State charts a new energy future for Mass., beyond natural gas

Boston Globe

Wednesday’s order may have felt like an especially big win for climate advocates, considering how far things have moved, and how quickly. After the proceeding began three years ago, the DPU asked the gas companies to lead the first phase of the process, giving them the ability to write the first draft of a plan for reaching net-zero emissions in 2050. What’s more, advocates said they were shut out of the deliberations after the DPU under Baker took steps to limit their involvement.

Then in 2022, the playing field shifted. Healey was elected governor, and the DPU was filled with her appointees who could rewrite the rules of the game. A bill signed into law earlier in 2022 included language that ensured the ultimate decision would be wrested from the Baker DPU, and handled instead by Healey’s administration.

“Carrying this over to the new governor’s regime was putting it on uncharted ground,” said state Senator Michael Barrett, a coauthor of the 2022 climate bill. “If you’re a gas utility, I think they had every reason to be concerned and this report would bear that out.”

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The bottom line: we need more housing

I met with Housing Authority representatives from Waltham and Concord. A major topic: the Governor’s housing bond bill. Wide agreement that we need more housing. Pleased to see the real estate transfer fee provision included, which would give communities the option to impose a fee on expensive property sales to fund affordable housing projects. The fee — which could be set between 0.5% and 2% — would apply to the portion of the sale over $1 million or the county median home sale price.

Senator Barrett with Housing Authority representatives from Concord and Waltham, and members of NAHRO.

Mass. Senate approves prescription drug pricing bill

Mass Live

The State Senate just passed legislation that caps out-of-pocket spending on some prescription drugs used to treat diabetes, asthma, and chronic heart conditions. For each of these conditions, insurers must select one name-brand drug and one generic drug. The bill requires insurers to eliminate deductibles and cost-sharing requirements for the generic drugs and cap co-payments at $25 for the brand-name drugs. Kudos to Sen. Friedman for leading on the issue.

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Lexington teacher named first Black male recipient of Massachusetts Teacher of the Year award

Boston Globe

De’Shawn Washington is an outstanding human being. Education as a profession appeals to outstanding people, so Mr. Washington is right where he should be. Here’s to him and his fellow Lexington teachers, for work well done.

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Cutting the ribbon for the Bruce Freeman’s new phase

Ambitious infrastructure is often top-down, but this one was different. The vision for the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail emerged from the grassroots and was nurtured and brought along by local government. This is what federal and state officials love to see. 

Senator Barrett and his colleagues cut the ribbon for phase 2B of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail
Senator Barrett speaking at the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail phase 2B ribbon cutting ceremony

Quick trip up north!

Hadn’t done this before: Drove a new EV — a Kia EV6 — 392 miles north, through rural New England and Canada, to Quebec City. Joined my colleagues Sen. Will Brownsberger, House Majority Leader Mike Moran, and House Chair Mike Day for two days of climate policy talks with our counterparts in the provincial assembly to discuss green innovation, Quebec hydro, and Quebec-California cap and trade.

Senator Barrett, Senator Brownsberger, and Rep. Moran discuss clean energy with a Quebecois entrepreneur.

Massachusetts is drowning in single-use plastics. Why not ban them?

Boston Globe

Plastics, and waste reduction in general, has been an orphan. We just haven’t managed to acknowledge that reducing waste and reducing plastic is critical to reducing emissions.

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Great showing at the Lincoln Commons

Big turnout at the Lincoln Commons, where I spoke with constituents concerned about climate change. We covered topics like implementation of the 2021 and 2022 landmark climate acts and sustainable aviation. 

Senator Barrett speaking to a packed house at the Lincoln Commons

MassPort is on the verge of a terrible two-fer

In seriously entertaining a proposal to build multiple new hangars for super-polluting private jets at Hanscom Airfield, MassPort is on the verge of a terrible two-fer: aiding and abetting the warming of the planet, and pandering to the concentration of private wealth. You can’t do much worse than that.  

Senator Barrett speaking at the Stop Private Jet Expansion rally in front of the State House.
Senator Barrett speaking at the Stop Private Jet Expansion rally in front of the State House.