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.”