Category: Press Release

Senate Passes Lesser Amendment to Greenlight Chicopee River Canoe and Kayak Launch

BOSTON — The Massachusetts State Senate voted on Thursday to authorize $250,000 in bonds to the City of Chicopee for the construction of a canoe and kayak launch off of Fuller Road on the Chicopee River.

The measure was proposed by Sen. Eric P. Lesser, and co-sponsored by Sens. James T. Welch and Donald F. Humason, Jr., after discussion with city officials about the community’s needs in environmental and recreational investments. The funding request was added to a Senate bond bill promoting climate change adaptation, environmental and natural resource protection, and investment in recreational assets.

“This bill serves as an opportunity to bring attention to local priorities at the State House. This project offers exciting opportunities for future recreation on and along the Chicopee River, and ensures that it will remain a safe and enjoyable space for our community. This is a worthy project that will improve the quality of life for our residents, and I hope Governor Baker releases the funds to make it happen,” said Sen. Lesser.

The plan for the project includes floating docks and equipment that allows the physically disabled to launch their own boats, as well as parking and picnicking space.

The bill authorizes spending on certain types of infrastructure projects, including support for environmental programs at the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and other agencies ranging from air and water quality monitoring to hazardous waste cleanup and the restoration of rivers, wetlands, streams and lakes.

The bill will now be reconciled with a version passed by the State House of Representatives, and the Governor must ultimately decide whether to release the funds from the appropriate executive offices to finance the projects.

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Senate Passes Lesser Amendment to Authorize $4.5 Million in Upgrades to Springfield’s Forest Park

BOSTON — The Massachusetts State Senate voted on Thursday to authorize $4.5 million in bonds to the City of Springfield for upgrades at Forest Park.

The measure was proposed by Sen. Eric P. Lesser after discussion with city officials about the community’s needs in environmental and recreational investments.

A portion of the funds will be used to support Camp STAR Angelina, a universally accessible camp for children with physical and intellectual disabilities, with the construction of a lodge for daytime camp activities. Other funding in the authorization will upgrade the park’s comfort shelter and horticultural training center.

“This bill serves as an opportunity to bring attention to local priorities at the State House. Forest Park is one of Springfield’s biggest assets, and Camp STAR Angelina is a model program that is a vital resource for our community. These improvements are worthy projects that will improve the quality of life for our residents, and I hope Governor Baker releases the funds to make them happen,” said Sen. Lesser.

The funding request was added to a Senate bond bill that authorizes spending on specific projects regarding climate change adaptation, environmental and natural resource protection, and investment in recreational assets.

The bill also includes support for environmental programs at the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and other agencies ranging from air and water quality monitoring to hazardous waste cleanup and the restoration of rivers, wetlands, streams and lakes.

The bill will now be reconciled with a version passed by the State House of Representatives, and the Governor must ultimately decide whether to release the funds from the appropriate executive offices to finance the projects.

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Senate Passes Lesser Amendment to Greenlight Installation of Lighting and Playground at Greenleaf Park

BOSTON — The Massachusetts State Senate voted on Thursday to authorize $240,000 in bonds to the City of Springfield for the installation of new lighting and playground facilities at Greenleaf Park.

The measure was proposed by Sen. Eric P. Lesser after discussion with city officials about the community’s needs in environmental and recreational investments. The funding request was added to a Senate bond bill promoting climate change adaptation, environmental and natural resource protection, and investment in recreational assets

“This bill serves as an opportunity to bring attention to local priorities at the State House. The Sixteen Acres neighborhood is long overdue for updated playground facilities, and these improvements, along with new lights, will keep it a safe and enjoyable place for our community. This is a worthy project that will improve the quality of life for our residents, and I hope Governor Baker releases the funds to make it happen,” said Sen. Lesser.

The bill authorizes spending on certain types of infrastructure projects, including support for environmental programs at the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and other agencies ranging from air and water quality monitoring to hazardous waste cleanup and the restoration of rivers, wetlands, streams and lakes.

The bill will now be reconciled with a version passed by the State House of Representatives, and the Governor must ultimately decide whether to release the funds from the appropriate executive offices to finance the projects.

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Senate Passes Lesser Amendment to Greenlight Repairs to Bleachers at Ludlow’s Whitney Park

BOSTON — The Massachusetts State Senate voted on Thursday to authorize $150,000 in bonds to Ludlow for the repair and replacement of bleachers at Whitney Park.

The measure was proposed by Sen. Eric P. Lesser after discussion with town officials about the community’s needs in environmental and recreational investments. The funding request was added to a Senate bond bill promoting climate change adaptation, environmental and natural resource protection, and investment in recreational assets.

“This bill serves as an opportunity to bring attention to local priorities at the State House, and to say, ‘We need the state’s help on this.’ Whitney Park is the centerpiece of Ludlow’s proud tradition of sports and recreation, and these improvements will keep it a safe and enjoyable gathering place for our community. This is a worthy project that will improve the quality of life for our residents, and I hope Governor Baker releases the funds to make it happen,” said Sen. Lesser.

The bill authorizes spending on certain types of infrastructure projects, including support for environmental programs at the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and other agencies ranging from air and water quality monitoring to hazardous waste cleanup and the restoration of rivers, wetlands, streams and lakes.

The bill will now be reconciled with a version passed by the State House of Representatives, and the Governor must ultimately decide whether to release the funds from the appropriate executive offices to finance the projects.

Sen. Lesser had previously gotten funding for the bleachers repair into the fiscal 2017 budget, but the funds were cut by the Governor.

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Senate Passes Lesser Amendment to Greenlight Repairs to Belchertown Public Schools’ Track and Tennis Courts

BOSTON — The Massachusetts State Senate voted on Thursday to authorize $175,000 in bonds to the Belchertown Public Schools for the resurfacing of their track and tennis courts.

The measure was proposed by Sen. Eric P. Lesser after discussion with town officials about the community’s needs in environmental and recreational investments. The funding request was added to a Senate bond bill promoting climate change adaptation, environmental and natural resource protection, and investment in recreational assets.

“This bill serves as an opportunity to bring attention to local priorities at the State House, and to say, ‘We need the state’s help on this.’ Belchertown’s track and tennis courts are a valuable public resource, open to members of the public in addition to students. This is a worthy project that will improve the quality of life for our residents, and I hope Governor Baker releases the funds to make it happen,” said Sen. Lesser.

The six tennis courts have not been resurfaced since they were installed in 2001. Contractors recommend resurfacing every 5-8 years due to cracking.

The bill authorizes spending on certain types of infrastructure projects, including support for environmental programs at the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and other agencies ranging from air and water quality monitoring to hazardous waste cleanup and the restoration of rivers, wetlands, streams and lakes.

The bill will now be reconciled with a version passed by the State House of Representatives, and the Governor must ultimately decide whether to release the funds from the appropriate executive offices to finance the projects.

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Sen. Lesser Votes to Pass Bill Protecting Young People from the Health Risks of Tobacco and Nicotine

BOSTON — Senator Eric P. Lesser voted with the State Senate on Thursday to pass a bill that raises the age for statewide sales of tobacco in response to a disturbing increase in teen smoking in recent years.

There are now a variety of tobacco products marketed to young people — including “vaping” devices e-cigarettes and flavored cigarettes — meant to entice teenagers to begin using them.

“I learned about this effort to raise the tobacco age from high schoolers in Springfield and Chicopee who urged us to do something to save their friends from the long-term damage done by smoking. We have known about these dangerous effects for decades, and we must take action to reverse the increasing trend of teenagers turning to new tobacco and nicotine products that are specifically marketed to them to get them hooked,” said Sen. Lesser.

The bill, S. 2571 An Act protecting youth from the health risks of tobacco and nicotine, raises the age for tobacco sales in the state from 18 to 21 and prohibits the sale of tobacco products in vending machines. It was introduced by Sen. Jason Lewis (D-Winchester).

Tobacco use and nicotine addiction is responsible for more than $4 billion in annual healthcare costs in Massachusetts. Young people are particularly susceptible to nicotine addiction, and 9 in 10 cigarette smokers begin using before age 18, according to Sen. Lewis’ office.

The bill must now be reconciled with a version passed by the House before going to the Governor’s desk for signature.

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Sen. Lesser, Rep. Ashe Welcome Brynn Cartelli, Winner of “The Voice,” to the State House

BOSTON — Sen. Eric P. Lesser and Rep. Brian M. Ashe hosted Longmeadow native and winner of NBC’s “The Voice” Brynn Cartelli for a visit to the State House on Thursday.

Since the Senate is in session, Sen. Lesser introduced Cartelli on the floor of the Senate. She also met with Rep. Ashe and Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo.

Cartelli’s day began with a meeting with Gov. Charlie Baker, followed by a tour of the State House.

“We are so proud of Brynn, who got her start at talent shows in Longmeadow’s own public schools. She is living proof that if you work hard and follow your dreams, anything is possible,” said Sen. Lesser.

“We are all so proud of Brynn for her success. She has a great future ahead of her and has everyone’s support. She is truly an inspiration for others and I wish her nothing but the best,” said Rep. Ashe.

Photos below:

Sen. Eric Lesser (right) welcomed Longmeadow native and winner of “The Voice” Brynn Cartelli (center) and her mom, Deb (left), to the State House.
Rep. Brian Ashe (left) and Sen. Eric Lesser (right) presented Brynn Cartelli of Longmeadow (center) with official House and Senate Citations congratulating her on winning Season 14 of NBC’s “The Voice.”
Cartelli’s day began with a meeting with Gov. Charlie Baker, followed by a tour of the State House. From left to right: Rep. Brian Ashe, Gov. Baker, Brynn Cartelli, friends Will Hornyak and Erin Hornyak of Longmeadow, Cartelli’s mom Deb, and Sen. Eric Lesser.

 

Sen. Lesser Releases Statement on Supreme Court’s Decision Rolling Back Collective Bargaining Rights

Also addresses Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement

SPRINGFIELD — Following today’s developments on the Supreme Court, including Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement and the Court’s decision in Janus v. AFSCME that rolls back workers’ collective bargaining rights, State Senator Eric P. Lesser issued the following statement:

“The very character of our country, and the dignity and rights of every person in it, is at stake in Justice Kennedy’s replacement. We will do our part to fight here in Massachusetts. But make no mistake: this is an emergency for our democracy and the rights that it safeguards.

“The Court’s decision in Janus v. AFSCME is a bad one for working families, and it will continue to increase the gap between the wealthy and those struggling to get by. While workers have not seen a raise in years, the wealthy and the well-connected receive tax breaks and loopholes to help them stay ahead.

“It is particularly disturbing that this decision overturned 40 years of precedent protecting the right of employees to demand better wages and better working conditions from their employers. This reversal is the result of decades of conservative assaults on some of the basic rights we take for granted. Instead of taking their case to the ballot box, where they know they will lose, they wage court battles with corporate-backed lawyers.

“Union organizers like my grandfather and father helped build America’s middle class. They fought with garment workers and longshoremen for fair pay, benefits like worker’s comp, and a reasonable work schedule. The job before us now is clear: We must organize again to save the middle class.”

In its 5-4 decision in Janus v. AFSCME, the Supreme Court ruled that public sector employees could not be compelled to pay union fees even though they benefit from the contracts negotiated between unions representing workers and their employers.

Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch, who was appointed to the Court by President Donald Trump after the Republican-controlled Senate refused to hold a hearing on President Barack Obama’s nominee for 10 months, appears to have been the deciding vote.

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Sen. Lesser Votes to Pass Bill Preventing Wage Theft

BOSTON — Senator Eric P. Lesser voted with the State Senate on Thursday to pass a bill that strengthens penalties for wage theft, providing more protections for low-wage workers. The bipartisan bill passed on a 38-0 vote.

“This bill returns workers’ hard-earned wages to them when they have been illegally underpaid or had their wages outright stolen by disreputable employers,” said Sen. Lesser, who serves as Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies. “If an employer knew or should have known that workers were being denied their wages, this bill will provide recourse to the employee and penalize the employer. Fair is fair, and this legislation levels the playing field for workers, giving them needed protections when they are taken advantage of.”

The bill, S. 2546, An Act to prevent wage theft and promote employer accountability, empowers the Attorney General to issue a stop work order to an employer that has committed wage theft and impose a penalty of up to $25,000. For the first time, the bill also allows managers and lead contractors to be held liable for wage theft from subcontractors.

As an alternative to initiating civil proceedings, the bill permits the Attorney General to issue a warning or civil citation to an employer that has violated the state’s wage theft or meal break laws, or improperly withheld health insurance deductions.

Under the bill, the Attorney General could also seek damages or lost wages on behalf of workers.

“In spite of strong labor laws and many successful and law-abiding businesses in our state, wage theft remains a major problem in Massachusetts, especially for the most vulnerable workers, like immigrants and low-income families” said Sen. Jason Lewis (D-Winchester), Chair of the Senate Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, who sponsored the bill. “This legislation will help prevent and deter wage theft, ensure a level playing field for all employers, and protect the rights of working families.”

In 2017, more than 350,000 Massachusetts workers had more than $700 million in wages stolen from them. Due to the types of jobs that can exploited by stealing wages, wage theft victims are usually low-income workers and often immigrants.

Massachusetts was the first state to pass a law to combat wage theft in 1886.

The bill now goes to the State House of Representatives for consideration.

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Sen. Lesser Votes to Pass “Grand Bargain” Raising the Minimum Wage and Guaranteeing Paid Family and Medical Leave

Bill raises the state minimum wage to $15 per hour and creates the state’s first paid family and medical leave program

BOSTON — Senator Eric P. Lesser voted with the State Senate on Wednesday to pass a bill boosting the state minimum wage and establishing a paid family and medical leave program.

Hailed as a “grand bargain” between lawmakers, activists and business groups, the bill, H. 4640, incrementally raises the minimum wage from $11 to $15 per hour over five years and creates a permanent sales tax holiday weekend every August.

It also implements a paid family and medical leave program — only the sixth in the country — that guarantees workers up to 12 weeks of family leave and up to 20 weeks of medical leave. The program does not apply to small businesses with fewer than 50 employees.

“This compromise is a major win for Massachusetts workers and families,” said Sen. Lesser. “It gives us the highest state minimum wage in the country, tied only with California. And it guarantees paid family and medical leave so that no one is punished for taking time off work to care for a loved one or bond with a newborn or adopted child. As the cost of living continues to rise across the state, these measures aggressively expand protections for workers and families, representing a big step forward that advocates have worked decades to achieve.”

Paid family leave, an idea first introduced in America in the 1990s, is considered a vital piece of the worker safety net as wages have stagnated and the cost of living has increased. The state minimum wage, meanwhile, has not been raised since 2014 and has not kept pace with inflation.

The bill will now go to the Governor’s desk for his signature.

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