Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Christmas Message from Senator Tarr

“Christmas is not a time or a season but a state of mind. To cherish peace and good will, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas. If we think on these things, there will be born in us a Savior and over us will shine a star sending its gleam of hope to the world.” ~Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933), American president. Presidential message (December 25, 1927).

With the crack of dawn that just starts to illuminate the Christmas morning sky, I hope all are given the opportunity to feel like a child once again on this very day. Christmas is the messenger of peace, love, and happiness. It is a day where strangers can be brothers, and where family should be cherished. It is my hope that among all the blessings of this day, that we each take a few moments to honor our servicemen and servicewomen who are currently overseas protecting this great nation.

Remember to be thoughtful and caring of others, and if possible to give a little more to those who are less fortunate.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Senator Tarr's Statement on Needed Changes to the Sex Offender Registry Board (SORB)

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) released the following statement today regarding the recent indictment of Wakefield resident John Burbine on multiple counts of child sexual abuse:

“The Burbine case has exposed deep flaws in the state’s system for classifying and tracking sex offenders, while underscoring the need for better communication among the state’s public safety agencies to ensure that sexual predators are more closely monitored.  In early January, I will file with the Senate Republican Caucus, and any other interested legislator, comprehensive legislation requiring the timely sharing of information between law enforcement, prosecutors and the Sex Offender Registry Board (SORB) of open investigations of Level 1, 2 and 3 offenders so that individuals like Burbine don’t fall through the cracks where they can continue victimizing our most vulnerable residents.  This bill will include, at a minimum:

·       a requirement and authorization for law enforcement agencies and prosecutors to communicate with the SORB in a timely fashion about the commitment of subsequent offenses by a registered sex offender;

·       the legal authority of the SORB to re-classify sex offenders based on new information, which was taken away by the Massachusetts Court of Appeals on July 16, 2012 in its ruling in the case of John Doe 16748 v. Sex Offender Registry Board (Docket Number 11-P-308);

·         the ability of the SORB to expedite the re-classification process of a sexual offender upon the recommendation of law enforcement and prosecutors; and

·         a requirement for the timely re-classification of sex offenders who have committed subsequent offenses

Burbine’s original classification suggested his risk of re-offense was low, and the public would not benefit from the disclosure of his information; however, subsequent facts have proven this assessment was inadequate and needed to be adjusted accordingly.  Since 1989, Burbine has been the subject of multiple investigations that, with due diligence, would have warranted further scrutiny of his classification level and risk to re-offend.

We want to produce as comprehensive a bill as possible.  I am looking forward to engaging in a dialogue with other stakeholders – including law enforcement, district attorneys and other legislators – to craft legislation that will provide better safeguards so predators like Burbine are classified properly and not allowed to continue to prey on innocent victims.”

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Senator Tarr’s Statement on the Resignation of Jane Lubchenco as NOAA Administrator

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) released the following statement regarding the announcement of Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Jane Lubchenco’s decision to resign in February 2013:
“While Dr. Lubchenco’s departure will provide a welcome opportunity for NOAA to have a different perspective in February, critical decisions will be made between now and then that could do significant damage to our fishing families. Hopefully she will use the time remaining in her tenure to change the current course of devastating regulations, questionable science and persistent distrust to create the chance for her successor to initiate a new era in fisheries management.”

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Senator Tarr's Statement on Consensus Revenue Hearing Forecast for Fiscal Year 2014

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) released the following statement regarding today’s annual consensus revenue hearing to discuss the state’s fiscal outlook for FY 2014:

“Clearly the economic information presented at today’s hearing mandates that we move forward with unprecedented fiscal discipline, clear funding priorities and aggressive action to strengthen and expand our state's employment base.

We need to take further steps to get more people back to work, and to help others keep the jobs they have.  Failing to do so will risk even more uncertainty with the budget, and fiscal instability.

There is no time to waste in acting to boost the climate for creating jobs, and build toward stability for the future.”

Monday, December 10, 2012

Happy Hanukkah!

May the lights of Hanukkah usher in a better world for all humankind.” ~Author Unknown

This afternoon, Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr will be joining with many state officials and Rabbi Lieberman in the lighting of the State House Menorah in recognition of Hanukkah, which commenced on Saturday, December 8th. Today’s lighting of the Menorah is open to the public and will take place in Nurse’s Hall on the 2nd floor of the State House, and begins approximately at 4:00 p.m.

Happy Hanukkah!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Media Alert: Senator Tarr on Fox 25 Tonight

Earlier today, Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr was interviewed by Fox 25 reporter Sharman Sacchetti about Governor Patrick’s proposal to implement spending cuts and borrow money from the Rainy Day account to close an estimated $540 million shortfall in the state budget.  Senator Tarr also discussed the Governor’s plan to ask the Legislature for expanded 9C powers to cut local aid, and why he thinks the state must instead aggressively pursue a variety of options to spur economic growth and hold communities harmless.  Be sure to tune in to Fox 25’s 6 p.m., 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts to see the interview.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr's Statement on Governor's Proposed 9C Budget Cuts

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) released the following statement today, following Governor Patrick’s announcement of $225 million in proposed 9C cuts to help close an estimated $540 million budget deficit for Fiscal Year 2013:

“Governor Patrick is confronting the harsh reality of a faltering economic recovery and budgetary paralysis in Washington to meet the requirements of a balanced budget.  Yet it’s also a harsh reality that this situation could and should have been addressed by more aggressive action to create a better climate for economic growth.

Too many action items have been left on the table, and we are now beginning to see the costs of that inaction on matters that really count.

Today, Governor Patrick talked about the importance of seizing opportunities.  But we might not have even been in such a precarious position if the Governor had approved, rather than vetoed, legislative initiatives that would have allowed Massachusetts businesses to thrive and grow.  Allowing business tax payments to be made on a quarterly basis, extending brownfields tax credits for rehabilitating presently unusable sites, and providing a three-year tax credit for start-up corporations would have removed some of the barriers that businesses have told us are real impediments to growth.  These were all sent to the Governor’s desk with bipartisan support and rejected.  With the unemployment rate rising to 6.6 percent, no government priority should be higher than getting Massachusetts residents back to work.

We are facing a clear choice now.  We can continue down the same path and find ourselves having to make additional cuts, or we can take decisive actions, such as appointing a fiscal control board for the MBTA and halting planned expansions of lines and services when we can’t afford the ones we already have.  It’s time for the Legislature to revisit and take action on initiatives to control the cost of health care, including moving Medicaid patients to managed care and addressing costly health care mandates.  It’s time to provide relief to businesses from the crushing burden of unemployment insurance rates that are among the highest in the nation.  And it’s also time for the Gaming Commission to accelerate efforts to bring in new revenues, and that revenue should be spent to avoid cuts and to support existing commitments, rather than funding new spending programs.

The proposal of these cuts is a call for action to spur economic growth and avoid future cuts before important programs like local aid are further imperiled.”

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Thanksgiving Message to Our Readers from Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr

“There is one day that is ours. Thanksgiving Day is the one day that is purely American.” -O. Henry

I would like to wish my constituents a Happy Thanksgiving and those who are currently serving our country overseas spending the holiday away from their families. Through their sacrifices we have the opportunity to spend time with our loved ones because of the freedoms that they preserve.

May we all have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Media Alert: Senator Tarr on Fox 25 Tonight

Tonight at approximately 6:15 p.m., Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr will be on the Fox 25 Evening News to discuss his thoughts regarding an initiative by Governor Patrick to allow illegal immigrants the benefit to receive instate tuition rates.  Please tune in to see tonight’s discussion.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Don't Forget to Vote

Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country. -Franklin D. Roosevelt

With the polls opening today at 7:00 a.m., Americans will cast their vote for President. This marks the 57th time that, as a nation, we have elected a leader of our great country through the democratic process.

Here in Massachusetts there are several important officials to be chosen, including President, U.S. Senator, U.S. Representative, State Senator, State Representative, and Executive Council. We will also be voting on three statewide ballot questions. Question 1, aka the Right to Repair question, asks voters whether owners of vehicles should have access to repair manuals and diagnostic information for their vehicles. Question 2 asks voters whether a terminally ill patient may receive a prescribed medication from a doctor to end that patient’s life. Question 3 is regarding the legalization of medical marijuana.

It is expected that high volumes of people will be exercising their right to vote tomorrow, so it is important to make sure you give yourself plenty of time to do so before 8:00 p.m. when the polls close. To learn more about who is on your ballot and the ballot questions please click here to visit the Secretary of State’s website. To find your polling place please click here.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Senate to Hold Public Hearings on Meningitis Outbreak, Compounding Pharmacies

Senate President Therese Murray (D-Plymouth), Senate Minority Leader Bruce E. Tarr (R-Gloucester), Senate Committee on Post Audit and Oversight Chairman Mark C. Montigny (D-New Bedford) and Committee Member Senator Robert L. Hedlund (R-Weymouth) announced today the Senate will be holding public hearings to shed light on the outbreak of meningitis traced to pharmaceuticals produced at a compounding pharmacy in Massachusetts.

The following is a joint statement:

“The outbreak attributed to a Massachusetts compounding agency is tragic and increasingly troublesome. While we have no intention of interfering with current investigations of the compounding agency, we do want to take immediate action to assess what state laws and regulations need to be in place to ensure the public’s health and safety in the this matter. We expect to address this serious public safety threat in a reasonable and responsible way, and will waste no time in helping to identify and correct any deficiencies in existing statutes or regulations. Clearly, a concerted effort by both state and federal authorities is needed to ensure that adequate standards and practices are in place to properly regulate these products and to ensure that they are safe for public use. Moreover, we must ensure that the people our state charges with protecting the public interest have acted properly in this case and have the capability, authority and motivation to do so in the future. We look forward to the Committee conducting an investigation and hearings on this matter to understand the nature and depth of the problem.”

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

In Case You Missed It...

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr joined State Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante (D-Gloucester), MassINC Polling Group's Steve Koczela and host Emily Rooney on last night's edition of "Greater Boston" to discuss the U.S. Senate race between Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren and what it means for the future of Gloucester's fishing industry.  You can watch their discussion by playing the video clip posted below.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Senator Tarr on 'Greater Boston' Tonight

Tonight Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr will be appearing on WGBH-TV’s “Greater Boston” with host Emily Rooney to discuss the U.S. Senate race here in Massachusetts and what it could mean for the state's fishing industry.

Please tune in to Channel 2 tonight at 7:00 p.m. to watch their lively discussion. Greater Boston also re-airs at midnight.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Knapik on Bax and O'Brien Show Tomorrow

Senator Michael R. Knapik will be on the Bax and O’Brien radio show on Rock 102 at 7:05 a.m. Tuesday morning to discuss homelessness, the state's use of hotels as shelters, and the proposed changes to the Emergency Assistance regulations.  Bax and O’Brien host a widely followed morning radio show in Western Massachusetts.  To listen live tomorrow morning, visit the Bax and O'Brien homepage on the Rock 102 website. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Remember to Register to Vote!

Today marks the last day anyone can register to vote in this year’s upcoming elections. You can register to vote by visiting your local town clerk’s office or at any Registry of Motor Vehicles office. The act of voting is a tremendous responsibility entrusted in every individual who is at least 18 years of age.

After the American Revolution in 1783, our forefathers recognized the importance of a society able to elect its own representation of leaders, and now, nearly 230 years later, the United States stands as a true beacon of democracy. The American voting process serves as a model for both fledgling countries, and nations of great history. Voting is a tradition and honor that makes our country so great. Essentially, voting equates to freedom, and freedom is the very fiber with which this country is sewn together.

It is the hope of the Senate Republican Caucus that you will join with us in being an active and engaged voter and make our democratic process strong. You can access more information about registering to vote at the Secretary of State’s website.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Senator Tarr on 'Monday Morning Quarterbacks'

This morning Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr appeared on the Fox 25 Morning News' “Monday Morning Quarterbacks” segment with former Attorney General Scott Harshbarger.  Senator Tarr, Scott Harshbarger and News Anchor Shannon Mulaire discussed tonight’s second debate for the U.S. Senate race here in Massachusetts and Wednesday’s Presidential debate.  To watch today’s segment please play the posted video below.

FOX 25

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Senator Tarr on Fox 25

Last night, Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr spoke with news anchor Maria Stephanos of the Fox 25 Evening News about the Department of Corrections’ decision to appeal a U.S. District Court’s ruling requiring the DOC to provide gender-reassignment surgery to convicted killer Robert Kosilek. To view the discussion, please play the video posted below.

Boston News, Weather, Sports
FOX 25

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Senator Tarr's Statement on DOC Appeal of Kosilek Ruling

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) released the following statement today, following reports from a Patrick Administration official that the Department of Corrections will appeal U.S. District Court Judge Mark Wolf’s ruling that the state must provide gender reassignment surgery to convicted murderer Robert Kosilek at taxpayers’ expense:

“I understand that the administration is preparing to move forward with an appeal, and I applaud this decision. Challenging the court’s ruling in the Kosilek case is the right thing to do, and I am glad the administration has finally reached that conclusion. The Department of Correction is to be commended for standing up and opposing this outrageous request and for taking the necessary action to prevent it from being legitimized by a legal decision.

The decision to appeal this unprecedented federal court ruling requiring the state to fund sex reassignment surgery for a convicted murderer is responsive to the request that I and more than 50 legislators have made, and to the interests of the taxpayers and citizens of the Commonwealth. Requiring the state to fund a medical procedure for a first-degree murderer that many private citizens cannot afford and that those receiving medical coverage from the state do not have the option to receive undermines the public’s confidence in government and our institutions of corrections and justice.

By seeking an appeal, the state is saying loud and clear that precious taxpayer resources will not be prioritized to fund a protracted and expensive surgery for a first degree murderer. Allowing a single federal judge to undermine the better judgment of the correction department would have risked irreparable damage to the relationship we have with, and duty we owe to, the public.”

Attached below is a copy of the letter Senator Tarr, members of the Senate Republican Caucus, and 51 other legislators sent to DOC Commissioner Luis Spencer on September 12, urging him to appeal Judge Wolf's decision.

9.12.2012 Gender Reassignment Surgery Kosilek Appeal DOC Letter

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Well Wishes for Yom Kippur

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr and the rest of the Senate Republican Caucus would like to wish all of their Jewish constituents an easy fast tonight as they celebrate Yom Kippur. "G'mar Hatimah Tovah!"

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Senator Knapik on 'Brad and Bo' Show Friday

Senator Michael R. Knapik (R-Westfield), the ranking Republican on the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, will be making his weekly appearance on the Brad and Bo radio show Friday morning.

In keeping with the segment's focus on the latest news events, the on-air discussion will likely include a look at tonight's Brown-Warren U.S. Senate debate and the just-released state unemployment numbers, which show that Massachusetts' jobless rate climbed to 6.3% in August.

To hear the discussion, please tune in to WHYN-AM 560 at 7:35 a.m. tomorrow, or listen live online on the WHYN NewsTalk website.

In Case You Missed It...

Be sure to check out the two video clips posted below, featuring Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr's appearances on NECN's "Broadside" Wednesday night and on the Fox 25 morning news earlier today regarding the Kosilek case. Boston News, Weather, Sports | FOX 25 | MyFoxBoston

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

ON THE AIR: Senator Tarr on Fox 25 News

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr will once again be discussing U.S. District Court Judge Mark Wolf’s rulings in the case of Kosilek v. Spencer when he appears on the Fox 25 Morning News on Thursday. Please tune in tomorrow morning at approximately 7:05 a.m., when Tarr will be discussing the issue with Fox 25 morning news anchor Shannon Mulaire.

Senator Tarr on NECN's 'Broadside' Tonight

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) will be appearing live in-studio on tonight’s episode of Broadside on New England Cable News, where he will join host Jim Braude and Attorney Edward Ryan to discuss the two recent decisions issued by U.S. District Court Judge Mark Wolf in the case of Kosilek v. Spencer.

Earlier this month, Judge Wolf ruled that the Massachusetts Department of Corrections must provide convicted murderer Robert Kosilek – who murdered his wife in 1990 and now goes by the name Michelle – with gender reassignment surgery at taxpayers’ expense. This week, Judge Wolf determined that Kosilek is also entitled to be compensated by the state for the legal fees incurred over the last 12 years while fighting to have the DOC pay for his surgery.

Senator Tarr and the members of the Senate Republican Caucus, along with 51 of their colleagues in the House and Senate, recently sent a letter to DOC Commissioner Luis Spencer urging him to appeal the court’s decision. A copy of the letter is posted below.

Please be sure to tune in to NECN at 6 p.m. tonight to watch the discussion.

9.12.2012 Gender Reassignment Surgery Kosilek Appeal DOC Letter

Monday, September 17, 2012

Senator Tarr's Statement on Latest Kosilek Ruling

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) released the following statement today, following U.S. District Court Judge Mark Wolf’s ruling that convicted murderer Robert Kosilek is entitled to compensation from the state for the legal fees associated with his 12-year quest to have the Commonwealth pay for his gender reassignment surgery (Judge Wolf had previously ruled that the state’s Department of Correction must provide the surgery at taxpayers’ expense):

“In ruling that the plaintiff is entitled to legal costs in his pursuit of gender reassignment surgery, Judge Wolf is continuing down the wrong path. This second inappropriate decision makes it even more critical for the Department of Corrections to file appeals and stand up for the taxpayers of Massachusetts and the integrity of the Eighth Amendment. I am once again calling on Commissioner Spencer to do the right thing by pursuing a vigorous appeal to overturn the court’s rulings.”

Friday, September 14, 2012

Happy Rosh HaShanah

From Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr and the members of the Senate Republican Caucus to their Jewish friends, constituents and community, in recognition of the beginning of Rosh HaShanah, this Sunday at sundown, "L'Shana Tova."

Thursday, September 13, 2012

ON THE AIR: Senator Tarr on Fox 25 Tonight

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr will be appearing live on Fox 25’s 6 o’clock news tonight to discuss the latest turmoil in the Middle East and how these events might shape the upcoming Presidential election.  Joining Senator Tarr in-studio will be Representative Charles Murphy (D-Burlington).  Please be sure to tune in to Fox 25 tonight at 6 p.m. to catch their discussion.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Remembering September 11

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr released the following statement today, on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks:

"Today marks the 11th anniversary of the tragic al-Qaeda terrorist hijacking of four commercial airliners that crashed into the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in Washington D.C. and a field near Shanksville, PA on September 11, 2001. On that solemn day, nearly 3,000 victims lost their lives and many more have sustained long-lasting health problems. Not since the attack on Pearl Harbor has this country known of such an attack.

The horrific events of that day are still felt today, and serve as a constant reminder that the War on Terrorism is far from over. Since that fateful day, we have lost many military and civilian personnel who gave their lives protecting this great nation and advancing the ideals of democracy.

I hope we will all take a moment to reflect on that tragic day, and may we never forget what happened on September 11, 2001."

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Senator Tarr Makes Multiple Media Appearances Regarding Kosilek v. Spencer

Earlier today, Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr was interview by Channel 5 Reporter Amalia Barreda regarding a letter he sent today with 49 other legislators -- including the entire Senate Republican Caucus -- urging the Department of Corrections to file an appeal to the recent decision by the U.S. District Court in the case of Kosilek v. Spencer. In Tuesday’s decision, U.S. District Court Judge Mark Wolf ruled in favor of Michelle Kosilek, a convicted murderer serving a life sentence without parole, mandating the Department of Corrections to provide gender-reassignment surgery to Kosilek.

To read the letter that was sent to Commissioner Spencer click here. Please tune in beginning tonight at 5:00 P.M. to see today’s interview.

In addition to his Channel 5 appearance, Senator Tarr will also be discussing the same issue during FOX 25’s nightly news broadcast. To watch tonight’s interview please tune in at approximately 6:15 P.M.

Also airing throughout the evening on WBZ Radio 1030AM is a report that Senator Tarr is featured in by Suzanne Sausville regarding the court’s decision.

Get Out and Vote!

Today is Primary Day in Massachusetts, with several contested races taking place for seats in the Massachusetts Legislature, Congress, Governors Council and various county offices.  Polls are open across the state until 8 p.m., so if you haven’t done so already, please be sure to exercise your Constitutional right to cast a ballot for the candidates of your choice.  If you’re not sure where to vote, click here to find your polling place, along with the names of the candidates appearing on the Democratic, Republican and Green-Rainbow ballots.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

ON THE AIR: Senator Tarr on NECN's 'Broadside' Tonight at 8 p.m.

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr will be joining host Jim Braude as a guest on tonight's episode of "Broadside" on New England Cable News, which is broadcasting live from the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida. Please tune in to NECN tonight at 8 p.m. to watch this timely discussion of the 2012 Presidential election.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Senator Tarr's Statement on Signing of Melissa's Law

Les Gosule, father of murder victim Melissa Gosule, and his grandson, Alex Mindich, are shown above with Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) holding the pen used by Governor Patrick to sign Melissa’s Law.

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) released the following statement today, following Governor Patrick’s signing of Melissa’s Law in a private ceremony with Melissa Gosule’s father, Les Gosule:

“After a long, difficult and challenging battle, justice prevailed today on Beacon Hill. While there was little fanfare surrounding the Governor’s signing of Melissa’s Law, it’s impacts will reverberate year after year as repeat violent felons and those serving multiple life sentences serve truthful prison terms that will prevent the future victimization of the citizens of the Commonwealth by its worst offenders. The inspirational efforts of the Maguire family and the Gosule family motivated a firmly committed Legislature to produce a good and balanced bill that should rightfully be remembered in the name of Melissa Gosule and those who have lost their lives at the hands of individuals who repeatedly demonstrated their disrespect for the laws by which we protect each other from harm. My hope is that these families can take comfort in knowing that their dedication and sacrifice have moved our democracy to action and that action will save lives.

The message from Beacon Hill today is clear: if you commit violent acts time and again, you will face the serious consequences that you deserve.”

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Media Alert: Senator Tarr on Fox 25 Tonight

Tonight at approximately 6:15 p.m., Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) will be on the Fox 25 news to provide a status update on Melissa’s Bill, which is scheduled to be signed into law by the Governor on Friday.

Senator Tarr on Michele McPhee Show Today

Today Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr will be a guest on WRKO 680AM’s The Michele McPhee Show, where Senator Tarr and Michele McPhee will be discussing the status of Melissa’s Bill. Please tune in to today’s radio broadcast or click here at approximately 11:00AM to listen to their discussion.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Senate Approves GOP Caucus Amendment Requiring EBT Compliance Report

The Department of Transitional Assistance will be required to report to the Legislature semi-annually on its efforts to investigate and enforce compliance with the recent EBT reforms included in the Fiscal Year 2013 budget, under an amendment offered by the Senate Republican Caucus and adopted by the Senate today.

Responding to reports of EBT cards being used for questionable purposes, the Legislature recently endorsed several restrictions on the types of items and services that can be purchased using an EBT card. These restrictions included a ban on the purchase of alcohol, tobacco, Lottery tickets, adult entertainment products, tattoos and vacation services.

After trying unsuccessfully to remove some of these restrictions, Governor Patrick indicated over the weekend that he would sign the changes, but said that enforcement would not be “feasible,” and also indicated that he would not enforce them.

“The laws we pass have to mean something and they have to have the integrity that comes with enforcement and compliance,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester). “If the governor believes there are challenges or obstacles to enforcing EBT reform, then this amendment will provide him with a vehicle to report them to the Legislature so that we can take necessary actions.”

The reporting requirement – sponsored by Tarr, Assistant Minority Leader Robert Hedlund (R-Weymouth), Minority Whip Richard Ross (R-Wenham) and Ranking Senate Ways and Means Republican Michael Knapik (R-Westfield) – was adopted as part of a supplemental budget bill. The provisions are still subject to the approval of the House of Representatives.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Senator Tarr's Statement on Melissa's Bill Amendment

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) released the following statement today, following Governor Patrick’s decision to send the crime bill, also known as Melissa’s Bill, back to the legislature with an amendment (Senator Tarr was a principal architect of the Senate version of the bill, and served on the conference committee that reconciled the differences between the House and Senate versions):

“Governor Patrick has had a busy week defending the interests of those who break the law. He rejected a measure to require proof of legal residence to register a car, has said he will refuse to enforce restrictions on purchases with EBT cards, and now he is trying to provide violent repeat criminals with a ‘safety valve’.

His actions to jeopardize the passage of the crime bill are both ill-timed and ill-advised by trying to amend a good and balanced bill with an extraordinary measure to protect repeat violent criminals, with precious little time remaining in the legislative session.

The governor's proposal was never seriously considered by the House or the Senate, and was expressly rejected by the conference committee, and yet he has chosen to risk the passage of the entire bill, which he has publicly characterized as ‘good’, for such a measure, in a repeat of his performance when the legislature first placed a gaming bill on his desk.

Fortunately, the legislature has made a firm commitment to public safety by passing this comprehensive bill with overwhelming and consistent support. My hope is that the House and Senate will once again take a strong stand to protect public safety, and that the governor will act quickly in response to our actions to prevent the clock or the calendar from becoming the deciding factor in protecting the citizens of the Commonwealth from those who repeatedly make them victims.”

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Senator Tarr's Statement on Melissa's Bill

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) released the following statement today regarding Melissa’s Bill, which is currently under review by Governor Patrick:

“Melissa’s Bill contains many important provisions that respond to the threat to public safety posed by violent repeat offenders, and the signing of these provisions into law should not be jeopardized by those provisions that did not make it into the final bill. It is more important to act upon the things we agree on than to impede progress based on things that have not yet come to fruition. Governor Patrick should act on these important provisions by signing Melissa’s Bill and allowing the Legislature to begin the next session focused on issues that it has not yet addressed, rather than revisiting those issues that have already been acted upon this session.

Melissa’s Bill provides a solid foundation on which we can build. The Commonwealth’s district attorneys and other law enforcement officials can be assured that I will not yield in the fight for public safety, and to that end, I will be filing one or more bills in the next legislative session to:

• expand wiretapping authority for law enforcement;

• require DNA collection at arraignment for felony arrests;

• create in statute the crime of strangulation; and

• codify the crime of solicitation to commit murder.”

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Senator Tarr on Tonight’s ‘Nightside’ with Dan Rea

Tonight Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) and Senator Richard Moore (D-Uxbridge) will be guests on WBZ 1030AM’s ‘Nightside’ with Dan Rea. They will be discussing with host Dan Rea Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card and illegal immigration reforms contained within the FY’2013 State Budget.

To learn more about the issue, please click here to view a previous Scaling Beacon Hill post. Please tune in or click here at 8:00pm tonight to listen to their discussion.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Sen. Tarr's Statement on Passage of 'Melissa's Bill' by Sentencing Conference Committee

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) released the following statement today regarding the 5-1 passage of a habitual offender bill, also known as Melissa’s Bill that was just released from a sentencing conference committee, which Tarr served on:

“This evening the conference committee took decisive action to respond effectively to the threat to public safety posed by repeat violent offenders. The bill we have approved provides a careful balance between eliminating parole eligibility for violent criminals and ensuring that minimum mandatory sentences for drug offenders are appropriate.

Finally, the families of victims like Melissa Gosule and Officer Jack McGuire can be secure in the knowledge that their courage, passion and commitment have made a real impact on strengthening public safety in our state. Their tenacity in reliving tragedy each time they told the story of their loved ones has been inspirational and impactful."

Posted below is a section by section summary of the bill.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Tarr on Fox 25 and the Michele McPhee Show

Yesterday Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr had the opportunity to be a guest political analyst on Fox 25’s morning news segment “Tolman and Gray”. Senator Tarr and former State Senator Warren Tolman discussed EBT reforms contained in the legislature’s FY’13 State Budget, and Melissa’s Bill, a crime bill that is currently before a conference committee that Senator Tarr is a member of. Please press play on the posted video below to watch yesterday’s segment.

Additionally, later in the day Senator Tarr was a guest on WRKO’s Michele McPhee Show. Michele and Senator Tarr also discussed the status of Melissa’s Bill. To listen to their discussion please click here.

Boston News, Weather, Sports
FOX 25

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Senator Tarr and Representative Jones Call for EBT, Immigration Reform Veto Overrides

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) and House Minority Leader Bradley Jones (R-North Reading) sent the following letter to Senate President Therese Murray and House Speaker Robert DeLeo Tuesday afternoon, requesting that the budget vetoes made by Governor Patrick regarding EBT and immigration reforms reach the floors of the House and Senate for override votes:

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Independence Day!

“The United States is the only country with a known birthday. All the rest began, they know not when, and grew into power, they know not how. If there had been no Independence Day, England and America combined would not be so great as each actually is. There is no "Republican," no "Democrat," on the Fourth of July — all are Americans. All feel that their country is greater than party”. ~James G. Blaine

Today, Americans everywhere are celebrating the birth of our great nation. It is our hope at Scaling Beacon Hill that everyone will take a moment to reflect on the sacrifices that have been made to make this country a free and proud nation, and to appreciate the work our servicemen and women continue to carry out to ensure those freedoms. We hope everyone has a fun and safe day.

Happy 4th of July!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Senate GOP Caucus Hails EBT, Immigration Reforms in Fiscal Year 2013 State Budget

The Massachusetts Senate Republican Caucus today welcomed a series of reform measures targeting abuses in the state’s public benefits programs, cracking down on unlicensed drivers, and expanding the use of immigrant status verification systems for MassHealth applicants, which they have fought to include in the state budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

The reforms were included in the Conference Committee report on the $32.5 billion Fiscal Year 2013 state budget, which was approved today by the Legislature. These reforms reflect many of the Caucus’ priorities initiated during the Senate budget debate in May by Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester), Assistant Minority Leader Robert L. Hedlund (R-Weymouth), Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Ross (R-Wrentham), and Senator Michael R. Knapik (R-Westfield), the Ranking Republican on the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

“The reforms included in the budget target two of the biggest problems we as a Caucus have been trying to address: the misuse of Electronic Benefit Transfer cards and the public safety issues raised by unlicensed drivers, including those who are in this country illegally,” said Senator Tarr. “For too long, individuals who do not qualify for public assistance have been receiving taxpayer-funded benefits, sometimes at the expense of those who truly need help. At the same time, unlicensed drivers continue to pose a serious public safety threat to all law-abiding citizens. The changes approved by the House and Senate today will help protect those residents who choose to play by the rules while punishing those individuals who would rather manipulate the system for their own advantage.”

Some of the Caucus reforms incorporated in the final budget include:

• expanded restrictions on the types of products and services that can be purchased with EBT cards, including a ban on tattoos, gambling and jewelry;

• increased penalties for unlawful purchases made with EBT cards, up to and including the potential loss of direct cash assistance;

• fines for individuals and organizations that traffick in food stamps;

• the establishment of a direct vendor payment program at the Department of Transitional Assistance for recipients who fail to pay rent and/or utilities on time;

• the creation of an independent commission to study and report on the development of a cashless payment system for EBT cards by December 31, 2012;

• a requirement that the Inspector General conduct a data match survey involving the case records for households receiving cash assistance benefits to identify inconsistent or contradictory information that might indicate fraud or abuse;

• a requirement that applicants provide a license, Social Security number, or other proof of legal residence when registering a motor vehicle;

• increased penalties for knowingly employing an unlicensed individual as a motor vehicle operator, or an individual whose license has been suspended or revoked

• expanded penalties for stealing, forging or counterfeiting a learner’s permit, license or ID card; and

• a requirement that MassHealth begin utilizing the federal Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) system by July 31, 2013 to verify the immigration status of all applicants who apply for benefits with an alien admission number or alien file number

The budget now heads to Governor Deval Patrick, who will have 10 days to review the spending proposal and to issue any vetoes.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Compelling Editorial

Today the Eagle Tribune offers a very interesting perspective into the illegal immigration discussion that is happening across Massachusetts and the country. Importantly, the paper notes the stance Governor Patrick has taken in regards to the illegal immigration provisions passed by the House and Senate for inclusion in the FY’13 state budget.

It’s unfortunate that the governor would take such a position on a measure that hasn’t made its way to his desk yet. Before the governor formulates his opinion on the matter, he should at least collect input from the people he represents and then act accordingly after he’s had time to review it. To express your opinion on the subject, please contact Governor Patrick’s office. It is an extremely important issue that needs to be given time for careful consideration.

Please click here to read today’s editorial by the Eagle Tribune.

Senator Tarr On the Air with Michele McPhee

Today, Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr will be a guest on WRKO 680 AM’s The Michele McPhee Show, where they will discuss controls for illegal immigration. Please tune in to today’s radio broadcast or visit the posted website below at approximately 12:45 p.m. to listen to their lively discussion.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Senator Tarr on the Air with Fox 25

Last night, Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr had the opportunity to speak with news anchor Mark Ockerbloom of the Fox 25 Evening News to discuss MBTA funding legislation that was debated during yesterday’s formal Senate session and the need for more oversight. To view their discussion, please play the posted video below.

Votes to Note: MBTA Financial Accountability

Yesterday the Massachusetts State Senate debated a bailout proposal of $51 million dedicated to the MBTA to close the agency’s budgetary shortfall. The bill, S.2308, was ultimately approved by a 26 to 9 vote. The Senate Republican Caucus offered several amendments to improve our mass transportation system and provide safeguards that demonstrate fiscal responsibility.

One such measure the Caucus offered was an amendment that would require the MBTA to develop on its website a searchable database that would allow the public to research monetary data regarding the agency. The searchable information would include:

• a complete accounting of all capital assets under the control of the authority:

• operating expenses;

• monthly ridership data aggregated by each mode of transit;

• the fare recovery ratios for each mode of transit and by line; and

• the financial plans for any proposed expansion projects, and the development, conceptual planning, design and construction of any effort to expand the scope of MBTA services.

Unfortunately, the amendment did not pass and thus was not included in the final version of the Senate’s bill by a roll call vote of 12 voting in the affirmative to 25 in the negative. The amendment, if approved would have been a major victory for transparency and accountability. The Senate Republican Caucus will continue to fight for amendments like this one, so that everyone is given the opportunity to know how their taxpayer and ratepayer dollars are being utilized.

Posted below is the roll call vote of the amendment made by all the senators.

Amendment # 25 MBTA Financial Accountability

Yeas: 12

Nays: 25

Roll Call Votes: Yea/Nay

Frederick E. Berry: Did Not Vote

Stephen M. Brewer: Nay

William N. Brownsberger: Nay

Gale D. Candaras: Yea

Harriette L. Chandler: Nay

Sonia Chang-Diaz: Nay

Katherine Clark: Nay

Cynthia Stone Creem: Nay

Sal N. DiDomenico: Nay

Kenneth J. Donnelly: Nay

Eileen Donoghue: Yea

Benjamin B. Downing: Nay

James B. Eldridge: Nay

Susan C. Fargo: Nay

Barry Finegold: Yea

Jennifer L. Flanagan: Nay

John Hart: Nay

Robert L. Hedlund: Yea

Patricia D. Jehlen: Nay

Brian A. Joyce: Nay

John Keenan: Nay

Thomas P. Kennedy: Nay

Michael R. Knapik: Yea

Thomas M. McGee: Nay

Mark C. Montigny: Nay

Michael O. Moore: Yea

Richard T. Moore: Yea

Senate President Therese Murray: Did Not Vote

Marc R. Pacheco: Nay

Anthony Petruccelli: Nay

Michael Rodrigues: Nay

Stanley C. Rosenberg: Nay

Richard J. Ross: Yea

Michael Rush: Yea

Karen E. Spilka: Nay

Bruce E. Tarr: Yea

James E. Timilty: Yea

James Welch: Yea

Daniel Wolf: Nay

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Senate GOP Caucus Supports Bipartisan Control Board Plan to Address MBTA Crisis

Senator Gale D. Candaras (D–Wilbraham), Senate Minority Leader Bruce E. Tarr (R–Gloucester), Senator James Welch (D–West Springfield), Assistant Senate Minority Leader Robert Hedlund (R-Weymouth) and Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Ross (R-Wrentham) held a press conference at the State House this morning to announce the filing of an amendment to the MBTA bailout bill that would establish an MBTA Control Board.

The proposed Control Board, similar to the successful model used in Springfield in 2004, would be charged with crafting and implementing a plan for long term stability at the MBTA, while providing quality, affordable transit service.

“Everyone agrees that quality, affordable mass transit is essential to Massachusetts,” Candaras said. “In order to meet that goal, we need a team at the MBTA that is able to put the T on a sustainable path; another no-strings-attached bailout does not solve the problem.”

“We cannot continue to contribute large amounts of money to get the MBTA from one funding crisis to the next. Taxpayers, ratepayers and people who depend on public transportation need us to put the authority on a path to sustainability and efficiency as soon as possible, and through an effective method such as a control board,” said Senator Tarr.

“A healthy transit system is important to the continued growth and success of the Commonwealth,” said Senator Welch. “We need to ensure tax dollars are being used efficiently and effectively to create a long-term solution for the MBTA.”

The amendment provides a $51M loan to the MBTA to address immediate funding needs with the funds to be repaid in full by June 30, 2020. Additionally, the amendment would:

• Provide the Control Board with all the powers and authority granted to the MBTA Board of Directors and Advisory Board as well as grant additional authorities, including the ability to amend budgets, revise policy, create or eliminate positions, adjust fees, services, and rates

• Establish a Control Board liaison to the Office of the Attorney General

• Mandate the Control Board develop a long term sustainability plan for the MBTA

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Media Alert: Tarr on 'Broadside' Tonight

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr will be joining Senator Brian Joyce of Milton and host Jim Braude as a guest on this evening’s episode of “Broadside” on New England Cable News. Tonight’s segment will focus on this year’s presidential election, the impact of the Wisconsin gubernatorial recall election, and the latest action on the Massachusetts Fiscal Year 2013 state budget.

Be sure to tune in tonight at 6:00 p.m. for the live broadcast, or watch the show when it re-airs at 8:00 p.m.

Monday, June 4, 2012

ON THE AIR: Senator Tarr Discusses Melissa's Bill on WBZ Radio with Dan Rea Tonight

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr will be joining Les Gosule on Dan Rea’s “Nightside” program on WBZ radio tonight to discuss the current status of Melissa’s Bill.  Named in memory of Les’ 27-year-old daughter who was raped and murdered by a repeat offender in July of 1999, Melissa’s Bill seeks to protect the public by imposing stronger penalties against violent repeat offenders, including the possibility of lifetime imprisonment without parole for chronic offenders.  Les will be appearing in studio with Dan Rea beginning at 9 p.m., and Senator Tarr will be joining them shortly thereafter.  Be sure to tune in to 1030 AM tonight to hear their discussion of this important public safety proposal, or listen online at http://boston.cbslocal.com/show/nightside-with-dan-rea/.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Senator Tarr Shares His Thoughts on Senate's Closing of Melanie's Law Loophole in Budget

In a recent decision issued by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (Souza v. Registrar of Motor Vehicles), the court reversed the license suspension of an individual based on a DUI case in 2010 in which the defendant refused to take a chemical breath test. The defendant had previously been arrested for a DUI offense in a 1997 case that was continued without a finding after the defendant had admitted to sufficient facts for a finding of guilty.

Under Melanie’s Law, the 2010 refusal, because it is a second offense, would normally trigger a license suspension of 3 years, and the Registry took that action. In the court's decision, the SJC countermanded that decision because of the continuation of the first case without a “conviction,” as the word is defined in statute.

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, with the support of the Senate Republican Caucus, filed an amendment during last week's Senate budget debate to close this loophole.  In the attached video, he shares his thoughts on the amendment's passage.

Monday, May 28, 2012


They defended our nation, they liberated the oppressed, they served the cause of peace. And all Americans who have known the loss and sadness of war, whether recently or long ago, can know this: The person they love and miss is honored and remembered by the United States of America. ~ George W. Bush
On this Memorial Day, let us pause to honor and remember the many brave men and women who have answered our nation’s call to serve. And let us never forget those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country so that we may continue to enjoy the many freedoms we hold dear.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Senator Tarr's Statement on Passage of Senate's Fiscal Year 2013 State Budget

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) released the following statement regarding the adoption of the Senate’s version of the Fiscal Year 2013 (FY13) state budget, which passed by a roll call vote of 36-0 on Friday:

“Today’s passage of the Senate’s version of the Fiscal Year 2013 budget marks an important step toward delivering a timely and balanced state budget to the citizens of the Commonwealth at the start of the coming new fiscal year. The fact that this budget is balanced without any new broad-based taxes is also an important recognition of the need for fiscal discipline in these economically uncertain times.

The Senate Republican Caucus and its individual members offered many amendments to this budget, and we are appreciative for the approval of some key items, including:

- Measures to curb EBT Card abuse;

- An amendment closing a serious loophole in Melanie’s Law regarding drunk driving;

- A provision to ensure that those who traffic in methamphetamines are properly addressed by appropriate laws;

- An examination of costly reporting requirements imposed by state government on local school systems;

Provisions to benefit local farmers in controlling new pests that threaten their crops; and

- Comprehensive measures to prevent those not present in the United States legally from obtaining rights or benefits reserved for those who are.

Further, items included in the budget approved today also reflect shared priorities for supporting our partners in local government by increasing spending for Chapter 70 education aid, Unrestricted General Government aid, and Regional School Transportation Aid, and by modernizing and strengthening the Community Preservation Act.

While we will continue to pursue every opportunity to take actions that will achieve savings and foster job creation, we also look forward to advancing the budget passed today through the legislative process.

I appreciate the time and care that Chairman Brewer and his staff invested in this budget. Their hard work provided the groundwork necessary needed to facilitate the impact of every member of the Senate on the state’s largest spending bill.”

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Senator Tarr’s Statement on the Passage of an Amendment Closing a Melanie’s Law Loophole

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) released the following statement following the passage Wednesday night of an amendment he sponsored that would close a loophole identified by the Supreme Judicial Court in Souza v. Registrar of Motor Vehicles prohibiting the Registry of Motor Vehicles from increasing certain sanctions to those who drive while under the influence of alcohol:

“Tonight the Senate took an important step toward restoring one of the most important elements of Melanie’s Law. Treating incidents of drunk driving appropriately will insure that recidivists receive the appropriate sanctions, such as license suspensions, to protect the safety of those traveling on the roadways of the Commonwealth.”

Posted below is a summary of the amendment:

#72 Closing Drunk Driver Loophole

In a decision issued last week by our SJC (Souza v. RMV), the court reversed the license suspension of an individual based on a DUI case in 2010 in which the defendant refused to take a chemical breath test. The defendant had previously been arrested for a DUI offense in a 1997 case that was continued without a finding after the defendant had admitted to sufficient facts for a finding of guilty. Under Melanie’s Law, the 2010 refusal, because it is a second offense, would normally trigger a license suspension of 3 years, and the Registry took that action. In last Thursday’s decision, the SJC countermanded that decision because of the continuation of the first case without a “conviction,” as the word is defined in statute.

In the decision, the court expressly acknowledged it was likely construing the statute as written in frustration of the law’s purpose, but refused to cede to the legislative purpose in light of the actual language in the statute. This amendment would correct that technical mistake. It provides that a continuance without a finding after an admission of sufficient facts for a finding of guilty counts as a prior offense, restoring the intent of Melanie’s Law and reinstating an enhanced punishment when a driver who has previously been arrested for a DUI and admitted to sufficient facts for a finding of guilty again takes to the wheel under the influence.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Senate GOP Advocates for Release of Municipal Road Funding for Cities and Towns

The Senate Republican Caucus is calling on a transportation conference committee to expedite the release of $200 million in Chapter 90 funding for municipal road and bridge projects.

The funding was previously approved by both the House of Representatives and the Senate as part of a $1.5 billion Transportation Bond Bill. Release of the funding has been delayed, however, due to policy differences in other parts of the bond bill that remain unresolved and are still being worked out in conference committee.

In a letter hand-delivered to Transportation Committee co-chairs Senator Thomas M. McGee and Representative William M. Straus and the four other conferees, the Caucus has requested that the bond bill be reported, in part, by releasing the Chapter 90 funding while negotiations continue on the other sections of the bond bill. The letter was signed by Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester), Assistant Senate Minority Leader Robert Hedlund (R-Weymouth), Senate Minority Whip Richard Ross (R-Wrentham) and Senator Michael Knapik (R-Westfield), the Ranking Republican on the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.

“Chapter 90 funding constitutes a critical component of local infrastructure and public works projects that benefit all Massachusetts residents,” the Caucus wrote. “The spring construction season is already well underway, and municipalities are counting on the timely release of this funding to assist with vital road and bridge repairs.”

Under the Chapter 90 program, funding is allocated to cities and towns based on a formula that takes into account factors such as population, employment levels and the total number of miles of local roadways in the community. Although communities have already received notification of the funding amounts they can expect to receive, municipalities cannot sign project contracts until the Legislature delivers a bill authorizing the release of the funds to Governor Patrick for his signature.

“Releasing the Chapter 90 monies now will have the effect of stimulating the economy and getting Massachusetts residents back to work,” the Caucus wrote. “Therefore, we urge you to expedite the release of Chapter 90 funding from conference committee.”