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Written Testimony of the Bristol County Chamber of Commerce
Submitted to The Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development for the Hearing Record on regarding HB4111 - Initiative Petition -
An Act for a law raising the minimum wage
Tuesday, January 30, 2018
The Bristol County Chamber of Commerce wishes to voice opposition to HB4111 - Initiative Petition - An Act for a law raising the minimum wage. What greatly troubles the more than eight hundred member businesses of the Bristol County Chamber of Commerce is that the drive to increase the minimum wage comes on the heels of the health care assessment on employers and an increase to the EMAC fees. This action also follows the mandating of employer paid sick leave, and increases to employer paid health care, unemployment and workers compensation insurance. Where is does it stop?
In 2016, the Massachusetts minimum wage rose to $11 per hour. That was a 9% increase, which small businesses also had to absorb. Massachusetts is now one of the highest minimum wage states in the United States. Three-quarters of Massachusetts employers will face another substantial increase if the initiative petition for the $15 per hour minimum wage is passed. It is also important to reflect that a $15 minimum wage is actually over $20 per hour when employer withholdings, and other mandated contributions are added. Time and a half on Sundays within the retail sector will also shift to an outrageous $22.50. Impacts from the initiative petition for employer paid family and medical is another fear.
Competiveness within the retail sector is a serious issue in Massachusetts that needs more attention. Look at the statewide closings of Walmart, Best Buy, J.C. Penny and Benny’s as evidence. In an e-commerce environment where consumers shop for the cheapest price via the internet there is little room for brick and mortar businesses to remain competitive. The establishment of a $15 minimum wage will certainly impact to the remaining retailers in Massachusetts.
Another genuine concern is that Massachusetts is one of the few states without a teen wage. Rhode Island and New Hampshire are competitor states that offer a competitive minimum wage and an introductory teen wage. The Rhode Island minimum wage is $10.50 an hour. Their teen wage is $ 9.09 per hour for workers under 19 and 7.58 an hour for 14 – 15 year olds. New Hampshire has a $7.25 minimum wage and a teen wage of $5.46. At $22.50, who is going to hire a teen?
The bottom line is that small businesses in Massachusetts are getting beaten down by the onslaught of fees and initiative driven mandates. In addition to raising the minimum wage there are initiatives and bills in play that if passed will mandate employer paid family and medical leave, enact strict scheduling and establish a millionaire’s tax on small businesses. According to “Forbes’s Magazine,” Massachusetts is the highest cost of doing business state in the nation. The initiative petition for a $15 minimum wage increase unfairly punishes mom and pop businesses as if they are Wall Street brokerages. Keep in mind that large employers will adjust through automation but your constituent café on Main Street, or the hardware store in your district are less resilient.
In the days ahead it is hoped that members of the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development will take the time to contemplate the impacts of what a $15 minimum wage will do to their constituents who own and run small businesses. Please also balance the totality of the impacts when considering additional anti-business burdens such as strict scheduling and employer paid family and medical leave. Thank you in advance for the opportunity to submit testimony on this important issue.
Robert A. Mellion, Esq.
Chief Executive Officer/ President
Bristol County Chamber of Commerce
Written Testimony of the Bristol County Chamber of Commerce
Submitted to The Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development for the Hearing Record on HB4110 - Initiative Petition -
An Act establishing a paid family and medical leave insurance program
Tuesday, January 30, 2018
The Bristol County Chamber of Commerce wishes to voice its opposition to HB4110 - Initiative Petition - An Act establishing a paid family and medical leave insurance program, that if enacted would mandate an Employer Paid Family & Medical Leave benefit at the expense of Massachusetts businesses. Of great concern is that the threat of an Employer Paid Family and Medical Leave law comes on the heels of the health care assessment on employers and an increase to the EMAC fees. This action also follows the mandating of employer paid sick leave, and increases to employer paid health care, unemployment and workers compensation insurance. Where is does it stop?
Employer paid family and medical leave will be a great burden to small business businesses by mandating their workers 26 weeks paid time off to care for themselves and 16 weeks for family members. Both benefits would allow for intermittent and extended periods of time with pay. The paid benefits will be employer financed and could cost small businesses as much as $1000 per week, per employee. This is in addition to the expense of finding and paying for alternative workers that will be needed to make up for the individuals taking employer paid time off.
While a handful of states, such as Rhode Island and New Jersey, have enacted medical and family leave provisions, their programs are mostly funded by employee payroll deductions. Massachusetts would be an exception by placing such a burden on businesses. For the Massachusetts program to work, $1 billion in new taxes must be raised. 50% of the new tax will be from employers and 50% on employees. Approximately $70 million of that $1 billion will be to fund a new state agency. In addition to the $1 billion needed, it will also cost the state an estimated $55 million to provide the new benefit.
Please also keep in mind that Massachusetts is already identified as the highest cost state in the nation to do business within. It is additionally important to recognize that the current Legislative Session includes bills and initiative petitions that if enacted would mandate 3 weeks in advance employer scheduling, establish a $15 minimum wage, establish a millionaire’s tax that is a another tax on limited liability companies and S corporations and further increase the cost of energy in the state that already has the highest cost for electricity in the United States. The newly enacted employer paid health care assessment is just now hitting businesses. Another hit is Unemployment Insurance. All of these hardships are coming at Massachusetts companies at once. It is too much for many small businesses to endure.
In the days ahead it is hoped that members of the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development will take the time to contemplate the impacts of what employer paid family and medical leave can do to their constituent businesses. Please try to balance the totality of the impacts when considering additional burdens such as “HB4110 - Initiative Petition - An Act establishing a paid family and medical leave insurance program.” Hopefully it will be recognized that all of these employer paid mandates are too much for Massachusetts businesses to absorb in one legislative session.
Thank you for the opportunity to submit testimony on this important issue.
Robert A. Mellion, Esq.
President & CEO
Bristol County Chamber of Commerce
With the backing of working Rhode Islanders and a coalition of community organizations, Sen. Gayle L. Goldin, Sen. Jeanine Calkin, Rep. Marcia Ranglin-Vassell and Rep. Susan R. Donovan today announced their campaign for a $15 minimum wage by 2023 and equal pay for women and minorities.
The legislators held a State House event with a coalition of community organizations to announce their introduction of bills to enact the minimum wage raises and provide protections and transparency in the workplace to help women and people of color demand equal pay for equal work.
The minimum wage legislation would gradually increase the hourly minimum wage from $10.10 to $15 by 2023, and would also gradually increase the hourly minimum wage for employees receiving gratuities, currently $3.89, until it is equal to the non-tipped minimum wage by 2028. From 2024 onward, the minimum wage would be linked to the cost of living or the consumer price index.
The sponsors said the minimum wage effort — known as the “Fight for $15” — is focused on ensuring that people who work full time are not living in poverty.
Representative Ranglin-Vassell (D-Dist. 5, Providence), who works as a Providence school teacher, related reading a student’s essay in which he talked about having completely empty cupboards, despite his mother’s working double shifts.
“We can help families in Rhode Island by passing a $15 living wage so that children whose parents work up to 80 hours per week do not have to go to bed hungry. Some will say, ‘let them pull themselves up by their own boot straps.’ People who care about justice say ‘You can’t pull yourself up by your boot straps if you can’t even afford boots.’ That’s why we are fighting day in and day out to make sure that if you work full time or even double time as my student’s mom does, you should never live in poverty.”
According to the nonpartisan Economic Policy Institute, 165,000 Rhode Islanders would be affected by the increase. Approximately 65,000 children in the state have at least one parent who would be affected. Rhode Island’s Economic Progress Institute estimates that a single adult needs $20,500 per year to meet basic needs. A single-parent family needs $52,932 and a two-parent family requires $58,054 to raise a toddler and a school-aged child.
While the sponsors acknowledge that $15 still falls short of the wage it takes to support a family in Rhode Island, they said it would be a step toward greater fairness for working people.
“We continue to live in a period of tremendous income inequality. At a time where CEOs earn about 335 times that of the average worker and corporations make huge profits, their employees struggle to make ends meet. We need to stand by working families and fight for a living wage of $15 an hour, which our legislation would implement over the next 5 years. Not only would we be supporting the hard-working people of our state, but raising the minimum wage would stimulate the economy by increasing consumer spending,” said Senator Calkin (D-Dist. 30, Warwick).
Arizona, California, Colorado, Maine, New York, Washington, Oregon and the District of Columbia and many cities have already enacted increases that will eventually reach $12 to $15 an hour.
The Fair Pay Act, sponsored by Senator Goldin and Representative Donovan, would make it illegal to pay workers less than their white, male colleagues without a clearly documented difference in skills. It clarifies “comparable work,” making it clear that workers need to be paid equally for “substantially similar” work even if every detail is not the same. It bans policies that prevent workers from discussing their pay with each other and removes past salary history as a consideration since discrimination is perpetuated over time by employers relying on past salaries, rather than skills and value, to determine current pay. It also requires the employer to disclose the salary range for the position. Last year, Massachusetts passed a similar Fair Pay Act, joining cities and companies across the country that are enacting these policies.
In Rhode Island, a woman working full-time still makes only 86 cents to the dollar that her male counterpart makes. Women of color are even more deeply affected. Black women in Rhode Island make 58 percent of what their white male counterparts make; for Latinas, the number is even lower—51 percent. On average, Rhode Island working women lose more than $7,000 per year to the wage gap—money desperately needed by working families.
“Despite the existing Equal Pay Act, wage discrimination laws are poorly enforced and cases are extremely difficult to prove and win. Stronger legislation such as the Fair Pay Act is needed to ease the burden of filing claims and clarify the right to pay equity,” said Rep. Susan R. Donovan (D-Dist. 69, Bristol, Portsmouth). “Women work just as hard as our counterparts to advance our careers and support our families. If we are serious about economic equality for women and people of color and supporting working families, we need to address the practices that continue to allow employers to discriminate against employees and perpetuate the wage gap.”
The sponsors linked this effort to address inequities to nationwide efforts to address power dynamics in the workplace.
“In recent months, the imbalance of power in our culture and our workplaces has been given some of the long-overdue public discussion it deserves. The fair pay bill we are introducing directly addresses the imbalance of power that, too often, holds women back. This is about recognizing that every woman deserves to be paid what a man is paid. Period. That equal rights mean exactly that: equality. This isn’t a zero sum game; When we pay women equally, we all prosper,” said Senator Goldin (D-Dist. 3, Providence).
The bills are supported by a coalition that includes the Center for Justice, the Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the Economic Progress Institute, Jobs with Justice, Planned Parenthood, RI NOW, the Rhode Island Food Bank, SEIU 1199, SEIU 32BJ, Teamsters Local 251, the Women’s Fund of RI and Working Families.
Congressman Joe Kennedy’s Democratic Response to President Trump’s State of the Union
As Prepared for Delivery
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Joe Kennedy III of Massachusetts today delivered the Democratic response to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union. Below is a full transcript of his remarks:
Good evening ladies and gentlemen. It is a privilege to join you tonight.
We are here in Fall River, Massachusetts – a proud American city, built by immigrants.
From textiles to robots, this is a place that knows how to make great things.
The students with us this evening in the autoshop at Diman Regional Technical School carry on that rich legacy.
Like many American hometowns, Fall River has faced its share of storms. But people here are tough. They fight for each other. They pull for their city.
It is a fitting place to gather as our nation reflects on the state of our union.
This is a difficult task. Many have spent the past year anxious, angry, afraid. We all feel the fault lines of a fractured country. We hear the voices of Americans who feel forgotten and forsaken.
We see an economy that makes stocks soar, investor portfolios bulge and corporate profits climb but fails to give workers their fair share of the reward.
A government that struggles to keep itself open.
Russia knee-deep in our democracy.
An all-out war on environmental protection.
A Justice Department rolling back civil rights by the day.
Hatred and supremacy proudly marching in our streets.
Bullets tearing through our classrooms, concerts, and congregations. Targeting our safest, sacred places.
And that nagging, sinking feeling, no matter your political beliefs: this is not right. This is not who we are.
It would be easy to dismiss the past year as chaos. Partisanship. Politics.
But it’s far bigger than that. This administration isn’t just targeting the laws that protect us – they are targeting the very idea that we are all worthy of protection.
For them, dignity isn’t something you’re born with but something you measure.
By your net worth, your celebrity, your headlines, your crowd size.
Not to mention, the gender of your spouse. The country of your birth. The color of your skin. The God of your prayers.
Their record is a rebuke of our highest American ideal: the belief that we are all worthy, we are all equal and we all count. In the eyes of our law and our leaders, our God and our government.
That is the American promise.
But today that promise is being broken. By an Administration that callously appraises our worthiness and decides who makes the cut and who can be bargained away.
They are turning American life into a zero-sum game.
Where, in order for one to win, another must lose.
Where we can guarantee America’s safety if we slash our safety net.
We can extend healthcare to Mississippi if we gut it in Massachusetts.
We can cut taxes for corporations today if we raise them for families tomorrow.
We can take care of sick kids if we sacrifice Dreamers.
We are bombarded with one false choice after another:
Coal miners or single moms. Rural communities or inner cities. The coast or the heartland.
As if the mechanic in Pittsburgh and the teacher in Tulsa and the daycare worker in Birmingham are somehow bitter rivals, rather than mutual casualties of a system forcefully rigged for those at the top.
As if the parent who lies awake terrified that their transgender son will be beaten and bullied at school is any more or less legitimate than the parent whose heart is shattered by a daughter in the grips of opioid addiction.
So here is the answer Democrats offer tonight: we choose both. We fight for both. Because the strongest, richest, greatest nation in the world shouldn’t leave any one behind.
We choose a better deal for all who call this country home.
We choose the living wage, paid leave and affordable child care your family needs to survive.
We choose pensions that are solvent, trade pacts that are fair, roads and bridges that won’t rust away, and good education you can afford.
We choose a health care system that offers mercy, whether you suffer from cancer or depression or addiction.
We choose an economy strong enough to boast record stock prices AND brave enough to admit that top CEOs making 300 times the average worker is not right.
We choose Fall River.
We choose the thousands of American communities whose roads aren’t paved with power or privilege, but with honest effort, good faith, and the resolve to build something better for their kids.
That is our story. It began the day our Founding Fathers and Mothers set sail for a New World, fleeing oppression and intolerance.
It continued with every word of our Independence – the audacity to declare that all men are created equal. An imperfect promise for a nation struggling to become a more perfect union.
It grew with every suffragette’s step, every Freedom Riders voice, every weary soul we welcomed to our shores.
And to all the Dreamers watching tonight, let me be clear: Ustedes son parte de nuestra historia. Vamos a luchar por ustedes y no nos vamos alejar.
You are a part of our story. We will fight for you. We will not walk away.
America, we carry that story on our shoulders.
You swarmed Washington last year to ensure no parent has to worry if they can afford to save their child’s life.
You proudly marched together last weekend – thousands deep -- in the streets of Las Vegas and Philadelphia and Nashville.
You sat high atop your mom’s shoulders and held a sign that read: “Build a wall and my generation will tear it down.”
You bravely say, me too. You steadfastly say, black lives matter.
You wade through flood waters, battle hurricanes, and brave wildfires and mudslides to save a stranger.
You fight your own, quiet battles every single day.
You drag your weary bodies to that extra shift so your families won’t feel the sting of scarcity.
You leave loved ones at home to defend our country overseas, or patrol our neighborhoods overnight.
You serve. You rescue. You help. You heal.
That – more than any law or leader, any debate or disagreement – that is what drives us toward progress.
Bullies may land a punch. They might leave a mark. But they have never, not once, in the history of our United States, managed to match the strength and spirit of a people united in defense of their future.
Politicians can be cheered for the promises they make. Our country will be judged by the promises we keep.
That is the measure of our character. That’s who we are.
Out of many. One.
Ladies and gentlemen, have faith: The state of our union is hopeful, resilient, enduring.
Thank you, God Bless you and your families, and God Bless the United States of America.
MassDOT Releases Draft State Rail Plan for Public Comment
Plan outlines proposed 20-year vision for the statewide rail system
BOSTON - The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is seeking public comment on its newly released draft Massachusetts State Rail Plan, which articulates the Commonwealth’s priorities and proposed plans for passenger and freight rail investment over the next 20 years.
Highlights from the draft plan include:
· A commitment to study east-west passenger rail service between Springfield and Boston;
· Designation of Springfield to Greenfield pilot service as a priority for implementation;
· Continued commitment to both South Coast Rail Phase I in the near term and the project’s full build in the long term.
The Draft State Rail Plan documents the current state of the intercity passenger and freight rail system. It identifies planned improvements and describes the Commonwealth’s near term priorities, based on MassDOT’s Capital Investment Plan and outlines a long-term proposed plan for rail investment in the Commonwealth. While state of good repair investment remains at the forefront of MassDOT’s long-term investment strategy, the plan identifies modernization and expansion projects that are priorities for implementation, those that warrant further study, and those where no action is recommended at this time.
“The finalized State Rail Plan will help guide the Commonwealth’s investments in both passenger and freight rail services for years to come and ensure project coordination between local, state, and federal partners, as well as with other key stakeholders,” said Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack. “The 20-year plan will support the development of regional transportation corridors. Investments in these critical assets are designed to improve the rail system, add capacity where needed in order to meet the needs of rail customers and foster the goals of the communities we serve.”
The Draft State Rail Plan fulfills Federal Railroad Administration requirements to regularly update a comprehensive rail plan for the state and is currently available online at https://www.mass.gov/service-details/rail-plan/. The plan’s commitment to further study and analyze the costs and impacts of various proposed service models for service from Boston to western Massachusetts reflects requests for such a review. Over the next few months, MassDOT plans to develop a Request for Proposals for a thorough and robust study and analysis of such possible service.
"This is encouraging news and should give the people of Western Massachusetts hope that the Commonwealth will conduct the study of east-west rail that they have long asked for,” said State Senator Eric Lesser, Chairman of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies (D-Longmeadow). “I thank MassDOT for addressing this need and look forward to working with them and the Administration on a thorough feasibility study that adequately addresses the realities and opportunities of establishing Boston to Springfield rail service. With the facts in front of us, we can begin to address the transportation needs of Western Massachusetts."
“Today’s release of the updated statewide rail plan continues the state’s commitment to maintaining and expanding a critical part of the transportation system in Massachusetts,” said House Chairman of the Joint Committee on Transportation, Bill Straus (D-Mattapoisett). “The combined values of transportation access, public safety and environmental protection are all parts of the new plan. Early start service for South Coast Rail is a key part of the new plan and I appreciate the Administration’s demonstrated commitment to this expanded service.”
On South Coast Rail, MassDOT is preparing a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Report (DSEIR) on Phase 1 for filing in early 2018.
The Draft State Rail Plan also designates Springfield to Greenfield pilot service as a priority for implementation. MassDOT seeks to build off Connecticut DOT’s CT Rail Service that is set to begin this year from New Haven to Springfield, adding through service to Greenfield as a pilot.
“This new state rail plan underscores that having a connected rail network, which can efficiently move people and freight, has rapidly become the new normal and a powerful engine for achieving enhanced mobility, economic progress, improved air quality and a sustainable future,” said Tim Brennan, Executive Director of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission. “Now that the Commonwealth has its new, modern rail plan in place, the focus must now shift to its implementation.”
“The Governor’s draft rail plan outlines steps towards a better connected Commonwealth,” said State Senate Chairman of the Joint Committee on Transportation, Joseph Boncore (D-Winthrop). “These priorities and investments in our rail lines will improve access to goods, jobs and housing for the whole of the state, further strengthening the Commonwealth’s economy.”
The Draft State Rail Plan does not include policy decisions regarding specific MBTA commuter rail investments, which are the subject of other ongoing studies by the MBTA, including Focus40, the long range investment plan for the MBTA, and the MBTA Commuter Rail Vision, an 18- month effort that has just begun to study different approaches to delivering commuter rail service.
The public comment period on the Draft State Rail Plan will be open through February 16. Comments can be sent to Planning@dot.state.ma.us to the attention of Jen Slesinger.
MassDOT is also holding a public meeting tonight to present a summary of the draft plan and receive public comment. The details of the public meeting are as follows:
Monday, January 29, at 6 p.m.
Worcester Regional Transit Authority (WRTA Hub)
60 Foster Street
The WRTA Hub is located across the street from Worcester’s Union Station.
The meeting location is accessible to people with disabilities. Persons who would like to request any language (non-English) interpretation assistance, American Sign Language interpreters, assistive listening devices, handouts in alternative formats, or information on the meeting should contact Jessica Ortiz by email firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone (917) 933-7440.
Public Transit: All WRTA buses arrive and depart from the WRTA Hub. The MBTA Commuter Rail train arrives in Union Station and riders will exit Union Station via the Greyhound Bus terminal area on the lower floor to the WRTA Hub.
Driving: Use the Union Station Garage: 225 Franklin Street, Worcester, for parking. After parking, walk across Harding Street to the WRTA Hub.
For more information on the Draft State Rail Plan visit the website: https://www.mass.gov/service-details/rail-plan.
Gasoline prices in Massachusetts are down one cent this week but are still seven cents higher than at the beginning of January, according to AAA Northeast.
AAA’s January 29 survey of prices in Massachusetts finds self-serve, regular unleaded averaging $2.50 per gallon. The Massachusetts price is eight cents below the national average for regular unleaded of $2.58. A year ago at this time, the average price in Massachusetts was 30 cents lower at $2.20.
“Compared to the first few weeks of January last year, consumer gasoline demand is noticeably higher, which is surprising given the frigid winter much of the country has experienced this month,” said Mary Maguire, Director of Public and Legislative Affairs. “But demand isn’t the only factor driving prices up. Crude oil has been selling at expensive rates the past few months. Those higher market prices are now trickling over to consumers at the pump.”
The range in prices in the latest AAA survey for unleaded regular is 38 cents, from a low of $2.41 to a high of $2.79
Congressman Joe Kennedy III today announced that he will invite Staff Sergeant Patricia King, a transgender infantry solider and Massachusetts native, to the State of the Union tomorrow night. After being selected to provide the Democratic response to the State of the Union, Congressman Kennedy won’t be able to accompany Staff Sergeant King but is deeply honored that she will attend the address in his place.
“Staff Sergeant Patricia King represents the best and bravest our nation has to offer. For nearly two decades, she has valiantly served our country and defended not only our safety, but our values at home and abroad. Although I won’t be able to join her Tuesday night, I know that she will make our Commonwealth and our country proud at the State of the Union.”
Staff Sergeant Patricia King is an infantry soldier and has served for 18 years. SSG King is originally from Cape Cod, Massachusetts. She attended Cape Cod Tech and graduated in 1999. Patricia has been stationed in Italy, where she participated in the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team reactivation jump. From there she went to Fort Drum. During her time at Fort Drum, she deployed to Afghanistan twice. SSG King participated in operations Glock, Harpoon and Anaconda and was awarded the Combat Infantry Badge. SSG King has served as an observer controller at Joint Readiness Training Center and a Military Transition Team instructor at Fort Polk.
From 2013 to 2014, SSG King served as a Platoon Sergeant and then Platoon Leader for the Regional Command South PSD under Major General LaCamera. She was awarded the Bronze Star for meritorious service after a year with no casualties in her care. SSG King began gender transition in January of 2015. Since that time SSG King has served as a platoon sergeant in A Co, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 4th Infantry Division.
From there, she went to Fort Lewis, WA where she serves as an infantry squad leader in B Co, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment (Patriots). Patricia is the daughter of Kenneth and Veronica King. Patricia has two sons; Peyton 11, and Isaiah 10.
City residents can now use BayCoast Bank
Interactive Teller Machines (ITMs)
for utility, real estate, personal property, excise taxes
23 Elm Street in New Bedford (drive-through and walk-up)
714 Dartmouth Street in Dartmouth (walk-up)
New Bedford, Massachusetts- Effective immediately, New Bedford residents can now utilize two BayCoast Bank Interactive Teller Machine (ITM) locations for certain payments. Residents who are unable to come to City Hall during regular business hours (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.) can take advantage of this option to make payments at BayCoast’s ITM locations at 23 Elm Street in New Bedford, 714 Dartmouth Street in Dartmouth, or at any of its other ITM locations in Fall River, Seekonk, Attleboro, and Little Compton, RI. Visit www.baycoastbank.com or call 508-678-7641 or 888-806-2872 for more information.
The ITMs accept cash or checks; the ITMs combine the convenience of a traditional ATM with the personal service of banking for customers, allowing the customer to see and talk to a real person through a video monitor.
“We’re happy to help make tax payments easier for New Bedford residents, by accepting payments at our Interactive Teller Machines,” said Ann Ramos-Desrosiers, Chief Community Banking Officer at BayCoast. “Now residents can make their payments as early as 7 a.m. and as late as 7 p.m. on weekdays, and on Saturdays between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. at our Elm Street branch – or any of our ITMs throughout the Southcoast.”
“BayCoast Bank has served as an alternate payment center for the residents of the City of New Bedford for many years,” said Renee Fernandes, Treasurer-Collector for the City. “The ability to utilize the new ITM technology for City payments, especially when city offices are closed, provides our customers with greater flexibility.”
Governor Baker Releases Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Proposal
$40.9 billion budget invests in mental health services, substance misuse, local aid, education, workforce development and deposits money into the Stabilization Fund
BOSTON – Today, the Baker-Polito Administration filed its Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) budget proposal, a $40.9 billion spending plan that invests historic funding levels for local communities, provides tax relief to working families, and increases funding for education, substance misuse, and mental health services.
“This fiscally responsible budget continues to support every community in the Commonwealth—without raising taxes on the people of Massachusetts,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Through tax credits, new programs and increased investments, our proposal will support working families as well as small businesses and enhance programs to make college more affordable, fight the opioid epidemic and get workers the skills they need to compete for better jobs. We look forward to working with the Legislature in the coming months to pass a sustainable and balanced state budget.”
“The local aid and Community Compact investments in our budget proposal reaffirm our commitment to serving as a reliable partner to cities and towns across the Commonwealth,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “Our proposal will also fund a new State Police class, important public safety grants for municipalities, as well as youth and domestic violence prevention programs, further strengthening safety in our cities and towns.”
“Our Fiscal Year 2019 proposal maintains structural balance, protects and rebuilds the Rainy Day Fund, keeps spending in line with recurring revenue and manages the growth of MassHealth spending,” said Administration and Finance Secretary Michael J. Heffernan. “This budget continues to make progress on improving the Commonwealth’s long-term fiscal health.”
The FY19 budget proposal, known as House 2, relies on a consensus revenue tax estimate of $27.594 billion, which is 3.5% growth over the revised FY18 tax revenue projection. House 2 increases overall spending by 2.6% and keeps MassHealth growth to 0.5% over FY18 estimated spending.
House 2 relies on less than $100 million in non-recurring revenue, and anticipates a deposit of $96 million into the Stabilization Fund, which would bring total reserves to $1.463 billion, an increase of 30% since the Baker-Polito administration took office.
The fiscally responsible plan makes investments across key areas without raising taxes or fees to balance the budget.
Support for Working Families
The administration proposes to increase the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) from 23% of the federal credit to 30%, which would provide about 450,000 individuals with relief in Fiscal Year 2020, the first year this change would go into effect. In 2015, the administration worked with the Legislature to raise the EITC from 15% of the federal credit to 23%.
Reducing Burden for Small Business Owners
The administration proposes to cut the filing fee for forming a limited liability company (LLC) in Massachusetts in half to $250. The Commonwealth’s LLC filing fee is one of the highest in the country.
House 2 also supports the new veteran tax credit for smaller businesses, which was first proposed by the Baker-Polito administration and enacted by the Legislature in FY18. Businesses with 100 or fewer employees are eligible for a two-year $2,000 annual tax credit when they hire and retain an unemployed veteran.
Local Education Aid to Historic Level
House 2 includes $4.865 billion in local education aid, an all-time high. FY19 funding includes $15 million for schools districts that have experienced significant levels of enrollment of students from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands that were displaced by Hurricanes Maria and Irma. The budget also proposes $24.3 million in Chapter 70 aid for districts as a down payment on the rising cost of healthcare, which was the biggest recommendation from the Foundation Budget Review Commission.
The administration’s proposal includes over $100 million in scholarship assistance for students pursuing post-secondary education at campuses across the Commonwealth, including $7.1 million to double the MassGrant program for community college students. This new MassGrant funding is the largest increase in scholarship assistance in over a decade and will help close any remaining gap in financial aid for tuition and fees for all full and part-time students at the Commonwealth’s 15 community colleges.
House 2 also proposes $3 million in new support for an early college program that will focus on engaging student populations who are currently underrepresented in college and encouraging students to enter STEM fields.
Strengthened Behavioral Health Services
House 2 recommends an increase of $93.2 million for the Department of Mental Health (DMH), which includes a significant investment in funding for DMH’s Adult Community Clinical Services, DMH’s redesigned community-based service model for adults with serious mental illness. The new model will integrate behavioral and physical health to provide active and assertive outreach and engagement, continuous clinical coverage, and include peer and recovery coaches as part of the treatment plan.
New Substance Misuse Recovery Program at MASAC
To strengthen overall treatment and aftercare services provided to civilly committed individuals, the administration recommends $12.8 million, including a $3 million increase, for the Massachusetts Alcohol and Substance Abuse Center (MASAC) in Plymouth. This new funding will support the hiring of new substance abuse counselors and implementation of a new Medication Assisted Treatment Reentry Initiative tailored to meet the needs of the civilly committed population at MASAC.
Children and Families
Since taking office, the administration has led reforms at the Department of Children and Families (DCF) and has increased funding by $132.8 million to support the hiring of approximately 600 new employees to address the critical infrastructure needed to run the agency, including over 300 social workers. House 2 recommends nearly $1 billion for DCF, a $20 million increase over FY18 spending, which will support the continued hiring of new staff dedicated to serving the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable children.
The administration recently announced the Housing Choice initiative to encourage municipalities to plan for and build the diverse housing stock the Commonwealth needs to address affordable housing challenges. House 2 has nearly $3 million in new funding to provide this program incentives, grant funding, and technical assistance.
Good Government Reforms
To bring the Commonwealth in line with other states and private sector employers, the Baker-Polito administration proposes to cap accrued sick time for executive branch and higher education employees to 1,000 hours.
In order to level the playing field between hotels, motels, and transient accommodations, the Baker-Polito administration proposes to require operators who rent rooms for 150 or more days per year to collect and remit room occupancy tax. The proposal also permits the Commissioner of the Department of Revenue (DOR) to enter into voluntary agreements with intermediaries who facilitate short-term rentals for the collection of room occupancy tax.
THE BAKER-POLITO ADMINISTRATION’S FY19 BUDGET HIGHLIGHTS BY NUMBERS
· Nearly eliminates the inherited structural deficit by reducing the budgeted use of one-time revenues to under $100 million, down from $1.2 billion in FY15.
· Anticipates a deposit of $96 million into the Stabilization Fund.
Supporting the Commonwealth’s Communities
· $1.099 billion in unrestricted general government aid (UGGA), a 3.5% or $37 million increase over FY18, equal to the consensus revenue tax revenue growth rate.
· $6.8 million in Community Compact-related programming.
· Holds the line on no new tax rate increases.
Addressing College Affordability
· $7.1 million in new funding to double the MassGrant program for community college students. This funding will close any remaining gap in financial aid for tuition and fees for all students at the Commonwealth’s 15 community colleges.
· $3 million in new support for an early college program that will focus on engaging student populations who are currently underrepresented in college and encouraging students to enter STEM fields.
· $250,000 increase for the recently expanded Commonwealth Commitment program, which allows students to begin their post-secondary education as a community college and transfer to a state university and save on the cost of a traditional bachelor’s degree.
Health and Human Services
· $25 million to continue fully-funding the Turning 22 class at the Department of Developmental Services.
· $16.5 million, including $2.3 million increase, to support a $12 per elder formula grant, to provide additional funding for local Councils on Aging.
· The Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) renewed efforts to support economic mobility and employment for individuals and their families will be aided in this budget by $4 million to build on efforts to get people back to work in sustainable jobs and on a path to long-term self-sufficiency.
Substance Misuse and the Opioid Epidemic
· $149.2 million in funding at the Department of Public Health (DPH) to support efforts to fight the opioid epidemic including:
o $63 million in residential services;
o $21 million in continued investment in step-down and transitional beds;
o $4 million in youth step-down, transitional, and residential services;
o $4 million in Section 35 step-down beds for civilly committed individuals.
· $13.2 million to continue investment in Section 35 beds for civilly committed women at Taunton State Hospital.
· $5 million to a new Substance Use Prevention, Education, and Screening Trust Fund, which will help identify and implement effective, comprehensive prevention and intervention programs and tools for students.
· $2.5 million for the Commonwealth’s five recovery high schools, which will be transferred from DPH to DESE to better serve the educational needs of students who are in recovery from alcohol and drug misuse.
· Over the past three years, the administration has worked hard to continue to bring the MassHealth growth rate to a sustainable level -- 1.3% growth in today’s proposal, down from an unsustainable 14.9% in 2015.
· Included in today’s proposal is an innovative approach to drug purchasing that will allow MassHealth to maximize value for the Commonwealth and maintain robust access to prescription drugs for its members, including implementing new negotiation and price transparency levers.
· $59 million to fully-fund the new clinical contract at Bridgewater State Hospital to continue supporting the significant improvements to patient care.
· $15.9 million, including $3.8 million in new funding, for the recently created State Police Division of Homeland Security and Preparedness to support consolidated counter-terrorism, opioid interdiction and criminal intelligence operations that were previously spread across other divisions.
· $10.7 million for a new class of 200 officers and instructors at the Department of Correction.
· $7.7 million for a new State Police class of 100 recruits, the third new State Police class funded since the Baker-Polito administration took office.
· $250,000 to support doubling the daily pay rate for National Guard soldiers and airmen performing active state duty, consistent with legislation Governor Baker filed in December.
· $584.8 million investment in the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, including the MBTA and Regional Transit Authorities, an 8% increase over FY18 spending.
· A nearly $1.032 billion sales tax transfer this year, an increase of $25.1 million over FY18. This funding is in addition to $127 million in operating budget support, in combination with $60 million in capital funding that will be included in the FY19 capital budget.
· Since the FMCB was formed in 2015, the MBTA has made significant progress on reducing its annual operating deficit, including reducing the projected FY18 operating budget deficit from $335 million to a projected $50 million.
Workforce Development and Economic Development
· $4 million increase to support approximately 20 additional grants for training and certification programs to bridge the skills gap.
· $2 million for the Small Business Technical Assistance Program, to provide technical assistance, education, and access to capital for small businesses.
· $1.7 million in new support at the Executive Office for Housing Economic Development to provide grants to regional workforce organizations to train unemployed and underemployed individuals in advanced manufacturing.
· $1.5 million in new funding to support the development of accelerated certificate programs at community colleges in information technology, healthcare, and manufacturing, and $700,000 to fund over 400 new apprenticeships in these fields.
· $1 million increase, $3.9 million total, for the Connecting Activities program at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), which provides paid internships for 10,000 high school students, prioritizing participation in STEM fields.
· $1 million in new funding to support the development of post-secondary Vocational Institutes in manufacturing and other high-demand sectors, through collaborations among voc-tech high schools, community colleges, universities, and employers.
· $500,000 increase, for total support of $2 million, for the STEM Pipeline Fund at EOE to support planning and implementation grants for high schools to establish Innovation Pathways in partnership with local employers.
Energy and Environmental Affairs
· $2 million in new funding for municipal technical support, climate science, and targeted investments in environmental justice.
· $17.7 million in FY19 funding will support nearly 20 million healthy and nutritious meals through the Department of Agriculture’s Emergency Food Assistance Program.
· $625,000 to support a new environmental police class of ten officers who will oversee protection of the Commonwealth’s natural resources, marine recreation, and hunting and fishing industries.
· Allow for $20 million in retained revenue at the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) to protect over 450,000 acres of parks, forests, beaches, bike trails, and watersheds
· $450,000 for the School of Marine Science and Technology at UMass Dartmouth, as well as full support for the Commercial Fisheries Industry Based Survey at $400,000 to continue enhancing the science behind the management and regulations of the Commonwealth’s fisheries.
To access the Governor’s filing letter, budget message, and specific account information click here.
Today, we had a very productive meeting with the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA).
As a result of said meeting, we have a draft agreement - pending final MSBA Board of Directors approval - for a total new B.M.C. Durfee High School building project cost of $263,496 million.
The city’s tentative share of the total cost, pending MSBA board approval, is $98.5 million. This represents a MSBA grant of 62.5% of the total cost with the City of Fall River providing 37.5% of the total project cost.
The final date for MSBA approval is Wednesday, February 14, 2018. We look forward to our next City Council meeting when we will provide details regarding the full project scope and estimated cost to our taxpayers.
Cathy Ann Viveiros, City Administrator
Mary L. Sahady, CPA, Esq., Director of Financial Services
Kenneth Pacheco, Co-Chair Durfee Building Committee and FRPS Chief Operating Officer
Matthew H. Malone, PhD., Superintendent of Schools
The outrageously high cost of energy in Massachusetts is reaching a tipping point for many businesses and residents.
Contrary to arguments put forward by advocates with an unmistakable agenda these legitimate concerns have little to do with mid-winter price spikes. The simple fact is that cheap electricity is available throughout much of the United States, but it has not been the case in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts has the distinction of historically having the highest costs for energy in the continental United States.
It is one of the factors identified by “Forbes Magazine” that distinguishes Massachusetts as the most expensive state in the United States to conduct business.
In 2014, the cost of electricity in Massachusetts spiked to more than double the cost during the past decade. In 2016 the Energy Information Administration reported that electricity costs in Massachusetts were 63% higher than the national average for residents, 58% higher for commercial users, and 108% higher for industry.
In late December, 2017, “Bloomberg News” announced that the “spot-market price for natural gas hit $35.35 in New England.” The cost is now 13 times more expensive than at the central US price-setting location. To white wash these cost inequalities is insulting to the people paying their utility bills.
Why are costs for energy so high in Massachusetts? The straight forward answer is that Massachusetts does not have sufficient infrastructure to meet increasing consumer demand. Massachusetts electricity usage comprises more than 46 percent of New England’s overall demand. The problem became acute due to the decommissioning with no immediate replacement of approximately 10,000 megawatts of energy production.
The shift away from coal, oil and nuclear energy production during the past decade has been significant. Electricity produced from oil has dropped from 22 percent of the total generation ten years ago to a less than 1 percent level today. Coal production of electricity was formally at 18 percent and is now below 5 percent. Meanwhile, the percentage of power produced by natural gas has nearly tripled.
Brayton Point Station, a now closed coal fired power plant in Somerset, Massachusetts, is a good illustration of policy without concern for the immediate consequences. While the cessation of Brayton Point has been heralded as a great victory for environmentalists, the 1,530-megawatt power plant was the primary producer of electricity in southeastern Massachusetts.
There is no replacement for the energy production gap created by loss of Brayton Point station, or the previously closed Montaup power plant in Somerset.
These two power plants equated to a 2000 megawatts net loss of electricity production in southeastern Massachusetts. The policy advocates have moved on to other priorities, but residents and businesses in southeastern Massachusetts must now import their electricity from somewhere else at a far higher cost.
The people of Somerset must also reconcile two empty power plants that no longer generate tax dollars. The situation in Somerset is a mess.
After years of advocacy from chambers and business associations, lawmakers in 2015 approved legislation to build new infrastructure. Business groups and many ratepayers had hoped for a pragmatic solution that reduced or stabilized costs, while also looking ahead to sustainability. Sustainability ended up superseding cost concerns as the new law required utilities to contract for both hydroelectricity and offshore wind. Meanwhile, a sensible effort to simultaneously expand natural gas pipeline infrastructure was thwarted.
Trending away from “dirty” fossil fuels is essential, but the cost of conversion to alternative options must be a factor.
Keep in mind that the introduction of alternative power generation as a primary source of energy production in Massachusetts is still many years away. Importation of hydroelectricity from Canada and power from off-shore windfarms will require the securing of significant tracts of land and water, must overcome permitting obstacles and have upfront infrastructure investment costs to be paid by consumers.
This is why natural gas, as a gap bridging cost stabilizer should no longer be put aside for political convenience. Leveraging gas in combination with the expansion of green alternatives is a reasonable strategy that can help contain the high cost of energy while also meeting environmental aspirations. There is no reason why Massachusetts cannot be practical and forward thinking simultaneously. Not addressing the cost of energy is already impacting the Massachusetts economy. Now is the time for action.
Robert A. Mellion, Esq.
President & CEO
Bristol County Chamber of Commerce
In a text to WSAR, Fall River City Council President Cliff Ponte has announced a Special Meeting of the Fall River City Council set for 5:30pm Tuesday Night, with a single item on the agenda.
The Fall River City Council will be asked to vote to place a single question on a March 6 Special Election Ballot regarding the Yes or No Question on the city's share for a proposed new BMC Durfee High School.
If approved, the school would likely open in 2022.
Its estimated the local share would be somewhere between 95 and 99 million dollars.
We are in receipt of the air quality report performed by Rhode Island Analytical.
The report shows no findings, signifying that the air is clean. Therefore, we will have a normal school day at B.M.C. Durfee High School tomorrow, Friday, January 12, 2018.
The school has a contingency classroom plan in place and has begun their communication plan with the school community. Also, the school’s West Main Entrance will be closed until further notice.
Clean-up and recovery efforts will be ongoing for the foreseeable future and although it will not be a perfect educational setting, we are confident we will be successful.
We are grateful for the efforts of our maintenance teams, faculty, staff, leadership, and community partners.
We appreciate the outpouring of concern and support as well as the patience provided as we get back to school.
Matthew H. Malone, Ph.D., Superintendent
In a tweet this afternoon, Fall River Public Schools have announced that school will back in session for Friday, January 12, as an Air Quality Report showed no issues inside the damaged portion of the building.
Administrators, according to the tweet, have a contingency classroom plan in place for Durfee students and teachers for Friday and beyond.
This morning at approximately 3:00am, the Fall River Fire Department received an alarm call from our box at B.M.C. Durfee High School.
At 3:40am, FRFD discovered a six inch fire stand-pipe on the fourth floor stairway of the science wing located at the West Main Entrance.
Said stand-pipe suffered a catastrophic failure at its zenith.
The FRPD and our maintenance team were able to locate the shut off valve (approximately 4:00am), stopping the flow of water.
The FRPD and our maintenance team opened the building’s doors to the outside, draining an accumulated 3 feet of water from the stairwell and the 4 inches of water that dispersed throughout the building.
We estimate roughly 40k gallons of water entered the building, affecting a total of four floors of classroom and office space. Note: This was not a cold weather malfunction but the result of a 40-year-old pipe that ruptured. Due to building’s design deficiencies and the confinement’s of the building systems, time was added to our inability to shut the flow of water as the valves are in a compartment under the stairwell.
At 4:10am, we determined that we would not be able to open Durfee for students and faculty.
As such, we began our communication chain at that time. Concurrent with this, our maintenance team began the clean-up and recovery efforts with the assistance of an outside contractor. This work is ongoing and will be for the foreseeable future.
We are presently conducting a full damage assessment to account for the totality of this catastrophic failure of our plumbing system.
As you may imagine, we lost computers, equipment, materials, supplies, files, other assorted instructional technology, and the personal and professional possessions of faculty, staff, and students.
As we continue to assess damage, organize a classroom schedule contingency, and ensure the full safety of our school facility, B.M.C. Durfee High School will be closed for students, faculty and staff tomorrow, Thursday, January 11, 2018 as a result of today's flood.
Tomorrow, we will assess our ability to open on Friday and will communicate using social media and our call system when we are able to make a fully informed decision tomorrow afternoon.
Matthew H. Malone, Ph.D., Superintendent
The New York Daily News and Boston Globe are reporting that the New York Giants are likely to hire Patriots Defensive Coordinator Matt Patricia as their new Head Coach once the Patriots have completed the NFL Post Season.
Patricia has interviewed with four different NFL Franchises during the week the Patriots had a bye in the AFC Super Bowl Tournament.
The Patriots are 13.5 point favorities when they host Tennessee Saturday Night on WSAR; coverage starts at 5pm with an 8:15 kickoff.
The water break at BMC Durfee High School which closed school today spilled more than 50,000 gallons of water into 15 classrooms in the science wing of the school.
The flooding caused massive damage to the roofs, computers, school supplies and poured through the halls.
School officials were conducting a damage survey this morning, And while they may be able to get the floors dry, the issue will also be one of ceiling tiles and mold.
We will have a full update on the flooding during the ''WSAR Newsroom''.
In a tweet this morning on the Tansey Twitter Page, administrators are indicating that a smell associated with natural gas has forced the closure of Tansey for remainder of the school day.
Students at Tansey are now in the BMC Durfee auditorium and can be picked up now through 3pm.
Gasoline prices in Massachusetts are up five cents this week, according to AAA Northeast.
AAA’s January 8 survey of prices in Massachusetts finds self-serve, regular unleaded averaging $2.48 per gallon. The Massachusetts price is one cent below the national average for regular unleaded of $2.49. A year ago at this time, the average price in Massachusetts was 19 cents lower at $2.29.
“Crude oil prices at the end of 2017 were the highest at the end of the year since 2013, helping to keep pump prices from their traditional January dip,” said Mary Maguire, Director of Public and Legislative Affairs. “The cold weather has also played a role, with more crude being needed for production of home heating oil.”
The range in prices in the latest AAA survey for unleaded regular is 48 cents, from a low of $2.31 to a high of $2.79.
Auditor Bump Certifies More Than $1 Million in Unfunded Mandated Early Voting Costs on Municipalities for 2016 Election
BOSTON, MA — In a letter to members of the Massachusetts Legislature today, State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump certified that municipalities spent $1,063,978.14 in unfunded, mandated costs to provide early voting in the 2016 general election. In the Final Supplemental Budget for Fiscal Year 2017, the Legislature directed Bump’s Division of Local Mandates (DLM) to provide a formal certification of these costs by January 10, 2018.
Additionally, in her letter, Bump called on the legislature to provide funding for these 2016 costs in an upcoming supplemental budget. She also encouraged the body to develop a process for funding these costs in future elections, and noted that her office has provided suggestions to legislative committees.
“Early voting is an important addition to our democratic processes and funding the expenses incurred by our municipalities will make it that much stronger,” Bump said in her certification letter.
To compile and certify these costs, Bump sent an electronic survey to the 351 city and town clerks seeking information about the expenditures they incurred to meet the requirements of the early voting law.
In February 2017, Bump determined that parts of the early voting law constituted an unfunded mandate under the Local Mandates Law. In the determination, Bump cited the requirements that municipalities establish an early voting polling location that has sufficient staffing and privacy for votes as the factors driving the conclusion.
The early voting law, which was passed in 2014, requires that municipalities allow any qualified voter during biennial state elections (and other elections taking place at that time) to vote during a twelve-day early voting period. The Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth’s Office reports that more than one million voters cast their ballots during this period in 2016, representing more than 22 percent of registered voters in the state.
DLM was established in 1980 as part of Proposition 2 ½, an initiative that limits the abilities of cities and towns to increase property taxes. Under the state’s Local Mandate Law, the Legislature and state agencies are prohibited from passing costs along to municipalities to implement state programs. DLM was established to respond to municipal request to determine whether an unfunded mandate has been passed on to local governments, and make a cost determination of the state funding necessary to sustain a mandate. Since its creation, DLM has received 675 petitions from municipalities and members of the Legislature asking the Division to review whether legislative or regulatory action imposes an impermissible unfunded mandate on a municipality. In response, DLM has issued 436 unfunded mandate determinations, finding in favor of municipalities 79 times. As a result of these efforts, approximately $343 million in state funding or other remediation has been provided to local communities.
Bump’s certification letter is available here.
A spreadsheet of the reported costs from municipalities is available here.
On Janaury 7th 2018 Officers of the Fall River Police Departments Uniform Division were dispatched to SRTA Bus Terminal in regards to a robbery complaint. The 60 year old female victim stated she was lying on her bed counting rent money when the suspect (Daniel A. Garrison - age 52) entered, took the money and refused to return it. When told by the victim that she was calling the police, Mr. Garrison took the victims cell phone and broke it.
Lead Officer Jason Fournier with assistance from Officers Raul Camara, Adam Talbot, Timothy Magan and Joseph Kubicek began a canvass of the area after learning the suspect was dropped off in the area of Hall Street.
Officers Fournier, Magan and Sergeants’ Bryan Nadeau and Brett Kimball were able located the suspect on Hall Street. Mr. Garrison as taken into custody without incident on charges of Larceny from a Person as well as Assault and Battery on a Person over 60, and Witness Intimidation.
KEATING STATEMENT ON ADMINISTRATION’S
OFFSHORE DRILLING PROPOSAL
Washington, DC – Yesterday, the Trump Administration announced its proposed plan to increase leasing for offshore drilling across the Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf, and Arctic Coasts. Below is Congressman Keating’s statement in response to this proposal.
“Reckless does not begin to describe the Trump Administration's decision to expand offshore oil and gas drilling coast-to-coast. This unprecedented move ignores concerns expressed by military leaders and the deep and widespread bipartisan opposition voiced by municipal and state representatives.
“Allowing this drilling threatens the safety of our waterfront communities, the health of our oceans, and the future of our climate – not to mention the havoc it could wreak on the local economies of coastal communities, like those across New England, who count on fresh fish and clean beaches for their seafood and tourism industries. The economic hit that Gulf communities took after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill was devastating. Have we learned nothing?
“This is not the type of action the American people want or are demanding. I will work with my colleagues from both coasts and both sides of the aisle to oppose this extreme measure and to block further offshore drilling. There is no reward that could justify these risks.”
On January 5th 2018 at approximately 9:00 A.M. Officers of the Fall River Police Departments Uniform Division responded to 57 Bates Street Fall River in regards to a stabbing complaint. On the Officers arrival they located a 69 year old female who was suffering from multiple stab wounds. The victim, who was found conscious and alert, was transported to Rhode Island Hospital for treatment. Her condition is listed as ‘serious’ at this time.
A 74 year old male was detained for questioning. This incident is currently under investigation by the Fall River Police Departments Major Crimes Division. It is not considered to be a random act.
University of Massachusetts President Marty Meehan and the chancellors of the five UMass campuses today issued a statement calling on Congress to find a permanent legislation solution to the protect Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients.
The statement followed a letter sent by the six UMass leaders to the Massachusetts congressional delegation this week outlining how the termination of DACA affects UMass and its students.
UMass leadership statement:
“On behalf of the five-campus, 75,000-student University of Massachusetts system, we call on Congress to pass bipartisan legislation that protects the ‘Dreamers’ so that they may remain in the United States without fear of deportation. DACA has allowed ‘Dreamers’ to emerge from the shadows to achieve their life goals, including the pursuit of higher education. These hardworking young people have made wide-ranging contributions to our campuses. Without a permanent legislative solution, roughly 800,000 DACA recipients are threatened with a return to the shadows, loss of access to legal employment and education, and the dread of possible deportation. We urge Congress to quickly act on bipartisan legislation to protect the ‘Dreamers’ and their contributions to academic institutions and to society as a whole.”
UMass President Marty Meehan
UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy
UMass Boston Interim Chancellor Barry Mills
UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Robert Johnson
UMass Lowell Chancellor Jacqueline Moloney
UMass Medical School Chancellor Michael Collins
Massachusetts Department of Revenue Commissioner Christopher C. Harding today announced that preliminary revenue collections for December totaled $3.006 billion, which is $527 million or 21.2% above the monthly benchmark, and $517 million or 20.8% more than the actual collections in December 2016.
“December and January are important collection months, especially for individual estimated payments, which are by their nature volatile collections,” said Commissioner Harding. “Estimated payments are 153.3% above their projected December benchmark, and thus it is likely that a portion of those payments are borrowed from January and future months within the fiscal year (*). ”
For the fiscal year-to-date through December, revenue collections totaled $12.924 billion, $728 million or 6.0% more than the year-to-date benchmark and $966 million or 8.1% more than the same fiscal year-to-date period in 2016.
“Withholding payments in December also performed better than expected, which may reflect increased bonus-related activities. Regular sales tax collections, which reflect actual sales activity from November, likely include better-than-expected seasonal shopping such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday,” continued Harding. “While the revenue numbers appear strong halfway through the fiscal year, we caution against using these results to project full year revenue growth given that some tax categories may have been affected by timing factors. We will closely monitor revenues in January and during the filing season.”
· December 2017 revenues of $3.006 billion were $527 million above benchmark
· Income tax collections were $479 million above benchmark
· Withholding collections (a subcategory of income tax) were $67 million above the monthly benchmark
· Sales and use tax collections were $25 million above the monthly benchmark
· Corporate and business taxes were $11 million above the monthly benchmark
· For the fiscal year-to-date period, revenues of $12.924 billion are $728 million or 6.0% above benchmark and $966 million or 8.1% above the prior year figure
ADVISORY: Rhode Island Bans Tractor Trailer Travel on State Roadways
Effective until 9 p.m. tonight
Trucks should seek alternate routes or safe place to park until snow subsides
BOSTON – The Massachusetts Department of Transportation is reminding the public that the State of Rhode Island has announced a ban on tractor trailer trucks on all Rhode Island state roadways effective now and through 9 o’clock tonight.
“Tractor trailer trucks in Massachusetts that are seeking to travel through Rhode Island should find alternate routes or a safe place to park and wait out the storm,” said Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver. “Our MassDOT Highway Division crews will be focusing on clearing rest areas and locations near the Rhode Island border where trucks can safely stop and wait until the snow subsides and they are again able to travel. In the interest of safety, trucks and other vehicles should not stop on the side of the highway in breakdown lanes due to the decreased visibility and inclement weather. We are continuing to collaborate with our state and local partners and key stakeholders in the trucking industry regarding this development and encourage everyone to avoid traveling during this significant winter storm if possible.”
Major travel routes from Massachusetts into the Rhode Island area include I-95, I-195, I-495 and Route 146. For more information on conditions travelers are encouraged to:
Dial 511 before heading out onto the roadways and select a route to hear real-time conditions.
Visit www.mass511.com, a website which provides real-time traffic and incident advisory information, access to traffic cameras, and allows users to subscribe to text and email alerts for traffic conditions.
Follow MassDOT on Twitter @MassDOT to receive regular updates on road and traffic conditions
Download MassDOT’s GoTime mobile app and view real-time traffic conditions before setting out on the road.
MASSACHUSETTS EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY
SITUATIONAL AWARENESS STATEMENT #5
DATE: January 4, 2018
TIME: 9:00 AM
SUBJECT: Coastal Flooding Concerns
Coastal Flooding Concerns
The National Weather Service (NWS) is forecasting moderate coastal flooding with a pockets of major coastal flooding along east and north facing shorelines south of Boston and on Nantucket. As of 9 AM, the surge had increased to around 1.9 feet in Boston and 1.8 feet in Nantucket. Waves height may build to around 15 feet off Cape Ann and Mass Bay by the time of the high tide (mid-day). Wind direction at the time of the high tide looks to be about 020 degrees or NNE along most of the eastern MA shoreline.
In addition, NWS is anticipating rather extensive inundation and some damage to very vulnerable structures and infrastructure along the immediate shore, such as decks, stairs, docks, parking lots, and the like. Some neighborhoods may become isolated and many shore roads may become impassable for a while and remain impassable long after the high tide due to slow drainage. The Plymouth County coast, and Cape Cod Bay shoreline from Sandwich to Dennis and perhaps even further east to Eastham, are areas of particular concern. Due to such high water levels and strong onshore winds, there is a potential for serious impacts to route 6A in Sandwich among other locations.
ESF 16 (Military Support): National Guard
The National Guard has staged High Water Vehicles in the following communities/areas in anticipation of moderate to major coastal flooding with the mid-day high tide:
· Hingham National Guard Armory
ESF 10 (Hazardous Materials and Environmental Protection): Coastal Zone Management (CZM)
CZM has activated portions of the Coastal Storm Damage Assessment Team to conduct assessments of damage after the mid-day high tide in 23 coastal communities where moderate to major coastal flooding is predicted.
The State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) is operating at Level 2 (Partial Activation). In addition, MEMA’s Regional Emergency Operations Centers in Tewksbury (Region 1) and Bridgewater (Region 2) are activated.
Representatives of the following agencies/organizations are present in the State EOC:
ESF-1 (Transportation): MassDOT
ESF-3 (Public Works): DCR, OPSI
ESF-4 (Firefighting): DFS
ESF-5 (Business and Industry): NEDRIX
ESF-6 (Mass Care): ARC
ESF-8 (Health and Medical): MDPH
ESF-9 (Search and Rescue): MEP, USCG
ESF-10 (Environmental Protection): DEP, CZM
ESF-12 (Energy): DPU, National Grid, Eversource, Unitil
ESF-13 (Public Safety): MSP
ESF-16 (Military Support): MANG
The SEOC will continue to monitor the forecast and will disseminate Situational Awareness Statements as necessary
You will note that the Committee titled - Budget, Prep, Revenue and Audit has not been assigned as of yet as I've sent in an order to the City Clerks office to abolish the committee and refer all items to Finance.
As Council President, I've had the opportunity to sit down with Vice President Lebeau and speak with all my colleagues regarding their requests for chairmanships and committees they want to serve on. I have had the opportunity to speak with all councilors regarding committee assignments. They are all excited to start a new term with some new committee assignments. I feel that after speaking with each councilor, each councilor is ready to get the ground running.
Over the next two years, my goal is to see that more work is done in sub-committee before a specific item/resolution item reaches full council. I feel extremely confident that each committee chair has the ability and work ethic to make this goal a common goal.
WE are all looking forward to a successful 2018 year!
2018 City Council Committee Assignments:
Economic Development & Tourism: Chair: Pam Lebeau
Members: Stephen Long, Shawn Cadime
Health & Environmental Affairs: Chair: Steven Camara
Members: Derek Viveiros, Stephen Long
Human Services, Housing, Youth and Elder Affairs: Chair: Joseph Camara
Members: Leo Pelletier, Stephen Long
Ordinance & Legislation: Chair: Stephen Long
Members: Pam Lebeau, Shawn Cadime, Derek Viveiros, Brad Kilby
Public Safety: Chair: Brad Kilby
Members: Derek Viveiros, Joseph Camara
Public Works and Transportation Chair: Derek Viveiros
Members: Steve Camara, Joseph Camara
Real Estate Chair: Leo Pelletier
Members: Steven Camara, Brad Kilby
Regulations Chair: Shawn Cadime
Members: Leo Pelletier, Pam Lebeau
Arts & Entertainment: S.Camara, S.Long
Council on Aging: L.Pelletier,J.Camara
School Committee: S.Cadime, S.Camara
Senior Senate: B.Kilby, D.Viveiros
Veterans: P.Lebeau, Steve Long
Library: J.Camara, D.Viverios
Neighborhood: D. Viveiros, S. Long
Try Out a Plio-Barre Class @the Library!
Is a healthier, more energetic you one of your goals this year? Come to the Friends of the Fall River Public Library’s Plio-Barre Class series at 104 North Main Street, Fall River, MA. Every Thursday at 5:30 p.m., starting January 11, 2018, you can exercise your body with this low-impact mix of Pilates and strength training exercises. Have fun and get stronger while challenging yourself!
Instructor Leslie Rego has numerous years’ experience in wellness and fitness. She will help you sculpt, slim, and stretch your entire body. Wear comfortable clothing and bring your yoga mat if you have one. No registration is required. Drop-in fee is just $5 per class.
For further information contact Liane Verville, Library Administrator, at 508-324-2700, ext. 112, or visit the Library’s website at fallriverlibrary.org.
MASSACHUSETTS EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY
SITUATIONAL AWARENESS STATEMENT
DATE: January 2, 2018
TIME: 4:30 PM
SUBJECT: Winter Storm Thursday; Dangerously Cold Weather This Weekend
The National Weather Service (NWS) is forecasting a strong coastal storm on Thursday that will bring accumulating snow across the entire state, with the eastern half of the state seeing the greatest amounts. Strong and possibly damaging winds are also expected, with the greatest threat along the coast, including the Cape and Islands. Starting on Friday, bitterly cold weather will return and persist into the weekend.
Forecast for Thursday:
Snow will overspread the region starting early Thursday morning (between 4 AM and 8 AM) and last through the day before ending sometime Thursday evening (between 5 PM and 10 PM). Snowfall rates could be as much as 1-2” per hour.
In southeastern Massachusetts and the Cape and Islands, precipitation may start as rain but will transition to snow by Thursday afternoon as temperatures drop. A flash freeze is possible in this area. The precise location of the rain/snow line is still uncertain; it likely will fall somewhere south of the Boston to Providence line, and north of the Cape Cod Canal. There likely will be an area of heavy wet snow just to the north of the rain/snow line. The potential for power outages is higher in areas that receive heavy wet snow.
All of the state will see accumulating snow, with the greatest amounts in eastern and central Massachusetts, which could receive 8-12” of snow. The Cape and Islands is expected to receive 4-8” of snow, while western Massachusetts could see 3-6” of snow.
Wind gusts will increase Thursday morning and last into the evening. Interior Massachusetts could see 40-50 MPH gusts, with 50-65 MPH gusts near the coast and up to 70 MPH gusts on the Cape and Islands.
Thursday’s midday high tide is an astronomical high tide. Combined with the 1.5 to 2 feet of storm surge forecast, this tide could result in minor to moderate coastal flooding, especially on north and east facing beaches.
The major areas of uncertainty in the forecast at this point are (i) how far west the heaviest snowfall totals occur (if the storm tracks further west than currently forecast, central and western MA could also see up to 12” of snow), and (ii) the exact location of the rain/snow line in southeastern Massachusetts.
Forecast for Friday/Saturday:
Bitterly cold weather will return Friday and Saturday. Daytime highs will hover around 0 degrees, while overnight lows could reach 10-20 degrees below zero.
Wind chills could be as low as 15-35 degrees below zero, particularly on Friday night when wind gusts are expected to be 35-40 mph over much of Massachusetts.
Impacts associated with Thursday’s storm:
Snowfall combined with strong winds will result in poor visibility and difficult travel conditions throughout Massachusetts on Thursday. Both morning and evening commutes are forecast to be impacted. Near-blizzard conditions are possible in eastern Massachusetts and travel in this area could become difficult to impossible.
A flash freeze is possible Thursday afternoon or evening to the south of the rain/snow line as rain transitions to snow in southeastern Massachusetts, resulting in icy conditions on roads and sidewalks.
Strong wind gusts could cause tree damage and scattered power outages, especially on the Cape and Islands.
Minor to moderate coastal impacts are forecast from Boston northward and generally moderate coastal impacts for much of the coastline south of Boston. This may translate to fairly widespread flooding of vulnerable shore roads and basements. A few low spots might receive a little over 3 feet of inundation. Waves on top of the high water level may cause scattered damage to access stairs, docks, beach parking lots, decks/porches near the surf zone, and the like. Chunks of sea ice could also exacerbate scattered shoreline damage.
Impacts associated with cold weather Friday/Saturday:
Potentially life-threatening wind chill temperatures
Frostbite and hypothermia possible for those without proper protection from the cold. Frostbite can occur in as little as 30 minutes for unprotected skin.
Possible increase in fires from unsafe/improper use of alternative heating sources or people trying to thaw frozen pipes with blowtorches or similar devices
Possible increase in incidents of carbon monoxide poisoning from unsafe/improper use of alternative heating sources
Possible vehicle failure
Possible water main breaks and pipe bursts
Fall River, MA – Mayor Jasiel F. Correia II announces a citywide parking ban, which will go into effect beginning Wednesday, January 3, 2018 at 6:00pm until further notice.
Motorists are reminded that when a parking ban is in effect, parking is allowed on the north side of all city streets that run east and west and that parking is allowed on the west side of all streets that run north and south. In most cases this means no parking on the fire hydrant side.
Motorist are asked to participate in the parking ban to allow emergency vehicles, including police, fire and medical, clear access to all streets while allowing better access to snow plows for cleaner and safer streets.
Parking is not allowed within 20 feet of a corner to allow access for snow removing vehicles. Parking allowed, unless posted, on both sides of any street that is divided by a traffic median, but parking against the median is prohibited.
If any vehicle is in violation of the parking ban and must be towed to clear streets for plows or emergency vehicles, the owner must call the Fall River Police Department at (508) 324-2801, for the location of the towed vehicle. All towing fees must be paid to the respective tow company prior to release of the stored vehicle.
Parking is available at the following locations until the ban is no longer in effect:
FLINT MUNICIPAL PARKING LOT ON PLEASANT STREET, MUNICIPAL LOT ON COLUMBI