Friday, September 30, 2011

Expanded Gaming Debate Resumes Next Week

On Monday, September 26th the Senate began debating Senate Bill 2015, “An Act Establishing Expanded Gaming in the Commonwealth”. Thus far debate has been completed on 82 of the 182 amendments that have been filed regarding the bill, with 28 of the amendments approved, including three offered by the Senate GOP Caucus.

Some important amendments that passed include one that would provide a “cooling off period” of one year before a legislator who leaves office could acquire a position at a casino or an applicant for a casino license, another that would provide surrounding communities an avenue to express support or opposition of a casino site location, and one that would eliminate the ability for a council on aging to use state funds or property to support trips to and from an out-of-state casino. Republican amendments atill awaiting floor action include provisions to use some proceeds from expanded gaming to reduce the sales and income taxes, and to reform education aid for our local school districts.

Debate for expanded gaming is expected to continue next week. To read the actual language of the bill and the status of the amendments please click here. A summary of the bill is posted below.

SWM 2011.09.16 Gaming as Redrafted

Sen. Hedlund on WGBH Radio Today at Noon

Assistant Senate Minority Leader Robert L. Hedlund (R-Weymouth) will be on the Week in Review today with Emily Rooney, discussing the week's topics including the Red Sox, immigration, and casinos. Tune in from 12-1 p.m. on WGBH Radio 89.7 FM.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Senator Knapik Talks Casinos with WWLP-TV

With two days of casino debate already completed, and a new round set to start on October 4th, Senator Michael R. Knapik (R-Westfield) was asked about the potential delay tactics opponents of expanded gaming may use in an attempt to prolong the debate in the Senate. Be sure to check out Senator Knapik's interview with Springfield's WWLP-TV Channel 22 by playing the video link below.

Senate casino debate begins:

Friday, September 23, 2011

Senator Tarr on Jeff Katz, Fox 25 Monday

With the Senate scheduled to begin its expanded gaming debate next week, Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr will be calling in to the Jeff Katz radio show on Monday morning to discuss some of the nearly 200 amendments to the bill that have been filed in the Senate. Be sure to tune in just after 7:30 A.M. on Talk 1200 radio to listen to the discussion.

Also on Monday, Senator Tarr will be appearing live in the Fox 25 Beacon Hill studio to discuss a new illegal immigration bill set to be unveiled next week. The segment will air at approximately 8:15 A.M.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

On The Air: Tarr Talks Casinos with Jeff Katz

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr was a guest on Talk1200's Jeff Katz Show Monday morning, where he discussed the upcoming Senate casino debate scheduled to begin on September 26th. If you missed it, you can listen to the interview in its entirety by downloading the podcast on the station's website.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Senator Tarr on 'Jeff Katz' Radio Show Monday

On Monday morning, Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr will be speaking with Jeff Katz of the Jeff Katz Show on Rush Talk 1200AM Boston to discuss the upcoming expanded gaming debate in the Massachusetts Senate. Today the Senate Committee on Ways and Means released the Senate’s version of the bill which can be read by clicking here. Please tune in or click here Monday morning at 7:35 AM to listen to their discussion.

GOP Order Ensures Senate Will Have Time to Review Expanded Gaming Bill Prior to Debate

The House of Representatives took just one day to consider 154 amendments to a bill that will bring expanded gaming to Massachusetts. Thanks to the Senate Republican Caucus, the Massachusetts Senate will have at least 10 days to prepare for debating its own version of the bill, which calls for the introduction of three destination resort casinos and one slot parlor.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee released a 156-page expanded gaming proposal today, less than 48 hours after the House of Representatives finalized its own version. Although amendments are due in to the Clerk’s Office by 3 p.m. next Wednesday (September 21), the Senate debate will not begin until the following Monday (September 26) to comply with a Republican-sponsored order.

The order – which was filed by the Senate Republican Caucus and passed the Senate unanimously on July 28 – 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.

“The House had 154 amendments to consider, and it’s not unreasonable to expect the Senate will have a similar number,” noted Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester), who filed the order in July. “The many consequences and impacts associated with expanded gaming are far too complicated and far-reaching to rush into without adequate reflection. Our order will help to ensure that we have adequate time to consider not only the main question of expanded gaming, but also the many facets of that question that will be reflected in the amendments that will be filed by members.”

Attached below is a copy of the Senate Republican Caucus order:

“ORDERED, that the Senate shall not consider or act upon any bill authorizing any form of gaming not currently permitted in the Commonwealth, including a bill which authorizes one or more casinos, the placement and operation of slot machines, so-called, or any similar activity until 10 calendar days following the filing of the report of said bill by the Senate Committee on Ways and Means with the Clerk of the Senate.”

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Senator Ross Calls for Oversight Hearings Following Tropical Storm Irene Power Outages

Senator Richard Ross (R-Wrentham), with bipartisan support from 16 other legislators, has requested that the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, in conjunction with the Senate Committee on Post Audit and Oversight, conduct oversight hearings regarding the performance of National Grid and NSTAR, following Tropical Storm Irene.

During the week following Tropical Storm Irene, communities across the Commonwealth were faced with lengthy power outages and extensive damages. However, both National Grid and NSTAR failed to adequately respond to safety concerns and effectively communicate with municipalities and customers in a timely manner. Local officials’ calls to these companies went unanswered, which left cities and towns unable to work with them and formulate response plans. As a result, trees remained down, blocking major roadways days after the storm, and live wires lingered in residents’ yards presenting hazards throughout the week. Power was not completely restored in the Commonwealth until late Saturday evening, nearly a full week after the storm.

Senator Ross is requesting oversight hearings to examine the electric companies’ current emergency response plans and to discuss the lack of collaboration and communication with municipalities. Additionally, he requests at least one public hearing that will provide residents with an opportunity to testify with respect to these issues.

“The response of the power companies following Tropical Storm Irene was absolutely unacceptable,” said Senator Ross. “It is imperative that we solve these problems now, before we are faced with an equally damaging storm during the cold winter months when the results could be disastrous.”

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11: We Still Remember, and Will Never Forget

We shall never forget
We shall keep this day,
We shall keep the events and the tears
In our minds, our memory and our hearts
and take them with us as we carry on.

-- 9/11 Memorial Website

Friday, September 9, 2011

Senator Tarr, Rep. Vallee to file legislation recognizing state's active military personnel

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) and State Representative James E. Vallee (D-Franklin) announced today they will be filing legislation requiring the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) to provide special active duty license plates to Massachusetts residents currently serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.

The proposal would allow full-time active duty military personnel serving in the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard or Air Force to request a distinctive emblem from the RMV designating their branch of service. The emblems – which would be subject to a fee of not more than $35 to cover production costs – would be designed to be affixed to the license plates of private passenger motor vehicles and motorcycles.

“Our state has always had a strong legacy of men and women serving our country and protecting our freedoms, and since the terrorist incidents of September 11th, their sacrifices have been substantial,” said Senator Tarr. “Now, more than ever, it’s important that our state give official recognition to the service men and women who make us proud every day to be Americans. The distinctive license plates created by this proposal will also allow all of us to understand who these brave men and women are, and to offer our gratitude whenever possible.”

“These plates will serve as small, daily reminders of the big contributions our military personnel make to the Commonwealth and the country,” said Representative Vallee, the House Chairman of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs

Tarr and Vallee are hoping to draw strong bipartisan support for their bill by making it available for co-sponsorship to their colleagues in the House and Senate.

Connecticut recently passed similar legislation. Ohio also allows active duty military personnel to receive special recognition on their license plates.

AG Certifies 23 Ballot Questions for 2012/2014

Earlier this week, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced the certification of 22 of 30 possible ballot questions for 2012 and 1 possible constitutional amendment for the 2014 ballot, thus allowing the citizen initiative petition process to advance to the signature gathering stage. Proponents must now collect an additional 68,911 signatures to be filed for certification by mid-November.

Some of the potential ballot questions include the amending of the “Do Not Call List” law, limiting the amount by which water and sewer rates may be raised, permitting the use of medical marijuana, the sale of beer and wine in grocery stores, and the evaluation of teacher performances. Many of the initiative petition sponsors have submitted multiple versions of a petition on the same topic. To view a list of the certified proposed ballot questions please click here.

The basic steps involved in the citizen petition process are:

1. the initiative measure is signed by ten voters and submitted to the Attorney General by the first Wednesday in August (August 3, 2011);

2. the Attorney General determines (usually by the first Wednesday in September, i.e., September 7, 2011) whether the measure meets the requirements of Amendment Article 48;

3. if certified by the Attorney General, the measure is filed with the Secretary of State;

4. thousands of additional voter signatures are gathered (this year, the requirement is 68,911) and filed with local election officials by late November and then with the Secretary of State by the first Wednesday in December;

5. if enough are gathered, the measure is sent to the Legislature in January of 2012;

6. the Legislature either approves or disapproves the measure, proposes a substitute, or takes no action;

7. unless the Legislature has enacted the measure before the first Wednesday in May of 2012, the proponents gather still more signatures (this year, 11,485 signatures are required) by early July;

8. if they gather enough, the measure and any legislative substitute are submitted to the people at the next biennial state election (in this case, November of 2012).

Additional information on the petitions or petition process can be found on the Attorney General's website.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Senator Hedlund Previews President Obama's Jobs Speech on 'Nightside' and 'Greater Boston'

Tune in to New England Cable News tonight at 6 p.m., as Assistant Senate Minority Leader Robert Hedlund appears on "Broadside" with Jim Braude to offer his forecast of President Obama's highly anticipated jobs speech to Congress. Following President Obama's speech, Senator Hedlund will be live in the NECN studio offering post-speech reactions, beginning at 8 p.m.

Also, be sure to check out Senator Hedlund’s appearance on the September 6th edition of "Greater Boston" with Emily Rooney. Hedlund joined Rooney as part of her weekly Political Roundup, where they previewed the President's job speech and tackled other important political issues. You can watch the show in its entirety by playing the video link posted below.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Senator Tarr’s Statement on Attorney General's Rejection of Competitive Electricity Contracts Ballot Question

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr released the following statement today, following the Attorney General’s decision not to certify a proposed ballot question on competitive electricity contracts for the 2012 state election ballot:

“Finding and developing sources of alternative energy is important, and doing so should not be tainted by bidding and procurement practices that avoid competition and transparency. The way to advance alternative energy is to make it practical and cost-effective, and not to isolate it from the economic pressures that families and employers in Massachusetts are facing every day when it comes time to pay their electric bills. While voters have been denied their chance today to provide transparency in energy pricing, my hope is that they will soon have an opportunity to support this goal through the legislative process and that today’s ruling will not discourage any of us from pursuing the right path when it comes to buying and paying for electricity.”

Click here to read a copy of the ballot question.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Senator Tarr Honored by Protect Mass Children

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) was recently recognized by Protect Mass Children for his years of advocacy in support of passing stronger state laws to protect children from sexual predators.

“Senator Tarr has worked to protect the community throughout his entire career; it is an honor to be able to recognize Senator Tarr for his sincere and longstanding commitment to protecting our children,” Joseph DiPietro, President of Protect Mass Children, stated. “In 2008, Senator Tarr was a strong voice and advocate for Massachusetts’ version of Jessica’s Law, and was instrumental in helping to pass minimum mandatory sentences for certain sex crimes against children. While there is still a good amount of work ahead to protect our children from such heinous acts, Senator Tarr has been a strong advocate for children and continues to be today.”

Senator Tarr recently filed legislation in a bipartisan effort calling for strong mandatory sentences for child predators and life sentences for repeat sex offenders. Commonly referred to as “three strikes you’re in,” Senate Bill 884 would:

• require individuals convicted of child rape to serve a minimum of 15 years in prison;

• require individuals convicted of child rape by use of force or during the commission of another crime to serve a minimum of 30 years; and

• require those convicted three or more times for sex offenses against children to be imprisoned for life, without any possibility of parole.

“Our organization is thrilled to stand behind a leader like Senator Tarr,” DiPietro said. “We are confident his bill will pass and make a significant difference for the safety of thousands of children. The public wants stronger laws to protect children, and Senate Bill 884 is a great tool for the Commonwealth to do just that.”

“I am truly honored to be recognized by Protect Mass Children,” said Senator Tarr. “Under Joseph DiPietro’s leadership, the organization’s dedicated staff has been working tirelessly to protect some of our most vulnerable residents from being sexually abused and exploited. Working together, I am confident we will be able to make significant changes to Massachusetts’ child predator and sex offender laws that will protect our children from these horrific crimes.”

Protect Mass Children is a nonprofit organization committed to protecting the children of Massachusetts from sexual predators through education and legislation. More information can be found at

Senator Tarr is shown above accepting the award from Protect Mass Children President and Co-Founder Joseph DiPietro (left) and Protect Mass Children Vice President John Magulas (right).

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Senator Tarr Joins Councilor Ross on Fox 25

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr and Boston City Councilor Michael Ross filled in for Republican strategist Rob Gray and former state Senator Warren Tolman this morning on Fox 25's weekly "Tolman and Gray" segment. Along with co-host Gene Lavanchy, Tarr and Ross discussed the recent power outages caused by Tropical Storm Irene and the ongoing delays in restoring service to parts of the state. They also discussed President Obama's upcoming address to Congress about jobs. To view the segment in its entirety, just clck on the video link below.

Tolman and Gray: