News Briefs

September 8, 2016
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The Annual Revere Beach Memorial

The Annual Revere Beach Memorial is a candlelight vigil for families and friends who wish to remember a loved one that lost their life due to an overdose. The Revere CARES Coalition and the City of Revere is again organizing this touching event for Sunday, September 25 at the William G. Reinstein Bandstand on Revere Beach (rain or shine). The event begins at sunset, approximately 7:00 p.m,. and will end by 8:00 p.m. Individuals can register a name to be read by contacting Revere CARES at 781-435-6440 or arriving between 6:00pm and 6:30pm on the night of the event.

The program consists of: an introduction, inspirational readings/poems, lighting of candles, reading of names of those being remembered with a fire bell after each name, closing remarks (the Serenity Prayer and concluding statement), and bagpipe music on the beach.

The Revere Beach Memorial arose due to the work of the Revere CARES Coalition’s Opiates Task Force that began meeting in 2005 to document the depth and breadth of the Oxycontin and heroin problem in the community. The coalition created an action plan which City of Revere officials, Revere CARES staff, volunteers and community partners have been working to fulfill. The Revere Beach Memorial event was developed by a group of family members who lost loved ones to drug and/or alcohol use disorders. These community members and coalition volunteers comprise the event’s planning committee.

Money raised by the planning committee for the Revere Beach Memorial Fund will be used to help cover the costs of this annual event, support local addiction treatment programs, and provide educational scholarships to Revere High School students impacted by substance use disorders. The first Revere Beach Memorial Scholarship was bestowed upon a graduating RHS student in 2012 and will be given to a graduating senior each year for the foreseeable future. Donations can be sent to Viviana Catano at the address below. Checks should be made payable to the Revere Beach Memorial Fund:

Revere Beach Memorial Fund

c/o Revere CARES Coalition

300 Ocean Avenue

Revere, MA 02151

Congresswoman Clark hosting annual Service Academy Fair

Congresswoman Clark’s Service Academy Fair is free and open to all high school students from the Fifth Congressional District. 
The event will take place from 10:00am – 11:30am.

Representatives from the U.S. Military Academy, the United States Naval Academy, the Air Force Academy, the Merchant Marine Academy and the Coast Guard Academy are expected to participate. The representatives will present on their respective academies and will be available to answer questions from prospective cadets. Additionally, representatives from the office of Congresswoman Clark will be available to answer questions from students about the nominating process. To receive an appointment to a service academy, students must first receive a nomination from their Congressman, Senator or the Vice President of the United States.

Congresswoman Clark’s Service Academy Fair is free and open to all high school students from the Fifth Congressional District. 
Representatives from the U.S. Military Academy, the United States Naval Academy, the Air Force Academy, the Merchant Marine Academy and the Coast Guard Academy are expected to participate. The representatives will present on their respective academies and will be available to answer questions from prospective cadets.

Legislature Reflects on Session Accomplishments

House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, Representative RoseLee Vincent and Senator Joseph Boncore joined their colleagues in the Massachusetts Legislature in completing a productive 2015-2016 session which included the passage of multiple landmark bills. Over the past two years, the Legislature passed major bills related to substance addition, energy, economic development, civil rights and regulatory reform including rules governing the “ride-for-hire” industry.

This session the Legislature again bolstered its reputation as a champion of municipalities though record levels of local aid and multiple bills to support cities and towns.

“I’m pleased that in the midst of a tough economic climate, we came to an agreement on a fiscally-responsible budget that minimizes cuts and protects our most vulnerable citizens,” House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop) said. “I’m particularly proud that we were able to fund initiatives that are vital to our region like Chamber of Commerce grants and programs for school safety.”

“Under the leadership of Speaker DeLeo, and working with Senators Petruccelli and Boncore, I’m proud of what the legislature has accomplished over the course of our session,” said Representative Vincent.  “It’s been a pleasure working alongside my colleagues to address a wide range of important issues facing the Commonwealth.  Together, we have tackled these issues head on, and have made positive impacts in the lives of our constituents.”

“The 189th General Court is defined by investment in innovation in the Massachusetts economy,” said Senator Boncore. “Our work on the TNC bill opens new technology to the Commonwealth’s residents and provides Massport the authority to ensure these companies can operate safely at Logan Airport.  Additionally, the energy and economic development bills will provide affordable clean energy and new development opportunities for all of the Commonwealth’s residents.”

This session the Legislature took up various pieces of legislation in response to rapid shifts in economic, environmental and regulatory landscapes, including a landmark energy bill. The recently-signed law will diversify Massachusetts’ energy portfolio and ensure a reliable electric grid by replacing older power sources that are due to retire. These measures will protect the Commonwealth’s ratepayers while enhancing clean energy and securing a more sustainable future. The law supports 2,800 megawatts (MWs) of clean energy – the largest amount the Legislature has included in any single bill – and requires distribution companies to conduct solicitations for 1,600 MWs of offshore wind.

To spur the timely infusion of reliable clean energy projects in Massachusetts, the bill will also require distribution companies to conduct solicitations for up to 9,450,000 MWhs of energy from hydropower, Class I renewable resources or a combination of both.

Recognizing the ongoing modernization of transportation methods, the Legislature created statewide regulations for “ride-for-hire” companies like Uber and Lyft that will improve public safety requirements and consumer protection standards. At the same time, these updates will allow these companies to continue to provide an innovative and valuable mode of transportation. The law creates a new division overseen by the Department of Public Utilities (DPU), responsible for regulating ‘ride-for-hire’ companies. Companies applying for licensure must meet insurance, background check, pricing, and nondiscrimination standards.

In yet another effort to maintain Massachusetts’ national economic leadership, the Legislature bolstered its reputation of balancing fiscal responsibility with a commitment to supporting the Commonwealth’s emerging industries. Through the FY16 and FY17 budgets, and the 2016 economic development law, the Legislature provided opportunities for individuals of all skillsets, including young innovators, as well as residents in every region of the Commonwealth. These initiatives include programs to support the big data and data analytics industries, computer science education programs, and financial support for small businesses and local manufactures.

The economic development bill also establishes an education tax-incentive program (529 plan) which will allow single filers to take a $1,000 tax deduction on contributions to college savings accounts.

Although the Commonwealth was faced with an unforeseeable decrease in tax revenue, the Legislature was able to maintain its record-high investments in local aid. The FY17 final budget increases both local education funding and Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA), boosting UGGA by 4.3 percent. It provides $55 in per-pupil-aid, more than doubling the FY16 expenditure, and fully funds the Special Education Circuit Breaker.

In addition to record levels of local aid over the past two years, the Legislature took steps to update regulations governing municipalities and create efficiencies on the local level through the municipal modernization bill.

Building off its commitment to local education funding, the House continues to emphasize the impact that high-quality Early Education and Care (EEC) has on the lives of our residents – both children and adults – by making targeted investments to support the EEC workforce while expanding access to high-quality programming. In FY17 EEC investments include a $12.5 million rate reserve, $4M to ensure access to quality EEC programming, including continued support for pre-kindergarten expansion opportunities.

This session the Legislature enhanced its efforts which are showing early signs of success. Since FY12, the Legislature has increased funding for substance addiction services by more than 65 percent and passed two landmark bills.

The 2014 and 2016 substance addiction laws are designed to complement each other, providing both proactive and responsive approaches. For the first time in Massachusetts’ history, the 2014 law made it mandatory for insurers to cover detox and stabilization. The 2016 law enhances intervention, prevention and education efforts, and includes a new framework to evaluate and treat patients presenting with an apparent overdoes. This practice, which reflects research that voluntary treatment is more effective than involuntary, must be covered by insurance.

This year, the Legislature also criminalized the trafficking of fentanyl. Drug traffickers frequently combine fentanyl, the most potent opioid available for medical use, with heroin. Fentanyl is 30 to 50 percent more potent than heroin. Under previous law, drug traffickers could only be charged with manufacturing, dispensing, or possessing fentanyl.

For the first time in more than 40 years, the Legislature updated the Commonwealth’s public records law. This law enhances accountability measures and creates a standardized timeframe and process in which requested documents must be produced. It also ensures that judicial remedies can be sought. In another effort to increase transparency, the Legislature passed three bills related to campaign finance and disclosure regulations which will update and strengthen existing laws.

This session the Legislature also took measures to build upon Massachusetts’ legacy as a leader in civil rights and social equality. The Commonwealth’s nationally-lauded pay equity law provides tools to help ensure that men and women receive equitable compensation for comparable work. This law represents a consensus-based effort to ensure that the legislation would be practical, effective and sustainable.

The Legislature also led the way in fostering collaboration to pass a landmark law that provides legal protections against discrimination related to gender identity or expression in public accommodations. This law will prohibit gender-identity discrimination in places like restaurants, retail stores, taxis and trains, bathrooms, and entertainment venues.

This session the Legislature also:

Enhanced its longstanding history of enacting effective programs to combat homelessness. As of March 31, 2016, Massachusetts’ shelter population fell below 4,000 for the first time since August of 2013; and the number of families in hotels and motels has dropped by more than 1,500.

Enacted multiple bills to support military personnel, veterans and their families. Massachusetts remains the number one state in the nation when it comes to providing programs for those who have served their country.

As the Legislature and Governor await a comprehensive independent report on criminal justice reform, the Legislature repealed a law subjecting individuals convicted of a non-violent drug offense to an automatic license suspension for up to five years and a license reinstatement fee of $500, even if the offense does not involve motor vehicles in any way.  The law does not apply to license suspension penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.

Raised the solar net-metering cap and created a long-term roadmap for the continued growth of solar power in the Commonwealth. These updates will provide a stable framework that will better protect the Commonwealth’s ratepayers while supporting the growth of the solar industry in a cost-effective manner.

Increased the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) without implementing new taxes or fees. For low-to-moderate households, EITC rose to 23 percent in January, 2016. Increasing this credit is an effective way to fight stagnant wages and lift working families out of poverty.

Took multiple steps to address systemic management problems at the MBTA through a series of reform tools including 3-year suspension of the statute governing the procurement of private services at the MBTA. The Legislature also created the MBTA fiscal management and control board within MassDOT that will have the power to implement measures to ensure financial, operational and managerial stability at the MBTA while operating within a unified state transportation network.

Increased the Councils on Aging formula grant in both 2015 and 2016. The most recent update will provide $10 per individual to support of vital programming that addresses the diverse health and wellness needs of our older adults.

CLOSURE OF ROUTE 16 WB TO ROUTE 1 SB RAMP

 The Massachusetts Department of Transportation announces that the Route 16 WB to Route 1 SB on-ramp has been closed to allow for reconstruction of the cast in place bridge barrier and to perform bridge deck repairs on the Route 1 SB over Route 16 Bridge.  The ramp is scheduled to reopen on October 14, 2016.  A detour is set up that will send Route 16 WB traffic to the Webster Street intersection.  Vehicles will then be detoured onto Route 16 EB, where they will proceed onto Route 1.  For more information, questions or concerns about the work, please contact Daniel Fielding, MassDOT Legislative Liaison, at 857-368-8959 or daniel.fielding@dot.state.ma.us.

 For transportation news and updates visit MassDOT at our website: www.mass.gov/massdot, blog: www.mass.gov/blog/transportation, or follow MassDOT on Twitter at www.twitter.com/massdot and Facebook at www.facebook.com/massdotinfo.

 

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