Monday, January 31, 2011

Boston Globe Highlights Parole Reform Bill

Today's Boston Globe features a front-page story on the comprehensive parole and sentencing reform bill filed by members of the Senate Republican Caucus and several of their Democratic colleagues. Be sure to check out the story below to learn more about the proposed reforms and how they stack up against other states.

State Parole Bill Could Have Wide Consequences

Friday, January 28, 2011

ON THE AIR: Senator Tarr to be Featured on Fox 25's 'Monday Morning Quarterbacks'

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr is scheduled to join former Attorney General Scott Harshbarger as part of the "Monday Morning Quarterbacks" segment on the Fox 25 Morning News next week. Tarr and Harshbarger will be live in-studio on Monday, January 31st at approximately 7:15 a.m. for a spirited discussion of some of the top state and federal issues. Be sure to tune in.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Senator Tarr's Statement on Governor Patrick's Fiscal Year 2012 State Budget Proposal

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr has released the following statement regarding Governor Patrick's unveiling of his Fiscal Year 2012 state budget proposal:

"The true test of this budget will be how it meets the significant financial challenges facing the Commonwealth and whether the proposal truly achieves savings or merely shifts costs among the state's agencies and programs. We look forward to reviewing this document with an eye toward whether it achieves lasting reforms and accountability or moves us closer to sacrificing priorities and the potential for tax increases."

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

More Work to be Done on Jobs Creation

The statewide unemployment rate in Massachusetts is holding steady at 8.2 percent, a promising sign after hitting 9.3 percent in December of 2009. But according to the State House News Service, not all areas of the state are sharing in this positive trend on the jobs front.

Citing local employment figures released today by the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, the State House News Service is reporting that “unemployment rates in December rose in half of the state’s 22 labor market areas.” In some areas of the state, unemployment still remains in double-digits, including Fall River (13.8 percent), New Bedford (14 percent) and Athol (11.7 percent).

The latest unemployment figures serve as a stern reminder that the Commonwealth still has a long way to go before it can recover the thousands of jobs lost during the global recession and create a more business-friendly environment that will encourage companies to grow and expand here. The Senate Republican Caucus considers jobs creation a top priority, and will be offering a variety of legislative proposals to accomplish this goal during the 2011-2012 session.

In Case You Missed It...

The bi-partisan parole and sentencing reform bill unveiled at yesterday's State House press conference has been drawing considerable media attention.

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, the bill's lead sponsor, was a guest on Fox 25's 10 o'clock News Monday night and on the Fox 25 Morning News earlier today (see video clips below). Tarr was also interviewed by former Boston Phoenix reporter Adam Reilly for a pre-taped segment that ran on WGBH's Greater Boston last night (Senate Minority Whip Robert Hedlund was host Emily Rooney's in-studio guest, along with former Senator Warren Tolman). He also called in to WRKO following the press conference to discuss the proposed reforms package with Michele McPhee, the station's new early afternoon host.

Be sure to check out the additional coverage from the Boston Globe, Worcester Telegram & Gazette and WBUR radio.

Lawmakers seek parole changes after cop killing:

Monday, January 24, 2011

Senator Tarr Talks Parole Reform on Fox25

Senate Minority Leader Bruce E. Tarr will be an in-studio guest on tonight's Fox 25 News broadcast at 10:00 p.m. Tarr will be discussing legislation he has filed with many of his Senate colleagues -- Republicans and Democrats -- to reform the Massachusetts Parole Board and the criminal sentencing process.

Senators Unveil Parole Board Reforms

Senate Minority Leader Bruce E. Tarr (R-Gloucester) and Senate Ways and Means Vice Chairman Steven A. Baddour (D-Methuen) are leading a bipartisan coalition of Senators calling for a series of comprehensive reforms at the state's parole board, including stronger sentencing laws for repeat offenders. The coalition, which includes all four members of the Senate Republican Caucus, held a press conference at the State House this afternoon to unveil their proposal.

Be sure to check out the State House News Service's coverage by playing the video link below. For more information on the press conference, go to today's posting on Tarr Talk.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

GOP Seeks Objectivity in Redistricting

The Senate Republican Caucus issued the following press release today regarding the need for an independent redistricting commission:

Seeking to infuse the redistricting process with objectivity and avoid the legal challenges that have tarnished the process in the past, the Senate Republican Caucus is calling for the establishment of an independent redistricting commission to assist lawmakers in the drawing of new legislative boundaries for members of Congress, the Legislature and the Governor’s Council.

Senate Republicans have filed language to create the new advisory commission, which will be charged with developing a redistricting plan that will be subject to legislative approval prior to its implementation. The Senate is scheduled to take up the proposal as part of its rules debate on Thursday, January 20, but the Caucus will also be filing it as a stand-alone bill for the 2011-2012 session.

“The voting rights of every citizen in the Commonwealth are affected by redistricting, and it requires our strongest efforts,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce E. Tarr. “The commission we are proposing would infuse objectivity and expertise into a very complex process that would benefit from both. Our voters deserve the best we can give to redistricting, and the commission would provide guidance free from the traditional politics that have decided who we send to Beacon Hill and Capitol Hill.”

The League of Women Voters, Common Cause, former Governor Mitt Romney and Governor Deval Patrick have all endorsed the concept of an independent redistricting commission in the past. A MassINC poll released earlier this month shows that 62 percent of Massachusetts residents also favor using such a commission.

“Poll after poll has shown the public has grown tired of the traditional political games surrounding redistricting,” noted Senator Michael R. Knapik. “An independent commission would ensure that districts are apportioned appropriately in an impartial manner guided by principle and rooted in fairness. This legislature should move beyond power plays and parochialism and adopt districts that make historical, geographic, and economic sense.”

Senate Republicans have proposed creating a seven-member redistricting commission, which would be comprised entirely of non-elected individuals who would be selected based on their civic involvement and their knowledge of redistricting policy, civil rights, political science, voting rights and other areas of expertise. The proposal also requires that the members reflect, as much as possible, the geographic, racial, ethnic, gender and age diversity of the state’s population.

Under the proposal, the Governor would appoint a dean or professor of law, political science or government from a Massachusetts institution of higher learning, while the Attorney General would select a retired justice and the Secretary of State would name an expert in civil rights law. To ensure bipartisan balance on the commission, the four remaining members would be chosen from a list of nominees submitted by the House Speaker, House Minority Leader, Senate President and Senate Minority Leader.

“The concept of an independent commission clearly favored by Massachusetts residents, will take the politics out of the process and in so doing help to ensure fairness and integrity in our electoral process,” said Senate Minority Whip Robert L. Hedlund.

The Caucus proposal calls for the commission to hold public hearings across the state, and to release a preliminary redistricting plan for public comment no later than April 20, 2011. A final, revised plan would be submitted to the Legislature’s redistricting committee by July 29, 2011.

“It is imperative that the redistricting process not only be fair but free of political influence,” said Senator Richard J. Ross. “By establishing an independent redistricting commission, I believe we will be able to obtain the best legislative districts possible while making sure all constituents are well represented.”

Monday, January 17, 2011

Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. -- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today, on what would have been his 82nd birthday, Scaling The Hill honors the legacy of the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. and his lifelong dream of equal rights and justice for all Americans.

Be sure to check out today's Tarr Talk posting to read Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr's thoughts on Dr. King's legacy.

Friday, January 14, 2011

ON THE AIR: Senator Tarr Discusses Parole Reforms on WRKO's 'Tom & Todd Show'

Senate Minority Leader Bruce E. Tarr was a guest on this morning's "Tom & Todd" Show on WRKO. Tarr joined co-hosts Tom Finneran and Todd Feinburg for a discussion on the need for comprehensive reforms at the state's Parole Board. If you missed it, you can hear the interview in its entirety by clicking here.

Senator Hedlund Discusses Parole Reform

Senate Minority Whip Robert L. Hedlund was a guest on Thursday night's edition of "Greater Boston" on WGBH-TV. Hedlund joined former State Senator Warren Tolman and host Emily Rooney for a discussion of yesterday's Parole Board resignations in the aftermath of the December 26th shooting death of Woburn Police Officer John "Jack" Maguire at the hands of parolee Dominic Cinelli. Hedlund also detailed some of the reforms members of the Senate Republican Caucus are working on to overhaul the current system and enhance public safety. To view the interview in its entirety, just click on the video link below.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Sen. Tarr's Statement on Parole Board Reforms

Senate Minority Leader Bruce E. Tarr released the following statement concerning Governor Patrick’s announcement today of his planned “action steps” to reform the state’s Parole Board:

“The Governor has taken important steps to arrest the threat to public safety presented by the current parole board and its methods of operation. Now the clock begins ticking on the process of implementing lasting and substantial reforms that will dismantle the processes that have so clearly failed us and to rebuild a parole and sentencing system where a life sentence means a life sentence and professionals in law enforcement have the necessary standing in parole decisions to keep us all safe.

We look forward to receiving and reviewing the report ordered by the Governor as soon as possible. Based on our review of the report, and in consultation with criminal justice professionals, we’ll be coming forward with a comprehensive series of legislative steps to promote fairness, predictability, truth in sentencing and public safety.”

Monday, January 10, 2011

In Case You Missed It...

Senate Minority Leader Bruce E. Tarr (left) was a guest on New England Cable News' "Broadside" last Friday night. Be sure to check out our link to Tarr's interview with host Jim Braude as they discuss the need for reforms at the state Parole Board.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Boston Globe: Time to Repeal Pacheco Law

Be sure to check out today’s Boston Globe editorial, which highlights something the Senate Republican Caucus has been saying for years now: the state’s Pacheco Law is depriving the Commonwealth of significant savings that could be achieved through privatization and outsourcing and should be repealed.

Although the Globe employs at least one outspoken critic of the 1993 law on its op-ed page (see our May 7, 2010 posting, “Boston Globe’s Scot Lehigh Backs Repeal of ‘Misguided’ Anti-Privatization Pacheco Law”), this is the first time the Globe has editorialized in support of repealing the law, which it describes as “an affront to common sense.”

“The so-called Pacheco Law doesn’t just keep government agencies from saving money by hiring outside contractors to perform certain services,” the Globe writes. “It also sends a broad message: In Massachusetts, the demands of special-interest groups – in this case, public-employee unions – can outweigh the obligation to run government efficiently.”

The repeal of the Pacheco Law is just one of many cost-saving government reforms on the Senate Republican Caucus’ legislative agenda for the 2011-2012 session.

ON THE AIR: Sen. Tarr on 'Broadside' Tonight

Senate Minority Leader Bruce E. Tarr (left) will be appearing on tonight's edition of "Broadside" with Jim Braude on New England Cable News (NECN), where he will share his thoughts on the need for reforms on the state's Parole Board. The show airs at 6 p.m. and repeats at 8 p.m. and again at 3:30 a.m.

Senate GOP Caucus Members Join in Bi-Partisan Call for Parole Board Reforms

Members of the Senate Republican Caucus joined with 16 of their Democratic colleagues yesterday to call on the state's Parole Board to temporarily suspend all parole hearings until an investigation is completed into the December 26th shooting death of Woburn police officer John Maguire by parolee Dominic Cinelli. Cinelli was paroled in 2009, despite being sentenced to three concurrent life terms stemming from a lengthy list of criminal offenses.

The bi-partisan coalition of senators submitted a letter to Parole Board Chairman Mark Conrad yesterday, requesting that he implement an "immediate moratorium" on parole hearings until the board completes its review.

"To allow the scheduled hearings to proceed as planned, without taking corrective measures to prevent another senseless tragedy, would be a slap in the face to those individuals and families who have been victimized by violent crimes," the senators wrote. "Protecting the safety of the residents of the Commonwealth is of the utmost importance, and we are prepared to work with you to implement the reforms needed to accomplish this goal."

Thursday, January 6, 2011

ON THE AIR: Tarr Appears on 'Tolman & Gray'

Senate Minority Leader Bruce E. Tarr was in Fox 25's Beacon Hill studio this morning for a live, on-air appearance as part of Fox's weekly 'Tolman & Gray' segment. Tarr joined former Senator Warren Tolman and Fox 25 Morning News co-host Gene Lavanchy for a lively discussion of Wednesday's inaugural ceremonies for legislators at the State House, as well as Governor Patrick's plans to spend more time traveling out of state during his second term. You can view the segment in its entirety by playing the video link posted below.

Tolman and Gray:

In Case You Missed It...

Senate Minority Whip Robert Hedlund (left) was one of the featured guests on Wednesday night's "Broadside" program on New England Cable News. Hedlund joined Senator Barry Finegold and Broadside host Jim Braude to provide a preview of Governor Patrick's inauguration and to discuss the agenda he will pursue in his second term in the Corner Office. To see the segment in its entirety, click here.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

ON THE AIR: Senator Hedlund Weighs in on Legislative Pay Cuts Scheduled for 2011

Senate Minority Whip Robert L. Hedlund was featured on the Fox 25 evening news on Tuesday, where he shared his thoughts on the legislative pay cuts announced by Governor Deval Patrick earlier this month. You can see the clip in its entirety by clicking on the video link below.

Massachusetts lawmakers 'bracing' for $6/week pay cut :

Senator Tarr on Fox Morning News Thursday

Senator Bruce E. Tarr (above, left), who was sworn in today as the new Senate Minority Leader, will be joining former State Senator Warren Tolman (above right) on the Fox 25 Morning News' popular "Tolman & Gray" segment on Thursday morning. This week's topics include Governor Patrick's inauguration and his plans to do more traveling outside the state during his second term, as well as a look at recent GOP gains in the U.S. House of Representatives. Be sure to tune in at 7:15 a.m. tomorrow to watch the segment live.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

ON THE AIR: Senator Tarr Discusses Legislative Pay Cut on Fox 25 Morning News

Assistant Senate Minority Leader Bruce E. Tarr was in the Fox 25 Beacon Hill studio this morning to discuss the pay cut for legislators and the state's Constitutional officers announced by Governor Deval Patrick earlier this week. Speaking with Fox 25 Morning News co-host Kim Carrigan, Senator Tarr shared his thoughts on how the process for determining lawmakers' base pay could be improved by allowing for greater public input.

To watch the segment in its entirety, just click on the video link below.

Lawmakers pay cut: No raises on the Hill:

Saturday, January 1, 2011


Scaling The Hill would like to wish everyone a very Happy and Healthy New Year in 2011!