Boston – Senate Chair of the Energy Committee Mike Barrett (D-Lexington) and environmental advocates are making headway in their campaign to put a price on carbon in Massachusetts.
Barrett — who filed a carbon pricing bill in the Legislature this session — joined his colleagues on the Senate Global Warming and Climate Change Committee to announce the release of an omnibus energy bill that includes carbon pricing. The incorporation of carbon pricing into an overall policy initiative by the Senate is a breakthrough.
“Because the white blood cell counts of APL patients are way below normal, infections such as the flu can have consequences,’’ said Barrett in his statement. “My doctors tell me I won’t be leaving the hospital for a month and that, for some additional period of time, I’ll need to avoid crowded situations where people may have bad colds, etc.”
“Unfortunately, my docs will not let me hop out of bed at Mass. General and head up Beacon Hill to vote in a packed chamber,” he said. “But otherwise, with the help of my fantastic staff, I expect to advance my legislative agenda quite effectively throughout my convalescence, and to resume my duties in full thereafter.”
The Senate’s $3.65 billion bond bill contains funding for regional courthouses, public safety facilities and equipment, according to local senators pleased with the measure that also includes authorizations for bonds to improve facilities statewide, including local colleges and universities, parks and public works.
For surrounding towns, Sen. Michael Barrett, D-Lexington, said the measure contains $3.5 million to expand and renovate the Bedford Police Station, $1 million to make playgrounds in Sudbury more accessible and $695,000 to replace firetrucks in Waltham.
The bill, proposed by Sen. Michael Barrett, a Lexington Democrat and members of the Senate Global Warming and Climate Change Committee, would create a fee for fuels that contain carbon, like home heating and motor fuel. The money raised would be returned to residents and businesses in the form of rebates for adapting carbon-reducing measures.
Barrett told the Statehouse News Service that if the bill passes, the Legislature must select a carbon pricing scheme for transportation by 2020, for commercial and industrial buildings by 2021 and for residential buildings by 2022.
The Federal Communications Commission in December adopted an order repealing past rules that deemed internet service a public utility and required internet providers to treat all traffic equally. Daniel Lyons, a Boston College Law School professor, told lawmakers the order also “expressly preempts any state or local measures” attempting to reinstate those rules.
Noting that he pays between $50 to $60 per month for his Verizon internet access, Sen. Michael Barrett said he wanted the committee to figure out what would happen to the market without net neutrality if the legal challenges fail. He asked Healey if there is a way of “extracting any good” out of the rollback, such as lower prices for a “basic” package that could make technology more accessible to low income consumers.
New England’s biggest utility has won approval for new charges on future solar customers starting next January — but in the process Eversource has angered some lawmakers with jurisdiction over its industry, including members of the Chelmsford’s delegation.
Vote Solar and Attorney General Maura Healey have both appealed the department’s approval of the new Eversource rates.
Mahony, who is Healey’s senior policy adviser for energy, suggested lawmakers should craft legislation that discourages customers from using electricity when demand on the grid is high. Demand fluctuates throughout the day as consumers turn on lights, flip on air conditioning and run electrical appliances. The demand charge in the Eversource rates does not vary based on time of day.
Sen. Michael Barrett, a Lexington Democrat and the Senate chairman of the committee, had a similar perspective to Mahony on the demand charges, questioning Eversource about why it wasn’t linked to when demand was highest on the grid as a whole.
Boston – State Senator Mike Barrett (D-Lexington) and Representative Thomas A. Golden, Jr. (D-Lowell) quizzed Eversource Energy and the state Department of Public Utilities (DPU) at a formal oversight hearing last Tuesday, January 30.
Senate Chair Barrett joined House Chair Golden and their colleagues on the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy at the public hearing, following the DPU’s approval of a request from Eversource for a new fee on solar users.
Most committee hearings on Beacon Hill are mild affairs, planned out well in advance, to solicit input on various bills. Not this one.
Senator Michael Barrett and Representative Thomas Golden decided last week to revisit Eversource’s new solar fee. Barrett says precipitating factors included a Globe story and a particularly unhappy constituent.
Lawmakers authorized the adoption of this kind of solar charge back in 2016. But Barrett and Golden made it clear they believe Eversource has taken that permission beyond what the Legislature initially intended.
An opinion piece from the Worcester Telegram supporting bills S.1821 and H.1726, which are designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Massachusetts in an efficient and equitable manner.
On Jan. 25, a panel at MIT explored the benefits, costs, and political challenges involved in translating carbon pricing from concept into law in Massachusetts and beyond. Hosted by the student-led MIT Climate Action Team and held at the MIT Stata Center, the panel disucssion included Massachusetts state Sen. Michael Barrett and state Rep. Jennifer Benson, authors of two different carbon-pricing bills; Marc Breslow, research and policy director of the carbon-pricing research and advocacy group Climate XChange; and three experts on the topic who are affiliated with the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change — Department of Urban Studies and Planning Associate Professor Janelle Knox-Hayes, Joint Program Co-director and Sloan School of Management Senior Lecturer John Reilly, and Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research Director and MIT Sloan Professor Christopher Knittel. The panelists weighed advantages and disadvantages of carbon pricing as a climate-change solution, clarified differences between the two pending bills, and discussed political challenges faced by these bills.
“The most progressive thing to do if you care about working people is to have absolute revenue neutrality,” said Barrett, who, like Knittel, argued that solar and other renewable energy programs could best be funded through a progressive income tax. “I want to make sure that 100 percent of a carbon fee goes back to working people.” Concerned that a revenue-positive carbon pricing bill would be framed by opponents as a tax, he cautioned that such a bill would be politically unviable for fellow legislators.
HARWICH — A lot needs to be done on the Cape to improve the retail climate for local businesses. That message was conveyed to the Senate Task Force on Strengthening Local Retail during a visit to town on Monday.
The task force, which also met in Hyannis, will be holding similar meetings with small business owners in the Merrimack Valley and Berkshire County as they seek to assess issues facing small businesses across the state.
Joined last week by prominent researchers and humanitarian leaders, State Senator Mike Barrett (D-Lexington) asked the Legislature’s Committee on Revenue to approve legislation tweaking Massachusetts tax forms and letting taxpayers direct voluntary contributions, over and above their regular payments, to poverty-stricken countries faced with worsening conditions caused by global warming.
The full title of Barrett’s bill is An Act enabling taxpayer donations to the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF), an initiative of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Lawmakers at the Massachusetts State House Tuesday presented a new bill that would allow taxpayers to donate part of their tax returns to combat the effects of climate change in developing nations.
Senate Bill 2056, if accepted, would enable lawmakers to add a box to state tax returns to give Massachusetts taxpayers the option to donate to the Least Developed Countries Fund.
“My constituents really want to strike the note of sympathy and solidarity around the world, at the very time that we have a president walking away from them,” said Sen. Michael J. Barrett, the bill’s lead sponsor.
Sounding a note of caution on today’s debate in the Mass. House of Representatives, the Senate chair of the joint committee that deals with energy matters cited “an inconvenient truth about Massachusetts climate change math: our share of the U.S. emissions goal set in Paris for 2025 is almost identical to a state-specific emissions goal we’ve already set for ourselves for 2020. By 2025, Massachusetts will need to have progressed well beyond this point, or we will have little chance of meeting our ultimate emissions goal set for 2050.”
“Merely running in place on emissions reductions between the years 2020 and 2025 will throw us off pace and forfeit Massachusetts’ hopes to lead on this crucial issue,” said State Sen. Michael Barrett (D-Lexington).
The legislative package aims to reduce unnecessary incarceration, and measures encourage less severe responses to offenses and remove policies that disparately burden the poor.
“We [the state] are absolutely addicted to the money we extract from you as you move through the criminal justice system. Even after you pay your debt to society and begin to knit your life back together again, we want to extract user fees at every point in the system,” Barrett said, stating that this practice must end.
The bill provides for waiving, eliminating or reducing many fees. Another reform would revise bail policies in light of increasing awareness that too often, people of little means are jailed pretrial only because of inability to afford the bail price, not due to flight risk or likelihood of causing harm if released.
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.
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.