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.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Ross Pushes for Educational Mandate Task Force

Senator Richard Ross (R-Wrentham) submitted a letter to the House Committee on Ways and Means yesterday asking for its immediate consideration of House Bill 3722, An Act establishing an educational mandate task force, which is intended to provide much needed relief to towns struggling to fund their schools and educational programs.

House Bill 3722 would establish a task force charged with reviewing all mandates on public schools and districts and assessing the feasibility of implementing a master reporting form.

“At a time when our school districts are struggling to meet all of the needs of their students, it is important that we take the time to assess the requirements we, as a legislature, are placing on schools to determine that resources are being used as efficiently and constructively as possible,” said Senator Ross.

As a member of the Joint Committee on Education, regulating these mandates has been a major priority for Senator Ross. In January 2013, Senator Ross sponsored a bill aimed at reducing paperwork and waste within the department of elementary and secondary education. The bill called for the elimination of wasteful publications by utilizing information technology in order to increase efficiency and responsiveness in the Massachusetts school system.

A new draft of this legislation was written in October, accompanying H3722. The legislation is now before the House Committee on Ways and Means.

“I am pushing for this legislation today in response to extensive feedback I have received throughout my district,” said Senator Ross. “With the new school year beginning for many this week, it is my hope that the committee will consider this soon to better serve our administrators, teachers, and students.” 


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

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Senator Tarr’s Statement on the PAWS Act Being Signed into Law by Governor Patrick

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) released the following statement today regarding Governor Patrick signing S.2345, An Act protecting animal welfare and safety, AKA the PAWS Act, into law.  The bill was filed by Senator Tarr following several cases of animal abuse including the tragic death of Puppy Doe:

“The signing of the PAWS Act represents a victory for everyone who cares about animals in our state, and those who have worked tirelessly to champion this legislation. Now we have stronger penalties and a clear message that if you abuse an animal there will be serious consequences.

Puppy Doe and others have suffered from unthinkable brutality that never should have happened. Yet now, motivated by those cases, we have taken strong and continuing steps to prevent it from happening again.”

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Tarr, Colleagues Secure Passage of the PAWS Act

The House and Senate today enacted Senate Bill 2345, An Act Protecting Animal Welfare and Safety, which includes many of the provisions of the original PAWS Act filed by Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) in October of 2013. The legislation was initially drafted last year in honor of Puppy Doe, a female pit bull who was euthanized on August 31, 2013 because of the extensive injuries she suffered from long term, irreversible damage to her body, which included a stab wound to her eye; the splitting of her tongue to look like a serpent; a dislocated shoulder, elbow, wrist, and ankle; burns; and signs of starvation.

“Animal abuse in our Commonwealth is simply unacceptable, and legislation to confront it has been a major priority in this session,” said Senator Tarr. “Now we have acted to increase penalties to send a clear and immediate message, and to create a task force that will build a foundation for further action.”

“Animals are defenseless and we must do everything within our means to protect them from senseless assault and mistreatment by some of the cruelest members of our society,” said Senator Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford), a Senate lead co-sponsor. “We must be vigilant to ensure that those serious offenders are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Representative Louis Kafka (D-Stoughton) and Representative Bruce Ayers (D-Quincy) have also been championing legislation to strengthen the state’s animal abuse laws. A total of 76 legislators from both the House and Senate signed on to the original PAWS Act, including the entire Senate Republican Caucus.

“We’re very pleased that this crucial legislation has passed, and we extend our thanks to Senator Tarr and all of the bill’s supporters who championed these reforms,”said Kara Holmquist, director of advocacy for the MSPCA-Angell. “Animal lovers around the state can today celebrate these efforts and hopefully can find some peace knowing that from such tragic incidents, like Puppy Doe and others, awareness has been generated that will now prevent harm to other helpless animals.”

The Senate had initially approved the PAWS Act by a vote of 40-0 on July 31, the last day of formal sessions. The House subsequently adopted some minor technical amendments before passing the bill on a voice vote. The modified bill, which will give public safety officials the tools to meaningfully punish those who commit heinous acts of cruelty against animals, calls for:

  • Increasing the possible fine for committing animal abuse from $2,500 to $5,000 for a first offense, and up to $10,000 for a second and any subsequent offenses;

  • Raising the maximum time in prison from 5 years to 7 years for a first offense and up to 10 years for a second and any subsequent offenses;

  • Requiring veterinarians to report suspected animal abuse (similar to the requirement for medical staff who suspect child abuse); and

  • Creating a special task force of experts in law enforcement, animal protection, veterinary practice, legal professionals, and industry professionals to review methods to prevent animal abuse and punish those who commit animal abuse.

The bill now heads to Governor Patrick’s desk for his signature.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Animal Abuse Bill on the Move

Senate Bill 2345, An Act ProtectingAnimal Welfare and Safety, moved one step closer to final passage today, as the Senate concurred with a technical amendment the House made to the bill on the last day of formal sessions July 31st.

The latest bill reflects many of the elements contained in the original PAWS Act (Senate Bill 1914), which Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr and the Senate Republican Caucus filed in October of 2013 with the support of 75 legislative co-sponsors. Passage of this animal protection bill has been one of Senator Tarr’s top priorities for the 2013-2014 legislative session.

Like the original PAWS Act, Senate Bill 2345 provides for increased fines and jail time for individuals who maim, injure or kill an animal, and carries additional penalties for repeat offenders.  It also requires veterinarians to report suspected cases of animal cruelty, while creating a special taskforce of experts in law enforcement, animal protection, veterinary, legal professionals, and industry professionals to review methods to prevent animal abuse and punish those who commit these crimes.

If the House and Senate enact the bill on Thursday, Senate Bill 2345 could be on the Governor’s desk before the end of the week.