Friday, July 29, 2016

Senate Takes Action on Human Trafficking

Far too many people in Massachusetts are at risk of the viscous crime of human trafficking; some as recovering victims while others are still bound to submission by fear and dangerous perpetrators.

The Senate has recently taken a significant step to expand protections for survivors and providing tools for enhanced public awareness, mandatory law enforcement training and resources for court staff, health professionals and educators.

I have been working for some time with my colleague, Senator Mark Montigny of New Bedford, on this issue. In 2011 we collaborated to enact one of the strongest human trafficking laws in the nation. Human trafficking is tantamount to slavery; victims are mostly vulnerable women and children forced into the sex trade or involuntary labor services. They live in fear that they or their families will suffer serious penalties if they resist.
  • This important bill was sent to the House after I was able to add amendments to: Requires notification to local police upon release of a person convicted of trafficking people,
  • Requires the collected court assessments paid by offenders be made available to the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security to provide for those who can identify and respond to trafficking; law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, public defenders and others who work in the justice system.

The bill include enhanced data collection to better track human trafficking crimes and identify any patterns or characteristics useful to law enforcement for investigations, arrests and prosecutions.

The bill include enhanced data collection to better track human trafficking crimes and identify any patterns or characteristics useful to law enforcement for investigations, arrests and prosecutions.


Thursday, July 14, 2016

Reform the Independent Contractor Law

Numerous economic and social studies have determined that Massachusetts has a well-defined need to generate new jobs. One important policy approach that should be included in a new statute is a reform to the independent contractor law.

This law, one of the severest in the country, causes detrimental burdens on many companies that rely on independent labor and as a result, a detraction on our economy at a time when we need to revive opportunities for labor growth.

Today I will be debating an amendment that I have offered to the Senate’s economic development bill, the Act relative to job creation, workforce development and infrastructure investment, Senate Bill 2423. My proposal will reform the independent contractor law with specific new thresholds to determine a person’s status as an contractor:
  • compensation equal to or greater than $30 per hour, or $1,200 per week, or $5,160 per month;
  • services requiring a professional certification or licensure, or conducting business in a franchise relationship subject to FTC rules and regulations;
  • work requiring the exercise of discretion and independent judgment; advanced knowledge in a field of science or learning; or creativity, originality or talent in a recognized field of artistic or creative endeavor; or
  • the individual is granted either ownership or copyright to the work product.

Our existing independent contractor law impacts more than 1 million workers, including contractors researchers, and artists. Misclassification weakens the competitiveness of law-abiding Massachusetts businesses and constrains our potential for job growth and an opportunity to revitalize our economy.


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

District Nets $200,000 in Marine Water Quality Awards

Five coastal communities in Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr’s district will be receiving Clean Vessel Act funds for the purchase, operation and maintenance of pumpout equipment including pumpout boats, shoreside pump stations and floating restrooms. The Baker-Polito administration announced the award of the funds which will curtail sewage discharge from recreational vessels and preserve marine water quality and habitats.

“Our marine environment is precious, and we must explore every available avenue to address its viability and sustainability,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester). “Funding through this grant program makes possible the kind of practical investments in pumpout facilities that make a real difference every day in keeping our waters clean so that we can all benefit from this.”

The Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries manages the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Clean Vessel Act program which is funded by the Sportfish Restoration Program.

“These pumpout projects all along our coast will make it easy and convenient for people who enjoy fishing and boating in Massachusetts’ coastal waters to help us keep those waters clean,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Through this collaborative effort with the federal government and our coastal communities, we are working to protect our important marine resources for generations to come.”

“These funds will greatly strengthen municipal and private efforts to keep the Commonwealth’s coastal waters pristine,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “Installing pumpout facilities provides a needed service to boaters while protecting public health and our marine ecosystems.”

Awarded district projects include:
  • Gloucester will receive $14,000 for a pumpout boat and a shoreside pumpout at the Cape Ann Marina and the City of Gloucester will use $76,000 for a pumpout boat and the installation of a new shoreside station and supporting float.
  • Ipswich will receive $64,750 to purchase a replacement pumpout boat.
  • The Manchester Marine will dedicate $3,000 for a pumpout cart and tight tank and the Town of Manchester will allocate $8,500 toward a pumpout boat.
  • Rockport will receive $8,500 for the purchase of a pumpout boat.
  • Rowley will receive $13,000 for a shoreside pumpout station, tight tank, and pumpout boat.

Since the program’s inception in 1994, Massachusetts’ harbors have put more pumpout boats in service than any other state. This extensive coverage, coupled with the many shoreside pumpout stations placed in service, provide the infrastructure needed to achieve and maintain the No Discharge Zone designation in all of the Commonwealth’s coastal waters.


Monday, July 11, 2016

Funding for Phyllis A Secured in Budget

For several years I have been working to build legislative support to bolster the efforts of the Phyllis A. Marine Association to restore on of Gloucester's most important surviving fishing vessel as it enters its next stage of restoration. Now that persistence is producing results.

When the Senate debated the state budget for the current fiscal year in May, I offered an amendment to provide not less than $60,000 for the restoration of the Phyllis A., and capitalized on the legislative support we have built by getting it passed. Next, the amendment was included in the final version of the budget by the House and Senate conference committee. Finally, Governor Baker approved and signed the budget which mandated the funding.

The historic nature of the iconic Phyllis A is significant and all who crewed her or were well served by her, will someday in the future, be honored by her stem to stern rejuvenation.

Now that state funding is assured under the new budget, I hope that others will be encouraged to give tangible support to the Association leaders and volunteers who have been working diligently to restore this culturally and historically important vessel.

Today, Sean Horgan of the Gloucester Daily Times reported on this effort, and you can read his story by clicking below.


Friday, July 8, 2016

Senate Moves Veterans' HOME Act to Governor Baker

Today the Senate clerk sent to the Governor's desk and important bill, An Act Relative to Housing, Operations, Military Service, and Enrichment, called the Massachusetts HOME Act, which expands on the commitment Massachusetts has to our veterans, servicemembers and their families.

This bill earned bi-partisan support because it provides important benefits to veterans and their families in terms of employment, housing, property tax relief, education, and other services.

Massachusetts leads the nation in our assistance programs offered to veterans, and rightly so because they deserve a support system which reflects their vital service to America and sacrifice on our behalf. The passage of the Valor Act I 2012 and Valor Act II in 2014 helped Massachusetts the number one state in the nation for providing for our veterans. Our country is stronger because of our servicemen and servicewomen and our veterans and we are honored by their commitment to all of us.

You can read the HOME Act at - HOME Act


Some Repeat Sex Offenders Don't Appear On The Public Offender Registry

I spoke recently with New England Cable New investigative reporter Ally Donnelley about the state of sex offender classification.  You can watch her report by clicking the link-


Some Repeat Sex Offenders Don't Appear On The Public Offender Registry

I spoke recently with New England Cable New investigative reporter Ally Donnlley about the state of sex offender classification.   You can watch her report by clicking the link- via


Thursday, July 7, 2016

Media Alert: Tarr on NECN

Expected tonight on New England Cable News, a report by Ally Donnelly NECN on the state of sex offender classification for convicted sex offenders.

I talked with Ally about the ramifications of a recent State Supreme Court decision that could put hundreds of offenders is classification limbo. Tune in tonight at 9 PM.


REAL ID and Assuring Only Lawful Residents Can Receive a License Or ID

Today the Senate Republican Caucus sent this letter to Governor Charlie Baker to ask him to thoroughly review legislation, in the new state budget now on the Governor's desk, that sets standards for compliance with the federal REAL ID law. Specifically, Caucus members want to make certain that only those who are in the country lawfully can receive a state issued ID, permit or driver's license.

REAL ID Letter to Governor Baker by Anonymous xNuOZ0 on Scribd


Wednesday, July 6, 2016


The Jodrey State Fish Pier is an asset that’s critical to the survival of the commercial fishing industry, and it must be kept ready and able to land and process fishery products of all kinds. This investment reflects an understanding of that, and support for an industry that is facing threats on so many fronts.

Here is a news release with more details.

Pier renovations will maintain critical maritime infrastructure

Boston – Today the Baker-Polito Administration announced $1.1 million in funding to advance the renovation of the Jodrey State Pier in Gloucester. The funding will support the City of Gloucester’s working port, by ensuring that Gloucester’s commercial fishing fleet maintains reliable access to critical port infrastructure, including cold storage and freezing facilities.

“Our administration is supporting blue jobs with a full range of maritime economic development opportunities, including commercial fishing and lobstering, cargo shipping, tourism, maritime innovation and clean energy,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “This commitment to Jodrey State Pier advances the long-term vitality of Gloucester’s commercial port and the future of our working fishermen and lobstermen.”

“This strategic investment in Gloucester’s waterfront is the result of close collaboration across multiple agencies, under the Seaport Economic Council,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “By rehabilitating and modernizing Jodrey State Pier, we are demonstrating our commitment to deepening the economic impact of state maritime facilities, and providing responsible stewardship of publicly-owned assets.”

Jodrey State Pier hosts commercial fishing, lobstering, and fish processing activities. The roof of the pier’s cold storage and freezing operation is severely deteriorating, imperiling the pier’s commercial viability. The Commonwealth’s $1.1 million funding commitment will replace the roof of the pier’s cold storage building, preserving the port’s commercial viability. Construction is scheduled to commence this fall.

“By making this $1.1 million investment to the Jodrey State Pier in Gloucester, the Baker-Polito Administration is sending a clear message to the city and the region that the maritime industry remains an incredibly important component to the state’s economy,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “The renovation of the cold storage facility will ensure the working port will remain viable and more attractive for future use, and I am proud of the financial commitment this Administration has made to the City of Gloucester and the region as a whole.”


State House Lobster Day

I am proud to be a sponsor of the annual celebration of our lobster industry—a sustainable option for our fishermen, a partner with marine and environmental experts, and a source for millions of dollars in economic activity.

You will also learn about pressures facing the industry, including competition from international suppliers and processors of lobster.

Please stop by for free samples of lobster bisque (beginning at 12PM), a chance to meet the New England Aquarium’s baby lobsters, drawings to win lobster, and the opportunity to talk with local leaders in the Lobster Industry. Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Matthew Beaton will be there as well.


Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy Fourth of July America!