CEO Corner
Dear Friend,
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It is the time of year to gather with family and friends and enjoy a special meal. We all have Thanksgiving memories and family traditions which we cherish and pass on to generation after generation. This year is a very special Thanksgiving as this will be the first holiday since COVID when many families and friends will be able to travel and be together and continue those traditions.

As we reflect on Thanksgiving and what it means to each of us, I want to take a moment and thank you, our clients and friends for your confidence and trust. We represent a number of different companies and non-profits in a variety of sectors, but there is one common thread and that is that we view ourselves not as consultants but as your colleagues. I thank you for allowing us to earn this trust. I am very proud of my staff and the great work that they do each day. The longstanding client relationships we enjoy speak to our integrity, professionalism and work ethic. As I write this note, I am reminded of the words of John F. Kennedy, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.”

On behalf of the O’Neill and Associates and Seven Letter family, I would like to thank you and wish you and your family a very Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving.

Tom O’Neill
Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and Build Back Better
Federal Overview by Vice Chairman John Cahill, Vice President Jennifer Krowchun,
and Account Coordinator Benjamin Craig
November 15th was a historic day as President Joe Biden signed into law the $1.2 trillion surface transportation reauthorization with $550 billion in new federal funding for infrastructure. Just shy of ten months after taking office, President Biden was able to deliver on a cornerstone campaign promise to revitalize the nation’s roads, bridges, waterways and public transit. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is the largest investment in the nation’s infrastructure in over 10 years.

IIJA provides $110 billion for roads, bridges and major projects, $39 billion for public transit and $66 billion for railways. It also provides $65 billion to expand broadband infrastructure and $55 billion for clear water investments.

Based on formula funding alone, Massachusetts is set to benefit from more than $9 billion in federal investment, while the state can also compete to receive billions more under the infrastructure bill’s numerous new and existing grant programs.

In August, when the Senate first passed the bill, Senator McConnell, who had previously been opposed to supporting Biden’s agenda, said in a statement, “I was proud to support today’s historic bipartisan infrastructure deal and prove that both sides of the political aisle can still come together around common-sense solutions.”  Unfortunately, IIJA may be the last bipartisan effort of 2021. 

After President Reagan won the 1980 election, Speaker of the House, Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill Jr., said, “We’re going to cooperate with the President. It’s America first and party second.” We have never been more polarized as a country, between and within the Democratic and Republican parties. Congress has strayed from a key principle of public service – that all politics is local. Never is that polarization more evident than in the negotiating and public sparing around Build Back Better

The debate around the FY2022 Budget Reconciliation, the legislative vehicle for Build Back Better, was once described as hand-to-hand combat. But on Friday, November 19th, following a favorable CBO score that the final cost projections of the bill were unlikely to add significantly to the nation’s deficit, the House of Representatives passed BBB, 220-213, strictly along party lines, with one Democrat voting against. 

Build Back Better is the largest social spending investment since President Roosevelt’s New Deal. $555 billion to fight climate change, $400 billion for universal pre-K, $200 billion in child tax credits, $200 billion for 4 weeks of paid leave, $165 billion on expanding affordable health care, $50 billion to expand affordable home care, and $150 billion for affordable housing are some of the key provisions. 

The Build Back Better package now heads to the Senate, where lawmakers will take up negotiations again after the Thanksgiving break. The Senate can then pass it with a simple majority as allowed under budget reconciliation. If the Senate makes any amendments to the text, as we expect, especially from Senator Manchin, the revised, amended bill will be sent back to the House for reconsideration. If this bill is passed and signed into law by the end of the year, it would be a Christmas miracle.
The Build Back Better framework will enable Massachusetts:

-       To provide access to child care for about 350,000 young children (ages 0-5) per year from families earning under 2.5 times the state median income (about $ $313,338 for a family of 4), and ensure these families pay no more than 7% of their income on high-quality child care. The plan will cover the families of 9 in 10 young children in the state.

-       To expand access to free, high-quality preschool to more than 136,889 additional 3- and 4-year-olds per year and increase the quality of preschool for children who are already enrolled.

-       To help unlock the opportunities of an education beyond high school, the BBB framework will increase maximum Pell Grant awards by $550 for students at public and private non-profit institutions, supporting the 96,025 students in Massachusetts who rely on Pell.

-       To ensure that the nutritional needs of Massachusetts’s children are met by expanding access to free school meals to an additional 121,000 students during the school year and providing 467,713 students with resources to purchase food over the summer.

-       To extend Child Tax Credit (CTC) increases of $300/month per child under 6 or $250/month per child ages 6 to 17. This will continue the largest one-year reduction in child poverty in history.

-       To also provide a tax cut of up to $1,500 in tax cuts for 299,500 low-wage workers in Massachusetts by extending the American Rescue Plan’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) expansion.

-       The expand rental assistance for Massachusetts renters, while also increasing the supply of high-quality housing through the construction and rehabilitation of over 1 million affordable housing units nationwide.

-       The close the Medicaid coverage gap to help millions of Americans gain health insurance, extend through 2025 the American Rescue Plan’s health insurance premium reductions for those who buy coverage on their own, and help older Americans access affordable hearing care by expanding Medicare.

More on Build Back Better Framework and state by state analysis can be found by the White House here.
Massachusetts State House Update
By Vice Chairman Matt Irish, Vice President Lindsay Toghill,
and Senior Account Executive Jamison O'Neill
On November 17th, the Legislature began their seven-week break from formal sessions. At the mid-point of the 2021-2022 Legislative Session, there are some accomplishments and many items are still in play. When the Legislature reconvenes the week of January 5, there are many issues for consideration before the end of formal sessions on July 31, 2022.
The first year of the session saw the Legislature continue to conduct its business almost entirely by virtual means. The State House still remains closed to the public, with the distinction of Massachusetts being the only state capitol in America still closed more than 600 days after Governor Baker announced the state of emergency. The House has entered the first phase of their reopening plan, while the Senate still remains working virtually. Though both branches have indicated a desire to reopen to the public, the threat of Covid-19 and uncertainties around the mechanisms for public visits to the State House continue. Much more expected to come on this.
Despite operating remotely the Legislature was very active in 2021. They successfully passed the FY22 budget and have held countless hearings on the thousands of bills pending before them. This is fairly typical of the legislative cycle, with much of the action on big policy bills happening in the second year of session.
Given the strong state of the economy in Massachusetts and the infusion of billions of federal dollars through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the biggest issue is how to spend the money. Though both the House and Senate passed differing versions of a $4-billion-dollar spending plan using American Rescue Plan Act funds and surplus revenue from fiscal 2021, they were not able to come to a final compromise on spending. There is an intention to continue discussions and pass a compromise bill in Informal Sessions, however any proposal that emerges at this point has to have unanimous consent. Passage of a final compromise is high on the agenda for the 7-week break.
The Legislature also sent Governor Baker maps reconfiguring political boundaries for the state's legislative, congressional, and Governor's Council districts. The Legislature resisted calls to unite the cities of New Bedford and Fall River into one district, and instead chose to split the two cities between the Ninth Congressional District and Fourth Congressional District, respectively. This is especially important because 2022 is an election year, with a gubernatorial election, constitutional officers as well as the entirety of the Massachusetts Legislature.  
There are also a number of measures that have already passed one branch, but await further action. 
Both branches passed legislation related to health care during the last day of formal sessions. The Senate passed a mental health care bill designed to streamline the process of seeking mental health services, while the House passed a health care bill that adds oversight and restrictions on large health care providers that want to expand into new territory. Both items will be up for further consideration in January.
The House passed a sports betting bill by a 156-3 margin, sending the bill to the Senate where it faces an uncertain future. The bill — which would legalize sports betting for anyone at least 21 years of age who is physically present in Massachusetts — allows wagers on professional sports, e-sports, video games, car racing, and college sports. Massachusetts now trails other New England states that have sports betting in place like Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York, with the Patriots back in first place in their division and riding a 5-game winning streak.
The House also opted against taking up any sort of extension for voting by mail and early voting provisions that are slated to expire in mid-December, despite earlier action by the Senate. If the branches want to keep the measures around, Representatives and Senators will now need to push forward any extension through informal sessions.
Much more to come and we expect a very busy 2022.
Seven Letter and Boston Business Journal Poll
Reach and Results
A big congratulations to Massachusetts headquartered Analogic on their recent multimillion dollar award from TSA to supply computed tomography (CT) machines and related equipment to airports in the US. TSA has awarded Analogic with a nearly $200 million contract award ($100.4 million base award and the remainder as options). Once fully deployed, this next-generation airport security system, known as the Checkpoint Property Screening System (CPSS), will replace the prior generation of X-ray scanners at passenger checkpoints at airports nationwide.
In addition to creating new jobs across manufacturing, operations, engineering and program management, this award will have a significant, positive impact on Analogic’s north shore operations and their over 500 employees located there. Analogic’s CPSS solution represents a significant advancement in checkpoint screening technology. Congratulations! 
Analogic Computed Tomography (CT) machine in a TSA checkpoint. The technology scans carry-on bags and produces a 3-D image that can be rotated for easy viewing of a bag’s contents. Photo: Courtesy of TSA.
National Press Release
Thursday, September 2, 2021

WASHINGTON – The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced the award of an order for a total value of $198 million to Analogic Corporation for the procurement of mid-sized Computed Tomography (CT) x-ray systems for TSA checkpoints.
“This award is another important step in enhancing aviation security” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske, “It provides our dedicated frontline officers with one of the best tools available to screen passenger carry-on items and also improves the passenger experience by allowing passengers to keep more items in their carry-on bags during the screening process.”

The award, which is one element in the larger effort to improve security screening, establishes a contract for the purchase of more than 300 mid-sized units. TSA anticipates these units will begin deployment to airport checkpoints in early 2022.

CT scanners apply sophisticated algorithms to detect explosives by creating 3-D images. TSA officers can then view and rotate the image on three axes to analyze and identify any threat items that may be in a passenger’s baggage. Similar to what is used to scan checked baggage, this equipment is sized to fit the checkpoint environment.
This year’s FAN EXPO Boston 2021, held September 3-5, was the first public event held at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center since the outbreak of the COVID19 pandemic.

Fans were truly excited to return to this annual pop culture extravaganza where they could meet celebrities and comic creators, and walk the cosplay “Red Carpet” wearing their favorite super-hero costume. Seven Letter’s Boston office provided public relations services for this event.

Celebrity guests were a big hit including Brendan Fraser of “The Mummy,” Michael Rooker of “Guardians of the Galaxy,” Christopher Eccleston of “Doctor Who,” John Barrowman of “Arrow” and Lana Parilla of “Once Upon a Time,” Mark Boone, Jr, Ryan Hurst and Ron Perlman of “Sons of Anarchy,” and more.

See more of FAN EXPO Boston 2021 in this highlight reel:
Cosplay is a centerpiece of FAN EXPO Boston as thousands of fans attend the show wearing costumes of their favorite characters. Creativity abounded during the official cosplay costume competition on Saturday, September 4, when the FAN EXPO Boston Cosplay Craftmanship Cup was held. The winner, Nick Chanandais of Acushnet, MA, was chosen as the Best in Show with his costume portraying Reinhardt of the video game Overwatch. 
Salvation Army
Hope Marches On for The Salvation Army This Holiday Season
The Salvation Army Massachusetts Division’s Red Kettle Campaign underway throughout the Commonwealth for the holiday season. This year, the needs continue to be greater than ever for those served by The Salvation Army. The Salvation Army estimates it will need $175 million—almost 50% more than raised through Red Kettles in 2020—to keep Americans in their homes this holiday season. 
Millions of Americans face the threat of not being able to celebrate the holidays as they continue to battle the impacts of pandemic poverty. Donations to the kettles allow The Salvation Army to provide life-changing social services and other programs throughout the year to meet the increasing needs of people struggling to stay in their homes. Canceled fundraising events, closed stores, less in-person shopping, and market volatility elevate the need for public support for The Salvation Army to meet the growing need at Christmas and into 2022. As long as resources are available, The Salvation Army will provide assistance to families in need, which includes providing Christmas gifts through the Angel Tree, putting food on the table, paying bills, and providing shelter for those without a home.
The Salvation Army Massachusetts Division is also hoping volunteers will join the organization’s ongoing work to serve our most vulnerable citizens. There are 30 Salvation Army Corps Community Centers and more than 220 volunteer-driven Service Extension Units across every zip code in Massachusetts. To volunteer, people can visit or to ring a bell at one of the red kettles in their community. The Salvation Army is applying national safety protocols at all red kettles to ensure the safety of bell ringers, donors, and partners. 
Operating locally for more than 135 years, The Salvation Army has relied upon its iconic Red Kettle campaign since the 1890s. Nationally, The Salvation Army received more requests for financial assistance in the first six months of 2021 than in all of 2020. Although the holidays are often a time of joy, many people will not be able to celebrate this year because they are battling the effects of pandemic poverty. The Salvation Army Massachusetts Division continues to assist families in need, which includes providing Christmas gifts through the Angel Tree, putting food on the table, paying bills, and providing shelter for those without a home.
To learn more about The Salvation Army Massachusetts Division, how to donate or get involved, visit their website for more information.
About The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army annually helps more than 30 million Americans overcome poverty, addiction, and economic hardships through a range of social services. By providing food for the hungry, emergency relief for disaster survivors, rehabilitation for those suffering from drug and alcohol abuse, and clothing and shelter for people in need, The Salvation Army is doing the most good at over 7,000 centers of operation around the country. In 2021, The Salvation Army was ranked #2 on the list of “America’s Favorite Charities” by The Chronicle of Philanthropy. For more information, visit Follow us on Twitter @SalvationArmyUS and #DoingTheMostGood.
It's Better to Be Feared: The New England Patriots Dynasty and the Pursuit of Greatness
Tom O'Neill, Author Seth Wickersham, and UMass President Marty Meehan
Seven Letter's Valentina Mendez, and Author Seth Wickersham
On November 18th, Seven Letter partnered with the University of Massachusetts Club to host a book signing with Seth Wickersham author of It’s Better to Be Feared: The New England Patriots Dynasty and the Pursuit of Greatness. The event included a discussion moderated by Mike Lynch, award-winning sports journalist from WCVB-TV.
Regis College - Let It Shina Gala
On October 27th, over 230 guests attended the Sixth Annual Let it Shine Gala at the Four Season Hotel Boston. Over $700,000 was raised for student scholarships. Our CEO and Regis Trustee, Tom O'Neill, was honored for his dedication to public service, Catholic education and Regis College.  
OA On Air
Click here to listen to the podcast on... 
It’s been 87 days since the Senate passed by a vote of 69-30 the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). The bill was the product of President Biden’s Infrastructure Framework led by a bipartisan group of 22 Senators who split the package among several working groups to draft the text.

The House finally passed the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill reauthorizing surface transportation and providing for $550 billion in new federal funding for infrastructure spending over 5 years.

The day was filled with a procedural vote-a-rama the result of a long day of tense negotiations, marathon meetings and general chaos that eroded only after the feuding factions — liberals and moderates — huddled in a late-night meeting to hash out a written agreement that broke the progressive blockade on the infrastructure bill. It was the longest chamber vote in modern history.

Speaker Pelosi, with the help of House leadership and the White House, delivered the infrastructure bill with a final tally of 228-206, with 13 Republicans crossing the aisle to support the measure, and 6 progressive Democrats opposing. The House then adopted a procedural rule establishing floor debate parameters for the $1.75 trillion social spending package, better known as Build Back Better, which is being taken up under budget reconciliation. That procedural rule passed along party lines, 221-213.

A mere 85 days after our first conversation on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, we once again have the pleasure of catching up with former Congressman Nick Rahall to discuss the passed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act as we await President Biden to sign this historic investment in our nation's infrastructure into law.

Congressman Rahall is the longest serving House member from the state of West Virginia and was Ranking Member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. As the longest serving Member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, he was a leader in every Federal Highway debate since coming to Congress in 1977.
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