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Chelmsford Independent
State Sen. Michael Barrett, of Lexington, calling attention to the new playground equipment's emphasis on accessibility, said the playground represents "the cutting-edge of awareness, for people with all kinds of challenges and disabilities. You are causing us to rethink all manner of things."

BOSTON -- In passing comprehensive  energy legislation  Wednesday night, the Massachusetts Senate approved a "revenue-neutral" carbon fee designed to incentivize low-emissions lifestyles and business practices.
The Senate
The Hill

A Massachusetts bill to enact automatic voter registration is one step closer to becoming law after the state Senate voted to approve it this week.
BOSTON -- The Massachusetts House and Senate passed a "grand bargain" that would establish a paid family and medical leave policy, raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour and establish an annual sales tax holiday.
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Dear Friend,
Earlier this month, the State Senate adopted a pathbreaking program to address global warming.  As the program's author, I told my colleagues, "In taking a fresh run at combating climate change, you're putting Massachusetts state government at the forefront -- right where our constituents want it to be."
The action made history, in that the Senate became the first legislative body in the U.S., either federal or state, to approve revenue-neutral fees as a way to "put a price on carbon."  We still have the House to deal with, not to mention the Governor, so the fight is hardly over, but the Senate has shifted the spotlight onto Massachusetts' biggest environmental challenge. That would be curbing pollution in the transportation sector, the state's biggest source of greenhouse gases.  
"Climate change is relentless, and putting a price on carbon is the single most effective thing a state government can do to fight it," I said.  "But this isn't about the Legislature forcing one design, and one design only, upon a governor.  The Senate is firm on timing because the problem is urgent, but we don't mandate the method."

Regulations issued by the governor would have to impose carbon pricing of some kind on the transportation sector by the end of 2020, on commercial and industrial buildings and processes by the end of 2021, and on residential buildings by the end of 2022.
"We may have stumbled upon a winning formula for state-level carbon pricing across the country," I said.  "Flexibility on the choice of tool; no excuses on the choice of timing ." 

The result is promising.  Over the course of a nine-hour debate, most of which centered on other aspects of energy  policy, not a single member of the 40-member Senate moved an amendment to weaken the carbon pricing provisions. 
The corresponding energy bills enacted by the Massachusetts House are much more modest, and, as of this writing, the two branches haven't reached consensus.  But the marker put down by the Senate will guide debate from this point forward.  Inside the Massachusetts Legislature and outside it, the movement to address climate change is getting stronger, and giving people hope.

  Sen. Mike Barrett
Celebrating universal access in arts and culture

The Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) recently held its inaugural UP (Universal Participation) Awards ceremony recognizing groups and organizations that break down the barriers that prevent full civic participation in the Commonwealth's thriving cultural sector.

As Senate Chair of the Disabilities Caucus, I highlighted how everyone is a member of the disability community -- it's only a question of time. 

Thank you to the MCC and everyone involved in the UP Initiative for forging a path for each and every one of us.

A sunny 4th July in Sudbury
Sudbury doesn't duck from a scorching sun, running a great 4th of July parade instead.  My wife Nancy and I huddled in the heat with State Rep  Carmine Gentile and  Nick Carter, who is running for Governor's Council, the little-known body that is key to ensuring the independence of Massachusetts judges, and the success of criminal justice reform.

Special thanks to Henry Noer, John D. Riordan, Clark Moeller, Jane Moeller and the entire Sudbury Democratic Town Committee for giving Nancy and I a marching home.