State Representative Dave Rogers

FEBRUARY UPDATES

In January, I was sworn in for my third term as your State Representative. I am very excited to get started on the work that is to come. I thank the people of Arlington, Belmont, and Cambridge for the opportunity to be of service. Given what has happened nationally, I feel a special obligation to serve with distinction and accomplish important objectives that prove government can and does play an important positive function in helping ensure equal opportunity and equal protection before the law. Government "of, by and for the people" is alive and well here.

I am also very excited that my bill, filed with Senator Brownsberger, An Act protecting bicyclists in bicycle lanes, passed both the House and Senate at the very end of last session and was signed into law by the Governor of January 13th. This law will protect bicyclists by prohibiting motor vehicle operators from parking in on-street paths or lanes or placing the vehicle where it interferes with the safety and passage of bicyclists. Motorists frequently park in bicycle lanes, forcing bicyclists to merge into traffic. Seeing this bill made into law was a great way to start the year.

Legislation for the 190th Session

For this upcoming two-year session, I have filed 22 key pieces of legislation applicable to a variety of areas of public policy. Some of them are re-files from last session, meaning they are the same or similar to previous bills. Below, I have highlighted just some of my key bills. On my web page, you can see the rest of the bills I have filed, which I intend to highlight in more detail in future newsletters.

An Act establishing the Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act: The experiences of pregnant workers around the Commonwealth reveal the need for legislation to allow them reasonable accommodations in the workplace in certain scenarios. These reasonable accommodations may include: more frequent or longer breaks, seating, light duty, assistance with manual labor, temporary transfer to less strenuous or hazardous positions, and private non-bathroom space for expressing breast milk. The PWFA also would protect pregnant workers who seek such accommodations from adverse employment consequences, prevent denial of opportunities based on the need for accommodation, and protect women from being required to take leave from their jobs if a reasonable accommodation can be made.  

An Act reforming pretrial process: The bill proposes shifting Massachusetts away from a cash bail system by instituting a risk-based assessment tool to reach pretrial release decisions. This approach helps ensure that bail decisions will be made in a more equitable manner, and based on the defendant's specific circumstances and not their ability to access money.

 
An Act establishing a right to counsel in certain eviction cases: This legislation creates a right to counsel for low-income individuals and landlords in civil proceedings in which loss of housing is a potential outcome. Our Housing Court is an overwhelming place for poor people facing eviction, and for low-income landlords as well. And unlike other forms of litigation, eviction litigation is fast-paced, and tenants quickly lose rights if they do not assert them promptly. Given this reality, the need for competent counsel is paramount.

An Act to improve water quality and pollution control programs: The legislation would require the Water Resources Commission to conduct a gap analysis and make recommendations for improvements to the federal and state water pollution control programs in Massachusetts.

 
State Leaders Compensation
  • Background
Late last month, I was asked to review, consider and vote on legislation that would increase the compensation of state legislators, constitutional officers (including Governor Baker, Attorney General Maura Healey) and our state judges.  Over the last decade or so, there have been commissions appointed to study this issue, with the most recent exhaustive study conducted by a panel of outside experts in 2014.  If you would like to read the 2014 report, here is a link to that study: https://www.umb.edu/academics/mgs/special_projects/masspubliccomp/report

The seven commissioners who conducted the most recent study were from groups outside state government, including two from “good government” groups (the League of Women Voters, and the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation). For those of you with the time and the inclination to click on the report and dig a little deeper, I think you will find it is quite thorough. And in the end, the findings of the commission were unanimous. The gist of their findings is that the pay of senior legislative leaders and constitutional officers should increase for a variety of reasons.

Acting on the commission’s report, last month a public hearing was held on the issue of compensation for legislators and then the relevant committees of the Legislature deliberated and developed the plan on which we voted.  The vote was taken at a formal session, with full roll call votes and time for all members to offer amendments and debate the issue on the floor.  And the issue has been pretty widely publicized in the press. 
  • The Numbers
As may not be widely known, the base pay legislators receive is established in the state constitution and is tied to the median income in the state. In other words, the Legislature cannot vote to raise its own base salary. It would be unconstitutional.  Base pay is currently about $62,000.  My first term, the pay actually went down based on the median income formula. This term it went up. But it has stayed in the same general ballpark during my four years in the Legislature. The vote we took does not change the base pay of any legislator.

In addition to base pay, legislators get an allotment for office expenses. That amount is currently about $7,200 annually. The vote we took increases the office expense category which has not been adjusted in about a decade, raising it to $15,000 from $7,200.

The other main adjustment to legislator compensation was in the form of leadership stipend increases. In most cases, the stipends have not been adjusted since 1982. Leadership stipends are paid to those in more senior positions in the Legislature. So for instance, if a legislator is a Chair, a Vice-Chair, or in other senior leadership roles, then that legislator receives extra compensation to account for the extra workload associated with the leadership position.  Currently, Chairs get $7,500 extra, except for the Chairs of the busiest committees who get $15,000.   The very senior most leadership positions like Speaker, Majority Leader, and a few other positions receive higher leadership stipends. In the case of these senior most positions, I have seen up close just how all-consuming they are; they come with big responsibilities.
 
  • How I Voted and My Thoughts in General
I voted for the compensation adjustments and believe they are in the public interest for a variety of reasons. I have given this issue some considerable thought over the years I have served.
Putting aside the personal financial situation of any particular legislator, there are some broad public policy reasons why I think this action makes sense, many of which were noted in the report of the commission. First off, we do not want a Legislature composed of only the wealthy, who can serve regardless of compensation.  Every day that I am in the job, I see how, and why, it helps shape better policy if people from varied socio-economic backgrounds have the opportunity to serve.


Another reason I support these changes stems from the need to first attract, and then retain, well-qualified people to the important work of lawmaking.  During my relatively short time in the Legislature, I have witnessed a great number of colleagues leave due to financial pressures. Many of these legislators were among the most talented people in state public service, several with advanced degrees, strong work ethic and tremendous leadership abilities.  This “brain drain” is not in the public interest. 

And I know this brings up a broader conversation.  On the one hand, public service is just that -- a service to the public -- and one should not enter it with the expectation of personal gain.  I am happy to report to you, after getting to know most of my colleagues in the Legislature reasonably well over these past four years, the great majority of them are in public service for all of the right reasons. On the other hand, while most are motivated by altruistic goals, we are human and face all of the same financial pressures that most of you do.  And the job of state lawmaker can be quite demanding and creep into all corners of one’s life.

Finally, and equally important, I think it is important that lawmakers do not face inordinate financial strain as they undertake public service because it well might leave them open to undue influence.  Many individuals and groups come to make their case before the Legislature. If the legislator they are seeking to influence is literally barely making ends meet, I worry about bad outcomes, and that should concern everyone interested in good government.

With all of that in mind, I believe the compensation adjustments we voted on are logical and reasonable. If I thought they were not sensible and in the public interest, I would not have voted for them.  I love my job and certainly do not do it for the money.  However, I do think that public service positions should pay a living wage and also believe there are larger societal goals achieved through the adjusted compensation package recently approved.

As with any other issue, I welcome and encourage your questions or comments.  I am highly accessible and always ready to engage on any issue.  So call, write or stop by my office in person anytime you want to discuss this or any other topic.
 
Boston Women's March

I was proud
 to participate in the Boston Women's March, the largest peaceful protest in the history of the city of Boston. While organizers expected perhaps 60,000 people, as many as 150,000 or more turned out. During these challenging times, we need to fight for women's rights and countless other progressive priorities. Let's keep the momentum going!

Envision Cambridge Survey


Cambridge residents, share your thoughts and help Cambridge develop a shared vision around six core values. Take the survey to share what you think should be important in the future of the city here.

Belmont Town Elections


Interested in running for office? In April elections will be held for both Town Meeting and Town-Wide offices. Visit this website to find out more about the responsibilities of the offices and how to get started. The deadline to submit nomination papers to get on the ballot is Tuesday, February 14th.

Cambridge Advisory Committee Seeks Volunteers


The Cambridge City Manager's office is looking for residents or stakeholders to serve on the new Advisory Committee. The committee will consist of 12-15 members to discuss city issues and work to find a way to resolve problems. The application deadline is Friday, February 17th. Read more about the new program and find out how to apply here.

Community Films on the Global Refugee Crisis


Join the Belmont Public Library, Beth El Temple Center, Belmont World Films, First Church UU of Belmont, Belmont Against Racism, Belmont Religious Council and the Human Rights Commission for "A Community Responds: Three Films on the Global Refugee Crisis." Throughout the month of February at the West Newton Cinema and Belmont Public Library, there will be three films, highlighting the experiences of refugees in Afghanistan, Syria, and Mexico. Speakers will also be present to lead a discussion after the show. Find out the dates and locations here.

Register to Vote


Massachusetts residents can register to vote online. If you are not registered to vote or have family and friends that are registered, be sure to encourage them to register! It is never too early to register for the next election.

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.

Community Events

CAMBRIDGE'S STATE OF THE CITY ADDRESS
Join Cambridge Mayor Denise Simmons and City Manager Louis DePasquale for the annual State of the City Address on Wednesday, February 1st at 6:00pm at Cambridge City Hall in the Sullivan Chamber. Light refreshments will be served at 5:30pm.

SUSTAINABLE BELMONT
This months Sustainable Belmont meeting will be held on Wednesday, February 1st at
7:00pm at the Belmont Public Library. Visit their website here.

BELMONT DEMOCRATS
The Belmont Democrats will hold their monthly meeting on Thursday, February 2nd at
6:30pm in the Selectmen's Room at Belmont Town Hall.

BELMONT RECYCLING-PILOT PROGRAM
Belmont is continuing its pilot cardboard recycling program to help you recycle your holiday cardboard. You can drop off your flattened cardboard Saturday, February 4th from 9:00am -12:00pm at the Town Yard, 37 C St.

HARVARD SQUARE'S 9TH ANNUAL CHILI COOK-OFF
On Saturday, February 4th from 1:00-2:30pm there will be free samples from local restaurants and you can vote on your favorite. Find out more here.

BELMONT DRIVES ELECTRIC INFO-SESSION
Belmont Drives Electric is having an Info-Session and Test Driving event on Saturday, February 4th from 1:00-4:00pm. The event will be held in the Belmont High School Cafeteria. Visit their website here.

HUMOR FOR HUMANITY: JIMMY TINGLE IN THE AGE OF TRUMP
Cambridge-born comedian Jimmy Tingle will be at Sanders Theater Saturday, February 4th at 8:00pm. The revenue from the show will go to 20 local charities that work with a variety issues, including substance abuse, homelessness, immigrant rights, youth literacy, international peace and justice, independent journalism and women's leadership. Find out more and buy tickets here.

OUT OF MANY, ONE: AN INTERGENERATION COMMUNITY DIVERSITY PHOTOGRAPHY PROJECT
The Arlington Council on Aging is collaborating with a photographer, Kristen Chalmers, to help her expand her photography project to include seniors of all ages and backgrounds. The photo sessions will be Wednesday, February 8th from 10:00am-12:00pm and Thursday, February 9th from 4:00pm-5:00pm. Find out more on the here.
ARLINGTON RECYCLE CENTER OPEN
From 9:00am-12:00pm on Saturday, February 11th the pop-up recycling center will be open at the Arlington DPW, 51 Grove Street. 

ARLINGTON DEMOCRATS
On Saturday, February 11th, the Arlington Democrats will be holding a caucus to elect their 37 delegates and 6 alternates to the Massachusetts Democratic Convention in July. It will be at 10:30am in the Main Room, Upper Level of the Arlington Senior Center. Find out more here.

BELMONT BOARD OF HEALTH TALK ABOUT BEEKEEPING
On Wednesday, February 15th at 7:00pm join the Belmont Board of Health for a public forum to talk about the keeping of honeybees. The forum will be held in the Selectman's Meeting Room at Town Hall. Find out more here.

SUSTAINABLE ARLINGTON
Arlington's monthly Sustainable Arlington meeting will be held on Thursday, February 16th 7:30pm at Town Hall Annex. Visit their website here.
A MEMORY, A MONOLOGUE, A RANT AND A PRAYER
This Valentines Day show will be a collection of real life stories gathered by Eve Ensler and Mollie Doyle. This performance about violence and abuse will read by members of the community. Proceeds will be given to New Beginnings Reentry Services, Inc. The performances will be held Friday, February 17th and Saturday, February 18th at 7:30pm at First Church Belmont. Find our more here.
CELEBRATE WASHINGTON'S BIRTHDAY
Join the celebration of Geroge Washington's birthday at his headquarters at the Longfellow House–Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site on Wednesday, February 22nd. Tours will be held from 1:00pm-4:00pm, find out more here.

CELEBRATE LONGFELLOW'S BIRTHDAY
On Monday, February 27th from 10:00-11:30am there will be an event at Mount Auburn Cemetary to celebrate the life of Cambridge's own Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Read the details of the event here.

Other Events


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

Office Hours


I will hold office hours at the following times and places during the month. 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. Occasionally, my aide Kira Arnott attends office hours in my place and then relays any issues to me. If you wish to speak to me directly, please email me at Dave.Rogers@mahouse.gov so that I can ensure that I will be attending. If I am not able to make it, we can set up a meeting at a mutually convenient time.

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

Tuesday, February 14th from 9:30am to 10:30am at the Beech Street Center in Belmont (266 Beech Street, Belmont, MA 02478).

Tuesday, February 21st from 4:30pm to 5:30pm at Kickstand Cafe in Arlington (594 Massachusetts Avenue, Arlington, MA 02476).

Friday, February 24th 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.
 

Winter Farmers Market


The Cambridge Winter Farmers Market begins Saturday, December 10th. It will continue Saturdays from 10am-2pm through April, inside the Cambridge Community Center, 5 Callender St. Find out more here.

The Harvard Square Business Association is hosting the first season of the Charles Square Winter Farmers Market this year. The grand opening will be Friday, December 2nd. The market will be open Fridays 12pm-6pm and Sundays 10am-3pm at the lower courtyard of The Charles Hotel in Cambridge. Find out more 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.

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.
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