Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Statement on New Tax Increases

Today I released the following statement regarding the implementation of a 3-cents-per-gallon gas tax increase (with future increases tied to inflation), and a new 6.25 percent sales tax on computer software upgrades:
“Today, people who are working hard to pay their bills and employers who are trying to keep their businesses afloat in a stagnant economy are being hit with hundreds of millions of dollars in new taxes, taxes that could have and should have been avoided.  These sweeping new taxes represent the outcome of a choice the Legislature didn’t have to make, and now Massachusetts consumers and businesses are going to be forced to live with the consequences of that choice for years to come.

Both the House and Senate Republican Caucuses offered comprehensive alternative proposals during the transportation finance debate in April that would have paved the way for long-term sustainability, reliability and efficiencies within our transportation infrastructure without resorting to massive increases in taxes and spending.  Republicans offered a series of reforms that sought to capture the billions of dollars in promised savings from the 2009 Transportation Reform Act that have gone unrealized, while increasing the efficiency and integrity of the state’s transportation system and expanding partnership opportunities with the private sector, but those reforms were largely ignored.

In our quest to finance transportation improvements, we should not have forgotten our responsibility to protect the interests of the taxpayers and the state’s economy.  Unfortunately, we have lost sight of our obligation to the taxpayers, and now consumers and employers are left with a regressive gas tax increase that is running on auto-pilot, with no legislative accountability, and a new tax on computer software upgrades that the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation warns ‘strikes at the heart of the innovation economy and will stifle job creation for years to come’.”



Witnessing History Take Flight

This past weekend I had the opportunity to visit the Collings Foundation, headquartered in Stow, MA, to see firsthand some of the historical transportation-related antiques that continue to be preserved and maintained.  Since 1979 the Collings Foundation has been organizing events across the country to bring to life transportation relics to enable Americans the opportunity to learn more about their heritage through participation.

Some events include antique car rallies, hill climbs, carriage and sleigh rides, a winter ice-cutting festival, air shows, and joint museum displays.  If given the opportunity you may see anything from an antique biplane to WWII fighter aircrafts to “Indy” race cars.  The Collings Foundation’s collection of vintage transportation-related vehicles is quite fascinating, and I encourage everyone to stop by one of their shows to see history in action.

To learn more about the Collings Foundation please click here to visit their website.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Senate Expected to Consider Housing Bond Bill

On Thursday the Massachusetts State Senate will consider a $1.4 billion housing bond bill, a five-year capital plan for the production and preservation of housing in the Commonwealth that includes $500 million to repair and improve public housing, $305 million dedicated to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, and $135 million dedicated to the Housing Stabilization and Investment Trust Fund. 

Senators have until 3:00pm today to file amendments to S.1835, “An Act financing the production and preservation of housing for low and moderate income residents”.  On June 5th, the House of Representatives passed a version of the bill unanimously by a vote of 148-0.

Posted below is a summary of the Housing Bond bill.  To read the text of the bill in its entirety please click here.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Come Take a Tour of the State House

I would like to invite all of my constituents to come to the State House for a special free tour of one of the State’s most treasured buildings. Tours are given year round from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, and last approximately 40 minutes. To reserve a tour please call the tour desk at (617) 727-3676. The State House offers both portraits and historical artifacts of Massachusetts' long and storied history.


Friday, July 19, 2013

Request to Conserve Energy

With the unusually high usage of electricity due to the extreme heat and humidity conditions in the Northeast, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) has issued the following press release:


FRAMINGHAM, MA – “With the continued extremely hot temperatures, as we enter the weekend, it is very important that everyone make an effort to conserve electricity,” state Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency Director Kurt Schwartz. “There are a number of easy, common sense steps everyone can take.”

·         Turn off any unnecessary lights or appliances.

·         Put off running major appliances, such as dish washers, washing machines and clothes dryers until the evening hours.

·         Set thermostats between 74 and 78 degrees.

·         Shut off air conditioners when you leave your house.

·         If possible, use ceiling fans to circulate air.

·         Cook on your outside grill instead of your electric stove.
The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) is the state agency responsible for coordinating federal, state, local, voluntary and private resources during emergencies and disasters in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  MEMA provides leadership to: develop plans for effective response to all hazards, disasters or threats; train emergency personnel to protect the public; provide information to the citizenry; and assist individuals, families, businesses and communities to mitigate against, prepare for, and respond to and recover from emergencies, both natural and man made. For additional information about MEMA and Preparedness, go to Also, continue to follow MEMA updates on Twitter at; Facebook at Download the free ping4alert! app to your Smartphone to receive important weather alerts and emergency messages from MEMA.  Easy instructions are available at



Keeping Safe During a Heat Wave

With the ongoing heat wave that continues to scorch Massachusetts, it is important to take the necessary precautions to minimize the threat of danger to your and your family’s health.  During heat waves such as this one where the humidity is also high, it can be difficult for the body to regulate a safe temperature.  To prevent dangerously high internal body temperatures from being reached, please limit prolonged exposure in the heat, over-exercising, and strenuous work.

It is important to recognize the symptoms of heat related illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke.  Some common signs or symptoms that one may be experiencing a heat related illness include confusion; dark-colored urine (a sign of dehydration); dizziness; extreme sweating; faintness; weakness; muscle cramps; nausea; headaches; and pale skin.  Some people who are more susceptible to the dangers of extreme heat include seniors; very young children; those who are currently sick; and those who have certain health conditions such as being overweight or have heart, lung, or kidney disease.  Remember to also supply plenty of water for your pets, and to limit the length of time they spend outside.

Posted below are several tips provided by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA):

During Extreme Heat

•Slow down, avoid strenuous activity.  Do not try to do too much on a hot day.

•Wear lightweight, loose-fitting, light-colored clothing.  Light colors will reflect heat and sunlight and help maintain normal body temperature.

•Drink plenty of water; even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid alcoholic beverages and liquids high in sugar or caffeine. If your doctor generally limits the amount of fluid you drink or has you on water pills, ask how much you should drink during hot weather.

•Eat well-balanced, light, regular meals.

•Stay indoors as much as possible. If you must be outdoors, try to limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening hours. Try to rest often in shady areas so that your body’s thermostat will have a chance to recover.

•If you do not have air conditioning, stay on your lowest floor, out of the sun.  Electric fans do not cool the air, but they do help evaporate sweat, which cools your body. Go to a place where you can get relief from the heat, such as air conditioned schools, libraries, theaters and other community facilities that may offer refuge during the warmest times of the day.

•Check with your community for information about possible local ‘cooling centers’ to assist those seeking relief from the oppressive heat.

•Electric fans may provide comfort, but when the temperature is in the high 90s, fans will not prevent heat-related illness. Taking a cool shower or bath or moving to an air-conditioned place is a much better way to cool off. If possible, use your stove and oven less to maintain a cooler temperature in your home.

•Avoid too much sun exposure.  If you are outside, use sunscreen lotion with a high SPF (Sun Protection Factor) rating and wear a wide-brimmed hat.

•Never leave children or pets alone in a closed vehicle. Even with the windows cracked open, interior temperatures can rise almost 20 degrees Fahrenheit within 10 minutes.

•Do not leave pets outside for extended periods.  Make sure that pets have plenty of drinking water.

•Check on family, friends and neighbors especially the elderly, those who live alone, or those who may not have air conditioning.

•Particularly during extreme heat, if you experience a power outage during warm weather, you may need to go to a cooling center or emergency shelter to stay cool.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Honoring the US Navy in Rockport

Starting on Friday, July 12th the annual Rockport Navy Weekend commenced to honor and celebrate the long and storied history of the US Navy, and Rockport’s special connection with it.  Among the festivities were a youth kickball game, a pancake breakfast, a concert performed by the Navy Band Northeast’s Pops Ensemble, sailboat tours, and a softball game between members of the US Navy and the US Naval Academy vs. the Rockport Police and Fire Departments.

The weekend brought out hundreds of naval enthusiasts, current military personnel, veterans, friends, and families who were able to partake in all of the activities, and I am honored to have had the opportunity to participate in some of the festivities this weekend.

Every year the Rockport Navy Committee does a wonderful job coordinating the weekend’s events, which always brings the community together.  Posted below are several photos I was able to capture.



Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Senate Republican Caucus Calls for Override of Local Aid Veto

Today the Senate Republican Caucus distributed the following press release regarding a letter the members sent to Senate President Therese Murray and House Speaker Robert DeLeo urging them to expedite the scheduling of a local aid veto override vote:

Senate GOP Caucus calls for override of local aid veto

Letter urges House, Senate leadership to restore $177M for cities and towns

            BOSTON – With municipalities facing a 19 percent reduction in state aid for Fiscal Year 2014, the Massachusetts Senate Republican Caucus is calling on House and Senate leadership to “prioritize and expedite” a vote to restore $177 million in unrestricted local aid recently cut by Governor Deval Patrick.

            In a letter hand-delivered to Senate President Therese Murray (D-Plymouth) and House Speaker Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop) Wednesday afternoon, the Caucus echoed Massachusetts Municipal Association Executive Director Geoff Beckwith’s warning that a failure to overturn the Governor’s veto “would slash unrestricted municipal aid to 1986 levels and create widespread fiscal distress in nearly every city and town.”

“If this funding is not restored, communities across the state will be forced to lay off thousands of workers and to make devastating cuts to their police, fire and school departments and other essential municipal services,” the Caucus wrote.  The letter was signed by Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester), Assistant Minority Leader Robert Hedlund (R-Weymouth), Minority Whip Richard Ross (R-Wenham) and Senator Michael Knapik (R-Westfield), the Ranking Republican on the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.

            The local aid reduction was announced by Governor Patrick on July 12, when he cut a total of $417 million in spending from the Fiscal Year 2014 budget.  In making the announcement, Patrick noted that the budget approved by the Legislature on July 1 relied in part on $183.5 million in funding included in a separate transportation finance bill.  That bill was returned unsigned by the Governor with an amendment on July 2.

“While Governor Patrick believes the level of new revenues the Legislature included in the transportation finance bill is insufficient to balance the budget, it is unconscionable to think that our 351 cities and towns should be asked to bear the brunt of his proposed budget cuts,” the Caucus wrote.  “Local governments are on the front lines in providing the basic services upon which our constituents depend, and are facing enormous pressure to balance their own budgets in the midst of a period of weak economic recovery.  Now is not the time for the state to renege on its budget promises, but to restore local aid to the levels endorsed by the House and Senate.”

            A copy of the Caucus letter to President Murray and Speaker DeLeo is attached below.




Monday, July 15, 2013

Celebrating Chief Will’s Day

On Saturday, July 6th the Town of Middleton celebrated the annual “Chief Will’s Day”, a family festival sponsored by Middleton Businesses and the Town of Middleton, and coordinated by Paul Richardson.  The day featured an antique farm tractor parade, road races for kids, games, music, great food, and a fireworks finale.

It was a beautiful day that provided plenty of entertainment for all, and I am so glad that I was able to attend, provide a helping hand, and enjoy the festivities put forth through the hard work by so many dedicated individuals.

Posted below are several photos from Saturday’s event.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Erosion Commission Advances

Legislative language that I authored to create a coastal erosion commission to address comprehensively and proactively the increasing threats to property and public safety of erosion in coastal communities is now awaiting approval by Governor Patrick as part of the Fiscal Year 2014 State budget.

In the past several years we have seen time and again serious risks to public safety and significant damage to homes, infrastructure and coastal resources caused by repeated incidents of erosion up and down the Massachusetts coast.  We must take action in the face of this ongoing threat to ensure that we are taking effective steps to prevent damage to property and harm to people.

The 13 member commission created by the budget provision would include representatives of coastal communities, environmental organizations, property owners, and state and local regulatory agencies. Its work would include reviewing all current laws and regulations involving coastal resource protection and developing comprehensive strategies to eliminate or mitigate the adverse impacts of erosion.

We shouldn’t wait for the next storm to chart a course toward mitigating erosion and its hazards. Simply reacting to emergencies caused by erosion is costly and often ineffective, and we can’t afford missteps or ineffective responses with so much at stake. This commission can give us a clear path to follow in ensuring that we act wisely and cost-effectively to fight erosion before the next crisis.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Media Alert: On the Air with Fox 25

Tomorrow morning I will once again be analyzing political issues with former State Senator Warren Tolman on the Fox 25 Morning News segment “Tolman and Gray”. Please tune in to Fox 25 at approximately 7:45 a.m. to watch our lively conversation.


Monday, July 8, 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.


Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Independence Day!

“The United States is the only country with a known birthday. All the rest began, they know not when, and grew into power, they know not how. If there had been no Independence Day, England and America combined would not be so great as each actually is. There is no "Republican," no "Democrat," on the Fourth of July — all are Americans. All feel that their country is greater than party”. ~James G. Blaine

On July 4, 1776, people of all walks of life joined together and declared their independence as a free nation.  A country was born, and a people were united in demanding for their rightful freedom as Americans.  That legacy lives on today, and it is my hope that we all take a few moments to reflect on the sacrifices that have been made on this country’s behalf and of those servicemen and women stationed overseas who continue to fight for our way of life.

Have a happy and safe 4th of July!


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Fighting for Our Fishermen

Today I distributed the following press release:

Tarr, Ferrante Secure Major Fish Amendments to FY’14 State Budget
Measures Will Boost Fishing Industry, Provide Invaluable Science and Research

Boston- The $34 billion Fiscal Year 2014 State Budget approved by the legislature Monday, July 1st contains valuable measures to boost the Commonwealth’s commercial fisheries that were secured through the efforts of Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) and State Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante (D-Gloucester) with several key legislative colleagues.

            Among the measures contained in the budget sent to Governor Patrick this week is an important change to state laws that would allow Massachusetts dealers to process and sell shell-on lobster tails, a practice currently prohibited and putting the Massachusetts lobster industry at a severe competitive disadvantage.  Senator Tarr joined with Senator Dan Wolf (D-Harwich) in amending the Senate Ways and Means version of the FY’14 State Budget to expand the Commonwealth’s lobster industry.  Changing the law will allow the state’s harvesters, processors, and dealers to capture markets now being lost to competitors from places like Maine and the Canadian maritime.

            “Opening the door to the global market for lobster tails will give the Massachusetts lobster industry a level playing field with major competitors, and create a major opportunity for those who depend on this important fishery,” said Senator Tarr.

            “This is an important step that can benefit lobstermen keeping them competitive in the global economy,” said Representative Ferrante, who supported a similar lobster tail proposal offered by Representative William Strauss (D- Mattapoisett) and Representative Sarah Peake (D-Provincetown) during the House budget debate in April.

            A second important amendment secured by Tarr and Ferrante in the budget provides funding for critical research to identify, sequence, and catalog the genome for cod fish by Gloucester Genomics Initiative.  Understanding the genetic code of individual species of cod and other groundfish will allow better science to be developed to regulate those species, and to combat crushing federal regulations that are devastating the New England groundfish industry.

            “This genomic research has the power to transform fisheries science and to replace uncertainty and speculation with facts and a common understanding.  That understanding will cause reasonable regulations to be developed to ensure that stocks are rebuilt and the industry can survive,” said Senator Tarr.

            “This research has the potential to answer an important question to fisheries management: whether the stocks, such as Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank cod, are interrelated or all one species. The answers to this question could greatly impact the future of fisheries management,” said Representative Ferrante.

Another measure sponsored by Senator Tarr and Representative Ferrante creates a plan to use sonar and other advanced technologies to accurately measure the biomass of stocks such as cod and Yellowtail Flounder, which are being used as barometer stocks in the newest federal fishing regulations that took effect on May 1 and call for reductions in catch of as much as 77%.  The state budget funds the implementation of the plan at $75,000.

“Putting sonar technology to work will provide us with a clear picture of the size and location of the groundfish stocks that our commercial fishing industry depends on, and thus drive better, more practical and productive regulations to manage those stocks,” said Senator Tarr.

“It’s about time we include cutting edge technology to enhance arcane technology in measuring fish stocks. My hope is that NOAA science will work with the Commonwealth to provide the best information for small businesses affected by their regulations and decisions,” said Ferrante.



Monday, July 1, 2013

Remembering the Battle of Gettysburg 150 Years Later

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” – The Gettysburg Address, President Abraham Lincoln, November 1863.

On this day in 1863, two armed forces, one being the Union and the other being the Confederacy, engaged on a field in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in one of the bloodiest battles ever in US history during the American Civil War.  For three days the battle raged on, resulting in over 46,000 casualties combined from both armies.

The Union endured a barrage of attacks to its flanks by the Confederate Army, before the two sides met head on.  The three day battle proved to be a major turning point in the Civil War, due to the many successes the Union had at Gettysburg.  From the defense of Little Round Top by the 20th Maine to “Pickett’s Charge”, the courageous efforts of those Union soldiers who fought during those three days kept not only their army intact, but kept a nation united.

My hope is that we all take some time out of our day to reflect on the sacrifices made that day and the people who made them on our behalf.  We are a better people, and a better nation because of their bravery.  Through the stewardship of President Abraham Lincoln, our country became whole once more.