State Representative Dave Rogers

SEPTEMBER UPDATES

Happy September! As we move into the fall, I thought it would be a good opportunity to look ahead at the upcoming election. On November 8th you will not only be asked to choose our next president you will also get to play the role of lawmaker. There are four ballot questions where your vote will pass or reject a law. This year the four initiatives cover a wide array of significant topics: 1) you will be asked if you would like to allow a second slots parlor in the state; 2) whether to lift the cap on charter schools; 3) whether to prohibit certain methods of farm animal containment; and 4) whether to legalize recreational marijuana for everyone over 21 years of age.

How Do Ballot Questions Work?

Every two years, voters in the Commonwealth are asked to directly decide hugely important policy questions. Yet, I'd imagine most have little idea how the process works, so let's take a look.

To get a question on the ballot in November, ten citizens write up and sign a petition with the text of the proposed law. Next, they file the petition along with a certificate proving they are registered voters from their respective towns to the Office of the Attorney General. The Attorney General then must ensure that the petition is of an acceptable subject to qualify as a ballot question. If approved, the petition is returned to the petitioners with a “fair and concise summary.”

The summary and the petition are sent to the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth. The Secretary then prepares blank initiative petition forms for the collection of signatures. This year it was determined that petitions must receive 64,750 signatures. This number is determined by calculating 3% of the total votes cast for Governor in the last state election. If enough signatures are gathered, then the proposed law is put before the General Court (the House and the Senate). From here the General Court may pass the bill and send it to the Governor to sign as with any other law. However, if the Legislature votes against it, or doesn't vote on it at all, then the petitioners must get 10,792 additional signatures to put it on the ballot as a question, or 0.5% of the total votes cast for Governor in the last state election. Once these signatures have been gathered, the proposal to enact the law will be placed on the ballot where it will be voted on at the November 8th election. As I mentioned, this year four petitions were able to get through this process and have made it onto the ballot this November for your consideration. In this month’s newsletter, I will focus on the first two ballot questions.

Slots Parlors and Charter Schools

Question one aims to expand slots machine gaming in the state. The gambling law passed in 2011 authorizes only one slots parlor and three resort casinos. This question would allow for a second slots parlor. The current slots parlor license is held by the Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville. The specifics of this ballot question are interesting. The new slots parlor could only be built near a certain sized horse racetrack, the qualifications matching the specific criteria of Suffolk Downs racetrack on the East Boston / Revere line, conventional wisdom making this the most logical location. Even if this ballot question passes, local voters must still approve the slots parlor in a local referendum and the project must obtain a license from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. In general, I am not in favor of expanding gambling and will be voting against this question. We already have one slots parlor with full-scale casinos on the way. I just do not think we need to add to our gambling capacity so soon, if ever.

The second question would raise the current cap on charter schools, thus allowing for up to 12 new charters schools to open a year. As you may know, this is a relatively contentious issue, even among Democrats in our state. I am opposed to this ballot question as the 12 new charter schools that would be allowed a year could be approved without the consent of the towns they affect. If this ballot question were to pass, it is estimated that in addition to the $450 million that is currently diverted from public schools each year to charter schools, as much as $100 million more would be taken out of our already-underfunded schools. It has also been shown that charter schools focus more on increasing their student's test scores that on creating a well-rounded learning environment for its students. Again, charter schools are not accountable to their town’s school committees and are often approved against the wishes of the local community. Our public schools need this money to grow and improve. By investing in our public schools, we could expand our early childhood education programs and focus on classes that would enrich our children’s education and their success in the future.

September 8th Primary

 

 
As you may be aware, the Democratic Primary is coming up next Thursday. Although I am unopposed, I would be appreciative of your vote!! In addition, on the ballot this year you will find that the Middlesex Sheriff Peter Koutoujian is running for re-election against Barry Kelleher. I support Peter because I believe he is a fine public servant and clearly the better candidate.

My Cambridge constituents will also have to choose between nominating State Senator Pat Jehlen in her campaign versus City Councilor Leland Cheung. I strongly support Pat Jehlen! She was my first mentor in state politics and policy and is a truly gifted State Senator.

You can find out what your ballot will look like here:
http://wheredoivotema.com/bal/MyElectionInfo.aspx

Arlington Wins a Livable Streets Grant


In July Arlington was awarded $400,000 from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation under their “Complete Streets” program. It offers “municipalities incentives to adopt policies and practices that provide safe and accessible options for all travel modes – walking, biking, transit, and vehicles – for people of  all ages and abilities.” This money will be used to improve sidewalks and curbs on Gray Street between Oakland Avenue and Lockeland Avenue. Find out more about the planned project here: http://www.arlingtonma.gov/Home/Components/News/News/4078/16?backlist=%2f

 

Arlington and Cambridge Path


I am thrilled to see this new walking path being constructed, which will also have park benches and plants, on the border of Arlington and Cambridge. Thank you to Owen O'Riordan, the Director of Cambridge Public Works, the talented staff at the Commonwealth's Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and the engaged constituents who helped make it happen.

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.

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 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


I have been using this newsletter as and opportunity to highlight one or more of the bills I have filed each month. I have now run through each of the 26 bills I filed for the 2015/2016 legislative session. As always, you can review all of the bills that I have filed on my website

Community Events

Sustainable Belmont

The regular meeting will be held on Wednesday, September 7th from 7:00pm-8:30pm at the Belmont Public Library.

24th Annual Cambridge Carnival Festival
On Sunday, September 11th, from 12:00pm-7:00pm this annual tradition will be taking place in and around Central and Kendall Squares. There will be a parade, music and dance performances, food and crafts. Learn more at their website, http://cambridgecarnival.org/

Arlington, Belmont and Lexington Democratic Town Committee Open House
The Democratic Town Committees of Arlington, Belmont and Lexington are getting together to host an open house on Sunday, September 11th with Congresswoman Kathrine Clark. It will be held from 2:30pm-4:30pm at 1306 Massachusetts Avenue in Arlington.

Girls Who Code

Girls Who Code is an organization that teaches computer science skills to girls in grades 6th-12th. The club will meet Monday afternoons starting in September with the first meeting on September 12th from 4:00pm-6:00pm at the Belmont Public Library in the Assembly Room. For more information and to register email Kylie Sparks at ksparks@minlib.net.

Belmont Library Open Public Forum Forum

The Belmont Library's Board of Library Trustees is hosting an Open Public Forum at the Belmont Library on Wednesday, September 14th at 7:00pm in the Assembly Room. Learn about the feasibility study being done at the library and give your feedback.

Arlington Democratic Town Committee

The next meeting will be on Thursday, September 15th at 7:15pm in the Main Room, Upper Level of the Arlington Senior Center on 27 Maple St.

Moonlight Beach Party
Join the Arlington Parks Alliance and the Arlington Recreation Department for a beach party at Reservoir Beach to raise money for the 27 parks and playgrounds in Arlington. To learn more about the event on Saturday, September 17th from 7:00pm- 11:00pm visit the website, http://arlingtonparks.org/.

Danehy Park Family Day
Cambridge's 21st Annual Danehy Day will be on Saturday, September 17th from 11:00am-4:00pm. There will be rides, crafts, music, free food and T-shirts. Rain day is September 18th. Danehy Park is at 99 Sherman St in North Cambridge. A free shuttle bus will be running throughout Cambridge and from the Alewife train station. Find out more here, http://www.cambridgema.gov/DanehyPark

Sustainable Arlington August Meeting
On Wednesday, September 21st Sustainable Arlington will be meeting at Town Hall Annex at 7:30pm.

Other Events


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

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.

September Office Hours


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

Tuesday, September 13th from 9:30am to 10:30am at the Beech Street Center in Belmont (266 Beech Street, Belmont, MA 02478).

Friday, September 16th from 9:30pm to 10:30pm at Bruegger's Bagels and Cafe in Belmont (41 Leonard Street, Belmont, MA 02178)

Tuesday, September 20th from 4:30pm to 5:30pm at Kickstand Cafe in Arlington (594 Massachusetts Avenue, Arlington, MA 02476)

Friday, September 23rd from 4:30pm to 5:30pm at Fiorella's Express in North Cambridge (2401 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.
 

Farmers Market Season


The Arlington Farmers Market is open through late October and is held every Wednesday 2:00pm to 6:30pm in Arlington Center in the Russell Common parking lot, behind Park Terrace. The Belmont Farmers Market is open through October 27th and is held every Thursday 2:00pm to 6:30pm in the Town Center parking lot. Cambridge has a farmers market every day of the week, many open through November: check out the times and locations here

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

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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