Monday, April 27, 2015

Fiftieth Anniversary of the Address of
Martin Luther King, Jr. to the Commonwealth

For centuries, Massachusetts has been at the epicenter for innovation, education, industrial and technological advances, and the pursuit of freedom and justice.  Great leaders and intellectual pioneers have come from and come to our state.  Today, the State House halls and chambers were replete with people who came to recall the words and actions of a man who personified the pursuit for civil rights in our nation and in our time.  Fifty years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. addressed the General Court from the rostrum of the House Chamber and delivered a speech that helped bring focus to the Voting Rights Act that would become law just a few months later.

“There are still too many individuals who argue and who feel that the problem of racial injustices can only be solved by waiting on time,” said Dr. King.  “Ultimately we must come to see that that human progress never rolls in on the wills of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and the persistent work of the dedicated individuals who are willing to be co-workers with God.”

Today’s State House ceremony marked the anniversary of King’s visit to the State House in April of 1965.  Governor Charlie Baker joined the Speaker of the House and Senate President along with several former legislators who were present for the historic address.  King had recalled that President Kennedy had been at the forefront of the effort to secure civil rights for all Americans.  Kennedy, he said, had declared that the race relations problem that the country faced was not a sociological problem but rather a moral one.

Racial discord, ethnic intolerance and violence must yield to civility and a moral sense of a shared society.  Certainly, lawmakers can set the legal parameters for acceptable behavior but the real lessons of Dr. King can be found in how we treat one another as neighbors and as King put it, ‘a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.”


Friday, April 17, 2015

Boston Marathon Wreath Ceremony

Last night I had the honor of partnering with Senator Karen Spilka, Representative Carolyn Dykema, and the Alpha Omega Council to host the annual presentation of wreaths for the Boston Marathon in the Great Hall of the State House. Each year, the marathon wreaths are grown, handcrafted and covered in gold in Greece, where the inspiration for the modern marathon originated in 490 BC. The wreaths are then brought to Boston and given to the Boston Athletic Association and the people of our state by the people of Greece, reflecting the strong bond that continues between us. Ultimately the wreaths are placed on the heads of marathon winners as a crown of victory.  To learn more about the wreath tradition please click here.

The event was well attended with several dignitaries and officials joining us for the presentation including the Consul General of Greece, Mrs. Iphigenia Kanara, His Eminence Metropolitan Methodios, and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito.  Also, next week, on Friday April 24th, I will be hosting the State House’s Annual Greek Independence Day Celebration with many of my colleagues in the Legislature.

The event, which is being held in the Senate’s Chamber starting at 12:30pm and is open to the public, draws hundreds of people from all across New England and Greece.  It is a wonderful event that provides an excellent opportunity for those of Greek heritage to celebrate Greece’s independence and for those interested in Greek history and culture.

Posted below is a photo of me with Consul General Kanara and several presenters during last night’s olive wreath presentation.


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Still Boston Strong

It has been two years since the tragic Boston Marathon bombings took place that left our region suffering due to the horrific actions of terrorists, and even though some closure has taken place with both the passage of time and the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev nearing an end, we will never forget the day so many were wounded and killed.

Sadly, we lost Krystal Marie Campbell, Lu Lingzi, Martin William Richard, and MIT Police Officer Sean Collier.  Another 264 people were injured following the detonation of the two bombs near the marathon’s finish line, many of whom lost limbs.

Today the Senate took action to commemorate that fateful day.  First, at 2:49pm, we observed a moment of silence during today’s formal session.  At 2:49pm on April 15, 2013, the first of two homemade pressure cooker bombs exploded, causing widespread terror and panic.

Secondly, the Senate unanimously approved today’s adjournment order in honor of those who lost their lives due to the detonation of those bombs.  Posted below is the actual adjournment order offered:

Mr. Donnelly, Ms. Forry, Mr. Tarr and Mr. Rosenberg move that when the Senate adjourns today it do so in memory of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.

Exactly two years ago today, Krystle Campbell of Arlington, Martin Richard of Dorchester and Lingzi Lu of Shenyang, China joined thousands of others to cheer on runners at the finish line at the 117th Boston Marathon.

Minutes before 3:00pm, all three lives were tragically cut short by explosions that shattered the festive and joyful atmosphere of that day. 

Their lives, along with those who were injured, the first responders, and families of those affected by this heinous act, were forever changed. 

Days later, in the midst of an unprecedented manhunt, MIT Police Officer Sean Collier of Wilmington lost his life in an unprovoked attack at the hands of the same terrorists.

In the two years following those tragic and chaotic days, our Commonwealth witnessed the pain endured by the families of Kystle, Martin, Lingzi, Sean, and more than 260 people who were severely injured by the bombings.

Though much was lost that day, what was gained is more telling of who we are as a community: stories of perseverance in the face of insurmountable loss, endurance in spite of suffering, and courage in the face of unspeakable hardship.

These stories will withstand the test of time.

Though not even a guilty verdict can restore what was taken on April 15th, we hope that the families of those killed and those who were gravely injured can take a small measure of comfort knowing that the people of the Commonwealth stand strong with them - and the Commonwealth is stronger because of them.


Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Special Panel’s Report on the MBTA

Yesterday Governor Baker and the special panel he appointed to investigate the state of the MBTA and commuter rail system released a report on the beleaguered agency.  Contained within the report are key findings such as an unsustainable operating budget, chronic capital underinvestment, lack of accountability, and absenteeism.

Also noted within the report are several recommendations made by the committee.  Those recommendations include:

·         Capital planning;

·         Capturing revenue opportunities;

·         Installing new fiscal and management oversight including a fiscal control board;

·         Becoming more customer service oriented; and

·         Updating system routes.

The special panel’s report has provided a tremendous amount of information, and now it is time for the Governor and the Legislature to work together in securing the public’s trust by delivering a first class transit system that everyone can rely on.

Posted below is the special panel’s report on the MBTA that was released.


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

New Headlight Safety Law

This past January the Legislature passed a new motor vehicle headlight bill, which was signed into law by then-Governor Patrick and went into effect today.  The new law is meant to increase road and traveler safety by requiring vehicles to become more visible.  The law will now require everyone to use their vehicle’s headlights 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise.  Other requirements of the new law that require the use of headlights include:

·          Whenever weather conditions decrease visibility such as rain, snow, and fog; and

·         Whenever windshield wipers are necessary;

Failure to do so can result in a fine of $5, and a surchargeable violation on your insurance, which can raise your rates at your next renewal.  Please make it a habit to turn your headlights on whenever you turn on your windshield wipers to avoid costly penalties to your insurance.  You will be making the roads a safer place for you, your passengers, and the people around you.

To read more about the new law, please click here to visit the Massachusetts Department of Transportation blog.


Monday, April 6, 2015

State House Visit from Hamilton-Wenham’s Champions

On Wednesday, Representative Hill and I hosted at the State House a special visit by Hamilton-Wenham’s Division 4 High School boys basketball team champions and Division 2 High School girls cross country champions.  We were able to honor the student athletes with citations from our respective legislative branches, gave them tours of the State House, and provided lunch in Nurses Hall of the building.

The boys basketball team recently won its division’s championship game against Sutton, completing an undefeated season and delivering the regional school’s first boys basketball championship in school history.  In November, the girls cross country team won its second straight division championship, as well as completing a dominate run in their region by winning their 9th championship in 10 years in Eastern Massachusetts.

The student athletes were very engaging, and it was wonderful to have had the opportunity to honor them and their coaches as guests at the State House.  There is no doubt that the towns of Hamilton and Wenham are proud of their accomplishments.  Posted is a photo that was taken in the Senate’s chamber.


Sunday, April 5, 2015

Happy Easter

I would like to wish everyone a wonderful and happy Easter that is celebrated with family and friends.  I also hope that we all take a moment out of our day to think of those who are proudly serving this country away from their own families.
Happy Easter!


Friday, April 3, 2015

Happy Passover!

With Passover commencing this evening, I would like to wish all of my Jewish friends and constituents a very happy and joyous holiday that is with family and loved ones, and that your time together is filled with peace and happiness.  Chag Sameach!


Recently I paid a visit to the Open Door in Gloucester.  The Open Door is a wonderful non-profit organization that connects hungry people with healthy food.  They offer a food pantry, the Second Glance Thrift Store for low-cost clothing and household items, a Mobile Market featuring fresh produce and a lot of friendly people working to make a difference.

From the left: Kelly Reardon-Clough, Catherine Francis from The Open Door, Brittany Mangini from The Greater Boston Food Bank, Senator Bruce Tarr, Pat Baker from Massachusetts Law Reform Institute and Sarah Grow and Julie LaFontaine from The Open Door.

If you can’t visit them at 28 Emerson Avenue in Gloucester you can find them at or at 978-283-6776.


William Goldman from Essex Elementary is School Library Association Honoree

Each year the Massachusetts School Library Association selects students from across the Commonwealth for contributions to celebrate the value of school library programs in the state.  This year, William Goldman from Essex Elementary School was awarded a special recognition in a ceremony at the Grand Staircase in the State House for his design of a bookmark.
After a tour of the State House and lunch, William, his family and Susan Hardy, school librarian from Essex Elementary, were my guests in the Senate Chamber. 
Congratulations to William and to all students and families that join me in celebrating our wonderful school libraries and librarians.
In this photo: Jay, Kathleen, William (holding a Senate citation), Ethan, and Maggie Goldman and Susan Hardy at the rostrum.


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Media Alert: On NECN’s “Broadside”

Tonight I will once again be a panelist on tonight’s Broadside with special guest host VB Goudie.  Topics that I will be discussing with VB and Senate President Stan Rosenberg include the Senate’s statewide Commonwealth Conversations Tour, the current struggles of the MBTA and the commuter rail service, and the state’s film tax credit.

Please tune in tonight for this very informational discussion.  Broadside airs at 6:00pm, and re-airs again at 7:30pm, 2:30am, and 4:00am.


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Funding Our Roads and Bridges

Today the Massachusetts State Senate is expected to hold a full formal session where a debate on Chapter 90 road and bridge funding is set to commence.  The bill, filed by Governor Baker, will provide $200,000,000 in funding for our cities and towns to make improvements on our roadways.

With the unprecedented snowfall totals of this past winter, many roads in particular are in desperate need of repair.  Previously, the House of Representatives unanimously passed the bill to be engrossed by a vote of 155-0 on Wednesday, March 25th.  To watch today’s session live that is scheduled for 2:00pm, please click here.   Posted below is the actual text of the bill.