Barrett calls for an end to modern debtors’ prisons at State House rally Press Release

Boston – State Senator Mike Barrett (D-Lexington) joined his colleagues and advocacy groups in the State House yesterday to rally behind a criminal justice reform bill that seeks to keep people from ending up back in prison.

The comprehensive bill includes significant reforms to the common practice by district court judges of incarcerating defendants solely for failure to pay fines, fees or court costs, commonly referred to as “fine time”.  This is an issue that has been championed by Barrett and he has worked closely with the Joint Committee on the Judiciary to ensure that the problem is addressed.

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State Senate names retail task force The Salem News

The task force is charged with identifying ways to help local retailers become more competitive, and is taking shape as retail sector leaders mull a ballot question to reduce the 6.25 percent sales tax to either 5 percent or 4.5 percent. 

Senators on the task force include its chairman, Michael Rodrigues, as well as Michael Barrett, Julian Cyr, Jason Lewis, Kathleen O’connor-Ives, Vinny Demacedo and Don Humason.

Read the article on the retail task force

Barrett proposes limits on Mass. inmates being sent out-of-state Press Release

Boston – Yesterday the Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security heard from State Senator Mike Barrett (D-Lexington) about his bill to prevent sheriffs from sending inmates out of Massachusetts without meeting certain requirements.

In January, Sheriff Thomas Hodgson of Bristol County volunteered his inmates to help build a border wall proposed by President Trump. This would effectively mean sending prisoners — many serving short sentences for relatively minor crimes — nearly 3,000 miles away, far from rehabilitation services and their loved ones.

Senator Barrett is the author of An Act protecting inmate safety and the expenditure of state funds (S.1279), which would prohibit any sheriff from sending an inmate in his custody out-of-state without meeting certain requirements.

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Barrett seeks state funds for homeless veterans Press Release

During a recent public hearing, State Senator Mike Barrett (D-Lexington) testified on behalf of his bill that would guarantee state funding for a Bedford housing complex that caters to homeless veterans.

Barrett is the chief sponsor of a bill (S.2009) that would ensure 100% reimbursement to Bedford for the financial assistance it provides veterans who move into Bedford Green, situated on the grounds of the VA hospital.  The complex provides apartments to 69 homeless veterans from all over Massachusetts.

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Bill Limiting Cellphone Use by Drivers Clears State Senate U.S. News and World Report

Under the bill, motorists could only use their cellphones, or other electronic devices such as GPSs, with hands-free technology. It also would be illegal to access social media, make video calls or use any camera function while driving.

“If you are poor and your car is a little older, you should still avoid distracted driving but these fees are going to hit you very hard,” said Barrett, whose amendment to lower the progression of fines to $50, $100 and $150 was defeated on a 26-12 vote.

Read the article on the bill on distracted driving

Barrett recognizes local unsung heroines Press Release

This week, residents of Bedford, Lexington and Weston were honored as members of the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women’s 2017 class of Unsung Heroines.  Ann Guay, Alice Pierce and Pamela Fox were recognized as women who make a real difference in their neighborhoods and towns.

Senator Mike Barrett, D-Lexington, nominated Ms. Pierce because of her tireless work promoting democracy in her community.  She has spent over 40 years providing bookkeeping services and preparing financial disclosure reports free of charge to political candidates.  Barrett applauded Ms. Pierce and noted that she has “built up a reputation as a highly giving and valuable member of her community.”

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Lexington will save $19 million with new solar farm Wicked Local Lexington

“I’m extremely happy to be here. This project was a little bit larger than the project that put solar panels on my house, and it just shows you how quickly solar energy is moving as a utility enterprise,” State Senator Mike Barrett, D-Lexington, said at the ceremony. “Massachusetts really is a leader here and it began with folks at the grassroots level that encouraged individual communities to move out front to do this.”

Read the article on Lexington’s new solar farm

Environment tops concern at Ashland event MetroWest Daily News

“We need a carbon price to get us to carbon neutral and beyond,” said Gene Fry, an environmental scientist from Brookfield. The Earth is warming, he said. Carbon dioxide needs to be reduced and, in doing so, the state can create jobs and expand the economy. His testimony drew some of the largest applause of the night.

Read the article on the Commonwealth Conversations Tour

A growing movement would force presidential candidates to release tax returns The Boston Globe

The author of the Massachusetts bill, State Senator Mike Barrett, said he, too, was inspired by the New York bill. He added a few local provisions that would also require presidential and vice presidential candidates to fill out the same statement of financial interests that all Massachusetts candidates must.

Barrett said he approaches the bill with a good-government lens, not a partisan one.

Read the article on the financial transparency movement

Environmental groups call for action at local and state level

The Sudbury Valley Trustees and OARS safeguard the fortunes of the Assabet, Concord and Sudbury Rivers.  They don’t stop there; they promote statewide action on drought management, pollution programs, and climate change.  Top left, my introductory remarks at a recent meeting.  Top right, with Lisa Vernegaard, SVT’s Exec. Director.  Bottom, the entire crew.

Senator Mike Barrett appointed to Committee of Telecom, Utilities, Energy The Lexington Minuteman

“The committee’s jurisdiction covers everything from cell phones to alternative energy to public utility reform to carbon pricing,” Barrett said. “Being Senate Chair doesn’t give me access to any more of my colleague’s votes. I’m going to have to be patient and a good listener to build needed consensus.”

Read the article on my new committee appointment

Democrats on Beacon Hill push anti-Trump agenda The Boston Globe

In January, Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson offered to send inmates to Texas to assist with Trump’s plan to build a wall along the Mexico border.

In response, Senator Michael Barrett filed a bill intended to make that plan more difficult by requiring state approval for such a program.

Barrett worries Trump’s victory will embolden longtime conservatives like the sheriff and also encourage a new slate of state and local politicians to run for office espousing the same ideals. “I think you’ll see a lot of Trumps popping up,” Barrett said.

The Lexington Democrat also filed a bill that would require people running for president to release their tax returns in order to appear on the ballot in Massachusetts. Despite public pressure, Trump bucked a decades-old tradition of doing so.

Read the article on a number of key bills

Lawmakers start to get behind carbon emission bills State House News

“The level of support is coming on a little faster than I expected, but then global warming is heating up a little faster than we all expected,” said State Senator Mike Barrett, the bill’s chief sponsor.

Read to article on the growing support of carbon pricing