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House passes FY16 budget

I was honored to join my colleagues in the House of Representatives to pass the FY16 budget which emphasizes economic growth through investments in multiple areas including education and local aid, reform to the state’s transportation system, and an acute focus on improving behavioral health services.

The $38.05 billion spending bill highlights the House’s ongoing commitment to fiscal prudence and targeted investments, a practice that has resulted in Massachusetts retaining its AA+ bond rating, the highest in the state’s history. The budget includes no new taxes or fees and reduces its reliance on one time revenue sources. For the first time since 2007, it does not withdraw any funds from the Commonwealth’s stabilization fund, leaving the balance in excess of $1 billion.

This budget is a true reflection of our commitment to investments in education and economic development, while also proposing creative new solutions to the Commonwealth’s challenges. I thank Speaker DeLeo and Chairman Dempsey for their work in helping us build a strong set of policy statements in a fiscally prudent manner that gained unanimous support among the House members. I am also delighted that we were able to secure $60,000 for the purchase of school safety zone lighting for both Franklin and Medway, along with $50,000 for the Horace Mann Park and statue.

You can read a more detailed release about the budget by clicking here. You can view the actual budget with amendments and Chamber actions by clicking here.

The budget now goes to the Senate.

Horace Mann honored

Franklin took time out to honor one of its most famous residents Horace Mann on the occasion of his 219th birthday. 

The Franklin Historical Commission celebrated 'Horace Mann Day' on Sunday, May 3, 2015 with a special presentation, HORACE MANN AND HIS WORLD, featuring writer and commentator Peter Golden. The speech traced Mann's roots in Franklin and provided the historical context in which he pioneered public education for Massachusetts and the rest of the country.

Mann was born in Franklin in 1796 and went on to become a lawyer, politician, abolitionist, the first Secretary of Education, and the President of Antioch College in Ohio. He is most often referred to as the 'Father of Education'.  

In his introductory remarks at the event, Rep. Roy announced that the Massachusetts House of Representatives included $50,000 in its budget to assist with the construction of the Horace Mann Park and statue in Franklin. Rep. Roy is looking forward to working on the committee established by the Town Council to construct the monument to honor Mann and public education. 

You can learn more about the event by clicking here.

Wiper law softened

The Massachusetts House has voted to soften the impact of a new state law that requires motorists to turn their headlights on whenever they are operating their windshield wipers.

Under a state budget amendment approved last week, the headlights law would remain in effect and violators could still be ticketed with a moving violation. But they would no longer be subject to a potentially costly surcharge on their auto insurance premiums.

The law requires drivers to turn on their headlights during daylight hours when it is raining or visibility is poor. It has not been widely enforced by police to date.

The change backed by the House must also be approved in the Senate.

Student Government Day

For 67 years the Commonwealth’s legislature has hosted Student Government Day at the State House. Every high school in MA is eligible to elect and send two students to represent their town, acting as a state official.

Each student plays a role as a State Senator, State Representative or as a Chief Justice. The students who attend testify during a public hearing and then have the opportunity to debate, amend and then vote on a student related piece of legislation.

It is a wonderful opportunity to educate an involved student and it is a lot of fun. This year all three high schools in Rep. Roy’s district participated and had a great experience.

DESE offers snow day relief to schools

Massachusetts schools can make up some snow days by experimenting with out-of-school assignments or activities.

The concept was presented as an option by the commissioner of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Mitchell D. Chester, to school departments statewide in March in one of his weekly memos. It allows districts to offer instructional projects and activities that students can complete outside the classroom, that may be counted toward the state’s 180-day academic year requirement as long as local school committees determine the work meets the definition of structured learning time.

This is a great option for districts who are running up against the calendar because of snow days. To view the text of Chester's memo, click here.

Delegates chime in at Best Buddies dodgeball tourney

Rep. Roy and Sen. Spilka took the court with the Delegates team at the the Third Annual Best Buddies Dodgeball Tournament. They were joined in the effort by Mike Mershimer, Mark Cole, Joel Loitherstein, and Robert Dellorco.

All proceeds from the tournament, donations and silent auction went directly to the Best Buddies organization to aid with increasing opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. As always the Dodgeball Tournament was a lot of fun and was successful at raising these important funds. 

For more pictures from the event, click here.

Rock the House III at Black Box

Join Rep. Roy and his band Ben Gardner's Boat on Thursday, May 7 from 6 to 9 pm at the Black Box in downtown Franklin for Rock the House III.

Come chat with Jeff and others about what's happening on Beacon Hill, listen to some music, and dance the night away -- or just kick back, relax, and have some fun with friends and neighbors.

Franklin solar challenge spring campaign

Now that the snow has melted and the roofs are clear again, the Franklin Solar Challenge is kicking off its Spring campaign. Started last fall, over 20 Franklin residents have signed up to install solar panels on their houses and start taking control of their electric bills. As seen from this past winter, utility electric rates are unpredictable, and all signs point toward increasing rates in the coming years.

The Franklin Solar Challenge is a community-sponsored initiative modeled off the state’s Solarize Massachusetts campaign. A group of concerned citizens went through a Request for Proposal process to select a vendor, SolarFlair, who could offer the town the best combination of quality and price based on our aggregated buying power. This arrangement gives the residents and businesses in Franklin better pricing and quality control than if every individual tried to negotiate on their own.

This program is open to all residents and businesses in Franklin, no matter how big or how small. The more that participate, the better price everyone gets, and if we hit a certain goal, SolarFlair will donate a solar array to the Franklin Affordable Housing Trust! For more information, click here  or call 508-293-4293.

JFK statue open to visitors

Visitors to the State House now have improved access to a statue of John F. Kennedy that has been largely blocked from the public for more than a decade.

After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, state officials restricted viewing of the monument, citing security concerns because of its proximity to the governor’s office.

This year, officials said they were finally able to address the issue by stationing officers near the door that leads from the State House.

"This is an opportunity to see a great piece of Massachusetts history up close," noted Rep. Roy. "I am happy to be able to bring constituents out onto the courtyard to see this memorial to our 35th President."

Atlantic Bridge Pipeline meeting on Thursday May 14

Over the past several months, Spectra Energy has held a series of Open House events to share information and gather feedback on the proposed Atlantic Bridge pipeline that will run through Franklin and Medway. It was the subject of a recent Local Town Pages article which you can view by clicking here.

Those interested in learning more about Algonquin Gas's Atlantic Bridge Pipeline which is proposed to go through Franklin and Medway should attend the scoping meeting on Thursday, May 14 at the Hawthorne Suites Hotel. For more details on the meeting and project, click here.
Copyright © 2015 State Rep Jeff Roy, All rights reserved.

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