Monday, September 28, 2015

Reforms for Department of Children and Families

Boston– Today, State Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) issued the following statement regarding reform efforts announced by Governor Charlie Baker, Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders, Department of Children and Families Commissioner Linda Spears, and SEIU Local 509 Chapter President Peter MacKinnon:

The DCF reforms announced jointly today by the Baker Administration and SEIU Local 509 are important and productive in many ways. Acknowledging that the state’s beleaguered child welfare agency has been suffering from systemic failures is a necessary and critical first step to actually confronting those failures in a realistic and productive way, and it sets a course toward desperately needed change.

Substantially, the reforms make good and practical sense, and that is confirmed by the support of the people who are working at DCF to protect kids every day. Accessing, using and sharing information, maintaining manageable caseloads with effective supervision, and providing technical support to case workers all have tremendous potential to give DCF new strength and effectiveness.

Perhaps most importantly however, clearly establishing the mission of DCF to keeping children safe, is critical to moving the agency forward by doing everything possible to reduce the risk of harm to our state’s most vulnerable children.

DCF is in clear need of reform and support, and now there is a plan to provide them. The Legislature should do what it can and must do to help bring that plan to fruition.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Senate Republican Amendment Targets Lengthy Driver Insurance Surcharges

Secures Study to Reduce Nation’s Longest Payment Period

Boston- The Senate today adopted a Republican Caucus proposal which could lead to a reduction in the length of time that drivers are subject to the state’s insurance surcharge point system for traffic violations.

 Under existing law, auto insurance companies calculate premiums using the Safe Driver Insurance Program (SDIP) which factors in surchargable driving events on a person’s record for up to six years. Surchargable events include minor infractions such as speeding and major offenses such as at-fault accidents and driving under the influence.

“Across the nation, the average insurance surcharges period is less than two and a half years; our amendment requires the Insurance Division to evaluate our system to determine if and how we can move away from a six year system that levies a penalty on drivers far longer than in any of our neighboring states,” said Senator Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R- Gloucester).

The proposal, authored by Tarr, and offered by the Senate Republican Caucus was unanimously adopted by the Senate. It requires the state Division of Insurance to conduct a study on the feasibility of reducing the amount of time driver points remain on a drivers SDIP record. The report along with recommendations must be submitted to the legislature no later than December 31, 2015.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Reforming the MBTA

Responding to the systemic problems of the MBTA highlighted by system-wide failures that were exposed by our last winter, I worked during the Senate debate of the Fiscal Year 2016 State Budget to develop and sponsor an amendment with my colleagues in the Republican Caucus to create a Fiscal Management Control Board to begin the process of productive reform. Importantly, we worked to reach a bipartisan compromise with Senate Transportation Chair Thomas McGee (D- Lynn) and Governor Charlie Baker that was approved unanimously by the Senate, prevailed in the budget process, and became law. By clicking the links you can read the language of our amendment and its final version, Section 199, of the state budget.

Yesterday that Fiscal Management Control Board proved how important it is to address issues in mass transportation by issuing its first report on many dimensions of the MBTA. It contains information critical to understanding the situation we face, and points in the direction of necessary actions to confront problems, capture savings and efficiencies, and restoring reliability and fiscal soundness to a system that so many riders and our economy and quality of life depend on. You can read the entire report by clicking this link. or the image below.