Thursday, March 28, 2013

Confronting Youth Tobacco use in Massachusetts

Last week during Kick “Butts” Day, an event designed to expose the impact tobacco has on our teenagers, the Gloucester Youth Council stopped by my office at the State House.  The high school group shared some pertinent information on the subject, and I very much enjoyed our conversation.  The students were engaging, and provided me with some thought provoking information.

After our discussion I accompanied the Gloucester Youth Council down to the Senate Chamber, where we took the above posted picture at the rostrum and I provided a brief history of the State House and the Massachusetts State Senate.

To learn more about the Gloucester Youth Council please click here to visit their website.


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Today I released the following statement regarding an Auditor’s Report Revealing 119 Cases of Sex Offender Addresses Matching Addresses of Child Care Providers

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) issued the following statement today regarding the release of a report by State Auditor Susanne Bump concerning the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC), which reveals 119 cases where Level 2 and Level 3 sex offender addresses matched addresses of EEC child care providers:

“Today’s report by Auditor Bump emphasizes the need to strengthen our sex offender registry system, and to compel the availability and sharing of critical information.  Providers, parents, and all of us need information to keep kids out of harm’s way, and the legislation filed by Senate Republicans and others will make systemic changes to ensure that it’s available, and that sex offender classifications accurately portray the risk posed by known offenders.

There is no excuse and no justification for allowing sex offender information to be inaccurate, outdated, or inaccessible, and it’s time for comprehensive reform and legislative action.”

Click here to read the Auditor's report in its entirety.


Monday, March 25, 2013

Happy Passover

With Passover beginning tonight, I would like to wish all my Jewish friends, constituents and the community a happy and joyous holiday that is shared with loved ones, and that your time together is filled with peace and happiness. Chag Sameach!


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Media Alert: On the Air with Emily Rooney

Tonight I will be appearing on WGBH-TV’s “Greater Boston” with host Emily Rooney to discuss coastal erosion and its effects on Plum Island.

Please tune in to Channel 2 tonight at 7:00pm to watch what will surely be a lively discussion. Greater Boston also re-airs at midnight.


Monday, March 18, 2013

Celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day

Last week, State Representative Brad Hill and I hosted a Saint Patrick’s Day luncheon for seniors organized by the Ipswich Council on Aging.  It was a fun time where we enjoyed traditional Irish fare, wonderful music, and great conversations.

Also joining us was Ipswich Town Manager Robin Crosbie, District Director Terrance Hart and Assistant to the Director Georgia Gadbois of the Eastern Essex District Department of Veterans Services, volunteers, and friends.  It was a festive occasion that brought out the Irish in all of us!

Posted below are a few photos taken during last week’s luncheon.



Thursday, March 14, 2013

Today I released the following statement regarding the resignation of Commissioner Killins:

Senator Tarr’s Statement on the Resignation of Early Education and Care Commissioner Sherri Killins

Boston- Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) released the following statement today regarding the resignation of Early Education and Care Commissioner Sherri Killins:

“While the Governor continues to tout his costly transportation and education initiatives to the citizens of the Commonwealth, Commissioner Dr. Sherri Killins was receiving a six-figure salary for a job that apparently didn’t require her full attention while the taxpayers continued to pay her full salary.  Unfortunately, the administration believes it prudent to continue to pay Commissioner Killins for several more months as an outside consultant to “ease” the transition of leadership.

The economy is still in a fragile state of uncertainty, and it is inappropriate to ask the taxpayers to pick up the tab of this Commissioner’s salary when the Commonwealth is set to lose $6.3 million dedicated for Head Start from the Federal Government due to the blanket cuts caused by sequestration earlier this month.

Government needs to strive to eliminate the loss of public dollars, and we can’t afford to pay more than full-time salaries for part-time employees.  It is unacceptable to ask taxpayers to pay almost $2 billion more in raised revenue when the Commonwealth’s fiscal house is far from being in order.

I hope the Governor will at the very least take a strong look at his hiring practices.  The citizens of the Commonwealth deserve so much more than a part-time education chief making more than three times the median household income, a DTA Commissioner who failed to properly manage our welfare system, and a road menace State Highway Safety Director.

So while the resignation of Commissioner Dr. Killins comes as welcome news, the recent string of employment failures of high ranking government officials is most disturbing.  I hope the Governor recognizes these failures, and takes action to prevent them in the future.”



Today I released the following press release regarding the passage of the Legislature’s Joint Rules:

New Rules Move Forward, Fall Short of Needed Change
Senate Republicans Vow to Continue to Seek Transparency in State Government

Boston- While the rules adopted today by the House and Senate to govern the legislative session contain some important changes, the legislature has missed some major opportunities to increase transparency and accountability according to Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester).

A debate that began in the House of Representatives on January 23 and continued in the Senate on January 31, culminated today with acceptance of Joint Rules by each legislative branch.  Among many possible changes to open the legislative process to greater exposure and scrutiny, only two were ultimately adopted.  They include:

  • Limiting all committee hearings to hear no more than 50 bills sponsored by Senator Timilty and supported by the members of the Senate Republican Caucus; and,
  • Providing all local petitions before the General Court to be valid for a two-year period sponsored by the members of the Senate Republican Caucus.
Yet other significant changes have been lost in the legislative process.  Key republican initiatives adopted in the Senate’s debate on the Joint Rules were:

  • Requiring the House and Senate Clerks to post online all roll call votes within 48 hours after being made; and,
  • Posting of all roll call votes taken in joint committees. 
“Putting committee and legislative votes on the internet for people to view them should be a routine exercise, and yet today we failed to approve giving people the information they deserve about our legislative process and decisions,” said Tarr.  He added that “the strong gains made by Senate Republicans and the Senate as a body have been eroded by the process that followed.  While an opportunity has been lost today, the Senate Republican Caucus will continue to seek transparency in state government.”



Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Honoring a Wonderful Child Advocate

Earlier today, the child advocacy group The Children’s League of Massachusetts gathered at the State House to promote their mission supporting the welfare of children and their families.  The Children’s League of Massachusetts partners with other child advocacy organizations, legislators and agencies to develop responsible policy aimed to enhance the well-being of all of the Commonwealth’s children.

During today’s event I was able to speak to the many supporters in attendance, and had the privilege to honor Gloucester resident Barbara Talkov with an official Senate citation for her dedication and commitment to The Children’s League of Massachusetts.  Barbara has been serving as its executive director for 17 years now, and has aided and advocated for numerous policy changes for the betterment of children and their families.

Through Barbara’s leadership, The Children’s League of Massachusetts has grown to be one of the most respected and appreciated child advocacy groups in the Commonwealth, and it has been a real honor to consider Barbara not only a colleague but a friend.  Please click here to learn more about the organization, and posted below are several photos taken from today’s State House event.



Monday, March 11, 2013

Finding a Solution to Coastal Erosion

With coastal erosion continuing to be a serious concern of communities along the Massachusetts coastline, I filed S.407, “An Act Relative to the Creation of a Special Commission on Coastal Erosion”, which was co-sponsored by South Shore State Representative James Cantwell.

The legislation would create a special commission charged with investigating the impacts of coastal erosion in the Commonwealth, and to develop strategies and recommendations to address impacts of erosion on property, infrastructure, public safety, and beaches. The commission created, if the bill becomes law, would include government officials, industry experts, and stakeholders to meet and report to the legislature their findings.

Posted below is the bill in its entirety.


Media Alert: "Broadside" with Jim Braude

Please tune in to “Broadside” tonight at 6:00pm on New England Cable News (NECN), where I’ll be discussing with host Jim Braude and Plum Island homeowner Tom Nee the island’s continuing beach erosion issue. “Broadside” re-airs again at 3:30am. Also, earlier today I spoke with NECN Morning News co-hosts Steve Aveson and Bridget Blythe to provide an update on Plum Island. Posted below is a video of this morning’s conversation.


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Media Alert: On the Air with Fox25

Tonight at approximately 6:15pm I will be speaking with Fox25 Weekend News Anchor Heather Hegedus to provide an update regarding the continuing beach erosion issue currently facing Plum Island.  Please tune in to watch tonight’s interview.


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Preparing for an Emergency Starts at Home

With a strong coastal storm providing near hurricane-type winds, a mixture of rain and heavy wet snow, and the possibility of coastal flooding and beach erosion conditions to Massachusetts and Southern New England that is expected to last into Friday, my office has gathered several documents and emergency contact numbers that may be of assistance.  The storm may leave many homes with the loss of utilities and other services, and it is important to have a plan in place before an emergency strikes. 

All households should have a contact list of emergency numbers posted next to a working phone. In case of a power outage, most cordless phones may be unresponsive so it is advisable to keep a backup phone with a cord in a close and safe place. While emergency calls should be directed through 911 it is a good idea to keep other numbers in an accessible location. Some numbers to be placed on that list include your local non-emergency numbers for the police and fire departments, nearest hospital, town hall, and your electricity and gas provider’s area telephone number. National Grid’s emergency number is 1-800-465-1212. Comcast can be reached at 1-800-266-2278 and Verizon’s help service line is 1-888-553-1555.

Other important precautions to take before a storm include;

• Stocking your house and/or vehicle with supplies such as non-perishable food, bottled water, flashlights and extra batteries, first aid kit, extra blankets and sleeping bags, a fire extinguisher, and a radio.

• Installing storm windows or cover windows with plastic to provide additional insulation.

• Letting faucets drip to avoid water pipes from freezing.

• Locking all doors and windows to ensure that they are closed tight to help protect against strong winds and precipitation.

• Learning where gas pilots and water mains are located and how to safely shut off all utilities.

• Keeping an amount of money on hand just in case there is a power outage and ATM’s are unable to operate.

• Knowing your community’s emergency shelter locations if an evacuation becomes necessary.

• Having a plan for all family pets in case an emergency shelter does not allow their presence.
Below are several documents produced from several state and federal agencies that may assist you. The documents include a family communications plan, a disaster preparedness kit checklist, a winter emergency car kit checklist, the National Weather Radio stations listings in Massachusetts, and a family pet disaster preparedness plan. If my office can assist you in anyway, please do not hesitate to call at (617)722-1600.

Disaster Preparedness Kit Checklist by troy_wall3196


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Media Alert: Tonight’s Media Appearances

Earlier this evening Newbury Police Chief Michael Reilly and I spoke with reporters from Fox 25, and Channels 5 and 7 on Plum Island regarding the upcoming storm and how the island is coping with the threat of beach erosion.  Please tune in to tonight’s broadcasts to watch their reports.


Statement on Commonwealth’s Slow-Moving Progress to Comply with the Federal REAL ID Act

This morning I released the following statement regarding a letter to Governor Deval Patrick from the Senate Republican Caucus seeking clarification as to why the Massachusetts Department of Transportation has not made significant effort to comply with the Federal REAL ID Act of 2005.  The Act, which codifies the standards of state licenses and ids, was passed following a recommendation by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (“9/11 Commission”):

“Instead of being ahead of the curve, Governor Patrick and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation has made little progress thus far in the federally mandated REAL ID Act.  With little movement, the Senate Republican Caucus has exceedingly high concerns as to the adverse effects of having an outdated, unrecognized state ID in the eyes of the Federal Government.  The Real ID Act is extremely clear that federal agencies cannot accept state IDs that don’t meet a certain minimum of standards, and if Massachusetts does not move expeditiously to be compliant with federal law, we fear that there will be major implications, such as citizens not being able to board commercial airplanes, until the Governor and his administration rectifies the situation.

We are now calling on the Governor to make clear the progress, if any, that has been made in achieving federal compliance while there is still time to avoid what could be a disastrous scenario for the citizens of the Commonwealth.  If the state is failing to stride towards compliance, we ask Governor Patrick to provide the reasons for that failure.  A state issued license is among the most utilized forms of identification, and the value of the Massachusetts license would be diminished greatly if this administration does not act accordingly.”


Posted below is the letter sent to Governor Patrick from the Senate Republican Caucus and a fact sheet.



Tuesday, March 5, 2013

An Interesting Editorial

In today’s Boston Globe, the newspaper cites an important issue that could soon affect many of the small businesses operating within the Commonwealth.  The editorial “Mass. Needs Obamacare waiver for small-business health plans” highlights major discrepancies between Massachusetts’ mandated health care law and the Federal Government’s Obamacare, which could cost small businesses substantially more money to be compliant with the law.

One of the major differences between state and federal law is that Massachusetts allows insurance companies to use different factors to evaluate and even reduce premiums for the purchasing company.  Unfortunately, Obamacare would eliminate the use of those factors; including:

-          Discounts for small businesses that join a health-care cooperative;

-          Discounts if a company offers a wellness program; and

-          Discounts for how many are employed and are currently participating in a company’s health plan.

Without a waiver granted by the Federal Government allowing Massachusetts to include these factors and others, small businesses will struggle to afford “affordable” healthcare, and could face a reduction in gainfully employed staff.

To read today’s Globe editorial, please click here.