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Senator Richard J. Ross, State House Update, December 2015
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State Senator Richard J. Ross (R-Wrentham) proudly serving the Norfolk, Bristol and Middlesex District.

State House 
Room 419
Boston, MA 02133

Ph: 617-722-1555
Fax: 617-722-1054
Email:richard.ross@masenate.gov

Dear Friends,

Now that the year is coming to a close, we can reflect on the great progress we have achieved on the state level. With the leadership of Governor Charlie Baker, we will continue to move the Commonwealth in the right direction.

Please read my e-newsletter for information on the work my Senate colleagues and I have done over the past 12 months.

What is your New years Resolution for the Massachusetts Legislature in 2016? What issue do you hope gets addressed? Your thoughts are critical to the Commonwealth's success, so let me know by clicking here.


Sincerely,

 
The Massachusetts Senate entered 2015 with a goal of tackling many key issues head on. Committed to collaboration and shared leadership to get things done, we passed significant pieces of legislation aimed to better serve our constituents. These areas included:
  • Protecting taxpayers
  • Reforming our transportation system
  • Combating the opioid epidemic
  • Supporting children & families
  • Increasing transparency
  • Preserving our environment & resources
Ensuring my constituents have a government that is both effective and transparent is very important to me. This year was a busy one, but there is still much more ground we need to cover in 2016 concerning our public records, final opiate legislation, and countless others. The full list of Senate accomplishments can be found here.

I look forward to hearing your feedback as to what your priorities are for the second half of this legislative session.
 ROSS APPOINTED AS ASSISTANT MINORITY LEADER

This year, I was honored to have been appointed to serve as an Assistant Senate Minority Leader for the 2015-2016 legislative session.

This past year I have served as the Ranking Republican Member on the Senate Committee on Ethics and I look forward to getting to work and fighting for my constituents across the Norfolk, Bristol, and Middlesex District.

I was also appointed to the Joint Committee on Public Health and will continue serving on the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, as well as the Joint Committees on Higher Education, Judiciary, Mental Health and Substance Abuse, and Public Safety and Homeland Security.

Since being elected to the Senate in 2010, I have previously served as the Ranking Republican of the Ways and Means Committee, Minority Whip, and Assistant Minority Whip.
MBTA REFORM A REALITY  
 
Following the unprecedented effects of last winter on our state’s transportation system, the Massachusetts Legislature took immediate steps in the FY16 budget to address clear systematic failures, particularly at the MBTA. The legislature established a five person MBTA Fiscal Management Control Board (FMCB) within MassDOT that will have the power to implement measures to ensure financial, operational, and managerial stability at the MBTA while operating within a unified state transportation network.
 
On July 17th, Governor Charlie Baker appointed the five person control board, all with a vast array of transportation, financial, and government experience.
 
The overwhelming bipartisan support for the MBTA FMCB confirms the legislature’s promise to our hardworking taxpayers of fixing a broken system and providing them with the transportation system they rightly deserve.

Earlier this year, I wrote on this topic at length. You can read the op-ed here.
SENATE FOCUSES ON OPIOID EPIDEMIC
 
On October 1, 2015 I joined my colleagues in the Massachusetts Senate in unanimously adopting a bill intended to reduce the rate of opioid addiction as well as the number of opiate pills in circulation by working with doctors, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, and pharmacists.
 
The Senate bill, An Act Relative to Substance Use Prevention, was developed from recent findings of the Senate Special Opioid Committee, of which I am a member, following a year-long effort to produce recommendations to further strengthen opioid abuse prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery options.
 
Over the past several years, we have seen with alarming regularity an increase in drug-related deaths across the Commonwealth. This opioid epidemic touches every community and no family is immune to this problem and this session we focused on education and prevention.
 
Governor Charlie Baker recently filed his own bill to combat the opioid epidemic that also focuses on substance use treatment, education and prevention. I look forward to addressing this legislation as soon as possible in the new year with my colleagues to ensure that the people of the Commonwealth are safe.
EARNED INCOME TAX CREDIT

In August, Governor Charlie Baker enacted a fifty-percent increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for over 400,000 working individuals and families in the Commonwealth.

The bipartisan effort was included in the final version of the FY16 budget while maintaining a voter-mandated tax reduction and without implementing any new taxes or fees. Low-to-moderate income households can expect to see the EITC increase to 23 percent on January 1, 2016.

Many families across the Commonwealth will see an additional $500 in savings every month. By putting money back in the pockets of hardworking taxpayers and families, we are building a stronger more sustainable Commonwealth and protecting the integrity of Massachusetts voters at the same time.  
 
I applaud both the efforts of Governor Baker and my colleagues in the legislature for acting swiftly on this and enacting meaningful, visible change.  I look forward to the work we will continue to accomplish this session. For more information on the EITC, please click here.
 
 SENATOR ROSS HAS 100% VOTING ATTENDANCE IN 2015

Recently Beacon Hill Roll Call recognized me for my 100% voting attendance record in the Massachusetts Senate in 2015. This marks the fourth year in a row I have received a perfect attendance record in the Senate, in addition to five years in the House of Representatives.

It is my honor and privilege to represent the people of the Norfolk, Bristol, and Middlesex District on Beacon Hill and by doing so that means casting votes on their behalf. In 2016 the Senate will continue to tackle many issues my constituents care about and I can assure them that I will be there for each and every vote and ensure their voices are heard loud and clear.

In 2015 the Senate held 212 roll call votes on legislation pertaining to the FY16 budget, opioid epidemic, public safety, veterans, among others.

“Roll call votes are one of the primary and crucial ways that Senators protect and represent the interests of their constituents, and often they involve critical issues where every vote makes a difference. Senator Ross undoubtedly understands that, and his 100% voting record reflects his commitment not only to those he represents, but also to the prosperity and future of our state,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R- Gloucester).  “Senator Ross is prepared to capture every opportunity when an issue and a vote arise, by understanding the complexity and impact of each one.  I truly appreciate his substantial contributions to the Senate, and the significant achievements his perfect voting record represents.”

Throughout December the Senate is continuing to hold informal sessions to advance bills that do not require debate or roll call votes. The Senate will return to formal sessions in January of 2016.

Pleased to join Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, Secretary of Labor & Workforce Development Ronald L. Walker, II, and Representative Betty Poirier in presenting Paul Davis Restoration in North Attleboro with a $25,000 workforce safety grant to be used for training purposes  (left). Offering congratulations to John Schlittler for being sworn in as the new chief of the Needham Police Department. Chief Schlittler is an outstanding public servant. I am confident he will excel in this role (right).
PUBLIC HEARING OF BILL TO PROTECT SAFETY ON STATE HIGHWAYS

Legislation I filed earlier this year to protect public safety on state highways is being heard at a public hearing of the Joint Committee on Transportation and I encourage you to attend if possible and lend your voice to the importance of this legislation.

In light of serious public safety concerns on several interstate highways due to demonstrators stopping traffic early in 2015, legislation I filed would aim to prevent such trespassing on Massachusetts highways.

S.1869: An Act relative to preserving public safety and preventing trespassing on state highways would punish anyone who willfully trespasses upon a state highway, without just cause, with a fine of not less than $5,000 or imprisonment for not more than six months.

Public Hearing of the Joint Committee on Transportation
When: Wednesday, January 6, 2016
Time: 10:00am – 1:00pm
Location: Massachusetts State House, Hearing Room A-2


To contact members of the Joint Committee on Transportation, please click here.

Joined the Hillside Adult Day Health Center of Attleboro in celebrating its one year anniversary of being part of the The Arc of Bristol County (left).  Testifying before a packed public hearing of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary on three of my bills aimed to strengthen public safety and better protect victims of sexual offenses (right).
LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES

This session I filed a number of bills that reflect dedication to my constituents and the Commonwealth's most vulnerable citizens. Of the bills I filed, I highlighted many throughout the year I found to be of significant interest to those I represent with regard to public safety, seniors, veterans, government transparency, among others. These pieces of legislation include:

Public Safety:

  • S.1869: An Act relative to preserving public safety and preventing trespassing on state highways  
  • S. 891: An Act relative to the unsealing of records
  • S. 894: An Act relative to sex offender classification
  • S. 895: An Act relative to sex offender registration
Seniors:
  • S.120: An Act relative to establishing senior citizen safety zones
  • S.365: An Act to repeal the nursing home tax
  • S. 366: An Act relative to residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities
Government Transparency:
  • S.1711: An Act relative to transparency in government with regard to consultant expenses
Veterans:
  • S.1910: An Act relative to veterans
This is just a fraction of legislation I filed this session. For a full list of bills I filed, you can check out my page on the MA Legislature website here. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at richard.ross@masenate.gov.
One of my favorite moments of 2015 was joining an amazing Habitat for Humanity crew in Wayland to help build two homes in memory of Lauren Dunne Astley (left). Best part of my job is having the opportunity to chat with seniors and listening to their concerns at the Wellesley COA (right).
COMMONWEALTH CONVERSATIONS

2015 saw members of the Massachusetts State Senate participated in a statewide tour of senate districts. This Commonwealth Conversations Tour aimed to reach out to local residents, businesses and organizations to listen to their needs and concerns with the hope that it will foster more civic engagement and help each senator learn more about issues outside of our own districts.
 
I joined my colleagues in listening to the concerns of the residents of MetroWest. The tour began at Plainridge Park Casino to discuss issues impacting economic development in the region and concluded with an open public forum at Newton North High School.
 
These tours across Massachusetts were an exciting opportunity for the Senate to engage in a meaningful discourse with our constituents, local officials, and business leaders on the issues they care about. We heard about issues pertaining to transportation, education, jobs, the economy, and the environment. It was great to also hear from those outside of our district to gain a better understanding of priorities across the Commonwealth.
 
There is still more we can accomplish in 2016, but Commonwealth Conversations proved to be an integral part of a Senate focused on shared leadership and our constituents. For a recap on Commonwealth Conversations and to read the Final Report, visit the MA Senate website here.

We should encourage our students to take risks and believe in themselves. I always appreciate meeting with students from the King Philip DECA program about the value of entrepreneurship and running your own small business(left). Our classrooms in Natick are challenging students to pursue their interests in STEM fields, brightening our children's future and the Commonwealth's future (right).
 SPRING SEMESTER INTERNSHIP OPPORTUNITIES
 
I would like to announce that internships in my State House office are currently available for college students for the spring semester. All interested students are encouraged to apply.
 
For students eager for professional experience and an understanding of the workings of state government, interning in my State House office is an invaluable opportunity. On Beacon Hill no two days are the same and my office is looking for responsible individuals who are seeking to grow professionally and enjoy working in a fast paced environment.
 
Intern duties include drafting correspondence with constituents, gathering news clips, legislative research and general administrative tasks. Internships are unpaid, but present a chance to learn about state government firsthand. Senator Ross and his staff will work with students to gain credit where applicable.
 
It is important to note that preference will be given to candidates from my district, which includes Attleboro, Franklin, Millis, Natick, Needham, Norfolk, North Attleboro, Plainville, Sherborn, Wayland, Wellesley, and Wrentham. If a college student is interested, they are encouraged to send their resume, cover letter, and a writing sample to Richard.Ross@masenate.gov.
Our veterans are so important and I am thankful that Veterans Services Secretary Francisco Ureña took time to visit my district and speak to our local heroes (left). This year history was made as the first casino in Massachusetts, Plainridge Park Casino, opened right in Plainville (right).
SMALL BIZ SPOTLIGHT: TWIST BAKERY & CAFE OF MILLIS

Growing up, Kathryn Ernst developed an allergy to food products with gluten causing her to give up eating many foods she loved. Living in the suburbs, many people with allergies similar to hers did not have access to gluten-free foods often found in the city. Determined to change this, Kathryn opened Twist Bakery & Café in Millis to offer herself and others like her a reliable option for both savory foods and baked goods and this spectacular small business is already changing countless lives.

Upon stepping inside and perusing the menu, it is abundantly clear what makes Twist Bakery & Café so unique. For those who are lactose intolerant or have severe gluten or peanut allergies, Twist Bakery is the perfect place to enjoy a meal or snack stress free. Twist Bakery’s food is completely gluten, peanut, and nut free (with the exception of coconut) and all of their ingredients are fresh, seasonal, and locally sourced. Artificial colors, hydrogenated fats, and corn syrups are never used in their recipes and they bake and cook without dairy, only adding certain cheeses upon request.

In addition to baked goods, Twist Bakery offers an extensive Made-to-Order menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Everything is made from scratch, including sauces, ensuring the safety and comfort of all customers. Not only is the food safe, but it is also delicious.

With her progressive business practices, Kathryn likes to say she is bringing a little of the city to the suburbs. In the near future Twist Bakery will be expanding their business as they have already taken residence next door and a new kitchen and dining area is currently in the works.

Twist Bakery & Café is truly a place for everyone and I hope the next time you are in Millis you will stop by for a salad, sandwich, or one of Kathryn’s famous cream-filled cupcakes.

For more information on Twist Bakery, please visit www.twist-bakery.com.

You can expect many more businesses to come in 2016. If you would like your business to be a part of the Small Business Spotlight or would like to nominate a small business, you can email me at richard.ross@masenate.gov. To see the places I have visited so far, check out my website here.

Senator Ross Announces Office Hours in January

Senator Ross and his staff will be holding office hours at locations throughout the Norfolk, Bristol and Middlesex District to provide constituents with an opportunity to meet Senator Ross and discuss any matters of importance to them. Constituents may contact Senator Ross’ office at (617) 722-1555 or by email at richard.ross@masenate.gov to register for a meeting in advance.         

Tuesday, January 5th
Wellesley Town Hall, 525 Washington Street, Wellesley
11:30am-12:30pm

Tuesday, January 12th
Franklin Senior Center, 10 Daniel McCahill Street, Franklin
10:00am-11:00am

Tuesday, January 19th
Center at the Heights, 300 Hillside Avenue, Needham
11:00am-12:00pm

Tuesday, January 26th
Millis Town Hall, 900 Main Street, Millis
10:00am-11:00am

ATTENTION VETERANS:

If you would like a copy of the "Guide to Veterans’ Laws and Benefits," please email me at richard.ross@masenate.gov, and I will mail a copy to you. This is an excellent resource, and a must for any veteran and their family.
Don't forget to fill out this helpful survey! I want your voice to be heard and taken into full account as we head into 2016.
Constituent Feedback!
Thank you for taking the time to read this monthly update on what I have been working on over the past few months. If there is someone you know who would like to receive my State House Update, share this newsletter and invite them to sign up for our mailing list today!

Please feel free to contact my office regarding any questions or concerns you may have. You may also check my website for the most up-to-date information on Beacon Hill. It is my pleasure and honor to continue serving you as State Senator, and I look forward to providing you with the newest updates next month.
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Copyright © 2015 State Senator Richard J. Ross, State House Update, All rights reserved.

This newsletter is a service to the people of the Norfolk, Bristol, and Middlesex District and for Informational Purposes only.


Our mailing address is:
Massachusetts State House
24 Beacon Street, Room 419
Boston, MA 02133

Ph: 617-722-1555 Fax: 617-722-1054 Email: richard.ross@masenate.gov

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