Category: Economic Development

Picking the next official state [fill in the blank]

When they’re not creating budgets and setting policy, state lawmakers occasionally make time to focus on issues that are a bit less pressing, such as whether Massachusetts should have an official shellfish.

When they’re not creating budgets and setting policy, state lawmakers occasionally make time to focus on issues that are a bit less pressing, such as whether Massachusetts should have an official shellfish.

Massachusetts has 57 official symbols, everything from an official state cat (the tabby cat) to an official state dessert (Boston cream pie), and bills proposing additional state symbols are introduced nearly every legislative session.

 Lawmakers often file the bills on behalf of students in their districts, providing a hands-on civics lesson. Like any other bill, the proposals must pass the House and Senate on majority votes before heading to the governor and becoming law. Oftentimes, they never make it to the chamber floor for a vote.

Massachusetts already has an official rock and an official song, but a new bill from state Rep. David Linsky, D-Natick, would make the song “Roadrunner” by Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers the state’s official rock song.

Pacheco’s quahog bill, first proposed in 2005 on behalf of a 7th-grade social studies class in Taunton, has been filed every session since but has never come up for a vote. The students argued the quahog’s use as an early trade currency between American Indians and British settlers demonstrates its importance in Massachusetts history.

“I have continued to try to get it done because they backed up their ideas with real research,” Pacheco said. “It’s always a challenge. There’s usually a competing bill, and obviously there are a lot of other things we’re dealing with at the Statehouse that require a significant amount of time. But it’s always a good teaching tool about how a bill becomes a law.”

Calter filed his bill on behalf of a Kingston oyster farmer. Picking the oyster as the official state shellfish, an aide said, would recognize the increasingly important place oyster farming has in the Massachusetts agricultural industry.

Here’s a rundown of proposed new state symbols.

 · Seasoning: Bell’s Seasoning (presented by state Rep. James Murphy, D-Weymouth).

· Textile: Gingham (presented by state Rep. Jay Livingstone, D-Boston)

· Amphibian: Spring peeper (presented by state Sen. Jennifer Flanagan, D-Leominster)

· Cupcake: Boston cream pie cupcake (presented by state Rep. Angelo Puppolo, D-Springfield)

· County song: “14 Counties of Massachusetts” by Alissa Coates and Darci Hamann, as recorded by third- and fourth-grade students at Our Lady’s Academy in Waltham (presented by state Rep. Thomas Stanley, D-Waltham)

· Organic public park: Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway (presented by state Sen. Joseph Boncore, D-Boston)

 · Military history museum: Fort Devens Museum (presented by state Rep. Sheila Harrington, R-Groton)

· Patriotic song: “Here’s to America” by Louis and Florenzo DiDonato (presented by state Rep. Sean Garballey, D-Arlington)

· Shellfish: Oyster (presented by state Rep. Thomas Calter, D-Kingston)

· Shellfish: Quahog (presented by state Sen. Marc Pacheco, D-Taunton)

· Rock song: “Roadrunner” by Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers (presented by state Rep. David Linsky, D-Natick)

Existing official state symbols, according to the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office are:

· Flower: Mayflower

 · Tree: American elm

· Bird: Chickadee

· Beverage: Cranberry juice

· Horse: Morgan horse

· Insect: Ladybug

· Fish: Cod

· Dog: Boston Terrier

 · Gem: Rhodonite

· Marine mammal: Right whale

· Fossil: Dinosaur track

· Mineral: Babingtonite

· Song: “All Hail to Massachusetts” by Arthur J. Marsh

· Folk song: “Massachusetts” by Arlo Guthrie

· Poem: “Blue Hills of Massachusetts”

 · Rock: Roxbury puddingstone

· Historical rock: Plymouth Rock

· Explorer rock: Dighton Rock

· Building and monument stone: Granite

· Heroine: Deborah Sampson

· Ceremonial march: “The Road to Boston”

· Muffin: Corn muffin

 · Shell: New England Neptune

· Cat: Tabby cat

· Patriotic song: “Massachusetts (Because of You Our Land is Free)”

· Folk dance: Square dance

· Soil: Paxton Soil Series

· Vietnam veterans’ memorial: Worcester Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial

· Designation of residents: Bay Staters

 · Game bird: Wild turkey

· Southwest Asia War Veterans’ Memorial: Worcester Southwest Asia War Veterans’ Memorial

· Bean: Baked Navy bean

· Berry: Cranberry

· Folk hero: Johnny Appleseed

· Dessert: Boston cream pie

· Cookie: Chocolate chip cookie

 · Glee club song: “The Great State of Massachusetts”

· Polka: “Say Hello to Someone from Massachusetts”

· Peace statue: Orange Peace Statue

· Korean War memorial: Charlestown Navy Yard Korean War Memorial

· Ode: “Ode to Massachusetts”

· MIA/POW memorial: Massachusetts National Cemetery MIA/POW Memorial

· Children’s book: “Make Way for Ducklings”

 · Children’s author and children’s illustrator: Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss)

· Doughnut: Boston cream doughnut

· District tartan: Bay State Tartan

· Colors: Blue, green and cranberry

· Blues artist: Taj Mahal

· Sport: Basketball

· Inventor: Benjamin Franklin

 · Reptile: Garter snake

· Artist: Norman Rockwell

· Glacial rock: Rolling Rock, Fall River

· Birthplace of the National Guard: Salem

· Groundhog: Ms. G of the Massachusetts Audubon Society

· Recreational team sport: Volleyball

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Rep. Livingstone’s 2017-18 Legislative Agenda

Filed Legislation

2017-2018 Legislative Session

I am so thrilled to share some of the bills that I have filed this legislative session. Our team hit the ground running with bills spanning topics like criminal justice reform, protecting civil liberties, encouraging social justice, and promoting education. Here are some bills that I am particularly excited about this session:

HD2550 – An Act relative to criminal forfeiture
This bill repeals and replaces the Commonwealth’s existing forfeiture law, which received an F grade from the Institute of Justice in a recent 50-state survey. Currently property owners in Massachusetts do not have to be convicted of a crime or even charged with one to permanently lose their money, cars, businesses, or even their homes.  This bill would make three critical reforms to change that situation and align Massachusetts law with the laws of most other states:

  • Require a criminal conviction before a person’s property can be forfeited,
  • Require the state to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the property is subject to forfeiture, and
  • Eliminate a profit-motive for seizing personal property by directing forfeited property to the General Fund instead of the law enforcement agency.

HD 655 – An Act creating a common application for core food, health, and safety-net programs
This bill works to address the disparity commonly known as the “SNAP Gap.” Currently, there are about 680,000 people who are receiving Mass Health benefits and are likely eligible for SNAP but are not receiving SNAP benefits, for which the State is currently reimbursed by the federal government. MassHealth and SNAP have separate application processes that ask for the same basic information, duplicating efforts and creating more work for both the state and applicants. This legislation would create a common application portal to let low income households apply for MassHealth and SNAP at the same time. This would lay a foundation for a comprehensive common application portal for safety-net benefits which would reduce duplicate data collection and increase the efficiency of State Government while helping our State’s low-income population.


HD 3502 – An Act for uniform fiduciary access to digital assets
As we increasingly use online services, it becomes more important to consider our digital afterlife. This bill would address the accessibility and privacy of a person’s digital information in the event that they pass away. This privacy-centric legislation accomplishes these important goals by balancing the interests of all parties – the privacy of the deceased user; the privacy of the people with whom the deceased corresponded; the needs of the fiduciary; and existing federal law (Electronic Communications Protection Act). The legislation would empower the user to decide if and how their communications and digital content are accessed via user level controls.


HD 400 – An Act Authorizing the establishment of a commission to evaluate student health
Creates a legislative commission to address and evaluate the growing health needs of students across the Commonwealth, including exploring the need for more school nurses in each school.  Currently, class room teachers spend too much time addressing the health needs of their students, instead of teaching, because of a lack of school nurses.


HD 2131 – An Act protecting sunlight in certain public parks
Builds on the existing State Legislative Protection on the Boston Common and Public Garden by including the Charles River Esplanade, Commonwealth Avenue Mall, Copley Square Park, and Magazine Beach Park.  This bill does not weaken any current protections or allow any new exceptions.


HD 401 –  An Act to clarify the meal break law and to establish private enforcement
Massachusetts employees are legally entitled to meal breaks after six hours of employment.  Courts may punish employers who violate this law with a fine of $300 to $600 dollars, but at present, only the Attorney General has the authority to prosecute such offenders.  This legislation would allow employees to go to court without being accompanied by the Attorney General, thereby alleviating the burden on state resources while providing employees with a more effective remedy.  Ultimately, this bill seeks to treat meal break requirements in the same legal manner as wage payments and enact the same remedy for violators.


HD 664 – An Act expanding eligibility for diversion to treatment for criminal offenders
Current law allows 18-22 year old individuals who are charged with a crime but have never been convicted of a crime to avoid a criminal record by successfully completing a drug treatment program. This bill would expand eligibility to defendants of any age that are facing district court charges, pending a judge and probation’s approval.


HD 1681 – An Act to establish transparency with respect to government surveillance
Current state law does not provide criteria for the use of video recording devices by government entities. While there are some regulations at the state and local level, government entities often have wide discretion to install recording devices without any public input, record and keep for long periods of time the data collected, and give broad access to that data. This situation has the potential to infringe on the civil liberties of the law-abiding citizens unnecessarily. The bill attempts to address this situation by providing the public more information about what is happening and create standard rules for the use of recording devices.


HD 654 – An Act for fairness regarding line of duty benefits
Under current law, a $300,000 payment is given to the family any public safety employee who was killed or sustained injuries in the line of duty. This bill expands that eligibility to include the family of any public employee who dies while on the job. It also expands eligibility for the Public Service Scholarship Program.


HD 2955  – An Act to increase fair housing protections for survivors of domestic violence
This legislation will add survivors of domestic violence as a protected class under fair housing laws. This bill will protect domestic violence survivors against unfair evictions, different rental agreement terms, and denial of lease/sale. These protections currently apply to public housing but not private housing.


 

To learn more about the legislation that I have filed, you can check out my public legislative page here, or reach out to my Legislative Aide, Caitlin Duffy, by email (Caitlin.Duffy@mahouse.gov) or by telephone (617-722-2396)

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Rep. Livingstone’s Bill Co-Sponsorship for 2017-18 session

Legislative Agenda

Co-Sponsored Legislation
2017-2018 Legislative Session

Below are all of the bills that I have decided to co-sponsor this session organized by their subject area. As you can imagine, leafing through thousands of bills can be very cumbersome, so I would like to thank all of my constituents that wrote in with their requests. If you didn’t have a chance to write in, no worries! Contact information is below to remain updated on whichever bill(s) that you would like.

Download (PDF, 79KB)


To learn more about the legislation that I have filed and co-sponsored, you can check out my public legislative page here, or reach out to my Legislative Aide, Caitlin Duffy, by email (Caitlin.Duffy@mahouse.gov) or by telephone (617-722-2396)

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MassDOT Plans to Consolidate Construction on Longfellow

Last week, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) has announced implementation of a plan to re-sequence construction on the Longfellow Bridge by combining Stages 4 and 6 – a measure which the contractor White-Skanska-Consigli (WSC) said would result in faster completion of the project in June 2018, three months earlier than previously anticipated.

This announcement follows a robust public process, which included a stakeholder briefing and two public meetings in Boston and Cambridge in August. MassDOT has begun the multimodal shifts to accommodate the combined stages

Under this plan, WSC will simultaneously rehabilitate the bridge under the MBTA outbound track (Stage 4) and reconstruct the downstream roadway and sidewalk (previously planned for Stage 6). With this modification, the contractor anticipates having all modes of travel in their final configuration by June 2018. Stage 5 will be performed after the combined Stages 4 and 6.

“It’s no secret that the rehabilitation of this historic bridge posed significant challenges in the early stages of construction, but by working with and challenging our contractor to think creatively, we are happy to see a significant time savings and bring this project to completion sooner,” MassDOT Highway Administrator Thomas J. Tinlin said. “This response to challenges faced demonstrates MassDOT’s commitment to delivering the highest quality projects that respond to the needs of all modes and types of travelers.”

State Rep. Jay Livingstone said, “I’m pleased that MassDOT and its contractors continue to look for ways to shorten the reconstruction of the Longfellow Bridge. I fully support MassDOT’s newest plan, which will again shorten the reconstruction by months. MassDOT’s willingness to keep all critical stakeholders fully informed has been extremely helpful throughout the entire process”

State Rep Tim Toomey said, “MassDOT and the Longfellow Bridge contractor are clearly working hard to get the project completed at an earlier date. I appreciate their efforts to consistently provide residents and stakeholders with the latest information about the project, and they’ve been doing a great job at coming back to the community on a regular basis to provide updates and answer questions.”

To accommodate this time saving work, all modes of travel will use the upstream side of the bridge, pedestrians will use the upstream sidewalk for travel in both directions; inbound bicyclists will use the new 5-foot wide designated bike lane on the upstream roadway; and outbound bicyclists will share the upstream sidewalk with pedestrians.

While outbound cyclists may ride their bikes on the sidewalk, MassDOT asks that cyclists and pedestrians use caution and respect the rights of everyone to use public infrastructure in this temporary shared configuration.

Also, MBTA and emergency response access across the bridge will be maintained at all times.

Visit the project Web site to learn more about the Stage 4 ans 6 bike routes and to view the bike route maps for the Boston Approach and the Cambridge Approach.

The Cambridge-bound detour remains in place using the existing signed route from Charles Circle following Charles Street to Leverett Circle, Monsignor O’Brien Highway (Route 28)/Charles River Dam Road and Land Boulevard.

View the Stage 4 and 6 Graphic for travel space configuration along the Longfellow Bridge. Learn more about Stage 4 and 6 in the Construction Updates section of the project Web site.

The Longfellow Bridge restoration project began in 2013. White-Skanska-Consigli Joint Venture is the contractor for the project.

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Bill Calls for More Duck-Boat Regulations

Family members of a woman struck and killed by a duck boat on Beacon Hill in April joined three lawmakers Wednesday to advocate for legislation that would impose new safety regulations on the vehicles.

“This was a preventable accident,” said Ivan Warmuth, father of 28-year-old Allison Warmuth was struck and killed by a Boston Duck Tours boat while riding a moped near the intersection of Beacon and Charles streets on April 30. “My daughter did nothing wrong,”

Allison’s mother, Martha Warmuth, added, “It’s obvious that these vehicles are unsafe, so to continue to have that situation with distracted drivers is a real problem.”

The legislation, sponsored by State Senator William Brownsberger, and State Reps. William Straus and Jay Livingstone, would require duck-boat operators to equip their fleets with blind-spot cameras and proximity sensors. The bill would also prohibit drivers from operating sightseeing vehicles while narrating tours or providing other information or entertainment. If passed, the legislation would be enacted next April.

“I very much hope we can act on this very quickly,” Brownsberger told the State House News Service on Tuesday. “It’s a simple bill… and it’s a public safety issue. I hope we can wrap our minds around it.”

As one of its co-sponsors, Livingstone said he would support this legislation to keep the city’s streets safe.

“Tourists come from all over the world to quickly and safely take in what the city has to offer through sight-seeing vendors,” Livingstone wrote in an e-mail. “That safety cannot be achieved without the driver’s complete focus on the road. I commend Senator Brownsberger for filing this legislation to ensure that sightseeing vehicle drivers keep all of their focus on safe driving so that patrons can keep all of their focus on the historic and unique sights of our city.

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