Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Governor’s Vetoes to the FY’15 State Budget

Today the Massachusetts State Senate is scheduled to debate vetoes made by the Governor to the Fiscal Year 2015 State Budget that was enacted by the House of Representatives and the members of the Senate on June 30th.  To view today’s session online, please click here to visit the State Legislature’s page.

Posted below are Governor Patrick’s vetoes:


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Media Alert: On the Air with WBZ-TV’s Jon Keller

Recently I was interviewed by WBZ-TV’s Political Reporter Jon Keller for his Sunday segment Keller@Large Report.  Jon and I discussed various political topics regarding the Commonwealth, including the situation the nation faces with the influx of immigrant children currently crossing the border and what that potentially means for Massachusetts, and Thursday’s Probation Department trial verdicts, where three former officials were found guilty of fostering a job-rigging scheme.
Please tune in on Sunday at approximately 8:30am to watch our lively discussion.


Friday, July 25, 2014

Media Alert: “Broadside” with Jim Braude

Please tune in to tonight’s “Broadside” at 6:00pm on New England Cable News (NECN), where I’ll be discussing with host Jim Braude and State Senator Brian Joyce the potential political consequences of yesterday’s Probation Department verdicts, Governor Patrick’s plan to house border-crossing children in Massachusetts, and the recent Market Basket dispute.
“Broadside” re-airs at 7:30pm, 2:30am, and again at 4:00am.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Nearing the End of Formal Sessions

With July 31st nearing quickly, signifying the end of formal sessions, there is a great amount of work still to be completed by the legislature. Currently, there are several bills within conference committees, which are committees of six members (three from the House and three from the Senate) that are formed after the House and Senate engross their own respective versions of a particular bill and work together to produce a final version of the legislation.  Those bills in conference committee include:

·         An Act promoting economic growth across the Commonwealth;

·         An Act relative to the reduction of gun violence;

·         An Act enhancing protection for victims of domestic violence;

·         An Act financing information technology equipment and related projects; and

·         An Act providing for the preservation and improvement of lands, parks and clean energy in the Commonwealth.

Recently, the House and Senate also passed their own versions of a capital bond bill; however, a conference committee has yet to even be appointed.  Including today, there are only 8 days left of formal sessions for the conference committees to file their reports on the various bills in order for the legislature to have the opportunity to debate and possibly enact them.

Also of concern, there are several important measures still awaiting committee action before the legislation can be brought to the floors for a vote.  Those bills include:

·         An Act relative to the penalty for killing, maiming or poisoning of animals;

·         An Act establishing a Massachusetts seafood marketing program;

·         An Act relative to the expansion of the state DNA database; and

·         An Act relative to local housing authorities.

With time running out, the legislature needs to act swiftly to ensure these matters get the attention they deserve.  Keep checking back to read updates on these measures and others as the legislature continues to progress towards the July 31st deadline.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Cycling to Cure Cancer

This past Sunday, July 20th, I assisted with the 10th annual Reid’s Ride, an inspiring event named in honor of Reid Sacco, a young man who was tragically lost to cancer at the age of twenty. Reid’s Ride welcomes bicyclists of all ages to participate in a 28-mile bike ride along a scenic route spanning from Lynnfield High School to Stage Fort Park in Gloucester. The event has raised awareness, support, and significant funds since its start in 2005.

The proceeds from the event go directly to the Reid Sacco AYA Cancer Fund, a fund dedicated to researching and discovering treatments, and ultimately a cure, for adolescent and young adult cancers. Reid’s Ride has provided many donations to the Foundation from generous riders, local businesses, and supporters, and has facilitated the growth of the Reid R. Sacco AYA Program at the Tufts Medical Center in Boston, along with other treatment centers throughout Connecticut.

The event drew an impressive turnout from local communities, and I am honored to have had the chance to support the cyclists and donors in their fight to end cancer.

To learn more about Reid’s Ride, please click here.

Below are several photos I was able to capture from Sunday’s fundraiser.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Press Release on the Passage of a Senate Environmental Bond Bill

On Tuesday I distributed the following press release regarding the passage of a Senate Environmental Bond Bill, which included an amendment I secured regarding the Conservation Land Tax Credit:

Tarr Amendment Increases Conservation Land Tax Credit in Enviro Bond Bill

Measure Aids Private Donors, Conserves Land for Public

Boston- On Thursday, July 10th, the Massachusetts State Senate passed its version of a $1.9 billion environmental bond bill, and a major amendment secured by Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) seeks to expand the Conservation Land Tax Credit (CLTC) program.  Currently, the CLTC program provides a refundable tax credit of 50% of the appraised donation value, with a maximum cap of $50,000.  The Tarr amendment, which passed unanimously by a roll call vote of 38-0, would raise the max to $75,000 allowing for greater land conservation investments at a fraction of the cost, while benefiting both the general public and private land owners.

“Conserving and preserving open space is important for our environment, our quality of life and the character of our state,” said Senator Tarr.  “This tax credit has a proven track record of success, and strengthening it in the environmental bond bill will make a good tool even more powerful and effective.”

The Conservation Land Tax Credit was first signed into law in 2008; however, the application did not become available to the public until 2011.  Since then the program has conserved land for an average cost at just under $1,000 per acre, and for every $1 in tax credit provided by the Commonwealth, $5.60 has been generated for the state in land value. To date Massachusetts has conserved over 5,100 acres of land valued at over $21.3 million, while only costing the Commonwealth $3.8 million to purchase. 

The CLTC program has a $2 million cap limit for each calendar year, even though the tax credit has gained in popularity since becoming first available.  During the 2013 calendar year the program exhausted its cap limit from just 44 approved requests, and thus far, 2014 has at least 24 requests totaling $1.15 million, more than half of the program’s cap limit.  In July of 2011, the Massachusetts Commission on Financing Forest Conservation, which was also established by the legislature, recommended increasing the program’s cap to $20 million per calendar year.  With the vast benefits gained by the state, Senator Tarr is committed to increasing the CLTC program’s cap limit for future years to increase conservation land investments.

“Bonding and spending state money isn’t the only way to conserve land, we can also provide incentives that are equally or more effective.  By increasing this modest tax credit we can partner with private land owners to create a win-win situation that is extremely cost effective in promoting open space acquisition in our state,” said Senator Tarr.

The Senate passed the environmental bond bill by a vote of 38-0.  The House of Representatives previously passed its version of the bond bill on June 4th by a vote of 138-5; however, because the Conservation Land Tax Credit program was not included in the House version of the environmental bond bill, the amendment is subject to negotiation in an upcoming House-Senate conference committee.



Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Celebrating the U.S. Navy in Rockport

Friday, July 11th marked the commencement of the annual Rockport Navy Weekend, a special tradition commemorating the celebrated and rich history of the US Navy and its unique connection with Rockport. The weekend’s festivities were appealing for all age groups, featuring events such as United States Naval Academy sailboat tours, a pancake breakfast, a free concert performance from the Northeast Navy Pops Ensemble, and kickball games with mixed teams of sailors, midshipmen, and children.

I am honored to have had the chance to join the hundreds of current military personnel, veterans, and enthusiastic Rockport and Cape Ann community members in the weekend’s celebrations, where I was also able to present a citation to MA1 Jose Gonzalez after his re-enlistment ceremony during Saturday’s softball game.

I am always impressed with the Rockport Navy Committee’s job in coordinating the weekend’s festivities, and was happy to see such a great turn out from the community. Posted below are several photos I was able to capture from the weekend’s events.


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Reminder: Media Alert: On the Air with Fox 25

On Monday morning I will once again be a special guest on the Fox 25 Morning News segment “Monday Morning Quarterbacks,” with former Attorney General Scott Harshbarger. Scott and I will join News Anchor Gene Lavanchy in a discussion regarding the various political topics of the day. Please tune in Monday morning at approximately 7:55 AM for what will be a lively discussion.


Friday, July 11, 2014

Media Alert: On the Air with Fox 25

On Monday morning I will once again be a special guest on the Fox 25 Morning News segment “Monday Morning Quarterbacks,” with former Attorney General Scott Harshbarger. Scott and I will join News Anchor Gene Lavanchy in a discussion regarding the various political topics of the day. Please tune in Monday morning at approximately 7:55 AM for what will be a lively discussion.


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Beach Safety Bill Passes Senate

Today I distributed the following press release regarding “Caleigh’s Bill”, which was passed to be engrossed during yesterday’s formal Senate Session:

Tarr Beach Safety Bill Passes Senate
Bill Seeks to Honor the Memory of 2-year-old Caleigh Harrison

BOSTON – Yesterday the Massachusetts State Senate took a major step forward by unanimously engrossing a bill sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) that seeks to create a color-coded flag warning system to promote safety at the state’s public beaches.  Senate Bill 2247, also known as “Caleigh’s Bill”, was crafted due to the tragic case of Gloucester 2-year-old Caleigh Harrison, who was last seen on Rockport’s Long Beach on April 19, 2012 and is believed to have been swept out to sea.

            “Caleigh’s Bill provides a great public safety and awareness tool for the public beaches across the Commonwealth,” said Senator Tarr.  “This bill honors Caleigh, and through this measure, there will be greater consciousness of the dangers that the ocean presents, and that will ultimately save lives.”

In an effort to promote beach safety, Senate Bill 2247, An Act creating uniform beach warnings, would:

·         Require the Department of Conservation and Recreation to develop a uniform warning and safety flag program to be used at all public beaches maintained by DCR, by providing a uniform size, shape, color, and definition for each warning and safety flag; and

·         Allow a municipality to adopt the uniform flag warning and safety program by requiring a vote by a city council, town council, or town meeting.

            “Caleigh’s Bill”, which is also supported by Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante (D-Gloucester), was first developed by Caleigh’s uncle, David Harrison, Jr., who was on a business trip to Panama last year when he learned about the country’s color-coded flag system which is used to warn the public about the dangers of tides and riptides.  Alabama, Florida, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Texas and several other states utilize a similar program, and the Harrison family is seeking to implement the same safety measures in Massachusetts.

“My family and I are pleased to hear of the news that Caleigh’s bill has now passed the Senate and is in the final stages of becoming a reality! Our vision of helping to prevent other tragedies like the one that we live through every day seems to be very close to happening! We would like to thank Sen. Bruce Tarr along with Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante for their hard work in making all of this possible,” said David Harrison, Jr.
            The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for further consideration.



Monday, July 7, 2014

Media Alert: On the Air with Fox 25

Tonight I will once again be a special guest on the Fox 25 Evening News 5:00pm broadcast, where I’ll be discussing a juvenile 1st degree murder bill that is expected to be debated on during tomorrow’s formal Senate session.

Currently, the bill would set parole eligibility for juveniles convicted of first degree murder at 20-30 years, but does not apply retroactively to those who have already been convicted of the crime.  To learn more about a recent U.S. Supreme Court case and a Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court case on the matter, click here to read an earlier blog post.

Please tune in at 5:00pm to watch tonight’s broadcast.


Friday, July 4, 2014

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

Today, we proudly celebrate the birth of our great nation. Americans everywhere will be united in spirit as we commemorate the ideals of liberty and justice our country was founded on. My hope is that among our festivities this Independence Day, we all take a moment to reflect on the sacrifices the brave men and women of this nation have made and continue to make in order to ensure a life of freedom for their fellow Americans, and a hope for freedom for the world.

Have a happy and safe 4th of July!


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Animal Safety Tips for the July 4th Weekend

As we all look forward to our July 4th celebrations, the Animal Rescue League and Boston Veterinary Care remind us that our pets do not share our excitement. The two organizations urge pet owners to keep several things in mind this Independence Day.

First, the 4th of July, a day of barbeques, fireworks, and parades, can be a cause for potentially dangerous overstimulation for dogs. With all of the additional activities happening over the weekend, it may increase the risk of biting and other aggressive behavior in your dog. ARL president Mary Nee suggests leaving pets at home if possible, or putting them on a leash if they must be outside.

Second, fireworks startle and cause severe anxiety for pets. Keeping your pet in a room with the television or radio on may serve as a distraction for the animal.

Because of the day’s excitement, many animals may run away to avoid the terror-inducing stimuli. It is recommended that your animal is identifiable with either a collar or microchip just in case.

Lastly, in accordance with this summer’s brutal heat, Boston Veterinary Care reminds us to never leave our pets in a parked car, due to the dangerous intensity of the heat within vehicles on hot summer days.

For more animal summer safety tips, please click here.


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Media Alert: On the Air with Fox 25

Tonight at 6:30pm, I will once again be a guest on the Fox 25 Evening News where I’ll be discussing the status of an animal cruelty bill that contains important provisions of the PAWS Act.  The bill, H.1182, was recently released from the Joint Committee on the Judiciary and would:

·       Increase the fine of committing animal abuse from $2,500 to $5,000;

·       Raise the maximum time in prison from 5 years to 7 years;

·       Require veterinarians to report suspected animal abuse (similar to the requirement of medical staff who suspect child abuse); and

·       Create a special taskforce of experts in law enforcement, animal protection, veterinary, and legal professionals to review methods to prevent animal abuse and punish those who commit animal abuse.

Also, earlier today, I, along with the MSPCA and the Animal Rescue League of Boston, met with members of the media to discuss the release of H.1182 and the potential the bill has to becoming law during this legislative session.  Tune in to NECN, Channel 5, and Fox 25 during tonight’s broadcasts to see today’s interviews.