Just sent off to Dept. of Conservation and Recreation calling for the ban on open swimming at Walden Pond to be rescinded. From Senator Jason Lewis, me, and a bipartisan group of 48 additional legislators.
Learning how to swim should be a critical life skill available to everyone. Rather than pursuing swimming bans or draconian fines, we urge DCR and the Baker Administration to immediately expand efforts statewide that will improve water safety and help prevent future tragic drownings.

Just sent off to Dept. of Conservation and Recreation calling for the ban on open swimming at Walden Pond to be rescinded. From Senator Jason Lewis, me, and a bipartisan group of 48 additional legislators.
Learning how to swim should be a critical life skill available to everyone. Rather than pursuing swimming bans or draconian fines, we urge DCR and the Baker Administration to immediately expand efforts statewide that will improve water safety and help prevent future tragic drownings.

Massachusetts’ breakthrough climate law takes legal effect soon, on June 25, 90 days after its signing by Gov. Charlie Baker. It means new roles and new responsibilities, say the State Senate’s two leads on climate policy, and a transformation of the fight against global warming.
Among the changes:
– Beginning on the 25th of this month, the Department of Public Utilities has to align its policymaking with the ambitious new mission given the agency. In the Climate Act, the Legislature directs the DPU to give equal weight to six factors as it decides electric power and natural gas rates, reviews contracts with electric and gas companies, and makes policy. System reliability and affordability, the DPU’s two longstanding priorities, will remain crucial, but as of the 25th they’re on a par with four new criteria — safety, system security (from both cyberattacks and physical sabotage), equity, and, importantly, reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
– On or after the 25th, Gov. Baker has to appoint three new members of the Board of Building Regulations and Standards, an agency criticized for its reluctance to make emissions-related improvements to state building codes. One new member is to be an “expert in commercial building energy efficiency;” one, an “expert in residential building energy efficiency;” and one, an “expert in advanced building technology.” The Governor’s Commissioner of Energy Resources becomes a fourth new member.
– Beginning on the 25th, all the parties involved in running Mass Save, the state’s high-profile energy efficiency initiative, must factor a new element, the “social value of greenhouse gas emission reductions,” into the design, evaluation, and approval of the program and its features. The mandate applies to the activities already underway with respect to formulating Mass Save plans and programs for the three-year period 2022-2024. Agencies affected are the DPU, the Department of Energy Resources (DOER), the Energy Efficiency Advisory Council (EEAC), and, of course, the electric and natural gas companies regulated under state law as public utilities.
– On or before July 15, 2021, the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs has to set a goal for the contribution Mass Save’s 2022-2024 program will make to the state’s drive to meet its 2025 emissions limit and sublimits. This exercise in goalsetting is distinct from the actions the various participants must take to factor the “social value of greenhouse gas emissions reductions” into the design, evaluation, and operation of Mass Save plans and programs.

The Massachusetts Senate approved my amendment to add additional staff to the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. The funds will allow for the hiring of two full-time employees at EEA to work on the implementation of the NextGen climate statute.
In total the Senate added funds for eight additional staffers: two each at EEA, as well as the Dept. of Public Utilities, the Dept. of Energy Resources, and the Dept. of Environmental Protection. Appreciative tip of the hat to Senator Michael Rodrigues, the mensch and marvelous W&M Chair who made this happen.

I have an Earth Day resolution: to join with grassroots activists to make sure the ambitious new climate law is implemented in full. It commits to the right Big Number — 50% fewer emissions by 2030. Let’s hope other states follow Massachusetts’ lead.

The pace of climate change is picking up — so the pace of climate policy must pick up. The Next-Gen Climate Roadmap law reflects the concerns of people of every age, from every part of the state. The grassroots climate movement of MA is a force to be reckoned with.
Special thanks to Senate President Karen E. Spilka and

Speaker Ron Mariano, who know how to lead. Special nod to State Rep. Tom Tipa Golden and his successor, State Rep Jeff Roy, who know how to collaborate. And special shout-out to MA climate activists, who know how to mobilize.


It’s encouraging to see the town in which I live come together when members of our community are threatened. The incredible turnout at the Stop Asian Hate Vigil in Lexington communicates a message to all of us.
Looking out at the crowd reminded me that the United States of America is not a settled project. It’s a work in progress; it’s still being made. We take part in the making when we get together like this. We make America every time we vote. We do it every time we extend an act of kindness to a newer arrival. We do it by our presence at peaceful rallies. When I go back to my office in the State House, I’ll remember this event and the message you send by coming out on evenings like this, to state, loudly and clearly, that hatred directed against Asian-American threatens to undo the country we’re in the business of creating.

The most recent numbers tell us Massachusetts is backsliding in terms of reducing emissions. This bill is our chance to get back on track and stay there. Tip of the hat to Senate President Senate President Karen E. Spilka and State Representative Ron Mariano for putting us back to work on climate immediately. Because of them, the legislation’s odds of ultimate success are excellent.

Reducing emissions to net zero is the contribution Massachusetts must make to the nation’s, and the world’s, larger climate effort. No question, doing our part is a big lift. With the tools the Legislature brings together here, we can construct the response we need and provide a blueprint to other states.
The toolkit approach is not a vision statement. It is not abstract or general. It is detailed. It is concerned with the practical. It focuses relentlessly on the work of reducing greenhouse gases, creating jobs, and protecting the vulnerable. It’s about the “how'” of it, as in “Here’s how we get this done, one step at a time, starting now.”

The Next-Gen Roadmap directs the Department of Public Utilities, regulator of our natural gas and electric power companies, to give equal weight to greenhouse gas reductions and system safety alongside the traditional — and imperative — attention to affordability and stability of supply.

The NextGen Roadmap bill will step up the pace of our collective effort to slow climate change. This is the strongest effort of its kind in the country.
Some tools go to the state, some to the private sector, and some to cities and towns. The projects and buildings municipalities approve for construction this year will still be up and going strong in 2050, when the entire economy of Massachusetts, in all its aspects, must put out “net zero” emissions. So we give the force of law to the creation of a “net zero stretch energy code,” with flexibility for communities to opt in when they’re ready.

The Next Gen Roadmap bill is a climate toolkit. The tools we’ve selected integrate seamlessly with the Global Warming Solutions Act. We give the force of law to a greenhouse gas limit for 2050 of net zero emissions. We set statewide emissions limits every 5yrs & commission reports on what each plan is actually accomplishing.

Today the Conference Committee on Climate is pleased to issue its report, An Act Creating a Next-Generation Roadmap for Massachusetts Climate Policy (S.2995).
This bill is a climate toolkit. Reducing emissions to net zero is the contribution Massachusetts must make to the nation’s, and the world’s, larger climate effort. No question, doing our part is a big lift. With the tools the Legislature brings together here, we can construct the response we need and provide a blueprint to other states. The toolkit approach is not a vision statement. It is not abstract or general. It is detailed. It is concerned with the practical. It focuses relentlessly on the work of reducing greenhouse gases, creating jobs, and protecting the vulnerable. It’s about the ‘how’ of it, as in “Here’s how we get this done, one step at a time, starting now.”

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.

 

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.