Rep. Haggerty Announces Upcoming Community Office Hours

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

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 upcoming Office Hours will be held on Thursday, September 9th at 11:30am via Zoom. If you are interested in participating, 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.

Woburn Delegation Calls for Reopening of Mishawum Commuter Rail Station

WOBURNRepresentative Richard M. Haggerty (D-Woburn), Representative Michelle L. Ciccolo (D-Lexington), and Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) are making efforts to reinstate Commuter Rail Service at Mishawum Station. Service to the commuter frequented station provides access to the Lowell Line and has remained closed since December 14, 2020.

In a recent letter to MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak, the Delegation stressed the importance of Mishawum station as “the most accessible way for residents and visitors commuting from Woburn Center, surrounding neighborhoods, and those staying at the various hotels found along the Lowell line to access the commuter rail and region at large.” Another area of concern was the increased traffic resulting from a return rush hour travel patterns, with the three legislators requesting the MBTA to reinstate the 2019 pre-pandemic summer schedule for the station. This schedule consisted of the commuter rail stopping at Mishawum Station three times during the rush hour each weekday.

The letter came after hearing concerns from constituents on the station’s continued closure and lack of public transportation option to access Boston. Reliable, accessible, and affordable public transportation remains a top legislative priority for the delegation.

Representative Haggerty’s Summer Legislative Update

I hope this Summer legislative update finds you all well and that you are all enjoying the summer so far. I wanted to provide you all with a recap of my actions so far this legislative session.

 

Fiscal Year 2022 Budget

In July I was very proud to support a $48.07 Billion budget for Fiscal Year 2022. This budget preserves fiscal responsibility while maintaining services, makes targeted investments to address emerging needs, safeguards the health and wellness of the most vulnerable populations in the Commonwealth, and ensures residents will benefit equitably as the state recovers from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This budget reflects our values by investing in local aid, public health, our educational systems, and workforce training – each of which will play a critical role in getting us past this pandemic and back to full employment. It also includes a planned $1.1 Billion deposit into the Commonwealth’s reserve ‘Rainy Day’ fund bringing its total to a record $6.0 billion which strengthens our state’s fiscal position, prepares us well to deal future challenges, and puts our state in a strong place to protect our bond rating.

Working with State Rep. Michelle Ciccolo and State Senator Cindy Friedman, I was able to secure Woburn $9.6 million for our schools, $6.5 million in unrestricted local aid to help pay for our police, fire, parks and other local programs. We were also able to secure:

  • $75,000 for the Woburn Police Department to modernize emergency equipment
  • $15,000 to support Friends of Woburn Veterans continued work in the community
  • $100,000 for English at Large, Inc. in Woburn for the purposes of English language tutoring and small group instruction
  • $100,000 for Food Link, Inc. to address food insecurity in Woburn and surrounding communities

These community directed funds for our police department and our veterans’ group will support their mission of both protecting our community and honoring our veterans. This budgets also helps to address food insecurity and further supports English language learners which are critical resources for those in our community who need our help the most.

Working with Minority Leader Brad Jones and Senator Jason Lewis, we were able to secure Reading $10.9 million for our schools, $3.5 million in unrestricted local aid to help pay for our police, fire, parks and other local programs. We were also able to secure:

  • $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 improvements and 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 construction of a Reading Community Garden

This budget and these funds support several targeted municipal projects for pedestrian and traffic flow improvements that continue to be a major concern for residents and community leaders. Additionally, these funds will help support the Reading’s commitment to battling substance abuse and providing a healthy, safe lifestyle for all its residents.

Notably, the FY22 budget provides substantial funds to invest in the Commonwealth’s long-term obligations. As a cornerstone of the Commonwealth’s equitable recovery, the FY22 budget protects access to educational opportunity and charts a path forward for students, families, educators, and institutions.

The budget increases Chapter 70 (schools) funding by $220M and fulfills the first-year schedules outlined in the Student Opportunity Act for both out-of-district transportation eligibility in the Circuit Breaker program and charter school tuition reimbursement. It additionally includes a $40M Enrollment Reserve account to mitigate any adverse effects of COVID-related school enrollment surges and creates a $350M Student Opportunity Act Investment Fund to ensure that we can continue to fulfill our commitment to implementing the SOA over the next five years. Finally, this budget made permanent the Massachusetts Film Tax Credit which continues to support economic growth.

 

Conservation Land Tax Credit

I was proud to be a part of a successful bipartisan effort to secure language in the state budget that will help preserve open space in Massachusetts by raising the annual cap on the state’s Conservation Land Tax Credit.

This land tax credit goes a long way in protecting our natural resources by encouraging landowners to permanently conserve land in the Commonwealth. This effort 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.

 

Infrastructure Money for Woburn and Reading

I joined my colleagues in the legislature in passing a bill that will invest $350 million in municipal transportation and selected statewide transportation infrastructure projects. The bill, An Act Financing Improvements to Municipal Roads and Bridges, authorizes $200 million for municipal roads and bridges through the Chapter 90 program and $150 million to support statewide projects to address congestion, support electric vehicle infrastructure, prioritize bus infrastructure, and improve public transit.

Woburn will receive $1,251,922 with Reading receiving $605,006 of the $200 million in Chapter 90 funding for projects to maintain, improve, and repair roadways, bridges, sidewalks, and bikeways. The bill also includes the following components:

  • $25M for the Municipal Small Bridge Program;
  • $25M for the Local Bottleneck Program;
  • $25M for Electric Vehicle (EV) infrastructure;
  • $25M for Transit-Supportive Infrastructure;
  • $25M for Bus Prioritization and Enhancement Projects;
  • $25M for Enhancements at Transit and Commuter Rail Stations.

 

Sports Betting

I was pleased to join my House colleagues in overwhelmingly supporting H.3977 – An Act Regulating Sports Wagering.

Our residents have been traveling to bordering states for years to place their sport wagers. This bill offers residents the opportunity to place sports’ bets in our state rather than going to one of the other thirty states where it is legal, includes proper safeguards, help get sports betting out of the shadows, and any revenue collected would benefit Massachusetts residents. Some parts of the legislation include:

  • Betting must be taken in casinos, racetracks, online and mobile platforms;
  • Betting will be allowed on all major professional sports;
  • Betting to be allowed on outcome of college games, but not player results;
  • Must be in state and at least 21 years old to bet;
  • $60M in Annual revenue to Massachusetts
  • Wagers to be taxed at 12.5% for made-in-person bets, and 15% for online or mobile bets

 

The Public Lands Preservation Act (H.851)

I am a proud co-sponsor of the The Public Lands Preservation Act (H.851) which passed the House in late July. The legislation will codify the current state policy when any entity, public or private, wants to convert conservation land to some other use. Because the current process is only a policy, there are frequent attempts to circumvent the requirements to have a public process. This important bill would protect our public parks and strengthen Article 97 of the state constitution which gives to the people of Massachusetts the right to clean air and water and protected open space.

 

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge announced

Back in May I was pleased to announce that the planned New Boston Street Bridge in Woburn will be designated the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge. 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.” 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. The bridge is now 100% designed and construction will begin later this year.

 

Emergency Paid Sick Leave and UI Rate Relief

The Massachusetts Legislature and I gave final approval to a bill to avoid drastic unemployment insurance rate increases paid by employers and guarantees COVID emergency paid leave to workers.

Small businesses need our support as we focus on economic recovery. As Vice Chairman of Community Development and Small Business, I was very proud to support legislation that drastically reduces the spike in unemployment insurance rates for employers. This effort stabilizes UI rates, bolsters the long-term solvency of our UI fund, and provides critical emergency paid sick leave. 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.

 

Supplemental Budget for Fiscal Year 2021

In late July I worked with my colleagues in the legislature to pass a $261.6 million supplemental budget for Fiscal Year 2021. The supplemental budget addresses time-sensitive deficiencies, extends expanded voting options, provides supports for the implementation police reform law, and makes investments to support the Commonwealth’s continued recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The supplemental budget invests in childcare workforce development and provide critical support for the most vulnerable among us. It is also vitally important that we provide resources for training our public safety officials and increase rates for home health aides across the Commonwealth.

 

Final Thoughts

My office continues to host office hours sessions with the community, with our next session to be held on Thursday, September 9th at 11am. 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.

This has been a challenging year on so many fronts, and I want to recognize my Legislative Aide Anthony Langone for the extraordinary work he has done and continues to do. If you ever have any questions or are looking to sign-up for one of our upcoming office hours, please reach out to Anthony at anthony.langone@mahouse.gov or call (617) 722-2090.

Representative Haggerty Accepting Applications for Fall 2021 Legislative Internships

BOSTON – State Representative Richard Haggerty is searching for motivated, civic-minded individuals interested in a Fall legislative internship. Haggerty proudly represents the people of the 30th Middlesex District of Massachusetts, which includes the City of Woburn and Town of Reading.

Interns will have the rewarding opportunity to experience policymaking, politics and government through participating in the day-to-day functioning of a State Representative’s office. Interns will report mainly to Anthony Langone, Legislative Aide to Rep. Haggerty, and will be responsible for assisting with a variety of tasks ranging from constituent correspondence, scheduling, legislative research, database management, to communications and social media assignments. They will also have the opportunity to attend various virtual events such as hearings, meetings, and listening to guest speakers, while gaining the satisfaction of serving the Commonwealth along with adding beneficial experience to their resume.

Due to COVID-19, those interested should be prepared to report and work remotely. Interested applicants should have the following:

  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • A high level of attention to detail
  • Able to conduct themselves and dress professionally
  • Respect for confidentiality
  • Proficient with Microsoft Office and Zoom applications.

Those with a particular interest in communications, public relations, graphic design, video production or social media should indicate so in their application. Applicants should send a resume with a brief cover letter of interest, and a 1-2 page writing sample to Anthony.Langone@mahouse.gov by end of day Tuesday, August 31st, 2021. References should be available upon request and if potential applicants have any questions, please call (617) 722-2090.

Massachusetts Legislature Passes Bill Authorizing $350 Million in Funding for Transportation Infrastructure

BOSTONRepresentative Richard M. Haggerty (D-Woburn) joined his colleagues in the Massachusetts Legislature in passing a bill that will invest $350 million in municipal transportation and selected statewide transportation infrastructure projects. The bill, An Act financing improvements to municipal roads and bridges, authorizes $200 million for municipal roads and bridges through the Chapter 90 program and $150 million to support statewide projects to address congestion, support electric vehicle infrastructure, prioritize bus infrastructure, and improve public transit.

Woburn will receive $1,251,922 of the $200 million in Chapter 90 funding for projects to maintain, improve, and repair roadways, bridges, sidewalks, and bikeways.

“This new round of local aid will provide Woburn with the critical resources it needs to repave local roadways, make our streets safer, and upgrade infrastructure,” said Representative Haggerty. “This bill also includes new, creative grants to help communities better connect residents with mass transit and address local congestion hot spots.”

The bill also includes the following components:

  • $25 million for the Municipal Small Bridge Program to support replacement or preservation of structurally deficient local bridges critical to local communities and not eligible for existing federal aid programs.
  • $25 million for the Local Bottleneck Program to address localized traffic bottlenecks and invest in infrastructure to reduce congestion, improve traffic flow, and reduce idling and greenhouse gas emissions.
  • $25 million for Electric Vehicle (EV) infrastructure to support municipalities and regional transit authorities in their efforts to install EV infrastructure and purchase EVs and zero-emission vehicles.
  • $25 million for Transit-Supportive Infrastructure to create dedicated bus lanes, enhance bus stops and train stations, support passenger safety, upgrade technology and modernize infrastructure to meet demand and increase frequency of public transit services, and improve access to public transit.
  • $25 million for Bus Prioritization and Enhancement Projects to support municipalities in their efforts to create bus rapid transit lanes, construct catenary wires for electric trolley buses, purchase equipment for transit signal prioritization, and make improvements at bus stations and stops.
  • $25 million for Enhancements at Transit and Commuter Rail Stations to support municipalities in their efforts to construct parking lots and structures, drop-off and pick-up zones, electric vehicle charging stations, park-and-ride locations, bicycle parking or bicycle cages, and accommodations for micro-mobility devices.

Additionally, the bill includes language clarifying that transportation infrastructure projects are an allowable use of American Rescue Plan Act funds, consistent with U.S. Treasury guidelines.

Having been passed by the House and Senate, the legislation now goes to Governor Baker for his signature.

Reading will receive $605,006 in Chapter 90 Infrastructure Funding

BOSTON – The House and Senate have finalized a Chapter 90 bond bill that will provide Reading with $605,006 in road and bridge funding for Fiscal Year 2022.

In addition to authorizing $200 million in state spending on the Chapter 90 program, the bond bill also provides for a total of $150 million in funding increases for six transit-related municipal grant programs. The final bill – which combines elements of two earlier versions of the bond bill previously approved by the House and Senate – was enacted unanimously in both branches on July 15, with the support of House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading), State Representative Richard Haggerty (D-Woburn), and Senator Jason Lewis (D-Winchester).

Established by the Legislature in 1973, the Chapter 90 program is 100 percent reimbursable and allocates funding to cities and towns on an annual basis using a distribution formula that takes into consideration a community’s population, employment, and total road miles. Municipalities can use the funding for a wide range of capital improvement projects such as road resurfacing and related work, including sidewalks, traffic control measures, and roadside drainage.

“This new round of local aid will provide Reading with the critical resources it needs to repave local roadways, make our streets safer, and upgrade infrastructure,” said Representative Haggerty. “This bill also includes new, creative grants to help communities better connect residents with mass transit and address local congestion hot spots.”

In addition to the Chapter 90 bond authorization, the House and Senate have allocated another $25 million apiece to six state grant programs that were initially funded in a comprehensive transportation bond bill signed into law on January 15. These grant programs offer funding assistance for:

  • the municipal small bridge program, which helps communities fund construction, repairs and improvements for non-federally aided bridges;
  • addressing local bottlenecks that negatively impact traffic flow;
  • implementing transit-supportive infrastructure, including dedicated bus lanes and signal prioritization;
  • prioritizing and enhancing mass transit by bus;
  • increasing access to mass transit and commuter rail stations; and
  • assisting municipalities and regional transit authorities with the purchase of electric vehicles and charging stations.

The final bond bill also retains language previously inserted by the House stipulating that funds received through the Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund may “be used for maintenance or pay-go funded building of transportation infrastructure, including roads.”

The bond bill is now on Governor Charlie Baker’s desk. He has until July 25 to review and sign it.

Haggerty, Woburn Delegation Help Pass Fiscal Year 2022 Budget

BOSTON – On Friday, July 9, 2021, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), Representative Rich Haggerty (D-Woburn), and Representative Michelle Ciccolo (D-Lexington) joined their colleagues in the Massachusetts State Legislature in unanimously passing a $48.07 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22). This budget maintains fiscal responsibility while maintaining services, makes targeted investments to address emerging needs, safeguards the health and wellness of the most vulnerable populations in the Commonwealth, and ensures residents will benefit equitably as the state recovers from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Taking into consideration strong tax revenue performance in Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21), the final FY22 budget increases revenue assumptions by $4.2 billion over the December consensus revenue projection; the new tax revenue projection is now $34.35 billion. As a result, the FY22 budget does not make a withdrawal but instead transfers funds into the Stabilization Fund, leading to a projected balance of approximately $5.8 billion for this crucial ‘rainy day’ fund at the end of the fiscal year.

“We could not have predicted the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic but over the past 16 months we have done our best to prepare for the future, and I’m proud the FY22 budget continues that work by making robust short- and long-term investments in mental and behavioral health services, education, local health departments, and so much more,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means and member of the FY22 Budget Conference Committee. “I sincerely thank Senate President Spilka, Ways and Means Chair Rodrigues, and the rest of my colleagues in the Legislature for their work supporting all residents of the Commonwealth, especially those most in need.”

“These community directed funds for our police department and our veterans’ group will support their mission of both protecting our community and honoring our veterans. This budgets also helps to address food insecurity and further supports English language learners which are critical resources for those in our community who need our help the most,” said Representative Haggerty. “This budget reflects our values by investing in local aid, public health, our educational systems, and workforce training – each of which will play a critical role in getting us past this pandemic and back to full employment. It also includes a planned $1.1 Billion deposit into the Commonwealth’s reserve ‘Rainy Day’ fund bringing its total to a record $6.0 billion which strengthens our state’s fiscal position, prepares us well to deal future challenges, and puts our state in a strong place to protect our bond rating.”

“As we emerge from one of the most challenging periods in our recent history in the Commonwealth, I am optimistic that we will continue to learn and grow from the adversity thrown at us by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Representative Ciccolo. “The FY22 budget continues this work of ensuring Massachusetts is strong by providing for our schools and universities, improving our technological infrastructure, providing for our most vulnerable residents, and ensuring cities and towns have the funds they need to address the challenges facing them.”

The Woburn delegation was particularly proud of the many local priorities they helped secure, including:
• $100,000 for English at Large, Inc. in Woburn for the purposes of English language tutoring and small group instruction
• $100,000 for Food Link, Inc. to address food insecurity in Woburn and surrounding communities
• $75,000 for the Woburn Police Department to modernize emergency equipment
• $15,000 to support Friends of Woburn Veterans continued work in the community

Notably, the FY22 budget provides substantial funds to invest in the Commonwealth’s long-term obligations. As a cornerstone of the Commonwealth’s equitable recovery, the FY22 budget protects access to educational opportunity and charts a path forward for students, families, educators, and institutions. Education budget allocations for Woburn are as follows:

• Chapter 70 – : $9,687,377
• Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA) – $6,579,791

Prioritizing funding for education, the new Student Opportunity Act Investment fund was funded at $350 million to be utilized in the coming years for the implementation of the state’s landmark Student Opportunity Act (SOA)—maintaining the Legislature’s commitment to implementing the SOA by FY27. The budget proposal fully funds the first year of the SOA consistent with the $5.503 billion local aid agreement reached in March, amounting to an increase of $220 million over FY21.

Other education investments include:
• $388.4 million for the Special Education Circuit Breaker, reimbursing school districts for the high cost of educating students with disabilities at the statutorily required 75% reimbursement rate
• $154.6 million for reimbursing school districts at 75% for costs incurred when students leave to attend charter schools
• $82.2 million for regional school transportation
• $50 million for Adult Basic Education
• $27.9 million for the Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity (METCO) program
• $6 million for Social Emotional Learning Grants to help K-12 schools bolster social emotional learning supports for students, including $1 million for a new pilot program to provide mental health screenings for K-12 students
• $4 million for Rural School Aid

This budget supports working families by addressing the increasing costs of caregiving for low-income families by converting the existing tax deductions for young children, elderly or disabled dependents and business-related dependent care expenses into refundable tax credits. The conversion to a refundable tax credit would provide an additional $16 million to over 85,000 families each year. Coupled with the expanded Child Tax Credit and the Child and Dependent Care tax credits under the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), these credits will help lift families out of poverty and support low-income working parents and caregivers across the Commonwealth.

Other children and family investments include:
• $30.5 million for Emergency Food Assistance to ensure that citizens in need can navigate the historic levels of food insecurity caused by COVID-19
• $4.2 million for the Office of the Child Advocate, including $1 million for the establishment and operation of a state center on child wellness and trauma

• $2.5 million for Children Advocacy Centers

The FY22 budget provides resources to help with housing stability, including $150 million for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program to expand access to affordable housing, $85 million for grants to local housing authorities, $22 million for the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition Program and $8 million for Housing Consumer Education Centers to help administer nearly $1 billion in federal housing relief.

The Legislature’s FY22 budget confronts the frontline health care impacts of the pandemic to navigate the challenges posed by COVID-19. It also sustains support for the state’s safety net by funding MassHealth at a total of $18.98 billion, thereby providing over 2 million of the Commonwealth’s children, seniors, and low-income residents access to comprehensive health care coverage. It also invests $15 million to support local and regional boards of health as they continue to work on the front lines against the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Other health care and public health investments include:
• $175.6 million for substance use disorder and intervention services provided by the Bureau of Substance Addiction Services
• $98.4 million for children’s mental health services, including $3.9 million for the Massachusetts Child Psychiatric Access Program (MCPAP) and MCPAP for Moms to address mental health needs of pregnant and postpartum women
• $25 million for Family Resource Centers (FRCs) to grow and improve the mental health resources and programming available to families
• $56.1 million for domestic violence prevention services
• $40.8 million for early intervention services, to ensure supports are accessible and available to infants and young toddlers with developmental delays and disabilities, including funds to support health equity initiatives

To support economic development, the FY22 budget increases access to high quality and reliable broadband—which is crucial for businesses, students, and families—by moving the duties of the Wireless and Broadband Development Division to the Department of Telecommunications, which is working to facilitate access to broadband, and has the institutional ability and knowledge to address broadband access issues.

Investments in economic and workforce development include:
• $17 million transfer to the Workforce Competitiveness Trust fund
• $15.4 million for Career Technical Institutes
• $15 million for the Community Empowerment and Reinvestment Grant Program
• $9.5 million for one-stop career centers to support economic recovery
• $6 million for Regional Economic Development Organizations to support economic growth in all regions of the state

Having been passed by the House and Senate, the legislation now goes to Governor Baker for his signature.

Reading delegation secures $120K for town in FY22 state budget

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

The funding was included in the $48.1 billion Fiscal Year 2022 state budget that was enacted by the House and Senate on July 9 and is now before Governor Charlie Baker for his review. The budget represents a compromise spending plan that reconciles the differences between earlier versions of the budget approved by the House in April and the Senate in May.

Four local initiatives are funded in the budget for Reading, including:

  • $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 improvements and 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 construction of a Reading Community Garden

“This state funding assistance will enable Reading officials to carry out several priority initiatives designed to promote economic development, public health and public safety throughout the community,” said Representative Jones. “The State House delegation advocated for these four projects on Reading’s behalf, and I’m pleased we were able to work together to ensure that they were all retained in the final budget.”

“This budget and these funds support several targeted municipal projects by providing important funding for pedestrian and traffic flow improvements that continue to be a major concern for residents and community leaders,” said Representative Haggerty. “Additionally, these funds will help support the town’s commitment to battling substance abuse and providing a healthy, safe lifestyle for all its residents. I would like to thank Leader Jones and Senator Lewis for their continued partnership in advocating for these important resources.”

“This budget represents an essential step forward as our Commonwealth looks ahead to recovering from the pandemic and rebuilding a strong and equitable economy for Massachusetts families, businesses and communities,” said Senator Lewis, Assistant Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means and Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Education. “I’m especially proud that this budget invests substantially in Massachusetts K-12 public schools and in early education and child care, which form a key pillar of economic opportunity for millions of working parents and families across the state.”

Governor Baker has until July 19 to review the budget and issue any vetoes.

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.