Aug. 5 2020
The sun and humidity were not the only reasons that brought the heat in the month of July. The heat was also generated by the Senate through a controversial bill. As the Legislature continues to wait for tax revenue numbers and aid from the federal government in order to build a budget, other matters were taken up including COVID-19 spending, transportation, economic development, infrastructure, and a police reform bill.
Anticipating federal reimbursement for COVID-19 spending, the Senate passed a 2020 supplemental budget authorizing $1.1 billion to help with costs incurred from the virus. Some of the spending include protective equipment, support for frontline workers, and aid for small businesses. In an effort to protect our children, I was able to secure $250,000 for the schools in my district to install water dispensers.
Massachusetts transportation system was first in the nation and eighth in the world for congestion. Transportation was the bottleneck to the economy’s growth and will be for the recovery. The Senate passed a $16.9 billion-dollar bond bill addressing rail and highway improvements among others. As part of the bill, I was successful in securing $7.5 million dollars for various projects in the district.
COVID-19 and the shutdown of non-essential businesses devastated our economy. The state’s unemployment rate climbed to 17.4%, the highest in the country. In an effort to resurrect the economy, the Senate passed an economic development bill that would invest $375 million dollars to encourage new development and usher in a recovering. I was able to secure five projects totaling $500,000 for the district.
The Senate also passed a $1.7 billion-dollar obligation bond for capital investment to the state’s infrastructure including public safety, information technology, programs and services, agencies, institutions, and properties. As part of this bond bill, I was able to secure $500,000 dollars for projects in the district.
As the country continues to address the racial division taking place across the country as a result of deaths involving the police, here, in Massachusetts, the Senate took it upon itself to pass a police reform bill. The bill meant to “reform, shift, and build a more equitable, fair and just Commonwealth that values Black lives and communities of color”.
Deep under the covers of the bill, the intent is realized. The police reform bill, all 172 pages of it, was rushed through the Senate and voted on at 4:13am. The bill did not include any law enforcement professional or expert in the dialogue and crafting of it. The main contention of the bill is with a provision that allows an individual to civilly sue a public employee. This is a dangerous provision for public safety as it creates hesitation in our public employees, especially our first responders, ability to perform their duties. I am proud to have voted against this bill which lacked transparency and public input.
Massachusetts is a great state to live, work, and raise a family but the politics is less to be desired. Politicians are elected to listen and serve the people. Meaningful and relevant legislation should be developed and passed with input from all stakeholders and not be driven by politics and ideologies. As always, please do not hesitate in contacting my office on any issue.
Senator Dean A. Tran