Woburn Native Ramla Hagi Reflects on “Valuable Experience” Interning for Representative Haggerty’s Office

BOSTON – Representative Richard M. Haggerty is proud to announce Ramla Hagi as the first intern of the 2019 -2020 legislative session. Ramla was responsible for designing social media material and managing administrative duties at the Representative’s State House Office.

Ramla graduated from Woburn Memorial High School in 2018 and is currently finishing her freshman year at UMASS Boston seeking a degree in Biology with a minor in Political Science. Ramla developed an interest in politics when she participated in Youth and Government her sophomore year where she held leadership positions as a Committee Chair, Senator, and elected member of the Governor’s Cabinet.

“From interning here at the State House, I was able to experience firsthand the daily functions of a State Representative, policy making, and real-life aspects of the legislative process,” said Ramla Hagi. “I had the opportunity to build on my team working and communication skills by connecting with many people and expanding on my professional network. The skills and valuable experience I gained helped to enhance my career development and set a direction on my civic career path and goals in government.”

“It’s been great having Ramla join our team these past 8 weeks,” said Rep. Haggerty. “She brought with her a strong knowledge of social media platforms, attention to detail, and fresh ideas that were immensely helpful in establishing a working foundation for our office to build off of.”

Ramla recently finished her 8-week Spring Internship with Rep. Haggerty’s office. The Representative’s office will be continuing the internship program through the summer and is in the process of considering the application packages of potential interns from the 30th Middlesex District.

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

House Passes Distracted Driving Legislation

BOSTON – Representatives Richard M. Haggerty (D-Woburn) and Michelle Ciccolo (D-Lexington), together with their colleagues in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, overwhelmingly voted to pass legislation to ban drivers from using hand-held electronic devices in vehicles unless the devices are in hands-free mode.

“Distracted driving is a factor in too many dangerous and fatal motor vehicle accidents, and the House is proud to take this step to move this policy forward for Massachusetts – making our roads safer and protecting our drivers, passengers and pedestrians,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop). “I want to thank Chair Straus for his diligence and hard work, and Leader Wagner, Chair Michlewitz, members of the Black and Latino Caucus, and my colleagues in the House who were instrumental to this process.”

“Similar to laws for car seats and seatbelts before it – this legislation is a common sense step forward that will save lives and make us all safer,” said Rep. Haggerty. “The time has come to put down our phones and better utilize technology when making phone calls so we can keep our eyes on the road.”

“As a long time bicycle and pedestrian advocate, I have been a strong supporter of this bill and prior versions for years, and I am pleased to have voted for this measure as it passed the House so convincingly,” said Rep. Ciccolo. “Along with provisions requiring state officials to explore expanding racial and gender data collection whenever a traffic stop results in a search or frisk, this bill will greatly increase public safety while ensuring that no group is unfairly targeted as a result of these important new restrictions.”

The bill defines hands-free devices as those that engage in voice communication and receive audio without touching, holding, or otherwise manually manipulating the device. Law enforcement officials have the ability to issue warnings to drivers until Dec. 31, 2019 before the law goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2020. The bill will also:

• Allow for drivers to use mapping or navigation devices if they are affixed to the windshield or integrated into the vehicle and only involve a tap or a swipe;
• Exempt use of electronics in the case of an emergency and for first responders if they are using the devices as part of their duties;
• Penalize drivers with fines $100 for the first offense, $250 for the second offense and $500 for third and subsequent offenses;
• Build off of and bolster existing law by creating compliance measures requiring the inclusion of race on the uniform citation and extending this practice to all jurisdictions;
• Invest $300,000 toward data collection and analysis by an outside entity;
• Require jurisdictions – if data suggest those jurisdictions may be engaging in racial profiling – to collect demographic data on all traffic stops for a one-year period; and
• Create an awareness campaign informing and educating the public of the dangers of using technological devices while driving and their obligations under this bill.

The bill will now go to the Senate for further consideration.

Representatives Haggerty, Ciccolo support bill providing $1,268,029 in road and bridge funding for Woburn

BOSTON – Woburn is set to receive $1,268,029 for local road and bridge repairs in Fiscal Year 2020 under a Chapter 90 bond bill supported by Representative Richard M. Haggerty (D-Woburn) and Representative Michelle Ciccolo (D-Lexington).

The funding for Woburn was included in a $200 million bond authorization approved unanimously by the House of Representatives on a vote of 156-0 on May 8.

“This appropriation will provide Woburn with the resources it needs to repave local roadways and upgrade infrastructure,” said Representative Haggerty. “I was pleased to vote in favor of this aid to assist our communities in keeping our roads safe and complete local paving projects.”

“One of the most important functions cities and towns carry out is maintaining their roads in a state of good repair, said Representative Ciccolo. “Regular and routine road maintenance helps to reduce more costly repairs down the line when needed upkeep is deferred. As such, I am pleased to have joined my colleagues in supporting this bond authorization, and I will continue to advocate to increase this line item for our municipalities.”

Ratified by the Legislature in 1973, the Chapter 90 program appropriated funding on a yearly basis to cities and towns using a formula that incorporates the weighted average of a municipality’s population, employment, and total road miles. The funding dispersed as reimbursements to communities for qualifying infrastructure work.

Chapter 90 funds are able to be spent on a various municipal roadway projects, including resurfacing, drainage, sidewalks, guardrails, traffic control, right-of-way acquisition and street lighting. This funding can also be used for bike paths, tree planting and landscaping associated with certain projects, along with purchasing and maintaining certain road building machinery, equipment and related tools.

The Chapter 90 bond bill now moves to the Senate for further action.

January – March Legislative Update

I would like to take a few minutes to update you all on the efforts I have made as your State Representative these first few months. It continues to be my honor to serve and I look forward to updating you throughout the year on the efforts I am making on your behalf on Beacon Hill.

After being sworn-in on January 2nd I have focused my energy on constituent services, settling into committee assignments, sponsoring and co-sponsoring legislation, and taking several votes.

Committee Assignments
I was recently assigned to several key committees for the current legislative session including the Joint Standing Committee for Education, Joint Standing Committee for Financial Services, and the Joint Standing Committee for Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture (ENRA), while also being appointed to the House Standing Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change. Education will be of particular focus this session as we commit ourselves to overhauling the Commonwealth’s public school funding, critical for the communities of Woburn and Reading.

Education
I strongly support updating our education funding formula in the Commonwealth. Our state’s school funding formula has not been updated since 1993 and it is critical that the state supports our communities with proper funding to help minimum funded communities like Woburn and Reading better deal with rising costs. As a member of the Joint Committee on Education I have cosponsored the two major pieces of legislation the committee will review this session (S.238 The Promise Act and H.576 filed by Representative Paul Tucker). Both of these bills make a real effort to address the four cost areas many school districts struggle with including employee health care costs, special education costs, English language learners’ (ELL) costs and better supporting our low-income population. I am keenly aware that many suburban districts like ours deal with being ‘minimum funded districts’ and I will advocate to make sure we are not left behind during these once in a generation discussions.

Legislation Filed
Soon after settling into my office, I immersed myself in the bill sponsoring/cosponsoring period, where I reviewed and considered thousands of bills from my colleagues while filing several of my own.
One of my bills (H.127) would effectively establish a registry of caretakers found to have substantiated abuse against a person with intellectual or developmental disabilities. With more heartbreaking stories of abuse being heard daily, I found it imperative to act in order to protect those vulnerable members of our community. “An Act relative to election ballots” was a piece of legislation I was proud to file with Woburn City Clerk William Campbell. The intent of this bill is to have one official ballot for all voters in the Commonwealth, which in turn would save millions of unused ballots each general election cycle. The anticipated savings to the Commonwealth would be over $750,000 each state election cycle. “An Act exempting veterans from the standard registration fee for veterans’ license plates” would waive the standard $60 fee for our Commonwealth’s veterans; small thanks for their sacrifice and service to our great nation. With “An Act relative to line-of-duty death and survivor benefits,” this legislation would increase these mentioned benefits from $150,000 to $250,000, ensuring that the Commonwealth is properly taking care of the families impacted by the sacrifice of a loved one made in the line-of-duty.

I was also pleased to co-sponsor H.3486 “An Act relative to the Prescription Monitoring Program.” The purpose of this legislation is to ensure that licensed professionals authorized to prescribe controlled substances receive information, through the Prescription Monitoring Program, about a patient’s participation in opioid maintenance treatment prior to issuing a new prescription for an opioid substance.

All opioid treatment facilities will then present to each individual entering treatment a form that allows the individual to consent to the release of their information through the Prescription Monitoring Program. The information will also be presented to the individual upon their discharge from the facility. I believe this bill will go a long way towards providing doctors and nurses the information they need to make more informed decisions prior to writing an opioid prescription.

Another piece of legislation I co-sponsored is H.3179 “An Act requiring the hands-free use of mobile telephones while driving.” For the safety of our roadways, and most important our families, the time has come to put down our phones while driving. Accident data, to many near misses, blue-tooth technology, and vehicle-integrated phone systems now provide us little excuse to not put down our phones. The bill states that no operator of a motor vehicle shall use a mobile telephone, or any handheld device capable of accessing the internet, to compose, send or read an electronic message or to access a mobile application while operating a motor vehicle, except to perform a single tap or swipe to activate, deactivate or initiate hands free navigation – except in case of an emergency.

Votes Taken
In late February, I was proud to vote in favor of a supplemental budget that made key investments in crucial areas:
• $8 million to begin to address the backlog of Sexual Assault Evidence Kits at the State Police Crime Lab.
• $30 million for low-income Heating Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to make up for Federal funding shortfalls.
• $10 million to fund emergency assistance for homelessness
• $39 million to fund ratified-collective bargaining agreements at various state agencies.

In March I voted on two pieces of legislation; the bill banning conversion therapy practices by licensed professionals in Massachusetts and a bill related to benefit funding in the Commonwealth. Each of these bills passed the legislature by wide margins, representing a successful bi-partisan approach to governing.

By a vote of 147-8, the House approved legislation (H.140) that prevents state-licensed therapists from attempting to change a minor’s sexual orientation or gender identity. These practices have been outlawed in 15 other states have been widely discredited by mental health professionals as being harmful to children, I voted in favor of banning the practice by licensed individuals in Massachusetts.

I was also proud to join my colleagues, by a vote of 155-1, in voting for a bill that would abolish a rule that denies benefits to vulnerable children born into families already receiving public assistance. Providing transitional assistance is an important benefit for an estimated 9,000 low-income children in Massachusetts and I also look forward to supporting further funding for work force training and retraining efforts.
Please feel free to reach out to my office or Legislative Aide via email at Anthony.Langone@mahouse.gov or call the office at (617) 722-2090. To stay up to date on everything I’m doing up at the State House and out in the district follow me on Facebook @Rich.M.Haggerty and on Twitter @richhaggerty.

House Passes $135 Million Supplemental Budget; Heating Assistance, Homeless Shelters among key initiatives funded

BOSTON – Representative Richard Haggerty (D-Woburn) joined his colleagues in the Massachusetts House of Representatives to pass a supplemental budget which addresses multiple areas including heating assistance, enhanced support for victims of sexual assault, and programs to help those battling homelessness.

The spending bill, approximately $135 million, highlights the House’s ongoing commitment in support of critical social service investments while balancing fiscal prudence; this practice has resulted in Massachusetts prioritizing its most vulnerable residents while maintaining a strong and diverse economy.

“With state residents still facing winter weather, this supplemental budget provides vital funds for heating assistance,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo D-Winthrop. “I thank Chairman Michlewitz and the members of the House for passing this legislation which provides funding for a number of important areas.”

“I was very pleased to vote in favor of the House supplemental budget that will dedicate state resources to a variety of important areas including heating assistance to help the most vulnerable among us and a substantial appropriation to advance the review of Sexual Assault Evidence Kits,” said Representative Haggerty. “I will continue to keep a watchful eye on state revenues as we begin budget deliberations.”

“This legislation funds critical investments that the Commonwealth needs in order to continue to provide the services that our constituents so dearly rely upon,” said Representative Aaron Michlewitz, Chair of the House Committee on Ways & Means D-Boston. “This budget ensures that we maintain high quality services and programs for our neediest citizens while at the same time being vigilant about the State’s fiscal situation”

The supplemental budget makes key investments in crucial areas:
-$30 million for Low Income Heating Energy Assistance to make up for Federal funding shortfalls.
-$10 million to fund emergency assistance for homeless families
-$8 million to begin to address the backlog of Sexual Assault Evidence Kits at the State Police Crime Lab.
-$39 million to fund ratified-collective bargaining agreements at various state agencies.

Rep. Haggerty Welcomes Local Veterans’ Service Officer to Annual Legislative Luncheon

BOSTON – Representative Richard M. Haggerty (D-Woburn) recently welcomed Reading Veterans’ Services Officer Kevin Bohmiller to the State House for the 2019 legislative luncheon hosted by the Massachusetts Veterans’ Service Officers Association (MVSOA). This annual event honors the state’s Veterans’ Service Officers for their work and advocacy on behalf of our Commonwealth’s veterans and their families.

“It’s important we honor and celebrate our Commonwealth’s VSO’s”, said Rep. Haggerty. “These individuals are on the forefront of advocating for our state’s veterans and their families, and I personally thank them for all they do for our communities.”

“I’d like to thank Representative Haggerty and all other legislators who turned out to show their support for Veteran issues,” said Kevin Bohmiller. “This has been an amazing day! Working together we have made Massachusetts #1 in the nation for services provided to Veterans and their families.”

After the event Rep. Haggerty took Kevin Bohmiller on a tour through the historic State House, visiting the House and Senate Chambers along with the Hall of Flags. The MVSOA luncheon is an annual event that draws bipartisan support each year. Governor Charlie Baker, Senate President Karen Spilka, and House Speaker Robert DeLeo addressed the crowd, along with the many other elected officials and speakers. The organization leads in championing legislative agenda for veterans, supporting those who have served and their loved ones.

Representative Haggerty Accepting Applications for 2019 Spring State House Internships

BOSTON – Representative Richard Haggerty is searching for motivated, civic-minded individuals interested in a Spring internship in his office at the Massachusetts State House. State Representative 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 from the inside the State House. Although unpaid, interns will obtain invaluable experience by witnessing and 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.

Interns will also have the opportunity to attend various events held at the State House such as hearings, meetings, and listening to guest speakers. Interns in Representative Haggerty’s office will gain the satisfaction of serving the Commonwealth along with being able to add beneficial experience to their resume.

Interns should have excellent written and verbal communication skills, a high level of attention to detail, be able to conduct themselves professionally, and respect for confidentiality. Candidates must also be proficient with Microsoft Office applications along with major social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

Preference will be given to college students, but interested and capable young adults will also be considered with connections to the Rep. Haggerty’s district of Woburn and Reading. The Spring internship program will span from March 25th until May 31st with hours ranging from 9-12 hours, 2-3 days per week. Candidates with a particular interest in communications, public relations, graphic design, video production or social media should indicate so in their application. Candidates should send a resume with a brief cover letter of interest, and a 2-3 page writing sample to Anthony.Langone@mahouse.gov by Tuesday, March 7th, 2019. References should be available upon request and applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis, so interested parties are encouraged to apply promptly. If potential applicants have any questions, please call (617) 722-2425.

Rep. Haggerty Welcomes Local Veterans’ Service Officer to Annual Legislative Luncheon

BOSTON – Representative Richard M. Haggerty (D-Woburn) recently welcomed Reading Veterans’ Services Officer Kevin Bohmiller to the State House for the 2019 legislative luncheon hosted by the Massachusetts Veterans’ Service Officers Association (MVSOA). This annual event honors the state’s Veterans’ Service Officers for their work and advocacy on behalf of our Commonwealth’s veterans and their families.

“It’s important we honor and celebrate our Commonwealth’s VSO’s”, said Rep. Haggerty. “These individuals are on the forefront of advocating for our state’s veterans and their families, and I personally thank them for all they do for our communities.”

“I’d like to thank Representative Haggerty and all other legislators who turned out to show their support for Veteran issues,” said Kevin Bohmiller. “This has been an amazing day! Working together we have made Massachusetts #1 in the nation for services provided to Veterans and their families.”

After the event Rep. Haggerty took Kevin Bohmiller on a tour through the historic State House, visiting the House and Senate Chambers along with the Hall of Flags. The MVSOA luncheon is an annual event that draws bipartisan support each year. Governor Charlie Baker, Senate President Karen Spilka, and House Speaker Robert DeLeo addressed the crowd, along with the many other elected officials and speakers. The organization leads in championing legislative agenda for veterans, supporting those who have served and their loved ones.

State Lawmakers Call For Heating Assistance To Support Low Income Families As Federal Funds Lag

BOSTON – Last week, state lawmakers sent a letter to Governor Charlie Baker, urging him to assist residents at risk from a federal funding shortfall in the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which serves 160,000 households in the commonwealth.

More than 70 House and Senate members, including Representative Rich Haggerty (D-Woburn) and Representative Michelle Ciccolo (D-Lexington), requested a $30 million appropriation meant to shore up shortages in heating fuel access. They say that most of the nearly 48,000 supported households that rely on oil heat have exhausted their fuel assistance benefit, and all will have exhausted it by the end of January, leaving them in a perilous position for the rest of the winter.

“Gaining the funding quickly to protect individuals and their families affected by this shortfall should be a priority,” said Representative Haggerty. “It’s important we support the seniors, families, and residents who rely on this assistance to stay warm.”

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) provides eligible households with help in paying a portion of winter heating bills. Eligibility, based on household size and the annual income of every adult household member, provides assistance for electric and gas utility bills and other heat sources including oil and propane.

“As winter descends in full force, keeping our families and neighbors warm and safe is our responsibility and imperative as a commonwealth,” said Representative Ciccolo. “For that reason, I joined several of my colleagues in urging Governor Baker to commit to funding the program at a level that will keep the most vulnerable among us from having to choose between heat, food, or medicine.”

The fuel assistance program, administered by the state Department of Housing and Community Development and carried out by community action agencies and other community groups, has had an increase in applicants of over 20 percent from last year.

The lawmakers, hopeful for a swift resolution, note that there has been significant cooperation between the branches over the past three decades in responding to limited federal funding and extreme winter weather conditions.

Reading Awarded $6,954 in State Fire Safety Grants

BOSTON – Reading has been awarded $6,954 in fire safety grant funding by the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security’s Department of Fire Services for Fiscal Year 2019.

The Reading Fire Department will receive $4,354 for the Student Awareness of Fire Education (S.A.F.E.) program, which teaches students in grades K-12 about the dangers of smoking and other fire safety hazards. The department will also receive a $2,600 grant for the Senior SAFE program, which educates seniors on the topics of fire prevention, general home safety and how to be better prepared in the event of a fire.

“The S.A.F.E. program and the Senior SAFE program have proven to be highly effective in educating our children and our seniors about the importance of fire prevention and how to keep themselves safe in the event of a fire,” said House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading). “I am proud to support this life-saving initiative, and I know the town of Reading will put this grant money to good use.”

“Fire safety grant funding continues to provide the support our public safety officials need to educate our children and our seniors,” said State Representative Rich Haggerty (D-Woburn). “This educational programming is a great example of how we can positively affect outcomes by teaching everyone what to do in the event of fire.”

“Fire prevention has always been a serious mission for the Reading Fire Department, and I’m pleased that the Commonwealth is supporting that work with grant funding,” said Senator Jason Lewis (D-Winchester). “Fire safety education for our most vulnerable populations – children and seniors – is essential, and I thank the Reading Fire Department for its tireless efforts in this endeavor.”

Since the creation of the S.A.F.E. program 24 years ago, the average annual rate of child fire deaths has been reduced by 74%. Six years ago, the program was expanded to include fire prevention training for seniors, who are among the most vulnerable populations at risk of fire-related deaths.

“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,” said State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey. “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.”