The cities and towns in the Hampshire, Franklin, Worcester district have unique needs and boundless potential. My job as your state senator is to work alongside local elected officials and community leaders to help funnel state resources and shape state policy in the name of regional equity, workforce development, and necessary investment in our people and infrastructure.
Please take a moment to look at the regional development bills I have filed this session.
You can also view all bills I’ve co-sponsored this session here.
Allow Tax on Sales of Luxury Homes to Build Affordable Housing
S.868, An Act empowering cities and towns to impose a fee on certain real estate transactions to support affordable housing
Lack of affordable housing and homelessness remain major crises, and cities and towns need funds to support the development of affordable housing in their communities. My bill allows cities and towns to choose to levy a local tax on the transfer of luxury houses, with the money generated put into that municipality’s affordable housing trust fund.
Strengthen Local Public Health (SAPHE 2.0)
S.1386, An Act relative to accelerating improvements to the local and regional public health system to address disparities in the delivery of public health services
Our local public health system is the front line in protecting the public, and COVID has demonstrated just how much we rely on local health officials. Yet our fragmented and under-resourced system is inadequate to meet the needs, particularly in small towns where the board of health may be volunteer, and the state contributes no annual funding to municipalities. My bill sets statewide standards and provides funds to ensure that everyone has access to a core set of public health protections.
Recognize Veterans’ Public Service
S.1672, An Act to extend veterans retirement buyback opportunities
Many veterans continue their public service by going into teaching or other public employment. We should count both times that veterans have served the public when we consider their retirement benefits. My bill lengthens the amount of years spent working in public service that veterans can apply to their retirement credit from 4 years to 10 years, and increases the credit for national guard or active reserve service.
Support Our Rural Communities
S.2029, An Act advancing equity for rural communities receiving state grants
Greater distances and lower population density mean rural communities face increased costs to deliver services. Small tax bases and flat population growth mean rural communities do not see increases in revenue or from state funding formulas, making grant programs a unique lifeline for infrastructure needs. My bill directs state agencies administering grant programs to give preference to rural communities, particularly those that intend to use funds to regionalize or share services.
Reduce Speeds in our Neighborhoods
S.2283, An Act promoting safety by permitting municipalities to reduce speed limits
In many neighborhoods, people drive too fast but there is nothing the local authorities can do. State law currently does not allow local authorities to set speed limits on many local streets. My bill allows local officials reduce speed limits by 5 mph on local streets.
Relieve Small Towns from Paperwork Burden
S.2284, An Act relative to the Transportation Infrastructure Enhancement Trust Fund municipal reporting requirements
A state fee on Uber and Lyft rides provides some of the funds collected back to the city or town where the ride originated, to be used for local transportation needs. The law also requires annual reports from the local community on how the money is used, even if the amount received is 60 cents. My bill allows cities and towns to consolidate reports for 5 years on amounts they receive from the fee on Uber and Lyft rides if the amounts total under $25,000. This will relieve a paperwork burden imposed on small towns, particularly in our region where there is very little revenue being returned to our towns.
Facilitate Efficient Transportation of Materials
S.2286, An Act facilitating cost efficient transportation
Our local towns have complained about the cost of hauling their recycling, which requires multiple trips due to weight limits imposed on trucks. Larger trucks safely carrying more materials will save towns from these expensive and unnecessary costs. My bill allows tandem trucks operating on approved public roads to weigh up to 99,000 lbs if they have a permit, reducing the need for multiple trips.
Keep Veterans’ Services Local
S.2395, An Act providing for timely reimbursement of cities and towns for veterans’ benefits
Local veterans’ services officers provide critical, often life-saving services to veterans living in our communities. My bill directs the state Veterans’ Administration to more quickly reimburse municipalities, so that our municipalities can more easily support veterans and not be financially burdened awaiting reimbursement.
Support Municipal Building Construction
S.2457, An Act Creating a Municipal and Public Safety Building Authority
Small towns in western Massachusetts and around the state don’t have the tax base or borrowing ability to build new or upgrade existing public safety and municipal buildings. My bill creates an independent public authority, similar to authorities that help finance municipal school buildings and libraries, to provide matching funds for local public safety and town office buildings.
Charlie’s Law: Prohibit Video Recording While Driving
SD.2877, An Act Prohibiting Video Recording or Broadcasting While Driving
Charlie’s Law is legislation to strengthen the Massachusetts hands-free driving law. The bill bans drivers from recording or broadcasting video of themselves while driving, to make sure that drivers focus their attention solely on the road. The bill honors Charlie Braun, a community leader who was tragically killed when he was struck by a car while riding a bike in Northampton. The driver’s attention was diverted by a FaceTime video chat while she was driving.