Remarks at Jan. 6 vigil in Franklin

Rep. Roy joined local leaders in commemorating Jan. 6 at a vigil on the Franklin Town Common. Below is the text of the remarks he delivered:

As Senator Rausch indicated, our day in the Massachusetts Legislature started with finishing the work of the 191st General Court on January 5, 2021.

We passed multiple pieces of legislation on the final day of the session. This work included wide-ranging pieces of legislation, including one early item that was a resolution for Franklin’s Frank Liotta, on the occasion of his 90th birthday. Another piece that passed around 2 a.m. was a law I had been working on for two years on the prevention of campus sexual violence.

We worked until around 5:00 am on January 6, and I finally went to bed exhausted to get some sleep.

I woke up a few hours later to begin the first day of the 192nd General Court. The proceedings began at 11:45 am with remarks by the Dean of the House Rep. Kevin Honan.

He quoted from JFK’s City on a Hill Speech noting that Massachusetts leaders have shaped our destiny long before the great Republic was born. Its principles have guided our footsteps in times of crisis as well as in times of calm. Its democratic institutions – including this historic body – have served as beacon lights for other nations as well as our sister states.

Rep. Honan reminded us that as we begin our work anew here in Boston – with a new Administration coming together in Washington around a country divided and struggling over racial injustice, economic insecurity and the health crisis of our lifetime – the Commonwealth and the country need that “City on a Hill” and all of us – more than ever.

The Governor administered the oaths and we elected Rep. Ronald Mariano as our Speaker. We heard more speeches and were invigorated and anxious to begin our work.

The proceedings ended at 2:05 pm. I was exhausted and decided to sit down and watch television. I turned on the proceedings in Congress and was alarmed within minutes.

What I saw unfolding was horrific and defied the logic I had witnessed about lawmaking over the previous 24 hours.

Violent extremists had stormed the Capitol in what was the culmination of months of repeatedly disproven lies from the former President about the outcome of the 2020 election. Our democracy was under attack.

This was an insurrection plain and simple. It was a calculated effort to subvert the will of the voters and undermine the peaceful transition of governance.

I immediately thought of my visit to Congress Hall in Philadelphia several years ago. That was the spot where on March 4, 1797 George Washington made the peaceful transition of power to John Adams. It is where George Washington performed his last public act before retiring to private life.

It was the first time in our recorded modern history that power transferred from a head of state to the next without bloodshed or death.

What took place in Congress Hall 225 years ago should be our beacon today. But Jan 6 smashed the beacon and created a dark cloud over America.

The event revealed a new force in American politics—not merely a mix of right-wing organizations, but a broader mass political movement that has violence at its core.

It revealed that our Republic faces an existential threat from a movement that is openly contemptuous of democracy and has shown that it is willing to use violence to achieve its ends.

Preventing further violence from this movement will require a deeper understanding of its activities and participants. To understand the events of January 6 and devise solutions to prevent their recurrence, we Americans need a fine-grained comprehension of who attacked the Capitol. We need to understand the ideology and beliefs of those who participated; knowing what kind of people they are and what their lives are like.

One truth is clear – you can’t participate in or support a violent storming of the US Capitol aimed at overturning state-certified election results and still be an American patriot. Further, a citizen can’t continue to back anyone who schemed to overturn the election results in extra-constitutional ways and fairly claim the cloak of patriotism.

As GOP US Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming said of her Republican party in a weekend TV appearance, “We can either be loyal to Donald Trump or we can be loyal to our Constitution. We cannot be both.”

Getting to the bottom of this tragic event is the object of the bipartisan House Commission and we anxiously await the public hearings and report. It and the evidence it supplies will help us grapple with the growing distrust in our society and hopefully will help us marshal the force and energy needed to save our democracy from collapse.

After Pearl Harbor and 9/11, our country mobilized a call to arms with unprecedented unity and determination to defeat the enemies of democracy.

Today, those who undermine our government and threaten our future are living within our own borders. The attack on the Capitol on January 6 has to be reckoned with, honestly and judiciously, now, before our political and social differences divide us even further and further.

As President Biden said this morning:

“At this moment we must decide what kind of nation we are going to be.”

“Are we going to be a nation that accepts political violence as a norm?”

“Are we going to be a nation where we allow partisan election officials to overturn the legally expressed will of the people?”

“Are we going to be a nation that lives not by the light of the truth but in the shadow of lies?”

“We cannot allow ourselves to be that kind of nation. The way forward is to recognize the truth and to live by it.”

With that, I urge you to stay engaged, work to support your democracy, and remain hyper-vigilant towards those who threaten its very existence. We remain that City on the Hill, we need you, and I look forward to being by your side on that journey.

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House passes Genocide Education Act

The Massachusetts House of Representatives passed the Genocide Education Act, filed by state Rep. Jeffrey Roy, D-Franklin. The bill, approved with a vote of 157-2, will require public schools to teach the history of genocides and create a fund to help support the new curriculum.

When signed into law, Massachusetts will become the 20th state to have adopted mandatory Holocaust and genocide education.

This bill would require each school district to file lesson plans and program descriptions related to genocide education every year with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The bill’s Genocide Education Trust Fund will help schools and districts develop curriculum and host training or professional development courses for educators.

“Massachusetts has always been at the forefront of human rights issues,” said Rep. Jeffrey N. Roy (D-Franklin), noting, “with the passage of this bill, we can do it again. We can arm our students with the knowledge they will need to recognize the warning signs and feel empowered to prevent genocides in the future.

“Making genocide education a mandatory topic for teaching in our schools is a reaffirmation of the commitment of free peoples from all nations to never again permit the occurrence of another genocide, and to deter indifference to crimes against humanity and human suffering wherever they occur.”

A recent survey found 22 percent of American millennials have never heard of the Holocaust and 66 percent of youth 18-34 didn’t recognize the word Auschwitz. In Massachusetts, 35 percent of young adults didn’t know what Auschwitz was and half didn’t know that 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust.

Rep. Roy first filed a genocide education bill in 2013 which called for the inclusion of genocide education in the Massachusetts history and social sciences curriculum frameworks. It was done with the help of a Medway constituent who wanted to shine a light on the Ukrainian Holodomor and other monstrous acts throughout history.

We were successful in having the curriculum frameworks changed, and the Global Education Advisory Council’s recommendation led to the inclusion of that genocide education in the History/Social Science Framework which was issued in 2018.

However, since 2018, we have seen a rising tide of hatred and bigotry. We have witnessed racist and anti-Semitic incidents across America, including in our own K-12 schools. And we saw that it was not enough to simply include genocide in the voluntary frameworks. No, we need a strong legislative solution, taking heed of the fact that national, ethnic, racial, or religious hatred can overtake any nation or society, leading to calamitous consequences.

The bill, which had more than100 cosponsors, was supported by ADL New England, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, the Armenian National Committee of Eastern Massachusetts – ANC of EM, Facing History and Ourselves, the Committee for Holodomor Genocide Awareness (https://ukrainegenocide.com), the Genocide Education Project, and over 60 coalition members.

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House Agrees to Vaccine Mandate For Reps, Staff

The House voted to require all members and staff to be fully vaccinated if they want to work out of the State House, agreeing to strict new COVID-19 health protocols that will put it mostly in line with the Senate and Gov. Charlie Baker’s policies on employee vaccination. You can view the order by clicking here.

The measure is the first step toward reopening the State House to all legislators, staff and, eventually, lobbyists, advocates and the general public.

The 131-28 vote came after about two hours of debate during which leaders in the House described the vaccine mandate as an essential step to protecting the health of legislators and the more than 450 employees who work in the House.

“As an employer we have a duty to our employees to maintain a workplace free of recognized hazards, including COVID-19,” said Rep. William Galvin, chair of the House Rules Committee.

Many of the details, including the deadline to be vaccinated, must now be established by a new House Working Group on COVID-19, which was also created by the order. The working group is expected to mirror the makeup of the panel that developed the House reopening strategy, and Speaker Pro Tempore Kate Hogan said the expectation is that the deadline to show proof of vaccination will be Nov. 1.

Hogan, who will lead the new working group, also said masks will be required in all House-controlled spaces in the State House, including offices, and that accommodations will be available for anyone with a medical issue or sincerely held religious belief preventing them from being vaccinated.

The vote also declared a COVID-19 state of emergency in the House, triggering a set of rules that would allow any member, including those who don’t want to get vaccinated or show proof of vaccination, to continue to vote and participate in House business remotely.

Rep. Michael Day, the co-chair of Judiciary Committee, gave a lengthy legal defense of the order, walking through the state’s Constitution and the legal precedents established during the smallpox epidemic for the Legislature to require vaccines and to set its own rules for itself.

Day, who contracted the COVID-19 virus early in the pandemic, criticized those who said legislators with underlying health risks should simply stay home. He compared those statements to Marie Antoinette saying, “Let them eat cake.”

“If you believe your sense of individual freedom requires you to vote against this, that is your prerogative, but it tells your friends, our colleagues and our collective staff that you value their health less than your political talking point,” Day said.

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Rep. Roy appointed to 250th American Revolution Anniversary Commission

Speaker Mariano appointed Representative Jeffrey Roy (D-Franklin) to the special commission to investigate and study the promotion and celebration of the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the American Revolution. The Massachusetts Commission on the 250th Anniversary of the American Revolution was established in the FY22 state budget which was signed by Governor Charlie Baker on July 16, 2021.

Rep. Roy holding the original of the letter written in 1798 to Massachusetts Historical Society founder Dr. Jeremy Belknap from Paul Revere describing his actual adventures during his ‘Midnight Ride’ of April 18-19, 1775.

Revolution 250 will explore the history of the American Revolution and the ways that this story still resonates in society today. Culminating in 2026, 250 years since the American colonies declared independence from the British Empire, the organization will pull together residents, visitors, planners, educators, artists, students, the business community, and politicians to recognize the importance of our culture and values.

The Commission’s members — leaders in the historical, cultural, tourism, and political sectors — are expected to partner with the other states, and with the federal America 250 Commission, to commemorate, celebrate, and investigate the will and determination of the people 250 years ago who risked their “lives, liberty, and property” for the cause of American Independence.

“It is a great honor for me to serve on this commission given my love of, appreciation for, and understanding of history,” said Representative Roy. “I have worked closely with the Massachusetts Historical Commission over the past year on this legislation and am committed to ensuring that the anniversary does not pass without appropriate acknowledgment from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It is sure to be a great educational effort and will be a boost for our local economy.”

Franklin and Medway have a long and distinguished connection to the events surrounding American independence. Franklin is home to the first public library in America started with a donation of books by Benjamin Franklin, as well it being along the route that saw the victorious French army march through on their return from the battlefield of Yorktown. Medway’s Evergreen Cemetery is the final resting place for about 50 Revolutionary War veterans.

The Commission will be tasked with overseeing the operations of Revolution 250, a consortium of organizations working together to commemorate the 250th anniversaries of the events that led to American Revolution. With over 30 institutional members, it operates under the fiscal sponsorship of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

To learn more about the commission, including news, upcoming events and how to become a sponsor visit the website https://revolution250.org/.

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Public comment hearing on qualified immunity

The Special Commission on Qualified Immunity will host a virtual public comment meeting on Friday, August 20, at 11 a.m. to give members of the public an opportunity to share their views on qualified immunity and its impact on the administration of justice in the Commonwealth. This will provide everyone an opportunity to share their perspectives with the Commission as it works its way through the various provisions of the charge from the reform legislation passed last year.

The public hearing will be livestreamed on the Commonwealth’s website at https://malegislature.gov/. To register to testify, individuals must provide contact information on this Form at by 5:00 p.m. on August 19, 2021. Written testimony may be submitted by e-mail to jacqueline.o.manning@mahouse.gov or by mail to Qualified Immunity Commission, 24 Beacon Street, Room 136, Boston, Massachusetts 02133.

The legal doctrine of qualified immunity is a complex one and legal scholars do not all agree on its application, which is why Rep. Roy filed an amendment (#204) that created the special legislative commission to study the origins and interpretation of qualified immunity. The precise language that was adopted can be found by clicking here

Over the past few months, the Commission has heard from academic experts, studied the impacts of Chapter 253 of the Acts of 2020 (commonly referred to as the “Police Reform Law”) on the doctrine, and reviewed recent legislation passed in other states and jurisdictions relative to qualified immunity.

To learn more about the members of the Commission, review documents discussed by the commission and read the charge please visit its website at https://qicommissionma.com/.

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Governor signs FY22 budget

Governor Baker signed the $48.07 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) that was passed unanimously by the Legislature earlier this month. This budget maintains fiscal responsibility, does not cut services, and makes targeted investments to address emerging needs, safeguard the health and wellness of the most vulnerable populations and ensure residents will benefit equitably as the state recovers from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With this budget, we can continue our work of getting back to better with a focus on increasing resources for services that are critical to everyday life in the Commonwealth,” stated Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “This compromise proposal, which does not draw from our rainy day fund, helps prepare us for the road ahead by investing in mental and behavioral health services, Family Resource Centers, early education and care, K-12, and more, along with providing additional supports for vulnerable families. I want to thank my partner, House Speaker Mariano, as well as Senator Rodrigues, Representative Michlewitz, the members and staff of Ways and Means as well as my colleagues and their staffs for their collaboration in advancing this proposal.”

“As we recover from uncertain times during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Legislature is proud to deliver a budget that thoughtfully grows the Massachusetts economy, spurs job training and employment opportunities, expands services and programs, and invests in our long-term priorities, such as growing our Stabilization Fund and implementing the Student Opportunity Act,” said Speaker of the House Ronald J. Mariano (D-Quincy). “I am proud of my House colleagues and would like to thank Chair Michlewitz, Vice Chair Ferrante and Assistant Vice Chair Donato for their diligent work during this process. I would also like to thank Senate President Spilka and her colleagues in the Senate for their hard work and collaboration.”

Taking into consideration strong tax revenue performance in Fiscal Year 2021 (FY 2021), the final FY22 budget increases revenue assumptions by $4.2 billion over the December consensus revenue projection for a new tax revenue projection of $34.35 billion. The FY22 budget does not make a withdrawal and instead transfers funds into the Stabilization Fund, projecting an estimated balance of approximately $5.8 billion for this crucial ‘rainy day’ fund at the end of the fiscal year.

For Franklin and Medway, the budget includes all of the items passed in the House budget included in the image below:

Notably, the Legislature provides substantial funds in the FY22 budget to invest in the Commonwealth’s long-term obligations. Prioritizing funding for education, the new Student Opportunity Act Investment fund was funded at $350 million to be utilized in the coming years for the implementation of the state’s landmark Student Opportunity Act (SOA). Additionally, a supplemental payment of $250 million was transferred to the Pension Liability Fund to reduce the Commonwealth’s pension liability.

As a cornerstone of the Commonwealth’s equitable recovery, the FY22 budget protects access to educational opportunity and charts a path forward for students, families, educators, and institutions. The budget maintains the Legislature’s commitment to implementing the Student Opportunity Act by FY 2027. The conference report proposal fully funds the first year of the SOA consistent with the $5.503 billion local aid agreement reached in March, amounting to an increase of $220 million over FY21.

Despite the uncertainty created by the pandemic, this increased level of investment represents a 1/6th implementation of SOA rates and ensures that school districts across the Commonwealth have adequate and equitable resources to provide high quality educational opportunities for all students. The FY22 budget also includes a $40 million reserve consistent with the March local aid agreement to provide additional aid to districts experiencing increases in student enrollment compared to October 2020.

The budget invests in higher education allocating $571 million for the University of Massachusetts system, $315 million for community colleges, and $291 million for state universities. The budget also includes $130 million in scholarship funding and funds the community colleges SUCCESS Fund at $10.5 million and the STEM Starter Academy at $4.75 million.

The budget also includes large investments in labor and economic development, such as the creation of a trust fund dedicated to job training for the offshore wind industry to be administered by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. This budget makes an initial deposit into this fund of $13 million to establish and grow technical training programs in our public higher education system and vocational-technical institutions. The fund will also prioritize grants and scholarships to adult learning providers, labor organizations, and public educational institutions to provide workers with greater access to these trainings.

Other education investments include:

• $388.4 million for the Special Education Circuit Breaker, reimbursing school districts for the high cost of educating students with disabilities at the statutorily required 75% reimbursement rate

• $154.6 million for reimbursing school districts at 75% for costs incurred when students leave to attend charter schools

• $82.2 million for regional school transportation

• $50 million for Adult Basic Education

• $27.9 million for the Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity (METCO) program

• $6 million for Social Emotional Learning Grants to help K-12 schools bolster social emotional learning supports for students, including $1M for a new pilot program to provide mental health screenings for K-12 students

• $4 million for Rural School Aid

This budget supports working families by addressing the increasing costs of caregiving for low-income families by converting the existing tax deductions for young children, elderly or disabled dependents and business-related dependent care expenses into refundable tax credits. These tax credits will benefit low-income families who have little or no personal income tax liability and cannot claim the full value of the existing deductions. The conversion to a refundable tax credit would provide an additional $16 million to over 85,000 families each year. Coupled with the expanded Child Tax Credit and the Child and Dependent Care tax credits under the federal American Rescue Plan Act, these credits will help lift families out of poverty and support low-income working parents and caregivers across the Commonwealth.

The FY22 budget builds on the success of last year’s efforts to tackle ‘deep poverty’ with a 20 per cent increase to Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC) and Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled and Children (EAEDC) benefits over December 2020 levels, ensuring families receive the economic supports they need to live, work and provide stability for their children. Further, the final budget repeals the asset limit for Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children. Traditionally, asset limits on assistance programs further expose those who are already financially vulnerable to greater economic hardship. While families are recovering from the impacts of COVID-19, it is vital to make assistance programs accessible and effective, and removing the asset limit allows families to save for education, job training, reliable transportation, home expenses, and other emergency needs.

Other children and family investments include:

• $30.5 million for Emergency Food Assistance to ensure that citizens in need can navigate the historic levels of food insecurity caused by COVID-19
• $7.5 million for grants to our Community Foundations to support communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic
• $5 million for the Secure Jobs Connect program, providing job placement resources and assistance for homeless individuals
• $4.2 million for the Office of the Child Advocate, including $1M for the establishment and operation of a state center on child wellness and trauma
• $2.5 million for Children Advocacy Centers

To help families get back to work, the FY22 conference report includes $820 million for the early education sector, including $20 million to increase rates for early education providers, $15 million for Massachusetts Head Start programs, $10 million for the Commonwealth Preschool Partnership Initiative to expand public preschool, and $9 million to cover the cost of fees for parents receiving subsidized early education in calendar year 2021.

The FY22 budget provides resources to help with housing stability, including $150 million for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program to expand access to affordable housing, $85 million for grants to local housing authorities, $22M for the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition Program and $8 million for Housing Consumer Education Centers to help administer nearly $1 billion in federal housing relief.

The budget makes the state’s film tax credit permanent and requires an increase in the percentage of production expenses or principal photography days in the Commonwealth from 50 per cent to 75 per cent. The film tax credit was set to expire in January 2023. The budget also includes a disability employment tax credit for employers that hire employees with a disability.

To ensure long-term fiscal responsibility, FY22 budget repeals three ineffective tax expenditures as recommended by the Tax Expenditure Review Commission (TERC), namely the exemption of income from the sale of certain patents, the medical device tax credit, and the harbor maintenance tax credit, effective January 1, 2022. The TERC found that these tax expenditures are either obsolete, fail to provide a meaningful incentive, or fail to justify their cost to the Commonwealth. The TERC was created as part of a Senate budget initiative in Fiscal Year 2019.

The Legislature’s FY22 budget confronts the frontline health care impacts of the pandemic to navigate the challenges posed by COVID-19. It also sustains support for the state’s safety net by funding MassHealth at a total of $18.98 billion, thereby providing over 2 million of the Commonwealth’s children, seniors, and low-income residents access to comprehensive health care coverage. It also invests $15 million to support local and regional boards of health as they continue to work on the front lines against the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Understanding that the pandemic has been a stressor on mental and behavioral health, the FY22 budget invests $175.6 million for substance use disorder and intervention services provided by the Bureau of Substance Addiction Services. It also invests $12.5 million to support a student telebehavioral health pilot, public awareness campaigns, loan forgiveness for mental health clinicians, and initiatives to mitigate emergency department boardings for individuals in need of behavioral health support, as well as $10 million for Programs of Assertive Community Treatment (PACT) grants to provide intensive, community-based behavioral health services for adolescents.

Other health care and public health investments include:

• $98.4 million for children’s mental health services, including $3.9M for the Massachusetts Child Psychiatric Access Program (MCPAP) and MCPAP for Moms to address mental health needs of pregnant and postpartum women
• $25 million for Family Resource Centers (FRCs) to grow and improve the mental health resources and programming available to families
• $56.1 million for domestic violence prevention services
• $40.8 million for early intervention services, to ensure supports are accessible and available to infants and young toddlers with developmental delays and disabilities, including funds to support health equity initiatives

To support economic development, the FY22 budget increases access to high quality and reliable broadband—which is crucial for businesses, students and families—by moving the duties of the Wireless and Broadband Development Division to the Department of Telecommunications, which is working to facilitate access to broadband, and has the institutional ability and knowledge to address broadband access issues. The budget also includes a $17 million transfer to the Workforce Competitiveness Trust fund, $15.4 million for Career Technical Institutes, and $9.5 million for one-stop career centers to support economic recovery.

Other investments in economic and workforce development include:

• $15 million for the Community Empowerment and Reinvestment Grant Program
• $6 million for Regional Economic Development Organizations to support economic growth in all regions of the state
• $2.5 million for the Massachusetts Cybersecurity Innovation Fund, including $1.5 million for new regional security operation centers, which will partner with community colleges and state universities to provide cybersecurity workforce training to students and cybersecurity services to municipalities, non-profits, and small businesses

To protect residents of the Commonwealth, the FY22 budget codifies and expands the existing Governor’s task force on hate crimes to advise on issues relating to hate crimes, ways to prevent hate crimes and how best to support victims of hate crimes. The conference report makes the task force permanent and expands its membership to include members of the Legislature and an appointee from the Attorney General. The conference report also contains a provision that supports immigrants who are victims of criminal activity or human trafficking.

The budget also authorizes funds from the Massachusetts Cybersecurity Innovation Fund to be used for monitoring and detection of threat activity in order to investigate or mitigate cybersecurity incidents. In order to proactively combat threats and attacks, the budget provides funding for a public-private partnership with the goal of engaging educational institutions to jointly expand the training, employment and business development in cyber fields in Massachusetts through a combination of regionalized instruction and business outreach, state-wide shared resources, and real-life simulations for cyber training and business development.

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College in High School bill heard by committee

Highlighting data showing greater academic success among high school students who take college courses, Rep. Roy joined a panel of education experts testifying at an Education Committee hearing urging favorable action on H.693, an act relative to college in high schools. The bill, filed by Rep. Roy and Rep. Kate Lipper-Garabedian, is is a roadmap for success for students in our K12 and higher education systems and will broaden access to post-secondary opportunities for students throughout the Commonwealth.

H693 is a comprehensive plan that:

  • puts in place the necessary administrative, programmatic, and funding structures required for an expansive and thriving College in High School (CIHS) experience. It establishes a new, centralized College In High School Office in DESE that is charged with defining and implementing all CIHS Programs.
  • develops a sustainable funding mechanism to accelerate growth — and provides additional financial incentives to programs that award industry-recognized credentials to high school students.
  • helps ensure that students receive college credit for all courses completed.
  • encourages participation by students, parents, and a network of support services.
  • and at its most basic, requires students to fill out a FAFSA, apply for aid, and take that step towards a post-secondary experience.

The bill offers a “three-fer” in outcomes by expanding degree attainment, addressing the student loan crisis, and helping students with their career development.

In addition to Rep. Roy, testimony was offered by Rep. Kate Lipper-Garabedian, Board of Higher Education Chair Chris Gabrieli, Samuel Gebru (Director of Policy and Public Affairs for the Black Economic Council of Massachusetts), Marjorie Ringrose (Director of Education for the Smith Foundation), Ed Lambert (Executive Director of the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education), and Suzanne McGurk (Senior Director, Higher Ed Policy & Community College Engagement at The College Board). You can view their testimony in the videos below.

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Joint Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy Committee Tours RMLD Battery Site

Reading, MA – On Friday, April 23, 2021, new Chairman Jeffrey Roy and six members of the Joint Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy (TUE) Committee of the Massachusetts legislature toured the Reading Municipal Light Department’s (RMLD) Minuteman Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) in North Reading.

TUE Committee Members stand in front of the Minuteman Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) in North Reading. Left to Right: Rep. David Robertson, Rep. Kate Lipper-Garabedian, Rep. Joan Meschino, House Minority Leader Brad Jones, Chairman Jeffrey Roy, Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, and Rep. Rich Haggerty.

The tour provided an opportunity for TUE members to see how the RMLD, a Municipal Light Plant (MLP), utilized a $1 million MA DOER ACES (Advancing Commonwealth Energy Storage) grant to demonstrate the capabilities of energy storage, a technology with the potential to change the landscape of electricity distribution.

In addition to seeing the system firsthand, TUE members were briefed on how RMLD utilizes the BESS to reduce wholesale electricity costs for its customers as part of its Demand Response Program.

RMLD received the $1 million ACES grant in 2018. The 5 MW, 10 MWH BESS was constructed at its North Reading substation and became operational on June 1, 2019. The system is owned by NextEra Energy Resources and operated under an Energy Storage Agreement between NextEra and the RMLD. The primary purpose of the unit is coincident peak demand management for reductions during critical peak times when electricity is most expensive and to mitigate ISO New England’s need to dispatch less environmentally friendly generators.

In the 19 months that the BESS has been operational, the RMLD has realized net savings of $346K by reducing demand during annual Capacity and monthly Transmission peaks. The ACES grant allowed for battery technology to be an integral part of the RMLD objectives under its smart grid technology roadmap.

“I would like to thank the TUE committee members for their interest in on-site learning about battery technology and the innovative work that the RMLD and other MLPs have been doing in the area of energy storage. As well, Energy New England (ENE) for coordinating the event, and NextEra Energy Resources for their technical assistance to allow viewing access of the battery,” said Coleen O’Brien, RMLD General Manager.

TUE members in attendance included Chairman Jeffrey Roy, House Minority Leader Brad Jones, Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, Rep. Joan Meschino, Rep. Kate Lipper-Garabedian, Rep. David Robertson, and Rep. Rich Haggerty.

About Reading Municipal Light Department: Established in 1894, Reading Municipal Light Department (RMLD) is a municipal electric utility serving over 70,000 residents in the towns of Reading, North Reading, Wilmington, and Lynnfield Center. RMLD has over 29,000 meter connections within its service territory.

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Legislature Passes Landmark Climate Legislation

The Massachusetts House of Representatives and state Senate on Thursday passed nation-leading climate legislation, known as the Next Generation Climate Roadmap bill, which overhauls the state’s climate laws, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, advances the clean energy industry, and prioritizes and protects environmental justice communities.


“The Senate and House reaffirm today that this landmark climate legislation is too important to delay,” stated Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “These measures will put our Commonwealth on a path to lowering harmful carbon emissions, add fuel to our growing green economy and improve the lives of those living in underserved communities. Now is the time to be proactive in how we approach our climate crisis and to protect our environment for future generations. I want to thank my legislative partner, House Speaker Mariano for his collaboration, Senator Barrett and Representatives Golden and Roy for their steadfast support, and the residents of Massachusetts for their unwavering support in advancing this legislation.”

“I am proud the House and the Senate have not backed down from our ambitious goals and unwavering commitment to make Massachusetts a leader in climate protection and clean energy,” said Speaker of the House Ronald Mariano (D-Quincy). “There is no doubt this legislation will set Massachusetts on the right path and benefit generations to come. I thank Chairman Roy and Leader Golden for their work over the course of two sessions, and Senate President Spilka for her collaboration in getting this bill once again back to the Governor’s desk.”

“This bill is about getting down to brass tacks. It’s about getting the job done, one step at a time, starting now,” said Senator Mike Barrett (D-Lexington), Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy. “The pace of climate change is picking up—so the pace of climate policy must pick up. The Next Generation Climate Roadmap bill reflects the concerns of people of every age, from every part of the state. The grassroots climate movement of Massachusetts is a force to be reckoned with.”

“This historic legislation will set Massachusetts on a path towards reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 by establishing robust interim limits and providing key sectors of our economy with clear guidelines and goal posts for their decarbonization,” said Representative Jeffrey N. Roy (D-Franklin), Chair of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy. “Each roadmap plan will tackle reducing emissions in a holistic manner, while also ensuring that environmental justice communities are included, and workers are not left behind by our transition to clean energy. I’m honored to have worked on getting this crucial climate bill to the finish line and thank Speaker Mariano and Leader Golden for their invaluable work and leadership on this bill.”

“History has been made today with the passage of the Next-Generation Roadmap bill,” said State Representative Thomas A. Golden, Jr. (D-Lowell), former Chair of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy.  “The Roadmap sets us on a strong course to net zero by 2050 and significantly advances offshore wind, truly representing the best ideas from both chambers.  Hats off to the House and the Senate for holding firm on ambitious emissions targets.  A special thank-you to Speaker Mariano for his tireless perseverance and vision in seeing this day become a reality.”

“This bill offers us a comprehensive roadmap to move us away from fossil fuels and towards ensuring environmental justice,” said Senate Majority Leader Cindy Creem (D-Newton).  “The provisions of this bill represent a great step forward in our efforts to reduce harmful carbon emissions and it needs to become law now.” 

The passage of the climate bill comes after a joint commitment from Senate President Karen E. Spilka and House Speaker Ronald Mariano to quickly refile the legislation following a gubernatorial veto last session. This session Governor Baker offered amendments to the bill, which have been considered by the Legislature. Today, the House and Senate rejected efforts to slow the rate of progress toward net-zero emissions by 2050, while accepting a number of more technical amendments that improve the bill.

The final legislation:

  • Sets a statewide net-zero limit on greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and mandates emissions limits every five years, as well as sublimits for transportation, buildings, and other sectors of the economy.
  • Codifies environmental justice provisions into Massachusetts law, defining environmental justice populations and providing new tools and protections for affected neighborhoods.
  • Establishes a municipal opt-in specialized stretch energy code which includes a definition of “net-zero building” and net-zero building performance standards.
  • Requires an additional 2,400 megawatts of offshore wind, increasing the total authorization to 5,600 megawatts in the Commonwealth.
  • Directs the Department of Public Utilities (DPU), the regulator of the state’s electric and natural gas utilities, to balance priorities going forward: system safety, system security, reliability, affordability, equity, and, significantly,reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Sets appliance energy efficiency standards for a variety of common appliances including plumbing, faucets, computers, and commercial appliances.
  • Adopts several measures aimed at improving gas pipeline safety, including increased fines for safety violations, provisions related to training and certifying utility contractors, and setting interim targets for companies to reduce leak rates.
  • Requires utilities to include an explicit value for greenhouse gas reductions when they calculate the cost-effectiveness of an offering of MassSave.
  • Increases the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) by 3 per cent each year from 2025–2029, resulting in 40 per cent renewable energy by 2030.
  • A national first, this legislation factors the “carbon sequestration” capacity of Massachusetts’ natural and working lands directly into our emissions reduction plans.
  • Prioritizes equitable access to the state’s solar programs by low-income communities.
  • Sets benchmarks for the adoption of clean energy technologies including electric vehicles, charging stations, solar technology, energy storage, heat pumps and anaerobic digestors.
  • Establishes $12 million in annual funding for the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center to create a pathway to the clean energy industry for environmental justice populations, minority-owned and women-owned businesses, and fossil fuel workers.
  • Provides solar incentives for businesses by exempting them from the net metering cap to allow them to install solar systems on their premises to help them offset their electricity use and save money.
  • Creates a first-time greenhouse gas emissions standard for municipal lighting plants that requires them to purchase 50 percent non-emitting electricity by 2030, 75 percent by 2040 and “net zero” by 2050. 

The bill now returns to the Governor’s desk.

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Vaccine updates on teachers and local sites

Much has been said about getting students back to school quickly, but it is important that we do so safely. And in that regard, the legislature has been pushing the administration to enhance the safety of the experience by moving teachers to the front of the line on vaccine distribution. And we have called upon the administration to ramp up efforts to distribute vaccines at local distribution sites.

Click on the image to the right to see a copy of the letter from Rep. Roy and colleagues on the teacher vaccine priority issue. It was sent on February 10, 2021. The Speaker of the House has also called for teachers to be moved to the head of the line. You can view the Boston Globe story on that statement by clicking here. You can view his appearance on WCVB’s On the Record program by clicking here. In the image below, you can see the response we received from Secretary Sudders on February 23, 2021. The administration is again arguing that it is a supply issue, but promised to review the request.

We have also called for enhancement of local distribution efforts. In a February 3, 2021 letter, we reminded the Governor that some cities and towns (like Franklin and Medway) have the ability to set up local infrastructure to vaccinate residents in locations that are close to home and familiar to residents. We asked him to explain what is being done to empower willing health departments to become vaccine distribution sites. The administration responded saying that municipalities may propose regional collaborations that meet specific geographic needs identified by the state and must meet specific requirements including:

Have the capacity to vaccinate minimally 750 individuals per day, 5 days per week;

Serve unmet need geographically, as identified by the Department of Public Health;

Meet an administration rate threshold of 85% and report doses within 24 hours;

Serve all residents of the Commonwealth; collaborations may focus outreach efforts towards those who live or work in the area but must be open to all Massachusetts residents; and

Provide public links for vaccine appointments on Mass.gov/COVIDVaccine.

Finally, there is a legislative oversight hearing tomorrow at 11 am which you can read about by clicking here. The hearing will be livestreamed at: https://malegislature.gov/Events/SpecialEvents/Detail/374 so anyone is invited to watch. You mat also submit written electronic testimony via email to JointCommittee.COVID-19@malegislature.gov.

We will continue to push on this issue until everyone who wants to get vaccinated has an opportunity to do so.

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