Massachusetts Senate approves $200M road repair spending bill

Elisha Machado Channel 22 News BOSTON (WWLP) – We avoid potholes everyday, and hitting one can damage your car and put your safety at risk. But some cities and towns can’t afford to fix their roads without state funding. On Wednesday, the Massachusetts Senate approved a $200 million spending bill to give cities and towns funding for road and bridge repairs. State Senator Eric Lesser told 22News that “There’s going to be a lot of really good projects that will get funded around our communities as a result of this money.” The Senate initially called for a two-year allocation to cities and towns to plan large projects, but that proposal didn’t make the final bill. “I think it’d just be more efficient,” Senate President Stanley Rosenberg said. “The communities and the administration could plan better.” Western Massachusetts roads are in great need of repair after this winter’s snow storms. Some lawmakers want even more funding, but State Senator Don Humason told 22News construction season has already begun and towns can’t wait. “It’s time to get these projects started,” Humason said. “Get the cities and towns going, get the construction workers doing their jobs before our short season ends and let us argue about how we’ll continue to pay these bonds in multiple years.” Funding is based on city population and road mileage. Larger communities like Chicopee will receive around $1.3 million, while Easthampton will receive nearly $500,000. Governor Charlie Baker must approve the spending plan before any cities or towns receive funding. He is expected to sign the bill into law within a...
read more

Sen. Don Humason assumes leadership role in Massachusetts Senate

By: Conor Berry Masslive BOSTON – Sen. Don Humason, R-Westfield, has been named assistant minority leader of the Massachusetts Senate. The recent appointment was made by Senate Majority Leader Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester. “I am honored that Minority Leader Tarr appointed me to this new position, and I am excited to take on the new roles and responsibilities that come with it,” Humason said. “I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Republican caucus to develop an agenda in the Senate that will best serve families and businesses in my district and across the commonwealth,” said Humason, who was previously Senate minority whip. Meanwhile, Humason has retained his seat on the powerful Senate Committee on Ways and Means, which is responsible for crafting the state’s annual budget and vetting legislation as it nears completion. Humason represents the 2nd Hampden and Hampshire District communities of Agawam, Easthampton, Granville, Holyoke, Montgomery, Russell, Southampton, Southwick, Tolland, Westfield, and parts of Chicopee. “My committee assignments for this session reflect some of the areas of concern I hear about most often from my constituents, so I’m well-positioned to continue making those concerns a part of the decision-making process on Beacon Hill,” he said. Humason’s email address is Donald.Humason@MASenate.gov. His district office in Westfield may be reached at 413-568-1366, and the number for his Boston office is...
read more

State Sen. Don Humason, R-Westfield, touts perfect roll call voting record

By: Mary Serreze MassLive BOSTON — State Sen. Don Humason, R-Westfield, is touting his voting record on Beacon Hill. Since first taking office in November 2013, Humason has not missed a single roll call vote. Humason said Friday he had been congratulated by Sen. Minority Leader Bruce Tarr. “Roll call votes are one of the primary and crucial ways that senators protect and represent the interests of their constituents, and often they involve critical issues where every vote makes a difference,” said Tarr, R-Gloucester, in a statement. “Senator Humason undoubtedly understands that, and his 100 percent voting record reflects his commitment not only to those he represents, but also to the prosperity and future of our state.” Humason said considering the distance of his 2nd Hampden and Hampshire District from Boston, he is “very proud” of his record. “Representing my constituents’ thoughts and opinions in the Senate at each opportunity is one of the most important obligations they have entrusted me with, and I take that very seriously,” he said. Throughout the two-year session, the Senate took over 650 roll call votes. Formal legislative sessions concluded July 31. Humason maintains a district office at 64 Noble St. in Westfield. Humason is Senate Minority Whip, and among other duties serves on the Ways and Means Committee. He faces a challenge from Southampton Democrat J.D. Parker O’Grady in the Nov. 8 election. “It is a great honor to serve the people of Agawam, Southwick, Granville, Tolland, Westfield, Russell, Montgomery, Easthampton, Southampton, Chicopee and Holyoke and bring their voice to the Massachusetts State Senate,” Humason...
read more

Massachusetts lawmakers concerned about new tolling structure on Mass. Pike

By: Gintautas Dumcius Masslive Eleven Massachusetts state senators say they have questions about the shift to all electronic tolling. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation last week rolled out the proposed toll rates for drivers as they travel under the metal gantries at highway speeds. The move to the cashless system is scheduled for Oct. 28. The department plans seven public meetings in September, along with a sit-down with lawmakers, to gather opinions on the new rates. But 11 state senators signed onto a letter saying they were “surprised” to read about the changes to the toll rates. MassDOT unveiled the proposed rates at a meeting of its board of directors last week. “According to these articles, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation noted that some drivers will see increases while others will see decreases depending on where they enter and exit the turnpike,” the lawmakers wrote. “As you know, the Legislature has long advocated for toll equity and we are deeply concerned about the impact of any toll increases either overall or individually on our constituents,” they added. The proposed tolls “may not meet the Legislative intent to ensure equitable tolling on the Western Turnpike and other roads,” their letter, issued late Friday, said. The letter was signed by Sens. Karen Spilka, D-Ashland; Harriette Chandler, D-Worcester; Anne Gobi, D-Spencer; Don Humason, R-Westfied; and Eric Lesser, D-Longmeadow, among others. The letter laid out nearly 20 questions the lawmakers have about the new system, which was first proposed under Gov. Deval Patrick’s administration. State transportation officials say the all-electronic tolling system will lead to reduced congestion and better air quality, as well as increased public safety, since people won’t be slowing down to go through the toll plazas. The toll plazas are set to be demolished once all-electronic tolling is in place. (See the full letter at...
read more

Regulations for new transportation companies negotiated

By: The Reminder BOSTON – As one of six members of a legislative Conference Committee, state Sen. Don Humason helped negotiate a compromise bill focused on regulating transportation network companies, such as Uber and Lyft. “In some areas of the state, including my district, transportation options are really limited. For that reason, it was important to me that we allow these innovative companies to continue to grow in order to meet our constituents’ unmet transportation needs,” said Humason. “I am proud of the bill we were able to produce, and I appreciate my colleagues’ inclusive and thoughtful approach to this process.” The finalized bill would create a new division with the Department of Public Utilities, which would oversee regulations related to transportation network companies. Ride sharing drivers would be subjected to background checks by both the hiring company and the new division, as well as display state-issued decals on any vehicle used for ride-sharing services. Additionally, the legislation includes a 20 cent surcharge per ride, which will be directed towards infrastructure repairs and improvements. Under the legislation, 10 cents of the surcharge would go directly towards infrastructure repairs in the municipality where the ride originated. MassDevelopment would receive 5 cents per ride to support small businesses that could be impacted by the industry, while the remaining 5 cents would go to MassDOT for statewide transportation improvements. The bill gives authority to MassPort and the Boston Convention Center Authority to develop regulations regarding transportation network companies’ ability to retrieve passengers from their property. “It is important to increase safety measures for passengers. However, I also voiced my concerns about the potential negative impacts of overregulation on the industry and Massachusetts’ reputation as a hub for innovation. I think we did a good job of balancing those two priorities in this bill,” Humason said. Following unanimous approval in both the House and the Senate, the bill now goes to the Governor for his...
read more

Senator Don Humason files bill stripping Attorney General Maura Healey’s authority on firearms sales in Massachusetts

By: Gintautas Dumcius MassLive BOSTON – A day after gun rights activists flooded the streets outside the Massachusetts State House to protest Attorney General Maura Healey, state Sen. Don Humason said he’s filed legislation in response to her crackdown on assault-style weapons. Humason, R-Westfield, referred to Healey’s decision to step up enforcement on what she called “copycat” weapons as “unclear” and an “overreaching attempt to reinterpret the intention of the Legislature on this issue.” “As recently as 2014 we debated the state’s gun laws, and to my best recollection this concern was not expressed by a single member in either branch during that debate or the previous sixteen years the Legislature debated this issue,” Humason said in a statement. Humason’s bill would strip from Healey’s office its authority to issue rules and regulations on firearms sales in Massachusetts, according to the senator’s office. The language in the bill is available below. According to Humason’s office, the bill has support from state Sens. Vinny deMacedo, R-Plymouth, and Anne Gobi, D-Spencer, and state Reps. David DeCoste, R-Norwell, Shawn Dooley, R-Nortfolk, Tim Whelan, R-Brewster, and David Muradian, R-Grafton. After the Saturday gun rally, which was attended by several of the aforementioned lawmakers, a Healey spokeswoman said the office’s enforcement notice to manufacturers clearly stated “copycat assault weapons are illegal and have been in Massachusetts since 1998.” “For far too long, the gun industry has been allowed to flout our state assault ban,” Jillian Fennimore, the spokeswoman, said in an email. “Claims that we are changing the law and taking guns away from law-abiding citizens are inaccurate and misinformed,” she added. “Our office will continue to work with the gun industry, including manufacturers and dealers, so they understand the law and comply with it.” But Humason said the notice “flies in the face of the transparent and accessible government that residents expect and we work to ensure.” “Public input and deliberative debate is critical when we are considering changes to laws regarding citizens’ constitutional rights,” he said in a release on his legislation. Humason’s office provided a copy of the language in his bill: SECTION 1. Section 2 of Chapter 93A of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2008 Official Edition, is hereby amended by inserting, in line 11, after the word “chapter” the following words: provided that such rules and regulations shall not govern, limit, or otherwise relate to weapons as defined in...
read more