Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Northeast Coastal Coalition Meeting to Discuss Flood Hazards Friday

BOSTON- On Friday, November 22nd, Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) and members of the Northeast Coastal Coalition will convene at Essex Town Hall to discuss flood hazards and flood insurance.

Two guest speakers have been invited to make presentations, Joy Duperault, Director of Flood Hazard Management Program for the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and Joe Rossi, Chair and Executive Director of the Massachusetts Coastal Coalition, a nationally recognized non-profit organization working to educate, advocate, and inform professionals and stakeholders regionally and nationally, on flood hazards.

Where: Essex Town Hall
Third Floor Auditorium
Essex, Massachusetts

When: Friday, November 22nd 2019
10 AM to 12 PM

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MASSACHUSETTS SENATE ADOPTS STUDENT OPPORTUNITY ACT

BOSTON - Today, the Massachusetts Senate gave legislative approval to a landmark bill that will rework the state's school funding formula for the state’s public school systems. The bill, the Student Opportunity Act, implements many of the recommendations of the Foundation Budget Review Commission and it devotes $1.5 billion in new funding for schools. Senators gave unanimous support with 39 members voting in favor.

 “The Student Opportunity Act represents not moths of analysis and debate but rather years of strong collaboration from Republican and Democrat lawmakers working together to achieve a workable solution that represents a benefit to every school child in every school district in the Commonwealth,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce E. Tarr (R-Gloucester). “High quality public education is a cornerstone of our state’s history and it remains a key to our success.

The bill makes several changes to the existing funding formula, known as Chapter 70, to reflect adequate and equitable funding and policy enhancements in four key areas including:
• Special education enrollment,
• School districts’ employee and retiree health care costs,
• Increases funding for English learners,
• The needs of districts educating high concentrations of students from low-income households.

The final version of the bill incorporates changes long advocated for by Senator Tarr that were components of the Foundation Budget Review Commission. He also worked to make adjustments to the state’s School Building Assistance Authority funding procedures.

“I want to thank the Minority Leader, Bruce Tarr, who has been working on these issues for many years has been a champion for fixing the formula and was instrumental in the Foundation Budget Review Commission and the work we have done since then to make sure this has been a bipartisan effort,” said Senator Jason Lewis, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Education during floor debate. “The process to develop this bill was deeply rooted in collaboration: across legislative chambers and political ideologies, and with the perspectives of stakeholders from across Massachusetts."

The legislation now moves to the desk of Governor Charlie Baker for his consideration.

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Masconomet Regional Middle School State House Visit

Students and staff of Masconomet Regional Middle School came to the State House today and we all posed for a great group photo in Nurses Hall with House Minority Leader Representatives Brad Jones, Senator Joan Lovely, State Representative Tram Nguyen, Representatives Lenny Mirra, and a member of Representative Ted Speliotis' staff.

Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito came by and sent a greeting to us all.



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Monday, November 18, 2019

Children’s Health and Wellness Bill

This afternoon, a 6 member conference committee, which I was a member of, finalized a month-long negotiation on a wide-ranging children's health bill that improves access to treatment for vulnerable youth and studies ways to help manage their care.  I signed my name to this important and comprehensive bill so that it can receive further legislative action at an upcoming formal session.

When the Senate took up this bill we adopted it unanimously, 40-0.

One amendment that I authored, and the Senate voted unanimously to adopt, was disappointingly left out of today's conference committee report. That amendment would create a pediatric mental health care task force to undertake a comprehensive analysis of the delivery of pediatric mental health services. I have spoken to the chairs of the committee and secured a commitment that more legislation on this critically important aspect of children's health will be forthcoming when we return to our formal session in the new year.

To read the final bill click here - https://malegislature.gov/Bills/191/H4210

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Here's The Scoop on the Boxford Ice Cream Social

I had the pleasure of joining with the Boxford Council on Aging for an Ice Cream Social. A great time was had by all who participated, and it was fun to scoop ice cream with State Representative Tram Nguyen, Representative Lenny Mirra, and Mary Ann Nay of my staff. We all enjoyed a treat and good company. Below are some pictures from the event.

I hope everyone who attended had as wonderful of a time as I did.


 






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Friday, November 15, 2019

Senate Adopts Bill To Reduce Prescription Drug Costs

Senator Bruce Tarr Champions Proposals to Lower Medication Prices and Enforce Transparency Requirements 

Boston- The Massachusetts Senate has now approved a comprehensive bill aimed at stemming the ever increasing costs of medicines and expanding consumer access to information and the oversight role of government agencies regulating the pharmaceutical industry.

The bill, an Act Relative To Pharmaceutical Access, Cost and Transparency incorporates several components previously filed as bills or amendments by Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester), aimed at controlling the increasing costs of prescription medicines and better equipping patients with greater access to healthcare services and information.

Those provisions championed by Tarr include:
• Lifting a so-called ‘gag rule’ prohibiting the disclosure to consumers of lower cost medicines,
• Instituting licensure for pharmacy benefit managers, and,
• Requiring pharmacy benefit managers to be audited.

In addition, the Senate adopted other amendments to the bill that Tarr offered to:
• Extend the life of the state’s authorization of the prescription drug coupon program to lower consumer costs,
• Study the price impact of pharmacy benefit managers.

Tarr also collaborated with Senator Eric Lesser (D- Longmeadow) on an amendment to explore the potential of an interstate bulk drug purchasing program.

“The Senate’s action today reflects a bipartisan product that incorporates ideas proposed by members of the Republican Caucus including; extending drug discount couponing, subjecting pharmacy benefit managers to licensure requirements and auditing for the first time, expanding transparency in pharmacy system costs, and ending a long-standing ‘gag rule’ that has prevented pharmacists from offering lower prices for medicines,” said Senator Tarr. “The Senate’s bill puts systems in place that will reduce costs of life-sustaining medicines while also increasing access to them. These cost savings, coupled with expanded transparency and oversight within the pharmaceutical industry, will bring needed relief to families across the Commonwealth.”

The bill, known as the PACT Act, moves Massachusetts forward in its ability to respond to growing calls for relief from high drug costs and enhanced accountability for the industry. It requires both pharmaceutical companies and pharmacy benefit managers to submit cost, pricing, rebate and other relevant information to state regulators for analysis and reporting.

Pharmacy benefit managers are not currently subjected to rigorous oversight by the state, making it unclear if they act in the best interest of the consumer or health insurance plans when they negotiate with pharmaceutical makers on drug prices. The PACT Act authorizes the Division of Insurance to license and regulate pharmacy benefit managers and establish sanctions if they fail to meet certain standards.

Tarr, long a proponent of removing a so-called ‘gag rule’ which currently prevents pharmacists from informing consumers when a prescription drug is available at a lower retail price than their own insurance plan would charge, said the bill now ends that practice.

“Healthcare is only effective when people in need can obtain it,” said Senator Tarr. “Having a policy that needlessly fosters higher costs is a barrier to health and it needs to be eliminated.”

In addition, the legislation directs the state’s Health Policy Commission (HPC), to establish a process for identifying drug price levels that jeopardize patient access. Other provisions allow the HPC to recommend pricing measures to increase patient access to necessary medications.

The bill introduces immediate price relief for more than 700,000 Massachusetts residents who live with diabetes by setting a cap on the cost of insulin at $25 a month. The same drug can cost more than $1,000 a year under some insurance plans.

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Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Senate Set to Debate Prescription Medicine Access And Costs

Tomorrow the Senate will debate a bill, Senate 2397, An Act Relative To Pharmaceutical Access, Costs And Transparency, as well as 44 amendments offered by members of the Senate. I have filed several amendments including for drug discount coupon programming, interstate bulk purchasing of pharmaceuticals and a requirement on pharmaceutical makers to disclose payments that they make that are used to influence public policy related to prescription drugs.

Proponents of the bill say a key proposal is to increase access to medicine by placing a cap on expensive prescriptions and by expanding transparency and oversight of costs. The bill establishes an oversight role for the Health Policy Commission to examine more than 400 drugs. These would include any that cost a patient at least $50,000 annually or those that have been deemed as essential medicines.

As an example of a cap under the bill- today was World Diabetes Day at the State House and attendees said that insulin can cost more than $1,000 a year under some insurance plans - the new bill would cap the cost of insulin at $25 a month. 700,000 Massachusetts residents live with diabetes.

While our state is fortunate to have a health care system renowned for high quality we all also recognize that services and prescription meds are often quite costly. The bill has many components and I invite you to read them. You can find it, and the text of the 44 amendments, at this link - https://malegislature.gov/Bills/191/S2397/BillHistory.


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Tuesday, November 12, 2019

State House Hearing on Gas Pipeline Safety Bills

On September 13, 2018 the lives and livelihoods of tens of thousands of residents and workers of the Merrimack Valley were disrupted and put into grave risk by explosions, fires and widespread destruction caused by gas leaks.

Today, at a State House hearing of the legislature's Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy I offered testimony in support of legislation aimed at protecting public safety and the loss of property from natural gas. I filed Senate Bill 2013, An Act Ensuring Public Safety At Natural Gas Sites, which directs the Department of Public Utilities to develop regulations to ensure that natural gas pressure is monitored by qualified professionals at each site where gas work is being performed involving the pressurization of transmission lines, to support an urgent recommendation of the National Transportation Safety Board, the federal agency that investigated the catastrophe. The NTSB's safety recommendations said "Gas main pressures should be continually monitored during these modifications and assets should be placed at critical locations to immediately shut down the system if abnormal operations are detected." This is exactly in keeping with the bill I filed.

The legislative delegation representing Andover, Lawrence and North Andover stood strong today in support of legislation to protect all of us in the Commonwealth.

The factors that caused the severe and long lasting hardships experienced by residents, local businesses, and the tragic loss of life caused by the gas explosions and fires are now better understood and we have well-reasoned proposals to protect the public ready for advancement.

With: State Senator Barry Finegold, State Senator Diana DiZoglio, Representative Frank Moran, Representative Tram T Nguyen, Representative Marcos Devers, Representative Christina Minicuccii, Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera, former North Andover Town Manager and state Comptroller Andrew Maylor, Andover Town Manager Andrew Flanagan and others.




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Monday, November 11, 2019

Veterans Day 2019

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

The unyielding and unchanging core principals of our nation; freedom, liberty, and justice expressed in our founding documents would be unrealized without the bravery and sacrifices 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 today as members, 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 today and encourage you to express your gratitude to these great veterans anytime you can.

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Thursday, November 7, 2019

Senate Passes Campaign Finance Reform Bill


Senate Passes Campaign Finance Reform Bill

Legislation Bolsters Transparency and Accountability

 

BOSTONThe Massachusetts State Senate on Thursday unanimously passed An Act relative to campaign finance, sponsored by State Senator Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen), which increases transparency and accountability in the Commonwealth’s elections by reforming fiscal reporting requirements.  The bill also establishes a commission to study allowing the use of campaign funds for family-related care.

 

“Running for public office is one of the most exciting and impactful steps you can take as a citizen in a democracy,” said Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland).  “It is also a lot of work.  Massachusetts must ensure that our campaign finance laws and reporting requirements are under constant review to make certain that we are being as transparent as possible, while opening up the possibility of running for office to more people.”

 

The depository reporting system, run through the Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF)—the independent state agency that administers Massachusetts’ campaign finance law—directs candidates for public office to submit to stringent campaign finance reporting requirements.  Currently, the legislature and some mayoral candidates are exempt from the law that requires statewide, county and many other municipal candidates to use this reporting system. An Act relative to campaign finance seeks to remedy this disparity by requiring all legislative and mayoral candidates in Massachusetts to participate in the depository system.

 

“Nearly all candidates, including statewide officers, county officers, Governor's Council, mayors and councilors in cities over a population of 65,000, have participated in this depository reporting system—with the exception of some mayoral and all legislative candidates,” said DiZoglio. “This landmark legislation enhances transparency and accountability in our campaign finance law by requiring that bank statements are sent to OCPF and that we disclose our sources of campaign contributions and expenditures much more often for the public to see.”

 

“I’m proud of the Senate for passing this campaign finance reform legislation today,” said State Senator Barry R. Finegold (D-Andover). “The depository system will lead to increased transparency and uniformity, while minimizing the accidental errors in reporting that often plague campaigns. Voters deserve to know how we get our money as candidates and how we spend it, and the move to the depository system will make all of that data more readily available.”

 

“Accurate reporting of campaign donations and expenditures is critical for the integrity of our elections and the public trust our democracy depends on,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce E. Tarr (R-Gloucester). “This modernization of our reporting system will expand a proven methodology to more candidates, and produce more timely and accurate information about financial activity. “

 

By requiring all legislative and mayoral candidates to participate in the depository reporting system, this bill will increase accountability by requiring monthly reports that disclose all campaign finance activity, in addition to reports filed by their designated financial institution. Currently, filings for those presently exempt from the depository system occur only two or three times a year.  By increasing the filing frequency to 12 times per year, the legislation seeks to increase transparency in statewide campaign finance activity.

 

This revised process will assist OCPF in identifying discrepancies between a candidate’s public disclosure of campaign finance activity and their bank accounting records.  It would also help OCPF promptly address issues associated with data entry errors, missed deposits, balance issues and uncashed checks.  In addition, the change will make it easier to see how much money a candidate is raising and spending during the course of the entire election cycle.

 

During floor debate, an amendment was debated that would establish the creation of a commission to study the use of campaign funds for family-related activities such as child care and caring for relatives with medical needs. The amendment passed unanimously.

 

“Campaigning is so hard and has so many barriers, especially with family to care for,” said State Senator Patricia Jehlen (D-Somerville). “But, today we are starting the process to remove one more barrier by examining whether candidates should be able to use donated funds to pay for family care services during campaign activities. We must take bold steps to diversify our elected office holders.”

 

The bill now returns to the House for further consideration.

 

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Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Fuller Meadow Elementary School Teaches The Value of Civics

Lisa Scharffenberg, a first grade teacher at the Fuller Meadow Elementary School in Middleton, Massachusetts, invited me to attend her classroom to meet with her students to discuss civics and democracy. Some might think that this is too lofty of a topic for 1st graders, I am happy to report that they were active, engaged and very thoughtful.

Lisa and her colleague Lindsay Foden have put together a social studies program called “Electing a Leader” and the idea is to use project-based learning to help frame an important question - “How can we, as responsible citizens, identify important qualities of candidates in order to make informed voting decisions?”

Superintendent Scott Morrison and Principal Dr. Diane Carreiro have supported the teachers and even suggested that I should be contacted and invited to come in for an ‘in-person” visit with the class- I am glad that I did. As a legislative sponsor of laws that have expanded access to civics education in our state I am delighted to see this approach for students. The experience was wonderful and I am encouraged by their interest.

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Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Purple Heart Trail 10K and Fun Run This Sunday

Help me spread the word about the November 10 Veterans Day weekend Purple Heart Trail 10K and Fun Run. This event is November 10, 2019; the Fun Run at 8:30 and 10K at 9:00.

In honor of all our military past and present, come and run a 10K from the Patton Homestead, circling around to the Sherman Tank in Patton Park, and back to the Homestead. Kids and those wishing to walk or run a shorter distance can participate in the Fun Run, a 1K loop following the wood road along the perimeter of the beautiful Patton Homestead property.

The first 100 registrants race will receive a long sleeve technical t-shirt and all Fun Run participants will receive a ribbon. All proceeded benefit the The Patton Homestead, Inc. to help them further their non-profit mission.

The Patton Homestead Inc. is the lead host along with the American Legion: Post 194 Hamilton, MA.


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DISCUSSION ON AGEISM AND UNEMPLOYMENT

50+ Job Seekers Regional Networking Meeting 

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to attend a meeting at Essex North Shore Agricultural Technical School with a number or Council on Aging Directors, and other people, to discuss the challenges confronting those over 50 years of age seeking employment.

The Massachusetts workforce is aging. In fact, demographically we have an older population than the rest of the nation and this has an impact on workers, our economy, communities and public policy. Recently, the North Andover COA was awarded a grant funded and supported by the Massachusetts Association of Councils on Aging to help those over 50 who are looking for a new job or new career direction.

People over 65 were 14 percent of the Massachusetts population in 2010. In 2030, they will be 21 percent of the population. Councils on Aging are working together to support efforts to connect people with valuable resources.

All 50+Job Seekers Regional Networking Meeting meetings are open to anyone who resident of the state who is over 49 years old. Participants are given a regularly scheduled, professional forum for networking with peers in a safe and comfortable environment. Each meeting is facilitated by a certified career and includes a presentation-workshop on topics relevant to career transitions and job searches.

Guest Speakers included - Susan Drevitch Kelly, a consultant from the Massachusetts Councils on Aging and leads the 50+ Job Seekers Regional Networking Group Program throughout the state. Sheila Taylor, COA Director of Ipswich, on this program in her community, how the program developed, the grant they applied for, and the success they have had with it. Cahla Ahlstrom, Assistant to Irene O’Brien of North Andover, on developing this program and what they hope to accomplish.

With Mary Ann Nay my Community Outreach Specialist.




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Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) Services & Vehicle Inspections Unavailable Veterans Day Weekend

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) announced that due to its final upgrade to new technology no customer service transactions can be conducted starting at 6 PM, Friday, November 8 and until 7 AM, Tuesday, November 12.

In addition, inspection station locations will not be able to conduct motor vehicle inspections on November 9, 10, and 11.
Customers may go online prior to Veterans Day, getting vehicles due for November inspections into service stations prior to November 8, and, if in-person transactions are required, visiting Registry and AAA customer service locations as soon as possible or waiting until later in November.
To summarize- from Friday, November 8 at 6 PM until Tuesday, November 12 at 7 AM there will be no:
* RMV services, including registration or licensing services, will be available at the RMV, AAA, auto dealerships, or at insurance companies.
* vehicle safety or emissions inspections.
* RMV available internet transactions or phone service.

For more information, please visit mass.gov/rmv.


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Friday, November 1, 2019

Tobin Bridge/Chelsea Curves Rehabilitation Project Update From Massachusetts Department of Transportation

Construction Look-Ahead: November 3, 2019 – November 16, 2019

Traffic Impacts-
• Route 1 Northbound: Approaching the Tobin Bridge from Boston, the workzone begins in the left lane and continues in the center lane. Drivers can travel on either side of the center lane workzones. 2 of 3 travel lanes will be open during daytime hours (5 a.m. – 10 p.m.) and at least 1 travel lane will be open during overnight hours (10 p.m. – 5 a.m.).

• Route 1 Southbound: Approaching the Chelsea Curves from the North Shore, the workzone begins in the left lane before the Carter Street off-ramp and continues in the center lane. Drivers can travel on either side of the center lane workzone at the Carter Street off-ramp using the left or right travel lanes. 2 of 3 travel lanes will be open during daytime hours (5 a.m.–10 p.m.) and at least 1 travel lane will be open during overnight hours (10 p.m.–5 a.m.).

• Fourth Street Off-ramp: The Fourth Street off-ramp will remain closed for 1-2 months. Northbound traffic headed to Chelsea must be in the right lane when crossing the bridge to access the Beacon Street off-ramp. After Beacon Street, the next opportunity to exit Route 1 Northbound will be at Webster Avenue.

• Carter Street: Travel lanes passing under Route 1 will be diverted to avoid the active workzone on the eastbound side. Traffic will remain two-way and police details will be used to guide travelers.

• Upcoming Temporary Closures: For one or two nights during this construction period, complete closures of all lanes of traffic will be required for brief periods of time during overnight, off-peak hours for repairs at several locations on the Tobin Bridge. Overnight closures are weather-dependent and MassDOT will provide additional information and notice once the dates have been determined.

Work Hours
• Most work will occur in during daytime working hours (6 a.m.–2 p.m.) on weekdays. Some work will take place during afternoon (2 p.m.–7 p.m) and overnight hours (7 p.m.–6 a.m.) and on Saturdays (7 a.m.–7 p.m).
• No work will occur on Monday, November 11 in observance of the Veterans Day holiday.

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Ribbon Cutting at Local Colors Artists’ Cooperative

This morning I was happy to join with members and friends of the Local Colors Artists’ Cooperative in Gloucester to present them with a Senate Citation and help them celebrate 30 years in business. In that time they have had more than 200 members participate all while earning the support of the community. We had refreshments, live music, good stories and a grand time.

With Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken, members of the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce, artists, members and others.






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Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Heating Season And Heating Assistance

Heating season has arrived and with it the need to spread the word about an important issue – home heating assistance for low income families. Throughout my work as a legislator I have advocated for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program – known as LIHEAP, because in New England heating is a basic human need.

Yesterday, I helped MASSCAP kick-off their annual drive to raise awareness of heating assistance at Kowloon Restaurant in Saugus with Representative Donald H. Wong. They are a congressionally created association of 23 Community Action Agencies mandated and dedicated to fighting poverty. They serve more than 600,000 in our state each year.

State Fire Marshall Michael Newbury also reminded the attendees that heating help is also a safety program- without it people resort to unsafe measures like heating with a stove. He said don't buy a heater second hand and be sure to have your heating system cleaned annually.

Homeowners and renters, including households whose cost of heat is included in the rent, can apply in for help.

Eligibility is based on household size and the gross annual income of every household member, 18 years of age or older. Household income cannot exceed 60% of estimated State Median Income

This program provides assistance for the cost of the primary source of heat such as -
• Oil
• Electricity
• Natural gas
• Propane
• Kerosene
• Wood
• Coal

If eligible, discounts are automatically given on:
• electric bills for investor-owned electric utilities
• gas bills for investor-owned gas utilities
• telephone bills

Payments for actual usage or fuel delivery are made directly to the heating vendor for primary energy needs from November 1st to April 30th except when the cost of heating is included in the rent.

Eligibility/Selection Criteria
• There are a variety of factors that impact the eligibility of a household.
• Eligibility is based on household size and the gross annual income of every household member, 18 years of age or older.
• Household income cannot exceed 60% of estimated State Median Income
• FY2019 LIHEAP Income Eligibility and Benefits Level Chart
• Please contact the local fuel assistance agency for detailed information on criteria used for eligibility.
• Housing subsidies will also determine the specific benefit level.





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Monday, October 28, 2019

TARR SECURES SENATE FUNDS FOR NORTH WILMINGTON COMMUTER RAIL FACILITY HANDICAP ACCESSIBLE PLATFORM TO IMPROVE PUBLIC SAFETY

Adds Funds in New Senate Supplemental Budget Bill 

Boston- Wilmington officials, long concerned about public safety impacts of MBTA commuter trains impeding traffic on Route 62, received substantial financial support in the form of the State Senate’s new supplemental budget bill through an amendment championed by Wilmington’s Senator Bruce Tarr.

Tarr, who offered the $180,000 amendment to Senate Bill 2378, the so-called Closeout Supplemental Budget for Fiscal Year 2019, comes at a time when he and Representative David Robertson (D- Tewksbury) and Representative Ken Gordon (D- Bedford) are continuing to work with town officials and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, the state agency responsible for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Commuter Rail system, for a number of years to identify and further develop both short and long-term solutions to the problems that persist at the station.

The problems at the depot, located adjacent to Route 62, are twofold; the current platform to facilitate access to trains does not properly accommodate passengers with physical challenges and that, in turn, causes the train to stoop across the roadway

“We are all working together to find and implement the best solutions for the problems that we face at the North Wilmington train station,” said Senator Tarr. “That collaboration includes the legislative delegation, the police and fire departments, the Town manager and Selectmen, as well as MBTA officials.”

Tarr added “there are solutions in sight, but they depend upon the availability of resources. This funding from the supplemental budget presents and important step in putting significant resources on the table.”

"This train station is a huge burden to Wilmington's traffic and public safety. Working with Senator Tarr, Representative Gordon, the Selectboard and town we've come a long way on what the station will look like, how it will be moved, and possible future parking expansion" said Representative Robertson. "Now, thanks to Senator Tarr's concerted efforts, we have a financial jumping off point that we in the House can support and complement to solve this issue once and for all." Language now added to the Senate’s bill directs $180,000 in state funds “for the planning, design and construction of a handicap accessible platform at the North Wilmington Commuter Rail facility,” this is in addition to the $1 million authorization in the latest economic development bond bill that Tarr added last year.

“I am delighted that the Legislature is addressing this serious concern so that everyone in Wilmington can access public transportation,” said Representative Ken Gordon. Tarr, at a board meeting of the Selectmen following an incident at the station which delayed first responders, called the impediment of emergency response professionals “an absolutely unacceptable situation” and explained that he would continue to work with town and state officials to “ensure that the configuration of the train station would be such that it would now be conducive to getting the train out of the road when it stops.”

Wilmington’s Police and Fire Department vehicles, and those of other emergency responders, are frequently snared in traffic backups at the station and are impeded in responding to emergencies.

Senator Tarr’s amendment provides $180,000 to aid in changes to the platform for those with disability access concerns, which will also aid in altering the location of the locomotive and it’s cars.

The MBTA's Haverhill line makes multiple daily stops, each taking between 1 and 2 minutes, at the North Wilmington depot. These stops trigger the railway safety gates intended to stop traffic in both directions.

Senator Tarr arranged several meetings between the MBTA, Keolis, the company contracted to operate the commuter rail system, and local officials.

“Now we have to work as a team to keep funding for the train station in the final version of the budget that goes to the desk of Governor Charlie Baker,” Tarr said.

Funds for the depot will be released once a final agreement on the budget bill is reached between the House and Senate. Governor Charlie Baker will have a ten day period to sign the bill. Tarr said Wilmington’s delegation in the House of Representatives will play an important role in that process.

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Friday, October 25, 2019

TARR SECURES SENATE SUPPORT FOR ROCKPORT DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS BUILDING

Senate Adds Funds in New Senate Supplemental Budget Bill Following Town-Wide Vote 


Boston- Residents of Rockport, having voted to approve the construction of a new Department of Public Works building, would receive financial support in the form of the State Senate’s new supplemental budget bill under a provision championed by Rockport’s Senator Bruce Tarr (R- Gloucester). Tarr received the support of his colleagues in the Senate to allocate $20,000 to Rockport for planning, design, and construction purposes.

The new facility will be built following several years of discussions and the support of voters in a special town election held earlier this month. Tarr says that he is working to help the town so that the facility can be an effective asset for the DPW Department, its staff and residents.

The Senator’s amendment to Senate Bill 2378, the so-called Closeout Supplemental Budget for Fiscal Year 2019 was adopted with full support of the Senate. Tarr said he wanted to provide backing to Rockport, Massachusettst and help with efforts to improve conditions for the Department of Public Works employees.

“I want to help support the work that has taken place for the building project by also securing an opportunity for state funds,” said Senator Tarr. “I appreciate the dedication of Rockport’s officials to move this project to where we are today and I thank my colleagues in the Senate for adopting my amendment to allocate at least $20,000 for planning, design, and construction of the building.”

“Town administrator Vieira, the Selectmen, the Rockport Building Study Committee and others have shaped this project to the point where it has been endorsed by the voters into something that will serve the entire town well for years to come,” added Tarr.

The Senate’s version of the supplemental budget bill must now be reconciled with that of the House’s. Once a final agreement on the budget bill is reached between the two branches Governor Charlie Baker will have a ten day period to sign the bill. Tarr said Rockport’s Representative in the House, Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante, will play an important role in that process.

“I am happy to work with my colleague Senator Bruce Tarr to provide this invaluable funding to the town of Rockport for the design of their new DPW facility,” said Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante (D- Gloucester). “This is an important step forward for the town to more efficiently and effectively deliver service to its residents.”

“We will continue to work as a team to keep funding for the DPW building in the final version of the budget that goes to the desk of Governor Charlie Baker,” Tarr said.


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Thursday, October 24, 2019

Open Door Autumn Breakfast Thanksgiving Meal Basket and Food Drive

This morning at Cruiseport Gloucester many supporters of The Open Door gathered to kick-off their fund drive.

The Open Door Autumn Breakfast is the launch off their 2019 Thanksgiving Meal Basket and Food Drives, and a time to honor their many volunteers that help connect people to good food all year round.

Last year The Open Door served 8,000 people living in 10 cities in towns in the northeast corner of Essex County. They will provide a Holiday Basket to every person in need this Thanksgiving - with your help.

Helen Muise Community Service Award was given to Fred and Valerie Johnson - Gloucester Food Pantry. Steven Rogé - Ipswich Community Food Pantry, Mary Jane Sawyer - Second Glance Thrift Store. The Charlotte Pope Service Award was presented to the Fogelgren Family. The Unsung Hero was Pat Baker of Mass Law Reform Institute and the Outstanding Community Partner is BankGloucester.






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Senate Supplemental Bueget

The State Senate is debating S2378 a bill that appropriates funds for government activities and projects to close the books on Fiscal Year 2019.

Included in the bill are long-held priorities such as $140 million in state funding for public schools from kindergarten to higher education. This includes funds for Regional School Transportation - to 80% and the Special Education Circuit Breaker - to 85%. We also include funds for school mental and behavioral health supports.

This bill impacts many policy areas important to you and the Commonwealth. I offered several amendments including those which provide family tax credits, fund municipal disability-related access improvements, audits Columbia Gas, promotes energy efficiency improvements for the fishing and farming industries, offers consumer rebates and other economic incentives to reduce carbon emissions, and more.

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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Superfund Site Update in Wilmington

Last night I participated in an important meeting about the Olin Chemical Superfund Site in Wilmington. The federal government's Environmental Protection Agency is looking at steps for a final cleanup plan for the site. Officials answered questions from residents and gave an update on the process.

Olin Chemical produced chemicals at the site until the late 80s. Water wells and municipal drinking supplies were contaminated and it's been very difficult for residents. With Representative Dave Robertson and Representative Ken Gordon, officials from EPA and the town, and many residents.




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Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Manufacturing Award Ceremony Information

The Massachusetts Legislative Manufacturing Caucus held its 4th Annual Manufacturing Award Ceremony at the State House today.

Increasingly, our state has become a leader in advanced manufacturing. We have skilled workers trained to use powerful equipment and a customer base actively seeking machined parts from local business. It is important for government and industry to work together to pursue innovation. The Manufacturing Caucus has more than 60 legislators - we have focused on training for manufacturing employees, encouraging innovation by helping start-up access resources, and expanding apprenticeship opportunities in key manufacturing sectors.

I was happy to talk with and present Senate citations to representatives from local businesses including - Riverdale Mills Corporation, Dawn’s Sign Tech of North Andover, Salem Metal, Inc.from Middleton and others.



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Commuter Rail Delays For Newburyport/Rockport Trains

The MBTA has just announced that the Rockport Train 8:35 am from North Station is now operating 25-35 minutes behind schedule between Swampscott and Rockport due to earlier single-track traffic with late inbound trains. The Newburyport Train 164 (10:00 am from Newburyport) is expected to depart Newburyport 5-15 minutes behind schedule due to the late arrival of equipment caused by earlier service disruptions on the line.

They say to expect trains to continue experiencing significant delays in both directions. Seek alternate transportation where possible. News accounts say that a pedestrian was struck near Beverly Depot.

UPDATE-  The Boston Globe reports that the Transit Police that the pedestrian is conscious and alert.

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Friday, October 18, 2019

Groveland Police Association Annual Harvest Dinner for Senior Citizens

I had a wonderful time at the annual Harvest Dinner sponsored by the Groveland Police Department Association. The Association has put on the dinner for senior citizens, in cooperation with Groveland's Council on Aging, for more than 25 years.

The dinner was held at the Bagnall Elementary with a great turnout. I have attended many times in the past, and I look forward to many more.



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