Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Senator Bruce Tarr’s Statement on Governor Baker signing Bill to Preserve Rape and Sexual Assault Evidence Kits





Boston- Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) released the following statement today after Governor Charlie Baker signed H. 4364, “An Act relative to the preservation of evidence for victims of rape and sexual assault,” into law. Tarr worked with Senator Cynthia Creem (D-Newton), to amend the bill to require that all presently held physical evidence of rape and sexual assault is held for the entire duration of the statute of limitations, and to cause a plan to be developed for the state to store all such evidence in a central facility:


The signing of H.4364 today by Governor Baker is an important step in strengthening our criminal justice system. The power of DNA and other physical evidence is indisputable, and it should be preserved and protected so that it is available when justice demands it. Now the prosecution of these crimes can be driven by what is in the best interests of fairness and justice, and not arbitrary timelines or the chance evidence could be lost forever.


Through the passage of this law victims can focus on recovery and not continuing requests for the preservation of evidence every six months. Now action to prosecute can be taken when they are ready to deal with the judicial system, knowing that evidence hasn’t been lost or destroyed.


Now, too, our state can begin the process of developing a centralized system with the capacity to preserve all of the evidence in a safe and secure manner, eliminating any issues around preservation or the chain of custody.


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Friday, July 1, 2016

SENATOR HUMASON ANNOUNCES LEGISLATURE’S FINALIZED FY17 BUDGET


BOSTON – State Senator Don Humason announced today that the Senate and the House of Representatives have approved a finalized version of the Fiscal Year 2017 budget, which includes a number of the Senator’s priorities.

 

“It’s no secret that we’re in the midst of a difficult fiscal climate, but I am happy we are able to deliver an on-time budget that supports critical programs and services that our cities and towns rely on,” said Senator Don Humason. “I’m very appreciative that so many of my priorities were included in the Committee’s finalized proposal, and I thank my colleagues in the House and Senate for their collegiality and partnership throughout the process.”

 

During the Conference Committee’s deliberation, Senator Humason successfully advocated for the following local priorities, which were included in the final version of the budget:

 

  • $150,000 for upgrades and repairs to Agawam Public Schools
  • $50,000 for a one-stop service center for military and veteran students and their families at Westfield State University
  • $15,000 for war memorial maintenance, renovations, and enhancements in Agawam, Southwick, and Easthampton
  • $25,000 for safety improvements and restoration of the Westfield Athenaeum
  • $50,000 to promote the Westfield International Air Show at the Westfield-Barnes Airport
  • $50,000 for preparations in advance of the 350th Anniversary of the City of Westfield
  • $25,000 to support community policing efforts in the City of Holyoke
  • $10,000 to offset the cost of purchasing Narcan for the Holyoke Fire Department
  • $54,000 to support local violence prevention programs for the South Holyoke Safe Neighborhood Initiative
  • $100,000 to support Holyoke Community College’s Dual Enrollment Program for area high school students

 

The Committee also included a two policy-focused amendment filed by the Senator during the Senate budget. The first requires E-ZPass Transponders to be made available at all full services Registry of Motor Vehicle locations, expanding access to the devices in light of the coming transition to All-Electronic Tolling on the Turnpike.

 

The second policy priority seeks to ease elevator inspections on small elevators and chairlifts, often used infrequently in churches, clubs, and non-profits. The policy seeks to balance public safety assurances with cost savings from unnecessary inspection fees for these organizations.

 

Senator Humason also noted that statewide programs and services he is also supportive of were also included in the budget, such as:

 

  • Providing $17.7 million for the Massachusetts Emergency Food Assistance Program
  • $14.3 million for the Massachusetts Cultural Council
  • Providing $61 million for Regional School Transportation Reimbursements
  • Requiring long-term insurance coverage for Lyme Disease
  • $1 million for the Substance Abuse Trust Fund
  • Extending protections to municipal retirees from increased out-of-pocket healthcare costs

 

“I know well that the residents and local officials in the cities and towns I represent are best equipped to tackle obstacles and meet the needs of their communities when they have adequate resources,” said Senator Humason. “I was very happy to advocate for these items in the budget because they represent direct support to the residents in my district and the municipalities they live in.”

 

Without increasing taxes, the Senate’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget funds local aid for cities and towns at $1.02 billion, a 3% increase over Fiscal Year 2016 spending. Chapter 70 education funding received a $116 million increase benefitting every school district and bringing the total to $4.63 billion. The budget also increases funding for Councils on Aging to $14.8 million and fully funds the Special Education Circuit Breaker.

 

The six-member Conference Committee tasked with reconciling the House and Senate versions of the budget released their recommendations on Wednesday, and received final approval from both branches on Thursday.

 

With approval from both branches, the budget now heads to Governor Baker for his consideration. The Governor has the ability to veto provisions within the proposal, while the Legislature would then require a vote of 2/3 of the members in each branch to override any of the Governor’s vetoes.

Senator Humason represents the 2nd Hampden and Hampshire District, which consists of the cities of Agawam, Easthampton, Holyoke, Westfield, and parts of the city of Chicopee; and the towns of Granville, Montgomery, Russell, Southampton, Southwick and Tolland. 

 

The Senator maintains a district office for the convenience of his constituents and encourages them to contact him at his district office at 64 Noble Street in Westfield, Massachusetts 01085, (413) 568-1366; or his Boston office, State House, Room 313A, Boston, Massachusetts 02133, (617) 722-1415.  His email address is Donald.Humason@MASenate.gov

 

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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Southbridge Awarded Block Grant


Southbridge--- Sen. Ryan C. Fattman (R-Webster) and Rep. Peter Durant (R-Charlton) announced today that a grant of $825,000 was awarded to the town of Southbridge through the Community Development Block Grant.

 

The Community Development Block Grant gives communities across the Commonwealth funding to pursue community development projects and support the needs of low and moderate income residents.

 

“The Community Block Grant is a very strong grant for the town of Southbridge to receive. The grant itself will allow Southbridge to finalize and complete necessary town projects and will allow the town to continue with their growth”, said Senator Fattman. “ I look forward to working with the town officials and seeing the plans come to fruition.”

 

“This is a wonderful grant for the town of Southbridge. The grant will allow for the continued development and growth and will bring funds to close necessary projects within the town”, said Representative Durant.

 

 

The Community Development Block Grant Program is a federally funded grant program was created to assist small towns and cities to meet a broad range of local community development needs.

 

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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

SENATOR FATTMAN ANNOUNCES BIRTH OF DAUGHTER


Senate Fattman’s Wife Delivers Healthy, Happy Baby Girl

 

BOSTON--- Senator Ryan C. Fattman (R-Webster) and wife Stephanie are happy to announce the birth of their daughter, Hadley Rae Fattman.

Hadley Rae was born on Friday, June 17th at 5:11AM at a weight and height of 7.3lbs and 20 inches.

The family is happy to report that there were no complications with the child birth, and both mother and daughter are happy and healthy.

The Senator and his wife are thrilled and look forward to spending some time with their newborn girl.

If you would like to send the senator a personal congratulatory note, please send them to Benjamin.mitchell@masenate.gov, and they will be forwarded to the senator, his wife and his daughter.

 
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Monday, June 20, 2016

HUMASON HONORED FOR WORK ON PUBLIC RECORDS LAW


WESTFIELD – State Senator Don Humason recently received a Massachusetts Public Service Award from Common Cause, a leading advocacy group for transparency and openness in government, for his work on recently passed legislation that updates the state’s public records law.

 

“I appreciate this award from Common Cause in recognition of the hard work that I had the honor of sharing in with my fellow conferees,” said Senator Don Humason. “At the end of the day, our work resulted in a sensible, balanced update to an outdated law that was over forty years old.”

 

Humason was one of three Senators appointed to the Conference Committee that was tasked with crafting final legislation based on differing version of the bill passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Governor signed the Committee’s bill into law on June 6, 2016.

 

"We were delighted to honor Senator Humason and the other conferees for their terrific work on the public records bill. Senator Humason was an advocate for transparency from the start and was a pleasure to work with as part of the conference committee. Kudos to him and to the other conference committee members who made such a great bill possible," said Pam Wilmot, Executive Director of Common Cause.

 

Senator Humason received the award at Common Cause’s annual event, entitled Building a More Perfect Democracy. Senators Lovely and Lewis, who rounded out the Senate’s Conferees, also accepted awards at the event. Additional recipients at this year’s event included economist and Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman, former Executive Director of the State Ethics Commission Peter Sturges, and Janis McQuarrie, a citizen activist and long-time member of Common Cause. Former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis also spoke during the event.

 

Common Cause is a nonpartisan grassroots organization dedicated to upholding the core values of American democracy. We work to create open, honest, and accountable government that serves the public interest; promote equal rights, opportunity, and representation for all; and empower all people to make their voices heard in the political process.

 

Senator Humason represents the 2nd Hampden and Hampshire District, which consists of the cities of Agawam, Easthampton, Holyoke, Westfield, and parts of the city of Chicopee; and the towns of Granville, Montgomery, Russell, Southampton, Southwick and Tolland. 

 

The Senator maintains a district office for the convenience of his constituents and encourages them to contact him at his district office at 64 Noble Street in Westfield, Massachusetts 01085, (413) 568-1366; or his Boston office, State House, Room 313A, Boston, Massachusetts 02133, (617) 722-1415.  His email address is Donald.Humason@MASenate.gov.

 
                Pam Wilmot, Executive Director of Common Cause, and State Senator Don Humason


Friday, June 17, 2016

LOCAL WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS SENATORS ADVOCATE FOR HOLYOKE SOLDIERS’ HOME

BOSTON – During debate of The Veterans HOME Act, a bill focused on offering expanded benefits and services for veterans, the State Senate adopted an amendment this afternoon that aims to retain local control of the Holyoke Soldier’s Home.


The amendment, filed by Senator Don Humason and cosponsored by Senators James Welch and Eric Lesser, specifically strikes language that would have granted principal oversight authority to a new office that the bill would create within the Department of Veterans’ Services.


“There is a real sense of pride and ownership when it comes to the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, both on campus and in the surrounding communities,” said Senator Don Humason. “So it was important that we did all we could to preserve local autonomy and ensure people with strong ties to the Soldiers’ Home and Western Massachusetts are able to play a lead role in its day-to-day operations and future.”


“The Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke provides outstanding care for veterans in our region,” said Senator James T. Welch (D–West Springfield). “The amendment that passed today will allow the Home to continue its excellent work, maintaining local control of a unique western Massachusetts institution.”


“This is a phenomenal bill for veterans, and what we seek in this amendment is to protect local control at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home. Many of our veterans in Western Massachusetts are isolated from other veterans’ services, which are concentrated in the eastern part of the state,” Senator Lesser (D–Longmeadow) said on the Senate floor.


Additionally, the Senators’ successful amendment includes language that explicitly states that the Superintendent and the Board of Trustees shall not be subject to the control of the proposed Office of Veterans’ Homes and Housing.


The Holyoke Soldier’s Home is a multifaceted state-funded health care facility that has been serving eligible veterans in Western Massachusetts since its establishment in 1952. The Soldier’s Home provides an array of services to over 2,000 veterans each year.


The bill, S. 2523 An Act relative to housing, operations, military service, and enrichment, also includes provisions that will:


  • Grant veterans preference in admission for scattered site housing units where no low-income family housing was developed, as well as admission to housing for the elderly and persons with disabilities in all communities;
  • Require housing authorities to exclude amounts of disability compensation paid by the federal government for the purpose of computing rent of a disabled veteran;
  • Provide a property tax exemption for the surviving spouse of any soldier, sailor, and member of the National Guard or veteran who, during active duty service, suffered an injury or illness which was the proximate cause of death;
  • Provide veterans who have a 100% disability rating for service connected blindness a property tax exemption;
  • The expansion of the Public Service Scholarship to children of any military or service person missing in action and children of prisoners of war;
  • Allows employees of the Commonwealth who are members of the armed forces reserves and are ordered to service for more than 30 consecutive to be paid the regular base salary reduced by the amount received as base pay for military service.  It also preserves the seniority or accrued leave time;
  • Allows cities and towns to appoint a veterans agent for 3 year terms instead of the current 1 year term;
  • Establishes the Office of Veterans Homes and Housing within the Department of Veterans Services;
  • Creates a post-deployment commission to study ways to improve services to veterans who have been deployed overseas;
  • Adds veteran status as a protected class under the statute prohibiting discrimination in employment.
The bill was passed by a unanimous vote of 37-0, and will now be reconciled with the version passed by the House of Representatives before being sent to the Governor for his signature.




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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Senate Republicans Strengthen Bill to Support Veterans, Servicemembers and Their Families

Veterans HOME Act Extends Commitment to Our Veterans

BOSTON- Senate Republicans today unanimously supported a Senate bill, An Act Relative to Housing, Operations, Military Service, and Enrichment, known as the Massachusetts HOME Act, which expands on the commitment the Senate has made to our veterans, servicemembers and their families.

The HOME Act contains several provisions to boost housing options for veterans, expand property tax exemptions, create new employment and educational opportunities, and other provisions. Massachusetts has the nation’s strongest benefits program for veterans.

“This bill earned bi-partisan support because it provides important benefits to veterans and their families in terms of employment, housing, property tax relief, education, and other services,” said
Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester). “Massachusetts leads the nation in our assistance programs offered to veterans, and rightly so because they deserve a support system which reflects their vital service to America and sacrifices on our behalf.”

Members of the Senate Republican Caucus successfully championed several amendments to the bill. Those provisions added veteran protections and benefits to:
• Establish a Veterans Relief Fund – Creates an option to allow cities and towns that choose to create a fund to assist local veterans and their spouses with their food, transportation, heat and oil expenses. Donations would go directly to support local veterans,
• Provide Paid Veterans Day and Memorial Day for veterans- Requires that employees who are veterans be granted paid leave if requested,
• Promote Veteran Property Tax Abatements- Creates a study on the feasibility and merits of a sliding scale property tax abatement for veterans and spouses, based upon a percentage of disability,
• Expand Access to Higher Education for Veterans- Allows veterans to pay in-state college tuition rates immediately upon establishing residency in the state,
• Preserve Local Oversight- Prioritizes local authority of and control over of the soldiers’ homes.

To honor the service of veterans and their families, the bill provides a property tax exemption for the surviving spouse of any soldier, sailor, and member of the National Guard or veteran who, during active duty service, suffered an injury or illness which was the proximate cause of death. The bill also gives veterans who have a 100% disability rating for service connected blindness a property tax exemption.

As adopted, the HOME Act contains several provisions to boost housing options for veterans such as extending preference in admission for scattered site housing units where no low-income family housing was developed. The bill also requires housing authorities to exclude amounts of disability compensation paid by the federal government for the purpose of computing rent of a disabled veteran. In addition, the bill gives eligible veterans a preference in housing for the elderly and person with liabilities in all communities, not only the community in which the veteran resides.

Other provisions of this Act include:
• The expansion of the Public Service Scholarship to children of any military or service person missing in action and children of prisoners of war;
• Allows employees of the Commonwealth who are members of the armed forces reserves and are ordered to service for more than 30 consecutive to be paid the regular base salary reduced by the amount received as base pay for military service. It also preserves the seniority or accrued leave time;
• Allows cities and towns to appoint a veterans agent for 3 year terms instead of the current 1 year term;
• Establishes the Office of Veterans Homes and Housing within the Department of Veterans Services to oversee the Soldiers Home in Chelsea and in Holyoke;
• Creates a post-deployment commission to study ways to improve services to veterans who have been deployed overseas.
• Adds veteran status as a protected class under the statute prohibiting discrimination in employment.

The bill will be signed by Governor Baker after it is reconciled with the House of Representatives.