MA State Senate makes history, votes carbon pricing Press Release

In passing a major clean energy bill today, the Massachusetts State Senate voted to authorize the most comprehensive carbon pricing program in the country.  Its author, State Sen. Mike Barrett (D-Lexington), told his colleagues, “In taking a fresh run at combating climate change, you’re putting Massachusetts state government at the forefront — right where our constituents want it to be.”

The action made history, in that the Senate became the first legislative body in the U.S., either federal or state, to approve revenue-neutral fees as a carbon pricing option.  If the policy survives intact after debate in the Massachusetts House and is signed into law, the Commonwealth will also become only the second state, after California, to extend the concept of carbon pricing to transportation.

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Mass. Bill would let Taxpayers Aid Countries Hit by Climate Change Washington Times

BOSTON — A state lawmaker wants to let Massachusetts residents donate to poorer countries hit hardest by climate change when they fill out their tax returns.

Sen. Mike Barrett said his bill is in part a reaction to President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the 2015 Paris accord meant to address climate change.

The bill would add a line to state tax forms to let taxpayers make a donation over and above their regular payment.

Read the Washington Times article

A Year After Trump Nixed Paris, Senator Pushes a Novel Response Press Release

On the first anniversary of the Trump Administration’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement, State Senator Mike Barrett (D-Lexington) is promoting innovative legislation that would change Massachusetts tax forms and let taxpayers direct voluntary contributions, over and above their regular payments, to poverty-stricken countries hit hardest by climate change.

The full title of Barrett’s bill is An Act enabling taxpayer donations to the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF), an initiative of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.


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Barrett Bill will Protect Personal Biometric Data Press Release

Boston –The Massachusetts Senate has unanimously approved new legislation to protect consumers facing hacked thefts of their fingerprints, facial profiles, retinal images and other aspects of their unique personal biology. 

The bill is a priority of State Senator Mike Barrett (D-Lexington).  An already existing law requires businesses and government to protect personal information and to notify people in the case of security breaches.  This law has resulted in the identification of thousands of breaches, including as many as 947,000 Target customers compromised in late 2013. 

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Waltham High School’s “Music Unlimited” Performs in the MA Senate Press Release

Boston – Following their recent success in state competitions and on WGBH TV’s “Sing That Thing!”, Waltham High School’s show choir regaled the Massachusetts State Senate recently at the opening of a formal senate session.  “Music Unlimited” consists of 43 very accomplished young men and women who are students at the city’s public high school.

The group witnessed the swearing-in ceremony of newly elected Senator Nick Collins (D-Boston) before performing two musical numbers — “Man in the Mirror” and the gospel piece, “Don’t Feel No Ways Tired.”  The choir was led by music teacher and former member Alyssa Cincotta.

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Barrett Protects State Aid for Bedford Veterans Press Release

Boston – During recent State Senate debate on legislation to support veterans and their families, Sen. Mike Barrett won passage of an amendment to ensure full state reimbursement of monies Bedford expends for indigent veterans moving into Bedford Green, situated on the grounds of the local VA hospital.

While the state Department for Veteran Services (DVS) currently reimburses Bedford at 100%, the arrangement is voluntary and the agency is under no legal obligation to do so.  The 69-unit Bedford Green complex serves low-income and high-risk veterans from all over Massachusetts.

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Barrett Backs Student Loan Bill of Rights Press Release

Boston – On April 11, Senator Mike Barrett (D-Lexington) joined his Senate colleagues in voting to pass the “Student Loan Bill of Rights,” giving greater protections to student loan borrowers in disputes with companies servicing their loans.

The bill, ‘An Act establishing a student loan bill of rights’, requires student loan servicers to be licensed companies with the state Division of Banks, and empowers state officials to investigate loan servicers and take action against those that violate the state’s banking and consumer protection laws.

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Sen. Barrett, Rep. Gordon Support Criminal Justice Reform Bill The Bedford Citizen

State Sen. Mike Barrett, D-Lexington, and Rep. Ken Gordon, D-Bedford, both of whom represent Bedford in the state legislature, joined their colleagues in passing criminal justice reform legislation that will lead to a more equitable system that supports young and vulnerable residents, reduces recidivism, increases judicial discretion and enhances public safety.

“We made real progress in reforming our pretrial system,” said Barrett. “While the bill codifies the SJC’s recent Brangan decision to help move our bail system away from a cash-based system, a comprehensive overhaul of our pretrial bail statute is still necessary to ensure than an individual is not held solely based on his or her ability to pay.”

Read the Article on Criminal Justice Reform

State Sen. Mike Barrett of Lexington home after six-week cancer treatment Wicked Local Waltham

When state Sen. Mike Barrett left Massachusetts General Hospital on March 28, six weeks after being admitted, he knew exactly what topped his to-do list.

His first request: dinner and a movie with his wife, Nancy Dolberg. By Thursday, March 29, out they went to have pizza and to see “Black Panther” in Arlington.

“It was fantastic,” Barrett recounted. “It was everything I imagined it to be.”

Read the rest of the Article at Wicked Local Waltham

Barrett Backs More Privacy for Social Media Press Release

Boston – The Massachusetts State Senate has taken a major new step to protect the social media accounts of students and employees in the Commonwealth. 

For the past year and a half, Senator Mike Barrett (D-Lexington) has served as an original cosponsor of “An Act relative to social media privacy protection,” which passed the Senate last week.  The legislation prevents employers and schools from requesting or requiring access to the personal social media accounts of employees, students and job or school applicants as conditions of acceptance, employment, or participation in school activities.

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State Senator Mike Barrett of Lexington is diagnosed with rare form of leukemia Boston Globe

“Because the white blood cell counts of APL patients are way below normal, infections such as the flu can have consequences,’’ said Barrett in his statement. “My doctors tell me I won’t be leaving the hospital for a month and that, for some additional period of time, I’ll need to avoid crowded situations where people may have bad colds, etc.”

“Unfortunately, my docs will not let me hop out of bed at Mass. General and head up Beacon Hill to vote in a packed chamber,” he said. “But otherwise, with the help of my fantastic staff, I expect to advance my legislative agenda quite effectively throughout my convalescence, and to resume my duties in full thereafter.”

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Senate bond bill contains local earmarks The Lowell Sun

The Senate’s $3.65 billion bond bill contains funding for regional courthouses, public safety facilities and equipment, according to local senators pleased with the measure that also includes authorizations for bonds to improve facilities statewide, including local colleges and universities, parks and public works.

For surrounding towns, Sen. Michael Barrett, D-Lexington, said the measure contains $3.5 million to expand and renovate the Bedford Police Station, $1 million to make playgrounds in Sudbury more accessible and $695,000 to replace firetrucks in Waltham.

Read the article on the Senate bond bill

Carbon pricing proposal moving through Legislature The Lowell Sun

The bill, proposed by Sen. Michael Barrett, a Lexington Democrat and members of the Senate Global Warming and Climate Change Committee, would create a fee for fuels that contain carbon, like home heating and motor fuel. The money raised would be returned to residents and businesses in the form of rebates for adapting carbon-reducing measures.

Barrett told the Statehouse News Service that if the bill passes, the Legislature must select a carbon pricing scheme for transportation by 2020, for commercial and industrial buildings by 2021 and for residential buildings by 2022.

Read the article on the carbon pricing bill

Net neutrality proponents consider state action Wicked Local Lincoln

The Federal Communications Commission in December adopted an order repealing past rules that deemed internet service a public utility and required internet providers to treat all traffic equally. Daniel Lyons, a Boston College Law School professor, told lawmakers the order also “expressly preempts any state or local measures” attempting to reinstate those rules.

Noting that he pays between $50 to $60 per month for his Verizon internet access, Sen. Michael Barrett said he wanted the committee to figure out what would happen to the market without net neutrality if the legal challenges fail. He asked Healey if there is a way of “extracting any good” out of the rollback, such as lower prices for a “basic” package that could make technology more accessible to low income consumers.

Read the article on the net neutrality debate

Solar charge angers Chelmsford legislative reps Wicked Local Chelmsford

New England’s biggest utility has won approval for new charges on future solar customers starting next January — but in the process Eversource has angered some lawmakers with jurisdiction over its industry, including members of the Chelmsford’s delegation.

Vote Solar and Attorney General Maura Healey have both appealed the department’s approval of the new Eversource rates.

Mahony, who is Healey’s senior policy adviser for energy, suggested lawmakers should craft legislation that discourages customers from using electricity when demand on the grid is high. Demand fluctuates throughout the day as consumers turn on lights, flip on air conditioning and run electrical appliances. The demand charge in the Eversource rates does not vary based on time of day.

Sen. Michael Barrett, a Lexington Democrat and the Senate chairman of the committee, had a similar perspective to Mahony on the demand charges, questioning Eversource about why it wasn’t linked to when demand was highest on the grid as a whole.

Read the article on Eversource’s new charges

Barrett Grills Eversource on its New Charge on Solar Users Press Release

Boston – State Senator Mike Barrett (D-Lexington) and Representative Thomas A. Golden, Jr. (D-Lowell) quizzed Eversource Energy and the state Department of Public Utilities (DPU) at a formal oversight hearing last Tuesday, January 30.

Senate Chair Barrett joined House Chair Golden and their colleagues on the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy at the public hearing, following the DPU’s approval of a request from Eversource for a new fee on solar users.

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Lawmakers revisit new solar power fee Boston Globe

Most committee hearings on Beacon Hill are mild affairs, planned out well in advance, to solicit input on various bills. Not this one.

Senator Michael Barrett and Representative Thomas Golden decided last week to revisit Eversource’s new solar fee. Barrett says precipitating factors included a Globe story and a particularly unhappy constituent.

Lawmakers authorized the adoption of this kind of solar charge back in 2016. But Barrett and Golden made it clear they believe Eversource has taken that permission beyond what the Legislature initially intended.

Read more about the Eversource solar fee hearing

As I See It: A win-win for Worcester, the Commonwealth, and the world Worcester Telegram

An opinion piece from the Worcester Telegram supporting bills S.1821 and H.1726, which are designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Massachusetts in an efficient and equitable manner. 

Read the opinion piece on “An Act combating climate change” and “An Act to promote green infrastructure, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and create jobs” 

Is Massachusetts ready for carbon pricing? MIT News

On Jan. 25, the MIT Climate Action Team organized a carbon-pricing panel that included (from left to right) Massachusetts State Sen. Michael Barrett, State Rep. Jennifer Benson, Climate XChange Research and Policy Director Marc Breslow, Associate Professor Janelle Knox-Hayes, Joint Program Co-director and Sloan School of Management Senior Lecturer John Reilly, and Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research Director and Sloan Professor Christopher Knittel.

On Jan. 25, a panel at MIT explored the benefits, costs, and political challenges involved in translating carbon pricing from concept into law in Massachusetts and beyond. Hosted by the student-led MIT Climate Action Team and held at the MIT Stata Center, the panel disucssion included Massachusetts state Sen. Michael Barrett and state Rep. Jennifer Benson, authors of two different carbon-pricing bills; Marc Breslow, research and policy director of the carbon-pricing research and advocacy group Climate XChange; and three experts on the topic who are affiliated with the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change — Department of Urban Studies and Planning Associate Professor Janelle Knox-Hayes, Joint Program Co-director and Sloan School of Management Senior Lecturer John Reilly, and Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research Director and MIT Sloan Professor Christopher Knittel. The panelists weighed advantages and disadvantages of carbon pricing as a climate-change solution, clarified differences between the two pending bills, and discussed political challenges faced by these bills.

“The most progressive thing to do if you care about working people is to have absolute revenue neutrality,” said Barrett, who, like Knittel, argued that solar and other renewable energy programs could best be funded through a progressive income tax. “I want to make sure that 100 percent of a carbon fee goes back to working people.” Concerned that a revenue-positive carbon pricing bill would be framed by opponents as a tax, he cautioned that such a bill would be politically unviable for fellow legislators.

Read more about this MIT event