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The span over the Concord River will commemorate Bedford native sons Private First Class John Hart and Marine Lance Corporal Travis Desiato, who died in 2003 and 2004 in Iraq.
Mass. needs to put a price on carbon
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Barrett bill would allow taxpayers to donate part of their tax returns to combat the effects of climate change in developing nations.

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The HEALTH act focuses on both short and long terms goals on how to fix our healthcare system to lower costs, improve outcomes, and maintain access. 
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Dear Friend,
When the arch-conservative  Mass Fiscal Alliance mailed postcards around the senate district,  sensationalizing my support of something called the Safe Communities Act, I braced for the negative fallout. "Sanctuary State," thundered the Alliance.  "Please call Senator Barrett and demand he withdraw his support for this legislation!"  The misdescription of the bill was over the top, but I resigned myself to the idea that the mailing would generate a big response, and that many people would accept its distortions at face value. 

I was right about the volume. Over the course of several days, just over 700 constituents emailed or called my office.  But I was wrong about the content.

Even without much counter-messaging to draw on, residents thought through the issue on their own and begged to differ with the Alliance.  Across the district, the margin was 54% in favor of the Safe Communities Act vs. 46% in favor of the critics.  Concord supported my position and the Act by a vote of 62% to 38%; Lincoln, by a vote of 68% to 32%; Bedford, by a vote of 59% to 41%; Sudbury, by a vote of 56% to 44%.  The margin was similar in Waltham, 55% to 45%, and Waltham residents added pointed comments -- "We're a country of immigrants" and "Everyone has the right to feel safe in our community."  The Alliance didn't mail into Lexington or Weston, and pretty much left Carlisle alone, too.

Issues around immigration can be complicated, and I heard from all sides, especially in Chelmsford.  Some questioned the costs of supporting immigrants (but the balance sheet looks pretty good; even undocumented people pay sales taxes, income taxes and property taxes).  Some cited reports of economic competition (but in Massachusetts there aren't enough long-term residents to fill low-wage jobs).  And some raised legitimate concerns about the fairness of jumping the queue while others wait to enter the country legally (which is why we need comprehensive immigration reform, as recent presidents before Mr. Trump proposed).

As for the Safe Communities Act, the essential idea is that police should not take on a raft of new responsibilities but should do what they do now -- enforce local law, fight local law-breakers, and keep us secure.  Comparatively speaking, crime is down and employment is up.  This makes Massachusetts something of a sanctuary, and there's nothing wrong with that.

Stay warm.

  Sen. Mike Barrett
Representing Massachusetts at the annual climate change conference in Bonn
My colleague Rep. Jen Benson and I traveled to Bonn, Germany, last October, as members of a Massachusetts delegation to the UN Climate Change Conference (COP23). 

Given  the Trump administration's decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, this trip took on added significance.  We met with heads of state from Pacific Island nations  to hear about the very real implications of sea level rise.  With like-minded officials from other "sub-national jurisdictions" (cities and states) around the world, we made plans to press national leaders to reduce emissions more aggressively.

Senate passes sweeping criminal justice reform
Sen. Barrett discusses criminal justice reform
Sen. Barrett discusses criminal justice reform

The State Senate has passed comprehensive criminal justice reform.  Hardly perfect, but very good news.

Among other things, the bill addresses a problem to which I've given much attention -- the scandalous imposition upon impoverished defendants of "fine time," sentences meted out by Massachusetts district court judges for failure to pay various fines, fees or court costs.

The House of Representatives passed a separate and less ambitious criminal justice bill.  Now the two branches have convened a "conference committee" to hash out their differences.  Big sweeping tip of the hat to Belmont Senator Will  Brownsberger  for his brilliant efforts to bring the Senate along on the issue.

Brightening prospects for carbon pricing

By now I've spoken about carbon pricing to countless audiences across Massachusetts. Some of the most promising developments are behind the scenes, but I'm feeling good. Major breakthroughs in climate policy aren't easy, but Massachusetts is getting there.