Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Growing the Future

Yesterday I enjoyed the final Fall Harvest taste test event created by the Backyard Growers Program in Gloucester. Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken and I met many young participants in this amazing program that teaches people how to raise, and eat, food that they can grow themselves. The Backyard Growers have built more than 150 raised bed gardens, served hundreds of residents and worked with students from preschool to 6th grade to learn how to grow.


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Minimizing Whale Entanglement

The State House briefing today on minimizing whale entanglement was very successful attracting lawmakers, staff members and the press raising awareness of new approaches to protect endangered animals and an important industry.

Massachusetts waters offer important habitats for protected and endangered whales such as North Atlantic right whales, minke, humpbacks and finbacks. Given that nearly 900 lobsterman operate in our state harvesting the most valuable species caught in our waters we all want to minimize risk to these animals. Lobstermen, in cooperation with the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries and scientists at the New England Aquarium, are looking to pioneer new ways to protect the nearly 400 whales who live along our coastal waters while allowing their important industry to continue its work.

Lobstermen use traps on the sea floor tethered by rope lines. To lessen the risk of whale entanglement and injury they have transitioned to using sinking lines. By replacing floating lines the fishermen have made a reduction of 3,000 miles of rope from the water.

Begging last year, federal fishing regulators seeking to protect whales imposed new restrictions on the industry and removing 3,000 square miles of lobstering along certain sections of the coast. In response, lobstermen are proposing new innovative equipment changes which they hope will win them a reprieve from the ban in select areas from regulators.

They contend that the latest scientific research shows that harm to whales can be dramatically reduced by introducing segments of rope, every 40 feet, which can readily break should a whale come in contact with it. These new “sleeved lines” can protect and prevent entanglement by breaking when contacted by a whale.

Lobsterman typically haul 150 to 400 traps a day and collectively land 9 million pounds of lobster each year. By securing regulatory approval to change lines, risk to these endangered animals will be significantly minimized and lobsterman can restore productivity in some seasonally monitored areas; an outcome we would all like to see.


Reducing Whale Entanglements

Newly designed gear developed in a partnership between fishermen, scientists and the New England Aquarium to reduce whale entanglements will be presented today at the State House. I am sponsoring the briefing, along with Jim Cantwell my co-chair of the Legislative Coastal Caucus, and the chairs of the Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture Senator Anne Gobi and Representative Paul Schmid.

In 2015, with the intention of protecting endangered right whales, a federal closure was placed on nearly 3,000 square nautical miles of Massachusetts and Cape Cod Bay. This directly impacts fishermen from earning livelihoods during some of the most productive winter months; it also makes it difficult for fishermen to remobilize in those waters in the spring.

To promote safe coexistence between fishermen and whales this briefing will examine a proposed modified closure area using new modified lobster fishing gear. Local lobstermen and the South Shore Lobster Fishermen’s Association will be at the State House for this afternoon’s briefing.


Monday, September 19, 2016

A Weekend of Community Spirit And Fun

A very beautiful weekend filled with truly special community events. #Boxford was teeming with people for the annual Boxford Apple Festival. Community organizations, music, crafts and of course apple pies and crisps made us all happy.

I also enjoyed the 2nd annual Gloucester Harvest Music Festival, Gloucester MA. This day long festival featured top flight musical talent, arts, and culture to help support our local community hospital. Proceeds were dedicated to support the Addison Gilbert Hospital Citizens Fund and community based outreach programs.


Friday, September 16, 2016

Governor Baker Supports My Energy Plan in His Executive Order on Climate Change

I was invited to speak at and witness a State House signing ceremony at which Governor Charlie Baker signed an Executive Order which directs his administration’s new Climate Change Strategy.

I have repeatedly sought passage of legislation requiring Massachusetts to have a comprehensive energy plan that is revised every five years. With the retirement of thousands of megawatts of electric generation, and the need to meet greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets, our state must have a comprehensive plan to meet projected demand with environmentally sound, reliable and cost-effective supply. I was pleased that the Governor incorporated in his order vital elements of my proposal.

This critical provision for energy planning will make a real difference in the way the state deals with meeting its demand for electricity and other related issues.

The executive order doesn’t have the force of law, but it will jumpstart the process of putting together this plan that we need. Importantly, it will bring together the many resources of state government, and coordinate a serious effort to focus on our energy consumption and emissions, energy needs and the best way to manage them.

Most recently, I worked with Senator Marc Pacheco (D-Taunton) to secure an amendment in the senate version of the comprehensive energy bill passed by the legislature and signed into law by Baker on August 8, 2016. Unfortunately, the comprehensive energy plan component was not a part of the final version of the bill.

We must not wait until the lights are flickering to plan for electricity generation and transmission. And today the governor took a big step towards lowering our greenhouse gas emissions and raising the likelihood that we can responsibly secure our future energy needs.


Monday, September 12, 2016

Tarr Honored for Police Support

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Office Of The Senate Minority Leader
Senator Bruce Tarr
State House, Boston, MA 02133-1054


Tarr Honored for Police Support

Named NEPBA Legislator of the Year

Boston- State Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) was named a Legislator of the Year on Wednesday, September 7, 2016 by the New England Police Benevolent Association (NEPBA) for his work on a wide range of criminal justice issues ranging from effectively penalizing repeat violent offenders to addressing the ongoing opiate abuse crisis facing Massachusetts.
            In presenting the award to Tarr, Association President Martin Conway said “This award is given in recognition for your steadfast support of Law Enforcement Officers and their families here in the Commonwealth. It also recognizes the success you have had in the passage of bills directly related to NEPBA members and their families”. Conway presented the award at a ceremony in Marlborough that was attended by police officers, deputy sheriffs, correctional officers, and emergency dispatch personnel from throughout Massachusetts and New England.
            That ceremony featured a keynote address by Governor Charlie Baker, who spoke compellingly about the importance of the work done by those in law enforcement, and the support for them that resonates every day in his travels to cities and towns throughout the state. Receiving awards along with Tarr were state Representatives James Dwyer (D-Woburn), Timothy Whelan (R-Barnstable), and Senator Jennifer Flannagan (D-Leominster), all of whom Baker said have the ability to work with their colleagues to achieve results regardless of political party affiliation.
            On receiving the award, Tarr said “I am humbled to receive this recognition from a group of people who dedicate themselves so passionately to keeping all of us safe. They face danger, remain vigilant, and make the necessary sacrifices so that the rest of us can pursue without fear the things that are important in our own lives. We can never thank them enough, and they deserve our respect and support, things they continue to earn each day in our communities”.
            The New England Police Benevolent Association is an incorporated, non-profit, labor relations support organization that offers legal and labor related assistance to roughly 4,000 law enforcement professionals and their support staff in Massachusetts and New England. 


Thursday, September 8, 2016

Time to Vote

Our democracy depends on each of us doing our part by getting out to vote. Today is State Primary Day, and local polling places are open from 7:00am to 8:00pm to allow all of us to do just that.

You can find the appropriate place to cast your ballot by following this link:

Please take a minute to vote today to keep the democratic process strong.