Bringing Beacon Hill to You

From the Office of State Senator 

John F. Keenan

Representing the Norfolk and Plymouth District:

Abington, Braintree, Holbrook, Quincy, and Rockland 


It’s hard to believe that we already find ourselves nearing the end of another legislative session, yet here we are. Thus far, 2022 has proven to be another productive year, posing new challenges and yielding positive accomplishments. 


My office has been busy, as always, helping connect constituents to government services and programs, as well as collaborating with other offices in the Legislature to pass a wide array of bills covering climate change, mental health, and sports betting, just to name a few. Along the way, my staff has been closely involved in drafting and amending policy relevant to these issues, all while continuing our mission of researching and approving housing policy to help make Massachusetts affordable to all those living here.  

 

This session also featured record levels of local aid to the Norfolk & Plymouth District, with millions of dollars in new funding coming into our schools and municipal governments. The $52.7 billion FY23 budget allocates more than $130 million for the communities of Abington, Braintree, Holbrook, Quincy, and Rockland. 


Looking ahead to a new legislative session, we will continue to focus on constituent services, housing, health care, behavioral health, and public education. It’s rarely an easy task but it’s always a rewarding one, and I look forward to continuing to work on your behalf. 



Sincerely,

In the District

2022 hasn’t just proven to be a busy year for Beacon Hill; it’s also been a busy six months for communities in the Norfolk & Plymouth District.

  

After two years of postponed events and remote participation, loosening COVID guidelines meant we could once again celebrate many of our annual traditions in full. Abington, Braintree, Holbrook, Quincy, and Rockland all rang in the summer with a beautiful Memorial Day weekend filled with parades and music. Quincy’s Flag Day and Arts Fest celebrations drew big crowds of locals and visitors alike. The Town of Holbrook commemorated a very special 150th birthday with its sesquicentennial anniversary, and Abington and Braintree residents enjoyed summer concerts.  


This more relaxed return to normal has also meant that constituents living in the district have been coming back into the State House to visit, advocate, and share their thoughts regarding ongoing legislation. My office was lucky enough to host North Quincy High School’s championship quiz team and the school’s debate team. We also had a visit from Holbrook Middle-High School’s mock trial team. 

 

Legislative Highlights

In response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, our state acted swiftly to ensure individuals living in Massachusetts would not lose any of their existing rights to reproductive health care.


Thanks to An Act expanding protections for reproductive and gender-affirming care, pre-decision abortion rights will be maintained in Massachusetts. The legislation also ensures the protection of providers, residents, and visitors to the Commonwealth who engage in legally-protected reproductive and gender-affirming healthcare from legal action by people from other states. 

Climate change proved to be one of the biggest priorities for our Legislature this session, leading to a blueprint for how our Commonwealth will build a greener future.  


The passage of An Act driving clean energy & offshore wind, also known as The Drive Act, means a comprehensive slate of new environmentally-focused policies will be going into effect in Massachusetts, propelling us to our goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. I was proud to vote in favor of the bill and glad to see four of the amendments I filed be incorporated into the final bill, including improvements to our electric vehicle rebate program and plans to have charging stations installed at transportation hubs across the state. Massachusetts will be a national leader both in how we generate and then use clean energy.

Among all the bills we have worked on so far this year, the Work & Family Mobility Act has perhaps drawn the most attention from advocates and community members. Endorsed by the Massachusetts Major City Chiefs of Police Association, the AFL-CIO, The Boston Bar Foundation, The Irish International Immigrant Center Big City, District Attorneys, Sheriffs, and dozens of businesses and organizations, and supported by data showing its positive public safety impacts, this bill allows undocumented immigrants living in Massachusetts to apply for driver’s licenses in the same manner as others.


This legislation does not allow these new license holders to vote, but it will make the roadways we all share so much safer. Based on the success of similar bills in other states, Massachusetts will likely see a sharp dip in hit-and-runs and traffic fatalities as a result of this legislation. 


This summer also saw the Senate passing legislation to legalize sports betting in Massachusetts, opening the door for an influx of millions of dollars in new revenues for our state. My focus when working on this bill was to protect minors from exposure to sports betting advertising and to increase restrictions prohibiting minors from taking part in online gambling.  


FY23 Budget

The state capped off the fiscal year with the passage of a $52.7 billion spending plan for FY23 featuring record levels of local aid for our communities. This budget includes both a five-percent overall increase in local governmental aid and an eleven-percent increase in public school funding to the Norfolk and Plymouth District. 


With a nearly $6 billion investment in Chapter 70 funding, the budget highly prioritizes public education, including fully funding the implementation of the Student Opportunity Act. Our budget also provides for key investments to address housing insecurity ($885 million), regional transit authorities ($96.5 million), and substance use disorder treatment and intervention services ($597 million). 


Locally, the budget allocates nearly $94 million for public schools and almost $36 million in municipal government aid.  


Through the budget amendment process, we were able to secure $500,000 in total for the following local departments and organizations:  

  • Fire Chiefs Association of Plymouth County to maintain and upgrade emergency communication systems, provide for mass casualty/major operations incident planning and training, and to enhance mutual aid operations.  
  • Traffic and sidewalk improvements in Abington and Rockland  
  • Holbrook Middle-High School Robotics STEM Program  
  • Programming and services at elder services in Abington, Braintree, Holbrook, and Rockland  
  • Quincy Police and Fire Departments safety equipment upgrades 
  • Friends of the Thomas Crane Public Library programming 



MBTA Challenges & Improvements

In a year full of challenges for the Legislature to address, one of the most consistent topics of conversation has been public transportation. 2022 has been punctuated by ongoing headlines of accidents and injuries, particularly on the MBTA, giving the Transportation Committee, of which I am the Senate Vice-Chair, a lot to work on.

 

Change needs to take place. Exactly what that change will look like is still being determined. Through a series of oversight hearings, we are focusing on the most immediate areas of concern, the most important being safety. With this being an election year, we also have to take into account the many changes that will likely be implemented by whoever becomes our next governor. 


We need a public transportation infrastructure that is safe, reliable, and affordable. That is the bare minimum of what we must do, and work is already underway to meet this goal thanks to $1.5 billion in budget transfers to the MBTA included in the FY23 budget. Additionally, our spending plan includes another $266 million to further support safety improvements and workforce initiatives.  



As frustrating as ongoing closures are, they are a necessary inconvenience as we rebuild sections of our network that have fallen into disrepair. Roughly 2,400 feet of new track have already been installed since the Orange Line shutdown began. Approximately five miles of track were recently replaced along the Green Line’s E branch, with similar work scheduled for the D-branch later this fall.


The work is long overdue and will result in only a fraction of the needed improvements, but I am encouraged by the current efforts being made. I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure that the MBTA gets the attention and resources that it needs, and that the riders of the Commonwealth deserve.

 

Constituent Services is Here to Help

In addition to legislative responsibilities, we continue to assist constituents with state-related issues ranging from housing to health care. In just the last few months, we have helped dozens of individuals and families living in the district resolve issues with a variety of public and private entities including Tufts Healthcare, Xfinity, and National Grid.


Most recently, a member of our team spoke with a Rockland resident who after the birth of her daughter struggled to obtain Paid Family and Medical Leave benefits. Working with PFML staff, Doreen Bargoot, Constituent Services and District Director, successfully helped this constituent register for relief payments that will help her new family. Earlier this summer, a new Quincy resident contacted us because he was having billing issues with his cable service provider. We connected him with a company representative who quickly addressed the problem.


Our constituent services staff can help with problems big and small, and we will continue to provide needed assistance to anyone living in the Norfolk & Plymouth District.

Social Media
We recognize that many people are looking for more ways to connect with our office, so we are keeping our Facebook and Twitter accounts updated with content about the district, new legislation, and COVID-19.

As a policy, we do not provide constituent services or engage in policy or issue discussions through social media. The best way to contact me about a constituent concern or to inform me of your thoughts on issues is by email at John.Keenan@MASenate.gov or by calling the office at 617-722-1494.

Similar to in-person office meetings or office hours at libraries and town halls, please be respectful of other people's views on social media, keeping language and tone civil and considerate. Thank you for your part in fostering a productive online community.
Thank you!

It truly is an honor to serve you. Please know that working for those in my district and for much-needed policy change remain top priorities for me, every day.

Thank you for your continued civic engagement. Together, we will keep Massachusetts moving forward!
Office of State Senator John F. Keenan | Website
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