Friday, November 17, 2017

Supporting Retail Employers

Fostering an economic environment where retail business can thrive is an important goal for our state so I was pleased to be invited to speak at the 99th annual meeting of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts (RAM) yesterday at Bentley University.

Yesterday’s session featured an issues report moderated by Jon Hurst, President of RAM, and a group roundtable discussion where I and Deputy Secretary of the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development Carolyn Kirk engaged those in attendance. Governor Charlie Baker gave a keynote speech in the afternoon.

The challenges facing retailers are numerous, and we need to understand productive ways that we can work with them to address those challenges. That is why I proposed the creation of the Massachusetts Senate Task Force on Strengthening Local Retail. Senate President Stan Rosenberg and I partnered on the idea, which now has a 13 member task force, to engage stakeholders across the state to better understand how local business can become more competitive in an economic environment increasingly dominated by large online sellers.

With one in five jobs in our state connected to the retail sector it is easy to understand the enormity of the impact these business have on the lives of working families. Retailing supports more than more than 930,000 jobs in the state which in turn generates 13% of our state’s GDP. I am optimistic that the Task Force will propose ideas that will help these sellers become more competitive and this will give consumers greater choices, better prices, and the satisfaction that they are positively impacting our local economy.


Rockport Station Parking Restrictions For Saturday

This notice was shared with my office today. Paving associated with the Rockport station power upgrade will take place between 6 AM and 3 PM. Police officers will be present to assist in traffic flow and pedestrian safety.


Thursday, November 16, 2017

Greeting The New Greek Consul General

It was a great pleasure to have Stratos Efthymiou, the new Consul General of Greece and members of the Alpha Omega Council visit with me at my State House office recently. Mr Efthymiou is a career diplomat who has served Greek’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs for several years. Although he speaks six different languages we exchanged ideas in English.

I have collaborated with Consul General’s office for many years on the annual Greek Independence Day celebration and the annual presentation of the arrival from Greece of the handmade laurel wreaths which are given to the eventual winners of the Boston Marathon, I host each of these events at the State House.

The Consul General of Greece in Boston serves a jurisdiction that included Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. I wish him the very best in his new capacity and I look forward to working with him in the future.


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Bill Protecting Animal Welfare and Safety Clears Key State House Legislative Committee

My State House office sent this press release today regarding my bill to protect animals from abuse-

Senator Bruce Tarr’s Bill Protecting Animal Welfare and Safety Clears Key State House Legislative Committee

Builds on Anti-Abuse Gains of “Puppy Doe” PAWS Law
Boston- Legislation sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) intended to enhance humane treatment of animals and punish those who engage in animal cruelty received a key advance today at the State House.

Tarr led lawmakers in 2014 to adopt the Protecting Animal Welfare and Safety bill, also known as the PAWS Act, following the discovery of extreme abuse and cruelty in the case of “Puppy Doe”, a dog that was stabbed in the eye, had her shoulder, elbow and ankle broken, was burned and had her tongue split to resemble a serpent.

“The Puppy Doe animal torture case inspired strong legislative action designed to increase protections for animals and prevent animal cruelty and neglect. PAWS II builds on the foundations of our original law and will ensure that abuse is reported and enforced, that animal drownings are outlawed, and that our animal control laws reflect the seriousness of animal torture and abuse,” said Senator Tarr.

Tarr said that in addition to lessening animal cruelty there could be a corresponding reduction of crimes against people citing a Massachusetts study which found that a person who has committed animal abuse is five times more likely to commit violence against people.

“Like the original PAWS law, PAWS II protects pets and people and that has attracted many legislative sponsors and champions who have worked tirelessly across the state. With the support we received today I am hopeful that the bill will be approved and sent to Governor Baker,” said Tarr.

“PAWS II builds upon the success of the original PAWS Act by protecting defenseless animals from needless and unconscionable suffering,” said Senate Rules Committee Chairman Mark Montigny, lead cosponsor of PAWS II. “I look forward to working with Senator Tarr to ensure this legislation receives swift passage in the Senate.”

“As a proud dog owner, and having served as an Environmental Police Officer, I certainly recognize the importance of protecting vulnerable animal populations,” said Senator Michael O. Moore (D-Millbury) who serves as Senate Chair of the Joint Committee responsible for advancing the bill. “I was pleased to offer my support for this legislation which offers commonsense reforms to further protect animals in our Commonwealth. I appreciate the hard work of the Minority Leader to champion this legislation and it is my sincere hope that S.1159 will reach the Senate floor for additional action.”

Key provisions of animal welfare bill, Senate 1159, an act to Protect Animal Welfare and Safety in Cities and Towns include:
• Ensures abuse is reported- Requires animal abuse be reported by Department of Children and Families, the Department of Elder Affairs, and Disabled Persons Protection Commission. Adds animal control officers as mandatory reporters of child abuse, elder abuse, and abuse against disabled persons.
• Ensures efficient enforcement of animal control laws- Increases penalties in animal control laws that provide non-criminal penalties for. Doubles the existing penalty of a $50 fine for a second offence to $100, and increased the $100 penalty for a forth offence to $500.
• Prohibits the drowning of wild and domestic animals- Declares that drowning of animals as a violation of law.
• Removes automatic killing of animals involved in animal fighting- Removes a requirement to automatically kill animals involved in animal fighting. This bill creates other options for these animal victims.
• Adds animal crimes to the list of offenses that serve as the basis for a request for a determination of detention and or release upon conditions- Includes the crimes of animal cruelty to serve as the basis for a request for a determination of detention and or release upon conditions.
• Prohibits discrimination against specific dog breeds- Prohibits insurance companies and housing authorities to refuse insurance coverage or housing with breed restrictions.
• Require abandoned animal checks in vacant properties- Property owners and landlords must check property for abandoned animals within three days following a foreclosure or termination of tenancy.

Tarr notes that he and the coalition of supporters will seek to have the bill scheduled for legislative action in the Senate.


Sunday, November 12, 2017

Ceremonies Honor our Nation's Veterans

The Gloucester Veterans' Day Services and Parade was a fitting tribute to our nation's veterans. Adam Curcuru, Director of Cape Ann Veterans Services was the Master of Ceremonies. Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken delivered welcoming remarks and led the Laying of Wreaths, Representative Ann Margaret Ferrante and I shared greetings and I read a resolution from Governor Charlie Baker to commemorate the day.

I also attended Veterans' Day ceremonies in Wilmington and North Reading. Organized by Louis Cimaglia, Director of Veteran Services. The Wilmington Town Common ceremony honored past and present Veterans and was well attended.

The Batchelder School Gymnasium was the site of North Reading's moving ceremony. Thanks to Susan Magner, Director of Veterans Services for her work to assemble an excellent ceremony to recognize our veterans.

Thank you to all who worked so hard to make these events successful again this year.


Friday, November 10, 2017

Veterans Day 2017

Veterans Day is Saturday, November 11th. Please join me in remembering our military veterans. There are events and ceremonies planned in communities throughout the Commonwealth and the country - your attendance will be welcomed.

The unyielding and unchanging core principals of our nation; freedom, liberty, and justice expressed in our founding documents would be unobtainable without the actions of our veterans.

We are blessed to have had men and women wear the uniforms of our military organizations to take actions to defend, preserve, and promote those values and principles here and around the world. The family members of our veterans, and of those who wear the uniform as active members today, also deserve our deep appreciation.

Patriotism is alive, the vitality of those who served our nation from the War of Independence to this day continues to beat in our hears, and all U.S. veterans, and those who are currently serving, should know that they are appreciated by the citizens of this great nation. Again, I welcome and invite you to attend one of the many ceremonies that will take place tomorrow - express the gratitude we all share for these great veterans.


Monday, November 6, 2017

Senate Health Care Legislation

On Wednesday, November 8th, the Massachusetts Senate will begin debating major health care legislation, S. 2202, “An Act furthering health empowerment and affordability by leveraging transformative health care.” You can read the bill at, and a summary as produced by the Massachusetts Tax Payers Foundation at

The deadline for filing amendments to this bill is Monday, November 6th at 5pm, and I anticipate that many of them will be filed.

Please contact me with any questions or thoughts about this legislation.


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Advancing Food Policy

I was happy to host the Massachusetts Food Policy Council’s meeting today at the Massachusetts State House. The meeting today focused on some of the goals established under the Massachusetts Local Food Action plan.  The MA Local Food Action Plan was accepted by the MA Food Policy Council on December 10, 2015 and designed to increase production, sales and consumption of Massachusetts-grown food. Today’s meeting focused on the goals of establishing support programs that facilitate access to healthy foods for underserved communities.  A current focus is to provide support to leverage the Department of Transitional Assistance’s USDA/FINI grant award, known as the Healthy Incentives Program, which will increase use of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) at farmers markets, farm stands, mobile markets, and for community supported agriculture (CSA) programs, providing fresh, healthy food for low-income families, and increasing sales for Massachusetts farmers.  Additional examples include the MA Food Trust and the MA Food Ventures Program.

The Food Policy Council is a 17 member council and  was established on November 7, 2010 under section 6C of Chapter 20 and the purpose of the council is to develop recommendations to advance the following food system goals for the commonwealth through: (A) increased production, sales and consumption of Massachusetts-grown foods; (B) the development and promotion of programs that deliver healthy Massachusetts-grown foods to Massachusetts residents, (C) the protection of the land and water resources required for sustained local food production; and (D) the training, retention and recruitment of farmers and providing for the continued economic viability of local food production, processing and distribution in the commonwealth.

For additional information on the Massachusetts Food Policy Council please visit its website which is located here:  Below are photos from today’s meeting