Archive 2004

LEGISLATURE LIFTS HOME CARE BARRIERS

BILL SEEKS TO LIMIT POLYSTYRENE USE

SENATOR JOYCE ANNOUNCES INCREASED FLU SHOT AVAILABILITY

SENATOR JOYCE ANNOUNCES ‘BETTER GOVERNMENT’ COMPETITION

Safe Havens’ law kicks in

DPH ANNOUNCES FLU VACCINE INITIATIVES

SENATOR JOYCE RECEIVES ENDORSEMENTS

SENATOR BRIAN A. JOYCE ENCOURAGES CANDIDATES TO ATTEND CITIZENS’ LEGISLATIVE SEMINAR

TEACHERS SUPPORT SENATOR JOYCE

SENATOR JOYCE RECEIVES ENDORSEMENTS

SENATOR JOYCE SAYS LEGISLATIVE SESSION OFFERS RELIEF TO COMMUNITIES

SENATOR JOYCE MARKS MENTAL HEALTH POLICY GAINS IN ‘04

SAFE HAVENS BILL SIGNED INTO LAW

Joyce Praise Major Overhaul in Public Construction

CHAMPION CITY RECOVERY PHASE II HALTED

CONSUMER PROTECTION BILL WOULD PROHIBIT HIDDEN GIFT CERTIFICATE CHARGES

SAFE ROUTES TO SCHOOL PROGRAM APPROVED IN COMMITTEE

SENATOR JOYCE ACTS TO EXPAND PRESCRIPTION ADVANTAGE ENROLLMENT PERIOD

Annual Senior Citizens State House Holiday Card Contest

ARMED FORCES BILL APPROVED BY LEGISLATURE

MANY BUDGET OVERRIDES PREDICTED FOR EARLY 2004

SENATOR JOYCE ANNOUNCES NEW FIRE SAFETY RECOMMENDATIONS

ADDITIONAL FUNDING SECURED FOR CLEARING OF PINE TREE BROOK

SENATOR JOYCE PLEDGES NON-PARTISAN AND COOPERATIVE BUDGET TALKS

SENATOR JOYCE WARNS TAXPAYERS TO AVOID REFUND ANTICIPATION LOANS

JOYCE SCORES ANOTHER ‘A’ FOR ENVIRONMENTAL VOTES

SENATE BILL CLOSES LOOPHOLE IN FRAUD LAW

SENATE PASSES BILL TO HELP VETERANS

SENATOR JOYCE SPONSORS BUDGET AMENDMENT FOR LOWER PRESCRIPTION DRUG PRICES

JOYCE ANNOUNCES PROPOSALS TO STRENGTHEN JUNIOR DRIVING RESTRICTIONS

SENATE STRENGTHENS PROTECTIONS FOR WAGE EARNERS
Bill Regulates Tip Pooling and Bans Time Shaving

SENATOR JOYCE ANNOUNCES SENIOR PRESCRIPTION OPEN ENROLLMENT

LEAD WATER POISONING PREVENTION

SENATE BUDGET INCLUDES PROPERTY TAX RELIEF FOR LOW INCOME SENIORS

For Immediate Release: December 18, 2004
Further Information: Matt Gaines (617) 722-1643

LEGISLATURE LIFTS HOME CARE BARRIERS
Bill will save thousands in administrative costs
Senator Brian A. Joyce is pleased to announce that the Legislature has passed a bill prohibiting managed care organizations from requiring that home health agencies be accredited if they are Medicare/Medicaid Certified.

The bill, which was drafted in conjunction with the Home Health Care Association of Massachusetts, will save local home health agencies hundreds of thousands of dollars of administrative costs and nursing time – costs and hours that can be redirected toward patient care.

“As a long-time advocate of home care, I am pleased to have had the opportunity to vote in favor of this legislation,” said Senator Joyce. “Home care is the most compassionate, and often most fiscally responsible alternative and I strongly support any bill that seeks to increase home care options for seniors and the disabled.”

The bill is currently before the governor.

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For Immediate Release: December 26, 2004
Further Information: Matt Gaines (617) 722-1643

BILL SEEKS TO LIMIT POLYSTYRENE USE
Joyce Bill would ban Styrofoam
Senator Brian A. Joyce has announced that among his legislative priorities for the upcoming legislative session, is legislation that seeks to limit the use of Styrofoam in the Commonwealth

Modeled after a similar Connecticut bill, Senator Joyce’s legislation would give towns across Massachusetts the local option of banning Styrofoam products within their borders.

Senator Joyce was asked to file the legislation by his daughter Maggie, then 13-years-old.

Maggie had been studying recycling with her class and became concerned when they learned that polystyrene foam -- otherwise known as Styrofoam, is made with petroleum, a non-sustainable, heavily polluting and disappearing commodity. Since the product does not biodegrade, it crumbles into small fragments that have no expiration date. Styrofoam takes up more space in landfills than paper and eventually re-enters the environment when landfills are breached by water or mechanical forces.

“Clearly this isn’t so much about banning Styrofoam in the Commonwealth as it is about educating consumers about the detrimental impact of polystyrene on the environment, and asking individuals and corporations to seek alternative options,” said Senator Joyce.

Unfortunately, most Styrofoam products today are not recycled. Additionally, there are concerns that toxic chemicals used in the manufacturing of polystyrene can leak out into the foods they contain threatening the health of those who use them.

”My hope is this bill will convince local manufacturers and vendors that there are a growing number of alternate containers and products available that are made with unbleached paper, a far more environmentally benign material,” said Senator Joyce adding that the China banned Styrofoam altogether in 2000.

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For Immediate Release: December 9, 2004
Further Information: Matt Gaines (617) 722-1643

SENATOR JOYCE ANNOUNCES INCREASED FLU SHOT AVAILABILITY
Senator Brian A. Joyce would like to encourage all constituents, particularly seniors and those with chronic medical conditions, to inquire about the new expanded flu-shot guidelines.

The Department of Public Health (DPH) announced today that the flu distribution guidelines will now be extended immediately to include people 65 and older as well as others considered high risk. The state plans to purchase an extra 35, 330 flu shots, which will arrive next week.

“I am very pleased that the Department of Public Health is able to make these provisions to include a wider range of individuals,” said Senator Joyce. “DPH has worked vigorously to secure vaccines and distribute them as liberally as possible and I encourage everyone to utilize this expanded availability.”
For more details about flu distribution guidelines or to obtain additional information concerning where high risk individuals can receive a flu shot in their community please call DPH’s flu vaccine information line toll free at 1-866-627-7968.

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For Immediate Release: December 3, 2004
Further Information: Marie Blanchard (617) 722-1643

SENATOR JOYCE ANNOUNCES ‘BETTER GOVERNMENT’ COMPETITION
Senator Brian A. Joyce has announced a unique and exciting opportunity for residents in his district to improve the way government works in Massachusetts.

The Pioneer Institute, a non-profit research group, is sponsoring the 14th Better Government Competition, which seeks ideas from individuals about ways to improve the quality of government services and deliver them more efficiently.

In 2005, the Commonwealth will continue to face a significant budget deficit. This competition will provide an opportunity for citizens across the Commonwealth to make an impact on public policy issues with which the Legislature is currently dealing. The competition seeks policy prescriptions for streamlining government through reducing the cost of state government services while continuing to meet core service needs, strengthening non-traditional adult learning opportunities, promoting entrepreneurship through market forces, and protecting the environment through market-based mechanisms.

A grand prizewinner will be awarded $5,000 and three runners-up will receive $1,000 each.
Since the competition was first implemented in 1991, winning entries have saved Massachusetts taxpayers over $300 million.

“Making government more efficient should always be our goal and I urge everyone to participate by sending in an entry,” said Senator Joyce.

The contest is open to everyone. In the past, entries have been submitted by students, academics, non-profit organizations, entrepreneurs, state and municipal officials and concerned citizens. The deadline for the proposal Monday, March 14, 2005. The winners will be honored at an awards dinner in June.
Anyone interested in entering should contact Shawni Littlehale at the Pioneer Institute at 617-723-2277 or through their website at www.pioneerinstitute.org/bgc05.

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For Immediate Release: November 5, 2004
Further Information: Marie Blanchard (617) 722-1643

Safe Havens’ law kicks in
Legislation allowing new parents to safely leave their infants with state authorities instead of abandoning them has gone into effect in Massachusetts.

“This bill puts child welfare ahead of all other considerations,” said Senator Joyce who was a lead sponsor of the bill in the Senate.

The so-called ‘safe havens’ law allows a parent to anonymously leave a newborn who is less than seven days old at a designated facility - hospitals, police departments or staffed fire stations - without facing any legal consequences. The legislation requires the Department of Social Services to take immediate custody of the newborn and place the infant safely into foster care. Under the new law, parents are not automatically stripped of their parental rights.

Before the safe havens law, parents found guilty of abandoning a baby could face up to five years in prison. Voluntarily placing an infant at a designated facility gives a frightened parent an accessible and safe option without the fear of prosecution. By adopting a “no questions asked” policy, parents are encouraged to provide information about the newborn, such as the parent’s identity and the biological family’s medical history, but will not be required to provide such information.

Massachusetts will now join 46 other states that have already established laws to protect abandoned babies.

The Department of Social Services will create and implement a public awareness campaign to promote the new law as well as teen pregnancy programs and adoption information. The public information program will target areas with the highest teen pregnancy rates to help prevent tragedies related to infant abandonment. While the law provides for multiple drop-off spots, parents who do abandon their newborns are urged to bring the babies to hospitals.

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For Immediate Release: October 13, 2004
Further Information: Marie Blanchard (617) 722-1643

DPH ANNOUNCES FLU VACCINE INITIATIVES
Department of Public Health Commissioner Christine C. Ferguson today issued a public health order limiting flu vaccination to people in high risk categories.

“I have full confidence that the health care providers who currently have supplies of the flu shot will see to it that the most vulnerable individuals receive vaccinations first,” said Ferguson. “But the reality of the shortage requires the issuance of formal rules to prioritize those individuals in high risk categories to receive available vaccine.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Aventis Pasteur announced a plan yesterday to distribute 22.4 million doses of unshipped flu vaccine to the states. DPH will learn in the next several days how many doses will be available for Massachusetts residents.

DPH will conduct an inventory of the vaccine already distributed in the state to ensure that the department’s goal is realized to vaccinate the most vulnerable people first. All health care providers, hospitals, pharmacies, and others authorized to prescribe, dispense and administer the flu vaccine will be required to report the number of flu vaccine doses they have in stock via a web-based reporting system that will be accessed by authorized providers through a link on the department’s website www.mass.gov/dph. This effort will allow DPH to help prioritize state-supplied vaccine distribution to the regions of the state that need it the most.

“The flu can be a serious disease for those in a high risk group,” said Ferguson. “For healthy people it is unlikely to be life threatening. Ideally we would like to vaccinate everyone but under the current shortage, we must concentrate our efforts to the most vulnerable people.”

The DPH order directs that the vaccine be given first to people most likely to suffer complications from the flu. The following individuals are prioritized to receive a flu shot this season: All children six months to 23 months of age Everyone 65 years of age and older Pregnant women Everyone six months of age and older with chronic medical conditions, such as heart disease, asthma, diabetes and weakened immune systems. Out of home caregivers and household contacts of children younger than six
months. Residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities Children six months to 18 years on chronic aspirin therapy Health care workers who have direct contact with patients.

Ferguson urged the public to be patient since more flu vaccine will be available in the coming weeks through doctors, hospitals, nursing homes and public clinics.

Individuals should follow these simple steps to prevent the spread of flu: Wash your hands with soap and warm water or use an alcohol-based hand gel frequently.

Cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing.

Do not take young children, those with immune system problems or the chronically ill into large crowds unnecessarily when the flu is in your community.

Stay home from work or school and avoid public activities for at least five (seven for children) days if you have symptoms of the flu.

Do not share items that can spread germs and viruses, like drinking cups, straws, or other items you put in your mouth.

Clean things that are touched often in the household, classroom and child care setting such as: doors, refrigerator handles, phones and water faucets.

Ferguson also announced a toll free number (866) 627-7968 for the public to call to get up-to-date information on the flu vaccine and other flu related information.

For more information regarding flu vaccine availability and steps you can take to protect yourself from the flu please go to: www.mass.gov/dph/flu.

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For Immediate Release: September 23, 2004
Further Information: Marie Blanchard (617) 722-1643

SENATOR JOYCE RECEIVES ENDORSEMENTS
Senator Brian A. Joyce is pleased to announce that he has been endorsed by the Bricklayers and Allied Craftsmen Local No. 3, and the International Association of Heat & Frost Insulators and Asbestos Workers Union Local No. 6.

Senator Joyce is honored to have both organizations on his team. President of the Bricklayers Union, Charles Raso, believes Senator Joyce is “truly a defender and dedicated worker for peace, social justice and equality for all working men and women.”

Senator Joyce is currently serving his fourth term in the Senate where he has developed a reputation for working hard on behalf of the communities he represents and the people he serves. Senator Joyce and his wife Mary have five children between the ages of 6 and 15 years-old.

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For Immediate Release: August 25, 2004
Further Information: Marie Blanchard (617) 722-1643

SENATOR BRIAN A. JOYCE ENCOURAGES CANDIDATES TO ATTEND CITIZENS’ LEGISLATIVE SEMINAR
Senator Brian A. Joyce invites interested candidates to attend the fifty-seventh Citizens’ Legislative Seminar sponsored by the Legislative Education Office.

The CLS program is designed to familiarize citizens first-hand with the legislature and the lawmaking process. Throughout the six-week program, the CLS participants will listen to presentations from Senators as well as Representatives on the lawmaking process.

“State government affects almost everyone in the Commonwealth, yet very few of us have a genuine understanding of how the process works. The Citizen’s Legislative Seminar is an excellent opportunity to gain insight into the Commonwealth’s Legislature and I strongly encourage all to attend,” stated Senator Joyce.

The time and dates for the Citizens’ Legislative Seminar schedule will be from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., on the following Wednesdays: October 20, October 27, November 3, November 10, November 17, and November 24.

Interested parties should contact Michael Salerno in Senator Joyce’s office AS SOON AS POSSIBLE at (617) 722-1643. Space is limited and nominees will be selected on a first-come-first-serve basis.
The CLS was established in 1976 through a joint effort of the Massachusetts State Senate and the University of Massachusetts.

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For Immediate Release: August 24, 2004
Further Information: Marie Blanchard (617) 722-1643

TEACHERS SUPPORT SENATOR JOYCE
Senator Brian A. Joyce is pleased to announce that he has been endorsed by both the Massachusetts Federation of Teachers and the Boston Teachers Union for re-election to the State Senate.

“The MFT believes your election will enable us to work together to improve public education and to promote issues that affect the quality of life for workers and all the citizens of Massachusetts,” stated Federation President Kathleen Kelley.

Senator Joyce is currently serving his fourth term in the Senate where he has developed a reputation for working hard on behalf of the communities he represents and the people he serves. Senator Joyce and his wife Mary have five children between the ages of 6 and 15 years-old.

The MFT represents more than 20,000 members across the Commonwealth including teachers, school nurses, bus drivers, and municipal librarians.

“I am proud of my education record and understand the importance of building good schools, hiring more teachers, and reducing class sizes,” said Senator Joyce. “I have always felt that investments in education, when made wisely, are investments in the health of our nation’s future.”

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For Immediate Release: August 18, 2004
Further Information: Marie Blanchard (617) 722-1643

SENATOR JOYCE RECEIVES ENDORSEMENTS
Senator Brian A. Joyce is proud to announce that he has been endorsed by the Bricklayers and Allied Craftsmen Local No. 3, and the International Association of Heat & Frost Insulators and Asbestos Workers Union Local No. 6.

Senator Joyce is honored to have both organizations on his team. President of the Bricklayers Union, Charles Raso, believes Senator Joyce is “truly a defender and dedicated worker for peace, social justice and equality for all working men and women.”

Senator Joyce is currently serving his fourth term in the Senate where he has developed a reputation for working hard on behalf of the communities he represents and the people he serves. Senator Joyce and his wife Mary have five children between the ages of 6 and 15 years-old.

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For Immediate Release: August 6, 2004
Further Information: Marie Blanchard (617) 722-1643

SENATOR JOYCE SAYS LEGISLATIVE SESSION OFFERS RELIEF TO COMMUNITIES
Lawmakers Take Aggressive Step Toward Restoring Three Years of Cutbacks
Calling it an aggressive first step toward improving the fiscal health of Massachusetts cities and towns, Senator Brian A. Joyce said that bills adopted this legislative session directly address issues communities have been grappling with for three years--- improving public safety and transportation reform and easing the tax burden on residents.
“Our communities will share the biggest benefits from the fiscal policies and reform initiatives we debated and passed this year,” said Senator Joyce. “Our work will enable cities and towns to begin hiring back teachers and police officers, build new schools and roads and boost confidence in their local economy.”
Lawmakers made good on a pledge to increase local aid appropriations in the 2005 budget. “Our communities endured serious cutbacks because the Commonwealth fell further and harder than the rest of the country during the recession. The Senate wanted to ensure, in good times and bad, that we would provide our citizens with the resources they need to live safe, healthy and productive lives.”
The FY05 budget funds two new state police classes and establishes a counter-terrorism unit. “In our post 9/11 atmosphere where it’s much more important for communities to have adequate first responder resources, budget cuts reduced the manpower of many municipal police and fire departments,” said Senator Joyce. “First and foremost our citizens shouldn’t have to wonder if their neighborhoods will be safe.”
In addition to a major reform package that consolidates the Commonwealth’s numerous transportation agencies into a leaner and more efficient Secretariat, lawmakers also passed a transportation bond bill. The bond bill increases the Chapter 90 program, which helps fund municipal road and bridge projects from $300 million to $450 million over three years, and the bill boosts state grants for public works projects tied to municipal economic development by $5 million. “This bond bill provides for the Commonwealth’s deteriorating roads and bridges, while also giving balanced attention to our public transportation network,” said Senator Joyce.
The FY05 budget also includes a strong investment in public schools in hopes of helping to relieve the financial burden on communities. The FY05 budget includes increases of $72 million in Chapter 70 funding and $92 million in Special Education and Regional School Transportation. Also included is $150 million to jump-start the Commonwealth’s school building assistance fund which reimburses school districts for renovating or building new schools. Lawmakers will also clear 420 projects off the waiting list and lift the moratorium on the program for new projects.
Legislators also overrode numerous gubernatorial vetoes that directly impacted many communities. These overrides included water and sewer rate relief, which reduces the level of taxes for ratepayers and reforms to cap the MWRA’s tort liability and increase the Authority’s bond cap, and the restoration of funding to the Prescription Advantage senior pharmacy program to offset drug co-payments.
“Senators took a cautious, thoughtful approach in crafting a fiscal policy that reflects the more optimistic state revenue picture,” said Senate President Robert E. Travaglini. “But we also recognized that many citizens were forced to shoulder the burden of state budget cuts through increased property taxes and that needed to be made a priority in our budget.”

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For Immediate Release: August 2, 2004
Further Information: Marie Blanchard (617) 722-1643

SENATOR JOYCE MARKS MENTAL HEALTH POLICY GAINS IN ‘04
Senator Brian A. Joyce’s work as a member of the Mental Health Caucus has led to legislative victories and raised the profile of mental health issues in Massachusetts in 2004. Since the New Year, the Legislature’s Mental Health Caucus has primarily focused on three topics – mental health care in correctional facilities, children’s mental health and mental health and homelessness. In each area, Senator Joyce and other members of the Caucus advanced the Caucus’s mission to improve the care and treatment available to Massachusetts residents with mental illness.

The Mental Health Caucus was instrumental in winning a $2.6 million appropriation in the Fiscal Year 05 budget to fund two regional behavioral evaluation and stabilization units for incarcerated persons. This initiative, approved by the Legislature in June, came on the heels of a January Mental Health Caucus educational forum for legislators that highlighted correctional mental health care. At the event, legislators were briefed on the challenges faced by correctional administrators who must care for a population of approximately 5,000 inmates statewide with mental health issues. In particular, 60% of the state’s female inmate population is classified as an open mental health case.

An additional budget provision focusing on children’s mental health care also passed by the House and Senate in June was inspired by a March Mental Health Caucus forum. An additional budget provision focusing on children’s mental health care also passed by the House and Senate in June was inspired by a March Mental Health Caucus forum at which legislators were briefed on the status of mental health care for children in Massachusetts. At the March forum, providers of children's psychiatric medications charged that the Massachusetts Medicaid Office’s newly implemented prior authorization program is putting children at risk, due to significant delays in the approval process.  This forum led to the enactment of FY 05 budget section 305 requiring the Executive Office of Health and Human Services to report on the drug prior authorization program. It was specific in directing the agency to report on whether or not it is meeting federal standards for responding to requests for approval and how the quality of care for children is being affected.

Mental health and homelessness was the focus of the Mental Health Caucus’ third educational forum of the year in June. At the session, legislators were presented with testimony describing the complex needs of the homeless mentally ill population and existing model programs that serve these Massachusetts residents. Members of the Caucus will consider the information provided in the forum during future budgetary and legislative deliberations. In the meantime, the Caucus’s effort to improve housing options for people with mental illness was buoyed by a statewide newspaper editorial echoing the sentiments expressed at the Caucus event.

Senator Joyce is one of 81 members of the Mental Health Caucus which is in its 5th year of existence. Founded in December 1999, the Caucus has played a significant role in restoring deep cuts to funding for mental health services and advocating for legislation to benefit individuals with mental illness and their families.

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For Immediate Release: August 2, 2004
Further Information: Marie Blanchard (617) 722-1643

SAFE HAVENS BILL SIGNED INTO LAW
Bill aims to protect newborns from reckless abandonment
Senator Brian A. Joyce is pleased to announce the passage of “safe havens” legislation that allows new parents to safely leave their infants with state authorities instead of abandoning them.

“This bill puts child welfare ahead of all other considerations,” said Senator Joyce, a lead sponsor of the bill in the Senate. “There can be no argument in opposition to this bill that is not overwhelmed by the critical objective of saving the life of an infant.”

The new law allows a parent to anonymously leave a newborn who is less than seven days old at a designated facility - hospitals, police departments or staffed fire stations - without facing any legal consequences. The legislation requires the Department of Social Services to take immediate custody of the newborn and place the infant safely into foster care. Under the new law, parents are not automatically stripped of their parental rights.

Before the safe havens law, parents found guilty of abandoning a baby could face up to five years in prison. Voluntarily placing an infant at a designated facility gives a frightened parent an accessible and safe option without the fear of prosecution. By adopting a “no questions asked” policy, parents are encouraged to provide information about the newborn, such as the parent’s identity and the biological family’s medical history, but will not be required to provide such information.

Massachusetts will now join 46 other states that have already established laws to protect abandoned babies.

The Department of Social Services will create and implement a public awareness campaign to promote the new law as well as teen pregnancy programs and adoption information. The public information program will target areas with the highest teen pregnancy rates to help prevent tragedies related to infant abandonment.

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For Immediate Release: July 23, 2004
Further Information: Marie Blanchard (617) 722-1643

Joyce Praise Major Overhaul in Public Construction
Senator Brian A. Joyce and fellow members of the Massachusetts Democratic Leadership Council this week praised the release of the Special Commission on Public Construction Reform’s legislation aimed at significantly reforming public construction management.

“This will make it possible for buildings to come in on budget and on time. There is a substantial cost to taxpayers when public construction projects are over budget, and there is also a hidden cost out there from the hurt done to policemen, firemen, teachers, and school children when projects are delayed,” commented Senator Joyce.

The legislation is targeted at enhancing accountability, introducing flexibility, and including more minorities and women in the state’s public construction system.

The Commission recommended that public agencies be required to hire a project manager for any project valued at $1.5 million or more and pre-qualifications of general contractors and subcontractors will be required on projects valued at $10 million dollars or more. In addition, the Commission has proposed that the state Division of Capital Asset Maintenance and Management will certify subcontractors to participate on public projects to help ensure public construction projects are cost effective and maximize the value of taxpayers’ dollars.

In regards to increasing flexibility with respect to public projects, the Commission recommended the introduction of the construction management-at-risk delivery method for building projects and the introduction of the design-build delivery method for road and other public works projects.
“Our goal is that these reforms will result in increased participation on the part of general contractors and subcontractors,” said Senator Joyce. “Increased participation will heighten competition and improve the quality of construction projects.”

The Massachusetts Democratic Leadership Council is a local affiliate of the national Democratic Leadership Council based in Washington, DC. The DLC seeks to define and galvanize popular support for a new public philosophy built on progressive ideals, mainstream values, and innovative, non bureaucratic, market based solutions.

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For Immediate Release: July 24, 2004
Further Information: Marie Blanchard (617) 722-1643

CHAMPION CITY RECOVERY PHASE II HALTED
Senator Brian A. Joyce and Representative Galvin are pleased to announce the successful passage of language in the final Fiscal Year 2005 budget aimed at stopping Phase II of the Champion City Recovery project.

The language was passed in legislature in late June but later vetoed by the governor. The House and Senate overrode the governor’s veto this week.

“Representative Galvin and I have heard from hundreds if not thousands of constituents on the quality of life for those living in and around the proposed site,” said Senator Joyce. “Abutters have expressed serious concern over noise, traffic, and safety issues associated with the project and I don’t believe these were adequately addressed by Champion City Recovery.”

The passage of this language comes on the heels of a decision by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Management to issue a negative site suitability report for Phase II of the project on the grounds that the site chosen by Champion City is not suitable for a trash-transfer station.

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For Immediate Release: July 12, 2004
Further Information: Marie Blanchard (617) 722-1643

SENATE BILL CLOSES LOOPHOLE IN FRAUD LAW
Senator Joyce Says Legislation Will Protect Charities The Massachusetts State Senate gave initial approval to a bill that addresses one of the fastest growing crimes in the country—charity identity theft. The legislation would make it a crime to pose as a non-profit organization with the intent of defrauding people.

Senator Brian A. Joyce says the legislation closes a loophole in anti-fraud statutes passed in 1998 that addressed only individual identity theft. “We’ve found that charities and businesses are just as vulnerable to this kind of fraud as individual citizens. They can lose a lot of money and spend years trying to reestablish their name and reputation.”

The Senate bill grew out of concern that criminals were exploiting sympathy for victims of 9/11. Chief sponsor, Senator Harriette Chandler, hopes that this legislation will make people less nervous about donating to charities or local police and fire associations. “To fraudulently persuade someone to make a heartfelt donation to a worthy cause, such as a police benevolent association, is shameful. Law enforcement needs this tool to safeguard charities and protect the public from this type of fraud.”

Lawmakers say increasing the penalties for second and subsequent offenses should act as a strong deterrent. Currently, a fraud conviction carries a fine of $5,000 and up to two and a half years in a House of Correction. Under this bill, repeat offenders can be subject to a $25,000 fine or 5 years imprisonment, or both.

“Using a tragedy like September 11 in order to scam innocent donors is unconscionable,” said Senator Joyce. “This bill will ensure that anyone who wants to make a donation in Massachusetts can have confidence that it will get to the people who need it.”

The legislation now goes to the House of Representatives to be debated.

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For Immediate Release: July 12, 2004
Further Information: Marie Blanchard (617) 722-1643

SENATE PASSES BILL TO HELP VETERANS
Senator Brian A. Joyce announced that the Massachusetts Senate has passed legislation expanding the definition of the term veteran and enabling thousands of Massachusetts veterans to access state veterans' benefits.

"I believe the state has a duty to recognize all Massachusetts men and women who have served honorably in the military," Senator Joyce said.

The bill brings the state's definition of a veteran more closely into alignment with the standards for federal veterans' benefits. It primarily impacts those whose service was between 1975 and 1990. Also included are a small number whose service was between 1946 and 1950. Those currently serving are covered by the Gulf War which started in 1990.

Current Massachusetts law defines "veteran" based on military service within certain time periods when the United States was engaged in combat. With few exceptions, those who served between 1975-1990 were previously not considered "veterans" under Massachusetts law.

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For Immediate Release: July 12, 2004
Further Information: Marie Blanchard (617) 722-1643

SENATOR JOYCE SPONSORS BUDGET AMENDMENT FOR LOWER PRESCRIPTION DRUG PRICES
Senator Brian A. Joyce this week sponsored a budget amendment that will help Massachusetts residents save thousands of dollars on prescription drug prices. Specifically, it will direct a new Office of Pharmaceutical Information to develop a website that provides information on how to safely reimport prescription drugs from licensed Canadian pharmacies.

"This amendment is an important remedy for the prescription drug pricing woes of hard working Massachusetts residents," said Senator Joyce "Those struggling with the high cost of their medicines have for too long been forced to choose between paying rent or paying for the medicines they need to stay healthy."

At a recent press conference to unveil the details of the reimportation amendment, Boston Mayor Tom Menino joined senior and health care organizations in announcing their strong support for the measure. Supporters include: AARP, on behalf of its 80,000 members statewide; Mass Senior Actions Council; MASSPIRG; and Health Care for All. For years, Americans have been crossing the border to buy prescription drugs -- medicines that are often produced in the U.S. and repackaged -- at prices 40-70% cheaper than in the U.S. Nearly 67% of those Americans surveyed in a recent Associated Press poll said that government should make it easier to buy cheaper prescription drugs from Canada and other countries.

In 2003, Springfield launched a successful program to allow its employees to save money by reimporting prescriptions from Canadian pharmacies -- a plan that has already saved $2 million. Last week, CVS and Walgreens, the nation's two largest retail pharmacies, urged federal officials to allow for reimportation of prescription drugs from Canada. And this summer, Boston is poised to launch a reimportation program expected to save the city millions of dollars in drug costs.

The Senate budget also contains several measures to help seniors struggling with the high cost of prescriptions, including a $14 million increase and expanded coverage to include 18,000 new members for the popular Prescription Advantage Program.

“Until we see lower prescription drugs prices in the U.S. we must do everything we can to help residents use the free market to save thousands of dollars a year in drug costs,” said Senator Joyce.


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For Immediate Release: July 9, 2004
Further Information: Marie Blanchard (617) 722-1643

JOYCE ANNOUNCES PROPOSALS TO STRENGTHEN JUNIOR DRIVING RESTRICTIONS
Changes Will Improve Safety Standards, Increase Parent Awareness and Tighten
Junior Operator Restrictions

Senator Brian A. Joyce, Vice Chair of the Committee on Public Safety, announced that the committee has released recommendations reforming the Junior Operator’s Licensing Law and Driver’s education in the Commonwealth. Due to tragic events over the past year and the recent fatal accident involving a group of Plymouth teens, a Subcommittee on Driver’s Education and Junior Operator’s License was formed as a part of the Committee on Public Safety’s efforts to curb young driver fatalities and injuries. This subcommittee was created in a bi-partisan effort to ask parents, law enforcement, the administration and the legislature to get more involved in the safe driving habits of the most inexperienced drivers.

“I believe that there will be bi-partisan support both for the bill and for an emergency preamble to make it effective immediately,” said Senator Joyce. Public hearings were held throughout the state to investigate potential legislative action and regulatory changes that could be made in order to bring further awareness of the restrictions in the junior operator’s law. These recommendations culminate over three months of extensive research by the subcommittee and the cooperation of the Registry of Motor Vehicles, Driver’s Education Schools, and members of the law enforcement community. Among the new recommendations are:

• An increase in the required number of parent-supervised driving hours for novice drivers from 12 hours to 30 hours during the learner’s permit phase. Prior to obtaining a Junior Operator’s License, the novice driver would be required to submit a signed and initialed log containing the date of driving, the duration of the drive, and the name of the driving supervisor (parent, guardian, or other responsible adult) to the Registry of Motor Vehicles

• An increase from 6 hours of professionally supervised driving to 12 hours. This keeps the 6 hours of observation time during the Driver’s Education phase.

• Primary enforcement of the passenger restriction and increases the penalties for the first offense from 30 days to 90 days, the second offense from 60 days to 180 days, and any third and subsequent offense from 90 days to 1 year.

• Any junior operator cited for speeding on any public way will be ticketed and lose their license for a period of 90 days for the first offense, 180 for the second offense, and 1 year for any third or subsequent offenses.

• No junior operator will be permitted to use hand held cell phones while driving. Violation of this provision subjects the driver to a $100 fine for the first offense, $250 for the second offense and $500 for the third and subsequent offenses.

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For Immediate Release: June 9, 2004
Further Information: Marie Blanchard (617) 722-1643

SENATE STRENGTHENS PROTECTIONS FOR WAGE EARNERS
Bill Regulates Tip Pooling and Bans Time Shaving
The Massachusetts Senate has sent legislation to the Governor that prohibits employers from shaving hours off employee time sheets and forcing service workers to pool their tips. The bill also enhances the Attorney General’s ability to investigate and enforce violations of the wage law.

“The service industry puts nearly 300,000 people to work and is one of the largest and most important contributors to the Commonwealth’s economy. As a former restaurant employee, I believe that it is important to ensure that employees receive an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work,” said Senator Brian A. Joyce.

The bill bars business from coercing service workers to surrender tips to a pool or taking tips without the employees consent and including them in a pool with management or non-service workers. It also extends these protections to all workers who earn tips, not just those who handle food and beverages. Employees can bring civil actions for violations under a three-year statue of limitations.

Clarifying the Attorney General’s authority to enforce wage laws is also a major component of the legislation. Under the new proposals:

• The Attorney General is entitled to a copy of the employer’s records, not just a transcript.
• Employees gain complete access to their payroll records.
• Employers would be warned that failure to keep true and accurate payroll records violates the wage law.
• The anti-retaliation measure is strengthened to protect employee “whistleblowers” who report or testify about violations
• Technical changes proposed by the Attorney General are incorporated into the wage laws that would, among other things, bar contractors from participating in taxpayer-funded public construction projects when they flout the law by defaulting or ignoring a civil wage citation.


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For Immediate Release: July 6, 2004
Further Information: Marie Blanchard (617) 722-1643

SENATOR JOYCE ANNOUNCES SENIOR PRESCRIPTION OPEN ENROLLMENT
The Prescription Advantage Plan will conduct the 2005 open enrollment from September 1 through September 30, 2004 for eligible individuals. This includes anyone age 66 and over who is not receiving outpatient prescriptions from MassHealth. Applicants who are eligible to enroll during this Open Enrollment, and who submit complete applications, will be enrolled on November 1, 2004. Applications will be accepted from September 1 through September 30, 2004 and can be faxed to (508) 793-1133 or mailed to the address on the application.

The Prescription Advantage Plan, administered by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs, is a prescription drug insurance plan that is available to all Massachusetts residents age 65 and older, as well as younger individuals with disabilities who meet income and employment guidelines. Members pay premiums, deductibles, and co-payments based on their gross annual household income.

“Prescription Advantage provides seniors and low-income disabled residents with a vital service,” said Senator Brian A. Joyce. “I have been very pleased with the success of the program.”

Prescription Advantage places an annual out-of-pocket spending limit on the amount members pay in deductible and co-payment amounts toward their prescriptions.

Prescription Advantage utilizes a formulary that categorizes prescription drugs into three categories: generic drugs, brand name drugs, and additional brand-name drugs. Generic drugs have the lowest co payment, while additional brand-name drugs have the highest co-payment. The Plan’s formulary covers most outpatient oral prescription drugs, including insulin and disposable insulin syringes with needles.

Eligibility requirements include: Massachusetts residents who are not receiving prescription drug benefits under Medicaid and are:

• Age 65 or older; or
• Under age 65, work 40 or fewer hours per month, meet CommonHealth disability guidelines and have gross annual household incomes at or below 188% of the Federal Poverty Level.

Applications for the Plan will be available in mid-July. They will be available from Local Councils on Aging and SHINE offices, as well as on the web at www.800ageinfo.com or by mail from a Prescription Advantage Customer Service representative by calling 1-800-AGE-INFO or 1-800-243 4636 or TTY 877-610-0241. Spanish applications will also be available. You must use an updated application.

For more information on the Prescription Advantage Plan, call 1-800-AGE-INFO
or call Senator Joyce’s office at 617-722-1643.

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For Immediate Release: May 3, 2004
Further Information: Marie Blanchard (617) 722-1643

LEAD WATER POISONING PREVENTION
Senator Brian A. Joyce is pleased to announce the following tips for lead water poisoning prevention in wake of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority’s (MWRA) 2004 Drinking Water Test Results. Since 1996, the MWRA has treated water when it leaves the reservoirs to ensure that it is lead-free. However, lead can get into tap water through pipes in the home, lead solder used in plumbing, and some brass fixtures. To make sure that you have safe drinking water, the MWRA offers the following tips for lead-free water.

• Most importantly – Flush the tap until the water feels cold before use, usually about 30 seconds. The longer the water remains in contact with plumbing materials containing lead, the greater the chance lead will dissolve into the water.

• Never use hot water from the faucet for drinking or cooking, especially when making baby formula. Hot water lines leach more lead than cold water lines. If you need hot water, for the above purposes, heat water on the stove.

• Never boil water to remove lead. Boiling water for an extended period of time may make the lead more concentrated.

• Ask your local water department if there are lead service pipes leading to your home. If so, replace that portion of service pipe from the property line to your home.

• Every few months remove the faucet aerator from each faucet in your home to remove any loose solder and debris from your plumbing.

• Be mindful of other lead sources near your home such as lead-based paint, dirt and dust.

• Have an electrician check your wiring for attachment to a led water service pipe.

• If possible, buy bottled water or a home water filtration system. A good resource to call is the National Sanitation Foundations (www.nsf.org) which evaluates and tests filtering devices.

• Get your water tested for lead. Call (617) 242-5323 or go to www.mwra.com for a list of laboratories and more information on lead.

Lead levels in sampled worst case homes have dramatically dropped since 1992. If you have any questions about the status of your community’s tap water please feel free to contact the MWRA’s Water Quality line at the number listed above.

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For Immediate Release: May 28, 2004
Further Information: Marie Blanchard (617) 722-1643

SENATE BUDGET INCLUDES PROPERTY TAX RELIEF FOR LOW INCOME SENIORS
Senator Brian A. Joyce recently voted in favor of a republican initiative to provide tax relief for low income seniors.

The tax cut is a budget amendment which doubles the property tax exemption for Seniors 70 or older from $500 to $1000. Also, the amendment raises the income exemption level to 8,000 for a single senior, or 14,200 for a married couple. The state currently reimburses cities and towns for 50% of revenue lost form the exemptions.

According to the Department of Revenue, 734 seniors received exemptions under the law last year, accounting for more than $509,000 in revenue lost. With the qualifying income raised more people are expected to qualify for the exemption, and the state is expected to pay more than $1 million in additional reimbursements to cities and towns.

“Seniors deserve a break from soaring property taxes,” said Senator Joyce.

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For Immediate Release: April 22, 2004
Further Information: Marie Blanchard (617) 722-1643

CONSUMER PROTECTION BILL WOULD PROHIBIT HIDDEN GIFT CERTIFICATE CHARGES

Senator Brian A. Joyce submitted testimony this week in support of legislation that prohibits excessive fees on gift certificates and gift cards.

Currently, certain institutions such as malls, banks, and credit card companies are able to issue gift certificates with hidden charges that have the effect of reducing the value of the gift certificate. The most common of such charges include inactivity penalties, purchase fees, expired card penalties, and lost card processing fees. These charges deplete the value of the gift certificate, so it is possible for the gift certificate to become valueless before the consumer has an opportunity to redeem it. In addition, restaurants are able to deduct gratuities directly from gift certificates, thereby denying consumers any discretion as to how much gratuity to leave.

For example, the Simon Mall VISA Gift card costs $5.95 to purchase and have it shipped, deducts $2.50 per month after seven months of nonuse, and costs $5.00 to obtain a new card if the original is lost. The Charter One Master Card gift card has an inactivity penalty of $2.50 per month after six
months, an ATM fee of $2.00 per use, and a $1.00 PIN fee per use. It also carries a card penalty of $10.00 per month after expiration, and a $10.00 fee to replace a lost card. All of these fees, unless specifically stated, are electronically deducted from the total amount on the card without
notice. The legislation would prohibit all charges like these.

“This is an issue of basic consumer protection,” said Senator Joyce. “Massachusetts consumers deserve to be able to purchase and use gift cards without fear that a card’s value will fall before they have an opportunity to redeem the card.”


The legislation, co-sponsored by Senator Joyce, states that anyone who sells a gift certificate with these hidden charges will be punished with a fine of up to $300.


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For Immediate Release: April 22, 2004
Further Information: Marie Blanchard (617) 722-1643

SAFE ROUTES TO SCHOOL PROGRAM APPROVED IN COMMITTEE

Senator Brian A. Joyce is pleased to announce that the Transportation Committee has approved An Act to Establish a Safe Routes to School Program. The bill promotes walking and biking to school, and would create a program to distribute federal funds to achieve this goal.

In May of last year, students and parents from Milton’s Glover School had visited the State House to testify in favor of the legislation that would allow communities to enjoy the benefits of a federal program that the state does not currently take full advantage of. The Federal Safety Set-Aside Program provides resources to promote initiatives relating to bicyclists and pedestrians. Some funding from this program can be used to make it easier for students to walk or bike to school.

“Promoting alternate means of transportation for our students will promote safety -- since automobile accidents are a leading cause of death for children, reduce traffic congestion, and improve physical fitness,” said Senator Joyce. “Not only will the bill make it easier for students to walk or bike to school, it will make it safer. Communities can use the funding to implement traffic-calming measures around schools and institute safety education programs.”

I want to commend and congratulate the members of the Glover Community who visited the State House this past spring to speak on behalf of the Safe Routes bill.”

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For Immediate Release: April 22, 2004
Further Information: Marie Blanchard (617) 722-1643

SENATOR JOYCE ACTS TO EXPAND PRESCRIPTION ADVANTAGE ENROLLMENT PERIOD
This week, Senator Brian A. Joyce co-sponsored legislation that will mandate a one month open enrollment period for Prescription Advantage this coming August.

Prescription Advantage is the state-sponsored prescription drug insurance program for seniors and low-income people with disabilities – it provides affordable prescription drugs for more than 80,000 Massachusetts residents. Last year the Legislature fully restored the program after the Governor’s
budget failed to provide any funding for the program.

Unfortunately, enrollment into the program was halted last year because of budget cuts and the creation of the additional enrollment period in August will ensure that thousands of seniors, as well as low-income people with disabilities, can sign up for the program and have access to affordable prescription drugs and life saving medicines. By establishing the period in January, the Office of Elder Affairs and various senior organizations will be able to provide ample notice to potential applicants. “For many people, Prescription Advantage is the only way to afford the drugs that their doctors have prescribed,” Senator Joyce said. “We must not shut the door on those people with such a short enrollment period.”

Prescription Advantage, the nation’s first state-sponsored prescription drug insurance program, has enrolled more than 80,000 seniors and low-income people with disabilities to date. Established in 2001, the program has been hailed as a model program for the nation and other states.

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For Immediate Release: March 23, 2004
Further Information: Marie Blanchard (617) 722-1643

Annual Senior Citizens State House Holiday Card Contest
Senator Brian A. Joyce is pleased to announce that the 8th Annual Senior Citizens Artistic Interpretation of the State House Holiday Card Contest has begun.

The theme of this year’s contest is Celebrating the Winter Holiday At the State House. Open to all citizens age 62 and over, entries will be accepted from both amateur and professional artists. All medium of art is accepted as long as the size is between 5” x 7” and 18” x 24.” Beginning in August, all entries will be exhibited at the Commonwealth Museum where they will be judged by professional artists.

Entries must be mailed or delivered to the attention of Dolores McCray, Commonwealth Museum at Columbia Point, 220 Morrissey Boulevard, Boston 02125 by July 15, 2004. A signed authorization form must accompany the artwork and are available in Senator Joyce’s office at 617-722-1643. The
winning card will be reproduced and sold at the State House Gift Cart with the artist’s name printed on the card.

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For Immediate Release: February 19, 2004
Further Information: Marie Blanchard (617) 722-1643

ARMED FORCES BILL APPROVED BY LEGISLATURE
Legislation will ease the financial burdens placed on reservists, guardsmen and their families
Senator Brian A. Joyce is pleased to announce that the Legislature has passed a bill ensuring that state employees who are called to active service maintain the current levels of compensation and benefits they otherwise would have received had they not been called upon to serve the nation.

Co-sponsored by Senator Joyce, the bill specifically requires that public employees be paid their regular wages – reduced by any amount received for military service – to ensure that their income does not decline. In addition all health benefits extended to employees and their families will continue without interruption and employees will also receive full credit for their retirement benefits for time served in the military.

The bill will provide cities, towns and counties the opportunity to participate through local approval. The cost of this bill will be absorbed through state agencies’ existing resources.

“During these difficult times, it is important that we offer financial piece of mind to the brave men and women who have been called upon to serve our country,” said Senator Joyce.

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For Immediate Release: February 19, 2004
Further Information: Marie Blanchard (617) 722-1643

MANY BUDGET OVERRIDES PREDICTED FOR EARLY 2004
Senator Brian A. Joyce is confident that many of Governor Romney’s FY04 budget vetoes will top the legislative agenda when formal sessions resume in January. The governor severely cut two of the fall agenda’s major pieces of legislation, the economic stimulus bill and the supplemental budget, including removing half of the funding lawmakers allocated to invest in business. He cut nearly a third of the legislature’s mid-year appropriations which were aimed at easing the impact of budget cuts on state programs.

The $100 million economic stimulus bill proved to be one of the most productive Senate endeavors of the fall. An “Act to Promote Job Creation, Economic Stability and Competitiveness in the Massachusetts Economy,” was comprised of nearly two-dozen key initiatives. Significant highlights of the package featured a one day sales tax holiday on back-to-school retail sales in August, lifting the ban on Sunday liquor sales, establishing a historic development tax credit and making the Investment Tax Credit permanent for business.

The governor vetoed the Massachusetts International Tourism Initiative, a $2 million plan to attract international visitors and the entire $5 million appropriation for the Massachusetts Technology Development Corporation which would act as a loan program for small businesses waiting for federal grants in research, science, and technology programs. He also drastically cut the funds for Existing Workforce Training Grants from $6 million to $1.5 million and cut the appropriations for established funds and programs that invest in technology based sectors to half of its former $65 million stature.

Through the $109 million supplemental spending bill, lawmakers restored critical funding to head off devastating potential cuts in residential and day mental retardation programs, mental health services for the homeless, rape crisis centers, school health programs, DYS services for juvenile offenders, domestic violence programs, basic health care for immigrants and senior health care services. The budget bill also made a down payment on raises promised to higher education workers three years ago.

“We adopted a thoughtful and balanced approach in utilizing a small fraction of the nearly $1 billion in reserve funds the Commonwealth has built up since we were forced to downsize many of these programs in the spring,” said Senator Joyce. “It’s unfortunate the governor cut more than $30 million from the bill which would have gone to working families, seniors and those who depend on state services.”

In addition to the supplemental budget and economic stimulus package, the Senate also approved legislation instituting additional sex offender registration requirements, requiring all felons to submit DNA samples and expand the state’s registry, updating business corporation provisions to allow for electronic methods of conducting business, and instituting the Uniform Electronic Transaction Act, which allows for such practices as prescribing medicine by e-mail.

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For Immediate Release: February 19, 2004
Further Information: Marie Blanchard (617) 722-1643

SENATOR JOYCE ANNOUNCES NEW FIRE SAFETY RECOMMENDATIONS

Senator Brian A. Joyce and members of the Joint Committee on Public Safety recently released new fire safety recommendations as a result of their investigation into the tragic Station Night Club Fire in Rhode Island.

As a result of the committee’s work Senator Joyce stated, “we have the opportunity to pass common-sense legislation that will ensure that our homes, workplaces and clubs are better protected from devastating fires.”

The following is a brief summary of the recommendations filed in the report:
Staffing: The centerpiece of the recommendations is the implementation of “Fire Service Grants”, very similar to the competitive grants that police departments are eligible for under Community Policing. The recommendations call for a population-based competitive grant process that awards every community in Massachusetts a distribution of funds to be used for purchasing new fire equipment. Fire Departments can select from a “menu” of available equipment and can also use up to fifty percent of award monies towards supplementing staff salaries.

Fire Extinguishers/Smoke Detectors: Unfortunately, the effectiveness of fire extinguishers and smoke detectors has been overshadowed by the recent attention on automatic sprinklers. Early warning devices, such as smoke or heat detectors, alert occupants to impending danger in order to take quick action against fire. Fire extinguishers provide a primary means of protection where occupants can quell a blaze before it gets out of control or can use it to clear an escape route if the fire is spreading too quickly. The importance of these fire safety tools cannot be understated and it is discouraging that they have been overlooked despite the effectiveness of automatic sprinklers.

Balanced Design: With proper installation of smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and automatic sprinklers, a further “balancing” of fire safety methods is still necessary; especially in buildings that house individuals who have limited mobility. The concept of compartmentalization meets this criteria by dividing buildings into fire compartments enclosed by firewalls, fire doors and by fire-rated floors and ceilings that limit the extent of fire and fire damage. This means that a building, constructed using this method could contain a fire in very a limited area – effectively “cordoning off” the fire without compromising structural integrity, endangering other occupants or resulting in significant property loss.

The committee recommends that all future construction or major addition to schools, school dormitories, assisted living facilities and respite care facilities should be built under the concept of “balanced design”.

SAFE Program: The committee also called for a reauthorization of the SAFE Program (Student Awareness of Fire Education). SAFE is a state initiative to provide resources to local fire departments to conduct fire and life safety education programs in grades K-12. The mission is to enable students to recognize the dangers of fire and more specifically the fire hazards tobacco products pose. Unfortunately, this program has been cut from the state’s budget since 2002.

Copies of the full report are available in the Office of the Committee on Public Safety in Room 39 of the State House, 617-722-2230

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For Immediate Release: February 19, 2004
Further Information: Marie Blanchard (617) 722-1643

ADDITIONAL FUNDING SECURED FOR CLEARING OF PINE TREE BROOK
Senator Brian A. Joyce is pleased to announce that the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs has released $80,000 for the next phase of the Pine Tree Brook project.

The funds were initially secured by Senator Joyce, Speaker Finneran and Representative Timilty in the 2002 Environmental Bond Bill but have been awaiting authorization since Governor Romney took office in 2003.

“This is excellent news for the town of Milton and the Pine Tree Brook Neighborhood in particular,” said Senator Joyce. “Pine Tree Brook is one of Milton’s most cherished natural resources. The preservation of its pristine beauty is a service to all members of the community, and protecting area homes from flooding is important.”

The funding will cover Phase 3 of the project which includes a hydrology survey that will examine the amount of sediment that has built up in the Brook over the past three decades and will determine the amount of dredging necessary to help the water flow faster thus reducing the threat of flooding in the area. Additionally, brush, surface debris and trash along the 2 _ miles of Pine Tree Brook have already been removed.

Milton will be reimbursed for 75 percent of the cost of clearing the Brook as well as the cost of surveys and design work to remove sediment and stabilize the riverbank.

The Milton Department of Public Works has already completed design plans and specifications for the project and was waiting for the funds to begin advertising the project for construction.

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For Immediate Release: February 19, 2004
Further Information: Marie Blanchard (617) 722-1643

SENATOR JOYCE PLEDGES NON-PARTISAN AND COOPERATIVE BUDGET TALKS
Calls on Governor to Deliver Realistic Spending Plan

On the eve of budget deliberations, Massachusetts Senator Brian A. Joyce promised to continue the Senate’s earnest collaboration with the Governor and House to deliver a responsible budget that makes government more efficient without raising taxes.

“It is our hope that we are able to overcome political partisanship with substance this upcoming fiscal year,” said Senator Joyce. “Let’s work together to provide real and honest solutions that solve our state’s budget crisis and put Massachusetts back on a firm economic platform.”

Last year, the Senate worked as a partner in reform to close a $3 billion budget shortfall. Under the leadership of Senator Murray and Senator Wilkerson, the Senate exhaustively reviewed the Governor’s Article 87 reform plan and his budget reform proposals and held public hearings to weigh their merits. In fact, the Senate received praised from Governor Romney for the Senate’s thorough work and analysis of the Administration’s proposals.

Senate President Robert E. Travaglini said lawmakers were proud to work with Governor Romney on implementing many of his reforms, as well as reforms the Senate believed made the best sense for taxpayers. “Of course, we did not agree on every issue. The Governor refused to adopt many of our reform proposals, including changes to the Quinn Bill program and reform of the state’s crime labs. The Legislature disagreed with Governor Romney on some of his proposals, such as eliminating the office of the University of Massachusetts - although the Governor changed his mind on the issue after William Bulger resigned from the University Presidency. But one thing is clear: At the end of the day, we worked cooperatively to bring unprecedented change to state government.”

This year as budget deliberations get underway, the state’s continued fiscal crisis demands that lawmakers take a cautious approach in crafting the budget blueprint. “We will fight to ensure that programs we have already cut are not rendered ineffective by further budget cuts,” said Senator Joyce. “But we should not sugar coat the options that are available to us. The sobering reality is that we may have to again cut programs and raise fees to tackle the budget gap. We must continue to be thoughtful and sincere about the policy decisions we make and the effect they will have on the working families of this Commonwealth.”

Senator Joyce, along with his colleagues look forward to holding open discussions with the Governor about reforms in all area, including higher education, the courts and the Turnpike authority. But Senators are also calling on the Governor to devise realistic solutions to the fiscal crisis, not symbolic plans disguised as reforms.

“The Senate knows that reforms alone will not resolve the state’s fiscal problems,” said Senator Joyce. “We don’t want to mislead the public that these so-called reforms are a magical solution in solving the budget deficit.”

This year the Senate is prepared to continue it’s fight to maintain accessibility and affordability of health care and prescription drugs for seniors, renew the commitment to provide local property tax relief and adequate local aid funding levels for cities and towns across the Commonwealth.

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For Immediate Release: February 19, 2004
Further Information: Marie Blanchard (617) 722-1643

SENATOR JOYCE WARNS TAXPAYERS TO AVOID REFUND ANTICIPATION LOANS

Senator Brian A. Joyce and the Office of Consumer Affairs and Division of Banks urges consumers across Massachusetts to avoid Refund Anticipation Loans (RALs), during this income tax season.

RALs work by clients of income-tax preparation services are offered “Instant Refunds” or “Quick Cash” infusions. These are simply advance loans on their anticipated tax refunds. Most consumers don’t need RALs since they could have their entire refund by waiting an additional 10 days if they file online and use direct deposit.

“Refund Anticipation Loans can cost the average taxpayer from $34.95 to $104.95 in fees, plus an additional $30-$40 in administrative fees for a quick cash refund,” said Senator Joyce. “Most people are not aware of how much it’s costing them and they need to be cautious.”

For more information or questions about RALs, visit the Office of Consumer Affairs website at http://www.mass.gov/consumer or call the office of Senator Joyce at (617) 722-1643.

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For Immediate Release: February 10, 2004
Further Information: Marie Blanchard (617) 722-1643

JOYCE SCORES ANOTHER ‘A’ FOR ENVIRONMENTAL VOTES
For the fourth year in a row, Senator Brian A. Joyce has received an “A” grade from the Audubon Society for his pro-environmental votes for the year 2003.

Senator Joyce had 25 pro-environment Senate roll-call votes last year, the highest in the Senate. His votes included legislation to strengthen the use of conservation restrictions and agricultural preservation restrictions for protecting land.

“I am delighted that the Audubon Society recognizes my commitment to preserving the environment. It is my hope that future generations will benefit from our Commonwealth’s natural resources,” said Senator Joyce.

In 1985, the Massachusetts Audubon began reporting the environmental record of Massachusetts legislators in order to inform citizens of their state legislators’ performances in protecting the environment.

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