Thursday, May 24, 2018

Police Ballistic Vest Protection

I appreciate the support of my colleagues in the Senate for their support of my amendment and their support of our slaw enforcers.  This amendment will allow us to maximize federal and state support to help keep them safe.

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PLAN TO EXPAND LOBSTER PROCESSING ADOPTED BY SENATE

My office shared this press release tonight.

PLAN TO EXPAND LOBSTER PROCESSING

ADOPTED BY SENATE Would Boost Economic Activity & Consumer Options

Boston- The State Senate today backed a plan that could lift limits on the processing, sale, and transportation of cooked and frozen in-shell lobster parts. Under existing laws, Massachusetts lobstermen and seafood vendors are required to sell or transport lobster out-of-state for processing and then bring them back for sale to consumers in the bay state – often with a ‘Product of Canada’ label.

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R- Gloucester) sponsored the measure, an amendment to the Senate’s Fiscal Year 2019 budget bill, in recognition that up to 80% of lobster landed in the state is then sent to out of state processing facilities. Industry leaders say the move will facilitate opportunities to create and grow jobs in the state. This is the Senate’s latest of many attempts to expand opportunities for the sustainability of the state’s commercial lobster industry, the amendment received unanimous support.

“Massachusetts has the second-largest lobster catch in the country, to keep from being left behind we should expand our ability to process raw and frozen lobster parts. American lobsters are being harvested here and should be prepared for market here instead of Canada or Maine,” said Senator Tarr. “The net effect of modernizing the law will bolster local economic activity and give local restaurants and food stores superior access to the best lobster parts for their customers.”

Tarr expressed appreciation for coastal Senators Mark Montigny (D- New Bedford),Vinny deMacedo (R- Plymouth), and Michael Rodrigues (D-Westport) for their efforts to strengthen the industry and in championing the bill.

“The time has come to eliminate such outdated restrictions on lobster processing and sales in the Commonwealth. Easing constraints on processing operations will allow a thriving industry to further invest in our local economy through expanding operations and creating new jobs, especially in New Bedford. I commend Senator Tarr’s leadership and am proud to have partnered with him in seeing this through to passage. It is my hope the House will finally accept this measure in conference and get it on the Governor’s desk.” said Senator Montigny, cosponsor of the legislation.

“I am glad to join my colleagues in the Senate in support of our Massachusetts lobster fishermen,” said Senator deMacedo (R-Plymouth). “These advancements in our approach to lobster processing will provide an important benefit to the lobster industry and the fishermen who play such an important role in our communities and economy.”

The amendment will direct the state’s Division of Marine Fisheries to implement new regulations permitting on-shore processing of lobsters after an assessment of whether such activity would harm the lobster stock or the sustainability of the state’s commercial lobster industry.

The lobster industry is a critical part of the Commonwealth’s economy and heritage. A similar law in Maine has boosted that state’s economy, produced local outlets for product sales, and created jobs.

“The amendment adopted in the Senate’s budget works to ensure the sustainability and viability of the state’s lobster industry,” said Senator Michael Rodrigues. “This measure will benefit both consumers and lobstermen in coastal communities statewide”

While the sale of live, cooked, and canned lobster is legal in the state, the legislation will expand the industry market with the inclusion of other lobster products. The amendment could permit wholesale dealers licensed by the Department of Public Health to process unfrozen lobsters, import unfrozen shell-on lobster parts and tails, and allow for the retail of previously frozen raw in-shell tails.

Following a successful assessment, the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries will maintain essential regulations including enforcing minimum lobster shell size standards and processing standards. The lobster fishery adheres to stringent state regulations including trap limits and the release of live juveniles. #

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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Amendments to Lower Your Pharmacy Bills and Reduce Costs of MassHealth

A brief preview of several items I have offered that will help lower your pharmacy costs. The Senate will debate several amendments that I filed to lower your costs in obtaining the prescription medicines that you and your family need. The members of the Massachusetts Senate GOP Caucus have also offered cost-savings measures to help the state control spending in MassHealth. MassHealth now represents more than 40% of our state's budget.


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SENATE OKAYS BIZ TAX CREDIT TO EASE STING OF DOUBLE ASSESSMENTS

From the State House News Service

The Massachusetts Senate voted unanimously Wednesday to create a tax credit intended to ease the fiscal sting for businesses that have to pay both state and federal employee health care assessments.

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr said he would bet that every senator has heard from businesses that feel it is unfair for them to be required to pay the state Employer Medical Assistance Contribution (EMAC) supplement and the federal Employer Shared Responsibility Payment.

"This tax credit would allow an employer to claim a credit if they are subject to the federal assessment as well as the state assessment," Tarr said. "The credit ensures employers are not being doubly penalized in the same tax year."

Sen. Vinny deMacedo said the double assessment has "caused extreme hardship and frustration." He said, "I have had calls from constituents about the challenges this is imposing upon them."

The Senate adopted Tarr's budget amendment (# 351) by a 38-0 vote Wednesday afternoon.

The amendment would allow any business taxpayer that pays both the EMAC supplement and the employer shared responsibility payment in the same taxable year to take "a refundable credit against the tax liability ... in an amount equal to $750 times the lesser of: (i) the number of Massachusetts employees for which the taxpayer pays the employer shared responsibility payment in the taxable year, or (ii) the number of full-time employees on ConnectorCare for which the taxpayer pays the EMAC supplement in the taxable year."

The tax credit would apply for tax years "beginning on or after January 1, 2018 and before January 1, 2020" and would not be transferable.

The fiscal year 2018 budget imposed a two-tier employer assessment to help pay for rising MassHealth costs. Tier one boosted EMAC from $51 to $77 per year. The second tier hits employers with penalties of up to $750 per employee if their workers choose MassHealth coverage even though they have access to private insurance through their employers. - Colin A. Young/SHNS

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Senate Budget Debate - Day Two

Day two of SenBudget will feature education related matters including several amendments I filed to support the well-being our students and their school districts. We should regularly review the Foundation Budget, fund regional school transit & ensure that our schools are safe.

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Friday, May 18, 2018

Education Priorities For The State Budget

As the Senate Fiscal Year 2019 state budget debate draws near, I have filed a number of amendments to enhance educational opportunities for students, fund essential programs, and put in place enhancements to increase school safety and wellness systems.

Public education is vital and I have prepared a comprehensive set of proposals that I am also sharing with my colleagues in the Senate. In particular, I have used every available opportunity to secure a true full state commitment to funding the Special Education ‘Circuit Breaker’ – this budget delivers. I am also proposing full reimbursement for regional school transportation, modernizing the Foundation Budget formula to accurately reflect the needs of school districts, literacy and dyslexia programs and more.

In addition, I am offering the only plan to fully fund the recommendations of the Foundation Budget Review Commission. I call it the Learning Innovation for Tomorrow fund or LIFT plan.

You can review, and read all of these amendments by following this link to the Senate Budget webpage: Senate Budget Amendments For Debate

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Free Training to Earn Your CDL License

If you or someone you know is interested in a life-changing opportunity to earn a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) there is a free training program that you should know about.

This is a life-changing opportunity for Cape Ann residents to gain a Class B license with A, S, and P endorsements for free! The mandatory information sessions are next week so if you know anyone interested, please have them contact Penny Hasseli 978-282-1000 ext. 117 or phasseli@actioninc.org ASAP.

It’s a 12 week program that covers 28 hours of classroom training for the general knowledge permit test, and 32 hours of hands-on driving time for the road test. Program dates are June 12th through August 30th. Classes are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays from 10 AM-2 PM. Classroom instruction will be at Action, and driving instruction will be at O'Maley Middle School.

There is a must attend information sessions on Monday May 21st at 10 AM and Wednesday May 23rd at 9 AM, located in the Riley Education and Training Center. This is a great opportunity for someone who is looking for career change in a high-demand industry. Basic eligibility requirements are:
· Cape Ann resident
· Valid driver’s license with at least three consecutive years of driving · Clean driving record
· High School Diploma or equivalent
· Motivation to gain a CDL and commitment to the program


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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Three Cheers for Gloucester High School…

…and 13 state championships too. The Gloucester High School Cheerleaders were my distinguished guests in the Senate chamber where they were recognized by the State Senate for their outstanding accomplishments.

They were recognized for winning the Northeastern Conference Championship Title, the Massachusetts State Championship Title, the New England Championship Title and the 2018 AmeriCheer InterNational Cheerleading Championship, a two-day competition, held at Disney World's ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida.

Among the group were Captains Jillian Jean Gross, Vanessa Rosemary Rodolosi and Talia Rose Sanfilippo and team members Tara Nicole Aquipel, Auorora Grace Vincenza Billante, Zariah Denise Billante, Carlie Jordyn Goulart, Julia Marie Harrison, Anthony Michael Petrilli, Emma Catherine Powers, Alli Jeanne Smith, Avery Laura Smith, Kyriah Alie Smithson and Macy MariaThorton.

The team was led by Head Coach Erica Mitchell, Choreographer Eric Bichao and was accompanied by Gloucester Schools Athletic Director Julie Smith.


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Addison Gilbert Hospital Urgent Care Center

Congratulations to Lahey Health on the very successful Urgent Care Center in Gloucester. A great addition to Addison Gilbert Hospital. Thanks to the Barker family for the generous support.


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Monday, May 14, 2018

Whittier Bridge Project

Overnight Ramp and Route 110 Lane Closures, May 15th to May 17th

MassDOT will close the following ramps and lanes for nighttime structure adjustment operations:
Ramp closures (see detour routes, below):

• (1) I-95 Northbound Exit 58A Ramp to Route 110 Eastbound – Tuesday, May 15, from 8:00 PM to 5:00 AM the following morning
• (2) I-95 Northbound Exit 58A Ramp to Route 110 Eastbound – Wednesday, May 16, from 8:00 PM to 5:00 AM the following morning
• (3) Route 110 Westbound Ramp to I-95 Southbound – Wednesday, May 16, from 8:00 PM to 5:00 AM the following morning
• (4) I-95 Northbound Exit 58A Ramp to Route 110 Eastbound – Thursday, May 17, from 8:00 PM to 5:00 AM the following morning
• (5) Route 110 Westbound to Ramp I-95 Southbound – Thursday, May 17, from 8:00 PM to 5:00 AM the following morning
Overnight lane closures are from 8:00 PM each night to 5:00 AM the following morning (unless otherwise noted) Detour Routes
(1) Detour for I-95 Northbound Exit 58A Ramp to Route 110 Eastbound: • Take I-95 Northbound to Exit 60. Turn right onto Main Street. Continue onto Rabbit Road. Continue to Route 110.


(2) Detour for I-95 Northbound Exit 58A Ramp to Route 110 Eastbound: • Take I-95 Northbound to Exit 60. Turn right onto Main Street. Continue onto Rabbit Road. Continue to Route 110.

(3) Detour for Route 110 Westbound Ramp to I-95 Southbound: • Take Route 110 Westbound turn right onto Elm Street. Turn right onto Monroe Street. Take left onto on-ramp to I-95 Southbound.

(4) Detour for I-95 Northbound Exit 58A Ramp to Route 110 Eastbound: • Take I-95 Northbound to Exit 60. Turn right onto Main Street. Continue onto Rabbit Road. Continue to Route 110.

(5) Detour Route 110 Westbound to Ramp I-95 Southbound: • Take Route 110 Westbound turn right onto Elm Street. Turn right onto Monroe Street. Take left onto on-ramp to I-95 Southbound.

MassDOT encourages drivers to avoid the area and seek alternate routes to minimize delays. Those traveling through the area should expect delays, reduce speed, and use caution.

For more information about the project, visit the website at www.mass.gov/massdot/whittierbridge. View progress photos on MassDOT’s Whittier Bridge Flickr Album.

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Thursday, May 10, 2018

Senate Budget Proposal Released

Today, the Senate Ways and Means Committee released its budget recommendations for Fiscal Year 2019 which begins July 1st. The proposal would bring the overall level of spending to $41.42 Billion in spending, a 3% increase more than Fiscal Year 2018.

In January, following the Consensus Revenue process, which included economists, members of the Legislature and members of the Baker-Polito administration, an estimate of revenue available for next fiscal year was determined. The FY 2019 state budget will rely on a projected $933 Million increase in tax revenue for FY 2019. This represents a 3.5% increase over last year. To read the bill, click this link: https://malegislature.gov/Budget/FY2019/SenateWaysMeansBudget/Ways_Means_Final_Budget


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Special Education Funding Achievement

After months of filing amendments to satisfy our commitment to fully funding the Special Education Circuit Breaker at the 75% level, I am pleased that our collective advocacy on behalf of school children, their families, and communities has resulted in the full support of the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

The newly released Fiscal Year Budget proposal for 2019 includes $318.9 million for the education of students who require special education services. I appreciate the support of more than 50 lawmakers who joined me in requesting this funding; this funding represents an achievement for critically needed school district resources.

Educational Priorities Signed by Anonymous M4LzV2 on Scribd


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Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Protect Animal Welfare and Safety

Supporters of humane treatment for animals were gathered at the State House today to lobby on behalf of a bill that I filed that will add important protections for humans and animals alike. The PAWS II bill builds on the strength of the original PAWS law that I filed following the now infamous Puppy Doe case that involved violence and cruelty so vile it resulted in the dog having to be destroyed.

Protecting Animal Welfare and Safety or PAWS II 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.

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

The Senate has already approved this bill and I appreciate their support because animals deserve humane treatment and protections from those who would abuse them.

Senate Bill 1159, an act to Protect Animal Welfare and Safety in Cities and Towns include these vital components:
• Ensure 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.
• Prohibit the drowning of wild and domestic animals
Declares that drowning of animals as a violation of law.
• Prohibits engaging in sexual contact with an animal
• Removes automatic killing of animals involved in animal fighting
Remove 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 Include 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
Prohibit insurance companies and housing authorities to refuse insurance coverage or housing with breed restrictions.
• Require abandoned animal checks in vacant properties.









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Tuesday, May 8, 2018

National Teacher Day

Today is National Teacher Day thanks to Eleanor Roosevelt and all of the teachers across the nation. Each of us can remember when a teacher was instrumental in helping us learn important things or gave us the motivation to try harder. In a state that leads the nation in education we can all appreciate the powerful impact that teachers have on our children, our communities and our Commonwealth.


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Loans Available To Help Those Recovering From Nor'easter In Six Massachusetts Counties

The U.S. Small Business Administration will make low-interest disaster relief loans available to Massachusetts residents and businesses affected by the winter storm and flooding that caused more than $23.8 million in damages March 2-3, announced today.

Businesses and private nonprofit organizations will be able to borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets.

Loans of up to $200,000 will be made available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate as well. Loan interest rates can be as low as 3.58 percent for businesses, 2.5 percent for nonprofit organizations, and 1.813 percent for homeowners and renters with terms up to 30 years, according to the SBA.

The SBA's declaration, following an April 30 request from Governor Charlie Baker, applies to businesses and nonprofits in Bristol, Middlesex, Norfolk, Plymouth, Suffolk and Worcester counties, as well as Providence County in Rhode Island.

In his April 30 letter, in which he also sought a disaster declaration for six counties from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Baker said that more than 2,113 homes were damaged and 147 homes were either destroyed or suffered severe damage in the March 2-3 storm.

Damage assessments conducted by FEMA and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency showed that costs for protective measures, debris clearance and repairing or replacing public infrastructure well exceeded the statewide threshold of $9.5 million required to seek assistance, according to Baker and MEMA.

If president Trump grant's Baker's request, it would allow FEMA to reimburse state and local governments for 75 percent of their eligible costs for emergency protective measures, debris clearance, and repairs to storm-damaged public infrastructure.

For more information or to apply for relief, visit https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. Applicants may also call SBA’s customer service center at (800) 659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

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Monday, May 7, 2018

Celebrating 50 Years of Service with Pathways For Children

Happy to join Sue Todd and the team at Pathways for Children at the playground opening and Family Fun day to help Pathways celebrate their 50 years of leading efforts on behalf of children and families.

Pathways is a nonprofit dedicated to the health and wellness of children up to the age of 13. They offer educational programs, health and development screenings and a host of other high quality family support services.





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Friday, May 4, 2018

Overnight Work on Rockport MBTA Commuter Line in Manchester May 4-6

This MBTA Advisory was recently shared with me - MassDOT and the MBTA are undertaking federally mandated Positive Train Control (PTC) infrastructure installation which will increase the safety of commuter rail customers and would like to advise the community of upcoming overnight work within the right-of-way along the MBTA Rockport Commuter Rail Line in Manchester-by-the-Sea. The work will take place in the vicinity of Ashland Avenue and the Manchester Drawbridge.

Overnight on Friday May 4 into Saturday May 5 and then Saturday night into Sunday May 6, soil boring activities along the rail between the hours of midnight to noon will be performed. If the work is not completed on this weekend an additional day will be scheduled for overnight on Friday May 11 into Saturday May 12.

For further information regarding the PTC work schedule please visit the MBTA PTC program website.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation. We appreciate your patience as the MBTA takes this important step in making the railways safer for customers with the implementation of the PTC program. Should you have any questions please feel free to contact the PTC program at 617-721-7506 or PTCProgram@mbta.com.

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Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Ethics Report on the Conduct of Senator Rosenberg

Today, the Ethics Committee released to the public a report, “Concerning the Conduct of Senator Stanley C. Rosenberg” which details the procedural history, investigation findings, and recommendations of the Committee. In December, along with Harriette Chandler who was at that time the Majority Leader, I filed the Senate order to refer the allegations of misconduct to the Ethics Committee.

At the first meeting of the Ethics Committee I proposed, and the members unanimously agreed, that the special investigation’s findings should be made available to the public, with safeguards for victims and witnesses. That commitment was kept today with the release of the report which is available at this link: Senate 2510 Report of the Senate Committee on Ethics


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Health Center And Kick Butts Day With Gloucester High School Students

Students from Gloucester High School came to the State House this week for the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers annual State House outreach day and Kick Butts day.

Yesterday exhibit tables were set up at the Grand Staircase and Nurses Hall with featured speaker Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders. I enjoyed learning about the student’s work and the Gloucester High School Health Center and thank them for coming to Boston to advocate for health and wellness.

As part of the annual ‘make smoking history’ advocacy effort, students from Gloucester were in the State House today to raise awareness of teen use of e-cigarettes and vape pens, which are attracting a growing number of young users. These harmful devices are as cheap, sweet tasting, and easy to get as they are easy to get addicted to.















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Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Putting Pride in Your Stride

The great folks behind the annual Gloucester Pride Stride put together another successful event this weekend and I am glad to be able to join with everyone to help raise funds for area non-profit and school organizations – this is what community is all about.

Stage Fort Park is the start and end line for the two mile walk that started at high noon. In addition to all the grants and donations that Gloucester Pride Stride makes they also offer student scholarships. If you did not get a chance to go you can still donate – visit their Website www.gloucesterpridestride.com











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