Month: April 2016

Sen. Lesser Votes with Senate to Designate Day Honoring First Responders

Sen. Eric P. Lesser voted with the Senate this week to pass a bill that designates the Sunday before Patriots’ Day as First Responder Day, to honor the fallen, currently serving, and retired first responders.

“Our first responders put their lives on the line each day to ensure our safety, protection and well-being,” Sen. Lesser said. “This bill allows our entire Commonwealth to honor those who serve and those who have given their lives in service to their communities.”

First Responders Day will allow the Governor to issue a decree honoring fallen police, firefighters, and first responders, and provide the opportunity for towns, state facilities and citizens to take pause in remembering those who died safeguarding their communities.

The bill declares First Responder Day as the Sunday before Patriots’ Day. The latter holiday, which falls on the third Monday, commemorates the first battles of the Revolutionary War and is the traditional date of the Boston Marathon. The First Responder Day’s date and its connection to the Boston Marathon bombings of 2013 call extra attention to the sacrifices made by first responders.

The legislation passed in the House April 4, and now heads to Gov. Baker for his signature into law.

Sen. Eric Lesser Votes with Senate to Pass Bill Funding Statewide Road and Bridge Projects

Sen. Eric P. Lesser voted with the Senate today to allocate a total of $200 million for annual road and bridge repair projects in Massachusetts, including $702,764 for the Town of Ludlow.

“Our cities and towns rely on this money to pave roads, fix sidewalks and complete other projects that their own local budgets can’t support,” Senator Lesser said.  “Poorly maintained roads and bridges are not only a threat to public safety–they also cost the average driver $478 per year in wear-and-tear and repair costs.”

“These funds will go a long way in helping cities and towns pay for road and bridge repairs,” Sen. Lesser said. “However, for many communities it may not still be enough. I’m working hard to ensure cities and towns receive the local aid they need to fund these vital repair projects.”

The Chapter 90 program was enacted in 1973 and allows cities and towns to receive state reimbursement for various local road, bridge and infrastructure repair projects.

Sen. Eric Lesser Welcomes Israeli Legislators to State House

Sen. Eric P. Lesser welcomed members of the Israeli Knesset, the country’s legislative branch, to the State House Wednesday.

“It’s important for Massachusetts, and especially for us here in the Springfield area, to build strong partnerships with Israel,” Sen. Lesser said. “I was glad to welcome these legislators to the State House and to build upon the strong ties between Israel and Western Massachusetts.”

Last fall, Sen. Lesser hosted Israeli Consul General to New England Yehuda Yaakov on a tour of the Greater Springfield area as part of an effort to open new economic and cultural partnerships.

“Israel is a growing market for our region’s goods, services and know-how, and with new nonstop flights between Boston and Tel Aviv, along with rail improvements and a growing tech scene in the Pioneer Valley, the economic ties between our two locations will grow even stronger.”

Massachusetts is home to more than 200 Israeli businesses that produce a combined $6 billion in annual revenue.

 

Sen. Eric Lesser Votes with Senate to Pass Bill Raising Cap on Solar Projects

Sen. Eric P. Lesser today voted with the Senate to pass a bill that raises the limit on the amount of solar energy public and private customers can sell back to energy grids, known as the net metering cap.

“Until now, failure to lift the net metering cap was forcing the delay of hundreds of projects that help businesses, local governments and households reduce their energy bills and promote clean energy. Lifting the cap allows these projects to move forward.”

Net metering is a practice in which utility customers with solar panels can sell power back to their local power grid, and is one of the incentives the Commonwealth offers to encourage clean energy production.

Specifically, the bill lifts the net metering cap by 3 percent for both public and private solar projects. It also allows all existing solar projects, along with projects for schools and municipalities, to receive the highest reimbursement rate allowed by current law. The Commonwealth has set a goal of producing 1600 megawatts of solar power, enough electricity to power almost 250,000 homes annually, by the year 2020.

In February, Sen. Lesser published an op-ed on the importance of promoting solar power, especially in Western Massachusetts, which has the state’s highest density of clean energy employment.

In the op-ed, Sen. Lesser noted that the solar industry’s rapid growth is helping many local governments save taxpayer money. For example, solar power will save East Longmeadow $125,000 on annual utility bills. Savings generated by Ludlow’s solar field are estimated at $100,000 to $140,000 per year.

In addition, community leaders in Hampden are also aiming to develop a town landfill into a solar field, a project that can now move forward due to the bill’s raising of the cap.

“For generations, the Pioneer Valley has been at the cutting edge of industrial change. Just as Springfield led the way in the 20th Century with the first gas-powered automobile, in the 21st Century we can lead the way as a center for clean technology and all the savings that come with it,” Sen. Lesser wrote.

The bill passed the House earlier this week and now heads to Gov. Baker’s desk for his signature into law.

Senator Eric Lesser Submits Bipartisan Letter Requesting Freeze on Plan to Breed Rattlesnakes in the Quabbin Reservoir

Sen. Eric P. Lesser submitted a letter to Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton requesting a freeze in further plans to breed venomous rattlesnakes on Mount Zion Island in the Quabbin Reservoir, pending further legislative oversight.

“Public safety is paramount to our communities, and the Commonwealth’s plan to breed venomous rattlesnakes in Quabbin Reservoir leaves a lot of unanswered questions,” Sen. Lesser said.

The letter is co-signed by Quabbin-area legislators, including Senator Anne M. Gobi (D-Spencer), Chair of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture, and Representatives Thomas Petrolati (D-Ludlow) and Todd M. Smola (R-Warren), all of whom represent areas surrounding the Quabbin Reservoir.

In the letter, the legislators state:

“It is our hope that any action on the plan to introduce Timber Rattlesnakes to the Quabbin Reservoir will be frozen pending an oversight hearing by the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture on May 10, 2016.”

A copy of the letter was also sent to Gov. Charlie Baker, Department of Conservation and Recreation Commissioner Leo Roy, and Division of Fisheries and Wildlife Director Jack Buckley. A full copy of the letter is attached below.

The plan to breed venomous Timber Rattlesnakes on Mount Zion Island was introduced by the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, and has been met with concern from local residents.

A primary concern is that the introduction of the snakes could deter visitors from using the popular recreation area surrounding the reservoir, and that any snakebite-related incident could lead to the area’s closure.

The Quabbin Reservoir is the largest inland body of water in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and is one of the largest man-made public water supplies in the United States. The area surrounding the Reservoir serves as a popular recreational area that supports hiking, snowshoeing, hunting and shoreline fishing.

/ In Press Release / By Ryan Migeed / Comments Off on Senator Eric Lesser Submits Bipartisan Letter Requesting Freeze on Plan to Breed Rattlesnakes in the Quabbin Reservoir