Key Legislative Accomplishments

  • Senate lead on legislation related to natural gas infrastructure, passed in 2014, which establishes a uniform natural gas leak classification standard for the Commonwealth and increases public safety by requiring strong communication between municipalities and gas companies regarding projects that expose gas infrastructure.  Gas companies are also required to prioritize any repairs detected within school zones.
  • Author of legislation, passed in 2014, enabling the Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI) to provide grants to one or more public entities, nonprofit or for-profit sector entities to build out infrastructure.
  • Author of heart-healthy legislative package, passed by the Senate in 2013 and championed by the American Heart/American Stroke Association requiring all public school athletic coaches to maintain current certification in CPR and ensuring that all hospitals and birth centers test newborn infants for congenital heart defects with noninvasive pulse oximetry screening prior to discharge.
  • Author of legislation passed by the Senate in 2013 requiring the Department of Public Health to draft and enforce regulations to control and mitigate prescription drug diversion.
  • Senate lead on significant Energy Cost Containment and Utility Storm Response legislative packages signed into law in 2012, drafted to stem the rising costs of energy in Massachusetts and ensure public utilities provide timely and informative responses to consumers without service after significant storm events.
  • Senate lead of civil rights legislation signed into law in 2011 ensuring equal protection for transgendered individuals under the Commonwealth’s discrimination and hate crime statutes.
  • Author of Green Jobs Act of 2008 - investing millions in training programs for dislocated workers, the poor and other disadvantaged workers. Training in "green" fields like solar panel installation, home retrofitting, energy auditing, etc.
  • Championed passage of Broadband Bond - authorizing $40 million to ensure universal access to high speed internet for unserved and under-served communities of Western Massachusetts.
  • Senate lead on Municipal Health Insurance Reform, Part I - allowing municipalities to purchase health insurance through GIC, potentially saving millions. Pittsfield has entered the GIC and seen significant savings already.
  • Supported Dairy Farms by voting for legislation to ramp up marketing efforts and allowing Department of Agricultural Resources to offer technical assistance and loans to farmers.
  • Served on Governor Patrick's Public Integrity Task Force whose recommendations were the basis sweeping ethics reform passed by the Legislature and championed by Senator Downing.
  • Proposed comprehensive legislative package to enhance economic development efforts in Gateway Cities. Including homeownership rehab tax credits and other incentives to assist in the revitalization of Pittsfield and other Gateway Cities.
Budget Advocacy
  • Advocated for increased funding for state scholarships, dual enrollment, and public higher education institutions, including local education projects like the intermodal center classrooms and MCLA’s Gallery 51.
  • Won support for the Bridges to College program – a new college transition service.
  • Supported amendments to ensure food banks can provide for needy in emergencies.
  • Secured emergency budget relief for the City of North Adams to mitigate costs associated with the unexpected and sudden closure of North Adams Regional Hospital in FY15.
  • Created and secured funding for the Community Mediation Center Grant Program.
  • Vocal advocate of full funding for regional school transportation in every budget cycle. Lead sponsor in FY12 and FY13.
  • Worked to increase funding for Meals on Wheels, Councils on Aging and other senior related programs.
  • Offered successful amendment to increase senior volunteer property tax relief.
  • Supported increased funding for BRTA and reforms in state relationship with RTAs to improve access to public transportation in western Massachusetts. Including advocating for forward funding and allowing RTAs to borrow more efficiently.
  • Authored successful amendment to require a western Massachusetts presence in the Regional Public Library System.
  • Authored language to instill transparency and accountability in tax credits granted by the Commonwealth.
  • Consistently supported increased funding for cultural accounts, and earmarked millions for local cultural institutions and programs, including visitor information centers, Berkshire Museum, Berkshire Theater Festival, Jacob’s Pillow, Barrington Stage Company, the Mahaiwe Theatre, Tanglewood, and others.
  • Advanced regional public safety initiatives through increased financial support for the Berkshire Sheriff’s department, including: additional funding for the 911 regional dispatch center; investment in the step-down and regional lockup facility; and secured additional funding for the Drug Task Force.