Friday, October 31, 2014

Senator Ross Named to 495 MetroWest Special Commission

Senator Richard Ross has been appointed to serve on the 495 MetroWest Suburban Edge Community Commission by Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr. The announcement comes after Senator Ross was appointed to three special commissions on domestic violenceautism, and substance abuse.

The 495 MetroWest Suburban Edge Community Commission was established in the FY15 budget to investigate challenges experienced by edge communities, develop policy responses and recommendations as well as cultivate a pilot program to ensure that edge communities can participate in state development initiatives.

Senator Ross is a member of the 495/MetroWest Partnership, a public-private collaboration between businesses and municipalities with the common goal of creating and maintaining a strong sustainable environment.
 
“This year, we as a legislature were able to pass vital legislation on a number of issues that directly impact my constituents,” said Senator Ross. “I was a strong voice on these pieces of legislation, and I look forward to addressing transportation, energy infrastructure, and redevelopment projects in this commission to implement real solutions for the communities I serve.”

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Senator Tarr on the Passing of Mayor Menino

 Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) released the following statement today, following the passing of former Boston Mayor Tom Menino at the age of 71:

“We are all deeply saddened at the loss of such an esteemed and dedicated public servant who always kept the interests of his constituents first and foremost.  Mayor Menino had a distinguished career in public service that spanned more than three decades, from his early days as a Boston City Councilor to his elevation to the most powerful elected office in the City of Boston in 1993.  Throughout his years of public service, he never lost sight of his priorities, which included doing everything he could to improve the lives of others and to make Boston a better place to live, work, and raise a family. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family during this difficult time.”

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Senator Ross Appointed to Special Commission on Substance Abuse and Treatment Options

In light of the recent passage of legislation to provide opportunities for long-term substance abuse recovery, Senator Richard Ross has been appointed to serve on a special commission by Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr.

The commission is tasked with investigating the criteria for the treatment and monitoring of nonviolent offenders with substance addictions, and to further expand effective evidence based treatment programs.

“As a member of the Senate Special Committee on Drug Abuse and Treatment Options in the Commonwealth, I have spent the greater part of this year hearing about the devastating effects this disease has had on countless families across Massachusetts,” said Senator Ross. “What we need is effective methods of treatment for these individuals, and I am proud to be able to work with this commission to make this a reality for them.”

The commission was established in the substance abuse recovery bill, signed into law in August. The law was built off of recommendations by the Senate Special Committee on Drug Abuse and Treatment Options, which Senator Ross was appointed to in January. Senator Ross also serves on the Joint Committees on the Judiciary, Public Safety, and Mental Health and Substance Abuse.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Ross Appointed to Autism Special Commission

Senator Richard Ross has been appointed by Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr to serve on a special commission created to make recommendations and monitor the implementation of policies impacting individuals with autism spectrum disorders.

The commission will be charged with investigating the range of services and supports necessary for such individuals, so that they may have ready access and availability to these services across their lifespan. The commission was established in the autism assistance bill, signed into law this past August. Governor Deval Patrick held a ceremonial bill signing of the law at Fenway Park last week.

“I have always been a strong advocate for autism awareness and research, and I’m proud to be a part of this commission, to continue the fight for those living with autism spectrum disorders and their families,” said Senator Ross.

The autism assistance bill builds off recommendations of the Governor’s Special Commission Relative to Autism, which Senator Ross was appointed to in 2010.

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: