Tuesday, July 31, 2018

An Act to Promote a Clean Energy Future

I just spoke in the Senate chamber in support of a clean energy bill which the Senate then unanimously voted to approve.

The bill promotes the state’s use of clean energy sources, an expansion of energy storage technologies and a reduction in the emission of greenhouse gases. It comes two years after the passage of a clean energy law that propelled the state to forge ahead of the nation as the most energy efficient state.

Energy supply and transmission takes time to plan, develop and construct. If we want a blueprint for our energy needs for tomorrow it is imperative that we begin preparing today.

Massachusetts must continue to make progress on increasing usage of renewable energy and decreasing carbon emissions, and this bill does so on several fronts: energy storage, conservation and efficiency, a modest increase in the amount of clean energy utilities must provide a clean peak energy standard to avoid the use of coal and oil, and a pathway to more offshore wind power procurement.

Clearly, we have much more to do in the future, but it would be a shame to forfeit progress on this year’s session and the consensus developed over the last several days. The progress made in this bill must be the basis for further action in the future.

The bill authorizes an additional procurement of offshore wind power, increases the renewable portfolio standard that governs the amount of clean energy utilities must purchase, establishes an energy storage target, and requires gas companies to collect and report data on gas leaks.

Components of the bill include provisions which authorize the Department of Energy Resources to: • Double the amount of authorization for wind energy, bringing it up to 3,200 megawatts of offshore wind,
• Double the renewable portfolio standard, the amount of clean energy that utilities must purchase and integrate into the state's energy system, from one percent to two percent until the end of 2019, then by two percent each year until the end of 2029,
• Establish an energy storage target of 1,000-megawatt hours to be achieved by Dec. 31, 2025,
• Require electric distribution companies to start submitting reports next year to alert the state to energy storage installations in their service territory.

The bill now goes to Governor Charlie Baker for his signature.


MassDOT: Route 133 Bridge over the Essex River Now Open For Two-Way Traffic

I was pleased to work with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and Essex officials to expedite this important project.

ESSEX – The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has announced that structural repairs on the Route 133 Bridge over the Essex River in Essex are now complete and two-way traffic over the bridge has been restored.

The portable signs that were advising travelers of one-way traffic have been removed, and the traffic barriers are now relocated to the sides of the bridge deck. In the near future, crews will be installing permanent double yellow centerline pavement markings over the bridge.

MassDOT has appreciated the cooperation and support of local officials and the traveling public while the restrictions were in place and the interim work was in progress.

Traffic in each direction was previously restricted to one way alternating traffic in May after an inspection of the bridge discovered deterioration to the external bridge beams.


Monday, July 30, 2018


I've been pushing to change the law to allow for in-state processing. We are making progress on modernizing our lobster laws to bolster the fishing industry; give consumers, including local restaurants and food stores, more choices and better values, and support for our coastal fishing communities.

Did you know that up to 80% of Massachusetts' lobster is sent out of state to be processed? Legislation adopted today could lead to an expansion of consumer choices, support the fishing industry, and grow new jobs. It requires the Division of Marine Fisheries to complete a study this year of the current lobster fishery. If all goes well, Massachusetts processed lobster won't have to be stamped "Product of Canada."


Friday, July 27, 2018

Electing A New Senate President

Yesterday, the members of the Senate elected a new Senate President. I was honored to be nominated by two of my colleagues - Senator Dean A. Tran and Senator Don Humason. Senate President Karen E. Spilka was elected and I made a motion, which was adopted, to make her election unanimous.

As Senate Minority Leader, I know that the minority does count and we will continue to work with our Democrat colleagues on all the issues we face. We will continue to bring our principled ideas to the table: for clean energy, affordable health care, supporting everyone who deserves an economic opportunity, protecting our natural resources and supporting our police and fire departments who protect us each day.

We will continue to foster an environment conducive to the development of creating jobs and generating revenue for spending priorities through increased economic growth rather than increasing taxes.

We stand for things that should never be partisan: supporting veterans, seniors, students, and the ill.

We realize a new day has arrived in the Senate. The Minority Caucus will never stop seeking the opportunities to work with everyone. More important is the faith we need to have in each other and the example we need to show of the power we have when we work together.


Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Police Training Funding Signed Into Law

Today, in Governor Charlie Baker​’s office, I joined lawmakers and law enforcers as we gathered to witness the Governor sign the police training funding bill.

The ceremony was both a happy occasion – a dedication to securing much needed and wanted training for our police officers and, a very solemn occasion -with the memory of the murders of Weymouth Police Sergeant. Michael Chesna, Yarmouth Sergeant and K-9 officer Sean Gannon and Auburn Police Officer Ronald Tarentino, on our minds.

This has been an ongoing priority for the members of the Senate Republican Caucus and I have been persistent in sponsoring and co-sponsoring many amendments to secure adequate funding for police training. Throughout this process we have been fortunate to work in a bipartisan way and to have the partnership of police chiefs and police officers from throughout the state.

The bill signed into law today by the Governor provides up to $10 million each year to fund municipal police training.


Senate President Harriette Chandler

The Senate has been fortunate to have Harriette Chandler at the helm this year. I have served with her since she arrived in the Senate in 2001 and I greatly respect her efforts to make our Commonwealth a better place to live and work.

Today is her final full day as Senate President. Thank you for your service Madame President.


Sales Tax Holiday... Again

Taxpayers in Massachusetts moved a major step closer to having a Sales Tax Holiday again.

My amendment, #1 to the Economic Development bill, gives consumers & retailers an August 11 -12 sales tax free weekend on items less than $2,500. I thank my colleagues for their support - the vote was 31 in favor and 6 opposed.

The members of the Massachusetts Senate GOP Caucus and I have pushed for years to institute a permanent sales tax free weekend.

We started debating the bill earlier in the day and have several dozen amendments still to debate.


Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Manchester Harbor Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Today we celebrated the Manchester Harbor dredging project. This work is important for the local fishing and tourist economy, and protecting this great natural resource. It wouldn’t have happened without tremendous local leadership and the critical funding provided by the Baker-Polito administration. Hopefully it is the first of many such projects to come in our region.

Last year Lieutenant Governor Polito announced a $500,000 MassWorks grant to the Town of Manchester in support of harbor dredging. This was the first dredging project awarded by the Baker-Polito administration through the MassWorks Program. The event today celebrated the the project with a formal ribbon cutting ceremony.

The state funding will leverage $1,031,000 committed by the town. The project supports Manchester’s working harbor that brings in approximately $6 Million of lobsters each year. In addition, the project supports 2 marinas that employ approximately 75 people and provide moorings for over 1,000 boats in the harbor.


Thursday, July 19, 2018

Senate Session Update

Today the Senate has focused on a number of bills including:
  • Combating human trafficking and protecting survivors of modern-day slavery,
  • Establishing a special commission to identify opportunities to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of state agencies, programs, and services,
  • Requiring that all hospitals have a plan for patients with Alzheimer's and related dementias in acute care,  
  • Protecting consumers by prohibiting blocking, throttling, or paid prioritization in the provision of internet service - net neutrality,
  • Expanding efforts to combat the spread of opioid addiction.
I invite you watch our session live. Senate Chamber - LIVE


Wednesday, July 18, 2018

In Memory of Officer Michael Chesna

Governor Baker has announced that several landmarks will be illuminated in blue in memory of Weymouth Police Officer Michael Chesna. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation will light the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge, the Burns Bridges, Government Center Station, and South Station. The City of Boston will light City Hall. The Boston Garden, UMass Boston, the Prudential Building, and the Dorchester gas tank will also be lit in blue in his honor.


Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Gloucester Sea Cadets Visit the Senate

I enjoyed having the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps - Gloucester Sea Cadets - David G. Ouellet Division visit the Senate as my guests so that they could receive special recognition for their service to others and their dedication and training to learn nautically oriented skills.

The Sea Cadet Corps is dedicated to helping young people, ages 11 through 17, to develop into fine women and men. I thank them and their adult leaders for visiting with me and touring the State House as part of that engagement.

Fair Winds.


Salisbury Beach Betterment Association

I had the pleasure of talking with the members of the Salisbury Beach Betterment Association last night at their 30th annual meeting held at the Surfside Salisbury Beach. They, and their President Ray Champagne, have been working collaboratively with residents and local officials to keep making lasting improvements to the area.

Neil Harrington, Salisbury Town Manager was the evening’s featured speaker and Representative Jim Kelcourse of Amesbury and Senator Kathleen O’Connor Ives of Newburyport were also invited to speak. The SBBA has been very active in working with me and others on our efforts to preserve and protect our coastal assets from erosion, pollution and misuse. The Merrimack River Beach Alliance, which I co-chair, has had excellent input and support from the SBBA and its members.

The Salisbury Beach Betterment Association is an outstanding example of a non-governmental organization that achieves results, improves lives, attracts interest and action from the community and makes our world better for it.


Strong to Severe Thunderstorms and Localized Flash Flooding This Afternoon & Evening:

Please take precautions.
• Widespread showers and thunderstorms with rainfall amounts around 1-2 inches in a short period of time.
• Some locations could see 2-4 inches which could lead to localized flash flooding. A Flash Flood Watch has been issued for MA.
• Some of the thunderstorms could produce strong to damaging winds. The greatest risk is across northern and northwest MA.

This is the latest radar image - 1:22 PM


Monday, July 16, 2018


My office shared this press release today- Local Food Production Gets Backing In Environment Bond Bill

Boston - The Massachusetts Senate has taken a major step to support fishing and farming by adopting an amendment offered by Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R – Gloucester) and co-sponsored by a bipartisan condition of Senators. The amendment was added to Senate Bill 2591, “An Act Promoting Climate Change Adaptation, Environmental And Natural Resource Protection, And Investment In Recreational Assets And Opportunity” which was passed unanimously by the Senate on Thursday, July 12th.

Drawing on funding from two separate accounts in the bonding bill, the fishing and farming amendment creates a Fishing Innovation Fund and a Farming Innovation fund, with each fund guided by a board of 13 members comprised of stakeholder and officials from the state agencies relevant to each sector, including the Division of Marine Fisheries and the Department of Agricultural Resources.

“These traditional industries are as important to our state’s future as they have been to its past,” said Tarr. He added that “they continue to provide good jobs and economic opportunities while responding to renewed interest in locally harvested and produced food.”

“I want to thank Senator Tarr and my colleagues in the Senate for their hard work on this important issue,” said Senator Vinny deMacedo (R-Plymouth). “I represent many coastal communities who rely not only on our fishing industry as an economic engine but are also the home of many cranberry growers who have provided food and stability for our Commonwealth over many generations. I look forward to continuing to work with them to support and encourage the growth and prosperity of their industry.”

“Hardworking fishermen and farmers have played a pivotal role in our economy for generations,” said Rules Chairman Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford). “I am pleased to join Senator Tarr on this bipartisan effort to better support our local fishing and agricultural industries so that they may continue to strengthen our economy in the face of increasing pressure and burdensome regulations.”

“For centuries, our economy has relied upon productive use of agriculture and the harvesting of food from the ocean,” said Senator Michael Rodrigues (D-Westport). “The men and women who engage in these occupations work hard and what they do makes a difference to all of us who want the freshest and best food available. Now we can support their efforts by helping keep their equipment and processes safe, efficient and productive.”

Categories of eligible funding from the Fishing Innovation Fund include:
• The design, construction and modification of commercial fishing vessels,
• Research, development and construction of innovative fishing vessels with attributes including - increased fuel efficiency, reduced carbon emissions, improved stability,
• The capability of supporting sustainable fishing practices through harvesting and on-board storage and processing methods, research, development, acquisition and deployment of advanced and/or innovative technologies including but not limited to sonar, radar, radio communications, satellite and global position and other locating and tracking devices,
• The research and development, acquisition and deployment of safety equipment,
• Landing or processing fish, and/or maintaining permits or licenses to do so without preference to any particular geographic location or region of the state.

The Farming Innovation Fund would support such things as:
• An outreach program to identify and foster new, innovative ideas and approaches to adding value to the commonwealth’s agricultural and cranberry economy,
• Soliciting requests from the agricultural and cranberry industry for funding and technical assistance in reclamation and revitalization of cranberry bogs,
• Training, marketing, distribution, applied research, agri-tourism, aquaculture, forestry, processing, fiber and agricultural resource management research, development, poultry and red meat processing and construction of energy efficient agricultural buildings and structures,
• Researching, developing and constructing of energy efficient agricultural equipment.

“Both of these sectors are surviving because of the hard work, sacrifice, and risk by the people in our state that believes in them,” said Tarr, “and now we need to send a clear signal through legislative action that we believe in those who farm the land and fish the ocean, contributing to our economy and our environmental stewardship.”

The bond bill will now likely go to a House and Senate conference committee to resolve differences in the two versions adopted.


Friday, July 13, 2018

Too Hot For Spot

Have you found yourself in a hot car, uncomfortable, and stuck in traffic? Of course you have and it’s miserable. Imagine that you had no ability to use air-conditioning, roll down the window or even to leave the vehicle – that’s what happens to hundreds of pets each year and that sometimes ends in tragedy.

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) came to the State House today to join with Governor Charlie Baker to kickoff of the “Too Hot for Spot” campaign with a demonstration showing the dangers of leaving animals unattended inside locked vehicles. After only 10 minutes the temperature inside the car was greater than 120 degrees – even with the windows rolled down three inches!

I co-sponsored a law to help save the lives of pets in these circumstances, it is now illegal to confine an animal in a vehicle where temperatures reach dangerous extremes. If you see an animal in danger, have legal immunity to break a window and rescue pets in a locked vehicle.

As the thermostat continues to climb this summer, be sure your pets stay cool. Just because it may feel like only a couple minutes in the car, it can quickly become “Too Hot for Spot!”


Thursday, July 12, 2018

Breaking New Ground with Analog Devices in Wilmington

Analog Devices, an international semiconductor company headquartered in Massachusetts, officially broke ground for its new global headquarters in Wilmington yesterday. I was happy to join with Analog Devices’ Chairman and co-founder Ray Stata and other company executives, Jay Ash, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development, members of Wilmington Board of Selectmen and Finance Committee, Town Manager Jeff Hull and others to help the company break ground.

This state-of-the-art facility is a major investment of resources which will create research and development laboratories, manufacturing space, offices, an auditorium as well as dining and fitness facilities. With regional headquarters located in China, Germany, Ireland and Japan the company has 10,000 employees helping them with customers in communications, computer, industrial, military and aerospace, automotive, and consumer electronics industries.

The town’s residents and the Board of Selectmen have voted to approve a Tax Increment Financing Agreement with Analog with terms that are defined by five to eight year terms. The new campus in Wilmington will stimulate the local economy – they are the largest employer in the town, attract high paying jobs, and make advances in new ideas and products.



Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Saving Utility Payers From Costly "Peak" Energy Charges

A major consideration that will be debated in the Senate’s environment bill tomorrow will be my amendment to ease the burden on electricity rate-payers – you. One of the concerns many of us have had is that during peak times of electric demand, typically during cold snaps and storms the power generated comes from the highest pollution emitting power plants.

When demand runs at its highest we resort to power sources that can quickly meet the demand – these are typically the plants that emit lots of carbon dioxide. Not only that, the top ten percent of hours of peak demand account for a whopping 40 percent of Massachusetts ratepayers total spending on electricity. That’s too costly in every respect.

With my amendment, we have an opportunity to do something that is innovative – it requires the state’s Department Of Energy Resources to produce a standard for all retail electricity suppliers to use a greater percentage of renewable sources to generate peak-energy – a “clean peak standard.”

The clean peak standard will be designed to lower the overall costs to the state’s ratepayers over the period that the standard is in effect and it will facilitate and stimulate producer’s long-term investments in our clean energy infrastructure.


Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Senate Readies an Environmental And Natural Resource Protection Bill

The State Senate is expected to act on a bill this week, An Act Promoting Climate Change Adaptation, Environmental And Natural Resource Protection, And Investment In Recreational Assets And Opportunity, which will authorize more than $2 Billion to provide for a program of climate change adaptation and the preservation and improvement of the environmental and energy assets of the Commonwealth.

In addition to the 61 page bill there are a total of 289 amendments – you can read the bill and the text of the amendments by clicking this link: Senate Bill 2591.

Bond bills can include authorizations to fund particular programs as well as changes to the General Laws and public policy. These authorizations empower, but do not compel, the Governor to borrow funds for their completion or execution.

This law would impact many state executive offices and departments including: the Executive Office Of Energy And Environmental Affairs, the Executive Office Of Public Safety And Security, the Department of Agricultural Resources, the Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Department of Environmental Protection and many others.

The bill purports to strengthen our air quality protection measures, our clean water and drinking water programs, and help in the rehabilitation, repair or removal of coastal infrastructure such as, seawalls, jetties, and help with beach nourishment, and support for municipal programs across the state.

Here is a thorough summary of the bill:
o $2 million for replacing and modernizing underground petroleum storage tank equipment;
o $10.5 million for improvements and replacements to assets and infrastructure for the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs;
o $165 million for a community investment grant program;
o $60 million for coastal infrastructure and resiliency measures;
o $75 million for publicly owned dams and seawall projects;
o $32 million for the capitalization of the Transfer of Development Rights Revolving fund;
o $95 million for investment in water and air quality protection;
o $7.5 million for management of solid waste facilities;
o $40 million for hazardous materials cleanup and response;
o $30 million for the acquisition of land by the Department of Fish and Game;
o $50 million for improvements and replacements to assets and infrastructure for the Department of Fish and Game;
o $55 million for river and wetland restoration programs;
o $50 million for programs to address agricultural economic and environmental sustainability;
o $20 million for a program to acquire agricultural preservation restrictions;
o $75.5 million for natural resource restoration and protection for costs associated with hazardous materials response actions;
o $40 million for the acquisition of land by the Department of Conservation and Recreation;
o $20 million for natural resource protection;
o $21 million for improvements to coastal and inland waterways by the Department of Conservation and Recreation;
o $105 million for improvement to state-owned dams and flood-control projects;
o $10 million for aquatic invasive species protection;
o $420 million for Department of Conservation and Recreation maintenance and recreational facilities;
o $160 million for Department of Conservation and Recreation roads, trails and bridges;
o $100 million for the implementation of the integrated state hazard mitigation and climate change adaptation plan;
o $75 million for the municipal vulnerability preparedness program;
o $5 million to fund the Global Warming Solutions Trust Fund;
o $10 million for climate change science and data program;
o $9 million for the Massachusetts Electric Vehicle Incentive Program;
o $6 million for climate-oriented emergency response programs;
o $60 million for the Clean Water Trust Fund;
o $10 million for tree planting programs on public land;
o $30 million for a program to allow the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs to protect Article 97 lands;
o $60 million for an urban and suburban parks program;
o $25 million for investment in trails;
o $25 million for a forestry and tree planting program;
o $55 million for the Complete Streets municipal program;
o $178.5 million for the state’s share of federal aid eligible transportation projects.

• Creates the Global Warming Solutions Trust Fund to be used to fund costs associated with implementation of the Global Warming Solutions Act, the Commonwealth’s Clean Energy and Climate Plan, and state and local strategies for climate change adaptation.

• Creates the Agricultural Innovation Fund to finance grants for the Commonwealth’s agricultural and cranberry producers for innovative ideas and approaches that add value to the economy.

• Updates many fine and penalty schedules for marine fisheries violations.

• Requires the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security to: (i) coordinate to strengthen resilience and prepare for the impacts of climate change; (ii) publish, every five years, an integrated state climate adaptation and hazard mitigation plan; (iii) establish frameworks for state agency and municipal vulnerability assessments that will be incorporated into the state plan; and (iv) implement the state plan and incorporate information learned from implementing the state plan in plan updates.

• Authorizes an alternative valuation of qualifying agricultural, forest or recreational land left in a person’s estate, at the election of the estate, provided that the land remains in such use for at least 10 years.

• Authorizes entities with jurisdiction over a roadway to permit recreational vehicle travel, with local police chief approval, on certain public ways for increased connectivity to authorized trails and essential services.

• Requires animal inspectors, within 90 days of appointment and every two years thereafter, to complete all state-funded training.

• Prohibits a municipality from charging a Massachusetts veteran a shellfish permit fee higher than the fee charged to a resident of that municipality.

• Authorizes the Department of Conservation and Recreation to discount or waive charges or fees for DCR parking passes for veterans.

• Directs state agencies expending authorized bond funds to minimize the use of funds to pay for services rendered by agency employees or by consultants. • Requires any state entities expending or receiving bond funds to acquire a fee interest in land to obtain the approval of the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs before prohibiting fishing, hunting or trapping on the land.

• Authorizes state agencies acquiring land or an interest in land pursuant to this act to expend no more than 5 per cent of the amount appropriated to reimburse nonprofit land conservation organizations or land trusts for expenses directly associated with such acquisition.

• Requires an annual report by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs detailing the progress of projects funded through this act.

• Requires the Director of the Division of Marine Fisheries to conduct a study of the current lobster fishery and provide a recommendation as to the advisability of enacting statutory or regulatory changes to allow the processing of lobster parts in Massachusetts.


Monday, July 9, 2018

Retirement Ceremony for Captain Donald Merry from the Rowley Fire Department

Captain Merry served the town of Rowley as a member of the Rowley Fire Department for 47 years having joined in 1971. As anyone with a connection to a fire department knows, that means the Captain's services were not limited to protecting residents of Rowley only. He has responded to emergencies throughout our region and we are all much appreciative for his efforts in the face of danger. Congratulations to him, his family and all those who served or supported the members of the department during his tenure.