Below are highlights of new laws that I was proud to support during the 2011-2012 legislative session, categorized into “Local Initiatives”, Smart Government”, and “Progressive Causes”.
As always, I welcome your feedback, and your thoughts and ideas about legislative priorities for the future.
Sudbury Senior Tax Relief Law: Provides property tax relief to seniors in Sudbury, a law that could be finalized with approval by the citizens of Sudbury later this year (authored by a Sudbury resident);
Electric Utility Oversight Law of 2012: Mandates that electric utilities, such as NSTAR, must notify elected officials of vegetation management plans for transmission corridors thirty days prior to any activity, and include details of the planned activities (I authored this);
Municipal Relief Law of 2011: Helps municipalities manage their finances more effectively and at lower cost by allowing them to invest in state-managed pension investment securities, potentially saving towns thousands of dollars. (I authored this); and
Municipal Relief Law of 2011: Allows towns to save on construction borrowing costs by borrowing for up to 30 years, rather than 20, to build new schools such as the Wayland High School (I authored this; the idea originally came from a Wayland resident).
Job Creation & Economic Development Act of 2012:
Funds additional road, bridge, and infrastructure investments to encourage private sector job growth;
Funds new R&D grants for our innovation industries;
Increased funds for job training tied to business needs; and
Freezes the unemployment insurance tax and created new online resources for small businesses.
Health Care Cost Control and Quality Improvement Act of 2012:
Limits statewide health care costs increases for the next twenty years;
Empowers patients with health care cost and quality information in order to make good decisions about future care needs; and
Shifts the focus of care by hospitals and physicians away from transactions and procedures and toward keeping people healthy.
Budget for FY13
Increases funding for local aid by $289 million over FY12;
Increases Chapter 70 education funding to $4.17 billion, ensuring that all school districts receive at least an additional $40 per pupil in aid;
Increases funding for the Special Education Circuit Breaker by over $20 million, for a total of $242 million; and
Increases funding for elder protective services, substance abuse services, independent living centers, and the department of veterans services.
Budget for FY12:
Allocates one-time, windfall tax revenue into the state’s Rainy Day / Stabilization Fund, which contributed to the state’s improved credit rating this year (I authored this); and
Dedicates a portion of the Tobacco Settlement funding stream to the state’s unfunded health care premium liabilities for state retirees, which contributed to the state’s improved credit rating and ensures that state employees will continue to receive health care insurance benefits as retirees (I authored this).
Government Administration & Finance Act of 2012:
Mandates new performance measurement requirements for all government agencies and programs to improve efficiency, transparency and accountability.
Tax Expenditure Commission Report of 2012:
Evaluates hundreds of tax credits and exemptions currently in statute with an eye toward making the tax code simpler and fairer.
Human Trafficking Law: Increases criminal penalties on sexual servitude, forced labor, and human trafficking;
Transgender Rights Law: Provides civil right protections for the Commonwealth’s approximately 33,000 transgender residents;
Foreclosure Law: Protects homeowners who have fallen victim to predatory mortgages by directing lenders to offer loan modifications and avoid foreclosures;
Temporary Workers Right to Know Law: Provides temporary workers the "right to know" about their daily wages, job location, and type of job in advance of getting hired by temporary work agencies;
Child Care Workers Collective Bargaining Law: Enables low wage childcare workers to form a union in order to obtain better pay;
Citizens United Resolution: Sends a message to the Massachusetts Congressional delegation to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision on campaign contributions by corporations and other organizations;
CPA Funding: Increases by $25 million the Community Preservation Act trust fund, a form of state aid to CPA towns such as Lincoln, Sudbury, and Wayland; and
Green Jobs 2.0 Law: Expands electrical net metering and incentives for homeowners and organizations to install solar and other renewable energy sources on location.
I hope that you too can take pride in these new laws, and that you’ll continue to support me as your state representative, so that I can continue to champion laws that help our towns and vulnerable residents of our commonwealth.
State Representative for Lincoln, Sudbury, Wayland
2007 - 2012
Jobs and Economic Competitiveness
Authored a provision of the state’s 2008 life sciences law that gives Massachusetts an equity stake in new businesses. The equity could generate upwards of $500 million in a revolving loan fund to create new companies and new jobs in the life sciences industry. The law could help Massachusetts-based scientific teams achieve medical breakthroughs to cure chronic diseases.
Successfully advocated with State House leadership to reduce the corporate income tax from 9.5% to 8.0%, reducing the tax burden for small Massachusetts-based businesses.
Advocated and voted for the 2008 Green Jobs Act, which helps workers train for jobs in the renewable energy industry.
During the Great Recession, voted in favor of freezing the unemployment insurance rate, which saved Massachusetts employers over $500 million so they could retain jobs.
Supported legislation to increase funding for the Workforce Training Fund, which provides employers with grants to educate and train current employees and new hires.
During my first few months in office, helped craft a new law that is saving towns and cities millions of dollars annually by shifting pension management from underperforming management teams to more a more successful financial management team.
In my first year in office, successfully advocated with State House leadership to shape and adopt the Governor’s initiative to close corporate tax loopholes, which generated $200 million in new revenues for the Commonwealth.
As a member of the House Committee on Ways and Means, helped craft balanced, responsible, and on time budgets during the Great Recession, despite dramatic decreases in revenues.
Authored a provision of the FY 12 budget law that would allocate one-time, windfall tax settlement revenue into the state’s Rainy Day / Stabilization Fund, thus reducing the state’s reliance on volatile revenue sources.
Authored a new law to help municipalities manage their finances more effectively by allowing them to invest in state-managed pension investment securities, thus easing budget constraints for towns and cities.
Authored a new law that dedicates a funding stream toward the state’s unfunded health care premium liabilities for state retirees. This fiscally prudent law will reduce the state’s debt while ensuring that state employees continue to receive health care benefits.
Supported local meals and hotels tax option, which passed in 2009, to allow towns and cities to raise revenues to support local services.
Supported the law to end the property tax exemption on telecommunication companies.
Helped maintain the highest possible levels of state aid for Lincoln, Sudbury, and Wayland by advocating effectively for our towns with State House leadership.
Advocated for all forms of state aide to municipalities, including funding for Regional School Transportation, Special Education Circuit Breaker, Councils on Aging, METCO, and many others.
Authored a provision of the Municipal Relief Act that allows municipalities to save on construction borrowing costs by allowing them to borrow for up to 30 years, rather than 20.
Infrastructure and Transportation
Successfully advocated with House leadership for the Governor’s use of the Accelerated Bridge Program to fund maintenance of over 500 bridges in Massachusetts in need of immediate repair.
Voted for the 2009 Transportation Reform bill that created a more efficient, steamlined, consolidated state transportation organization (MassDOT) and saved the state an estimated $250 million.
Initiated the idea with the Governor’s team and State House leadership to refinance existing transportation debt. The refinancing, completed in 2010, saved taxpayers over $13 million.
Helped form a coalition that successfully advocated for dedicating $160 million of the 2009 sales tax increase toward preventing toll hikes and T and commuter rail fare increases.
Introduced innovative legislation to raise the gas tax incrementally to address our $20 billion state transportation and infrastructure needs and to avoid further increases in Mass Turnpike tolls.
Successfully advocated with the Governor’s housing department to obtain $1.7 million in state housing funding for the Nike site development in Wayland.
Successfully worked with Wayland’s High School Building Committee and the state to secure $25 million to build a new Wayland High School, which will be complete in December 2011.
Repeatedly spoke at Mass Highway hearings for state funding for the Crosby’s Corner re-routing of Route 2 in Lincoln and Concord. The project started in 2009 and is on track for completion in the next three years.
Secured $75,000 in funding for Sudbury that would help link Sudbury’s hiking trails and neighborhoods to the new Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center.
Advocated successfully on behalf of Lincoln, Sudbury, and Wayland to secure nearly $20 million in capital expenditure funding for several road and bridge improvements in the communities.
Worked with the Massachusetts School Building Authority in successful effort to have Wayland High School chosen as one of 18 pilot projects throughout the state for the MSBA’s new procedures.
Supported and helped write sections of the 2010 Small Business Health Care Cost Containment Act, which gives the MA Division of Insurance the regulatory authority to reject excessive or unreasonable premium increases on small businesses. It also allows group purchasing of health insurance by small businesses, in order to obtain lower premiums and better terms and conditions for their employees.
Supported and voted for the 2008 health care law that mandates electronic medical records by 2014 at all physician groups and hospitals, which will reduce costs, duplication of testing, and improve the quality of health care for patients.
Supported studies by the MA Division of Health Care Finance and Policy to evaluate the underlying causes and root factors that have led to rising healthcare costs.
During 2011, helping craft a health care cost containment and quality improvement bill for 2012 as the Vice Chair of the Health Care Finance Committee.
Helped increase Chapter 70 funding significantly for Lincoln, Sudbury, and Wayland.
Successfully advocated with a coalition of colleagues during the budget process for increased funding for regional transportation.
Consistently advocated for funding for the METCO program.
Cosponsored the bill to allow for alternative ways of measuring student success, as opposed to relying solely on MCAS scores.
Voted for the Education Reform Act of 2010 to close the achievement gap by giving administrators authority to improve underperforming schools, while protecting teachers from subjective performance criteria.
Voted for the School Nutrition Act, that banned the sale of unhealthy foods and beverages in Massachusetts schools and improved the food choices available to students.
Voted for the Anti-Bullying Act that prohibited bullying in Massachusetts schools and required schools to develop bullying prevention plans and incorporate bullying prevention into curriculum.
Successfully advocated for increased funding for the homeless.
Voted for legislation to strengthen mortgage lending consumer protections.
Voted for the Mortgage Foreclosures Act, which protects tenants during the foreclosure process by ensuring that tenant’s rights are preserved. It also extends the right-to-cure period for homeowners facing foreclosure to give them more time to work out a payment plan to stay in their homes.
Supported and voted for the Preserving Publicly Assisted Affordable Housing Act, which helps maintain the state’s affordable housing stock and protects tenants of affordable housing.
Preserving the Environment
Voted for the 2008 energy efficiency law that promotes renewable energy sources in Massachusetts, makes investments in making municipal buildings “greener”, and provides ways for Commonwealth citizens to reduce the carbon footprints of their homes.
Advocated and voted for the 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act, which sets targets for reducing carbon emissions in Massachusetts by 2025.
Advocated and voted for the 2008 Environmental Bond law, which will help maintain our state parks and upgrade our clean water filtration systems.
Cosponsored and advocated for the passage of the Updated Bottle Bill to encourage recycling.
Cosponsored and helped recruit cosponsors to the Safer Alternatives to Toxic Chemicals bill.
Cosponsored bills to protect the Commonwealth’s rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds.
Voted in favor of a senior circuit breaker bill that gives towns the option of exempting low income seniors from paying override tax increases.
Introduced legislation that would allow seniors to take advantage of both the senior circuit breaker and the local property tax deferral programs.
Voted for legislation to establish a Silver Alert Program that would assist in locating seniors with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia who have gone missing.
Advocated each year for budget increases for Councils on Aging.
Promoting Justice and Protecting Vulnerable Populations
Voted to uphold marriage equality by voting against the proposed amendment to the Massachusetts Constitution to ban same-sex marriage.
Voted to repeal the 1913 law that prevented same-sex non-Massachusetts residents from getting married in Massachusetts.
Voted against restoring the death penalty in Massachusetts.
Cosponsored the Transgender Rights Bill, extending equal rights and protections to transgender individuals.
Supported and voted for CORI reform, which improves the accuracy and record retrieval speed of the Criminal Offender Record Information system, in addition to reducing the period after which records of felonies may be sealed from 15 years to 10 years, and for misdemeanors from 10 years to 5 years. The law also prevents employers from arbitrarily using CORI records to deny employment opportunities.
Voted for a law to provide veterans of the Commonwealth with improved services and support - including housing and business opportunities - as they return from war during difficult economic times.
Voted for legislation that requires health insurance companies to cover the diagnosis of and treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Successfully advocated for increased funding for services to infants with developmental delays under the Early Intervention program, which helps children and families, and saves the Commonwealth money over the long term.
Advocated and voted for the 2009 Ethics Reform legislation that increases penalties for ethics and lobbying violations and strengthens state law enforcement authorities.
Advocated and voted for the Economic Development and Reorganization Act, which streamlined state government, unclogged the permitting process, and supported “Smart Growth” initiatives to improve communities.
Organized a coalition of colleagues that successfully advocated for a section of the 2009 Pension Reform law that closed egregious loopholes in the state’s pension system, while clarifying rules and definitions to prevent self-interested individuals from taking advantage of the system.
Analyzing Major Issues Facing the Commonwealth
Authored a twenty page, quantitative and qualitative analysis of the three resort casino proposal promoted by the Governor.
Wrote the “Special Commission Report to Investigate and Study the Commonwealth’s Liability for Paying Retiree Health Care and Other Non-Pension Employee Benefits,” which outlines options and recommendations for funding future liabilities in a fiscally responsible manner.
As a state representative, it is a privilege to be able to help constituents in need. Below are examples of constituent services which my office staff and I have been able to provide for the residents of Lincoln, Sudbury, and Wayland.
Helped a single mother who called looking for affordable childcare options for her children as she tried to work her way off of public assistance. Our office connected her to resources and low-cost childcare services in her area that allowed her to keep her job and continue to pursue financial independence for her family.
Assisted families who couldn't afford their mortgage payments by contacting the Attorney General's office on their behalf to help them gain lenience with mortgage lenders.
Blocked legislation that would have unfairly harmed a small business owned by a constituent, thus helping save about 20 Massachusetts-based jobs at the firm.
Helped a constituent who was unable to seek recompense for unfinished and poorly completed home improvement work. We contacted the Attorney General's office, the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation, the Office of Public Safety, and the Better Business Bureau in order to help the constituent file formal complaints and seek legal and financial recourse for the defective work done on his home.
Connected a family at risk of losing state health and disability benefits with a legal assistance organization, which allowed the young constituent to stay in school and care for an ailing relative.
We connected a single, divorced mother who had stopped receiving child support checks from her ex-husband to the right people at the Department of Revenue. DOR discovered an administrative error and the mother’s child support benefits resumed soon thereafter.
Contacted a state transportation agency in order to help an elderly constituent maintain access to public transportation for her disabled husband.
A constituent living with Dystonia was denied surgery by her health insurer to treat her condition. Tom wrote a letter to the insurer asking to reverse its denial of medical coverage. Tom also met with the insurer to advocate for her case. The surgery was ultimately approved. The constituent had the surgery and her health significantly improved.
Facilitated a meeting between a local nonprofit/cultural institution with a quasi-public financing entity in order to obtain a loan for a building renovation and infrastructure maintenance project.
A constituent was not receiving unemployment insurance benefits for five months because an employer appealed his application. And he was having difficulty getting updates from the Division of Unemployment Insurance as to the status of his case. My office contacted the DUI and was able to bring attention to his application. In under a week, his case was settled and he was approved to receive unemployment benefits.
Helped numerous families in which siblings, parents, and children were unable to gain mental health services because of state budget cuts. We connected the families with the appropriate state agency personnel and local service providers so that they could obtain necessary services.
Responded to over 5,800 emails and phone calls from constituents since taking office.
Started “Ask the Rep” on local cable TV in August 2007, a monthly opportunity for constituents to call in and ask me questions about state and local issues of concern.
Write a monthly “In the Arena” column in the local papers, so that constituents remain updated and informed about important developments at the State House.
Maintained monthly office hours in Lincoln, Sudbury, and Wayland public libraries since December of 2006, immediately after being elected.