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Senate, House Approve Bill to Fund Transportation Infrastructure Projects

April 17, 2014

The Senate and House have agreed to a final transportation bond bill authorizing $12.7 billion in capital spending over the next five years for improvements to the Commonwealth’s transportation system, Senator Karen Spilka announced. The Senate and House each passed different versions of the spending bill in March and accepted the compromise report released by a conference committee this week. The bill will receive a final formal vote in both branches before heading to the Governor’s desk to be signed.

“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 in MetroWest and state-wide to address accessibility, safety and traffic issues. This is a significant step in our continuing efforts to improve our roads, bridges and public transportation.”

The bill includes funding for repairs, improvements and construction of highways, roads, bridges and parks across the state, as well as rail and bus projects. The bill also includes a $300 million spending authorization in Fiscal Year 2015 for the Chapter 90 program to fund local road repairs.

Senator Spilka has been working for many years to increase state support for a number of local transportation infrastructure projects that are funded in the bill, including:

  • $7,000,000 for projects to mitigate impacts at the at-grade rail crossings in Ashland and Framingham
  • $2,000,000 for the planning, design and reconstruction of the Route 126/Pond Street corridor in Ashland
  • $5,000,000 for a parking garage in downtown Natick
  • $1,000,000 for improvements to Route 109 in Medway

 Senator Spilka is also pleased that projects addressing infrastructure needs throughout MetroWest are funded in this bill, including:

  • $3,000,000 for the Cochituate Rail Trail in Natick
  • $750,000 for the Upper Charles Rail Trail in Holliston
  • $750,000 for planning, design and infrastructure of Route 135, Route 85 and West Main Street in Hopkinton
  • $4,100,000 for improvements to the Route 27 and Route 9 intersection in Natick
  • $2,358,000 for the new Marion Street Bridge in Natick
  • $300,000 for safety study and improvements at the intersection of Route 140 and Panther Way in Franklin

Senator Spilka’s initiative to fund in-state repair facilities for the state’s fleet of mass transit vehicles is also included in the bill. This proposal will support the construction of maintenance, manufacturing and assembly facilities within Massachusetts, in order to encourage the creation of new in-state jobs and cut down costs associated with shipping vehicles to out-of-state repair facilities.

The Senate anticipates a final vote on the bill Thursday before sending it to the Governor for his signature.

 

Senator Spilka Shares Personal Story, Advice for Female Leaders at Staples Women’s History Month Event

March 24, 2014

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Last week, Senator Karen Spilka headlined a Women’s History Month event at the Staples corporate headquarters in Framingham, speaking on the theme of “Women of Character, Courage and Commitment.” Senator Spilka’s speech, titled “My Path to Leadership: Seizing Opportunities and Making a Difference,” highlighted her personal story and her thoughts on leadership, mentoring and the importance of remaining strong and fearless in the face of personal and professional obstacles. The event was sponsored by the Leadership Development subcommittee of the Staples “Women Who Lead” program and included Senator Spilka’s speech, a question and answer segment, and a short networking reception.

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Senator Spilka with Julie George, the chair of the Leadership Development subcommittee of the Women Who Lead program at Staples.

Senate Passes Bill to Prohibit Shackling of Pregnant Inmates, Promote Safe and Healthy Pregnancies

March 20, 2014

The Massachusetts Senate today passed a bill to prohibit shackling and promote safe pregnancies for female inmates in Massachusetts jails, Senator Karen Spilka announced. The bill, sponsored by Senator Spilka, prohibits the shackling of women during pregnancy, labor and delivery in Massachusetts state and county correctional facilities, unless they present a specific safety or flight risk.

Additionally, the bill outlines basic standards of prenatal and postpartum care to ensure safe, healthy outcomes for female prisoners and their newborns, including standards for the treatment and medical care of pregnant inmates, nutrition, prenatal and postnatal care and counseling services. Above all, this bill promotes inmate safety and good reproductive health for women returning to their communities by creating a uniform, statewide anti-shackling policy.

“All women deserve a safe, healthy pregnancy and birth experience,” said Senator Spilka. “It is shocking and outrageous that shackling is something that still happens, and with this vote today we are making a clear, strong statement that we do not allow the shackling of pregnant women in Massachusetts. It is unsafe, inhumane and completely unnecessary.”

Read more…

Senator Spilka, Tech Hub Caucus Discuss Innovation & Economic Growth in the Inner Suburbs

March 19, 2014

Senator Karen Spilka and the Massachusetts Tech Hub Caucus met with a diverse set of technology executives and entrepreneurs yesterday to discuss the key issues that will help drive economic growth in suburban tech hubs. During the event, held at TripAdvisor’s headquarters in Newton, legislators and business leaders from around the MetroWest region examined the challenges that tech companies face as they grow and expand in Massachusetts. The group also focused on the role of public policy in helping to drive the future success of the region’s economy, including the impact of a wide range of issues, such as housing, transportation, education and cultural concerns.

“Today’s conversation highlighted the importance of continued interaction and collaboration with the vibrant tech community state-wide, and especially with the innovative companies driving economic growth outside of the Boston core,” said Senator Spilka, a co-chair of the Tech Hub Legislative Caucus. “As legislators, we can always do more to encourage and support entrepreneurship and innovation across the Commonwealth, through education and training opportunities, transportation improvements and other services.”

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House and Senate Pass Bill to Ensure Safety of Pets in Disasters

March 17, 2014

The Massachusetts Senate and House of Representatives today passed legislation to further advance the safety of Massachusetts citizens during natural disasters, lead sponsor of the bill Senator Karen Spilka announced. The bill requires emergency evacuation plans to include household pets and service animals and would improve public safety by ensuring that the needs of people with household pets are addressed in the case of an emergency.  

During a disaster or emergency requiring the evacuation of homes, the failure to evacuate becomes a critical public safety and public health issue. Without emergency evacuation plans specifically addressing their pets and service animals, many citizens refuse to evacuate, endangering themselves and first responders.

“As a dog owner and animal lover, I understand the reluctance of many people to leave their pets behind in the case of a natural disaster or other emergency,” said Senator Spilka. “Victims of a disaster should not have to suffer the additional emotional stress of having to abandon their household pets. I’m glad that the legislature is taking these steps to ensure public safety and better care for our animals.”

Read more…

Senate Passes Transportation Bond Bill, Includes Funding for MetroWest Projects

March 10, 2014

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:

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Senate Acts To Protect Women’s Privacy Rights

March 6, 2014

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.

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