Showing posts with label legislation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label legislation. Show all posts

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Episode 42 starts with eclipse highlights and legislative seminar before discussing headlines (audio)

FM #1176 = This is the Franklin Matters radio show, number 1176 in the series. 

This session of the radio show shares my conversation with Ted McIntyre, Franklin resident and climate activist. We met to record in the Franklin TV & Public Radio studio on Tuesday, April 16, 2024.  

We continued making sense of climate on an almost extemporaneous discussion similar to what we recently had. Starting with highlights from Ted’s experience of the eclipse, and with my highlights from the Citizen Legislative Seminar where I spent 2 days in State House.

This discussion continues our journey understanding the MA roadmap toward net zero and while it helps me “make sense of climate”, we hope it helps with your understanding as well. 

If you have climate questions or Franklin specific climate questions, send them in and we’ll try to answer them in a future session.  

The conversation runs about 43 minutes. Let’s listen to my conversation with Ted.

Audio link ->


** See the page that collects all the “Making Sense of Climate” episodes -> 


We are now producing this in collaboration with Franklin.TV and Franklin Public Radio ( or 102.9 on the Franklin area radio dial.  

This podcast is my public service effort for Franklin but we can't do it alone. We can always use your help.

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The music for the intro and exit was provided by Michael Clark and the group "East of Shirley". The piece is titled "Ernesto, manana"  c. Michael Clark & Tintype Tunes, 2008 and used with their permission.

I hope you enjoy!


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Episode 42 starts with eclipse highlights and legislative seminar before discussing headlines (audio)
Episode 42 starts with eclipse highlights and legislative seminar before discussing headlines (audio)

Friday, April 12, 2024

Senate Authorizes $375M for Local Transportation Infrastructure

Chapter 90 funding would support cities and towns with road and bridge construction, public transit improvement, and EV infrastructure

Today, the Massachusetts Senate unanimously approved $375 million in bond authorizations for statewide transportation projects, including the state's Chapter 90 program, which would create a reliable funding source for local infrastructure investments like roads, bridges, regional transit equipment and infrastructure, bicycle infrastructure, and electric vehicle infrastructure, among other things.

Projects funded by the annual legislation often improve quality of life for residents in every region of the state, and many play a role in environmental mitigation.

Every city and town in the Commonwealth would receive a share of $200 million in funding to be used on maintenance and construction of roads and bridges. $150 million would be allocated equally to six programs targeting specific transportation infrastructure, and $25 million would be allocated to cities and towns through the rural roads program.

"Getting around our communities is a fundamental part of everyone's day," said Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). "Whether the commute takes you on the sidewalk, through a bike lane, across a small bridge, onto your Regional Transit Authority, or to the T, your journey should be quick and safe. By passing today's legislation, we are empowering our cities and towns with the funding to make improvements to the infrastructure our residents travel on, regardless of where they go and how."

"Our transportation infrastructure is so vitally important to the state's economy, and this Chapter 90 funding addresses many outstanding issues in keeping the Commonwealth's roadways, bridges, and public transportation system in peak operating condition. I'm pleased that over $375 million has been allocated to municipal roadways, local streetscape improvements, and enhancements to our mass transit system," said Senator Michael J. Rodrigues (D-Westport), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.  

"Throughout our district, people and businesses rely on transportation infrastructure, whether roads, trains, buses, bridges, bike lanes, or sidewalks," said Senator Becca Rausch (D-Needham). "I was proud to vote yes to put our state dollars to work for our communities."

Of the $375 million in total authorizations, the legislation would allocate $25 million to each of the following programs that target specific infrastructure areas:

  • Municipal Pavement Program, which focuses on the improvement of municipally owned state numbered routes.
  • Municipal Small Bridge Program, which provides financial support to cities and towns for small bridge replacement, preservation, and rehabilitation projects.
  • Complete Streets Funding Program, which provides funding to municipalities for streets that provide safe and accessible options for all travel modes such as walking, biking, transit, and vehicles.
  • Municipal Bus Enhancement Program, which provides grant funding to build out infrastructure related to mass transit by bus.
  • Mass Transit Access Grant Program, which provides grants for design and construction improvements to access commuter rail stations or other mass transit stations, such as parking lots, drop-off and pick-up zones, bike storage infrastructure, and electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
  • Municipal/RTA EV Grant Program, which provides grants to Regional Transit Authorities and municipalities for the purchase of electric vehicles and related charging equipment.

A previous version having been passed by the House of Representatives, the legislation now awaits final enactment in each branch, before being sent to the Governor's desk for her signature.

Link to the actual legislative text ->

Senate Authorizes $375M for Local Transportation Infrastructure
Senate Authorizes $375M for Local Transportation Infrastructure

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Migrant crisis: State Senate votes to limit time in family shelter

"As the state burns through the hundreds of millions already set aside to fund Massachusetts’ emergency shelter system, the state Senate late Thursday voted to inject millions more into the system, and limit the amount of time homeless families, including migrants, can stay.

The 32-8 vote, which happened shortly after 9 p.m. Thursday night, sets the stage for what will likely be a contentious debate with the House, which passed its own version earlier this month.

The proposal is part of a spending bill meant to buoy the strained shelter system through the end of the fiscal year, and help fund it into 2025. While the Senate proposal diverges from the House’s bill on some key details, both chambers are now united behind the concept of restricting, for the first time since the inception of Massachusetts’ right-to-shelter law, how long the state should provide a place to sleep for homeless families."

The Senate legislation differs in many ways from the House’s proposal
The Senate legislation differs in many ways from the House’s proposal

"As Massachusetts struggles to find housing for an influx of migrants, a Globe analysis of state data finds that few wealthy communities are hosting emergency shelters for homeless and migrant families while the bulk are in middle-income cities and towns.

Of the 94 communities hosting emergency shelters, more than half have a median household income below $100,000, while just nine of those communities — including Acton, Concord, and Lexington — have household incomes above $150,000.

The state says its process for placing shelters is driven by the availability of space and factors such as their proximity to critical services such as public transportation.

But many communities say they are having trouble providing all the resources people need, such as transportation and translators, and worry the strain on their limited resources will reach a breaking point."
Buried within the Globe article above was this piece which I missed while I was away in February (subscription maybe required) ->

Friday, March 8, 2024

Community Relations Subcommittee Meeting- March 11 at 5 PM

Franklin Public Schools - Franklin School Committee
Community Relations Subcommittee
March 11, 2024 - 5:00 PM

Municipal Building - 3rd Floor Training Room

"The listing of matters are those reasonably anticipated by the Chair which may be discussed at the meeting. Not all items listed may in fact be discussed and other items not listed may also be brought up for discussion to the extent permitted by law."
● Legislative Forum Update
● March Newsletter Feedback
● April Newsletter Planning
● Strawberry Stroll Planning

Community Relations Subcommittee Meeting- March 11 at 5 PM
Community Relations Subcommittee Meeting- March 11 at 5 PM

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

MA Constitution "Equality under the law shall not be denied or abridged because of sex, race, color, creed or national origin."

"Article CVI.

Article I of Part the First of the Constitution is hereby annulled and the following is adopted:

"All people are born free and equal and have certain natural, essential and unalienable rights; among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness. Equality under the law shall not be denied or abridged because of sex, race, color, creed or national origin."

The link to this section and to the full MA constitution can be found ->

Mass Constitution "Equality under the law shall not be denied or abridged because of sex, race, color, creed or national origin."
MA Constitution "Equality under the law shall not be denied or abridged because of sex, race, color, creed or national origin."

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

"The state’s outlier status on punishing revenge porn ought to be a source of embarrassment for Senate lawmakers"

"The sharing of intimate photographs by consenting adults has by many accounts become commonplace. And it has come with a host of unfortunate consequences — including the potential for betrayal of what was once a trusting relationship.

Revenge porn — the nonconsensual sharing or publishing of those intimate images — has swept up celebrities and the once-happy couple next door alike.

Look no further than the recently reported case of Aiden Kearney, the controversial blogger known as Turtleboy, who now stands accused by a former girlfriend of threatening to release nude photos of her after she broke up with him in December — and started talking to police about his other activities. Kearney had recently been charged with witness intimidation in connection with his interest in a Canton murder case. Now he faces charges of domestic assault and witness intimidation in the case involving his ex-girlfriend."
Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)

The legislation recently passed by the MA House was shared here recently

Massachusetts and South Carolina are the only states where revenge porn is not criminalized.CHRIS RATCLIFFE/PHOTOGRAPHER: CHRIS RATCLIFFE/BL
Massachusetts and South Carolina are the only states where revenge porn is not criminalized. CHRIS RATCLIFFE/PHOTOGRAPHER: CHRIS RATCLIFFE/BL

Friday, January 12, 2024

Massachusetts House unanimously passes bill to prevent abuse and exploitation, enhance protections for survivors (video)

The Massachusetts House of Representatives today (Wednesday, January 10, 2024) passed legislation that combines several separate legislative initiatives into one bill that will help to prevent abuse and exploitation, while also enhancing protections for survivors. The legislation addresses teen sexting and image-based sexual assault, commonly referred to as “revenge porn;” expands the definition of abuse to include coercive control for the purposes of obtaining a restraining order; and extends the statute of limitations for certain domestic violence offenses from six years to 15 years.

“This legislation modernizes our criminal laws by ensuring that those who share explicit images of others without their consent face punishment, while also educating minors on the dangers of sharing explicit images of themselves rather than imposing some of the criminal justice system’s most severe consequences,” said House Speaker Ronald J. Mariano (D-Quincy). “I’m also incredibly proud of this legislation’s bolstered protections for survivors, including the added consideration of nonphysical forms of abuse for those seeking restraining orders from their abusers. I want to thank Chairman Day and the Judiciary Committee, along with each bill sponsor and all my colleagues in the House for prioritizing this vital legislation.” 

“The House has heard the urgent call of survivors to enhance protections and ensure that our laws keep up with technology. But the House doesn’t just listen, we act,” said Representative Michael S. Day (D-Stoneham), House Chair of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary. “It’s critical that these reforms pass into law quickly so that victims of coercive control, adolescent sexting and revenge porn aren’t left without relief.”

Currently, minors who possess, purchase, or share explicit photos of themselves or other minors are charged with violating Massachusetts child pornography laws and are required to register as sex offenders. The legislation passed today instead authorizes commitment to the Department of Youth Services (DYS), but also allows minors to be diverted to an educational program in lieu of criminal punishment. A district attorney, however, is allowed to petition the court to bring criminal charges in extreme cases. 

The educational diversion program, to be created by the Attorney General in consultation with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), DYS, and the District Attorneys Association, would provide teenagers with information about the legal and nonlegal consequences of sexting, which would be made available to school districts. DESE should also encourage districts to implement media literacy programs in their schools as a prevention measure.  

“This legislation represents a coordinated effort and a holistic approach to address an increasingly prevalent behavior and provides mechanisms to protect individuals victimized by those who threaten, intimidate, and harass the subjects of these images,” said State Representative Jeffrey N. Roy (D-Franklin), a lead sponsor of the bill. “The sexting provisions provide law enforcement officers with a middle ground that will allow them to educate kids about the consequences of their actions without ruining their lives. It will have a tremendous impact on people who have become entangled in the web and transmittal of images that can cause traumatic and lifetime harm through a diversion program that will educate them about the legal and personal consequences of this behavior.”

In addition to teen sexting, the bill addresses the nonconsensual distribution of explicit images by adults by establishing a penalty in the existing criminal harassment statute, including up to two and a half years of prison time and/or a monetary fine of up to $10,000. The bill increases the upper limit of the fine for criminal harassment from $1,000 to $5,000. Under this bill, a victim may also petition the court for a harassment prevention order against a person who has violated this statute. 

The bill passed today also adds coercive control to the definition of abuse. Coercive control is a nonphysical form of abuse which includes a pattern of behavior, or a single act intended to threaten, intimated, harass, isolate, control, coerce or compel compliance of a family or household member that causes the family or household member to fear physical harm or to have a reduced sense of physical safety or autonomy. Examples of coercive control include threating to share explicit images, regulating or monitoring a family or household member’s communications and access to services, and isolating a family or household member from friends or relatives.

"Protecting victims is the driving force behind these efforts and I am pleased we are giving prosecutors more tools to deal with these disturbing and dangerous situations. Thank you to Speaker Mariano, Chair Michlewitz, Chair Day, and the advocacy groups who recognize how important it is that we further protect victims by updating our criminal laws," said Representative Richard M. Haggerty (D-Woburn), a lead sponsor of the bill. "By defining coercive control as abuse and closing revenge porn consent loopholes, this law protects against the severe emotional harm too often inflicted through non-physical tactics, sending a clear message that revenge porn, coercive control, and criminal harassment have no place in Massachusetts.” 

“Far too often, our legal system has failed victims of domestic violence who are subjected to the unseen tortures of psychological and emotional abuse,” Representative Meghan Kilcoyne (D-Clinton), a lead sponsor of the bill. “I am so grateful that with this piece of legislation, we will be giving our law enforcement and judiciary the necessary tools to ensure those subjected to both physical and emotional abuse are protected. I am thankful to the Speaker and Chairman Day for their leadership. “With this bill, we can make sure victims of coercive abuse will no longer suffer in silence.” 

The legislation passed today also extends the statute of limitations for assault and battery on a family or household member or against someone with an active protective order from six years to 15 years. This change brings the Massachusetts statute of limitations for these domestic violence offenses in line with the statute of limitations for rape, assault with intent to commit rape and sex trafficking. 

“Massachusetts can and should be granting restraining orders for coercive control, but we know that for so many survivors, their emotional and psychological trauma is not given the same seriousness as physical violence. And the reality of that barrier can be deadly,” said Representative Natalie M. Higgins (D-Leominster), a lead sponsor of the bill. “I am incredibly grateful to the Speaker and my House colleagues for taking a critical step forward in protecting our neighbors by codifying coercive control in the Mass General Laws and extending the statute of limitations so that survivors of domestic violence can build more safety and supports to come forward and report domestic abuse to law enforcement.”

“Domestic violence is not always physical violence, sometimes it’s much more insidious. During my time as a legal services attorney, I represented many survivors who suffered emotional trauma and financial devastation through fear and manipulation. Survivors and the courts need our help to update our laws to make it clear that coercive control is a type of domestic abuse that will not be tolerated,” said Representative Tram Nguyen (D-Andover), a lead sponsor of the bill. “I want to thank Speaker Mariano, Chair Michlewitz, and Chair Day for advancing this transformative and bipartisan legislation. I am also grateful for the partnership of Rep. Higgins, who co-filed this legislation with me, and the survivors and coalition advocates who spoke up for the thousands of women, men, and children in our Commonwealth who would be better able to take back control of their future if this bill is signed into law.”

“An Act to prevent abuse and exploitation” (H.4241) passed the House of Representatives 151-0. It now goes to the Senate for their consideration. 

John F. Keenan (@SenJohnFKeenan) posted on Thu, Jan 11, 2024:
The Revenge Porn bill has passed the House! Now what? Well, the Senate has to vote, then @MassGovernor @maura_healey will need to sign it into law. Thank you to Rep. @jeffroy for all your hard work! #MAPoli  (Follow link to view video)
Shared from ->

SenJohnFKeenan & Rep.  @jeffroy
SenJohnFKeenan & Rep.  @jeffroy

Monday, January 8, 2024

MA Senate passes bill to address wheelchair repairs that can drag on for months

"Wheelchair users took a victory lap at the State House on Thursday after the state Senate passed legislation to address a national crisis, chronic delays of months or longer for even the most basic repairs to chairs.

The bill, passed with a vote of 39-0, would extend warranties on new chairs from one year to two, a period during which chair owners could avoid cumbersome insurance authorization for fixes, advocates said. Chairs with expired warranties would not need insurance approval for repairs less than $1,000.

“We’ve been fighting so hard just to get here,” said Pamela Daly, of Charlestown, after the Senate vote. “They’re simple mechanical problems or they’re simple parts that need to be ordered. This is not rocket science.”

Daly noted she was late for Thursday’s vote because her wheelchair’s brakes, installed about a month ago, failed earlier that morning, and she fell while trying to get into her chair. Though uninjured, she had to call paramedics to help her get into her chair."
Continue reading this Boston Globe article online (subscription may be required)

MA Senate passes bill to address wheelchair repairs that can drag on for months
MA Senate passes bill to address wheelchair repairs that can drag on for months

Thursday, November 16, 2023

CommonWealth Beacon: "State seal and motto commission punts to Legislature"

"A SPECIAL COMMISSION that spent close to three years analyzing the state seal and motto concluded its work on Tuesday by urging the Legislature to make a change while offering no specific recommendations on what that change should be.

The current seal features an image of a Native American holding a bow and arrow and a sword hanging over his head. The Latin motto translates as:  “By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty.” 

The special commission, created in the aftermath of the nationwide reckoning in 2020 over the symbols and names that harken to institutional racism, said it will forward its final report to the Legislature on Wednesday and urge lawmakers to create a second commission to actually hire a designer and come up with a final motto and seal incorporating symbols and terms that are aspirational and inclusive of diverse perspectives.

Although the commission raised several possibilities for the seal and motto, the panel punted a decision to the Legislature. How that decision will be made is unclear at the moment."

Link to the final Commission meeting video is available ->

The Commission report was not yet available at the time of this publication.

CommonWealth Beacon: "State seal and motto commission punts to Legislature"
CommonWealth Beacon: "State seal and motto commission punts to Legislature"

Monday, October 23, 2023

MassBudget's Statement on the Governor's Affordable Homes Act

Affordable housing is a top problem for Massachusetts. It requires a set of bold initiatives and investments that work together to increase the availability and affordability of housing. This bill (H.4138) takes the scale of our housing challenges seriously and can be made even stronger as it advances through the legislative process. 

In keeping with the all-hands-on-deck effort needed to solve our housing ills, the bill recognizes that municipalities can play a major role by investing resources to address local housing needs. By empowering cities and towns to place real estate transfer fees on the most expensive homes, it provides a new tool that will generate resources for local affordable housing efforts. By placing fees on the sale of only the most expensive strata of housing, the policy would not require owners of affordable housing to contribute. Municipal leaders will ultimately be held politically accountable by their residents for the way they set transfer fee rates and thresholds. As this legislation moves forward, legislators should consider a more flexible sale price threshold that would allow municipalities with low median home sale prices to set a threshold below $1 million and allow the few municipalities with multimillion-dollar median sales prices to set a threshold closer to $1 million. Ultimately, a transfer fee option will both incentivize and provide resources for additional affordable housing.

The bill would also take critical steps toward protecting tenant rights by sealing eviction records and creating an Office of Fair Housing. Eviction sealing protects tenants from misuse of eviction records and unfair exclusion from the housing market. Those most at risk of eviction are people of color. As this bill moves forward, lawmakers should ensure that tenants who are evicted can easily seal their evictions within reasonable time frames to avoid inadvertent harm. Likewise, the new Fair Housing office would advance inclusiveness in our communities through education, outreach, and collaboration with other state agencies against housing discrimination and patterns of segregation. It should be given sufficient resources to maximize its effectiveness.

Lastly, the largest capital authorization in the bill would allocate $1.6 billion toward preserving and improving more than 27,000 existing public housing units. This represents approximately one-quarter of the state's public housing portfolio and is a critical piece of the larger housing puzzle that has too-long been neglected. Public housing fills an important space in the affordable housing ecosystem, and this is a positive step toward reinvesting in these critical units.

We look forward to continuing to work with the administration and the legislature for housing solutions that will advance racial and economic justice in the Commonwealth.

Additional resources: 

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Press release on the Affordable Homes Act 

Thursday, October 12, 2023

Legislature overrides 24 of 35 budget vetoes; restoration of civics education - "an example of 'civics in action'”

"MATT WILSON calls it an example of “civics in action.” 

After Gov. Maura Healey vetoed $1 million from the budget appropriation for a fund dedicated to expanding civics education in the state, a coalition of nonprofits, educators, and other groups focused on civics education sprang into action, meeting with legislative leaders and urging lawmakers to restore the funding. 

Last week, the Senate followed the House lead and overrode Healey’s veto. It means the state’s Civics Education Trust Fund, first established in 2018, will see an infusion of $2.5 million this year, a $500,000 bump from last year’s $2 million appropriation. 

“It really confirms for us the longtime support of civics education that legislators have shown over the last five years,” said Wilson, advocacy director for the Massachusetts Civic Learning Coalition."
Continue reading the article online

"OVER THE COURSE of two weeks, the Legislature overrode the majority of Gov. Maura Healey’s vetoes from her first budget, restoring about $80 million across 24 overrides targeting child care, early education, suicide prevention, and anti-poverty funding. Current revenue levels, plus the recently signed tax cut package, make the package of overrides fiscally sound, lawmakers said.

The budget passed by lawmakers, House Ways and Means chair Aaron Michlewitz told representatives in late September, “was fiscally responsible, while also making sure we protected the programs our most vulnerable populations relied on.”  

Gov. Maura Healey used a light touch with the veto pen in her first budget cycle, but legislators in both chambers made quick work of several vetoes that had caused public consternation.

The governor made 35 vetoes, slicing about $270 million in total spending from the $56 billion budget for fiscal year 2024. Most of the cuts, she said, left programs at necessary levels or removed redundancies. "
Continue reading the article online


Legislature overrides 24 of 35 budget vetoes, restoring civics - "an example of 'civics in action'”
Legislature overrides 24 of 35 budget vetoes, restoring civics - "an example of 'civics in action'”