Friday, July 29, 2011

Senator Tarr's Statement on Probation Reform

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, a member of the conference committee charged with forging a compromise on probation reform, released the following statement today after the House and Senate adopted the conference committee’s recommendations:

“This bill contains timely and meaningful reforms that will have the effect of responding to the very concerning allegations about the probation system that have been raised in the Ware report and elsewhere, and also responds to the pressing need to better manage court resources based on the recent pronouncement of the courts’ dire fiscal condition. I am particularly pleased with the reforms that are being implemented to ensure the integrity of the probation department’s hiring and promotion process, as well as the creation of a new civilian administrator to help the courts manage their resources more effectively. Although we’ve taken important and necessary steps today, significant challenges still lie ahead.”

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Senate GOP Caucus Calls for Increased Transparency in Expanded Gaming Debate

With Beacon Hill leaders working to come to an agreement on an expanded gaming bill for release in the fall, the Massachusetts Senate Republican Caucus is trying to ensure that the process will include ample time for legislators and the public to consider the content of any bill that becomes the subject of debate.

The order – which is scheduled to be taken up by the Senate at today’s formal session – stipulates that the Senate cannot “consider or act upon any bill authorizing any form of gaming not currently permitted in the Commonwealth,” including casinos or slot machines, until 10 calendar days after the filing of the report of said bill by the Senate Ways and Means Committee with the Senate Clerk.

“Expanded gaming is one of the most complicated and sensitive issues facing our state government, and one in which even minor variations can have major consequences politically and practically,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester). “Given these facts, the legislative process to consider any gaming issues demands that people have time to review any bill to be taken seriously in order to make the informed decisions the subject deserves.”

“This order brings an additional level of openness and transparency to the process,” said Assistant Senate Minority Leader Robert Hedlund (R-Weymouth). “By requiring 10 days to elapse between the time a bill is filed and the time the Senate actually votes on it, the public will have sufficient time to weigh in on the proposal and legislators will have a clear understanding of what’s included in the bill.”

“The gaming debate has been ongoing for over 15 years without resolution,” Senator Michael Knapik (R-Westfield) said. “This request for 10 days so that legislators and the public can digest this important matter and offer thoughtful amendments is more than reasonable. Ten days would provide ample time for scrutiny and constructive dialogue.”

“I am so pleased that the Republican Caucus is pushing for more transparency as we continue working through the issues of expanded gaming,” said Senate Minority Whip Richard Ross (R-Wrentham). “I believe 10 days is ample time to examine the bill and assess the implications of it. Such a requirement will benefit our communities, and ensure that this process remains fair and rational.”

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Fox 25 Interviews Tarr on Gas Tax Proposal

Three years after Governor Patrick first suggested paying for transportation-related projects by raising the state gas tax by 19 cents a gallon -- a proposal that drew strong opposition from the Legislature -- the Patrick Administration has once again put the controversial issue back on the table.

The latest proposal, offered by Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray, comes less than two years after the Legislature approved a 25 percent increase in the state sales tax, an increase that was intended to at least partially offset rising operating costs and a growing deficit at the MBTA (be sure to check out yesterday's Boston Herald editorial, "Fueling the Tax Talk").

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr sat down recently with Fox 25 reporter Sharman Sacchetti to share his thoughts on the gas tax, and questioned whether taxpayers can afford it. You can watch the segment in its entirety by playing the video link below.

Gov. Patrick's administration considers gas-tax, MBTA fare hike:

Friday, July 22, 2011

Senator Knapik Discusses His Views on In-State Tuition Bill on the Jeff Katz Show

Senator Mike Knapik (right) was a guest on yesterday's edition of the "Jeff Katz Show". Knapik and host Jeff Katz discussed the latest push on Beacon Hill to provide undocumented immigrants with in-state tuition rates to Massachusetts' public colleges and universities, and why they think it's a bad idea. Click here to listen to their discussion.

Senator Tarr’s Statement on the Arrest and Deportation of Violent Illegal Immigrant Joao Brito

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr released the following statement regarding the recent arrest and deportation of Joao Brito by the U.S. Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Brito was wanted by Dutch authorities in connection with allegations of child sexual abuse and human smuggling:

"The arrest and subsequent deportation of Joao Brito testifies to the value of the Secure Communities Program in protecting the public safety of our Commonwealth. While Brito was arrested by the Boston Police for automotive vandalism, the fact that he was being sought by Dutch authorities for the even more serious crimes of child sexual abuse and human smuggling was revealed by the critical sharing of information that occurs between local police and federal immigration officials through this program. The serious nature of these charges leaves no doubt as to the importance and usefulness of the program and its potential to safeguard public safety.

These events emphasize what should already be obvious-that we should not prevent those charged with ensuring our safety from sharing information that can play a major role in protecting all of us."

The following press release was released by ICE yesterday:

Man from the Netherlands, identified through ICE's Secure Communities program

BOSTON - A man wanted by Dutch authorities for sexual abuse of children and human smuggling has been removed from the United States following his arrest in Boston, where the Secure Communities program, administered by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), led to the pending case in the Netherlands.

Joao Brito, 30, of the Netherlands, was accompanied by ICE ERO officers on a flight from Logan International Airport in Boston to Schiphol International Airport in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Brito was turned over to Dutch authorities upon his arrival early Thursday.

Brito was arrested in May by Boston Police and charged in connection with the vandalism of a vehicle. ICE's Secure Communities program in Suffolk County, Mass., enabled investigators to immediately share fingerprint information that quickly produced a match indicating Brito's illegal presence in the United States. He remained in custody on an ICE detainer while the investigation continued.

ICE ERO officers were alerted that Brito was currently under investigation by the Dutch National Police for child exploitation. Within 24-hours after contacting the Assistant Attaché for Removals in the Netherlands, ICE confirmed that Brito was wanted by Dutch law enforcement authorities for sexual abuse of children and human smuggling.

ICE ERO officers determined that Brito entered the United States in June 2008, arriving at Logan International Airport as a non-immigrant temporary visitor under the Visa Waiver Program. Brito was authorized to remain in the United States until September 2008 however, he remained without authorization.

ICE ERO prioritizes the apprehension, arrest and removal of convicted criminals, those who pose a threat to national security, fugitives and recent border entrants. Between October 2008 and the end of fiscal year 2010, the number of convicted criminals that ICE removed from the U.S. increased 71%. In fiscal year 2011 from Oct. 1, 2010 to April 30, ICE has removed a total of 109,700 aliens convicted of crimes from the United States.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tips on How to Stay Cool

With the expected heat wave rapidly approaching and temperatures that could get as high as 100 degrees, it is very important for us all to take preemptive measures to try and stay cool to avoid any health issues. Throughout the Commonwealth cities and towns have designated "cool zones" and have extended communty pool's hours of operations, so please check with your local officials to see where such locations have been designated.

Below are some tips offered by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency as a way to help combat the extreme heat we are about to face:

• Slow down, avoid strenuous activity. Do not try to do too much on a hot day.

• Wear lightweight, loose-fitting, light-colored clothing. Light colors will reflect heat and sunlight and help maintain normal body temperature. Protect your face with a wide-brimmed hat.

• Drink plenty of water regularly and often, even if you do not feel thirsty. Attempt to stay hydrated.

• Limit intake of alcoholic beverages. They can actually dehydrate your body.

• Eat well-balanced, light, regular meals. Avoid high protein foods that increase metabolic heat.

• Stay indoors as much as possible.

• If you do not have air conditioning, stay on your lowest floor, out of the sun. Electric fans do not cool the air, but they do help evaporate perspiration, which cools your body.

• Go to a place where you can get relief from the heat, such as air conditioned schools, libraries, theaters and other community facilities that may offer refuge during the warmest times of the day.

• Check with your community for information about possible local ‘cooling centers’. You may also want to call 2-1-1 for ‘cooling center’ information or go to

• Cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun with drapes, shades, awnings or louvers. Outdoor awnings or louvers can reduce the heat that enters a home by up to 80%.

• Avoid too much sunshine. Sunburn slows the skin’s ability to cool itself. If you are outside, use sunscreen lotion with a high SPF (Sun Protection Factor) rating.

If you need assstance accessing your local community's resources or a government agency please do not hesitate in contacting your state senator or state representative for assistance.

Senator Knapik on The Jeff Katz Show

Tomorrow morning at approximately 7:35AM, Senator Michael Knapik will be speaking with Jeff Katz of the Jeff Katz Show on Rush Talk 1200AM Boston to discuss legislation that would provide undocumented immigrants with in-state tuition rates to Massachusetts' public colleges and universities. The bills, which were filed by Senator Chang-Diaz and Representatives Wolf and Provost, were heard today during a hearing held by the Joint Committee on Education and can be read by clicking here. Please tune in tomorrow morning at 7:35AM to hear their discussion on the matter.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Senator Knapik Appears on 'In Focus'

Senator Michael R. Knapik (R-Westfield) appeared on WWLP Channel 22's local news program "In Focus" Sunday morning. Knapik was joined by Senator James T. Welch (D-West Springfield), Senator Stanley Rosenberg (D-Northampton), and Representative John Scibak (D-South Hadley). Together, they discussed the budget, municipal health insurance, redistricting, and Caylee's Law. To see the program in its entirety, just play the video below or click here.

inFocus: Tracking your tax dollars:

Friday, July 15, 2011

Sen. Knapik Discusses Gaming with News22

On Thursday Senator Michael Knapik had the opportunity to speak with WWLP 22 News about the recently announced legislative debate on expanded gaming tentatively scheduled for September. To view yesterday's interview please play the posted video below or by clicking here.

Date set for gambling debate:

Thursday, July 14, 2011

In Case You Missed It...

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr was a guest on Fox 25's Morning News segment "Tolman and Gray" earlier today. Tarr joined former State Senator and political analyst Warren Tolman and news anchor Gene Lavanchy to discuss the recent proposal to consolidate 11 of the state's courts and the ongoing conversations between President Obama and Congress about the national debt crisis. To view the segment in its entirety, just play the video posted below.

Tolman and Gray:

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Tarr on Fox25 Morning News Thursday

Tomorrow morning Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr will be a guest on Fox 25's Morning News segment "Tolman and Gray". Anchor Gene Lavanchy, political analyst and former state senator Warren Tolman and Senator Tarr will be discussing the recent proposal to consolidate many of the state's courts and the ongoing conversations between President Obama and Congress about the national debt crisis. Please tune in at approximately 7:15 a.m.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Senate Minority Leader Tarr's Statement on Governor Patrick's FY12 Budget Vetoes

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr released the following statement today regarding Governor Patrick's vetoes to the Fiscal Year 2012 State Budget:

“Through his choices and omissions regarding amendments to municipal health care legislation the Governor has indicated an understanding that collective bargaining needs to be changed to enable cities and towns to take action to save money that is desperately needed for priorities such as police and fire protection and education.

Unfortunately, he did not show the same understanding for changes to benefit those who are struggling with the costs of prescription drugs, for the need to identify and eliminate the misspending of precious dollars in our state's MassHealth system, to prevent the waste of costly drugs that could be effectively re-used, to assist those burdened by the rates of small group health insurance, and the need to apply the forces of competition to confront the costs of MassHealth managed care organizations.

Hopefully the House and Senate will soon consider the vetoes he has issued on these important provisions of the state budget, and override them swiftly and decisively."

Friday, July 8, 2011

Senate Minority Leader Tarr's Statement on Municipal Health Care Reform

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr released the following statement today regarding the municipal health care reform proposal that was included in the Fiscal Year 2012 Conference Committee budget:
“There has been speculation Governor Patrick may make changes to the municipal health care reform proposal the Legislature sent to his desk last week. My advice to the Governor is that he should not do anything that will harm municipalities’ ability to save money that can be used for local priorities, including retaining police, firefighters and teachers. Should the Governor attempt to effect any changes, it is important that the Legislature act swiftly and decisively to protect the character and effectiveness of the reforms that the House and Senate have placed on his desk. The fiscal stability of our cities, towns and school districts could well be at stake in the next few days.”

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

In Case You Missed It...

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr made a guest appearance on NECN’s “Broadside” last night. Tarr, along with former state Senator Warren Tolman, joined host Jim Braude in-studio to discuss the 2012 Presidential Campaign, the FY12 state budget and the House GOP Ethics Reform rules proposal. You can watch the segment in its entirety by playing the video posted below.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Senator Tarr on 'Broadside' Tonight

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr will appear live on New England Cable News' "Broadside" with host Jim Braude tonight at 6 p.m. Tarr, along with former state Senator Warren Tolman, will discuss the latest political topics, including the 2012 Presidential race. The show repeats at 8 p.m. and again at 3:30 a.m.

Monday, July 4, 2011


As Americans everywhere celebrate the 235th anniversary of our country's independence today, we here at Scaling Beacon Hill would like to wish everyone a very safe and happy Fourth of July.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Senator Tarr's Statement on Passage of Fiscal Year 2012 Conference Committee Budget

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr released the following statement today, following the House and Senate’s vote to pass the conference committee’s Fiscal Year 2012 state budget:

“The budget that is being sent to Governor Patrick today includes many important initiatives that will assist our cities and towns in balancing their budgets without jeopardizing essential municipal services. The changes in municipal health insurance represent a major step forward for communities that have been struggling with rising premium costs, while the funding increases in special education and regional school transportation will provide much-needed relief to local school districts. We also seek to hold local aid harmless by requiring that a percentage of the state’s surplus at the end of FY11 revert back to our cities and towns for use in FY12.

Despite these positive accomplishments, I remain deeply concerned about what was not included in the conference committee report. The Senate Republican Caucus put forth a series of reform measures to spur economic development, reduce the cost of government, and provide tax relief to Massachusetts residents, but many of these items did not make it into the final budget, including:

• a broad-based job creation tax credit to encourage businesses of all sizes to increase and maintain their workforce;
• the establishment of a Commonwealth Competitiveness Council to promote more joint ventures between the public and private sectors and deliver state services more cost-effectively;
• a requirement that a cost benefit and job outcome analysis be provided to the Legislature before the state issues any grants totaling $500,000 or more to a private company;
• a crackdown on the use of confidentiality agreements by state agencies;
• the creation of a searchable website allowing the public to find out how their taxpayer dollars are being spent;
• proposed rollbacks in the sales and income taxes to 5 percent;
• a one-week meals tax holiday to generate additional revenue for local restaurants;
• a requirement that the governor report on all salary increases and decreases in FY11, as well as any planned increases or decreases for FY12; and
• comprehensive immigration reform that includes worker documentation certification, increases fines for using a fake ID to secure employment, and gives legal residents priority over unauthorized aliens in securing public housing.

These are just a few examples of the missed opportunities the Legislature failed to pursue in the FY12 budget. But the Senate Republican Caucus will continue to raise these and many other important issues in the weeks and months ahead because the state continues to face many daunting fiscal challenges that need to be faced head-on if we hope to spur a lasting economic recovery and sustainable spending practices for the future.”