Mass. House Drops Major Climate Bill Into Busy Week WBUR

Sen. Michael Barrett, Golden’s Senate counterpart at the Committee on Telecommunication, Utilities and Energy, said the House’s bill would make it nearly impossible to monitor the state’s progress towards those goals, and said he favors the Senate’s approach of installing interim targets every five years rather than every 10 years.

“Here we have goals widely spaced apart with no accountability back to the public or the Legislature in the House bill,” he said. “There’s a reason the Senate proposed a standalone, independent climate policy commission. That’s because the executive branch charged with realizing the goals cannot also be left to report on whether they’ve achieved them. You’ve got to separate out implementation and monitoring, and I’m deeply disappointed that the early drafts of the House bill leave the two roles together.”

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Mass. lawmakers move toward extending the legislative session Boston Globe

The chambers will also probably have to reconcile different versions of health care legislation. And a climate change proposal surfaced in the House setting a new statewide goal of meeting “net-zero” emissions by 2050 — months after the Senate passed a similar but more expansive set of bills.

“There’s a difference in aggressiveness,” Senator Michael J. Barrett said of the climate change bills. But he said it’s “good news” the Legislature is likely to pass an extension on lawmaking, giving more time to settle differences on the new emissions goals.

“I don’t think we’re going to work next week. But I think we’ll be back relatively soon,” the Lexington Democrat said of returning to session. “I don’t think we’ll wait until election time.”

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House climate change bill calls for roadmap Commonwealth Magazine

Sen. Michael Barrett of Lexington, the co-chair of the Telecommunication, Utilities, and Energy Committee and the sponsor of the Senate climate change bill, said he was disappointed in reading the House bill because of its lack of aggressiveness in pursuing reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

“It’s going to be a challenging conference when we don’t yet agree on the central task at hand, which is driving down emissions,” he said.

 

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Massachusetts Senate passes police reform bill Lexington Wicked Local

One major component in the bill — sponsored by Sen. Mike Barrett, D-Lexington — provides new transparency and oversight to the purchase of military weapons by local, county and state law enforcement.

After Ferguson, Barrett said, Americans learned that local law enforcement agencies routinely take advantage of massive federal sales and donations of equipment and gear that would otherwise be too expensive for municipal budgets. Deployment of this material occurs disproportionately in communities of color.

“For Massachusetts, the issue is not academic,” Barrett said. “Many cities, towns and regional organizations are heavy users of these federal programs.”

Barrett’s measure is designed to increase state and local accountability for the acquisition of “military-grade controlled property,” like assault rifles and mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles.

 

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Massachusetts forwards legislature to renovate Alewife Station Waltham Wicked Local

Barrett says that a portion of the money will be used for multi-modal access to Alewife station, an “important change in the fight against global warming.”

“The transportation sector is responsible for roughly 40% of carbon emissions in Massachusetts,” said Barrett.

Lexington senator’s amendment would renovate Alewife Station Lexington Wicked Local

Each year, the Alewife Station serves as an access point for hundreds of thousands of commuters as they travel around Greater Boston. Unfortunately, after years of wear and tear, Alewife’s car garage is in need of repairs and upgrades.

The station opened to the public in 1985. But, Barrett points out, the garage originally provided for 2,733 parking spots. Nowadays at any given moment, 250 may be unusable due to falling concrete and roof leakage.

“I hear from constituents on a regular basis about the poor condition of the garage,” Barrett said. “It’s insecure and, to be honest, a little creepy at night. At times the garage has had the highest reported crime rate of any station on the entire MBTA.”

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Spurred by Lexingtonians, Senate unanimously passes resolution recognizing Massachusetts Emancipation Day Lexington Minuteman

“The story of Quock Walker marks an historic moment for Massachusetts and our country,” Barrett said. “It’s a story that needs to be told. I’m grateful to the Association of Black Citizens of Lexington for sharing it with the people of Massachusetts.”

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OpEd: Massachusetts Senate Approves Vote-by-Mail Options The Bedford Citizen

“It was disturbing to see in-person voting produce chaos in Wisconsin,” said local State Senator Mike Barrett.  “People had to risk getting sick to cast a ballot.  For us, in Massachusetts, revamping elections almost overnight has not been without its problems.  But we’ve adapted and gotten the job done.”

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Some Things Worth Doing Now The Concord Journal

 

Your country, your state, maybe the neighborhood in which you live, are engulfed by three crises at once: climate change, a pandemic, and social unrest triggered by murder and racial injustice. Your mind reels. Your heart breaks.

What to do? What you cannot do is give up. At a demonstration to protest the death of George Floyd, someone held a sign: “We didn’t come this far to only come this far.”

Just so. You get yourself together. You take a deep breath. You look around for things worth doing now.

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Next steps for Waltham’s 240 Beaver St.: Council approval ‘is a huge victory’ Waltham Tribune

“A year ago, the survival of the Field Station was in doubt,” said state Sen. Mike Barrett in a statement. “The nonprofit tenants, all involved with heathy eating, sustainable local agriculture, and what you might call food justice, faced eviction. But the Greater Waltham community rallied. Residents demanded that the farm be preserved and the tenants be protected.

“Thanks to the Mayor, the City Council, and the tenants for working together, we took a giant stride forward,” he added.

Rep. John Lawn, Barrett, and Rep. Thomas Stanley will be guides for the legislation to move through the state House and Senate.

“What remains, importantly, is passage of some enabling legislation,” Barrett said in a statement. “I look forward to working with Rep. Lawn to get that final piece done.”

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May events canceled, drive-through testing in Lexington as town hits 250 coronavirus cases Lexington Minuteman

Lexington officials continue to prepare for a virtual version of the Annual Town Meeting, which was supposed to take place in late March. Malloy now anticipates the virtual session to take place in early June. Presentations will be posted online for viewing by Town Meeting members beforehand, in an effort to make the process as efficient as possible. The town has been working with Senator Mike Barrett and Representative Michelle Ciccolo to push a bill forward in the House of Representatives that would authorize remote participation at town meetings.

The Select Board approved a Special Town Meeting to take place on June 1. The meeting would only have one warrant item, which would provide the authority for the Select Board to confirm the validity of any action that would take place at the subsequent Annual Town Meeting. This would only be necessary if the bill spearheaded by Rep. Ciccolo does not pass in time.

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Massachusetts legislators urge Gov. Baker to quicken inmate releases Waltham Tribune

A group of concerned legislators — 15 state senators and 23 state representatives — have sent a joint letter to Gov. Charlie Baker, urging him, as part of the state’s response to the COVID-19 Health Crisis, to step up the screening and release of inmates from Massachusetts penal institutions.

The letter-writing effort, initiated by State Sen. Mike Barrett, D-Lexington, was inspired by an opinion issued earlier this month by the state’s supreme judicial court, five of whose seven current members are Baker appointees.

“Among inmates and correctional officers — we’re concerned about both — the positive cases continue to climb,” said Barrett. “We think it’s quite significant that the court has issued polite but pointed advice on how to speed up the pace of releases.”

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State Lawmakers Urge Governor To Reduce Prison Population Faster As COVID-19 Spreads WGBH NEWS

Sen. Mike Barrett, a Democrat from Lexington, said he spearheaded the letter-writing effort because he is troubled that government officials have not been adhering to a directive by the Supreme Judicial Court to speed up the process. Earlier this month, the state’s top court released a ruling directing the Department of Correction and the Parole Board to “expedite” releases in a system where social distancing is almost impossible.

“I am annoyed that the spirit of the court decision is being subverted,’’ said Barrett in an interview with WGBH News.

Nobody from Baker’s team could be reached for comment about the letter. But in a press conference on Thursday, Baker said that officials from the state Department of Correction have been working with public health officials since early March to prevent the spread of the virus.

“There’s always going to be room for improvement,’’ he said.

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Waltham Buys Field Station Property From UMass For $17.4 Million Waltham Patch

“A year ago, the survival of the Field Station was in doubt,” said State Sen. Mike Barrett in a statement to Patch. “The nonprofit tenants, all involved with healthy eating, sustainable local agriculture, and what you might call food justice, faced eviction. But the Greater Waltham community rallied. Residents demanded that the farm be preserved and the tenants be protected. This week, thanks to the Mayor, the City Council, and the tenants for working together, we took a giant stride forward.”

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New State Rules Aim To Double Solar Power Capacity WBUR

Sen. Michael Barrett, the Senate chair of the Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy Committee, said he is pleased with the updated regulations and especially with the administration’s decision to set aside 5 percent of the incentives for projects serving low-income communities.

“It’s a terrific step in the right direction,” he told the News Service, noting that a similar requirement was built into a bill the Senate passed in January. “We have a terrible track record in terms of making sure that poor people benefit from net metering. This is an important remedial step. It’s not enough, but it is directionally exactly where we need to go.”

The senator said the state isn’t yet setting the pace it will need to meet its emissions reduction targets, but that solar will be a critical component to getting there.

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Lexington Sen. Barrett gives inside look at state’s latest climate policy Lexington Minuteman

When did you start working on this climate package?

In June, so about seven months. I wanted to do a complete scan of the state government, because I chaired the energy committee and had noticed that state agencies all acknowledge the importance of climate change but still seem to be pursuing missions that were apart from it. I think climate has come up on us rather suddenly and caught us by surprise; the issue has been percolating for 30 years, but it suddenly seems very real. I had two priorities. One was to make sure state agencies were aligned and all pulling in the same direction. The other was making sure we set policies that would reassure all of us that we’re going to do something about this.

What aspects of the bill are most noteworthy?

I’ll tell you, I don’t completely trust the ability of the government to come clean about how well we’re doing. In the future, we’re going to be looking to governors to be reporting about their own performance. I don’t think that works, human nature doesn’t work like that. So we’re proposing an independent commission to really be the truth teller and the monitor. It would be the first in the country. I observed that information is held closely by the executive branch, even despite the fact that we’ve got a pretty good governor on this topic. I saw them basically holding back data that might reflect poorly on their performance, specifically around the climate issue. I should mention that this isn’t a problem with Governor Baker specifically, the same problem existed with Deval Patrick. Both Republican and Democratic governors don’t want to be held accountable. Again, I’m not even really blaming them, I think they’re embodying human nature, but I’m no longer willing to put up with it.

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Senate Moves Trio of Climate-Change Bills WickedLocal: Cape Cod

Emitting carbon would come with a new price in Massachusetts and the state would embark on a more aggressive timeline for reducing its greenhouse gas emissions under a bill that overwhelmingly passed the state Senate Jan. 30.

The electric vehicles bill (S 2476) directs the MBTA to limit its bus purchases and leases to zero-emissions vehicles starting in 2030 and operate an entirely zero-emissions passenger bus fleet by Dec. 31, 2040. It also makes permanent an existing rebate program for consumers buying electric cars.

The bill (S 2477) cleared the Senate on a 36-2 vote.

The energy efficiency bill (S 2478), which passed on a 35-2 vote, sets efficiency standards for a range of products, including new faucets and showerheads.

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Episode 117: From Net-Zero to Hero The Horse Race Podcast

[The bills] include, among other things, the goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, which, Sen. Barrett describes as, “a very ambitious goal.” He said, “It puts Massachusetts right where the United Nations body wants the world to be, and in that sense we are offering world leadership.”

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State Senate Approves Climate Policy The Millbury-Sutton Chronicle

The Massachusetts State Senate recently advanced three bills that boldly tackle the contributing factors of climate change, chart one of the most aggressive courses of action against global warming in the country, and pave the way for a clean energy future for all of its residents.

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Poll Surveyed Public Opinion on Climate Change Wicked Local

The MassInc Polling Group’s survey of 2,318 Massachusetts residents was conducted between Oct. 10 and Nov. 8, 2019 and released Monday, four days after the state Senate passed climate legislation that included deadlines for the state to impose carbon-pricing mechanisms in the transportation sector, homes and commercial buildings.

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