Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Senator Tarr’s Statement on Campaign Finance and Disclosure Task Force Report

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) issued the following statement yesterday, following the release of a report and recommendations by the Campaign Finance and Disclosure Task Force:

“The Campaign Finance and Disclosure Task Force undertook an important task in examining some critical elements of campaigning in our state.  Unfortunately, the task force missed prime opportunities to seek fairness for contribution limits for organizations, and greater transparency regarding donors.  While these opportunities have been lost in the report of the task force, we will continue to bring the priorities they represent to the legislative process.”
 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Senator Tarr’s Statement on a Federal Appeals Court Denial of Convicted Killer’s Sex-Change Operation

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) released the following statement today regarding the ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit denying a tax-payer funded sex-change operation for convicted wife killer Michelle Kosilek. Senator Tarr and the Senate Republican Caucus have previously filed legislation preventing such surgeries, and will file new legislation for the upcoming legislative session:

“The Federal Court of Appeals decision to deny convicted killer Michelle Kosilek gender reassignment surgery is an affirmation of fairness and justice. Allowing someone who has committed first degree murder to receive extraordinary surgery at best lacks commonsense, and at worst offends the interests of justice.

The Department of Corrections (DOC) has remained steadfast in its belief that the state should not be required to provide such surgery, and I commend the department for continuing to fight against this outrageous request. Had the unprecedented ruling by Judge Wolf been upheld to allow Michelle Kosilek’s surgery, not only the Commonwealth, but the country would have ventured down a dangerous path resulting in serious ramifications not yet identified.”

A copy of the current legislation filed by Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr and the Senate Republican Caucus can be found here. The bill will be re-filed in January 2015.

Happy Chanukah!


Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr released the following statement to mark the beginning of Chanukah at sundown tonight:

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

To all of my Jewish friends and constituents, I wish you all a happy Chanukah celebration, and may you all enjoy eight days of peace, happiness, and joy with your loved ones.

Also, this afternoon I will be joining with Rabbi Liberman and many state officials, including Governor Patrick, Speaker DeLeo, and Senate President Murray in the lighting of the State House Menorah in recognition of Chanukah. Today’s lighting of the Menorah is open to the public and will take place in Nurses Hall on the 2nd floor of the State House beginning at 4:00 p.m.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Annual North Shore Toy Drive is Tomorrow

 
Tomorrow starting at 6:00 a.m., Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr will join with North Shore 104.9 in their annual North Shore Toy Drive.  The station will be broadcasting live from 9 different locations throughout the day in an effort to collect as many toys as possible for area charities to go to local children.

This exciting event brings together community officials, local talent, school systems, and even Santa and Mrs. Claus, all in the spirit of giving.  All the broadcasts are open to the public, and organizers would love to see as many new faces as possible this year.

The final broadcast, which is the Cape Ann Savings Bank on Main Street in Gloucester, will even feature special guests for children!  Come for the food, for the entertainment, or to take pictures with Santa Claus, but most importantly please come to drop off a toy or gift card.  Through all of our hard work, we can truly make a child’s Christmas a special one.

To view all of the live broadcast locations, please click the picture above.  To read a recent press release that Senator Tarr distributed earlier this month, please click here.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving from Senator Tarr

“For each new morning with its light, for rest and shelter of the night, for health and food, for love and friends, for everything thy goodness sends. I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and new.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson

I would like to wish my friends, family, and constituents a very happy Thanksgiving this year. It is also my hope that we all take a few moments to think of those currently serving our country overseas and here in the US. Through their courage and bravery we have the opportunity to spend this time with our loved ones. Through their sacrifice the ideals of America continue to be safeguarded from tyranny.

May we all have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Foundation Budget Review Commission Hearings Are Now Underway

Last night at the Holten Richmond Middle School in Danvers, Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr attended and spoke at the first of six public hearings conducted by the Foundation Budget Review Commission (FBRC). The commission, which was created earlier this year, is seeking input from education experts, government officials and legislators, and members of the general public to assist the commission in finalizing this year’s foundation budget. The FBRC has been tasked to review the foundation budgetary process that outlines each school district’s minimum level of school spending needed to ensure a sufficient education to all of the state’s students.

In particular, the commission is seeking comment on several areas of concern, including:

• Educational programs and services necessary to achieve the commonwealth’s educational goals and to prepare students to achieve passing scores on the state assessment system;

• Components and assumptions used in the calculation of foundation budgets;

• Measures to ensure that resources are effectively utilized; and

• Models of efficient and effective resource allocation.

Senator Tarr sponsored an amendment that was co-sponsored by Senator Chang Diaz, the co-chair of the Joint Committee on Education, that was included in the Senate’s version of the Fiscal year 2015 state budget that created the Foundation Budget Review Commission. The amendment authorizes the FBRC to review and examine the Chapter 70 funding mechanism to ensure a more equitable funding system for the Commonwealth’s public schools.

Future public hearings include:

• Monday, December 15th, 4:30PM, South Shore Region

• Saturday, January 10th, 11:00AM, Western MA

• Saturday, January 24th, 11:00AM, Central MA

• Saturday, February 14th, 11:00AM, Cape Cod

• Monday, March 9th, 4:30PM, Boston

To read the law that created the commission in July, please click here (Section 124).

Monday, November 17, 2014

Senator Humason, Representative Pignatelli Present Flag of Tolland at State House


Senator Donald F. Humason, Jr. (R-Westfield) today announced that he, along with Representative William “Smitty” Pignatelli (D-Lenox), presented the flag of the Town of Tolland for display at the State House.

“It’s great to finally have Tolland represented in the Great Hall,” Humason said.  “The State House is in a lot of ways a working museum.  It is exciting to now have every city and town in my district represented in the Great Hall.”

“This beautiful flag will hang with pride for as long as democracy reigns in the Commonwealth,” Pignatelli added.  “I was honored to join my classmate and colleague Senator Humason in this historic presentation. The fine folks from Tolland should feel proud to have a piece of their community on display in the State House.”

Humason and Pignatelli presented the flag to Tammy Kraus, Superintendent of the Bureau of the State House.

The Great Hall is installed with a colorful display of flags from nearly every one of the 351 cities and towns in the Commonwealth. Most flags measure four by six feet and are constructed of either nylon or cotton muslin. Many feature the official coat of arms of their municipalities, while others are decorated with charming illustrations of recognizable landscapes or architectural landmarks with historical or symbolic references to elements that set their towns or cities apart from others. Notable among the flags are those that were designed by local civic groups specifically for this project and handcrafted by gifted artists, quilters, and seamstresses.

The flags are arranged chronologically according to the date of incorporation (the last being in 1851), and citizens delight in finding the flag of their home town in the display and noting which towns date to the same period as theirs.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Senator Tarr: Honoring Our Veterans


“This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.” –Elmer Davis

It is my hope that as we celebrate Veterans’ Day, we all take the time to honor our veterans for their service to this great nation. Because of their courage and bravery, the ideals of democracy continue to spread across the world.

Where there’s conflict, our soldiers are there to fend off tyranny. Their dedication to freedom, liberty, and justice make our country a strong and honorable one, but their service did not come without sacrifice, and that is why we must continue to hold our current and retired military personnel in the highest of regards.


I wish to thank all those who have served and continue to serve on our behalf."

Monday, November 10, 2014

Senator Tarr’s Statement on Additional Gulf of Maine Cod Regulations Implemented by NOAA

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) released the following statement today regarding NOAA’s decision to implement debilitating fisheries management measures for Gulf of Maine cod:

“The emergency and interim measures announced today by NOAA Fisheries will be severely damaging to a groundfishery that is already struggling to survive on a day-to-day basis. That groundfishery certainly depends on healthy cod stocks, but it also depends on New England’s fishing families and fishing infrastructure, particularly the inshore fleet, being able to carry on against the overwhelming threats posed by the measures released today.

We don’t have a moment to waste to protect our commercial fishing industry and now is the time for anyone who cares about the industry to rise up and defend it with bold and decisive actions, including but not limited to:

• An unprecedented scientific collaborative research effort to determine what the actual condition of the cod stock is with the real, engaged partnership of fishermen who stand to lose their livelihood from today’s announced measures. That effort must determine why the many strict measures that have been undertaken to date haven’t worked, and why the tremendous hardships that have been sustained because of them haven’t produced a healthy cod stock.

• Immediate measures to preserve and protect New England’s domestic fishing infrastructure, including vessels and shoreside facilities.

• Financial assistance for those who depend on groundfishing for their income.

Given the severity and immediacy of these emergency actions, NOAA, the New England federal legislative delegation, and its counterparts in state government can’t afford to wait for them to do damage, we all need to move forward now to develop and implement a plan to mitigate that damage before it’s too late.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Senator Tarr's Statement on Charlie Baker's Election as Governor

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) released the following statement today, following Charlie Baker’s victory over Attorney General Martha Coakley in yesterday’s gubernatorial election:

“I congratulate Governor-elect Charlie Baker on his win in yesterday’s statewide election.  Charlie ran an upbeat campaign that engaged the state’s voters and focused on his positive vision for creating jobs and moving Massachusetts forward.  His ability to lead and to understand the problems that face the state will serve us well, and I anticipate that, beginning on day one, he will work with legislators on both sides of the aisle to achieve a bipartisan consensus to address these problems.  I look forward to working with the new administration over the next four years to help make Charlie’s vision for a better Massachusetts a reality.

I would also like to take this opportunity to recognize Attorney General Martha Coakley, who ran a hard-fought campaign and has dedicated many years of her life to public service.  I wish her well in her future endeavors.  Our democracy depends on individuals who are willing to step forward and engage in a vigorous debate on the things they believe in and care about.  That was certainly the case with both candidates, as well as the people who worked on their campaigns, and we are all the better for it.”

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Remember to Vote Today!


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., Massachusetts voters will get the opportunity to cast their vote for several candidates and ballot questions. Several important elected officials will to be chosen today, including Governor, Lt. Governor, Treasurer, Auditor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, U.S. Representatives, State Senators, State Representatives, and Executive Council Members.

We will also be voting on four statewide ballot questions. Those ballot questions are:

• Question 1 seeks to eliminate the indexing of the gas tax;

• Question 2 expands the state’s bottle deposit law;

• Question 3 sets out to repeal the casino law; and

• Question 4 allows workers to earn paid or unpaid sick time.

Polls close at 8:00pm tonight, and it is essential that everyone exercises their right to vote.

To learn more about the ballot questions please click here to visit the Secretary of State’s website. To find where your polling place is and which candidates are on your ballot, please click here.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Senator Ross Appointed to Oversight Group on Bridgewater State Hospital

Senator Richard Ross has been appointed by Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr to serve on the Bridgewater State Hospital Working Group.

The Bridgewater State Hospital Working Group was established in the FY15 budget to examine and make recommendations relative to mental health services, care and protection of inmates, and the implementation of training requirements for employees coming into contact with inmates at Bridgewater State Hospital.

“Mental illness is an incredibly serious issue across the Commonwealth. As a member of the Joint Committees on Public Safety, Judiciary, and Mental Health and Substance Abuse, I have much experience listening and working with residents who battle mental health disorders on a daily basis,” said Senator Ross. “I am eager to get started so that we can target mental illness head on, increase oversight, and find the most cost-effective methods of treatment for these individuals.”

Friday, October 31, 2014

Senator Ross Named to 495 MetroWest Special Commission

Senator Richard Ross has been appointed to serve on the 495 MetroWest Suburban Edge Community Commission by Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr. The announcement comes after Senator Ross was appointed to three special commissions on domestic violenceautism, and substance abuse.

The 495 MetroWest Suburban Edge Community Commission was established in the FY15 budget to investigate challenges experienced by edge communities, develop policy responses and recommendations as well as cultivate a pilot program to ensure that edge communities can participate in state development initiatives.

Senator Ross is a member of the 495/MetroWest Partnership, a public-private collaboration between businesses and municipalities with the common goal of creating and maintaining a strong sustainable environment.
 
“This year, we as a legislature were able to pass vital legislation on a number of issues that directly impact my constituents,” said Senator Ross. “I was a strong voice on these pieces of legislation, and I look forward to addressing transportation, energy infrastructure, and redevelopment projects in this commission to implement real solutions for the communities I serve.”

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Senator Tarr on the Passing of Mayor Menino

 Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) released the following statement today, following the passing of former Boston Mayor Tom Menino at the age of 71:

“We are all deeply saddened at the loss of such an esteemed and dedicated public servant who always kept the interests of his constituents first and foremost.  Mayor Menino had a distinguished career in public service that spanned more than three decades, from his early days as a Boston City Councilor to his elevation to the most powerful elected office in the City of Boston in 1993.  Throughout his years of public service, he never lost sight of his priorities, which included doing everything he could to improve the lives of others and to make Boston a better place to live, work, and raise a family. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family during this difficult time.”

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Senator Ross Appointed to Special Commission on Substance Abuse and Treatment Options

In light of the recent passage of legislation to provide opportunities for long-term substance abuse recovery, Senator Richard Ross has been appointed to serve on a special commission by Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr.

The commission is tasked with investigating the criteria for the treatment and monitoring of nonviolent offenders with substance addictions, and to further expand effective evidence based treatment programs.

“As a member of the Senate Special Committee on Drug Abuse and Treatment Options in the Commonwealth, I have spent the greater part of this year hearing about the devastating effects this disease has had on countless families across Massachusetts,” said Senator Ross. “What we need is effective methods of treatment for these individuals, and I am proud to be able to work with this commission to make this a reality for them.”

The commission was established in the substance abuse recovery bill, signed into law in August. The law was built off of recommendations by the Senate Special Committee on Drug Abuse and Treatment Options, which Senator Ross was appointed to in January. Senator Ross also serves on the Joint Committees on the Judiciary, Public Safety, and Mental Health and Substance Abuse.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Ross Appointed to Autism Special Commission

Senator Richard Ross has been appointed by Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr to serve on a special commission created to make recommendations and monitor the implementation of policies impacting individuals with autism spectrum disorders.

The commission will be charged with investigating the range of services and supports necessary for such individuals, so that they may have ready access and availability to these services across their lifespan. The commission was established in the autism assistance bill, signed into law this past August. Governor Deval Patrick held a ceremonial bill signing of the law at Fenway Park last week.

“I have always been a strong advocate for autism awareness and research, and I’m proud to be a part of this commission, to continue the fight for those living with autism spectrum disorders and their families,” said Senator Ross.

The autism assistance bill builds off recommendations of the Governor’s Special Commission Relative to Autism, which Senator Ross was appointed to in 2010.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Senator Richard Ross Appointed to Serve on Domestic Violence Special Commission

Following his work this past session on critical domestic violence legislation, Senator Richard Ross has been appointed to serve on a special commission by Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr.

The commission will be tasked with exploring housing and shelter options for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, as well as offering policy recommendations for the expansion of resources for victims.

“Domestic violence and sexual assault are serious issues in Massachusetts, and this session we passed significant legislation to increase penalties for perpetrators to better protect victims,” said Senator Ross. “I’m looking forward to working on this commission to continue this important discussion and ensure that victims of assault have the resources and shelter they need.”

This past legislative session Senator Ross served on the conference committee focused on combating domestic violence and crafting a compromised bill that was later signed into law by the Governor. Additionally, Senator Ross worked on a grant program for public schools to address teen dating violence and develop a curriculum focused on promoting healthy relationships and violence prevention. This was a bipartisan effort, included in the final FY15 budget.

Please contact the office of Senator Ross with any questions or concerns at (617) 722-1555 or Richard.Ross@masenate.gov.

Monday, October 20, 2014

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention Month

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention Month.  Sadly, a 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS) found that approximately 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men in Massachusetts have experienced rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner.  As a state, we must do better to combat domestic violence.

In July of this year, the Massachusetts Legislature passed a bill to do just that.  The bill, S.2334, An Act Relative to Domestic Violence, creates new criminal offenses, increases penalties, protects and empowers victims, and creates new employment rights within the workplace.  Specifically, the act, which was signed into law by Governor Patrick on August 8, 2014, includes:

· The creation of a first offense domestic assault and battery charge on a family or household member punishable by imprisonment in a house of corrections for up to 2 ½ years and a fine of $5,000;

· The creation of a felony charge of strangulation and suffocation punishable by imprisonment in a state prison by 5 years, or 2 ½ years in a house of corrections, and a fine of $5,000;
 
· The standardization of records to be shared by law enforcement and the judicial system;

· The further training of domestic violence programs for police, district attorneys, court, and medical personnel;

· The delaying of bail for offenders by 6 hours to provide the victim with adequate time to relocate safely; and

· The establishing of fees for domestic violence offenses, which will fund a newly created Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance account.

Additionally, the bill now requires places of business with 50 or more employees to allow up to 15 days of leave (paid or unpaid), to any employee who is a victim of domestic violence.  Employees can use that time to obtain medical attention, counseling, housing, protection orders, or legal assistance.

It is important that we continue to bring awareness to prevent these kinds of acts from happening, and to support those who may need help in addressing domestic violence.  To read more about the NISVS report, please click here.  To read the text of S.2334 in its entirety, please click here.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Senate Republican Caucus Seeks Answers from National Grid on Electric Rate Increases

Today the Senate Republican Caucus, led by Senator Richard Ross, distributed the following press release regarding a letter the caucus sent to Attorney General Martha Coakley and others seeking further review concerning National Grid receiving approval from the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) to raise electric rates for customers. National Grid estimates that rates could jump as high as 37% this upcoming winter due to an elevation in power supply prices.

Following National Grid’s recent announcement that customers will see a substantial increase in their winter electric rates, Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester), along with fellow Republican Senators Richard Ross (R-Wrentham), Robert Hedlund (R-Weymouth), and Donald Humason (R-Westfield), submitted a letter to the office of Attorney General Martha Coakley, for further clarification of this decision and its implications for Massachusetts home and business owners.

On Wednesday, September 24th, National Grid issued a press release stating that they recently filed with the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) to adjust electric and gas rates for the winter. National Grid projects that electric bills for customers will be 37% higher than last winter, citing higher power supply prices as a cause.

In the October 7th letter authored by Senator Ross, which was also sent to Governor Deval Patrick, Chair of the Department of Public Utilities Ann Berwick, and Secretary of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Maeve Vallely Bartlett, the Caucus wrote, “As Massachusetts families struggle to meet their financial needs during the costly demands of winter, the cost of this rate increase will present a serious burden. Massachusetts businesses will face yet another financial obstacle to remaining competitive in a challenging economy.”

The Senate Republican Caucus requests:

• A full review and examination of Department of Public Utilities’ approval of National Grid’s proposed rate increase to ensure that it is in full compliance with Massachusetts law and represents the least burdensome course of action.

• The office of the Attorney General determines whether any options are available to alleviate the burden that the proposed rate increase will present.

 According to National Grid, the increase in electricity costs will take effect on November 1, 2014.

“With NSTAR and Western Massachusetts Electric Company expected to file their rates in November, it is important that we confront this serious issue early,” the Caucus wrote.

Posted below is a signed copy of the letter to the AG from the Senate Republican Caucus:

Monday, October 6, 2014

Sen. Humason Announces Newest Cable Show

Senator Don Humason (2nd Hampden & Hampshire) announced that the newest installment of his cable show, “From the State House to Your House” is now on air. His guests this month is Representative Nicholas Boldyga (R-Southwick).

Representative Boldyga’s district includes Agawam, Southwick and Granville. He and Senator Humason jointly represent those three communities. On the show, they give a wrap up of the formal legislative session that concluded July 31st. They also discuss the upcoming session which begins in January, 2015.

The half hour program airs on Westfield’s Community Programming Channel, Channel 15, on Sundays at 4:30 p.m., Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m., Thursdays at 10:30 a.m. and 10:30 p.m., and Fridays at 2:30 p.m. 

Senator Humason may be reached at his Westfield District office at 64 Noble Street and by calling 413-568-1366.  His website is www.DonHumason.org.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Senator Humason Appointed to MA Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) has appointed Senator Don Humason (R-2nd Hampden & Hampshire District) to the Massachusetts Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force (MASS-TF), pursuant to Section 3 of Chapter 48 of the Acts of 2014, An Act Encouraging the Improvement, Expansion, and Development of Military Installations in the Commonwealth.

“Senator Humason approached me and requested that I name him to the Task Force,” Senator Tarr stated.  “Having spoken with Don numerous times about military and veterans issues in our state, and knowing of his strong support for both Barnes Air National Guard Base and Westover Air Reserve Base which are in the cities of Westfield and Chicopee that he represents, I thought he would be the perfect member of our caucus to serve in this capacity. Furthermore, he already serves on the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs so Senator Humason is a good fit for the Task Force.”

The MASS-TF was created by the Patrick-Murray Administration to begin a long term initiative to support all military installations in Massachusetts in order to both collaborate with them and explore opportunities to bring new missions.  The Military Bond Bill, passed by the Legislature and supported by Senator Humason, put the Task Force’s structure into law to ensure continuity of Executive Branch, National Guard, Mass Development, Congressional, State Legislature, industry, and academic collaborations.

The six military installations in Massachusetts include Barnes Air National Guard Base, Fort Devens, the US Army’s Natick Soldier Systems Center, Hanscom Air Force Base, Joint Base Cape Cod, and Westover Air Reserve Base.

“I have long been a great admirer of the men and women of our nation’s armed services and have tried to support them however I could, personally, professionally, and politically,” Senator Humason said.  “I jumped at the chance to be named to the Task Force with the hope I could better serve and protect Barnes and Westover but also do anything possible to position the Commonwealth’s military installations in a favorable way for whatever the future may hold.”

Senator Humason is the State Senator for the 2nd Hampden & Hampshire District and represents the communities of Agawam, Chicopee (7, 8A, 9A), Easthampton, Holyoke, Westfield, Southwick, Granville, Tolland, Russell, Montgomery, and Southampton.  He maintains a district office for the convenience of his constituents at 64 Noble Street, Westfield, 01085, and can be reached at 413-568-1366 or by e-mailing Donald.Humason@MASenate.gov.  His official website is www.DonHumason.org.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Remembering 9/11-A Message from Senator Tarr


May we all join today in the focused and solemn remembrance of that tragic day 13 years ago when terrorists hijacked four commercial airliners and attacked our nation and the ideals we stand for, killing 3,000 victims and leaving many others with lasting health issues that continue. May we also remember that the horrific acts perpetrated by al-Qaeda and orchestrated by Osama Bin Laden did not achieve their goal of crippling the American people, but rather united us and strengthened the resolve of this great nation to face terror with hope, unity, courage and commitment to justice, freedom and liberty for all.

In that spirit, my hope is that we will also take a few moments to remember not only those lost on that infamous day, but also U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Winchester native Glen Anthony Doherty and others lost during an assault on a diplomatic compound in Benghazi, the many military and civilian personnel currently overseas continuing to protect this great nation from terrorism and making strides in advancing the ideals of democracy, and to recommit ourselves to the defense of liberty throughout this world as a measure of dedication to all those who have sacrificed for that noble cause.

There are several charitable organizations that have resulted from the September 11th attack that provide financial assistance to those struggling with illnesses and injuries from the attack, scholarship funds for children who lost parents, and memorial sites that mark that fateful day.  Click here to read a Huffington Post report of several of those charitable organizations.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Get Out and Vote!

Today is Primary Day in Massachusetts, with several contested races taking place for Constitutional Officers including Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, and Treasurer, and seats in the Massachusetts Legislature, both the House and Senate, Congress, Governors Council, and county seats.

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, please click here to find your polling place, along with the names of the candidates appearing on the Democratic and Republican ballots.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Ross Pushes for Educational Mandate Task Force

Senator Richard Ross (R-Wrentham) submitted a letter to the House Committee on Ways and Means yesterday asking for its immediate consideration of House Bill 3722, An Act establishing an educational mandate task force, which is intended to provide much needed relief to towns struggling to fund their schools and educational programs.

House Bill 3722 would establish a task force charged with reviewing all mandates on public schools and districts and assessing the feasibility of implementing a master reporting form.

“At a time when our school districts are struggling to meet all of the needs of their students, it is important that we take the time to assess the requirements we, as a legislature, are placing on schools to determine that resources are being used as efficiently and constructively as possible,” said Senator Ross.

As a member of the Joint Committee on Education, regulating these mandates has been a major priority for Senator Ross. In January 2013, Senator Ross sponsored a bill aimed at reducing paperwork and waste within the department of elementary and secondary education. The bill called for the elimination of wasteful publications by utilizing information technology in order to increase efficiency and responsiveness in the Massachusetts school system.

A new draft of this legislation was written in October, accompanying H3722. The legislation is now before the House Committee on Ways and Means.

“I am pushing for this legislation today in response to extensive feedback I have received throughout my district,” said Senator Ross. “With the new school year beginning for many this week, it is my hope that the committee will consider this soon to better serve our administrators, teachers, and students.” 


Please contact the office of Senator Ross with any questions or concerns at (617) 722-1555 or Richard.Ross@masenate.gov.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Senator Tarr’s Statement on the PAWS Act Being Signed into Law by Governor Patrick

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) released the following statement today regarding Governor Patrick signing S.2345, An Act protecting animal welfare and safety, AKA the PAWS Act, into law.  The bill was filed by Senator Tarr following several cases of animal abuse including the tragic death of Puppy Doe:

“The signing of the PAWS Act represents a victory for everyone who cares about animals in our state, and those who have worked tirelessly to champion this legislation. Now we have stronger penalties and a clear message that if you abuse an animal there will be serious consequences.

Puppy Doe and others have suffered from unthinkable brutality that never should have happened. Yet now, motivated by those cases, we have taken strong and continuing steps to prevent it from happening again.”

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Tarr, Colleagues Secure Passage of the PAWS Act

The House and Senate today enacted Senate Bill 2345, An Act Protecting Animal Welfare and Safety, which includes many of the provisions of the original PAWS Act filed by Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) in October of 2013. The legislation was initially drafted last year in honor of Puppy Doe, a female pit bull who was euthanized on August 31, 2013 because of the extensive injuries she suffered from long term, irreversible damage to her body, which included a stab wound to her eye; the splitting of her tongue to look like a serpent; a dislocated shoulder, elbow, wrist, and ankle; burns; and signs of starvation.

“Animal abuse in our Commonwealth is simply unacceptable, and legislation to confront it has been a major priority in this session,” said Senator Tarr. “Now we have acted to increase penalties to send a clear and immediate message, and to create a task force that will build a foundation for further action.”

“Animals are defenseless and we must do everything within our means to protect them from senseless assault and mistreatment by some of the cruelest members of our society,” said Senator Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford), a Senate lead co-sponsor. “We must be vigilant to ensure that those serious offenders are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Representative Louis Kafka (D-Stoughton) and Representative Bruce Ayers (D-Quincy) have also been championing legislation to strengthen the state’s animal abuse laws. A total of 76 legislators from both the House and Senate signed on to the original PAWS Act, including the entire Senate Republican Caucus.

“We’re very pleased that this crucial legislation has passed, and we extend our thanks to Senator Tarr and all of the bill’s supporters who championed these reforms,”said Kara Holmquist, director of advocacy for the MSPCA-Angell. “Animal lovers around the state can today celebrate these efforts and hopefully can find some peace knowing that from such tragic incidents, like Puppy Doe and others, awareness has been generated that will now prevent harm to other helpless animals.”

The Senate had initially approved the PAWS Act by a vote of 40-0 on July 31, the last day of formal sessions. The House subsequently adopted some minor technical amendments before passing the bill on a voice vote. The modified bill, which will give public safety officials the tools to meaningfully punish those who commit heinous acts of cruelty against animals, calls for:

  • Increasing the possible fine for committing animal abuse from $2,500 to $5,000 for a first offense, and up to $10,000 for a second and any subsequent offenses;

  • Raising the maximum time in prison from 5 years to 7 years for a first offense and up to 10 years for a second and any subsequent offenses;

  • Requiring veterinarians to report suspected animal abuse (similar to the requirement for medical staff who suspect child abuse); and

  • Creating a special task force of experts in law enforcement, animal protection, veterinary practice, legal professionals, and industry professionals to review methods to prevent animal abuse and punish those who commit animal abuse.

The bill now heads to Governor Patrick’s desk for his signature.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Animal Abuse Bill on the Move

Senate Bill 2345, An Act ProtectingAnimal Welfare and Safety, moved one step closer to final passage today, as the Senate concurred with a technical amendment the House made to the bill on the last day of formal sessions July 31st.

The latest bill reflects many of the elements contained in the original PAWS Act (Senate Bill 1914), which Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr and the Senate Republican Caucus filed in October of 2013 with the support of 75 legislative co-sponsors. Passage of this animal protection bill has been one of Senator Tarr’s top priorities for the 2013-2014 legislative session.

Like the original PAWS Act, Senate Bill 2345 provides for increased fines and jail time for individuals who maim, injure or kill an animal, and carries additional penalties for repeat offenders.  It also requires veterinarians to report suspected cases of animal cruelty, while creating a special taskforce of experts in law enforcement, animal protection, veterinary, legal professionals, and industry professionals to review methods to prevent animal abuse and punish those who commit these crimes.

If the House and Senate enact the bill on Thursday, Senate Bill 2345 could be on the Governor’s desk before the end of the week.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Media Alert: Senator Tarr On the Air with WBZ-TV’s Jon Keller Sunday Morning

Recently, Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr was interviewed by WBZ-TV’s Political Reporter Jon Keller for his Sunday segment Keller@Large Report.  Jon and I discussed various political topics regarding the Commonwealth, including the situation the nation faces with the influx of immigrant children currently crossing the border and what that potentially means for Massachusetts, and Thursday’s Probation Department trial verdicts, where three former officials were found guilty of fostering a job-rigging scheme.

Please tune in to WBZ-TV on Sunday at approximately 8:30 a.m. to watch our lively discussion.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Media Alert: Sen. Tarr on “Broadside” Tonight

Please tune in to tonight’s “Broadside” at 6:00 p.m. on New England Cable News (NECN), where Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr will be discussing with host Jim Braude and State Senator Brian Joyce the potential political consequences of yesterday’s Probation Department verdicts, Governor Patrick’s plan to house border-crossing children in Massachusetts, and the recent Market Basket dispute.

“Broadside” re-airs at 7:30 p.m., 2:30 a.m., and again at 4:00 a.m.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Senator Richard Ross Secures Multiple Amendments to Housing Authority Legislation


Senator Richard J. Ross today successfully passed three amendments to the housing authority reform bill that will increase oversight of director salaries and enhance transparency in the application process.

Senator Ross spoke in support of his amendment that will require housing authorities to consult the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Database when evaluating applications in order to protect the safety of their tenants. Ross filed the amendment in response to reports that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was listed on the terror watch list, and had been receiving public benefits. Ross was pleased to see the amendment passed.

“This is a commonsense amendment that will increase transparency within the housing authority application process, while protecting the public safety,” said Senator Ross. “We need to give housing authorities the tools they need to protect their residents. This additional information will put them in a better position when making application decisions.”

The Senate passed two additional amendments filed by Senator Ross. One amendment mandates that housing authorities give preference to residents of the town, as well as applicants who have lived in the town for at least twenty-five years, but not at the time of the application. This language was included in a further amendment, filed by Senator Robert Hedlund, to prohibit illegal immigrants from receiving priority status over legal housing authority applicants.

Another successful Ross amendment will require the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to review any housing authority executive director’s contract that is worth more than $100,000 per year.

The bill was unanimously passed by the Senate. A conference committee will now be appointed to resolve differences between the bills that were passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Nearing the End of Formal Sessions

With July 31st nearing quickly, signifying the end of formal sessions, there is a great amount of work still to be completed by the legislature. Currently, there are several bills within conference committees, which are committees of six members (three from the House and three from the Senate) that are formed after the House and Senate engross their own respective versions of a particular bill and work together to produce a final version of the legislation.  Those bills in conference committee include:

•  An Act promoting economic growth across the Commonwealth;

•  An Act relative to the reduction of gun violence;

•  An Act enhancing protection for victims of domestic violence;

•  An Act financing information technology equipment and related projects; and

•  An Act providing for the preservation and improvement of lands, parks and clean energy in the Commonwealth.

Recently, the House and Senate also passed their own versions of a capital bond bill; however, a conference committee has yet to even be appointed.  Including today, there are only 8 days left of formal sessions for the conference committees to file their reports on the various bills in order for the legislature to have the opportunity to debate and possibly enact them.

Also of concern, there are several important measures still awaiting committee action before the legislation can be brought to the floors for a vote.  Those bills include:

•  An Act relative to the penalty for killing, maiming or poisoning of animals;

•  An Act establishing a Massachusetts seafood marketing program;

•  An Act relative to the expansion of the state DNA database; and

•  An Act relative to local housing authorities.

With time running out, the legislature needs to act swiftly to ensure these matters get the attention they deserve.  Keep checking back to read updates on these measures and others as the legislature continues to progress towards the July 31st deadline.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Tarr Amendment Increases Conservation Land Tax Credit in Environmental Bond Bill

On Thursday, July 10th, the Massachusetts State Senate passed its version of a $1.9 billion environmental bond bill, and a major amendment secured by Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) seeks to expand the Conservation Land Tax Credit (CLTC) program.  Currently, the CLTC program provides a refundable tax credit of 50% of the appraised donation value, with a maximum cap of $50,000.  The Tarr amendment, which was co-sponsored by the Senate Republican Caucus and passed unanimously by a roll call vote of 38-0, would raise the max to $75,000 allowing for greater land conservation investments at a fraction of the cost, while benefiting both the general public and private land owners.

“Conserving and preserving open space is important for our environment, our quality of life and the character of our state,” said Senator Tarr.  “This tax credit has a proven track record of success, and strengthening it in the environmental bond bill will make a good tool even more powerful and effective.”

The Conservation Land Tax Credit was first signed into law in 2008; however, the application did not become available to the public until 2011.  Since then the program has conserved land for an average cost at just under $1,000 per acre, and for every $1 in tax credit provided by the Commonwealth, $5.60 has been generated for the state in land value. To date Massachusetts has conserved over 5,100 acres of land valued at over $21.3 million, while only costing the Commonwealth $3.8 million to purchase. 

The CLTC program has a $2 million cap limit for each calendar year, even though the tax credit has gained in popularity since becoming first available.  During the 2013 calendar year the program exhausted its cap limit from just 44 approved requests, and thus far, 2014 has at least 24 requests totaling $1.15 million, more than half of the program’s cap limit.  In July of 2011, the Massachusetts Commission on Financing Forest Conservation, which was also established by the legislature, recommended increasing the program’s cap to $20 million per calendar year.  With the vast benefits gained by the state, Senator Tarr is committed to increasing the CLTC program’s cap limit for future years to increase conservation land investments.

“Bonding and spending state money isn’t the only way to conserve land, we can also provide incentives that are equally or more effective.  By increasing this modest tax credit we can partner with private land owners to create a win-win situation that is extremely cost effective in promoting open space acquisition in our state,” said Senator Tarr.

The Senate passed the environmental bond bill by a vote of 38-0.  The House of Representatives previously passed its version of the bond bill on June 4th by a vote of 138-5; however, because the Conservation Land Tax Credit program was not included in the House version of the environmental bond bill, the amendment is subject to negotiation in an upcoming House-Senate conference committee.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Senator Tarr’s Statement on a Pharmacy Reform Bill Signed into Law Today

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) released the following statement today regarding H.4235, “An Act relative to Pharmacy Practice in the Commonwealth”.  Senator Tarr supported the legislation and served as a member on the special conference committee that was charged to reconcile the House and Senate’s versions of the bill to produce a final report before ultimately being signed into law today:
 
 “Compounding is a necessary and important part of pharmacy and modern medicine, and yet we have seen the tragic consequences that result when it doesn’t have proper oversight. The bill that becomes law today takes major steps to provide that oversight, from licensing measures to address drugs that are imported and exported, to labeling, to a board of registration that has a better composition and the proper perspective to regulate effectively.
 
Given the harm that has occurred in the past, we must continue to watch closely this area of our health care system. Yet today we have improved the safety of that system significantly.”

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Tarr Beach Safety Bill Passes Senate; Seeks to Honor the Memory of 2-year-old Caleigh Harrison

On Tuesday, the Massachusetts State Senate took a major step forward by unanimously engrossing a bill sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) that seeks to create a color-coded flag warning system to promote safety at the state’s public beaches.  Senate Bill 2247, also known as “Caleigh’s Bill”, was crafted due to the tragic case of Gloucester 2-year-old Caleigh Harrison, who was last seen on Rockport’s Long Beach on April 19, 2012 and is believed to have been swept out to sea.

“Caleigh’s Bill provides a great public safety and awareness tool for the public beaches across the Commonwealth,” said Senator Tarr.  “This bill honors Caleigh, and through this measure, there will be greater consciousness of the dangers that the ocean presents, and that will ultimately save lives.”

In an effort to promote beach safety, Senate Bill 2247, An Act creating uniform beach warnings, would:

·  Require the Department of Conservation and Recreation to develop a uniform warning and safety flag program to be used at all public beaches maintained by DCR, by providing a uniform size, shape, color, and definition for each warning and safety flag; and

·  Allow a municipality to adopt the uniform flag warning and safety program by requiring a vote by a city council, town council, or town meeting.

“Caleigh’s Bill”, which is also supported by Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante (D-Gloucester), was first developed by Caleigh’s uncle, David Harrison, Jr., who was on a business trip to Panama last year when he learned about the country’s color-coded flag system which is used to warn the public about the dangers of tides and riptides.  Alabama, Florida, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Texas and several other states utilize a similar program, and the Harrison family is seeking to implement the same safety measures in Massachusetts.

“My family and I are pleased to hear of the news that Caleigh’s bill has now passed the Senate and is in the final stages of becoming a reality! Our vision of helping to prevent other tragedies like the one that we live through every day seems to be very close to happening! We would like to thank Sen. Bruce Tarr along with Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante for their hard work in making all of this possible,” said David Harrison, Jr.

The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

MEDIA ALERT: Senator Tarr to Discuss PAWS Act on Fox 25, NECN and Channel 5 Tonight


Tonight at 6:30 p.m., Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr will once again be a guest on the Fox 25 Evening News where he’ll be discussing the status of an animal cruelty bill that contains important provisions of the PAWS Act.  The bill, H.1182, was recently released from the Joint Committee on the Judiciary and would:

·  Increase the fine of committing animal abuse from $2,500 to $5,000;

·  Raise the maximum time in prison from 5 years to 7 years;

·  Require veterinarians to report suspected animal abuse (similar to the requirement of medical staff who suspect child abuse); and

·  Create a special taskforce of experts in law enforcement, animal protection, veterinary, and legal professionals to review methods to prevent animal abuse and punish those who commit animal abuse.

Earlier today, Senator Tarr, along with the MSPCA and the Animal Rescue League of Boston, met with members of the media to discuss the release of H.1182 and the potential the bill has to becoming law during this legislative session.  Tune in to NECN, Channel 5, and Fox 25 during tonight’s broadcasts to see today’s interviews.

Senate Republican Caucus Succeeds in Securing DCF Reform in FY’15 State Budget; Measure Aims to Protect Children Under Agency’s Watch

Seeking to address deep concerns regarding those who come into contact with children through the Department of Children and Families (DCF), Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester), Assistant Minority Leader Robert Hedlund (R-Weymouth), Senate Minority Whip Donald Humason (R-Westfield), and Senator Richard Ross (R-Wrentham), the Ranking Member on the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, sought and secured a critical amendment to the Fiscal Year 2015 state budget that will provide an important safeguard in protecting the welfare of children within the state’s child welfare system.  The DCF amendment will require the agency to properly vet the backgrounds of household members of potential foster and adoptive homes for child placement.  In doing so, the measure will provide another level of protection for the children currently within the Massachusetts child welfare system.

“Sadly, over the past year we have witnessed the systemic failures of the Department of Children and Families, and the tragic results of those failures,” said Senator Tarr.  “Government’s primary responsibility is to ensure the safety of its citizens, and this amendment will provide a powerful tool to prevent children and families involved with DCF from coming into contact with those who could harm them.”

Current law requires the Department of Children and Families to conduct background record checks (BRCs) of all adult household members where a foster child has been placed; however, the law falls short of those under the age of 18.  This amendment rectifies that oversight and will provide greater safeguards to protect the more than 7,000 children currently receiving foster care.  The amendment will require DCF to conduct CORI checks on all household members of a foster or adoptive home over the age of 15.

“We’ve witnessed the Department of Children and Families fail to fulfill its mission time and time again and, every time, the consequences have been devastating,” said Senator Hedlund. “I’m proud to have helped secure this amendment as it represents a step in the direction of true reform. There is still work to be done and we cannot stop fighting until every child in the Commonwealth receives the protection they need and deserve.”

In March, Auditor Suzanne Bump released her findings of a recent audit of the agency.  The Auditor’s report stated that “DCF does not have adequate documentation to substantiate that it has conducted all required BRCs on individuals living in some of its foster homes.  Therefore, DCF cannot substantiate that these BRCs were performed before DCF placed children in foster homes.”  Additionally, the audit cross checked Level 2 and Level 3 registered sex offenders to the addresses of children receiving services from DCF over a 27-month period, and found 25 address matches.

“This amendment aims to increase oversight and transparency in the Department of Children and Families, so that our citizenry no longer feel the tragic effects of the agency’s shortcomings,” said Senator Ross. “Our children are too important and this amendment is a step forward in raising accountability, addressing deficiencies, and better protecting those that the DCF cares for.”

“The health and safety of our children is paramount; DCF has to be more accountable with criminal background checks,” said Senator Humason.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Senator Tarr’s Statement on the Passage of an Economic Development Bill by the Senate

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) released the following statement tonight after the Senate passed Senate Bill 2231, “An Act promoting economic growth across the Commonwealth”:

“It is important that we do not forget the taxpayer as we develop strategies to stimulate economic development in the Commonwealth.  Just as important as providing funding for grants and programs is ensuring that working families and small businesses get the opportunity to retain and invest more of their earnings in creating jobs and bolstering the economy.  Despite the fact that several key opportunities to confront the costs of doing business in Massachusetts were lost during today’s debate, the bill that was passed does contain some important measures to use tax relief as a powerful tool to produce gains for our economy, including those which:

•  provide a two day sales tax holiday in August;

•  strengthen and modernizing the state’s Research and Development Tax Credit; and

•  improve the usefulness of the Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit for projects in transition.

While these are positive steps, the conclusion of today’s debate leaves us with much more work to do to reduce or eliminate the costs of, and impediments to, job creation and economic growth if we are to secure robust and lasting economic recovery as we emerge from one of the longest and most difficult recessions our state and nation have ever faced.”

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Senate Republican Caucus Seeks Affordable Care Act Amendments in State Budget

Recognizing the harm being inflicted on the Massachusetts economy due to the 2010 enactment of the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Senate Republican Caucus secured two amendments to the Senate’s version of the Fiscal Year 2015 state budget that would study the effects of a medical device tax on the state’s economy and compel a formal request for a permanent waiver to certain provisions of the ACA.  With the ongoing negotiations between the members of the conference committee charged with reconciling the House and Senate’s versions of the spending bill, Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester), Assistant Minority Leader Robert Hedlund (R-Weymouth), and Senate Minority Whip Donald Humason (R-Westfield) have sent the members of the committee a letter expressing a need to include the amendments in the final version of the bill.

Upon passage of the ACA in 2010, medical device manufacturers became subjected to a tax that has inflicted on this important group of employers.  In an effort to support the industry, bolster the economy, and protect jobs in the state, Senate Republicans secured an amendment that would create a commission to study the short and long term effects of the medical device tax on the Massachusetts economy and its employers.

“The medical device tax contained in the ACA has significant negative impacts on this critical group of employers in our Commonwealth, and thus for our state’s economy as well,” wrote Senate Republicans to the members of the conference committee.  “Accordingly, the Senate embraced our amendment to create a commission to study those impacts and inform a course of action to address them.”

Widely lauded as the model for the federal Affordable Care Act, the 2006 Massachusetts Health Care reform law has achieved the overall goals of the ACA by providing healthcare to over 97% of the Commonwealth’s residents; however, due to restrictions on risk rating factors, and the requirement of a new health care exchange website have undermined the Massachusetts health care law.

“Unfortunately, the Massachusetts law touted repeatedly as the prototype for the federal ACA is now being undermined by its federal successor,” wrote the caucus.  “Our amendment now before you would require the administration to request a permanent waiver from two important elements of the ACA: the requirement to use only 4 risk rating factors as opposed to the 9 currently used in Massachusetts, and the requirement to create a new exchange website, even though the Commonwealth’s exchange has complied with the ACA’s goal of health care coverage.”