Category: Featured

Rep. Fernandes Seeks to Save Threatened Federal Sea Grant Program

BOSTON – A local legislator is defending the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution-based Sea Grant College Program, which could lose funding as part of proposed Trump Administration budget cuts.

Barnstable, Dukes, Nantucket State Representative Dylan Fernandes co-sponsored a resolution which passed through the House that urges level funding for the program which began in 1966.

The network of 33 Sea Grant programs throughout the country promotes sustainable economic development and oceanic conservation.

 

“The Sea Grant Program has helped our communities guard against natural disasters, promote our blue economy and develop our oceanic resources in a sustainable way,” said Fernandes.

“The program has been an indispensable asset to our region and eliminating it is unacceptable.”

The resolution was introduced with State Rep. Jay Livingstone, whose district is home to the Sea Grant College Program housed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The Woods Hole Sea Grant program’s history traces back to 1971 and has since worked with towns to build sustainable aquaculture programs, promote coastal resiliency and educate the public on environmental issues.

An initial budget proposal from the Trump Administration last month would completely eliminate the program.

Fernandes said the program generates about $142 million in economic activity each year.

A copy of the language used in the resolution will be sent to all the members of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation and the White House Office of Budget and Management.

Share

Charlesgate Alliance Moves Forward with Plan to Reclaim Forgotten City Neighborhood

March 23, 2018

By 

The Charlesgate Alliance is energized and optimistic as the spring equinox approaches, according to a press release from the group established with the goal of piecing back together a forgotten Boston neighborhood that abuts the Back Bay and Fenway and runs adjacent to Kenmore Square and was lost more than half a century ago to construction of the Bowker Overpass.

And building on this growing momentum, it will hold another public meeting in Room 545 of a BU building at 545 Bay State Road on April 9 at 7 p.m., with representatives from Somerville’s Landing Studios on hand to present their latest designs. Light refreshments will also be served.

“We want as much public participation and feedback at that meeting as possible because both Landing Studio, and [the Alliance] are doing our best to develop these designs in a manner that will serve the public interest,” wrote Parker James, who co-founded the Alliance last in February of 2017 with neighbor Pam Beale. “Please attend and let us know what you think and want.”

The Alliance has also two events scheduled for April 28:  starting at 9 a.m., the group will sponsor the Charlesgate portion of the Muddy River cleanup and, later that day, its fundraising committee will host “Charlesgate in Bloom,” an upscale early evening gathering in the lobby area of the Bradley Mansion at 409 Commonwealth Ave., with themed cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. Committee members planning this event include Lisa Hazen, Maddy Segal, Tina Sykes, Rachel Bakish and George Lewis.  Tickets, which are limited and cost $75 each, can be purchased at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/charlesgate-in-bloom-tickets-43795821481.

Meanwhile, James extended the Alliance’s gratitude to Sen. Will Brownsberger; Reps. Jay Livingstone and Byron Rushing, and City Councilor Josh Zakim.

“The ongoing support and practical advice we receive from these individuals is valuable beyond description, and we will never forget their contributions to our effort,” James wrote. “We would also like to thank the following for their invaluable effort, advice, and support: Karen Mauney-Brodek of the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, who is our greatest ally; Patrice Kish of [the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation,] who is a national leader in historic parks and an expert on Olmsted’s designs; Fran Gershwin of the MMOC, a tireless advocate for water quality improvements in the Muddy River basin; and others who are too numerous to name at the moment.”

While the Alliance has yet to sign a memorandum of understanding, James said both DCR and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) “have been very forthcoming and seem willing to partner and collaborate with us in [these] efforts.”

James wrote, “We have very high hopes that we can develop a formal partnership with them to ultimately realize a tenable, community-led solution for this long-neglected part of the city. Our gratitude goes out to all of our supporters, especially to our Leadership group, who contribute so much of themselves to this effort. Anyone can join our group at any level of interest, although the Leadership group is the best way to get involved actively.”

Leadership meetings are typically held at 7 p.m. on the first day of each month at the ENC’s Shattuck Visitor Center at 125 Fenway. No R.S.V.P. is necessary.

Share

FY19 Budget Priorities

Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Priorities

Jay sat down with House Committee on Ways & Means Chairman Brian Sanchez regarding his priorities for the FY2019  budget.  Among those priorities were line items pertaining to Early Childhood Education, Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation funding, and funding for the Resolve to Stop the Violence program (RSVP).  Below is the letter in full.

While Jay has chosen to prioritize these line items, this is not an exhaustive list of the programs he plans to support in the budgetary process.  He looks forward to working with his colleagues to advocate for other line items after the release of the House Ways and Means Budget.

Download (PDF, 54KB)

Share

March 2018 Legislative Update

March 2018 Legislative Update

House of Reps

Click each heading below to learn more about the legislation that the House has enacted recently.

I was pleased that the Protecting Access to Confidential Health Care Act, also known as the PATCH Act, finally arrived on the House floor for a vote. This legislation is a huge win for confidentiality in our health care system. It would fix a crucial barrier to accessing health care by ensuring that when multiple people are on the same insurance plan, confidential health care information is not shared with anyone other than the patient. The bill, which has passed both chambers, must be enacted and then will be sent to the Governor’s desk for signature. You can read the full text of the bill HERE.

In the aftermath of the Equifax data breach that exposed the data of 145 million Americans, the State Legislature passed this protection to ensure heightened safety standards for consumer data. This bill would make it easier for customers to implement credit freezes and requires quicker notification of security issues from companies. Under the new legislation, consumers may request credit freezes by phone or online. Companies must then implement a freeze within one day of an electronic request or three days of a written request and thaw credit within 15 minutes of an electronic request, all free of charge. I was proud to vote in favor of this important legislation. You can read the full text of the bill HERE.

This legislation directs the state to develop a comprehensive plan to address the spread of Alzheimer’s and creates an Alzheimer’s Disease Advisory Council. It also directs hospital and health care providers to participate in continuing education and develop acute care plans to better manage and treat patients with dementia. Finally, the bill establishes training standards for social workers who work to protect elders from abuse. You can read the full text of the bill HERE.

In November, the House passed an omnibus criminal justice bill that would make sweeping changes to the criminal justice system in Massachusetts. Two major components of this bill were proposed by me: diversion to treatment, which would prioritize rehabilatation over incarceration, and the establishment of a commission to look into the current bail system in the Commonwealth.

The diversion to treatment component makes it so that an alternative route to incarceration can exist for first time offenders of any age. It requires District Attorney’s offices across the State to implement such rehabilitative programs and to ensure access to veterans, juveniles, persons with disabilities, and persons with substance abuse disorders. 

The Bail Commission would study the effectiveness of the current cash bail system and seek the feasibility of a Risk Assessment Tool for the Commonwealth. There is also a component to speak to biases that can occur in such a Risk Assessment.  Changes to our bail laws will have a great impact on our criminal justice system as all defendants are impacted by the bail rules. 

Also the bill included the elimination of certain mandatory minimum penalties (although not as many as I pushed for), data collection reforms, expungement reforms, solitary confinement reforms, larceny threshold reforms, and much much more. You can read the full text of the bill HERE.

Share

Officials React Positively to Sidewalk Settlement

February 21, 2018

By 

Neighborhood elected officials are responding positively to news of the legal settlement between the city and the Beacon Hill Civic Association (BHCA), which will allow the Public Works Department (PWD) to continue installing ADA-compliant curb-ramps at sidewalks throughout the Historic Beacon Hill District.

“I want to thank the mayor, Rep. Livingstone, the Beacon Hill Civic Association and all of the engaged residents who worked to reach this settlement,” City Councilor Josh Zakim wrote. “This would not have been possible without the mayor and his team being open and willing to reach this compromise with the neighborhood.”

The settlement and release agreement, dated Feb. 12, includes provisos that the Public Works Department “will present its ramp plan for the Historic Beacon Hill District at least annually, and at the BHCA’s request will investigate specific locations with the BHCA.” Furthermore, the PWD has agreed to use red, cast-iron tactile pads instead of plastic tactile pads if the BHCA contributes the difference in cost, and to “work with the BHCA to fashion and implement non-standard design solutions for ramps at uniquely historical spots, including Acorn Street, Louisburg Square and the cobblestone driveway on Mt. Vernon Street above Louisburg Square,” as well as at “various cobblestone driveways and alleys (not streets).”

Livingstone said, “My goal was always to improve accessibility while preserving the historic look of the neighborhood. I’m pleased we were able to accomplish those goals with this agreement.”

Nicole Caravella, Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s press secretary, stated, “The city is pleased to be able to move forward with efforts to construct and reconstruct pedestrian ramps in Beacon Hill that improve accessibility for residents, visitors and the public, and preserve the historic nature of the neighborhood.”

In 2014, the Beacon Hill Civic Association and 10 neighborhood residents filed a lawsuit against the city asserting that it bypassed key review and approval processes by installing 36 ramps in brick sidewalks on Beacon Street that summer.

Share