Woburn State House Delegation Unveils New Boston Street Bridge to be Named “Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge”

Woburn – Representative Richard M. Haggerty (D-Woburn), Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington, and Representative Michelle L. Ciccolo (D-Lexington) are proud to announce that the planned New Boston Street Bridge in Woburn will be designated the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge.

The original bridge located on New Boston Street was demolished in 1978 after being declared unsafe due to a fire. With the surrounding area now developed and home to hundreds of businesses, there has been advocacy from Woburn’s city and state officials for decades to reconstruct the bridge. The goal of the project is to reestablish a traffic connection between North and East Woburn, providing commuters with a direct route to Anderson Regional Transportation Center and I-93 highway connections off Commerce Way.

“I am so proud to be able to help our community in honoring those who courageously gave their lives during Vietnam – recognizing that our liberties as Americans come at a price. The naming of this bridge keeps with our city’s long, proud history of paying tribute to those who gave, what Lincoln called “the last full measure of devotion,” said Representative Haggerty. “As a member of the City Council and now as State Representative I have been proud to support Mayor Galvin and the city to rebuild this critical economic connection that will offer direct benefits to the City of Woburn and the Commonwealth including increased regional economic growth, traffic congestion remediation, and expanded access to Anderson Transportation Center.”

“Reconstructing this bridge to support our local businesses and enable public travel provides a real and symbolic way for our community to reconnect after an extremely difficult, and oftentimes isolating, year due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Senator Friedman. “And I am so happy we are able to honor those who served in the Vietnam War during this process.”

“As we come to the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, we must begin to take steps to support our local businesses, which have suffered so immensely over the past year,” said Representative Ciccolo. “The reconstruction of this bridge will provide a critical link for small businesses in Woburn, and it is altogether fitting that it stands as a memorial to those who so dedicatedly served our country in the Vietnam War.”

According to final design plans prepared by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), the new three-span bridge will include two 11-foot traffic lanes for vehicles heading in both directions. Along with being able to process four total lanes of traffic, the bridge will also include a 5-foot-wide shoulder/bike lane with ADA accessible 5.5-foot sidewalks separated by guardrails.

Mayor Scott Galvin has made the reconstruction of the bridge a top priority for his administration for the past decade. Galvin and the City Council have appropriated hundreds of thousands of dollars as well as city resources to support the design of the bridge.

The $23.5 million bridge project is expected to divert as many as 17,000 vehicles per day away from smaller residential side streets in Wilmington and North Woburn that lead to the industrial district. MassDOT and city of Woburn officials anticipate the infrastructure project will begin in August 2021, with construction expected to last for at least two years.

“Six years ago I was approached by a friend, John Devine of Woburn,” said Woburn Veteran Service Officer Larry Guiseppe. “We discussed a number of veterans related projects in Woburn that we might accomplish to honor those men and women that gave the ultimate sacrifice for us and our country. Following that meeting I wrote a letter to our then State Representative James Dwyer requesting that the new, (replacement) bridge in North Woburn be named after the 13 young men that were Killed-in-Action in the Vietnam War from Woburn. When Jim retired, I thought it was the end of road for the naming of the bridge, little did I know that our new State Representative Richard Haggerty had championed the cause and was rallying the State House for support of this endeavor. Six months ago, I received a communication from Richard that he was successful in having the new bridge named after my 13 friends, 8 of which were killed in Vietnam the same time I was there serving with a United States Marine Corps combat unit. I salute Jim Dwyer, Richard Haggerty, and the members of the House for this Distinguished and Deserving Memorial.  We must always remember and never forget the sacrifices that our soldiers are placed in every day, without their dedication and commitment to freedom we would not be able to enjoy the many freedoms we have today. This is a great honor for all our fallen comrades, and our City.”

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge is set to be located on New Boston Street in North Woburn over the Lowell Line MBTA tracks, connecting Wilmington and North Woburn.

Legislature Returns COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave to Governor’s Desk

BOSTON – On Thursday, May 20, 2021, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), Representative Rich Haggerty (D-Woburn), Representative Michelle Ciccolo (D-Lexington), and their colleagues in the Massachusetts Legislature gave final legislative approval to a bill to guarantee COVID emergency paid leave to workers, as well as avoid drastic unemployment insurance rate increases paid by employers. The bill was back before the Legislature this week after having been returned by the Governor with an amendment. Passage of the bill by the Legislature ensures that all Massachusetts employees, including frontline workers in hospitals and classrooms, will receive emergency leave for up to five paid days off for COVID-related concerns, including paid leave from work to attend a vaccine appointment.

“I am pleased we are able to provide much-needed relief to our businesses and working families, especially through long-overdue emergency paid sick leave benefits for all workers,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “It is vital that we protect public health and support an equitable economic recovery as we emerge from the pandemic.”

“Small businesses need our support as we focus on economic recovery and because of that I was very proud to support legislation that drastically reduces the spike in unemployment insurance rates for employers,” said Representative Haggerty. “This effort stabilizes UI rates, bolsters the long term solvency of our UI fund, and provides critical emergency paid sick leave for those who need it most.”

“After such a difficult year, I am pleased that the Legislature has provided relief our small businesses and workers, and I look forward to continuing to make sure that those most affected by the pandemic are not left behind,” said Representative Ciccolo.

Massachusetts workers would be eligible for emergency paid leave should they be diagnosed with COVID-19, required to isolate, or need to care for a family member due to the virus. Building on efforts to increase vaccination rates in Massachusetts, employees would also be able to take emergency paid leave in order to receive a COVID vaccine, or if they have common vaccine side effects in the immediate days following the vaccine. This will ensure Massachusetts workers do not have to choose between a paycheck or access to the vaccine. Employees taking COVID emergency leave would maintain all benefits to which they are entitled, such as health insurance, vacation leave, and sick leave.

As in previous versions of this legislation, employees are eligible for up to five days of paid leave, at their regular rate of pay, capped at $850 per week—the same maximum weekly benefit provided for in the Massachusetts Paid Family Medical Leave (PFML) law. Employers covered by federal legislation providing for paid leave will have the cost of providing such leave paid for through the federal tax credit. For all other employers, the bill creates a $75 million COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave Fund to reimburse eligible employers for providing their employees with emergency paid sick leave. The state requirement for paid leave would extend until September 30, 2021, or until the fund is exhausted.

The legislation also answers calls to address unanticipated unemployment insurance (UI) rate spikes caused by increases to the solvency assessment. In cases where businesses are currently set to see dramatic increases in UI rates due to the pandemic, this bill would spread those costs over a 20-year period via a surcharge, effectively reducing rates in the near term and giving businesses additional relief as the pace of business in Massachusetts picks back up. This change builds on previous legislation passed this year by the Legislature to freeze the rate schedule for employers.

During the COVID-19 public health crisis, the surge of pandemic-related unemployment claims raised concerns among employers regarding disproportionate rises to their unemployment claims costs. To prevent such rises, the Legislature acted to insulate employers from employer-specific claims by temporarily diverting all COVID-related unemployment claims into a shared solvency account. This legislation would move all such COVID-related UI claims filed through August 1, 2021 into a new COVID claims account, further stabilizing the state’s UI system by undoing the solvency- related rate spikes.

The bill now returns to the Governor’s desk.

Haggerty secures $65K for Woburn in House budget

BOSTON – Representative Richard M. Haggerty (D-Woburn) secured $65,000 in state funding allocations for the City of Woburn as part of the Fiscal Year 2022 House budget.

Haggerty filed several amendments on the City’s behalf which were included in the House budget, which was engrossed in the early morning hours of April 29. Final approval of the budget earmarks is still pending, as both the Senate and Governor Charlie Baker must agree to the spending earmarks before the money can be released to the town.

The funding earmarks for Woburn include:

  • $50,000 to the Woburn Police Department for emergency equipment modernization;
  • $15,000 to the Friends of Woburn Veterans, Inc. for monument repair.

“The proposed House budget recognizes some of our City’s top priorities by providing critical funding to support our community’s public safety needs and continue its long tradition of honoring those who have served our nation,” said Haggerty. “I’m proud to advocate for these important local initiatives on behalf of the residents of Woburn and I am committed to doing everything I can to ensure this funding is retained in the final budget.”

The FY22 budget now moves to the Senate, which is expected to debate its own spending proposal the week of May 24.

Jones, Haggerty secure $120K for Reading in House budget

BOSTON – House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) and State Representative Richard M. Haggerty (D-Woburn) have secured $120,000 in state funding earmarks for the Town of Reading as part of the Fiscal Year 2022 House budget.

Jones and Haggerty co-sponsored a series of amendments on the town’s behalf, four of which were included in the House budget, which was engrossed in the early morning hours of April 29. Final approval of the funding is still pending, as both the Senate and Governor Charlie Baker must agree to the spending earmarks before the money can be released to the town.

The funding earmarks for Reading include:

  • $10,000 to support substance abuse and addiction awareness and education efforts at the Reading Coalition for Prevention & Support, which operates out of the Reading Police Department and offers programs and services to the community related to substance abuse prevention and mental health promotion;
  • $50,000 for the re-design of the Upper Haven Street (CVS) Municipal Parking Lot to include more pedestrian-friendly features;
  • $50,000 for pedestrian access improvements at the Eastern Gateway, with a focus on the intersection at the entrance to Market Basket; and
  • $10,000 for the establishment of a Reading Community Garden to enhance currently unused or underused town spaces.

“The proposed House budget recognizes some of Reading’s top priorities by providing critical funding to address the town’s economic development, public health and public safety needs,” said Jones. “I’m proud to join with Representative Haggerty to advocate for these important local initiatives on behalf of the residents of Reading. We are committed to doing everything we can to ensure this funding is retained in the final budget.”

“The House budget and these funds support several targeted town initiatives by providing important funding for traffic flow and pedestrian improvements that continue to be of concern to many residents,” said Haggerty. “Additionally, these funds will help promote the community’s commitment that is focused on battling substance abuse and providing a healthy, safe lifestyle for all its residents. I would like to thank Minority Leader Jones for his continued partnership in advocating for these important initiatives.”

The FY22 budget now moves to the Senate, which is expected to debate its own spending proposal the week of May 24.

Joint TUE Committee Tours RMLD Battery Site

Reading – On Friday, April 23, 2021, new Chairman Jeffrey Roy and six members of the Joint Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy (TUE) Committee of the Massachusetts legislature toured the Reading Municipal Light Department’s (RMLD) Minuteman Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) in North Reading. The tour provided an opportunity for TUE members to see how the RMLD, a Municipal Light Plant (MLP), utilized a $1 million MA DOER ACES (Advancing Commonwealth Energy Storage) grant to demonstrate the capabilities of energy storage, a technology with the potential to change the landscape of electricity distribution. In addition to seeing the system firsthand, TUE members were briefed on how RMLD utilizes the BESS to reduce wholesale electricity costs for its customers as part of its Demand Response Program.

RMLD received the $1 million ACES grant in 2018. The 5 MW, 10 MWH BESS was constructed at its North Reading substation and became operational on June 1, 2019. The system is owned by NextEra Energy Resources and operated under an Energy Storage Agreement between NextEra and the RMLD. The primary purpose of the unit is coincident peak demand management for reductions during critical peak times when electricity is most expensive and to mitigate ISO New England’s need to dispatch less environmentally friendly generators. In the 19 months that the BESS has been operational, the RMLD has realized net savings of $346K by reducing demand during annual Capacity and monthly Transmission peaks. The ACES grant allowed for battery technology to be an integral part of the RMLD objectives under its smart grid technology roadmap.

“I would like to thank the TUE committee members for their interest in on-site learning about battery technology and the innovative work that the RMLD and other MLPs have been doing in the area of energy storage. As well, Energy New England (ENE) for coordinating the event, and NextEra Energy Resources for their technical assistance to allow viewing access of the battery,” said Coleen O’Brien, RMLD General Manager. TUE members in attendance included Chairman Jeffrey Roy, House Minority Leader Brad Jones, Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, Rep. Joan Meschino, Rep. Kate Lipper-Garabedian, Rep. David Robertson, and Rep. Rich Haggerty.

House approves Conservation Land Tax Credit expansion

BOSTON – House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) and State Representative Richard M. Haggerty (D-Woburn) were part of a successful bipartisan effort to secure language in the proposed Fiscal Year 2022 House budget that will help preserve open space in Massachusetts by raising the annual cap on the state’s Conservation Land Tax Credit.

The amendment, filed by Jones and co-sponsored by Haggerty and 52 of their House colleagues, passed the House of Representatives on a unanimous roll call vote of 160-0 on April 26, the first day of debate on the budget. The amendment language closely mirrors House Bill 2960, a stand-alone bill that Jones filed with Representative Smitty Pignatelli (D-Lenox), who also co-sponsored the amendment.

Since 2011, the Conservation Land Tax Credit has provided a financial incentive for individuals to donate land in Massachusetts to a public or private conservation agency so the land can be preserved as open space in perpetuity. Jones’ amendment calls for a temporary increase in the program’s annual cap, which would rise from $2 million to $5 million over a three-year period beginning on January 1, 2022, with the cap increase remaining in place until December 31, 2031.

“This land tax credit goes a long way in protecting our natural resources by encouraging landowners to permanently conserve land in the Commonwealth,” said Representative Haggerty. “I was so proud to support this effort that will increase the amount of land we are able to conserve, protect more wildlife, and naturally combat global warming. We have a responsibility to future generations to preserve our planet and the resources we all enjoy.”

“The recent passage of the 2050 Roadmap bill recognized that naturally occurring carbon sequestration is a very important component of the state’s ability to reach its short and long-term goals for reducing carbon emissions,” said Jones. “Increasing the tax credit program’s annual cap will help to clear up the backlog of projects that are currently pending and will reap significant environmental benefits for the Commonwealth.”

“We are thrilled to see the House unanimously adopt Leader Jones’ bipartisan amendment to increase the annual cap on the Conservation Land Tax Credit. This successful program has led to the conservation of nearly 14,000 acres across the state and is one of the most cost effective tools we have to conserve working farms and forests, wildlife habitat, drinking water supply lands, and natural carbon stores,” said Deb Markowitz, state director of the Nature Conservancy in Massachusetts.

The Conservation Land Tax Credit provides qualifying applicants with a refundable state tax credit equal to 50 percent of the fair market value of the donated property, up to a maximum credit of $75,000. The tax credit is reserved for land with significant conservation value, including forest land, farm land, land used for wildlife protection, and projects essential to water quality protection.

As of January of 2021, a total of $18.38 million in tax credits have been awarded to 350 projects, resulting in the permanent protection of nearly 14,000 acres of land valued at over $76.5 million.

Jones and Haggerty noted that $2 million in tax credits have already been committed this year to 33 projects that will protect about 1,954 additional acres, but another 83 projects remain pending due to the annual cap restrictions, with some of the projects expected to be waiting until at least 2024 for the tax credit. Those 83 projects represent another 1,482 acres of land targeted for conservation.

More than a dozen environmental organizations have endorsed the proposed cap increase, including The Nature Conservancy, the Massachusetts Land Trust Coalition, Mass Audubon, and the Environmental League of Massachusetts.

This marks the fifth budget cycle since Fiscal Year 2016 that the House has gone on record in support of raising the cap. Jones and Haggerty said they are hopeful the Senate will follow suit when it debates its own version of the Fiscal Year 2022 budget in May.

Reading-North Reading Chamber of Commerce awarded $24,745 state Travel & Tourism Recovery Grant

BOSTON – Local legislators joined with Reading-North Reading Chamber of Commerce Board President Josh Harrington today to announce that the Chamber has been awarded a $24,745 state grant under the newly created Travel & Tourism Recovery (TTR) Grant Pilot Program.

The funding will be used to support the Chamber’s development of a “Shop The Readings” marketing program to coincide with the SBA’s Small Business Week campaign. The marketing plan will include hand-lettered signs painted by a local artist on 40 storefront windows, local newspaper ads, a billboard on Main Street, social media posts, and a direct mail piece distributed to every local household and business, all featuring the “Shop The Readings” and My Local MA logos.

The Chamber is also planning to launch a website featuring a comprehensive list of local businesses and the amenities they offer, including curbside pickup, online shopping and delivery options. In addition, the Chamber will give individuals the option to sign up for weekly text messages highlighting local business promotions.

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading), State Representative Richard M. Haggerty (D-Woburn), and State Senator Jason M. Lewis (D-Winchester) each submitted a letter to the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism in February supporting the Chamber’s grant application, as did Reading Town Manager Robert LeLacheur and North Reading Town Administrator Michael Gilleberto. Legislators praised the Chamber’s ongoing efforts to help local businesses keep their doors open despite the many challenges posed by the COVID-19 global pandemic.

“The Reading-North Reading Chamber of Commerce has been a powerful voice and a tireless advocate for the needs of the local business community for many years, and that commitment has remained strong throughout the pandemic,” said Representative Jones. “The Chamber’s ‘Shop The Readings’ campaign not only will encourage people to shop locally, but also will help attract visitors to Reading and North Reading by highlighting the many independent businesses and natural amenities the two communities have to offer.”

“These important resources will go a long way towards supporting the Chamber and economic recovery,” said Representative Haggerty. “Small businesses were terribly impacted by this pandemic and we must continue to provide tools to communities so they can promote local business and job growth.”

“Giving local businesses the tools and resources they need to succeed will be a crucial element of a strong post-pandemic recovery for our small businesses and local entrepreneurs,” said Senator Lewis. “I’m very pleased that the Reading-North Reading Chamber of Commerce will receive this state support to encourage residents to shop local and support our small businesses.”

“It is important to remind people when they shop local, they are re-investing dollars back into their hometowns,” remarked Chamber President Josh Harrington. As a local resident and business owner of JH Insurance Group, Harrington continued “we are excited to highlight the many great services, restaurants and retailers found right in North Reading and Reading. Our goal is to bring awareness to the importance of shopping right in town.” The Chamber Board praised the Chamber’s Executive Director, Lisa Egan, for the time, effort and dedication she has shown in helping local businesses, especially over the past year.

The TTR Grant Program provides funding to support marketing projects that will enhance tourism recovery, have the potential to increase visits by non-residents, and support the My Local MA campaign, which was launched in August of 2020 in response to COVID-19’s economic impact on small businesses and communities. A total of nearly $1.6 million in TTR grants were awarded this week to 59 tourism organizations, chambers of commerce, and municipalities.

The TTR Grant Program is open to any public, nonprofit agency, 501(c)3, or 501(c)6 that has been in operation in Massachusetts for at least two consecutive years since January of 2019 and is in good standing with all state taxes, licenses and registrations.

To learn more about the Reading-North Reading Chamber of Commerce, please visit https://readingnreadingchamber.org/.

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.