Solar backlash may make it tough to build larger projects in Mass. Boston Globe

Senator Michael Barrett, cochairman of the Legislature’s energy committee, says he has watched this backlash against solar power with dismay. Rooftop solar is great — he has panels on his house in Lexington. But Barrett says the state can’t wean itself off natural gas- and oil-fired power plants without larger, industrial-scale solar projects getting built. He worries that the anti-solar attitudes are driven by NIMBY attitudes among neighbors who simply don’t want to see panels near them.

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Local legislators chime in on licenses for undocumented immigrants Wicked Local

BOSTON — Supporters of a bill that would make driver’s licenses available to undocumented immigrants packed the State House’s largest hearing room on Sept. 4 to renew the push for a policy that has come up short in previous sessions and would need to be passed with enough support to survive a likely veto by Gov. Charlie Baker.

The legislation — House Bill 3012 and Senate Bill 2061 — filed by Reps. Tricia Farley-Bouvier of Pittsfield and Christine Barber of Somerville, and Sen. Brendan Crighton of Lynn, would permit all qualified residents, regardless of immigration status, to apply for and receive a standard state license under the state’s now two-tiered system.

Sen. Michael Barrett (D-Lexington) also supports the legislation.

“I’m in favor … and my constituents are, too,” he said. “I’ve gotten about two dozen supportive emails at this point. I know realistically, that the district won’t be unanimous about the idea, but there is no system here for making sure everybody on the road is licensed and has demonstrated some degree of competence. I don’t want anyone driving unless they are licensed. So, I want to open a channel for them.”

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Lexington senator pushes for president tax return requirement Wicked Local

With legal challenges pending over a new California law requiring presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns to appear on the ballot, the sponsor of a similar bill in Massachusetts said the Bay State should follow suit before waiting for the court cases to play out.

Sen. Michael Barrett, D-Lexington, who filed a presidential tax returns bill in January for the second consecutive session, said the Legislature often passes laws that could be subject to a challenge in court, and in those cases they act on the bill and then “let litigants sue.”

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Lawmakers hike assessment on utilities 50% CommonWealth

THOUGH LAWMAKER LEFT a handful of proposed taxes on the cutting room floor when they compromised on a budget, the fiscal year 2020 spending plan being reviewed by Gov. Charlie Baker includes a 50 percent increase in the annual assessment imposed upon gas and electric utility companies.

The assessment of a percentage of each utility company’s Massachusetts revenue is meant to be a reimbursement of the cost of overseeing and regulating the gas and electric industries. The budget awaiting Baker’s action would raise the maximum rate of that assessment from 0.2 percent of revenue to 0.3 percent of revenue.

Sen. Michael Barrett, who filed the assessment increase as a budget amendment, said the idea stemmed from September’s natural gas explosions and fires in the Merrimack Valley, and the subsequent closer look at the Department of Public Utilities.

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Lawyering for the poor

Met to discuss representation of low-income people on matters like evictions, heating shutoffs and hospital bills.  From left to right: Michael Avitzur, Gov. Relations Director for the Boston Bar Association; Jonathan Albano of Weston, President of the BBA; Abbigail Shirk, Staff Attorney at MetroWest Legal Services; Elizabeth Soule of Waltham, Exec. Director of MWLS; me; and Joseph Sherman of MWLS.

Tribute to Retiring State Representative, Jay R. Kaufman

At yesterday’s tribute to the illustrious Jay R. Kaufman, I joined State Rep. Michelle Ciccolo (Jay’s able and excellent successor) and Deborah Johnson Brown (representing terrific State Senator Cindy Friedman) in presenting the honoree with a rather rare document — a Resolution, honoring his achievements, enacted jointly by the Massachusetts State Senate and the Massachusetts House of Representatives. The lovely head of hair in the foreground belongs to the distinguished Congresswoman Katherine Clark.

 

CARBON TAX with a TWIST Politico Massachusetts Playbook

EXCLUSIVE: CARBON TAX WITH A TWIST — As we cross the first deadline of this legislative session — bill filing day — education funding and climate change have emerged as top issues. The challenge, of course, is how to get them done.

But Lexington state Sen. Michael Barrett has an idea to kill two birds with one stone: Why not direct some of the money generated by carbon pricing to fund education? A draft of Barrett’s carbon tax bill circulated to various environmental groups, viewed by POLITICO, would disburse 30 percent of money in a “carbon pricing trust fund” to education aid for cities and towns. Sixty percent of the money would go to the state transportation fund, 5 percent would go to a new environmental health and justice trust fund, and 5 percent would go toward electric vehicles, Barrett said.

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In Massachusetts, momentum builds for carbon pricing for transportation Energy News Network

As Massachusetts legislators start their new year, bills calling for carbon fees for transportation are gaining momentum, with many lawmakers and advocates optimistic that a measure could make it to the governor’s desk this session.

“This issue is now up on everybody’s radar screen,” said state Sen. Mike Barrett, a longtime advocate of carbon pricing. “Let the debate about fair and effective design begin.”

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Safeguarding and strengthening pro-choice

Having served as chief Senate sponsor of the proposed “Act Safeguarding the Healthcare Decisions of Young Adults” and as co-sponsor of additional bills to protect the healthcare decisions of Massachusetts women and men, I’m pleased to have received an A+ on NARAL’s first-ever Pro-Choice Massachusetts Reproductive Freedom scorecard. In our state, on the healthcare front, the 2017-2018 legislative session has given us reason to hope. We passed the Contraceptive ACCESS Act, An Act to Protect Access to Confidential Healthcare (the PATCH Act), the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act, and the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. Still, this is but a warm-up. In the next several years, as federal protections for women suffer, state government will need to fill the vacuum and preserve personal rights.

Rasmussen Education Center opens at the Concord Museum

I was delighted to attend the recent ribbon-cutting for the the Anna and Neil Rasmussen Education Center at the Concord Museum (Anna and Neil in the middle, with prominent environmental attorney Gregor McGregor).

 
The Rasmussen Center features cultural and educational space for learners of all ages from Massachusetts and beyond. It has three state-of-the-art classrooms, including a colonial cooking space with a working hearth, a History Learning Center for up-close encounters with the Museum’s nationally significant collection, and a Lyceum lecture hall for mock town meetings, colonial dance, and public programs.
 
Adjoining galleries within the facility are closed for renovation, so for now the Center hosts rare objects belonging to the museum, including Paul Revere’s lantern and Henry David Thoreau’s desk.
 

Senate sees waves of energy, candidates in climate movement Gloucester Daily Times

BOSTON — As local climate activists turn up the heat on state lawmakers, action from outside the Bay State’s borders may also increase the pressure for additional steps on energy policy.

Environmental advocates here say they’ll make the case to elected officials and the public at large that the state must boost its commitment to renewable power. Meanwhile, California recently passed a suite of new clean energy laws, and government leaders from across the globe gathered there to discuss strategies for responding to climate change.

Sen. Michael Barrett, a Lexington Democrat who is co-chairman of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, was among the participants in the Global Climate Action Summit.

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Columbia Gas Faces The Public’s Wrath WGBH Greater Boston

Days after the Merrimack Valley gas explosions, the company responsible for the gas lines around that region says it could take months to restore gas to some 8,500 affected customers.

Residents have already shared stories of standing in line for hours over the weekend as they waited to file claims for losses like medicine and food. So customers might be forgiven if they don’t have the greatest faith in this company at this point.

Jim was joined by state senator Michael Barrett, co-chair of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, and State Senator Bruce Tarr, whose district includes North Andover and who also sits on that committee.

Watch the video here: https://bit.ly/2D8CHRw

State Senator Mike Barrett Joins Worldwide Summit on Global Warming The Bedford Citizen

State Senator Mike Barrett (D-Lexington) is in San Francisco this week to participate in the Global Climate Action Summit organized by California governor Jerry Brown and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The invitation came from organizers of the event.  Barrett, Senate chair of the state legislative committee concerned with energy issues, wrote legislation approved unanimously by the Senate earlier this year to “put a price on carbon.”  Barrett, along with many economists, contends that carbon pricing is the single most effective step a government can take to combat climate change.

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Legislature Gives Clean Energy a Boost Press Release

BOSTON – On the last day of July, in the closing hours of the Legislature’s two-year session, negotiators for the Senate and House hammered out agreement on a bill that will boost electricity from solar and wind, get a better handle on natural gas leaks, and create “clean peak” incentives for driving down energy use at the busiest times, when the costliest and dirtiest electric power turns on.

“An Act to Advance Clean Energy” was worked out by a six-member negotiating team led by State Sen. Mike Barrett (D-Lexington) and Rep. Tom Golden (D-Lowell).  It drew the unanimous support of the Senate and every vote but one in the House of Representatives. 

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