Ferrante Votes to Pass Economic Growth Bill

Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante (D-Gloucester) is pleased to report passage of the Economic Growth Bill.

Ferrante is the Vice-Chair of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies and has served as one of six members of the legislature that negotiated final passage of the bill.

Ferrante said, “This bill will maintain Massachusetts as a leader in job creation. I am pleased to have participated as a contributor to the bill as the Vice-Chair of Economic Development, and as one of six conferees who negotiated the final bill between the House and Senate. The focus that the bill has on fishing, maritime development, tourism and the creative economy will no doubt create more jobs on Cape Ann and provide valuable tools for job creation on Cape Ann.”

Specific to Cape Ann the bill includes:

Fishing and Maritime Industry

This bill has an emphasis on farming and fishing as economic drivers. The bill includes measures to revitalize fishing and maritime trades by:

  • Requiring Mass Development to report back on a number of issues in the Designated Port Areas such as the state’s vision for DPAs; the cost for said vision; and the cost for waste water treatment
  • Creating a Seafood Marketing Commission;
  • $100,000 for a Seafood Marketing Plan;
  • Establishing a Small Farms and Fisheries Tax Credit, which provides a 3% tax credit for small agricultural and fishing operations for capital investments related exclusively to agriculture, farming, or fishing; and,
  • Requiring the Secretary of Housing and Economic Development to prepare an annual strategic report in conjunction with the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs for the Commonwealth’s commercial fishing and shellfish industry.

Tourism

Recognizing tourism as the state’s third largest economic driver, this bill:

  • Provides $5M for the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism; and
  • Creates a new Tourism Funding Formula to provide critical funding to the Massachusetts Marketing Partnership and Regional Tourism Councils

Arts and Culture

Massachusetts Cultural Council

This bill requires that each county have one representative on the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC). Today, Cape Ann does not have a representative on the MCC, even though the MCC has funded many projects including Rockport Music, the Cape Ann Museum, Paint Factory and Gloucester Stage Company Theater.

Pre-Broadway Tax Credit

This bill contains a tax credit to attract pre-Broadway shows to Massachusetts theaters. With similar legislation, Rhode Island attracted six such shows, which created job opportunities in construction and design during the show’s run in Rhode Island. Cape Ann has one of the largest collections of set designers, set builders and stage hands working in Massachusetts due to the continuation of productions that are filmed on Cape Ann. This bill has the potential to create more opportunity for those who work on theatrical sets.

Tech Hub Caucus

Ferrante is also the Chair of the Tech Hub Caucus and is pleased with the state’s investment in technology to allow Massachusetts to grow its stature as a global technology hub. The bill:

  • Provides $1.5M to the Massachusetts Computing Attainment Network (MassCAN)
  • Creates and provides $2M for a Big Data Innovation and Workforce Fund
  • Provides $1M for a Start-up Mentoring Program
  • Provides $1M to the Talent Pipeline Program
  • Creates an Angel Investor Tax Credit
  • Provides $3M for the Global Entrepreneurship Program
  • Provides $2M for the Innovation Institute Fund
  • Provides $1.5M for MassVentures
  • Provides $2M for the Innovation Commercialization Seed Fund

The bill also contains economic growth tools such as tax credits for research and development, housing development, Brownfields redevelopment and job training.

Ferrante Votes to Pass Campaign Finance Reform Bill

State Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante (D-Gloucester) voted to pass the campaign finance reform bill relative to disclosure and transparency.   The bill requires super PACs to disclose the sources of their funding no more than seven days after making an expenditure such as a television ad. Within 10 days of an election that disclosure must happen within 24 hours.

The groups would also be required to list their top five donors at the end of the television, internet or print ad along with a written statement directing viewers to the website of the Office of Campaign and Political Finance where voters could view a complete list of contributors. Effective next year, the bill also doubles the maximum individual contribution limit to candidates, including themselves, to $1000.

Ferrante said “I am pleased to take this proactive step to ensure that “dark money”, undisclosed money, stays out of Massachusetts. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizen’s United opened the door for well-funded contributors to influence elections without revealing their identity. This bill goes a long way to keeping political contributors and candidates accountable.”

 

Ferrante Successfully Advocates for Inclusion of $1.5M for Cape Ann Cultural Assets

State Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante (D-Gloucester) effectively advocated for the inclusion of $1.5 million for historic restoration projects on Cape Ann, including Gloucester City Hall, the historic fishing vessel Phyllis A. and the Gloucester Stage Company Theater. All three projects are important in maintaining the area’s culture, heritage and in stimulating the local tourism economy. The capital bond bill allocates funds to be used for capital facility repairs and improvements for the Commonwealth.

“Cape Ann has long been known for its storied history. I am pleased that my colleagues understand how valuable these assets are to Cape Ann and to the Commonwealth. In doing so, we grow the creative economy of Cape Ann and maintain our status as an historic and cultural leader. Every dollar invested in tourism yields seven dollars in economic development; not only is the passing of the capital bond bill great for the arts and culture of Cape Ann, but it is also a great economic driver for our community.”

Representative Ferrante successfully lobbied her colleagues in the House of Representatives to include the historic restoration money in the final conference committee version of the bill. The Conference Committee bill passed the House on July 26 on a voice vote. The bill now moves to the Senate and the Governor for final approval.

Happy Memorial Day

Today, Memorial Day, we remember all of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and for each of us.

This morning, I participated in Gloucester’s Memorial Day service agreeing with each speaker that today is a day to remember the sacrifice of each solider and each soldier’s family.

However, I added another item for the audience to think about: it’s estimated conservatively that each day, we lose 22 soldiers to suicide, 22 soldiers. A platoon by definition is 26 soldiers; therefore, we lose approximately, a platoon of soldiers each day after they return home safely from war and conflict oversees.

 This is unacceptable and we need to do more to stand up to those who have stood up for us!

I am pleased to say that the Massachusetts through legislation known as the Valor Act I and II does more for our veterans than any other state. However, the federal government needs to catch up.

Last week, I committed to sign on to a resolution calling on the federal government to address this situation.  

I ask you to do the same and to call our federally elected officials and to tell them that giving our veteran’s the services they need to address issues of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other issues must be a priority.

To our veteran’s who are reading this, thank you for your service!

To all of the family members of veterans, thank you for your sacrifice.

To all, thank you for your attention to this matter and I hope you enjoyed this beautiful and blessed day.

House of Representative Pass FY 15 House Budget

Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante (D-Gloucester) voted last night to pass the FY 2015 House Budget. She was joined by all of her Democratic colleagues and 27 out of 29 Republicans.

The House Budget is fiscally responsible as it reduces reliance on one time revenues, the stabilization fund, and accelerates payment on pension liabilities from 30 years to 26 years by adding an additional $163 million payment for pension liabilities.

Massachusetts currently has one of the highest bond ratings of any state in the country at AA+. During this downturn economy it was one of only two states to receive an increase in its bond rating. Moreover, Massachusetts has the fourth largest stabilization fund in the country and leads among non-fuel producing states.

This budget increases unrestricted government aid and Chapter 70 funds by $125 million and fully funds health and human service reimbursements.

This budget additionally invests in government efficiencies and oversight; substance abuse initiatives, mental and behavioral health; municipal police training and reforms the Department of Children and Families as recommended by substantive audits and reviews.

This budget also maintains freezes in public higher education costs, making college more affordable for students and makes significant investments in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Programs.

Representative Ferrante led on three amendments to benefit Cape Ann:

The restoration of $1.2 million for Student Awareness of Fire Education Programs;

Funding in the amount of $100,000 for the start-up costs for Community Development Corporations, such as Gloucester Harbor Community Development Corporation, which focuses on assisting properties within the Designated Port Areas, with investment from tax credits; and

Funding for the North Shore Health Project in the amount of $120,000 for a pilot program to treat Hepatitis C. Representative Ferrante also worked with Acting Chair Jennifer Benson to require primary care doctors to offer a Hep C screening for patients born between the years of 1945 and 1965.

Further, Representative Ferrante worked with her republican colleague Representative Brad Hill (R-Ipswich) on the following amendments for Cape Ann:

$83,400 to address the green crab issue on Cape Ann and in the Ipswich Bay clam flats; and,

$704,319 to mitigate costs related to the merger of the Essex North Shore Regional School District.

(See attached for other state wide budgetary items).

Moreover, Representative Ferrante worked with her colleagues, both Republicans and Democrats to achieve the following support for state wide programs which also benefit Cape Ann and her residents:

DCF Reform

Reduces social worker caseload ratios to not more than 28, not more than 10 may be in out-of-home placement;

Codifies background checks by requiring state and national fingerprint-based background checks and Sex Offender Registry checks for all current and future foster parents;

Licensing requirements for all employees within three years of employment;

Requires a further emergency management review form the Office of Child Advocate, the Attorney General and the Inspector General;

Disqualifies individuals from becoming foster parents if they or other individuals residing within the household have been convicted of child abuse or violent crimes;

Medical screening for all children within DCF care within 72 hours of entering the program;

Upgrades to technology and record keeping practices;

 Education and Early Education

$10,000,000 to serve 1,200 children, ages birth through age 5, who are receiving no child care;

$18,464.890 for the Services of Infants and Parents;

$400,000 for Bay State Reading Initiative which is serving the Beeman and Veteran’s Schools;

$1,786,319 for Pot Hole money, a $213681 increase over FY14;

$257,513,275 for Special Education Circuit Breaker, a $5,000,000 increase over FY14;

$9,805,978 for public libraries, a $226,503 increase over FY 14;

$1,710,000 for After-School Programs in STEM and ART activities;

A special commission to investigate public school libraries;

Foundation Budget Review Commission which will enable a systematic and comprehensive re-evaluation of the foundation budget and an examination of current education needs and models for effective and efficient resource allocation;

 Ferrante said, “This budget funds the appropriate level of investments in our cities and towns, our educational system and common wealth of our citizenry as evidenced by the overwhelming bipartisan support received for this budget. This budget delivers important investments to our Commonwealth and to Cape Ann, in the form of better science for our fisheries, study effects of climate change on our area, and investment in our working Harbor.”

Ferrante continued to say, “I am pleased that Representative Hill and I were successful in obtaining relief for our school districts as we move forward with our commitment to our vocational students to give them the best education at North Shore Technical School and have struck the right balance between commercial fishermen and clammers relative to green crabs.”

“This budget,” continued Ferrante, “holds enormous promise in the efforts to curb and to treat opiate drug addiction and to reform the Department of Children and Families, which has let too many of us down, especially the children in its care. Along with the treatment of drug addiction, I am proud that the House of Representatives appreciates the work of our very own North Shore Health Project and has selected it for a pilot program to cure Hepatitis C patients.”

“In conjunction with the investment in Hepatitis C treatment,” Ferrante continued, “We were able to strengthen our community hospitals and to make them a stronger partner as we address the health issues in our communities.”

Environment, National Resources, Farming and Fisheries

$300,000 for “Buy Local” Initiatives;

$450,000 for fisheries research;

$1,000,000 to coordinate and implement strategies for climate change adaption and preparedness;

$15,000,000 Massachusetts Emergency Food Assistance Program for regional food banks including Open Door

 Hospital, Medical Services and Women’s Health Issues    

Nursing Home stabilization for facilities such as Sea Coast and Golden Living, and,

Reform of repayments to hospitals for more equitable reimbursements to Community Hospitals such as Addison Gilbert;

$100,000 for the Commission on the Status of Women;

$6,200.000 for Family Planning Initiatives;

 Mental Health, Substance Abuse & Drug Addition

A 19.4 percent increase, $15.7 million increase since FY2011 in treating substance abuse;

Expansion of the Prescription Monitoring Program which successfully identified 280 people “doctor shopping for opiates” with 40% of providers participating;

Increase in penalties for heroin distribution;

Increase in participation of cities and towns in nasal narcan first responder programs;

Funding for 5 new drug courts to hear cases of drug offenses involving addicts;

Approximately $20 million to treat mental illness

 Public Safety & Security

$4.3 million for Municipal Police Training;

 Tourism, Arts and Culture

$4,000,000 for Regional Tourism Councils;

$15,126,651 for the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism;

$9,600,000 for the Massachusetts Cultural Council;

$200,000 for the Bay State Games;

$25,000,000 for Community Preservation Trust Fund;

Legal Assistance

$15,000,000 for the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation; and

Youth at Risk

$4,150,000 for at Risk Youth through YMCA programs.

 

 

Wicked Tuna in the House

It isn’t every day that I get to share our Cape Ann celebrities with my colleagues at the State House but when I do it makes for a very special day. Captain Hollywood and Captain Monte paid us a visit and received a rousing welcome in the Chamber when Speaker DeLeo introduced them to the members of the House. They were recognized immediately and enjoyed the ovation. The Speaker met with them beforehand and they talked Tuna and shared some behind the scenes stories about their popular show. It also gave me the opportunity to talk about the disastrous state of our groundfish industry and what we can do to save the 400 year old Gloucester Fishery. We know we need better science and a better approach to regulation and enforcement. I have co-sponsored a budget amendment with Representative Cabral of New Bedford to fund collaborative research that applies innovative technologies to better assess our fishing stocks. Federal regulations have placed an undue burden on our working fishermen and I continue to fight on their behalf. I am committed to saving our working waterfront, both its fishing industry and its shoreside businesses so that Gloucester can continue its great traditions as it moves through these difficult times.

Gloucester Youth: Engaged and Active

I recently met with members of the Gloucester Youth Council and members of the Gloucester SADD at the State House when they came in to the People’s House to talk with me and share their concerns about substance abuse. They visit with me every year on Kick Butts Day, an event where students from all around the state come to talk with their elected officials about the dangers of tobacco addiction and the predatory practices the industry uses to get them addicted early on. They were energized and well educated in the tricks of the trade. They showed me examples of the deceptive packaging and explained how the low cost flavored products were designed to entice them. But they are not fooled and work very hard to educate their peers to the health risks of getting addicted. I was so impressed with the breadth of their knowledge and their passion to encourage others to join them in this fight. They are making a positive impact in our City, and are dedicated to ensuring that all our youth make healthy decisions. I also met with the Students Against Drunk Driving. They too are working hard to educate friends and family of the dangers of substance abuse and drunk driving. They came to the State House for SADD Training Day, armed with statistics and enthusiasm, ready to let me know how they are preparing for a safe Prom season. They work with the GHS Health Education Program to reach out to all students to educate them and promote healthy alternatives. I am always happy to meet with constituents and Gloucester’s young people sure made me proud to be their Representative. Check them out at http://the84.org/chapter/gloucesteryouth and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/GloucesterYouthCouncil.