Rep. Haggerty Announces Upcoming Virtual Office Hours

BOSTON – State Representative Richard M. Haggerty (D-Woburn) has announced upcoming virtual office hours to be held next Friday.

The forum will be held via the Zoom video conference app, with the abilities to dial-in via the app and through phone. The virtual format of the community office hours will allow members of the community to speak with the Representative directly despite social distancing, where they can voice any questions or concerns they may have.

The office hours session will be held next Friday, April 23rd at 11:00am via Zoom, with a follow-up session to held on Thursday, May 20th; also at 11:00am. If you are interested in participating in either event, call-in details will be provided by reaching out to legislative aide Anthony Langone directly at Anthony.Langone@mahouse.gov or by calling (617) 722-2090.

Representative Haggerty Provides Spring Legislative Update

I hope this Spring legislative update finds you all well and that you were able to enjoy the Easter holiday with your loved ones. I wanted to provide you all with a recap of my actions so far this legislative session.

Committee Assignments

I am very honored to have been chosen by Speaker Mariano and confirmed by my colleagues in the House to serve as Vice-Chair of the Joint Committee on Community Development and Small Businesses. Our main priorities must be beating back COVID and advocating for legislation that bolsters economic recovery. This session I will also be serving on Joint Committee on Financial Services, Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, & Energy as well as the House Committee on Global Warming.

To that end I will work through these committees and others to shape legislation that provides support for our district and the entire Commonwealth.

Bills Filed

Once the new legislative session kicked off my office was back to work drafting and filing bills I will be advocating for during the 192nd General Court. Here some of my legislative priorities I have filed so far this session:

HD3110 – An Act to increase Veterans earned tax savings (VETS)

  • Jointly Presented with Rep. Jon Santiago, this bill would increase the existing local property tax exemptions by 50% for eligible veterans, spouses, and parents.

HD3134 – An Act to further reduce the property tax liability in exchange for volunteer services by persons over age 60

  • This bill would further reduce the property tax liability in exchange for volunteer services by an additional $500 per tax year from $1500 to $2000.

HD3558 – An Act to establish a digital advertising revenue commission

  • Jointly Presented with Rep. Natalie Blais, this bill would create a Special Legislative Commission to conduct a comprehensive study relative to generating revenue from digital advertising that is displayed inside of Massachusetts by companies that generate over $100 million a year in global revenue. The study would also consider the use of such funds to include but not be limited to the creation of a program to improve broadband internet to communities that do not have reliable broadband internet access, the creation of an annual matching grant program to upgrade internet access in K-12 school districts, the creation of an annual matching grant program to upgrade computer technology and remote learning capabilities in K-12 school districts, the creation of a program to improve internet access in public parks, to evaluate the adequacy of the Commonwealth’s and its municipalities cyber security, the creation of a municipal cybersecurity grant program.

HD2722 – An Act to update the prescription monitoring program

  • This bill establishes a fine, set by the appropriate department, for those parties who do not utilize this program as required by law.

HD3112 – An Act relative to diabetes prevention

  • This bill would create a diabetes action plan within the Department of Public Health (DPH) that will create goals and benchmarks to reduce the prevalence and impact of diabetes in the Commonwealth.

HD3428 – An Act to continue providing for virtual notarization to address challenges related to COVID-19

  • This bill would continue to allow virtual notarization through July 31, 2022.

HD3092 – An Act expanding the use of video conferencing

  • This bill would allow a mortgagor to received counseling in person or via video conference before agreeing to a reverse mortgage.

 HD3121 – An Act relative to line-of-duty death and survivor benefits

  • This legislation would increase the line-of-duty death benefit from $300,000 to $350,000. Also, it would elevate the rank of the public safety official one step for purposes of his/her pension as survivor benefits. This would ensure that the Commonwealth is taking care of families impacted by the sacrifice a loved one made while in the line-of-duty.

HD3088 – An Act relative to election ballots

  • The intent of this bill is to have one official ballot for all voters – polling place voting, early voting, and absentee voting. The ballot color distinction for primary ballots would remain unchanged. Some of this proposal was incorporated into the temporary election law changes we made last session.

HD491 – An Act exempting veterans from the standard registration fee for veteran’s license plates

  • Jointly presented with Rep. Mike Day, this legislation removes the standard registration fee of $60 from Veterans license plates for the Veterans of our Commonwealth while maintaining the modest $40 special plate fee that will continue to help fund the Chelsea and Holyoke Soldiers’ homes.

HD2663 – An Act relative to municipal light plant participation in Green Communities

  • Jointly presented with Minority Leader Brad Jones, this bipartisan bill will require that all municipalities served by a municipal lighting plant where customers receive services from an investor-owned utility be eligible for the Green Communities Program.

My Thoughts on the Vaccine Rollout in MA

I have received many calls, emails, texts, and messages from people who are frustrated, distressed, anxious – and yes angry – about the vaccine rollout in Massachusetts. I want you all to know I share many of those feelings and continue to advocate through the legislative process for steps to be taken to improve the rollout moving forward.

Especially disappointing was the website failures and the delay in the creation of the 2-1-1 call center. Many residents experienced the difficult to use first iteration of the state vaccine signup website only to then find out that the ‘new and improved’ site was crashed the day the 65+ population could start to sign up.

In the past 30 days the website has been updated to become much for user friendly. I want to thank the Joint Committee on COVID-19 and Emergency Preparedness and Management who continues to press the Governor and his administration on the vaccine rollout.

In an effort to get our students back in the classroom I called publicly for the Governor to prioritize school workers in the vaccination program, and I pleased that across the state nearly eighty percent of teachers are now vaccinated. Vaccinating school staff gives our school committees greater flexibility with local decision making and is an integral part of moving back to in-person-learning. We continue to distribute a limited number of vaccines to local boards of health so they can vaccinate local seniors who have difficulty with transportation, lack of physical mobility, or are ill. Municipalities did a wonderful job running the local clinics and many of the seniors I spoke with gave rave review about the staff and ease of use of these clinics.

To those who have contacted my office I want you to know I hear you loud and clear and have made every effort to communicate your frustration to the Baker Administration.

Supporting the Vote-by-Mail Extension

As we continue to deal with the effects of COVID on our daily lives we must safeguard our democratic elections and provide safe access to the voting process for all those who wish to participate. I was pleased to be a lead co-sponsor on the bipartisan vote by mail extension bill that was recently signed into law that will allow municipalities to utilize many of the same voting reforms that worked so well last summer and fall including no excuse absentee voting and early in-person voting. We must continue to make sure we protect both voters and poll workers from the risk of contracting this deadly virus.

The bill allows municipalities to provide residents with the option to vote early in-person in these elections. Additionally, the legislation requires local election officials to make reasonable efforts to grant accommodations for voters with disabilities who might have difficulty accessing a paper mail-in ballot and request an accommodation.

Furthermore, cities and towns can postpone municipal elections and caucuses scheduled before June 30, 2021 until August 1, 2021.

Standing by our Small Businesses and Workers

The Governor recently signed COVID-19 relief package to assist Massachusetts’ small businesses and employees as they continue to deal with the economic fallout from the coronavirus. This has been a difficult year for the Commonwealth’s workers and businesses, with this critical legislation aiming to help both as our economy begins to recover. By creating an emergency sick leave bank, we are able to better protect our worker’s health and livelihoods, so they are able to continue providing for their families during this difficult time. For our employers, the two-year unemployment insurance rate freeze and tax relief on PPP loans will be essential to help businesses bounce back stronger in the coming years.

Some other components of the bill include:

  • A two-year unemployment insurance (UI) rate freeze for employers to mitigate the impact of a scheduled April rate increase
  • For employees, the legislation provides access to up to 40 hours of COVID-related emergency paid sick leave, along with tax relief for lower-income workers who collected unemployment in 2020 and 2021.
  • Allows those individuals to deduct the first $10,200 in unemployment compensation received in both calendar years.

2050 Climate Roadmap Signed into Law

I was very proud to again support a comprehensive energy bill that builds on the Commonwealth’s commitment to a clean energy future by adopting an aggressive 2050 greenhouse gas emissions reduction target, business solar incentives, and creates 2,400 more megawatts of clean offshore wind power. With it now signed into law, this legislation will support the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center by encouraging further work-force development programs. As we have recently seen with the life science industry in our state, our Commonwealth’s job market will benefit in the long-term from investing in future-growth industries including the clean energy sector.

Some other noteworthy aspects of the Next Generation Climate Roadmap legislation are:

  • Codifying environmental justice provisions into Massachusetts law, defining environmental justice populations and providing new tools and protections for affected neighborhoods.
  • Establishing a municipal opt-in specialized stretch energy code which includes a definition of “net-zero building” and net-zero building performance standards.
  • Sets appliance energy efficiency standards for a variety of common appliances including plumbing, faucets, computers, and commercial appliances.
  • Adopts several measures aimed at improving gas pipeline safety, including increased fines for safety violations, provisions related to training and certifying utility contractors.
  • Increases the amount of renewable energy purchased in Massachusetts by 3 per cent each year from 2025–2029, resulting in 40 per cent renewable energy by 2030.
  • Sets benchmarks for the adoption of clean energy technologies including electric vehicles, charging stations, solar technology, energy storage, heat pumps and anaerobic digestors.
  • Provides solar incentives for businesses by exempting them from the net metering cap to allow them to install solar systems on their premises to help them offset their electricity use and save money.
  • Creates a first-time greenhouse gas emissions standard for municipal lighting plants that requires them to purchase 50 percent non-emitting electricity by 2030, 75 percent by 2040 and “net zero” by 2050.

Final Thoughts

My office has hosted three virtual office hours sessions so far this year and will continue to do so on a monthly basis. These sessions are a great opportunity for us to speak directly on the issues concerning you most, and I stand ready to listen and help in any way I can. If you ever have any questions, please contact my Legislative Aide Anthony Langone at anthony.langone@mahouse.gov or call 617-722-2090.

Haggerty Joins House in Passage of AAPI Community Support Resolution

SUPPORTING ASIAN AND ASIAN-AMERICAN COMMUNITIES IN THE COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS

WHEREAS, 23 MILLION ASIAN AMERICANS AND PACIFIC ISLANDERS ACCOUNT FOR 7 PERCENT OF THE POPULATION IN THE UNITED STATES AND 7.5 PERCENT OF THE POPULATION IN MASSACHUSETTS, OVER 2 MILLION ASIAN AMERICANS AND PACIFIC ISLANDERS NATIONALLY CONTINUE TO WORK ON THE FRONT LINES OF THE COVID–19 PANDEMIC IN HEALTH CARE, LAW ENFORCEMENT, FIRST RESPONDERS, TRANSPORTATION, SUPERMARKETS, AND OTHER SERVICE INDUSTRIES, AND APPROXIMATELY 2 MILLION ASIAN AMERICAN-OWNED BUSINESSES GENERATE OVER $700 BILLION IN ANNUAL REVENUE AND EMPLOY MILLIONS OF WORKERS; AND

WHEREAS, ANTI-ASIAN LANGUAGE AND RHETORIC RELATED TO COVID–19, SUCH AS THE ‘‘CHINESE VIRUS’’ ‘‘WUHAN VIRUS’’, AND ‘‘KUNG-FLU’’ PERPETUATE STIGMA AGAINST ASIAN AMERICANS AND PACIFIC ISLANDERS LEADING TO VANDALISM AND ROBBERY OF ASIAN AMERICAN-OWNED OR OPERATED BUSINESSES, ANTI-ASIAN RHETORIC, SCAPEGOATING FOR THE COVID–19 PANDEMIC, HARASSMENT, ASSAULT, AND EVEN DEATH ESPECIALLY AMONGST THE ELDERLY AND WOMEN OF ASIAN DESCENT; AND

WHEREAS, ON MARCH 16, 2021, IN ATLANTA GEORGIA, A GUNMAN WENT ON A RAMPAGE AT THREE SPAS, KILLING EIGHT PEOPLE, SIX OF WHOM ARE WOMEN OF ASIAN DESCENT. THE VICTIMS WERE DELAINA ASHLEY YUAN (33), XIAOJIE TAN (49), DAOYOU FENG (44), SOON CHUNG PARK (74), HYUN JUNG GRANT (51), SUN CHA KIM (69), YONG AE YUE (63), AND PAUL ANDRE MICHELS (54), ALL OF WHOM WERE PART OF A COMMUNITY, FAMILY MEMBERS, AND LOVED ONES WHOSE LIVES WERE ENDED TOO SOON AT THE HANDS OF A MASS MURDERER;

WHEREAS, MORE THAN 1,900,000 ASIAN AMERICAN AND PACIFIC ISLANDER OLDER ADULTS, PARTICULARLY THOSE OLDER ADULTS WHO ARE RECENT IMMIGRANTS OR HAVE LIMITED ENGLISH PROFICIENCY, MAY FACE EVEN GREATER CHALLENGES IN DEALING WITH THE COVID–19 PANDEMIC, INCLUDING DISCRIMINATION, ECONOMIC INSECURITY, AND LANGUAGE ISOLATION; AND

WHEREAS, THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION (WHO) AND THE CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION (CDC) RECOGNIZE THAT NAMING COVID–19 BY A GEOGRAPHIC LOCATION OR LINKING IT TO A SPECIFIC ETHNICITY PERPETUATES STIGMA, LEADING THE WHO TO ISSUE GUIDANCE CALLING ON MEDIA OUTLETS, SCIENTISTS, AND NATIONAL AUTHORITIES TO AVOID NAMING INFECTIOUS DISEASES FOR LOCATIONS TO AVOID STIGMATIZING GROUPS OF PEOPLE, AND THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER OF THE CDC, DIRECTOR OF THE CDC, AND SECRETARY GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS HAVE CONDEMNED THE MISNAMING OF THE VIRUS AND RESULTING RACISM; THEREFORE BE IT

RESOLVED THAT THE MASSACHUSETTS HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES STANDS IN SOLIDARITY WITH THE ASIAN AND ASIAN-AMERICAN COMMUNITIES IN THE COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS, CONDEMNS AND DENOUNCES ALL FORMS OF ANTI-ASIAN SENTIMENT AND VIOLENCE, CONDEMNS ALL FORMS OF RACISM, DISCRIMINATION, SCAPEGOATING, XENOPHOBIA, AND FURTHER COMMITS ITS SUPPORT TO THE ASIAN AND ASIAN-AMERICAN COMMUNITIES ACROSS THE COMMONWEALTH; AND BE IT FURTHER

RESOLVED, THAT A COPY OF THIS RESOLUTION BE FORWARDED BY THE CLERK OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES TO UNITED STATES PRESIDENT JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., THE CONGRESSIONAL ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICAN CAUCUS, MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR CHARLES D. BAKER, MASSACHUSETTS ATTORNEY GENERAL MAURA HEALEY, GEORGIA GOVERNOR BRIAN KEMP, GEORGIA ATTORNEY GENERAL CHRISTOPHER M. CARR, THE GEORGIA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, AND THE GEORGIA STATE SENATE.

 

Haggerty Announces First State House Intern Selections of 2021

Emily O’Brien from Woburn.

Representative Richard M. Haggerty is proud to announce three individuals that were recently selected to serve as legislative interns to begin the 2021 legislative session. The intern class includes Emily O’Brien from Woburn, Kyle Donohue from Reading, and Gabe Cronin-Golomb from Reading.

Emily O’Brien is a freshman at American University, where she is studying International Relations and Spanish. Diplomacy, immigration, and humanitarian issues are of great interest to her, with some of her other hobbies including reading, running, and spending time with friends and family. From this internship, Emily is hoping to gain a better understanding of the policy making process within our government.

Kyle Donohue from Reading.

 

Kyle recently graduated from Boston College with a major in English major while minoring in Economics and History. Some of his personal interests include comedy, improv, running, and reading to name a few. Kyle is a self-described “political junkie” who enjoys watching election coverage, and with the internship wanted to learn more about the inner workings of his state government and how it affects both policy and residents closer to home.

 

Gabe is currently a junior at Boston University where he is majoring in Political Science. Hiking, meeting new people, and generally trying new things are some of his many hobbies, along with his deep interest in government. Gabe is a big supporter of education reform in the United States, where he believes with enough public support and investment our nation can solve any problem that comes our way. During this internship opportunity he believes constituent outreach is very important and has been helping our office improve the lives of our constituents.

Gabe Cronin-Golomb from Reading.

“It was great having Emily, Kyle, and Gabe join our State House team this winter,” said Rep. Haggerty. “They each brought with them their own unique strengths and insight that was immensely helpful these last couple months as we continue to serve our constituents. It was a pleasure getting to know the each of them, and I wish them all the best in their future endeavors.”

The three are set to finish their 8-week Winter Internship with Rep. Haggerty’s office. The Representative’s office will be continuing the internship program through 2021 and application packages for potential interns from Woburn or Reading are reviewed on a rolling basis.

For more information on interning with Representative Haggerty’s office, please contact legislative aide Anthony Langone at Anthony.Langone@mahouse.gov or call (617) 722-2090.

Landmark Climate Legislation Supported by Haggerty into Law

BOSTON  – Representative Richard Haggerty (D-Woburn) joined his colleagues in the Massachusetts Legislature to pass nation-leading climate legislation, known as the Next Generation Climate Roadmap bill, which overhauls the state’s climate laws, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, advances the clean energy industry, and prioritizes and protects environmental justice communities.

“I was very proud to again support a comprehensive energy bill that builds on the Commonwealth’s commitment to a clean energy future by adopting an aggressive 2050 greenhouse gas emissions reduction target, business solar incentives, and creates more megawatts of clean offshore wind power,” said Representative Haggerty. “With it now signed into law, this legislation will support the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center by encouraging further work-force development programs. As we have recently seen with the life science industry in our state, our Commonwealth’s job market will benefit in the long-term from investing in future-growth industries including the clean energy sector.”

The passage of the climate bill comes after a joint commitment from the House and Senate to quickly refile the legislation following a gubernatorial veto last session. This session, Governor Baker offered amendments to the bill, which have been considered by the Legislature. The Legislature rejected efforts to slow the rate of progress toward net-zero emissions by 2050, while accepting a number of more technical amendments that improve the bill.

The bill returned to the Governor’s desk and was signed into law on March 26, 2021.

The final legislation:

  • Sets a statewide net-zero limit on greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and mandates emissions limits everyfive years, as well as sublimits for transportation, buildings, and other sectors of the economy.
  • Codifies environmental justice provisions into Massachusetts law, defining environmental justice populations and providing new tools and protections for affected neighborhoods.
  • Establishes a municipal opt-in specialized stretch energy code which includes a definition of “net-zero building” and net-zero building performance standards.
  • Requires an additional 2,400 megawatts of offshore wind, increasing the total authorization to 5,600 megawatts in the Commonwealth.
  • Directs the Department of Public Utilities (DPU), the regulator of the state’s electric and natural gas utilities, to balance priorities going forward: system safety, system security, reliability, affordability, equity, and, significantly, reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Sets appliance energy efficiency standards for a variety of common appliances including plumbing, faucets, computers, and commercial appliances.
  • Adopts several measures aimed at improving gas pipeline safety, including increased fines for safety violations, provisions related to training and certifying utility contractors, and setting interim targets for companies to reduce leak rates.
  • Requires utilities to include an explicit value for greenhouse gas reductions when they calculate the cost-effectiveness of an offering of MassSave.
  • Increases the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) by 3 per cent each year from 2025–2029, resulting in 40 per cent renewable energy by 2030.
  • A national first, this legislation factors the “carbon sequestration” capacity of Massachusetts’ natural and working lands directly into our emissions reduction plans.
  • Prioritizes equitable access to the state’s solar programs by low-income communities.
  • Sets benchmarks for the adoption of clean energy technologies including electric vehicles, charging stations, solar technology, energy storage, heat pumps and anaerobic digestors.
  • Establishes $12 million in annual funding for the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center to create a pathway to the clean energy industry for environmental justice populations, minority-owned and women-owned businesses, and fossil fuel workers.
  • Provides solar incentives for businesses by exempting them from the net metering cap to allow them to install solar systems on their premises to help them offset their electricity use and save money.
  • Creates a first-time greenhouse gas emissions standard for municipal lighting plants that requires them to purchase 50 percent non-emitting electricity by 2030, 75 percent by 2040 and “net zero” by 2050.

Woburn Delegation Joins Colleagues in Extending Vote-By-Mail Through June

BOSTON – On Thursday, March 11, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), Representative Rich Haggerty (D-Woburn), and Representative Michelle Ciccolo (D-Lexington), joined their colleagues in the Massachusetts Legislature to pass legislation to extend mail-in voting and early voting options for elections held through the end of June 2021. The vote-by-mail provision was previously set to expire […]

Haggerty Statement on MA Vaccine Rollout

I have received many calls, emails, texts and messages from people who are frustrated, distressed, anxious – and yes angry – about the vaccine rollout in Massachusetts. I want you all to know I share many of those feelings and continue to advocate through the legislative process for steps to be taken to improve the rollout moving forward.

Especially disappointing has been the website failures and the delay in the creation of the 2-1-1 call center. Many residents experienced the difficult to use first iteration of the state vaccine signup website only to then find out that the ‘new and improved’ site was crashed the day the 65+ population could start to sign up. Then just yesterday, seniors were placed on ‘hold’ for hours only to be told there were no more appointments available or worse they thought they did have a date/time only to be notified at the end of the process that the date/time was no longer available.

Personally, I experienced the same frustration as I tried to get my mother an appointment for over an hour only to be told there were no more available. It begs the obvious question – Why were people put in a waiting room when all the appointments were taken? Buying concert tickets 30 years ago seemed to run smoother – one seat one person.

I want to thank the Joint Committee on COVID-19 and Emergency Preparedness and Management who yesterday pressed the Governor and his administration on the vaccine rollout. Many of the committee members did a thorough job expressing the frustration of Massachusetts residents and the disappointment felt by so many.

Final thoughts:
For the sake of our students and our teachers we should put a plan in place to vaccinate all schoolteachers by April in an effort to get our students back in the classroom. Vaccinating teachers will give our school committees greater flexibility with local decision making and is an integral part of moving back to in-person-learning.

We should be distributing a limited number of vaccines to local boards of health so they can vaccinate local seniors who have difficulty with transportation, lack of physical mobility, or are ill. Municipalities did a wonderful job running the local clinics and many of the seniors I spoke with gave rave review about the staff and ease of use of these clinics.

We should not allow a resident to go through the entire process of booking a vaccination appointment on the commonwealth’s website only to be told the “appointment time and date is no longer available.” Either the appointment is available, or it is not.

To those who have contacted my office I want you to know I hear you loud and clear and have made every effort to communicate your frustration to the Baker Administration. Given the overwhelming number of communications, I have not had the opportunity to get back to each of you individually, but I am fully aware of your frustration.

I also continue to advocate with area legislators for a more easily accessible mass vaccination site, more to come later on this.

Given everything we have went through over the past year I understand people are emotional about getting the vaccine for themselves and their loved ones – and they want a sense of normalcy back into their lives. I also recognize that the biggest limitation we have faced as a nation is the lack of vaccines being produced. In the coming months, the federal government has reported that we will see a sizable uptick in vaccine production which presents an opportunity for the Commonwealth to get it right.

I will continue to work with my colleagues in the legislature to pressure the administration on the changes I have outlined above as well as others – and look forward to your continued communications.

Rep. Haggerty Announces March Virtual Office Hours

State Representative Richard M. Haggerty (D-Woburn) has announced upcoming virtual office hours to be held next Thursday.

The forum will be held via the Zoom video conference app, with the abilities to dial-in via the app and through phone. The virtual format of the community office hours will allow members of the community to speak with the Representative directly despite social distancing, where they can voice any questions or concerns they may have.

The office hours session will be held next Thursday, March 11th at 11:30am via Zoom. If you are interested in participating in either event, call-in details will be provided by reaching out to legislative aide Anthony Langone directly at Anthony.Langone@mahouse.gov or by calling (617) 722-2090.

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Reading awarded $7,961 in state fire safety grants

BOSTON – State Representative Richard Haggerty (D-Woburn), House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading), and State Senator Jason Lewis (D-Winchester) recently joined with the Baker-Polito Administration to announce the Reading Fire Department has been awarded $7,961 in state fire safety grants.

A total of $1.9 million in grants are being distributed by the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security to fire departments in 235 communities. Reading’s award includes a $5,281 grant funded through the Student Awareness of Fire Education (S.A.F.E.) program, as well as a $2,680 Senior SAFE grant.

Established by the Massachusetts Legislature in 1996, the S.A.F.E. program provides funding on an annual basis for municipal fire departments to offer fire safety education in schools. As part of the program, students are taught 23 key fire safety behaviors, including how to recognize the dangers of fire as well as the fire hazards associated with tobacco products.

The Senior SAFE program was created to support fire prevention training for seniors, who are among the most at risk for fire-related deaths. The program works with agencies serving seniors and local fire departments to teach older adults how to reduce fire safety hazards in their homes.

“Ensuring we properly fund our public safety officials so they have the means to protect and keep our communities informed is of the upmost importance,” said Representative Haggerty. “This nearly $8,000 in grant money will ensure the Reading Fire Department has the critical funding it requires to continue keeping the town and its residents safe through fire safety education and prevention.”

“The S.A.F.E. program and the Senior SAFE program have both proven to be tremendously successful in raising fire safety awareness and reducing fire deaths among some of our most vulnerable populations,” said Representative Jones. “My thanks to the men and women of the Reading Fire Department for everything they do to keep the town’s residents safe.”

“With many families spending more time at home than ever before, community-wide fire safety education and prevention resources are crucial to keep our community safe,” said Senator Lewis. “I’m very pleased that the Reading Fire Department will receive state support to keep up their great work educating the public about fire prevention and safety.”

According to State Fire Marshall Peter J. Ostroskey, during the 26 years the S.A.F.E. program has been in existence, child fire deaths have been reduced by 78%. In 2020, 39 people died in fires in Massachusetts, compared to 42 in 2019, but none of those deaths involved children.

“S.A.F.E. is an example of the many successful and valuable programs that the legislature and the governor support on behalf of the citizens of the Commonwealth,” Ostroskey noted. “We are thankful to the legislature for their support of these vital programs, and thankful for expanding S.A.F.E. to include older adult fire prevention education. Additionally, we appreciate and applaud the continued efforts of local fire departments to maintain the highest level of service and professionalism to their communities.”

Rep. Haggerty Announces February Virtual Office Hours

BOSTON – State Representative Richard M. Haggerty (D-Woburn) has announced upcoming virtual office hours to be held next Thursday.

The forum will be held via the Zoom video conference app, with the abilities to dial-in via the app and through phone. The virtual format of the community office hours will allow members of the community to speak with the Representative directly despite social distancing, where they can voice any questions or concerns they may have.

The office hours session will be held next Thursday, February 4th at 11:30am via Zoom. Additionally, there will be an upcoming virtual joint office session with the Woburn State House delegation to be held Tuesday, February 9th at 5:00pm. If you are interested in participating in either event, call-in details will be provided by reaching out to legislative aide Anthony Langone directly at Anthony.Langone@mahouse.gov or by calling (617) 722-2090.