Senate Approves Foundation Budget Reforms

On Thursday May 10, students, parents, and teachers filled the State House as the Massachusetts Senate unanimously voted to pass a key education reform bill to update the state’s 25-year-old funding formula.

The bill, An Act Modernizing the Foundation Budget for the 21st Century (S.2506), was introduced by Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz (D-Boston) and was co-sponsored by 36 senators. The bill would implement the recommendations of the bipartisan Foundation Budget Review Commission (FBRC) which found that the foundation budget formula is drastically underestimating education costs. This has forced deep cuts to classrooms and critical programs, and one of the worst achievement gaps in the nation.

Today the Senate went on record that we need to do more to support K-12 education in the Commonwealth and that we have a plan to do it. Public schools on the Cape & Islands haven’t received their fair share of state resources. Today’s action is a promise to voters that if they pass the Fair Share Amendment at the ballot this November, we are committed to using those new dollars to fully fund K-12 education.

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Senate Passes "The BRAVE Act" for Veterans

My Amendments to Expand Benefits for National Guard members and Reserves are included in the Legislation

On Thursday May 4, The Massachusetts State Senate unanimously passed “The Brave Act” – new legislation that will expand benefits and increase access to a range of services for veterans, active-duty military and their families, Senator Mike Rush (D-West Roxbury) announced.

I wholeheartedly support the BRAVE act as it will improve the benefits and services to the men and women of our Commonwealth on active duty, veterans who served their country with distinction, and their families. In that spirit, I believe we should expand the current motor vehicle excise tax exemption for active members to those in the reserves.  I also believe we should expand the definition of ‘veteran’ to include those who have served in the National Guard and Reserves, as many serve on the front lines during natural disasters and are deployed overseas. Their service should be honored in the same way we honor those on active duty.

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Senate Passes my Amendments to fund Police Training and Special Education

The Senate passed two amendments that I filed in its supplemental budget.  Both amendments passed unanimously and will fund critical needs that have been underfunded in the past few years:

1) Municipal Police Training Amendment

This Amendment creates a dedicated funding stream for Municipal Police Training.  This funding, when fully implemented, will allow the Municipal Police Training Fund to administer ample resources to effectively reduce or altogether eliminate the costs municipalities currently incur for recruit training. 

2) Special Education Circuit Breaker Amendment

This amendment will increase the Special Education Circuit Breaker Reimbursement by $4.5 million for a total of $12.5 million for this fiscal year.  The circuit breaker is an essential component of public education funding as it ensures that municipalities and school districts are able to pay special education costs without cutting funding from other educational funds.

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Senate Passes Credit Protection Bill

The Senate voted last Thursday 4/26 to pass a bill designed to protect the personal information of consumers in the case of data breaches, like the one seen at Equifax, and provide free credit freezes for all consumers.

The bill, S.2455, An Act relative to consumer protection from security breaches, was sponsored by State Senator Barbara L’Italien (D-Andover), senate chair of the consumer protection committee, and crafted in collaboration with Representative Jennifer Benson (the House sponsor of the bill), Attorney General Maura Healey, the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group (MASSPIRG), and AARP Massachusetts.

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Cape Delegation Letter to Judiciary and Public Safety Committee Chairs

On April 23, 2018, State Senator Julian Cyr, along with the entire Cape and Islands delegation, sent a letter to the Chairs of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary and the Chairs of the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security, in follow up to the murder of Sargent Sean Gannon.

"We owe it to Sergeant Gannon, his family, and the Yarmouth Police Department to take a hard look at what happened, particularly at the Trial Court, witness protection programs, and probation departments. We need to see if there are lessons to be learned from this tragic loss. The Cape & Islands legislative delegation is united in this. It’s about getting answers to help our community heal" Senator Cyr said.

Please view the letter here

See news coverage of the letter at the Cape Cod Times here

Senate Passes student Loan Bill of Rights

Legislation protects students by creating a new licensing process for student loan servicers in the Division of Banks and empowers state officials to investigate and fine loan servicers

On Thursday 12th of April, The Massachusetts State Senate voted to pass S.2380, An Act establishing a student loan bill of rights.  The Student Loan Bill of Rights gives greater protections to student loan borrowers in disputes with companies servicing their loans. Earlier this year, President Trump’s Education Secretary Betsy DeVos rescinded consumer protections that safeguarded student borrowers from deceptive and fraudulent practices by student loan servicers.

The bill requires student loan servicers to be licensed companies with the state Division of Banks, and empowers state officials to investigate the servicers and take action against those that violate the state’s banking and consumer protection laws.

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Senate Passes Bill Regulating Short-term Rentals

Within the Short-Term Rental Legislation, Senator Cyr Establishes the Cape Cod and Islands Water Protection Fund to Address Critical Wastewater Projects

On April 4, 2018, the Senate passed S. 2381, An Act regulating and insuring short-term rentals. The bill expands the scope of the state’s room occupancy excise tax and local option excise tax to include short-term transient accommodations. This legislation will level the playing field, preserve local control and support the emerging short-term rental industry.

The legislation would generate an estimated $34.5 million and $25.5 million in state and local revenues, respectively, based on the most recent Senate Ways and Means Fiscal Impact Report. The expanded tax base will automatically apply to all 175-plus cities and towns that have already adopted the local room occupancy excise to date.

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Senator Cyr Secures $53 Million for Important Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard Infrastructure Projects

State Senator Julian Cyr secured $53 million in funding for Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard’s important regional infrastructure projects on Thursday in the Senate Capital Bond Bill. Cyr presented capital funding proposals including $6.5 million to construct a new building for the Barnstable Regional Government and Cape Cod Commission, $1.6 million to fund improvements to the Hyannis National Guard Armory, $1.75 million to be used for improvements to the Dukes County Jail and House of Corrections, $2 million to extend the Cape Cod Rail Trail to Wellfleet Center and lengthen the Provincetown bike trail, and $150,000 to connect a municipal water main to a parcel on Highland Road in Truro. Senator Cyr also secured $41 million for the construction of a science building at Cape Cod Community College. 

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The Year in Review

From the moment I was sworn-in as your state senator, I have worked tirelessly to crisscross Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket meeting with constituents, non-profits, business owners, advocates, volunteers and elected officials to help solve problems and discuss how to improve our quality of life. I have convened and participated in Town Halls on Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, Mashpee, Orleans, Wellfleet and Hyannis on issues ranging from Housing, Renewable Energy, Seniors, Opioids, to Small Business, Tourism and Climate Change. 

In the recent state budget, I delivered funding for key Cape & Islands programs...


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Senate Votes to Ensure Access to Contraception

On November 14, the Massachusetts Senate voted 27-10 to enact H.4009, An Act advancing contraceptive coverage and economic security in our state, better known as the ACCESS Bill. The bill had been restructured in October with a compromise between legislators, the Coalition for Choice, and a group of Massachusetts insurance carriers – who now vocally support the legislation. The same bill was passed in the House and Governor Baker signed the bill into law on November 20.

Filed in early January, the ACCESS Bill was viewed as a safeguard and a worst-case-scenario bill to shield women in Massachusetts from regressive healthcare-policy rollbacks at the Federal level. 

A sense of urgency to pass the ACCESS Bill was renewed with Congress’ summertime attempts to repeal the ACA, and was even further stirred by the Trump Administration’s contraceptive-coverage rollback in early October. An emergency preamble means that this bill will take effect immediately.

The benefits of contraceptive care are immense and well documented.

As cited in the legislation’s review by the Mass. Center for Health Information Analysis, benefits of contraception include: “improved women’s health and well-being, reduced maternal mortality, health benefits for mother and child associated with spacing pregnancy, female workforce engagement, and economic self-sufficiency.” The review estimated meager premium hikes of $0.07 to $0.20 over five years, costs that would be mitigated by savings derived from preventing unintended pregnancies.

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