Jamie Eldridge - State Senator

Legislature Passes Municipal Relief Package

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Friday, 16 July 2010 17:08

Legislature Passes Municipal Relief Package

Brings Cost-Savings to Communities; Facilitates Mutual Aid and Regionalization

BOSTON - July 16, 2010 – The Massachusetts Legislature yesterday evening passed a municipal relief package that establishes a statewide mutual aid agreement to allow cities and towns to share resources, permits municipalities to extend funding schedules for pension systems and allows for regionalization efforts among municipalities. The measure will give cities and towns across Massachusetts new tools and encourage innovation in managing their budgets and in these challenging fiscal times.

 “In these tough fiscal times, this bill will give municipal officials more tools to trim costs, to deliver services more efficiently through cooperation among communities, and to tackle administrative problems in innovative ways in order to govern as effectively as possible in this time of lean resources,” said Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton), Senate chair of the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government and co-author of the bill.

 

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MA Senate Passes Safe School Package

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Thursday, 11 March 2010 17:18

Senate Passes Safe School Package

Bills Ban Bullying, Promote Healthy Foods in Schools

BOSTON – The Senate on Thursday advanced measures to ban bullying and update nutritional standards in schools with a pair of bills aimed at promoting a safe, healthy and productive learning environment for all students. The anti-bullying legislation was based on a bill originally filed last year by State Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton), who voted in favor of both the bullying bill and the school nutrition bill today.

Senate anti-bullying legislation prohibits physical, verbal and written acts that threaten or cause harm to another student, including Internet “cyber-bullying,” while a separate school nutrition bill establishes new standards for fresh food options in school cafeterias and vending machines.

“These two bills working together will make a dramatic difference in our school environment,” Senate President Therese Murray (D-Plymouth) said. “We all know there’s a strong connection between health and safety and learning. By striking out fear and improving nutrition, we’re going to provide students with a more valuable and rewarding educational experience.”

“This is comprehensive, prevention-oriented legislation that will work to end the persistent cycle of bullying we’ve seen in the Commonwealth’s schools for years, leading to tragedies like those in South Hadley, Springfield and too many other communities. Every student deserves to feel safe in their own schools, and this bill is a strong step in that direction,” said Eldridge.

 

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Toxic chemicals & safer alternatives in MA - State Sen. Eldrige

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Sunday, 24 January 2010 21:35

Quote from State Senator Jamie Eldridge: “The Safer Alternatives Bill will not only protect millions in Massachusetts from exposure to toxic chemicals, it will do so in a way that supports economic growth and can save the Commonwealth more than $100 million dollars a year. This report adds to the ever-growing body of evidence regarding the link between many common, chronic diseases and exposure to chemicals found in many household products.  This is an incredibly important bill, and I’m proud to support it.”  Click "Read more:" below for the full story.

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Last Updated on Sunday, 24 January 2010 21:47
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Senate Passes Comprehensive Crime Bill

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Thursday, 19 November 2009 00:00
Senate Passes Comprehensive Crime Bill
BOSTON – Looking to reduce the recidivism rate, relieve overcrowded prisons and improve access to criminal history records, the Senate on Wednesday passed an omnibus crime package that has support from the law enforcement community.
“Reforming our broken Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) system and sentencing laws will reduce crime and recidivism in our neighborhoods and lower criminal justice costs. As a matter of public safety and as a matter of responsible budget management practices, this bill is sound policy, and I’m proud to have voted for it today,” said State Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton).  “We often talk, on Beacon Hill, about making government more efficient. This bill we’ve passed today does exactly that.”
In a letter issued before the final vote, Public Safety Secretary Kevin M. Burke wrote: “I firmly believe [this bill] will enhance, rather than jeopardize, public safety by facilitating the appropriate re-entry of ex-offenders into the community.”
Senator Cynthia Creem (D-Newton), lead sponsor of the bill, said: “The reforms contained in this bill represent a comprehensive approach to reducing recidivism by criminal offenders and a ‘smart on crime’ approach to our sentencing laws. I am pleased with the support of my colleagues.”
The legislation places a premium on unprecedented mandatory post-release supervision, as well as electronic monitoring programs, all of which are proven to reduce recidivism.
It gives sheriffs statutory authority to move eligible offenders into day reporting programs which have been operating successfully for years. It also allows inmates serving mandatory minimum sentences for drug-related crimes to qualify for work release after serving two-thirds of their sentence.
Middlesex Sheriff James V. DiPaola said: “I commend the Massachusetts Senate for taking action to balance public safety interests with criminal rehabilitation in a fiscally responsible way. This legislation maintains the appropriate level of toughness and at the same time uses an intellectual approach to rehabilitation of nonviolent offenders.”
The sentencing and supervision improvements will produce short- and long-term savings by reducing costs associated with incarceration. The annual average cost in Massachusetts to supervise a person is $2,500 while the annual average cost to incarcerate is $43,000.
This legislation also increases access to the CORI system, allowing employers and landlords to request records on felony convictions for 10 years after an inmate’s release and on misdemeanor convictions for 5 years after release, as well as all pending charges.
Also, information on all convictions for sex offenses, murder and manslaughter will be available for life. Law enforcement continues to have full access to CORI, and improved accuracy and faster response times are achieved through a new Internet-based system required by the legislation.
Other CORI reforms include:
  • Allowing individuals to access their own CORI information and providing for a self-audit process at no fee;
  • Increasing sanctions for the knowing misuse or communication of CORI information;
  • Creating a new offense for using CORI to commit a crime against an individual or engage in harassment of an individual, punishable by imprisonment in jail or house of correction for not more than 1 year or a fine of not more than $5,000 or both;
  • Providing liability protection for employers who use the CORI system if the decision is made within 90 days of obtaining the report and providing law enforcement with increased protections from allegations of improper use of CORI; and
  • Requiring agencies and employers relying on criminal histories from the CORI system to provide copies to the individual.
The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for further action.
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Eldridge Appointed Chair of Water Commission by Governor Patrick

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Tuesday, 17 November 2009 00:00
Eldridge Appointed Chair of Water Commission by Governor Patrick
Commission Will Develop Comprehensive Water Infrastructure Finance Plan
BOSTON – State Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton) was appointed by Governor Patrick to chair the newly-created Water Infrastructure Commission, which will examine ways that the state can help cities and towns finance their water infrastructure needs.
"Now, more than ever, it is important to think creatively about how the Commonwealth can help cities and towns pay for basic needs, like clean water and modern sewage treatment.” said Eldridge.  “I’m looking forward to discussing ways we can preserve precious natural resources and reduce pressure on strained local budgets.”
The new Water Infrastructure Commission was created through an amendment to the FY2010 budget filed by Eldridge. The amendment was vetoed by the Governor, but Eldridge worked to gain the support of more than two-thirds of the Legislature to override the veto. Eldridge, who is Vice Chair of the Joint Committee on the Environment, Natural Resources & Agriculture also filed a separate bill to establish the Commission.
The miles of water and sewer pipes under the streets of Massachusetts cities and towns are aging, and can eventually become corroded, clogged, or leak.  These degradations can result in the loss of fresh drinking water, and even the leakage of untreated sewage. In addition, many cities and towns have outgrown their water and wastewater treatment infrastructure overtime but are unable to update and expand those facilities due to fiscal constraints.
The cost to repair this aging infrastructure is growing each year. In 2007, $1.543 billion dollars was requested for the maintenance of water infrastructure, and the state could only allocate $364 million.
“The sooner we plan ahead to address our communities’ water infrastructure needs, the less expensive the maintenance needs will be for the state,” emphasized Eldridge.
Treatment plants for both water supplies and sewage are required by state and federal regulations to be periodically updated, often at a great cost to ratepayers in a community.  These upgrades are essential to ensure that we are providing clean drinking water, and also that we are safeguarding our groundwater, our rivers, lakes, and streams.
The EPA estimates that $6.79 billion dollars will have to be spent over the 2007-2027 period to pay for the maintenance of the Massachusetts Water Infrastructure.  The Water Infrastructure Commission will study ways to assist towns in reducing their debt, developing new sources of revenue, enhancing existing sources of revenue and establish new incentives for public-private partnerships.
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