State Representative Dave Rogers

UPDATES

Happy New Year


I hope all of you had a good New Year and hopefully were able to get some time off to spend with friends and family. Here on Beacon Hill the second year of the legislative session kicks off with a number of issues pending. These include likely action on energy policy and the opioid epidemic. In addition we will focus on the annual challenges and opportunities posed by the state budget as well as an MBTA still in poor repair and in a difficult financial position. I expect this year to be productive and look forward to working with my colleagues as we continue to work to meet the challenges Massachusetts faces and improve life here in the Commonwealth.

Opioid Crisis and Pending Legislation


As you all likely know, Massachusetts is in the midst of a public health crisis, an opioid epidemic that has claimed the lives of more than 1000 Massachusetts residents died from overdoses in just this past year. As heart rending as that statistic is, it also must be said that many untold thousands more lives have been adversely affected by addiction. In addition to the terrible toll on lives, the epidemic has also placed a hefty burden on taxpayers, as addiction and its many consequences are expensive problems. You may recall from a number of previous newsletters that the Legislature has already taken a first round of actions to curb the epidemic, but more actions and investments are needed. Governor Baker has released a proposal and this past week a bill moved forward from the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse that takes strong action while tempering a pair of Governor Bakers proposals (specifically the committee bill does not allow doctors to hold patients against their will for substance abuse reasons and allows for seven day supplies of prescribed opioids rather than only 3). The House and Senate are both poised to address the ongoing crisis in the spring. I will continue to listen carefully to debate over how to best handle this public health crisis which will require us to look at every opportunity - be it legislation, the budget, or regulation - as a chance to take action to keep residents of the Commonwealth safe.

Massachusetts' Debt Limit


The Commonwealth is currently pushing up against its debt limit. The debt limit for FY2017 (beginning on July 1, 2016) was set statutorily at $21.735 billion, a mark that Massachusetts is currently projected to exceed. There are a number of possible solutions to the problem including scaling back spending and exempting certain capital projects or future borrowing from the limit. Of course, scaling back spending would preclude critically important investments in the future of the Commonwealth like the Green Line extension while increased borrowing could threaten Massachusetts exemplary AA+ bond rating. The debt limit will be one more challenge for the Legislature to address this spring. It is important when looking at debt to view it as a percentage of the overall economy, not simply as an absolute number. While of course we need to be prudent and thoughtful about the debt limit, I also believe that it is not nearly the cause for alarm on might take it to be at first glance.

MBTA Financial Control Board Report


In the FY2016 budget, the Legislature authorized another round of reforms at the MBTA. Notable among these reforms was the establishment of the Financial Control Board (FCB), a new governing body for the MBTA. In its most recent report, the Board has forecasted tough choices ahead. Fare hikes seem particularly likely in light of a projected $242 million deficit and with Governor Baker pledging that no new tax revenue will be proposed. You can download the report here. As always, fixing the MBTA and its finances remains a top priority of mine and I will continue to advocate for both revenue and reform.

Energy Editorial


I have written extensively in these newsletters about the ongoing debate over energy policy in the Commonwealth. A short while ago, I published an editorial on energy policy that features some of my thoughts on the major debate that is likely to happen this spring. Here is a link to that article which I hope you find interesting.

Belmont and Arlington High School Project Proposals Move Forward


Proposals to renovate Belmont High School and rebuild Arlington High School have both moved forward in the process of securing state support for the projects. To receive assistance from the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA), the proposals must be reviewed and moved forward as recommendations by MSBA staff to the MSBA board of directors, a hurdle both projects cleared. 26 projects met the MSBA criteria of “needy and urgent” and merited this recommendation, although the MSBA only chose to fund 15 projects in 2015. While the MSBA would contribute only a portion of the necessary resources for the renovation or rebuild, even its partial support would significantly ease the burden placed on taxpayers in town and make these ambitious projects feasible. The MSBA Board will meet on January 27th to determine which projects will be funded.

Belmont Cultural Council Survey


The Belmont Cultural Council is conducting a survey of Belmont residents to get public input about how best distribute its funds. This is a great chance to give some input into what you want out of the arts in Belmont.

MBTA Rider Census


The MBTA is currently conducting a system-wide census of its ridership. The census, which takes about 5 minutes to complete. helps the MBTA collect information that plays an important role in planning service and ensuring service is provided fairly. The MBTA will use the data collected in the Rider Census to evaluate current service, to plan future service, and to analyze the potential rider impacts of service or fare change proposals. In addition, the census satisfies a requirement to survey riders every five years about their demographics and trip-making characteristics.

Belmont Light Energy Efficiency Grant Program


Belmont Light operates an energy efficiency grant program that many Belmont residents have taken advantage of to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. You can find out more on the town website.

Arlington Public News Interview


I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Arlington Public News for an interview. I was joined in the interview by State Representative Sean Garballey - who represents the remainder of Arlington - and we took the opportunity to discuss a number of issues facing the town, notably including the Minuteman Regional Agreement, state aid for Arlington, the proposed Mugar development, and our respective legislative priorities. If you would like to watch our conversation, you can do so here.

Cambridge Participatory Budgeting Winners


As many of you may already know, a feature of Cambridge's budgeting process called "participatory budgeting" allows the public to directly determine how a portion of the city's budget will be spent. You can read about which projects were funded this year on the participatory budgeting website. Additionally, Cambridge has once again won the Government Finance Officers Association’s Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for the 31st consecutive year due to meeting the highest principles of governmental budgeting.

Belmont Goes Solar


Belmont has a new initiative around solar energy with the goal of adding at least 100 rooftop solar installations during 2016. Not only are solar panels good for the environment and often a good investment, they are also supported by federal tax credits that expire at the end of 2016. Belmont Goes Solar will be hosting a pair of information sessions on January 13th and 23rd where those considering installing panels can meet installers.

Register to Vote


Massachusetts residents can register to vote online. If you are not registered to vote or have family and friend that are yet to do so, be sure to encourage them to to register!

Unclaimed Property


As many as 1 in 10 citizens of the Commonwealth, including many of my constituents, are owners of unclaimed property. Unclaimed property includes savings accounts, checking accounts, unpaid wages or commissions, stocks, underlying shares, uncashed dividends, customer deposits or overpayments, certificates of deposit, credit balances, refunds, money orders, paid-up life insurance policies, safe deposit boxes, and uncashed benefit checks, and gift certificates, all of which sat unused and were ultimately taken by the state. If you want to research whether or not you own unclaimed property, you can find out here.

Legislation


Each month I take the opportunity provided by my email newsletter to highlight one or more of the bills I have filed. This month I want to focus on one of the more substantial proposals that I have put forward entitled "An Act establishing a right to counsel in certain eviction cases."

H1560: An Act establishing a right to counsel in certain eviction cases: This legislation creates a right to counsel for indigent individuals in civil proceedings in which loss of housing is a potential outcome. What good are legal rights if you cannot afford to exercise them? For far too many, “and justice for all” is an illusion. Supported by the American, Massachusetts and Boston Bar Associations, this legislation helps make the promise of justice more real. Housing is one of the foundations on which individuals and families build lives, and the loss of housing is one of the most disruptive events a person or family can experience. By making sure rights are protected in practice as well as in theory, we can also at times avert the introduction of a major risk factor for homelessness and thereby see budgetary savings.

As always, you can review all of the bills that I have filed on my website.

Community Events

Cambridge City Council Inaugural Meeting


The newly elected Cambridge City Council will be holding its inaugural meeting on Monday, January 4th at 10:00 a.m. in Cambridge City Hill (795 Mass Ave).

Cambridge School Committee Inauguration


Cambridge residents will have the opportunity to welcome their newly elected school committee to office on Monday, January 4th at 5:00 p.m. at the Cambridge Public Library (Main Branch, 449 Broadway).

Sustainable Belmont Meeting


Sustainable Belmont will be holding a meeting from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the Belmont Public Library (336 Concord Ave.) on Wednesday, January 6th.

Cambridge Business Assistance Information Session


The City of Cambridge Economic Development Department Division will be hosting an information session for Cambridge residents who own businesses or are thinking about starting businesses at 6:00 p.m. on Monday, January 11th at City Hall Annex, 344 Broadway in the 2nd floor common room. The event is free for all and will feature discussion of the variety of programs and supports that the city provides to local businesses.

Cambridge Housing Information Session


The Housing Division of the Cambridge's Community Development Department will be hosting a pair of information sessions about the City's Affordable Rental and Home Ownership Programs on Monday, January 11th at 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. at the Massachusetts Alliance of Portuguese Speakers (MAPS), 1046 Cambridge Street, Cambridge MA. The sessions will provide an opportunity to learn more about some of the ways Cambridge helps residents secure affordable housing.

Arlington Town Democratic Committee Meeting


The Arlington Town Democratic Committee will be meeting on Wednesday, January 13th at 7:15 p.m. at the lower-level meeting room at the Arlington Senior Center.

Annual Belmont Martin Luther King Day Breakfast


Belmont will be holding its annual Martin Luther King Day Breakfast on Monday, January 18th at 8:30 a.m. in the Belmont High School cafeteria. This year's featured speaker will be State Senator Linda Dorcena Forry of the 1st Suffolk District.

Annual Arlington Martin Luther King Day Celebration


Every year the town of Arlington comes together to celebrate Martin Luther King Day. This year's special event will celebrate 50 years of METCO in Arlington and will feature special guest speaker Boston City Counselor Tito Jackson. Doors for the event will open at 6:45 p.m. and the event will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, January 18th. The celebration will be held at Arlington Town Hall (730 Mass Ave).

Growing Greener: Arlington's Energy Future


Come learn more about Arlington's energy future at the Arlington Land Trust's annual meeting on Tuesday, January 26th from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the Arlington Senior Center (Maple and Academy streets behind Town Hall). This year's featured guest speaker will be Arlington Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine, who will be reviewing recent achievements in energy efficiency implemented in town buildings.

January Office Hours


I will hold office hours at the following times and places during January. I encourage any and all to stop by and speak with me about any concerns or to offer any input you might have.

Tuesday, January 12th from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at the Beech Street Center in Belmont
(266 Beech Street, Belmont, MA 02478).

Tuesday, January 12th from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Kickstand Cafe in Arlington (594 Massachusetts Avenue, Arlington, MA 02476)

Friday, January 15th from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. at Bruegger’s Bagels in Belmont (41 Leonard Street, Belmont, MA 02478).

Tuesday, January 26th from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. at Verna's Donut Shop in North Cambridge (2344 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02140)

You can also always contact me at any time in my office at 617 722 2013 or at dave.rogers@mahouse.gov.

Local Media


Arlington, Belmont, and Cambridge are vibrant communities that sport multiple local news platforms that are worth perusing to learn more about what is going on in your community.

Arlington:
Belmont Cambridge

Social Media


I am glad to have already connected with many of you on Facebook. Due to the limitations on personal Facebook pages, however, I plan to start to do more of my political and community outreach from my political page. Please like my official State Representative page here. You can also follow me on twitter to find out more about my representation of the 24th Middlesex District.

Other Events


There are a number of other places to find out about events in your community:

Contact Me


I welcome your input and hope to hear from you on issues of mutual concern. Email: rep.dave.rogers@gmail.com. State House office phone: 617-722-2013. Personal cell phone: 617-817-9395. Website: repdaverogers.com.
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