCUS SIGNED 2012.05.23 Chapter 90 Request Posted below is the letter that the caucus sent.


Video Blog: Pre-Budget Thoughts


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tomorrow's Senate Budget Debate

Tomorrow the Senate will commence debate on its version of the Fiscal Year 2013 budget, a $32.3 billion spending bill that will fund the operations of state government for the coming fiscal year. A total of 694 amendments have been filed to change the bill and among those I have filed are:

#9 – Income Tax Reduction Would reduce the income tax from its current 5.3% to 5.0%, doing so in three steps, with the ultimate 5.0% in place by 2015. In 2000, MA voters overwhelmingly supported bringing the income tax rate to 5%, and this amendment would honor their vote.

#47 First Time Home Buyer Savings Account Allows first time home buyers to create a tax free savings account of up to $4,000 per year to be used for housing purchase. It enables the conversion of existing savings accounts (savings, CDs, IRAs, etc.) into Homebuyer Savings Accounts (HBSAs), and provides a tax credit for up to $5,000 on previously taxed savings. Penalties for anyone abusing the system would go toward a Closing Cost Assistance Program for low income individuals.

#48 Job Creation Tax Credit Section 67D of Chapter 62C of the General Laws currently provides a job incentive program for biotechnology and medical device companies. This proposed job creation tax credit would mimic that program, but not be limited to a specific sector of the economy nor would an employer have to increase employment by 10 net jobs to qualify for the credit. Rather, this broad based job creation tax credit would apply to all companies who choose to participate and who increase their net employment figures in the commonwealth. Those companies increasing employment would be allowed to claim a tax credit equal to 50 per cent of the amount paid by the company as salary attributable to eligible jobs created by the company to the extent that the salary was subject to Massachusetts withholding pursuant to taxes on wages in chapter 62B. A company would be allowed to take such a credit for up to 50 new net employees in a given year over the previous year, for up to three years. The program would be administered by the commissioner of revenue, and sunset on June 30, 2016.

#72 Closing Drunk Driver Loophole In a decision issued last week by our SJC (Souza v. RMV), the court reversed the license suspension of an individual based on a DUI case in 2010 in which the defendant refused to take a chemical breath test. The defendant had previously been arrested for a DUI offense in a 1997 case that was continued without a finding after the defendant had admitted to sufficient facts for a finding of guilty. Under Melanie’s Law, the 2010 refusal, because it is a second offense, would normally trigger a license suspension of 3 years, and the Registry took that action. In yesterday’s decision, the SJC countermanded that decision because of the continuation of the first case without a “conviction,” as the word is defined in statute.

In the decision, the court expressly acknowledged it was likely construing the statute as written in frustration of the law’s purpose, but refused to cede to the legislative purpose in light of the actual language in the statute. This amendment would correct that technical mistake. It provides that a continuance without a finding after an admission of sufficient facts for a finding of guilty counts as a prior offense, restoring the intent of Melanie’s Law and reinstating an enhanced punishment when a driver who has previously been arrested for a DUI and admitted to sufficient facts for a finding of guilty again takes to the wheel under the influence.

#86 Correcting Drug Trafficking Loophole Methamphetamine (“Meth”), also commonly known as "crystal meth," "ice," and "speed," is a highly addictive and dangerous stimulant drug that is increasing in presence in our communities. Our criminal drug trafficking laws were most recently and significantly amended in the early 1980s and again in the early 1990s. These trafficking laws were placed on the books to differentiate between those who are dealing on the street, who are subject to distribution or possession of drugs with the intent to distribute charges, and those who transport large amounts of dangerous narcotics in Massachusetts, who are subject to higher penalties. Although our drug trafficking laws include dangerous drugs such as cocaine and heroin, they do not include a crime of trafficking in meth. This appears to be a legislative oversight, as in 1991 meth was included in our trafficking laws, but a 1992 change to the statute to address heroine and morphine trafficking replaced meth trafficking with the drug Phenmetrazine, “or Bam,” which has very little history of abuse here in Massachusetts. This amendment would again recognize the crime of trafficking in Meth, and punish it the same way we punish traffickers of heroine and our other most dangerous drugs.

#128 Fair Employment and Security Creates a public contract integrity chapter in the general laws designed to ensure that all contractors doing business with MA public employers only utilize employees that are in compliance with federal laws pertaining to immigration and citizenship. Requires individuals or business entities seeking to register a motor vehicle to produce documentation of a social security number, a license, or a tax ID number. Increases penalties for persons operating vehicle without having been issued a license, changing minimum penalty from $100 to $500 and maximum from previous $1,000 to $2,000 or by imprisonment for not more than 30 days, or both. Increases the fines for dealing counterfeit licenses, escalating the fines and imprisonment terms proportionally to the number of licenses being dealt, with maximum of a fine of not more than $10,000 dollars or by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than 15 years. Gives residents’ with a lawful immigration status priority over those who have an unlawful immigration status in securing low income housing authority rentals. Directs the AG to receive and investigate, when appropriate, complaints of employment violations in regards to federal immigration laws. Creates a fine and maximum year jail term for knowingly utilizing a false ID to secure or maintain employment.

#133 Searchable Website Section 14C of Chapter 7 requires all state agencies and departments to maintain a searchable website detailing the agencies funding, run by the Secretary of A&F. Although a reasonable interpretation of the statute would lead one to believe that independent quasi-public authorities have to comply with the section, some quasi-publics are not. This amendment would specify that quasi-publics must comply, and directs the A&F secretary to list out on the website those agencies that do not comply. Should agencies continue to fail to comply, the A&F secretary would submit legislation suggesting an enforcement mechanism. Similar language was passed as an amendment into the house budget.

#137 Consolidated Net Surplus This amendment would take 25 per cent of the consolidated net surplus for fiscal year 2013 and place it into the Tax Reduction fund. The consolidated net surplus is the sum of the undesignated balances in the budgetary funds, and currently the consolidated net surplus is allocated by depositing 1/2 of 1 per cent of the total revenue from taxes in the preceding fiscal year is put toward revenue for the current fiscal year and 1/2 of 1 per cent of the total revenue from taxes in the preceding fiscal is transferred to the Stabilization Fund, with any remaining funds also going to the Stabilization Fund. The Stabilization Fund already contemplates that proceeds in the fund may be transferred to the Tax Reduction Fund (transferred if Stab Fund exceeds 15 per cent of the budgeted revenues), this amendment merely ensure that money is deposited into the Tax Reduction Fund. The Tax Reduction Fund (Section 2I of Ch 29) allows for a temporary increase in the income tax personal exemption if money in the fund is sufficient. If the money in the Tax Reduction fund does not produce an increase in the personal exemption, the fund is divided yearly between local aid and the general fund.

#144 Establishment of Taxpayer Accountability Office Establishes an Office of Taxpayer Accountability within the Executive Office for Administration and Finance. The purpose of this office is ensure an efficient and cost-effective government and an independent analysis of policy changes, economic trends and other factors involving the cost of state government and its impact on the taxpayers of the commonwealth.

#148 Regulatory Reform This amendment develops a mechanism for the legislature to regularly review agency regulations. The amendment requires any agency who adopts a new regulation to submit the regulation to the joint committee on state administration and regulatory oversight. The committee would have the ability to suggest an amendment to the agency or suggest that the entire general court take action to disapprove of the regulation, but it would have no veto authority over the agency or ability to unilaterally prevent the regulation from being implemented.

The amendment further requires the secretary of state to include the full text and the statement of small business consideration when it posts information regarding the regulatory impact on small businesses.

Replaces the requirement that agencies review rules and regulations every 12 years to minimize their economic impact on small businesses with a 6 year review timeframe, and adds language that would require the agency to analyze the rule if certain interested parties ask for an analysis within 60 days of published notice of the proposed rule.

Finally, the amendment requires any state agency that approves a grant in excess of $500,000 to submit a cost-benefit analysis of the grant to the joint committee on state administration and regulatory oversight.

#152 State Spending Control This amendment would authorize the Secretary of A&F to develop a 3 year plan to reduce state spending by no less than 5%.

#155 State Spending Control II This amendment would authorize the Secretary of A&F to analyze the cost of operations of all state agencies whose revenue generated surpasses its budget. Upon completing the analyzation of the state agencies, the Secretary of A&F will have to file a report to both the clerks of the House and Senate and the House and Senate Committees on Ways and Means listing any agency whose cost of operation is less than the amount of revenue generated, the actual amount of the excess and the reason why. The report has to be filed no later than April 15, 2013.

#209 Veterans Park Discount Requires the Department of Conservation and Recreation to devise a plan for providing veterans with free or reduced admission to DCR-controlled facilities.

#229 Independent Contractors In 1990, the Legislature adopted a three-factor test to distinguish independent contractors from traditional 9-to-5 employees, but a 2004 amendment adopted as part of a sweeping public construction reform bill significantly narrowed the definition of an independent contractor. Previously, an individual was considered to be an independent contractor if: (1) the individual is free from control and direction in connection with the performance of a service; AND the service is performed outside of the usual course of business for the employer. Or, if the individual is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, profession or business of the same nature as that involved in the service performed, he or she would also have been classified as an Independent Contractor.

The 2004 change requires individuals to meet all three criteria to be considered an independent contractor. Because of this change, many people who have historically been identified and treated as independent contractors – including couriers – are now considered regular employees by the Department of Revenue. This change has had a negative impact on many small businesses because these individuals are now subject to certain employer requirements, including workers compensation, unemployment insurance and overtime. This amendment reinstates the pre-2004 definition so individuals can either meet the first two requirements OR satisfy the third requirement to be considered an independent contractor.

#241 Special Commission on Unemployment Insurance Sets up an 11 member unemployment commission to look at process involved in the determination of unemployment benefits. The commission is designed to address any inconsistency in the process and ensure that our laws and regulations produce the results intended by unemployment insurance. The house has this language in its budget.

#293 Treble Damages In Massachusetts, all violations of wage and hour laws are subject to mandatory punitive treble (triple) damages, even when employers have acted in good faith and took reasonable steps to comply with wage payment laws. This is the result of the 2008 Treble Damages Act – which passed the Legislature over Republican objections and concerns expressed by Governor Patrick. The 2008 law reversed a 2005 Supreme Judicial Court decision that held that in cases of wage violations, punitive treble damages are discretionary and should only be used to punish willful misconduct by an employer. As a result of the 2008 law, the courts have seen a sharp increase in wage violation lawsuits, and the cost of doing business in Massachusetts has risen.

By restoring the law to as it was prior to 2008, the burden of triple damages on employers who make honest mistakes understanding the complex state wage laws or who are involved in good-faith compensation disputes would be removed. Employees would still of course be able to get punitive damages if their employer acts with an evil motive or shows indifference to the rights of others. However, simple good-faith errors or beliefs by an employer would correctly stopped being punished by draconian punitive treble damages.

#298 Housing Development In August 2006 Chapter 43D Expedited Permitting was enacted into law, establishing an inventory of Priority Development Sites (PDS) on which municipalities offer a maximum of 180 day local permitting process. Cities and towns that opt into Chapter 43D are able to target areas, through a streamlined local permitting process, specific for economic development. As of January 2012, the 43D Program has been adopted by 82 municipalities on 168 sites.

This amendment would expand the expedited permitting program from strictly economic development sites to sites used for the development or redevelopment of housing. A housing priority zone would be no greater than ½ acre in size, exceed the allowable area unit density by more than 50%, and need to designate 40% of the planned units for affordable housing purposes, meaning they would be dedicated to those earning 80% or less of area median income. Property tax payments in a housing priority site would be based on a pro rata basis, and not until the issuance of an occupancy permit.

To participate in the program, an interested community must identify a qualifying parcel as a priority housing development site, and obtain permission of its owner (if private) for participation in the program. Within 120 days of adopting the program, the community must appoint a single municipal point of contact for streamlined permitting; amend local rules, regulations, and bylaws to comply with the 180 day permit timeline; determine and make available the requirements for each permit; establish a procedure for identifying necessary permits for the project; and establish a procedure for determining completeness of the required submissions. After the 120 phase-in period is complete, the town must render permitting decisions on priority development sites within 180 days.

#319 Special Education Services Delivery This amendment would authorize Salem State University in partnership with the Department of Education and Secondary Education to conduct a study on the delivery of special education services in the Commonwealth. The study will include a comprehensive evaluation of existing and potential models for providing special education, and the associated costs and benefits that includes the costs of personnel compensation, transportation, housing and assistive technologies.

#461 Driver’s License Requirements Mandates applicants for driver’s licenses provide proof of lawful immigration status.

#594 EBT Cash Assistance Mismanagement Directs DTA to issue rent and utility payments in the form of vendor payments when the beneficiary has not been using his is her funds in the best use of a child or when the DTA determines there has been chronic misuse of funds. Vendor payments would not be used, however, if it negatively impacted the potential for homelessness or domestic abuse.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Today’s statement on SJC Melanie’s Law Ruling

Today I released the following statement regarding the decision made this afternoon by the Supreme Judicial Court in Souza v. Registrar of Motor Vehicles prohibiting the Registry of Motor Vehicles from increasing certain sanctions to those who drive while under the influence of alcohol:

“Today’s decision by the Supreme Judicial Court to strike down certain increased penalties for those operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol is deeply concerning and undermines the effectiveness of a major law that protects our public safety. Today’s ruling by the court begs a legislative response, and we are working to prepare it for inclusion in the first available vehicle, which may well be the Senate version of the Fiscal Year 2013 state budget.

I’m extremely proud of the good work the legislature did in 2005 implementing Melanie’s Law to toughen the consequences for those who choose to drive drunk, and I’m certain the legislature will act swiftly to strengthen an already strong and comprehensive law.”


An Alternative Health Care Cost Containment Proposal

Today I will be offering an amendment to substitute new language for the health care cost containment bill, S.2260, currently being debated by the Massachusetts Senate.

While incorporating many of the concepts included in the original text of the bill, and many of the amendments which have been adopted thus far during debate, it contains several important differences from the approach contained in the original bill. The new text:

1.) Imposes no additional surcharges on participants in the health care system, avoiding millions of dollars in new costs which could ultimately impact consumers and providers, in addition to the payors targeted in the original bill.

2.) Combats costly mandates, which have added more than $1.3 billion, or 12 cents on every dollar, to the cost of health care in Massachusetts.

3.) Sets an aggressive goal of limiting the increases in health care to the Gross State Product, but requires legislative approval and public hearings to ensure that the benchmark is set with careful deliberation, broad input and full accountability.

4.) Creates only a single, independent Institute of Health Care Finance and Policy to replace the existing Division of Health Care Finance and Policy and provide independent oversight and accountability. The current bill increases bureaucracy and costs by creating two new entities (the Institute for Health Care Finance and Policy and the Health Care Quality and Finance Authority), along with several new boards and commissions. Also subjects those involved with the new Institute to be subject to conflict of interest laws.

5.) Imposes strict unification and auditing procedures to prevent the payment of costs for ineligible claimants (such as those who aren’t Massachusetts residents), unnecessary claims and duplicate claims. A recent report by Inspector General Gregory Sullivan identified the significant nature of these costs as follows:

• $7 million spent on people who do not live in Massachusetts;

• $6 million for reimbursing hospitals and clinics for 13,000 duplicate claims;

• $15.1 million for more than 60,000 “medically unnecessary” claims; and

• $2.7 million for “medically unlikely” claims

6.) Addresses the costs of long-term care by requiring a state-wide master plan of facilities and resources to ensure that this type of care can be provided in cost-effective settings that maximize health outcomes and minimize costs.

7.) Prevents additional mandates from being imposed without legislative approval.

8.) Authorizes the use of prescription drug discount coupons, rebates and product vouchers as tools to help consumers cope with the high cost of prescription drugs.

9.) Establishes a wellness grant program which is subject to appropriation from available state revenues and other charitable sources, rather than siphoning needed funds from the state’s health care system, and minimizes the administrative costs of the program.

To read the actual text of S.2260 and all the accompanying amendments please click here. The Senate is scheduled to begin debate this morning at 10:00am and can be viewed live by clicking here.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Combating the High Cost of Healthcare

Today the Senate began debating S.2260, “An Act improving the quality of health care and reducing costs through increased transparency, efficiency and innovation”. The bill aims to achieve reforms to reduce the cost of our healthcare system.

The Republican Senate Caucus has filed amendments to the bill to target major cost drivers such as Medicaid abuse and fraud, and costly mandates created by state government. The debate, which ended shortly after 7:30pm tonight, will continue on Thursday, May 17. Please check back tomorrow for a complete list of amendments that the caucus has filed and key votes taken today.


Monday, May 14, 2012

Building for the Future

I was honored and humbled to have had the opportunity to attend and speak at last week’s Essex North Shore Agricultural and Technical High School ground breaking ceremony. The school, which is a merger of the Essex Agricultural High School and the North Shore Technical High School, will feature a new state-of-the-art school building that is expected to be completed for the start of the 2014 school year.

Due to the schools’ popularity, there is an extensive wait-list and unfortunately there are many prospective students turned away. With the construction of the new school building, more students from across the Commonwealth will have the opportunity to study at Essex North Shore Agricultural and Technical High School.

The collaboration between state, local, and school officials has been exemplary, and without dedication and cooperation, the dream of a modern, unified school would never have come to fruition. I was joined by my colleague in the Senate, Senator Fred Berry, and Representative Theodore Speliotis at the ceremony. Also in attendance were Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray; Treasurer Steve Grossman; Executive Director of the Massachusetts School Building Authority, John McCarthy; former Executive Director of the Massachusetts School Building Authority, Katherine Craven; and many local officials.

Posted below is a video of me speaking at Wednesday’s ceremony taken by the North Shore Chamber of Commerce. Please click here to read an article in last week’s Gloucester Daily Times.


Friday, May 11, 2012

The Advancement of the GOP Jobs Package

I’m pleased, given the uncertainty of the economic recovery, that our jobs package is being given serious consideration by the Legislature. The House and Senate Republican Caucuses have put forward a series of thoughtful proposals targeting five key areas impacting Massachusetts businesses, including energy, education, health care, regulations and taxes, and have already seen some components of our jobs package begin to advance favorably through the legislative process, including proposals to:

• Require public utilities to engage in competitive bidding for long-term renewable contracts to protect the financial interests of Massachusetts’ ratepayers (included in Senate energy cost containment bill);

• Strengthen collaboration between vocational schools, community colleges and workforce investment boards to maximize their common goals of producing a highly-trained and well-rounded workforce to meet the needs of the Commonwealth’s employers (included in House Fiscal Year 2013 Budget);

• Enhance veterans’ ability to secure state-issued licensure and certification in a variety of professional trades by counting service members’ military education, training and experience towards the qualifications required for licensure and certification (included in Senate VALOR Act);

• Extend for 90 days the professional trade license of active duty members whose license expires while on duty (included in Senate VALOR Act); and

• Provide expedited consideration for veterans’ spouses who apply for state licensure or certification (included in Senate VALOR Act).

In the remaining months of the current legislative session, I intend to work closely with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure that not only these proposals, but also many of the other ideas we have promulgated to stimulate the economy and facilitate job growth, reach the Governor’s desk.

Posted below are a series of letters that I submitted to the different joint committees that held public hearings at the State House this week on the five different omnibus jobs bills.

GOP Jobs Bill Letters of Support


On the Air with WBZ-TV

Yesterday evening I was interviewed by reporter Jim Armstrong of WBZ-TV Channel 4 to discuss the scheduled reinstatement of Onyango Obama’s drivers license even though he is an illegal immigrant who was charged with driving while under the influence of alcohol. To watch Jim’s report, please play the posted video below.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Strengthening the Community Preservation Act

The Senate is preparing to debate and pass its version of the Fiscal Year 2013 state budget, and I believe this budget presents a prime opportunity to make important changes to the Community Preservation Act.

Thus, I have written to Senate Committee on Ways and means Chairman Stephen Brewer with a request to include these changes in the committee’s budget proposal. Twelve of my colleagues have joined me in signing the letter containing this request, including three Republicans and nine Democrats. In the letter to Senator Brewer, we ask that the Senate Ways and Means budget proposal include the same CPA changes adopted by the House of Representatives during its budget deliberations last month.

It’s important for the Senate to engage in the process of reforming and reinvigorating the Community Preservation Act to spur economic growth and protect our precious natural resources and assets. With this letter, my colleagues and I are expressing our desire to retain these same important reforms in the Senate’s budget to help advance preservation efforts and promote economic growth at the municipal level.

Established by the Legislature in 2000, the CPA was designed to preserve open space, housing and the rehabilitation of historic properties. Cities and towns that participate in the program can impose a property tax surcharge of up to 3 percent to pay for these efforts, with the state providing additional matching funds collected through fees assessed on deeds. Although the original goal of the CPA was for the state to provide 100 percent matching funds to municipalities, the state currently matches only 22 cents of every dollar spent locally.

The adoption of the reform language would:

• expand the scope of the program by allowing communities to access CPA funding for the rehabilitation of existing athletic fields, parks and playgrounds;

• increase state matching funds by up to $25 million, using surplus revenue from the Fiscal Year 2012 budget;

• provide municipalities with greater flexibility to fund their participation in the CPA program through revenue sources outside of the existing property tax surcharge, such as hotel excise taxes, linkage fee and inclusionary zoning payments, the sale of municipal property, parking fines, and gifts received from private sources for community preservation purposes; and

• give communities the option to establish a CPA property tax exemption for small businesses on the first $100,000 of property value, allowing employers to invest more money in their business and create jobs.

Posted below is a copy of the letter that was sent to the Senate Committee on Ways and Means Chairman, Senator Stephen Brewer.

Bet 2012.05.02 Cpa Request Ltr to Swm


Monday, May 7, 2012

GOP Jobs Package Has Scheduled Public Hearings Starting Tomorrow

In February, the Massachusetts House and Senate Republican Caucuses announced a comprehensive jobs creation package that aims to reduce the cost of doing business in the Commonwealth. The package, which is five omnibus bills, targets five key areas: business regulations, education, energy, healthcare, and taxes.

Beginning tomorrow, 4 of the 5 omnibus bills will receive public hearings this week. Residents and business owners are welcome to attend these hearings to listen and/or provide testimony to each of the committees scheduled to hear the bills. You may also submit written testimony to the chairs of the committee as well.

Posted below is a press packet that summarizes the jobs creation package.

The schedule of the hearings is as follows:

Tuesday, May 8th

10:00am: House Bill 4038, An Act Relative to Cost-Effective Energy Policies and Electricity Cost Reduction – Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy (located in A-1)

10:30am: House Bill 4035, An Act Relative to Improving Employment Opportunities Through Access to Education – Joint Committee on Higher Education (located in A-2)

Wednesday, May 9th

1:00 pm: House Bill 4037, An Act Providing Regulatory Reform to Promote Job Growth – Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight (located in B-1)

Thursday, May 10th

10:00am: House Bill 4036, An Act Incentivizing Job Creation and Reducing the Burdens on Small Businesses – Joint Committee on Revenue (located in B-2)

Final Jobs Package Media Handout


Friday, May 4, 2012

Championing benefits for Massachusetts veterans and their families

I joined with my colleagues in the Senate Republican Caucus to secure the passage of a series of initiatives designed to assist the Commonwealth’s veterans, active duty service personnel and their families during yesterday's Senate debate on the VALOR Act (Veterans’ Access, Livelihood, Opportunity and Resources). The Senate adopted the bill unanimously on a vote of 38-0.

Every Massachusetts resident owes a huge debt of gratitude to the brave men and women who proudly serve our great nation to preserve the many freedoms we all enjoy but too often take for granted. With Memorial Day fast approaching, I cannot think of a better way to show our appreciation than to do everything we can to enhance the educational and employment opportunities available to our veterans and to ensure that the Commonwealth provides for their families’ needs.

Caucus-sponsored amendments approved by the Senate include proposals to:

• Extend the benefits offered through the Massachusetts Military Family Relief Fund to the families of all active duty members who have served since September 11th whose deaths were directly related to their military service (the original language contained in the VALOR Act applied only to the family members of soldiers killed in action);

• Revise state tax laws to allow veterans with a disability rating of 10 percent or more to retain a $400 property tax exemption, even if they return to active service (current law prohibits veterans from receiving this exemption while they are enlisted, but allows them to defer their taxes until they return from their deployment);

• Enhance veterans’ ability to secure state-issued licensure and certification in a variety of professional trades by counting service members’ military education, training and experience towards the qualifications required for licensure and certification;

• Extend for 90 days the professional trade license of active duty members whose license expires while on duty;

• Provide expedited consideration for veterans’ spouses who apply for state licensure or certification; and

• Allow full-time active duty military personnel to receive and attach to their motor vehicle or motorcycle license plate a distinctive emblem issued by the Registry of Motor Vehicles designating their branch of service.

Military families have to endure many personal sacrifices and hardships when their loved ones are deployed for months or years at a time. The provisions adopted by the Senate will offer some measure of support for these families while honoring all of those who serve.

The VALOR Act now heads to the House of Representatives for further action.


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Gloucester’s Pride Stride

Each spring citizens of Gloucester come together in unity to support local organizations in a fundraising walk known as the “Pride Stride”. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the event, which is led by a tremendous team who organizes and conducts this effort. I have been honored to work with them to provide a water and refreshment stop for the hundreds of walkers who participate in the Pride Stride.

We provided refreshments from a great spot on the Boulevard, and were proud to be a part of this tradition. I want to thank Anthony and Joanne Marks, and Barbara Blankenship for assisting me at the water stop this year.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to a terrific Pride Stride 2012!

Below are a few pictures taken by Anthony Marks of activities at our water stop. You can learn more about the Pride Stride by clicking here.