Saturday, January 31, 2015

Senator Ross: January 2015 State House Update

Senator Richard J. Ross, State House Update, January 2015
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State Senator Richard J. Ross (R-Wrentham) proudly serving the Norfolk, Bristol and Middlesex District.

State House
Room 520
Boston, MA 02133

Ph: 617-722-1555
Fax: 617-722-1054

Dear Friends,

We are just one month into 2015, and from getting critical legislation signed and filed, welcoming our new legislators and Governor, all whilst battling severe weather, it has definitely proven to be an exciting year so far.

I am very grateful to be back on Beacon Hill for the 189th legislative session to serve you, my constituents. Please read and share my monthly newsletter for updates on news in the district, office hours, and information on what is happening in the State House.

As always, it is an honor to serve as your State Senator.


I am honored to have been appointed to serve as an Assistant Senate Minority Leader for the 2015-2016 legislative session.
On Wednesday, January 21st the Senate adopted new Senate rules changes to expand minority party committee participation and floor leadership. The Senate Committee on Ethics and Rules was also subsequently split into two separate committees. I now serve as the Ranking Member on the Senate Committee on Ethics and I look forward to getting to work and fighting for my constituents across the Norfolk, Bristol, and Middlesex District.
I was also appointed to the Joint Committee on Public Health and will continue serving on the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, as well as the Joint Committees on Higher Education, Judiciary, Mental Health and Substance Abuse, and Public Safety and Homeland Security.
Since being elected to the Senate in 2010, I have previously served as the Ranking Republican of the Ways and Means Committee, Minority Whip, and Assistant Minority Whip.

In a last minute push before the end of the 2013-2014 legislative session, myself and Representative Shawn Dooley secured passage of legislation to establish a gaming revenue stabilization fund in the town of Plainville.

As host to Plainridge Racecourse and the new Plainridge Park Casino, set to open this spring, Plainville will be entitled to Host Community Payments from the gaming facility. Bill S.2354 An Act establishing a gaming revenue stabilization fund in the town of Plainville, signed by former Governor Deval Patrick on January 7th, ensures that all Host Community Payments received by the town are deposited into the gaming stabilization fund. The fund is intended to be utilized for future capital projects, upon vote of a town meeting.

Earlier this week, local state legislators welcomed new Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash to Plainridge for a tour and a briefing on the facility. It is estimated that when Plainridge opens it will create roughly 500 jobs.


Former Governor Deval Patrick signed into law, H4571 An Act relative to direct wine shipper licenses, which corrects a loophole in the FY15 budget that allows out-of-state wineries to ship limited quantities of wine directly to consumers.

Throughout the budget process, lawmakers inadvertently eliminated the ability for small farmer-wineries and cider makers to sell directly to stores and restaurants, a provision that would have forced them to sell through one of the state's alcohol distributors.

Countless Massachusetts wine and cider makers expressed their concern, including Homestead Hard Cider, located in Attleboro.

Attleboro legislators worked with State Representative John Scibak (D-South Hadley), the bill's sponsor, to correct the mistake and push for the legislation's passage. Rep. Paul Heroux and I stopped by Homestead to chat with DoubleACS about the bill, you can check it our here.
In light of serious public safety concerns on several interstate highways due to demonstrators stopping traffic, I have proposed a bill to prevent such trespassing on Massachusetts highways.
An Act Relative to Preserving Public Safety and Preventing Trespassing on State Highways would punish anyone who willfully trespasses upon a state highway, without just cause, with a fine of not less than $5,000 or imprisonment for not more than six months.
While I respect meaningful discourse and lawful protesting, the line must be drawn when lives are put at risk. This is first and foremost a public safety issue and the people of the Commonwealth need to know we are doing everything in our power to discourage such reckless behavior.

For the full release, please click here.
My Republican colleagues and I successfully changed a major Senate rule requiring the posting of Senate committee votes to the General Court website within 48 hours of a vote being taken. The measure passed unanimously by a vote of 38-0. I had the privilege of serving on the temporary committee on Ethics and Rules, tasked with proposing recommendations to be adopted as the permanent rules of the Senate for 2015-2016.
Participating in the Senate Rules debate was constructive and collaborative and the newly adopted rules will only help to increase transparency, accountability, and efficiency throughout the legislative process. While I am disappointed some Republican initiated ideas were not included, we made some great gains, demonstrating the body's continued dedication to the people of the Commonwealth.

For more information on all the changes, please click here.
It has been an exciting month so far on Beacon Hill. Not only was I fortunate to be sworn in for my third term as your State Senator for the Norfolk, Bristol, and Middlesex District, but we have a new Governor as well as a few new changes to the Massachusetts Senate.

Welcome to Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, my good friend and new Senate President Stan Rosenberg, and our two new members of the Senate Republican Caucus Vinny deMacedo and Ryan Fattman. Excited to get to work.
I am thrilled to announce that Governor Charlie Baker has made good on his campaign promise to release the remainder of the Chapter 90 local transportation aid funding statewide for FY15, essential for projects in our cities and towns. Here's a breakdown of increases for towns across the Norfolk, Bristol, and Middlesex District:

Attleboro will receive an additional $604,064
Franklin will receive an additional $468,315
Millis will receive an additional $137,727
Natick will receive an additional $500,667
Needham will receive an additional $456,350
Norfolk will receive an additional $195,225
North Attleboro will receive an additional $369,513
Plainville will receive an additional $136,128
Sherborn will receive an additional $126,964
Wayland will receive an additional $237,711
Wellesley will receive an additional $412,589
Wrentham will receive an additional $212,133

For more information please visit the MassDOT website here.
Attended the Massachusetts Veterans' Service Officers Association Legislative Luncheon at the State House with Attleboro Veterans Officers Phil Audette, Lt. Col. Carl Bradshaw, and Col. Julie Hall (left). Recognized the newest Eagle Scouts of Troop 10 in Needham with Rep. Denise Garlick. Congrats to Kyle Bourke, Alexander Caulfield, Jacob Nikolajczyk, and Theodore Morin IV for this outstanding achievement (right).
Bristol Community College will be hosting a free FAFSA workshop at the Attleboro Campus, 11 Field Road, on Saturday, February 7th from 10:00am to 1:00pm. Financial Aid Office staff will be available to walk people through the financial aid applications as well as answer any questions about the process. This event is open to the public.

Please register in advance. For more information please call (508)226-2484 or (508)678-2811 ext: 3327 or email
Recently toured Madonna Manor nursing home in North Attleboro with Administrator Mary-Ellen Murphy (left). Visited HESSCO Elder Services which serves many towns in Norfolk County including Millis, Norfolk, Plainville, and Wrentham, and spoke with Executive Director Mary Jean McDermott (right).
This week, Massachusetts was hit with one of the worst January storms in its' history. The people of the Commonwealth were prepared, but many of my constituents reported property damages, loss of power, and heat. It looks like Juno will only be the first of many severe winter storms to hit us over the new few months, which is why I encourage you to review this important list and ensure that you and your family know what to do and who to contact.
  1. MEMA is your best resource when it comes to up-to-date information on the severity of oncoming winter storms. On their website, they also have important information regarding how best to prepare as well as tips on winter storm safety. Visit their website here.
  2. To receive emergency information on your smartphone, including severe weather alerts from the National Weather Service and emergency information from MEMA, download the Massachusetts Alerts app for free here.  
  3. Shelters are open across Massachusetts for those in need during winter storms. For more information, dial 2-1-1 or go to the Mass 2-1-1 website here. Please feel free to dial this number for any non-emergency related questions as well.
  4. Call your utility company to report outages and receive information regarding restoration. Customers served by a municipal utility in their community should locate their utility's phone number to report outages.
    NSTAR: 1-800-592-2000
    National Grid: 1-800-465-1212
    WMECO: 877-659-6326
    Unitil (FG&E): 888-301-7700
  5. Do not call 9-1-1 to report any outages. Do call 9-1-1 if you see any down power lines.
  6. View this electronic map from MEMA for information on power outages across the state.
Safety is the number one priority. Always be prepared.
Celebrating the renaming of the commuter rail station in downtown Natick to Natick Center Station with Senator Karen Spilka (left). Congrats to all of the Attleboro D.A.R.E. program graduates at Coelho Middle School. Thank you to Principal Andrew Boles and the Attleboro Police Department for making this important program a reality for our children (right).

As tax season approaches, my legislative colleagues and I will be hosting informational seminars on the Senior Circuit Breaker Tax Credit across the Norfolk, Bristol, and Middlesex District.

This event is open to all and I encourage all of my constituents who believe they are eligible to attend this seminar and learn how they can take advantage of this great program.

To see when we will be visiting your town, check out the schedule below. For more information on the Senior Circuit Breaker Tax Credit please visit my website here
Tuesday, February 10th
Attleboro Senior Center, 25 South Main Street, Attleboro
Norfolk COA, 28 Medway Branch Road, Norfolk
Wrentham COA, 400 Taunton Street, Wrentham
Wednesday, February 11th
Plainville COA, 9 School Street, Plainville
North Attleboro COA, 204 Elm Street, North Attleboro
Friday, February 27th
Sherborn COA, 19 Washington Street, Sherborn
Franklin COA, 10 Daniel McCahill Street, Franklin
Wednesday, March 18th
Needham Center at the Heights, 300 Hillside Avenue, Needham
Natick COA, 117 East Central Street, Natick
Millis Town Hall, 900 Main Street, Millis
Tuesday, March 24th
Wellesley COA, 219 Washington Street, Wellesley
Wayland COA, 41 Cochituate Road, Wayland
Speaking with constituents from Millis, Needham, and Sherborn at my office hours at Sherborn Town Hall (left). Attended the Sturdy Memorial Hospital Annual Meeting with Rep. Steven Howitt, Rep. Betty Poirier, President and CEO of Sturdy Dr. Bruce Auerbach, Rep. Jay Barrows, and Senator Jim Timilty (right). 

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