The Senate on Thursday passed a bill authorizing $13 billion in capital spending over the next five years to fund improvements to the Commonwealth’s transportation system.
“Reliable, well-maintained transportation infrastructure is key for quality of life and economic development across the Commonwealth,” said Senator Spilka. “This bill supports many important transportation projects to address accessibility, safety and traffic issues and is a significant step in our continuing efforts to improve our roads, bridges, and public transportation.”
The bill includes $1.5 billion in spending over the next five years for the Chapter 90 program to fund local projects such as rebuilding and repairing roads and bridges and requires municipalities to be notified of their Chapter 90 appropriation before March 1st of each year.
The bill includes $2,000,000 for the planning, design and reconstruction of the Route 126 corridor in Ashland; $5,000,000 to mitigate impacts at the at-grade rail crossings at the intersections of Route 126, Route 135, and Bishop Street in Framingham; $2,000,000 for the Ashland at-grade rail crossing; and $1,000,000 for improvements to Route 109 in Medway. The bill also includes Senator Spilka’s amendments to provide funding for the construction of a parking garage in downtown Natick and to fund the construction of in-state repair facilities for the state’s fleet of mass transit vehicles. Senator Spilka also worked to ensure that the bill did not include proposed amendments that would have implemented an unfair system of toll collection and distribution of toll revenues.
For more information on issues specific to MetroWest, read The MetroWest Daily News coverage:
- MetroWest projects in the mix in Senate transportation bill
- Editorial: An attempted raid on Pike toll revenue
The Senate on Thursday passed a bill to update Massachusetts law to make it illegal for a photo or video to be taken under a person’s clothing without the person’s knowledge, Senator Karen Spilka announced.
“I am glad that the Senate was able to take action so quickly on this critical issue of a woman’s right to privacy,” said Senator Spilka. “We must make sure our privacy protections keep pace with changing technology, and updating voyeurism laws is an essential step in protecting women from an unacceptable, inexcusable practice.”
The bill makes taking a photograph or recording under or around a person’s clothing a misdemeanor when a reasonable person would believe that their sexual or other intimate parts would not be visible to the public. The bill includes punishments of imprisonment in the house of correction for up to two and a half years and/or a fine of up to $5,000.
Yesterday afternoon, the MBTA announced a new Framingham/Worcester line commuter rail schedule, boosting service on the entire line, including the addition of trains and stops in Ashland, Framingham and Natick. The schedule will go into effect on March 10.
“Public transportation must be dependable, reliable and consistent for all commuters,” said Senator Karen Spilka (D-Ashland). “I am thrilled that the new Framingham/Worcester line schedule now best reflects the needs of MetroWest commuters, our local businesses and our community.”
Earlier proposed changes to the schedule eliminated important rush hour express train stops in Natick and Framingham, resulting in significant gaps in service during critical commuting times. Senator Spilka heard from many constituents who rely on the commuter rail for transportation to and from Boston and have chosen to live in these areas based on their close proximity to commuter rail stops. In response to these concerns, Senator Spilka worked closely with the MBTA to maintain the beneficial increases in service for Ashland and restore the cut express train stops in Framingham and Natick.
The new schedule includes additional stops in Ashland and reverses the initially proposed cuts. Morning and evening rush hour express trains include a stop in Framingham, and the evening rush hour commute includes an added stop in Natick.
Click here to view the full schedule.
The Senate on Thursday passed a bill authorizing $177 million in capital spending over the next five years to make improvements at and expand the state’s military installations, including repairing the runway at the Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield.
“Military bases across the Commonwealth, including Natick Soldier Systems in my district, play a vital role in the economic development of our state and exemplify an extraordinary spirit of innovation and ingenuity,” said Senator Karen Spilka. “These investments allow us to send the message that Massachusetts supports our bases, our economy, and our service men and women.”
The Senate on Thursday voted 37-1 to pass legislation reforming the election laws in the Commonwealth by authorizing early voting for state and federal elections and primaries, allowing residents to register to vote on Election Day and creating an online voter registration system. The bill also allows 16 and 17-year-olds to preregister to vote.
“This bill makes voting more accessible and more convenient, and it will ultimately allow a greater number of voices to be heard in the electoral process,” said Senator Karen Spilka (D-Ashland). “I am pleased that we were able to take these important steps in increasing civic engagement and participation across the Commonwealth.”
Under this bill, Massachusetts would join 32 other states and the District of Columbia that allow early voting. Early voting would begin 10 business days before the election and end two days before the election. The first early voting period would occur in 2016.
On Monday, December 16, 2013, the MacArthur Foundation’s Models for Change initiative honored Senator Spilka for her work on juvenile justice reforms in Massachusetts. Hear from colleagues and fellow advocates for juvenile justice reform in this video, and read more about recent accomplishments in Massachusetts and ongoing priorities here: http://www.modelsforchange.net/newsroom/627.
MacArthur Foundation Juvenile Justice Reform Initiative Honors Senator Spilka as Champion for Change
Senator Karen Spilka has been named a Champion for Change in juvenile justice reform by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Models for Change initiative. She was recognized at the 8th annual Models for Change national conference on Monday, December 16th, 2013 in Washington, D.C. for her leadership on a broad range of juvenile justice reforms in Massachusetts.
The Models for Change Executive Committee selected Senator Spilka from 16 nominees from across the country in the Champion for Change in State Leadership category. Senator Spilka was nominated for the award by a group of Massachusetts advocates, researchers and organizations representing a wide array of stakeholders in the juvenile justice system. In nominating Senator Spilka, they praised her willingness to take on controversial issues to significantly improve the lives of children and families and her ability to work collaboratively with other elected officials and stakeholders.
“We join together because we think Senator Spilka’s extraordinary leadership on a broad array of progressive juvenile justice reforms in Massachusetts has resulted in demonstrable and meaningful impact on the lives of children and families across the Commonwealth, and because she serves as a model to others on how to build consensus and support for these issues,” the nominating organizations and individuals wrote.
“Senator Spilka stands out for both her approach and her effectiveness. In our eyes, she would be a champion just for having the heart, vision and courage to take on these issues and for seeing the societal value of promoting a fairer, more developmentally appropriate, and more effective juvenile justice system. But, in fact, she is astoundingly effective and she has taken us from dreaming about a better juvenile justice system to experiencing massive improvements.”
Senator Spilka’s nomination was based on four specific examples of her leadership in progressive juvenile justice reform in Massachusetts over the past several years:
- Raise the Age: This year, both branches of the Legislature passed legislation, subsequently signed into law by Governor Patrick in September, to raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction by one year, bringing 17-year-olds into the juvenile justice court and support services system. Raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction acknowledges the unique developmental needs of teenagers and will give many young offenders the chance to receive the support services they need to get back on track and succeed in the future.
- Child in Need of Services (CHINS) Reform: In 2012, the Legislature completely overhauled the CHINS system, which handles children who consistently get in trouble at home or at school, including runaways and students who are habitually truant. Senator Spilka worked to create a statewide network of community resource centers for families seeking assistance, significantly reforming the previous court-based system. These family resource centers are now in the process of identifying the specific behavioral, preventative and educational resources and services that they will provide for communities.
- Juvenile Sentencing Reform: This session, the Legislature is considering important reforms to juvenile sentencing options in Massachusetts and Life Without Parole sentences for young offenders. These changes take into account the developmental differences between youth and adults and young people’s capacity to change and grow.
- Juvenile Indigent Defense Action Network: Senator Spilka has been actively involved in the Models for Change initiative’s reform efforts in Massachusetts, including the program’s Juvenile Indigent Defense Action Network. The team works to develop fair, effective divisions of juvenile defense and juvenile advocacy in the state’s public defender agency.
“I am so honored to be recognized by the MacArthur Foundation and the Models for Change coalition,” Senator Spilka said. “There’s always more we can do to better serve our children here in Massachusetts, and nationwide, but I hope that these important reforms will make positive differences in the lives of our children, families, friends and communities. I’m grateful for the support of the Models for Change network and my colleagues in the legislature that helped make such critical changes possible.”
The Models for Change initiative is a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation national effort to reform juvenile justice systems across the country to make them more effective, fair, rational and developmentally appropriate. The annual conference brings together nearly 400 state and local officials, advocates and community organizations to network, share information and learn from leaders in juvenile justice reform efforts. Each year at the conference, the MacArthur Foundation and the Coalition for Juvenile Justice honor Champions for Change, individuals who are responsible for promoting progress in juvenile justice systems and are positively impacting the lives of court-involved youth, their families and communities. These leaders act to create pathways from delinquency and re-offending that increase the potential of young people to succeed in school and in family, peer and community relationships.