Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Senator Richard Ross Appointed to Serve on Domestic Violence Special Commission

Following his work this past session on critical domestic violence legislation, Senator Richard Ross has been appointed to serve on a special commission by Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr.

The commission will be tasked with exploring housing and shelter options for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, as well as offering policy recommendations for the expansion of resources for victims.

“Domestic violence and sexual assault are serious issues in Massachusetts, and this session we passed significant legislation to increase penalties for perpetrators to better protect victims,” said Senator Ross. “I’m looking forward to working on this commission to continue this important discussion and ensure that victims of assault have the resources and shelter they need.”

This past legislative session Senator Ross served on the conference committee focused on combating domestic violence and crafting a compromised bill that was later signed into law by the Governor. Additionally, Senator Ross worked on a grant program for public schools to address teen dating violence and develop a curriculum focused on promoting healthy relationships and violence prevention. This was a bipartisan effort, included in the final FY15 budget.

Please contact the office of Senator Ross with any questions or concerns at (617) 722-1555 or Richard.Ross@masenate.gov.

Monday, October 20, 2014

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention Month

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention Month.  Sadly, a 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS) found that approximately 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men in Massachusetts have experienced rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner.  As a state, we must do better to combat domestic violence.

In July of this year, the Massachusetts Legislature passed a bill to do just that.  The bill, S.2334, An Act Relative to Domestic Violence, creates new criminal offenses, increases penalties, protects and empowers victims, and creates new employment rights within the workplace.  Specifically, the act, which was signed into law by Governor Patrick on August 8, 2014, includes:

· The creation of a first offense domestic assault and battery charge on a family or household member punishable by imprisonment in a house of corrections for up to 2 ½ years and a fine of $5,000;

· The creation of a felony charge of strangulation and suffocation punishable by imprisonment in a state prison by 5 years, or 2 ½ years in a house of corrections, and a fine of $5,000;
 
· The standardization of records to be shared by law enforcement and the judicial system;

· The further training of domestic violence programs for police, district attorneys, court, and medical personnel;

· The delaying of bail for offenders by 6 hours to provide the victim with adequate time to relocate safely; and

· The establishing of fees for domestic violence offenses, which will fund a newly created Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance account.

Additionally, the bill now requires places of business with 50 or more employees to allow up to 15 days of leave (paid or unpaid), to any employee who is a victim of domestic violence.  Employees can use that time to obtain medical attention, counseling, housing, protection orders, or legal assistance.

It is important that we continue to bring awareness to prevent these kinds of acts from happening, and to support those who may need help in addressing domestic violence.  To read more about the NISVS report, please click here.  To read the text of S.2334 in its entirety, please click here.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Senate Republican Caucus Seeks Answers from National Grid on Electric Rate Increases

Today the Senate Republican Caucus, led by Senator Richard Ross, distributed the following press release regarding a letter the caucus sent to Attorney General Martha Coakley and others seeking further review concerning National Grid receiving approval from the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) to raise electric rates for customers. National Grid estimates that rates could jump as high as 37% this upcoming winter due to an elevation in power supply prices.

Following National Grid’s recent announcement that customers will see a substantial increase in their winter electric rates, Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester), along with fellow Republican Senators Richard Ross (R-Wrentham), Robert Hedlund (R-Weymouth), and Donald Humason (R-Westfield), submitted a letter to the office of Attorney General Martha Coakley, for further clarification of this decision and its implications for Massachusetts home and business owners.

On Wednesday, September 24th, National Grid issued a press release stating that they recently filed with the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) to adjust electric and gas rates for the winter. National Grid projects that electric bills for customers will be 37% higher than last winter, citing higher power supply prices as a cause.

In the October 7th letter authored by Senator Ross, which was also sent to Governor Deval Patrick, Chair of the Department of Public Utilities Ann Berwick, and Secretary of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Maeve Vallely Bartlett, the Caucus wrote, “As Massachusetts families struggle to meet their financial needs during the costly demands of winter, the cost of this rate increase will present a serious burden. Massachusetts businesses will face yet another financial obstacle to remaining competitive in a challenging economy.”

The Senate Republican Caucus requests:

• A full review and examination of Department of Public Utilities’ approval of National Grid’s proposed rate increase to ensure that it is in full compliance with Massachusetts law and represents the least burdensome course of action.

• The office of the Attorney General determines whether any options are available to alleviate the burden that the proposed rate increase will present.

 According to National Grid, the increase in electricity costs will take effect on November 1, 2014.

“With NSTAR and Western Massachusetts Electric Company expected to file their rates in November, it is important that we confront this serious issue early,” the Caucus wrote.

Posted below is a signed copy of the letter to the AG from the Senate Republican Caucus:

Monday, October 6, 2014

Sen. Humason Announces Newest Cable Show

Senator Don Humason (2nd Hampden & Hampshire) announced that the newest installment of his cable show, “From the State House to Your House” is now on air. His guests this month is Representative Nicholas Boldyga (R-Southwick).

Representative Boldyga’s district includes Agawam, Southwick and Granville. He and Senator Humason jointly represent those three communities. On the show, they give a wrap up of the formal legislative session that concluded July 31st. They also discuss the upcoming session which begins in January, 2015.

The half hour program airs on Westfield’s Community Programming Channel, Channel 15, on Sundays at 4:30 p.m., Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m., Thursdays at 10:30 a.m. and 10:30 p.m., and Fridays at 2:30 p.m. 

Senator Humason may be reached at his Westfield District office at 64 Noble Street and by calling 413-568-1366.  His website is www.DonHumason.org.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Senator Humason Appointed to MA Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) has appointed Senator Don Humason (R-2nd Hampden & Hampshire District) to the Massachusetts Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force (MASS-TF), pursuant to Section 3 of Chapter 48 of the Acts of 2014, An Act Encouraging the Improvement, Expansion, and Development of Military Installations in the Commonwealth.

“Senator Humason approached me and requested that I name him to the Task Force,” Senator Tarr stated.  “Having spoken with Don numerous times about military and veterans issues in our state, and knowing of his strong support for both Barnes Air National Guard Base and Westover Air Reserve Base which are in the cities of Westfield and Chicopee that he represents, I thought he would be the perfect member of our caucus to serve in this capacity. Furthermore, he already serves on the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs so Senator Humason is a good fit for the Task Force.”

The MASS-TF was created by the Patrick-Murray Administration to begin a long term initiative to support all military installations in Massachusetts in order to both collaborate with them and explore opportunities to bring new missions.  The Military Bond Bill, passed by the Legislature and supported by Senator Humason, put the Task Force’s structure into law to ensure continuity of Executive Branch, National Guard, Mass Development, Congressional, State Legislature, industry, and academic collaborations.

The six military installations in Massachusetts include Barnes Air National Guard Base, Fort Devens, the US Army’s Natick Soldier Systems Center, Hanscom Air Force Base, Joint Base Cape Cod, and Westover Air Reserve Base.

“I have long been a great admirer of the men and women of our nation’s armed services and have tried to support them however I could, personally, professionally, and politically,” Senator Humason said.  “I jumped at the chance to be named to the Task Force with the hope I could better serve and protect Barnes and Westover but also do anything possible to position the Commonwealth’s military installations in a favorable way for whatever the future may hold.”

Senator Humason is the State Senator for the 2nd Hampden & Hampshire District and represents the communities of Agawam, Chicopee (7, 8A, 9A), Easthampton, Holyoke, Westfield, Southwick, Granville, Tolland, Russell, Montgomery, and Southampton.  He maintains a district office for the convenience of his constituents at 64 Noble Street, Westfield, 01085, and can be reached at 413-568-1366 or by e-mailing Donald.Humason@MASenate.gov.  His official website is www.DonHumason.org.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Remembering 9/11-A Message from Senator Tarr


May we all join today in the focused and solemn remembrance of that tragic day 13 years ago when terrorists hijacked four commercial airliners and attacked our nation and the ideals we stand for, killing 3,000 victims and leaving many others with lasting health issues that continue. May we also remember that the horrific acts perpetrated by al-Qaeda and orchestrated by Osama Bin Laden did not achieve their goal of crippling the American people, but rather united us and strengthened the resolve of this great nation to face terror with hope, unity, courage and commitment to justice, freedom and liberty for all.

In that spirit, my hope is that we will also take a few moments to remember not only those lost on that infamous day, but also U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Winchester native Glen Anthony Doherty and others lost during an assault on a diplomatic compound in Benghazi, the many military and civilian personnel currently overseas continuing to protect this great nation from terrorism and making strides in advancing the ideals of democracy, and to recommit ourselves to the defense of liberty throughout this world as a measure of dedication to all those who have sacrificed for that noble cause.

There are several charitable organizations that have resulted from the September 11th attack that provide financial assistance to those struggling with illnesses and injuries from the attack, scholarship funds for children who lost parents, and memorial sites that mark that fateful day.  Click here to read a Huffington Post report of several of those charitable organizations.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Get Out and Vote!

Today is Primary Day in Massachusetts, with several contested races taking place for Constitutional Officers including Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, and Treasurer, and seats in the Massachusetts Legislature, both the House and Senate, Congress, Governors Council, and county seats.

Polls are open across the state until 8 p.m., so if you haven’t done so already, please be sure to exercise your Constitutional right to cast a ballot for the candidates of your choice. If you’re not sure where to vote, please click here to find your polling place, along with the names of the candidates appearing on the Democratic and Republican ballots.