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

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 to 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

Lawmakers seek to block sheriff from sending inmates to work on Trump’s wall State House News

“Until recently many Americans just assumed that the stature of the Office of the President ensured the observance of certain practices that are unwritten but responsible and well-established, one of which is the disclosure by candidates of recent tax returns and, by extension, possible conflicts of interest. The 2016 election shattered this confidence. I hope we can come together to rebuild it.”

Read the article on my bill

This Massachusetts bill could block Donald Trump from the ballot in 2020 Boston.com

“Until recently many Americans just assumed that the stature of the Office of the President ensured the observance of certain practices that are unwritten but responsible and well-established, one of which is the disclosure by candidates of recent tax returns and, by extension, possible conflicts of interest. The 2016 election shattered this confidence. I hope we can come together to rebuild it.”

Read the article on my presidential tax returns bill

No place in Mass. for prisoners of poverty The Boston Globe

The Boston Globe’s Editorial Board weighs in on my committee’s recent report on “fine time” in Massachusetts — the practice by district court judges of incarcerating defendants solely for failure to pay fines, fees or court costs.

Read the editorial on “Fine Time”

 

Committee considers impact of court fees on poor defendants MassLive

Deeply troubling: “In a minute-long appearance before a judge, James tells the Dudley District Court, ‘I’m poor.’ Without inquiring further or offering him a lawyer, the judge orders James incarcerated for as long as it takes to pay off the fine, at a rate of $30 a day.”

Read the article on the committee hearing

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Lexington High School Quiz Show team honored at Statehouse Lexington Minuteman

The Lexington High School Quiz Show team, which won both the WGBH Quiz Show State Championship this year and the Governor’s Cup vs. New Hampshire, was celebrated at the Statehouse on June 15.

Read the article about the team’s visit

Senate panel wants homeowners insurance clarity The Boston Globe

“In a time of profound public mistrust of both governmental and financial elites, the Committee finds no justification for a regulatory process marked by a no-exceptions rejection of public notice, informational access, and consumer input.”

Read the article about the report

Bedford High School students go to Beacon Hill to represent METCO Bedford Minuteman

“These kids are really the heroes of their own education,” Barrett said. “They get up much earlier than their peers at a time when research shows students should be sleeping in. I am blown away by the quiet passion of these students.”

Read the article about METCO

Bill would allow more review of homeowners insurance rate increases The Boston Globe

I want these rate increases discussed in an open forum. I don’t want million-dollar propositions handled in private, where only industry is heard.

Read the article on homeowner’s insurance

More insurers raise homeowner rates The Boston Globe

“State Senator Michael J. Barrett, chairman of the Senate’s Post Audit and Oversight Committee, said he isn’t surprised that other companies have followed Mapfre and Safety, given a regulatory system that allows little public scrutiny and comment on rate proposals. Barrett has called on the insurance division to reconsider the increases granted Mapfre and Safety and open hearings on whether they are justified.”

Read the article on homeowner’s insurance

Labor Committee approves $15 an hour minimum wage for fast food and big box retail workers MassLive News

The Massachusetts Legislature’s labor committee has voted to approve a bill setting a $15 an hour minimum wage for fast food and big box retail workers.

“People have got to make a living if they work full time,” Barrett said.

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Read the article

Lawmaker wants officials to reconsider insurance rate hikes The Boston Globe

“The chairman of a powerful state Senate committee on Wednesday called on the Division of Insurance to reconsider the substantial rate increases granted to two of the state’s largest home insurance companies and open hearings on whether increases are justified.

“Barrett, chairman of the Senate’s Post Audit and Oversight Committee, said the rates deserve further scrutiny and public hearings, something consumers have urged, but the Division of Insurance has rarely held.”

Read the article on Sen. Barrett’s work on homeowners insurance rates

MBTA postpones schedule changes on commuter rail The Concord Journal

Victory — if not forever, then for now. The T will delay cuts in train stops in Concord and Lincoln until May of 2016. It has committed to reconsidering its planned changes and will entertain “robust public engagement” before making further decisions. New scheduling proposals will likely come out next month, following which there will be the kind of opportunity for comment that was lacking this time around.

Read the article about the MBTA

State senators question home insurance rate hikes The Boston Globe

“A key state lawmaker said Tuesday that he will file a bill that would require the state Division of Insurance to provide consumers with more information about proposed rate hikes and allow the attorney general to weigh in on them before they are approved.”

Read the article on homeowners insurance

Editorial: Putting a price on carbon The MetroWest Daily News

“It’s a discussion worth having. Climate change won’t wait for Congress to show leadership. Where better than Massachusetts, birthplace of innovation, to launch an aggressive response to the threat of climate change?”

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Senators Seek Quick Action on “Disconcerting” DCF Report State House News

After an independent group called for reforms to the way the Department of Children and Families handles appeals, Senate President Stanley Rosenberg on Wednesday called the report “very disconcerting” and committed to working with the administration to resolve the highlighted issues. Lawmakers last year ordered the state’s Child Advocate to hire an outside consultant to review DCF’s “fair hearing” process. The report released Monday from the Ripples Group found a growing backlog of cases waiting to be decided, a lack of access for families to easily-understood case materials and a system that lends itself to a perception that hearing officers are not independent from department administrators. Read more