Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Budget Bill Highlights:

Throughout the week I will feature some of the budget amendments that I was able to secure support for that are now included in the Senate's new budget bill.


Monday, May 30, 2022

Memorial Day Ceremonies

This morning, the Gloucester Memorial Day Ceremony took place at the #Gloucester High School Auditorium. I was honored to offer some remarks to pay tribute to the men & women of our Armed Forces who made the ultimate sacrifice. Wilmington Memorial Day Ceremony We came together at Wildwood Cemetery at the #Wilmington Veterans Lot for a roll call of the killed in action and those missing in action. Wenham Memorial Day Ceremony at Cheeseman Memorial In #WenhamI I joined many others to honor our nation's veterans. Starting with a brief ceremony at the Alan B. Cheeseman Memorial. 

As a community, it is important that we give ourselves an opportunity to grieve, remember, and give thanks to those who died while serving us in uniform. I am also grateful to all of the organizations, volunteers, and officials who do the work to plan and carry out these impactful ceremonies. 




Memorial Day Weekend Events & Ceremonies

I was truly honored to be able to participate in Memorial Day Services that were held in the communities in that I represent. Memorial Day was established so we would all remember those who died in service to our country. Cities and towns across our state and country will remember these heroes with plaques, parades and solemn occasions. We will never forget their sacrifices. 



Wednesday, May 25, 2022

This Senate budget, at nearly $50 Billion, comes at a time when revenue collections are far exceeding all expectations, and we have a substantial surplus that is growing. We should also respond to the opportunity to help those who pay the bills of our state government – we can achieve that with targeted tax relief and we offered a series of mechanisms to make it happen. The budget makes sound expenditures in many areas, but, given the circumstances we are in, it must do more, by recognizing and responding to the realities being faced by the people who pay the bills of state government. They are struggling with the staggering costs of fuel prices and the impacts of inflation on household budgets.



In these divisive times, the places we go to seek peace, respite, and connect with our faith and community have too often become targeted by those who seek to create fear. This amendment offers us the opportunity to say that we will stand against the threats and provide resources to promote public safety - it is critical.



Standing Up For Regional Schools

It’s been decades since the state actually met the obligation it made to pay the full share of bussing school children to regional schools and it creates an unfair strain that ultimately takes a toll on kids and their families. School transportation is an important component of school and municipal budgets and they deserve our support. 

Student transportation requirements are governed by both state and federal statutes and regulations. Funding for regional school transportation, affirmed in Chapter 71, a state law adopted more than 70 years ago, is appropriated through a budget line item in the state’s annual operating budget. However, unlike other city and town districts, regional school districts are required to bus students in every grade and usually over much longer distances. 

Every student deserves access to high-quality education but regional schools face real challenges because budgets have funded set reimbursements at between 70 and 85 percent of their student transportation costs. And, unlike other forms of education funding, regional transportation funds are not apportioned based on need Tarr.



Tuesday, May 24, 2022

I'm working to secure $100,000 in the Senate budget for proper care and treatment of dogs and cats through our state's Animal Fund. Homeless animals pose a public safety concern & too much suffering. The Mass Animal Fund has helped thousands of local animals.



Monday, May 23, 2022


Local restaurants play an important role in our society. We go for food, the company of friends, to catch up with the news of the neighborhood, and to help support the people who make them so hospitable. I have an amendment to the state Senate's budget up for debate that will lift the temporary portion of state law that allows for outdoor dining. With this proposal, patrons can enjoy a meal on the deck or on the sidewalk - with the support of local licensing authorities. 


Budget Amendment Grants Local Authority For Permanent Outdoor Restaurant Dining 

Boston- Restaurant patrons have enjoyed an opportunity to dine out while dining outside and with the approval of a budget amendment offered by Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr cities and towns will be empowered to make outdoor dining a permanent part of the menu. 

With nearly 16,000 restaurants in the state impacted by COVID-19 restrictions, and more than 3,000 permanently shuttered, Tarr is offering to lift the restrictions baked into the new laws aimed at improving public health and safety while giving restaurant managers a way to keep the kitchens open and staffed. State lawmakers and regulators made way for a temporary return to limited indoor dining and outdoor dining in June of last year as part of Phase II of the Reopening Plan, exceptions are set to expire April 1, 2023. 

“We know that customers have embraced outdoor dining and the restaurant owners in Massachusetts found it to be an effective way to attract clients and recoup some of the massive losses from the restrictions,” said Senator Tarr (R-Gloucester). “I am proposing allowing local licensing authorities in municipalities, where health and safety inspections and permitting are already happening, to have the option of granting a permanent extension for outdoor dining. Outdoor table service for patrons on a sidewalk, patio, deck, or under awnings helps with social distancing and patron choice.” 

Restaurants offering outdoor options under Tarr’s proposal, Local Opt-In For Permanent Outdoor Dining, will still be required to meet COVID-19 safety guidelines and comply with state and local regulations and building, fire, electrical, and plumbing codes related to providing accessible routes and accessible tables and seating. 

“Doing this will be a major victory for restaurants, for patrons, for cities and towns to collect meals taxes, and for all those who are employed by restaurants and all of the other trades that provide the supplies - a foundation in the road to restaurant recovery.” 

Local Opt-In For Permanent Outdoor Dining https://malegislature.gov/.../192/S4/332/Senate/Preview



I am proud to join my colleague Senator Patrick O'Connor in sponsoring legislation to provide support to the lobstermen who have endured state closures in our ongoing efforts to protect the endangered right whale. 

Commercial fishing is essential to the Commonwealth - we are rich in sustainable seafood. Among all states we are second in the country for overall seafood value with over $640 million dollars paid at the dock, we're number 1 for sea scallops and number 2 for lobster. The economic impact is into the billions with a workforce over 100,000 strong.



Sunday, May 22, 2022

Senator Bruce Tarr Leads Effort to Fully Fund Regional School Transportation Costs in New State Budget Proposal

Boston- Regional school districts struggling to meet the rising costs of transporting students will get a boost under a proposal from Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr to fully fund the state’s obligation. Tarr, who has proposed adding $14.5 million to a line item in the state Senate’s budget up for debate next week, pointed out that the appropriation was last funded fully over 20 years ago. The Senate budget uses a rate of reimbursement at 85%. 

Although existing state law requires that the Commonwealth shall reimburse districts “to the full extent of the amounts expended for such transportation” funding is subject to annual appropriation. Organizations including the legislatively created Special Commission on Improving Efficiencies Relative to Student Transportation, the Massachusetts Association of Regional Schools, and State Auditor Suzanne Bump say that funding levels are consistently insufficient and exacerbate financial challenges faced by the schools.

“It’s been decades since the state actually met the obligation it made to pay the full share of bussing school children to regional schools and it creates an unfair strain that ultimately takes a toll on kids and their families,” said Senator Tarr (R-Gloucester) a consistent advocate for full-funding. “Some regional districts are just two towns while others have a dozen towns spread out of 500 miles - school transportation is an important component of school and municipal budgets and they deserve our support.”

Student transportation requirements are governed by both state and federal statutes and regulations. Funding for regional school transportation, affirmed in Chapter 71, a state law adopted more than 70 years ago, is appropriated through a budget line item in the state’s annual operating budget. However, unlike other city and town districts, regional school districts are required to bus students in every grade and usually over much longer distances.

“Every student deserves access to high-quality education but regional schools face real challenges because budgets have funded set reimbursements at between 70 and 85 percent of their student transportation costs. And, unlike other forms of education funding, regional transportation funds are not apportioned based on need,” said Tarr.

Regional schools, whether academic, vocational or charter, are provided with state transportation funding for students by way of a reimbursement. The state used to pay regional districts for 100 percent of the costs of transporting students, but the fund has not reached that level for 20 years.

Some regional school districts were likely induced to form, at least in part, due to an expectation of this funding. With the adoption of the Tarr transportation amendment those expectations can be once again fulfilled. The Senate is expected to take up the budget bill in debate beginning Tuesday. https://malegislature.gov/.../SenateDebate/Amendments/628



"Too Hot For Spot"

The National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory which will remain in effect until 8 PM. The heatwave means that it is "Too Hot For Spot". Be sure your pets stay cool. If you take your pet out for a ride in this heat and have to leave them unattended just remember, although it may feel like only a couple of minutes in the car, it can quickly become “Too Hot for Spot!” After only 10 minutes the temperature inside a car can exceed 120 degrees – even with the windows rolled down three inches!



Friday, May 20, 2022

Baker-Polito Administration Opens Spray Decks Early For Children and Families to Enjoy 15 Facilities Across the Commonwealth to Help the Public Stay Cool this Weekend

Due to elevated temperatures forecasted for this upcoming weekend, the Baker-Polito Administration today announced that it will open 15 spray decks throughout the Commonwealth for children and their families to enjoy. The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), which manages the spray decks, will begin operating the facilities starting on Saturday, May 21, 2022. 

“With high temperatures expected this upcoming weekend, it is important that everybody has safe environments available to them to escape the heat,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Our Administration is pleased to open spray decks early throughout the state parks system enabling children and their families a cool break from this weekend’s increased temperatures.” 

“Spray decks offer excellent, outdoor activities for children and their families, providing another great reason for us all to visit a state park,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “By opening these facilities early this season, it is our hope that the public will take advantage of the increased opportunities this weekend.” The following DCR spray decks will be open this weekend from 8:00AM to 8:00PM, with the exception of the Freetown State Forest Spray Deck, which will be open from 8:00AM-6:00PM: • Alfond Memorial Spray Deck, 280 Charles Street, Boston, • Artesani Playground Spray Deck, 1255 Soldiers Field Road, Brighton, • Beaver Brook Spray Deck, 621 Trapelo Road, Belmont, MA; • Freetown State Forest Spray Deck, 105 Slab Bridge Road, Freetown, • Holyoke Heritage State Park Spray Deck, 221 Appleton Street, Holyoke, • Magazine Beach Spray Deck, 719 Memorial Drive, Cambridge, • Francis J. McCrehan Spray Deck, 359 Rindge Avenue, Cambridge, • Melnea A. Cass Memorial Spray Deck, 120 Martin Luther King Blvd., Roxbury, • John T. Moynihan Spray Deck, 920 Truman Parkway, Hyde Park, • Neponset Landing II Spray Deck, 72 Hill Top Street, Dorchester, • North Point Spray Deck, 6 Museum Way, Cambridge, • Olsen Spray Deck, 95 Turtle Pond Parkway, Hyde Park, M and, • South West Corridor Spray Decks, located at Mission Hill (One Schroder Plaza, Mission Hill), Johnson (Lamartine and Green Street, Jamaica Plain), and Stony Brook (Lamartine St & Boylston St), Jamaica Plain. “This weekend, we expect high visitor numbers throughout the state parks system where park staff and volunteers have been busy preparing for all to enjoy,” said Energy and environmental Affairs Secretary Beth Card. “By opening spray decks early this season, the Baker-Polito Administration is ensuring children and their families have a respite from the summer-like heat.” The Baker-Polito Administration has taken significant steps making waterbodies safer places. These efforts include posting warning signage in multiple languages at beaches and other properties, making available life rings in the event of an emergency, and offering water safety programming for families to participate in. It’s important to note that pools and designated swimming areas have not opened for the season yet. During this time of year, waterbodies are still warming up and venturing into them can be dangerous due to water temperatures in the 40s and 50s. Swimming in such cold waters, even within a short period of time, can quickly cause hypothermia in the human body. “The Baker-Polito Administration has taken a proactive approach in making the state parks system’s waterfronts and swimming facilities safer for everyone,” said DCR Acting Commissioner Stephanie Cooper. 

“With the anticipated elevated temperatures in the coming days, we encourage the public to visit our beaches, parks, and forests for a break from the heat and ask that you exercise safety measures while there.” DCR also continues to recruit lifeguards at many designated swimming areas and pools located throughout the state. This year, the Baker-Polito Administration increased the hourly rate for lifeguards to between $21 and $26 depending on position and associated certifications (last year’s starting rates were $20 for lifeguards and $21 for head lifeguards). Additionally, the agency is offering a $500 retention bonus that will be provided to lifeguards who continue to work for the department through the end of the season. 

To learn more about lifeguarding opportunities, please visit the agency’s lifeguarding webpage -https://www.mass.gov/guides/dcr-lifeguarding. Furthermore, the agency is also currently recruiting seasonal positions across the state. DCR manages state parks, forests, coastal and inland beaches, pools and campground facilities from the Berkshires to Cape Cod. Available positions include park rangers, park interpreters, supervisors, pool managers, drivers, coastal shore bird monitors, forestry assistants, buildings and ground maintenance workers, and office assistants. To learn more about DCR seasonal employment, please visit the agency’s seasonal jobs webpage - https://www.mass.gov/guides/dcr-seasonal-jobs.


Wednesday, May 18, 2022

MBTA Blue Line Service Announcement

Beginning Sunday, May 22, through Wednesday, June 8, Blue Line train service will be suspended between Wonderland and Orient Heights stations to allow for critical work to take place on the Suffolk Downs pedestrian bridge. Riders will be provided with free bus shuttle service between these stations during the work. 

This important work to repair and reopen the Suffolk Down pedestrian bridge needs to be proactively accomplished and complete prior to the beginning of MassDOT’s Sumner Tunnel Restoration project, which begins June 10 with the shutdown of the Sumner Tunnel on weekends from Spring 2022 to Spring 2023; seven days a week from May 2023 to September 2023; and on weekends from Fall 2023 to Winter 2023. If the MBTA does not complete this work on the Suffolk Downs pedestrian bridge now, the pedestrian bridge will likely not be repaired for another two years until the Sumner Tunnel reopens seven days a week in Winter 2023. 

The Suffolk Downs pedestrian bridge will fully reopen to the public later this summer 2022. The MBTA understands how frustrating service diversions can be, and thanks Blue Line riders for their patience while this important Blue Line work on the Suffolk Downs pedestrian bridge is completed. During this 18-day Blue Line suspension, free bus shuttles will replace Blue Line service between Wonderland and Orient Heights stations all day and every day between May 22 and June 8. 



Tuesday, May 17, 2022


This Sunday, May 22, starting at 11:45 AM, a coalition of community members led by Ukrainian American Tanya Marshall and Ukrainian Cultural Center of New England will hold an event “We Stand With Ukraine” to show solidarity and support to people in Ukraine. Approximately 300 people are expected to come to peacefully express solidarity. 

The public is invited to join “We Stand with Ukraine” during any of the following events: 

11:45 AM - a procession will assemble at the Ipswich Public Library and march along Market street and over the River Walk 

12:15 PM - rally at the Hall-Haskell House 

The rally will be a celebration of Ukrainian culture, featuring a special LIVE STREAM with friends and family in Ukraine on a big screen TV, speeches from elected officials and the representative of Ukrainian Cultural Center of New England, fundraiser and raffle. All funds raised during the event will go directly to supporting Ukrainians displaced by the war. For more information go to https://fb.me/e/2vTYArifp or contact Tanya Marshall at (978) 578-1583



Monday, May 16, 2022

North Shore Community Mediation Center’s Basic Mediation Training

Registration is now open for the North Shore Community Mediation Center's annual conflict resolution skills intensive training. NSCMC is a non-profit organization. 

This year’s training program will be a hybrid format – 5 weeknight evening sessions on Zoom and 2 full-day in person sessions (at the Cummings Center in Beverly MA). You’ll learn principles of conflict management through presentations, exercises, discussions, and role-plays, guided by experienced trainers and coaches. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer mediator in Essex County, this is the first step! The training complies with the MA Supreme Judicial Court Uniform Rules on Dispute Resolution and meets the requirements of MA General Laws, Chapter 233, section 23C to establish mediator confidentiality. The training is also appropriate if you are looking to apply mediation and conflict management skills in your life and work, to help transform conflict in our community. Please register by May 31st to hold your spot in this year’s training. 

Training schedule: 

  • Tues 6/7 – 4:00 – 8:30pm on Zoom 
  • Thurs 6/9 – 4:00 – 8:30pm on Zoom 
  • Sat 6/11 – 8:30am – 5:30pm in person (Cummings Center, Beverly)
  • Mon 6/13 – 4:00 – 8:30pm on Zoom 
  • Tues 6/14 – 4:00 – 8:30pm on Zoom 
  • Thurs 6/16 – 4:00 – 8:30pm on Zoom 
  • Sat 6/18 – 8:30am – 5:30pm in person (Cummings Center, Beverly)

Cost: $750. This fee includes 7 sessions - 5 evening sessions held on Zoom and 2 full-day sessions held in person at the Cummings Center in Beverly. Coffee, light refreshments, and a full lunch are included for the 2 in-person training days. All participants will receive a hard copy and an electronic copy of the Basic Mediation Training participant manual. Reduced registration fees are available for a limited number of community members for whom cost is a barrier to participation.

The sessions will adhere to all federal, state, and local Covid-19 public health guidelines for the in-person sessions. We request that all participants confirm they are fully vaccinated for Covid-19 or provide a negative rapid test result on each in-person training day; to agree to wear masks if state or local requirements are in place at the time of the training, and to notify trainers of exposure to or symptoms of Covid-19.



Friday, May 13, 2022

Postpartum Depression Awareness Day and Virtual Hearing

1 in 7 pregnant and new mothers and 1 in 10 new fathers may experience depression or anxiety. That's why I sponsored legislation that created a special legislative commission to address postpartum depression (PPD) in the state. As a member of this Commission, 

I want you to know about an upcoming date for a virtual hearing day on Tuesday, May 17 at 10:00 AM. The Commission, chaired by Senator Joan B. Lovely and Representative James J. O’Day, looks at policy initiatives to address perinatal mental health and promote mental health during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Our Commissioners include women who have lived with PPD, physicians, nurses, social workers, psychiatrists, and more. The Commission seeks to improve resources for perinatal mood disorders available to women and their families. 

To register please click this link: https://www.ppdcommission.com/events



Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Rolling on the Rail - MBTA Annisquam River Drawbridge Readying

I've been working with local officials, neighbors, and others to move this vital MBTA project forward and we have now made it to the penultimate stage - getting ready for passengers. I'm thankful to my staff, in particular Ted Costa, for making arrangements for this trip. 

The bridge carries commuter rail riders for the Rockport Line over the Annisquam River between the West Gloucester and Gloucester Stations. The existing bridge was built in 1911, reconstructed in 1932, and updated in 1984. It is being replaced as a part of the MBTA's reliability and modernization program. The MBTA suspended service across the bridge in April 2020. You can expect a return to service on May 23rd.  




Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Michael Smolak Given The Lifetime Preservation Award by North Andover Historical Society

I have had many visits to the Smolak family farm - each was enjoyable but this most recent one was extra special. This time it was to celebrate the North Andover Historical Society's 2022 Lifetime Preservation Award recipient Michael Smolak, Jr., he is the owner and operator of Smolak Farms. Michael has ably managed the farm for a half-century. You can learn more about him and the many facets of the farm at https://www.smolakfarms.com/



Monday, May 9, 2022

MBTA Updates - Rockport Line and Blue Line

To complete additional work and finish scheduled work, Blue Line service will continue to be suspended until Friday, May 13, between Airport and Bowdoin stations with alternate shuttle bus and ferry services provided. Details regarding alternate shuttle bus service and ferry schedules are available at mbta.com/harbortunnel

Riders should allow for extra commuting time and expect some delays in shuttle bus service. The MBTA apologizes in advance for these delays and appreciates the patience of its riders as work on the Blue Line is completed.

The previously scheduled Blue Line service suspension between May 12 and May 29 from Wonderland to Orient Heights stations to allow for work on the Suffolk Downs pedestrian bridge will be rescheduled to a later time with alternate dates to be provided soon.

Rockport Line customers should note a change in service alternatives beginning tomorrow, May 9, through May 13 during upcoming construction work. Alternate service on the Rockport Line is as follows:

· From May 9 to May 13, shuttle buses will operate from Rockport Line stations to Beverly station for continued service to Boston at North Station

· From May 14 to May 22, shuttle buses will operate from Rockport Line stations to Orient Heights station for connections to the Blue Line. Chelsea Station customers can use the Silver Line 3. 

· From May 23 to June 5, trains will operate from Rockport Line stations to Beverly station with shuttle buses operating from Beverly to Orient Heights stations for connections to the Blue Line. Chelsea Station customers can use the Silver Line 3. Customers should note that the Gloucester Drawbridge opens on May 23. 

· During the weekend of June 11-12, trains will operate from Rockport Line stations to Salem stations with shuttle buses operating from Salem to Orient Heights stations for connections to the Blue Line.

An updated Newburyport/Rockport Line schedule effective May 9 will be posted online soon.

For more information, visit mbta.com/harbortunnel, or connect with the T on Twitter @MBTA, Facebook /TheMBTA, or Instagram @theMBTA.


Wednesday, May 4, 2022


This Saturday from 4-6 PM you can participate in the Empty Bowl Dinner organized by The Open Door in Gloucester. I'll see you there. This drive-up and drive-through event is by appointment only. You can get more info, get a ticket, or participate in the on-line auction of locally crafted painted bowls at this link https://www.foodpantry.org/ 

The Open Door is a non-profit serving Greater Cape Ann residents to help alleviate the impact of hunger. 



Suicide Prevention Virtual Conference May 18 — 19 9:00 AM-3:30 PM

Learn the latest about supporting those in need - this virtual event is geared towards public and mental health professionals, social workers, public safety officials, first responders, community leaders, survivors, counselors, clergy and faith leaders, educators and school administrators, elder service staff, persons working with youth programs, GLBT advocates, providers of veterans’ services and anyone interested in preventing self-harm and suicide. 

Register for this annual conference sponsored by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Massachusetts Coalition for Suicide Prevention, and AdCare Educational Institute of New England at https://web.cvent.com/.../765b74af-2164-4644-a87a.../summary 

  • Conference Objectives: 
  • Increase awareness of suicide as a public health issue by gaining new knowledge in the field of suicide prevention 
  • Learn more about the Massachusetts Coalition for Suicide Prevention by attending a virtual reception hosted by the Coalition 
  • Gain knowledge about the special needs of suicide survivors and survivors of suicide attempts through various workshops 
  • Enhance suicide assessment and intervention skills by participating in various workshops instructed by leaders in the field



Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Boxford Earth Day Celebration

The Boxford Village Garden Club and the Boxford Recycling Committee hosted the 2022 Boxford Earth Day celebration this weekend. I love going to this event each year. Folks who helped collect trash from around town were offered free Benson's Homemade Ice Cream and lots of smiles.