Wednesday, April 27, 2016

School Committees' Day on the Hill

The annual Massachusetts Association of School Committees' Day on the Hill took place yesterday and it serves as a keen reminder that education is a corner stone of our democracy; today we expect a great deal from our school staff, and our students. I had the pleasure of meeting with students and school professionals from our Senate district. I appreciate the efforts that they made to come to the State House and advocate on behalf of improvements to our education system and laws.

The Senate has been actively reviewing a host of education concerns including; charter school reform, regional transportation aid, strengthening safety net services to keep children safe from harm, and revamping the formulae by which the state and local districts fund K – 12 education.

The first collection of tax money used for public schools in America happened in Massachusetts. Today, education spending represents about half of the dollars spent in city and town budgets and $7.8 billion in the state budget.

The Senate is now preparing to consider the state budget for the coming fiscal year, 2017; I welcome your input on making our education system better able to serve students and prepare them for college and careers.

Representing Rockport Public Schools: Martha Morgan School Committee Chair Whitney Swamberg MS Social Studies Teacher Jakob Wessel Student Julian Mendoza Student Carlotte Salmon Student Jordan Fears Student Anders Larsen Student


Monday, April 25, 2016

Gloucester Pride Stride

Hundreds gathered at Stage Fort Park in Gloucester yesterday to participate in the 29th Annual Gloucester Pride Stride Walk. This Cape Ann tradition has helped raise awareness over the decades of many non-profit organizations; which in turn has helped generate new volunteers and more than $1 million in assistance since 1988.

At the start of the event, as in year’s past, I had an opportunity to read a poem written by the late Peter Todd, a Gloucester native and former Poet Laureate of the city. Prior to his passing, Peter selected the poem and gave it to City Counselor Melissa Cox, Pride Stride’s President, to be read at this year’s event.

I was happy to host a water station to rehydrate the many walkers and volunteers along the route. The two mile walk along the boulevard and through downtown Gloucester, celebration, and cookout gave us all a chance to see old friends, make new ones and be inspired by the amazing volunteerism that make Cape Ann a great place to be.

Gloucester Pride Stride was established to bring people together in a friendly and fun effort to help other non-profits successfully pursue their charitable missions. This year, and for the previous two years, the day activates generated more than $35,000 to be shared by such groups as: North Shore Health Project, Open Door, Cape Ann Animal Aid, Relay for Life, the East Gloucester School PTO, and dozens more. There was even a large group of Rockport firefighters wearing full turnout gear walking to help support the Rockport Firemen's Association. The association’s relief account was created to help firefighters and their families in need during tragic times.

Thanks to the Pride Stride organizers, their sponsors and fantastic volunteers, and Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken, for making this annual event such a success.


Thursday, April 14, 2016

$200 Million to Support Municipal Transportation Projects Released

A bill signing this afternoon in Governor Baker’s office marked an important boost for local road and bridge projects, as $200 million was approved to assist cities and towns with transportation improvements that they might not otherwise be able to address. Communities in our Senate district are scheduled to receive $6 million; the funds are distributed by a formula using road miles, total population, and employment rates.

Right now, notice of $200 million in state funding to improve those roads is on the way to city and town halls across the Commonwealth. I was pleased to be involved in this bill’s development throughout the legislative process.

With Governor Baker’s signature, An Act Financing Improvements to Certain Municipal Roads, will provide reimbursements for transportation related construction projects. Named after the section of law that governs transportation, the Chapter 90 formula supports reimbursements for qualifying projects.

The House and Senate worked collaboratively with the Baker-Polito administration to pass the bill in time for cities and towns to move forward with initiatives for the construction season.
City of Gloucester         $672,157
Boxford                         $416,814
Essex                              $133,014
Georgetown                   $306,711
Groveland                      $213,895
Hamilton                        $245,122
Ipswich                           $442,016
Manchester-by-the Sea   $146,204
Middleton                       $299,994
Newbury                         $272,323
North Andover                $822,193
North Reading                 $510,258
Rockport                         $191,312
Rowley                            $235,112
Wenham                          $151,233
West Newbury                $217,033
Wilmington                     $769,096  


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Brighter Side of Solar

Yesterday, Governor Charlie Baker signed into law the new solar law that will give spark to solar energy generation projects across the Commonwealth. As one of the six legislators who negotiated the final version of the bill I am glad to have his support; as a state we have been at the leading edge of clean energy development.

The bill lifts net metering caps and sets a balance between protecting ratepayers and incentivizing photovoltaic installations.


Thursday, April 7, 2016

Step Up For Kids

This morning The Children's Trust, an organization that leads statewide efforts to prevent child abuse and neglect, hosted a State Hose event to raise awareness of efforts to support children and their families. I was honored to receive their Senator of the Year award at the “Step Up For Kids” event.

Behind me, as I stood at the foot of the Grand Staircase, were hundreds of pairs of children’s shoes each representing the average number of abused or neglected children cases each week in Massachusetts. A recent US Department of Health and Human Services report found that our state has the highest per capita rate of reported child abuse in the country. Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito presented a resolution from Governor Baker proclaiming April as Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Suzin Bartley, executive director of The Children's Trust related the work of the Trust in helping connect parents and kids to keep kids safe and families strong. Also present was Maureen Ferris, Public Policy Director for the Trust who I have been honored to have worked with for many years.

I look forward to continuing to work with the Trust, my colleagues and families across the state to help promote child welfare and safety.



Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Solar Energy Bill Sees New Light

For the last five months I have been a member of a conference committee which has been negotiating a bill to lift the cap on solar energy generation and create incentives for its development. Last night we filed our report. I believe this compromise legislation cannot come soon enough, as renewable energy projects all across Massachusetts have been hanging in limbo awaiting the statutory authority to move forward.

Now that we have a committee report that strikes a balance between providing serious incentives for more solar electric generation and protecting ratepayers from the unnecessary burdens of over incenting the creation of that generation, I am hoping that the House and Senate will act quickly to approve that report and put it on Governor Baker’s desk.

Here is a summary of the bill: