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FROM THE OFFICE OF
SENATOR JOAN B. LOVELY

2nd Essex District

Beverly, Danvers, Peabody, Salem, and Topsfield
Dear Neighbor,

As we transition out of February and into March, the Fiscal Year 2017 budget begins its process through the Legislature. The Joint Committee on Ways and Means has held several hearings across the Commonwealth on the Governor's FY17 budget proposal. Over the past month, the committee has already traveled to Boston, Everett, Medford, Norton, and Springfield to hear valuable testimony from different departments and agencies on a wide variety of important issues, including education, energy, environment, health, public safety, and transportation. While my colleagues and I on the committee learn more about the statewide impact of the FY17 budget proposal, it's important to approach each issue with a North Shore lens. With that goal in mind, I also met with our local mayors and town administrators this month to hear how the state budget can best support our North Shore communities.

In addition to the ongoing state budget process, I wanted to also take this opportunity to update you on the latest news from my Senate office. This email highlights a few exciting events, programs, and announcements that took place at the State House and in your community. I hope you find this update to be helpful and as always, please feel free to contact my office with any questions.
                                                              
                                                                      Thanks for reading,
                                                                             
                                                                      Joan B. Lovely
                                     

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Senate Passes Public Records Reform
On February 4, the Senate unanimously passed legislation reforming how the state handles public records. With provisions to improve compliance and encourage electronic postings, this bill brings Massachusetts’s outdated public records law into the 21st century. Today, people access information much differently than they did 40 years ago, so this bill comprehensively updates our current law to reflect these changes and connect people with public information more efficiently.
 
Among its provisions, the bill brings Massachusetts in line with 47 other states and the federal government in allowing attorney’s fees to be awarded to plaintiffs who are victorious in court when denied records. The bill also requires each state agency and municipality to appoint at least one public records access officer to serve as the point of contact for all public records requests, limits the amount that state agencies and municipalities can charge for production of the records, and requires state entities and encourages municipalities to post many commonly requested public records online.
 
During debate, I proudly sponsored two successful amendments that improved the underlying bill even further. The first amendment requires that any document submitted to a public entity must be provided electronically. Since most documents subject to public record today are drafted electronically, there shouldn’t be a need to waste time and resources scanning documents. It’s easier and more efficient to simply have those very same documents emailed or shared electronically at the time of submission.
 
The second amendment permits municipalities to enter into contracts for off-site storage of records, provided that storage vaults or file rooms do not prevent or unduly restrict a records access officer from providing or storing the information. At this very moment, some cities and town halls may have boxes and boxes of records in a basement or storage room. This amendment gives our local communities a common sense option to improve organization and compliance while ensuring access to public information.
 
I am now serving as the Senate Chair of the conference committee tasked with reconciling the House and Senate versions of the bill. I look forward to collaborating with my House and Senate conferees before sending a final version of the bill to the Governor. 

Legislature Goes Red for Women
Members of Massachusetts Legislature celebrated February as American Heart Month. Heart disease and stroke kill one in three women in the United States, yet 80% of cardiac events may be prevented. In an effort to raise awareness and promote a healthy lifestyle, legislators of the House and Senate joined together to support the Go Red for Women Campaign. Together, we can help make a difference in the lives of the 44 million women in our country affected by cardiovascular diseases.

Beverly, Topsfield Sign Community Compacts
On February 23, I joined Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito and local officials for community compact signings in Beverly and Topsfield. The Baker-Polito Administration's Community Compact Cabinet aims to improve partnerships and promote best practices in municipalities across the Commonwealth. Each community that enters into the compact agrees to focus on key issues where state and local governments can work together to create a better community. In Beverly, the city highlighted sustainable development, workforce, housing, and transportation. In Topsfield, the town emphasized financial management and fiscal policy. 

North Shore Community Events
Over the past month I had the pleasure of attending several community events throughout the Second Essex District:

The North Shore Chamber of Commerce Energy Summit:
A top priority issue for North Shore business leaders, the North Shore chamber invited panelists to speak about the latest developments in the region's energy policy.

The 10th Annual North of Boston Tourism Summit:
Stakeholders in the area's tourism industry came together for a daylong event featuring speakers, workshops, roundtables, and breakout sessions. Over the last 5 years, the North of Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau has awarded $200,000 to many organizations across Essex County through its mini-grant program.

Beverly and Salem Polar Plunge:
Hundreds of residents in Beverly and Salem, including many elementary and high school students, plunged into the cold ocean water to support important local projects and causes in their communities like River House in Beverly and the North Shore Community Development Coalition.

Danvers's Seniors Serving Seniors:
Danvers High School seniors volunteered their time to serve a Valentine's Day Breakfast to older adults in the town.

Salem Alliance for the Environment (SAFE) discussion on Salem Access Television:
SAFE invited Representative Paul Tucker and I to discuss natural gas leaks in Salem and across the Commonwealth as well as pending bills before the Legislature to address this important environmental issue.
Watch the full video here

Harborlight Community Partners Legislative Event in Beverly:
Representative Jerry Parisella and I learned more about the newest housing initiatives to assist families and seniors on the North Shore.

Masconomet School Committee Legislative Update:
Senator Bruce Tarr, Representative Brad Hill, Representative Leonard Mirra, and Representative Ted Speliotis and I shared information on the upcoming state budget debate and its impact on our local schools.

Danvers Cultural Council Meeting:
Representative Ted Speliotis and I recognized grant awardees and explained the status of creative economy funding in the current state budget proposal. Last year, cultural organizations and schools in our region received $94,000 in state funding while North Shore cultural councils received over $52,000.

March District Hours
Beverly Council on Aging
Friday, March 4 9-10AM

Danvers Council on Aging
Friday, March 11 9-10AM

Peabody Council on Aging
Friday, March 18 9-10AM

Salem Council on Aging
Friday, March 18 10-11AM

Topsfield Town Library
Friday, March 18 12-1PM

Please call (617) 722-1410 to schedule an appointment with my office.
 
Visit My Constituent Services Website
OFFICE CONTACT INFORMATION
T: (617) 722-1410  
E: Joan.Lovely@masenate.gov  
F: (617) 722-1347