Monthly Archives: November 2011

Weekly Political Report – week ending 11/18/11

The Weekly Political Report is prepared by a political consulting group, Rasky/Baerlein, and shared with me by John Nunnari.

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Last Wednesday night marked the end of formal Legislative sessions in Massachusetts for 2011. For the next 7 weeks, the Legislature will meet in informal sessions, during which only non-controversial issues may be taken up. The Legislative session will resume on January 4, 2012 and run continuously through July 31, 2012. Because Massachusetts operates on a 2 year legislative session schedule, and employs a “carry over” provision, all bills that are not passed into law in 2011 automatically carry over to the 2012 session, while maintaining their status in the legislative process.

 

Bills enacted by both House and Senate last night were sent to Governor Deval Patrick, who has 10 days to sign the bill or send it back to the Legislature with vetoes or amendments. See below for an overview of the major activity in the last week.

 

Expanded Gambling Bill Sent to Governor’s Desk
The House and Senate completed enactment votes to the legislation authorizing licenses for three regional, resort-style casinos and one competitively bid slot parlor. A last-minute amendment to the bill reduced funds targeted under the legislation for the racehorse industry and boosted local aid funds. On Wednesday, a Patrick administration official confirmed that Gov. Patrick is likely to sign the gambling proposal less than a week after he receives it.

Congressional Redistricting Bill Sent to Governor’s Desk
The House and Senate enacted legislation that redraws the state’s Congressional districts to reflect the loss of one seat. The bill was sent to the Governor’s desk Wednesday afternoon.  Under the proposed map, the districts of Congressmen William Keating and Stephen Lynch would change dramatically, putting the two into the same district unless Congressman Keating moves to his summer house on Cape Cod, something that he announced earlier this week that he would do. Cape Cod would be part of a new, incumbent free district that would stretch from the Cape and Islands across Plymouth and Bristol County to Fall River. Western Massachusetts communities currently represented by retiring Congressman John Olver would be split among the two districts currently represented by Congressman James McGovern and Congressman Richard.
Pension Reform Sent to Governor’s Desk
The House and Senate enacted legislation that makes several reforms to the state’s pension system. The bill aims to save the state $6 billion over 30 years by raising retirement ages and reducing benefits for future public employees. The bill was laid before the Governor on Tuesday.

Anti-Human Trafficking Legislation Sent to Governor’s Desk

The House and Senate enacted  compromise legislation that establishes the crimes of trafficking persons for sexual servitude and trafficking persons for forced services, each of which would carry a 15-year sentence. If signed into law by Gov. Patrick, Massachusetts will become the 47th state to put a trafficking law on its books.

 

Transgender Rights Bill Sent to Governor’s Desk
The House and Senate enacted a bill adding transgender persons to the state’s anti-discrimination laws. The bill was laid before the Governor on Wednesday.

 

Omnibus Crime Reform Passed in the House, Requires Senate Negotiation to Advance

The House passed legislation reforming the state’s parole and sentencing laws, including a ban on parole for three-time violent felons. The Senate passed its own omnibus crime bill last week that includes several additional provisions, including measures to update wiretap laws, to reduce certain mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug crimes and to bar certain felons from possessing handguns. The House had made the decision to focus on repeat violent felons in order to tackle the issue before the beginning of the seven-week recess. Senate President Murray indicated that the Senate planned to insist on its expanded version of the crime bill rather than agree to the “stripped down” version passed in the House.

 

 

John Nunnari, Assoc AIA
Executive Director, AIA MA
617-951-1433 x263
617-951-0845 (fax)

MA Chapter of American Institute of Architects
The Architects Building
52 Broad Street, Boston MA 02109-4301
www.architects.org

Charles River Link Trail

I discovered the Charles River Link Trail yesterday while jogging, and followed a new trail that has been constructed connecting the picturesque Hemlock covered high ground that overlooks the Charles River at Rocky Narrows (one of my favorite spots) downstream towards Dover.

The trail starts along the Bay Circuit Trail where Hospital Road intersects the Medfield State Hospital’s Power Plant Road, and continues 16 miles to Newton.  The website has trail maps, and says  the trail was completed in 2009.

http://www.charlesriverlink.org/

Deer cull

Anecdotal evidence suggests that the deer culling has been hugely successful thus far, and a lot of the hunting season remains.  18 deer have been culled so far, one less than the 19 Dover got in its whole first year of deer culling a year ago.  More bucks than does have been taken.  The deer are reported to be  covered with hundreds of ticks.

Recent reports have many ticks still active, despite the colder weather.

RR Worcester to Foxboro

Rep. Dan Winslow’s office sent me material on a proposed passenger rail connection through Medfield, for service from Worcester to Foxborough.  It is being promoted by a law firm –

Click to access Presentation_I-495-20110928.pdf

Grief Relief 5k raised $35K

Just heard that the Grief Relief 5 k last Saturday raised $35,000 to send kids who have lost a parent or sibling to camp.  See photos at http://www.dotphoto.com/GuestListShows.asp

22nd highest tax bill in Mass

Medfield’s property taxes rated it the 22nd highest taxes in the state in FY11, per the DOR, averaging $8,477 per home.  This is from the state’s spreadsheet –

2010              Average Value 2011            Average Value Pct. Change Value 2010 Single Family Tax Bill 2011        Single Family Tax Bill Pct. Change Bill 2011    Hi-Lo Rank 2011        Tax Rate
578,363 564,396 -2.41% 8,236 8,477 2.93% 22 15.02
MEDFIELD 578,363 564,396 -2.41% 8,236 8,477 2.93% 22 15.02

DPU hearing tonight on NSTAR response to Irene

The DPU has opened an investigation into the responses of National Grid, NSTAR Electric Company, and Westem Massachusetts Electric Company to the October 29, 2011 snowstorm. The following hearings have already been scheduled to hear from the public about National Grid’s and NSTAR’s response to Tropical Storm Irene. We will take public comment in those hearings about those Companies’ response to BOTH Tropical Storm Irene AND the October snowstorm. Here are the times and locations of those hearings.

National Grid
Tuesday, Nov. 29, 7 p.m.
Trottier Middle School, 49 ParkervilJe Road, Southborough (rescheduled from
November 1, 2011)
Thursday, Dec. 1, 7 p.m.
Attleboro High School, 100 Rathbun Drive, Attleboro (rescheduled from
November 3, 2011) . .

NSTAR
Wednesday, Nov. 16,7 p.m.
Walsh Middle School, 301 Brook Street, Auditorium, Framingham
The DPU is in the process of scheduling additional public hearings in areas affected by the October snowstorm. The DPU will announce the times and locations of these hearings soon.
Investigation by the Department of Public Utilities into the Preparation and Response of
NSTAR to Tropical Storm Irene, D.P.U. 11-85-B .
THE PURPOSE OF TIDS PUBLIC HEARING
The purpose oftbis hearing is to provide you with an opportunity to co=ent on your experiences
related to your electric service both during and after Tropical Stonnlrene. Your testimony will
assist the Department of Public Utilities (”DPU”) in assessing NSTAR’s preparation for and
response to the storm, and will become part of the official record of the investigation. The purpose
of this hearing is to collect co=ents of public officials and members of the public in the affected
service territory; it is not to request infonnation or co=ent from either the Company or the DPU.
TESTIFYlNG TONIGHT
The DPU will call members of the public to testify in the order that they sign-in on the “sign-in
sheet.” State and local elected officials and local public safety officials may be allowed to testify
first. . Each person is asked to keep his or her co=ents brief and to the point so that we may
acco=odate every person wishing to testify tonight. If you have written co=ents, you may
summarize them in your testimony and submit your complete remarks to the Hearing Officer.
Please direct all your remarks to the DPU for the record in our investigation, and refrain from
directing comments or questions to NSTAR. The DPU will use your co=ents and suggestions
when questioning NSTAR during the next phase of the investigation
If you cannot or choose not to testify tonight, you may still submit written co=ents to the DPU.
Please mail your co=ents to Mark D. Marini, Secretary, Department of Public Utilities, One
South Station, 5th Floor, Boston, Massachusetts 02110; and send a copy bye-mail attachment to
dpu.efiJing@state.ma.us and to the Hearing Officer atJennifer.M.Murphy@state.ma.us.
AFTER THE PUBLIC HEARING: WHAT COMES NEXT .
The next step in the DPU’s investigation is referred to as the “adjudicatory phase.” The
adjudicatory phase includes evidentiary hearings· at the DPU’s office in Boston, where witnesses,
primarily from the Company, will testify and be subject to cross-examination by the DPU and other
FAX: (617)345·9101
http://www.mass.gov/dpn
parties, including the Attorney General. By law, the Attorney General represents the interests of .
residential ratepayers in the Commonwealth. The DPU issued a notice of intervention on
.. October 12, 2011, with directions on hbwto petition the Department to become a party to the
proceeding. The deadline for filing a petition to intervene is November 23, 2011. Although
members of the public may attend the evidentiary hearings, only parties to the proceeding may
participate. After the conclusion of the adjudicatory phase, the DPU will issue an Order based on
. our review of record evidence, including the written and verbal testimony provided tonight, as well
as information and data collected during the adjudicatory phase.
ACCESSING DOCUMENTS RELATED TO THIS INVESTIGATION
Documents that are filed as part of the investigation will be available on the DPU’s website at
http://www.mass.gov/dpu. You may access the documents by choosing “File Room” under “Key
Resources;” select “Dockets” and enter the docket number for this proceeding “11-85-B.” Paper
copies of documents are available from the DPU, with a charge per page for copying, by contacting
Secretary Marini at the above address or at 617-305-3500. We encourage you to obtain docket
materials on-line because of the volume and length of the documents.
Also available on the D PD’s website are the relevant statutes, regulations .and Orders. This
proceeding is governed by G.L. c. 164, §§ 1J and 85B, and the DPU’s regulations, 220 C.M.R.
§ 19.00 et ~ which you may access by choosing “Statutes and Regulations” under “Key
Resources” on the DPU’s website. In addition, the Order establishing guidelines for the emergency
response plans (“ERPs”) for electric companies, Final ERP Guidelines, D.P.U. 10-02-A (April 20,
2010), is available in the File Room by entering “10-02” as described above.
Transcripts of this public hearing and the evidentiary hearings are available for public view at the
DPU’s offices during business hours; copies may be ordered from the stenographer:
Farmer Arsenault Brock LLC, 617.728.4404, http://www.fabreporters.com
If you have questions regarding this proceeding, please contact the Hearing Officer, Jennifer M.
Murphy at 617-305-3696 or at Jennifer.M.Murphy@.state.ma.us.