LOWELL -- As a dozen state senators sat down to listen to the concerns of residents inside UMass Lowell's University Crossing on Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr described the event as "among the rarest of things in the political spectrum."
"You will see approximately 30 percent of the state senate sit in front of you and say absolutely nothing," said Tarr, R-Gloucester.
The senators, including Tarr, Senate President Stan Rosenberg and Eileen Donoghue, D-Lowell, were in Lowell to listen to residents as part of the Commonwealth Conversations statewide listening tour.
Several dozen people crowded the room and stood along the walls once all seats were taken.
Rosenberg said senators will take the input they get and use it to set their agenda and priorities.
CONWAY — The Massachusetts Senate’s “Commonwealth Conversations” listening tour is headed to Conway and Amherst on March 28 for its seventh stop around the state.
A “Rural Challenges and Opportunities for the Commonwealth” roundtable discussion is planned at Conway Town Hall from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. The roundtable will then continue a western Mass. tour that will include Westfield, a “transportation forum” in Springfield, and at 6:15 p.m., a “town hall forum” at the Student Union Ballroom of the UMass Amherst.
Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, D-Amherst, will host the sessions, along with Sen. Adam Hinds, D-Pittsfield, Sen. Donald Humason, R-Westfield, Sen. Eric Lesser, D-East Longmeadow, and Sen. James Welch, D-Springfield.
Leaders from the Massachusetts Senate will be visiting Western Massachusetts for a day as part of a statewide listening tour.
The Commonwealth Conversations tour will come to the region on March 28.
"We must continue to hear directly from the people of the Commonwealth in their communities about their hopes for the future," said Senate President Stan Rosenberg, D-Amherst, in a statement.
The day begins at 9 a.m. with a roundtable on "rural challenges and opportunities" at Conway Town Hall. The senators will tour Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield and MGM Springfield. There will be a 12:30 p.m. forum on transportation at the UMass Center at Springfield in Tower Square. The day will conclude with a 6:15 p.m. public town hall meeting in the Student Union Ballroom at UMass Amherst.
Commonwealth Conversations, a traveling forum by the Massachusetts State Senate, was on Cape Cod this week for a trip that included a stop in Marstons Mills hosted by Cape and Islands state Sen. Julian Cyr. The legislators came to the Cape Cod Oyster Company in Marstons Mills for a tour, a discussion of economic issues and, of course, some sampling. In addition to oysters, participants sampled foods from other local businesses, including Pain D'Avignon.
Other stops during Tuesday's Commonwealth Conversations included the Community Health Center in Mashpee and Mass Maritime Academy, where a luncheon centered around transportation issues was held.
Mother Brook Arts and Community Center hosted state lawmakers from across the state as the first stop on the State Senate's "Commonwealth Conversations" tour of the South Shore.
The visitors toured the center, which is housed in the old Avery Elementary School at 123 High St. Senators visited artists' studios, complimented the performance space, which will host a series of performances this spring, and discussed ongoing efforts to retrofit the building to add accessible restrooms.
State Sen. Mike Rush, who represents Dedham in the Senate, hosted the stop.
"I was very pleased that part of the Senate's Commonwealth Conversations tour took us to Mother Brook Arts and Community Center," said Rush. "This building, and all the wonderful programs that go along with it, is one of kind here in the commonwealth.
MARSTONS MILLS — A group of senators on a statewide listening tour also employed their other senses — taking in the sights, tastes and smells of Cape Cod — when they made several local stops Tuesday. The hope was that they would also get a sense of the issues facing residents of the region.
The Commonwealth Conversations tour, billed as "Bringing Beacon Hill Back to You," is the brainchild of Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, D-Amherst. He created the event in 2015 to provide the state's 40 senators an opportunity to visit districts other than their own.
State Sens. Julian Cyr, D-Truro; Viriato "Vinny" deMacedo, R–Plymouth; and Michael Brady, D-Brockton, hosted Tuesday's southeast installment of the nine-region tour.
"This gives our (Senate) colleagues a chance to see what we're about in each district," said Cyr, noting he serves a Cape and Islands constituency but votes on decisions that affect the entire state
Senators Harriette L. Chandler (D- Worcester), Ryan C. Fattman (RWebster), Anne M. Gobi (D- Spencer), Michael O. Moore (D- Millbury) announced recently that the “Commonwealth Conversations 2017 Tour,” established by the State Senate, will be returning to Central Massachusetts on Tuesday, March 14.
Commonwealth Conversations, co-sponsored by Senate President Stan Rosenberg (D- Amherst), Senator Michael Rodrigues (DWestport), and Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R- Gloucester), is a statewide listening tour of various geographic regions. The overall goal of Commonwealth Conversations is to foster more civic engagement in the community and help each Senator learn more about issues outside of his or her own district.
Central Massachusetts Senators Senators Harriette L. Chandler (D- Worcester), Ryan C. Fattman (R- Webster), Anne M. Gobi (D- Spencer), and Michael O. Moore (D- Millbury) announced they are hitting the road to host the Commonwealth Conversations Tour.
“This tour is a tremendous opportunity for area residents to connect with Senators from across the region and to share their perspectives about matters involving the Legislature. It also fosters a productive learning experience that helps inform policy initiatives undertaken by the Senate. I hope that many local residents will join us at the evening forum and participate in the conversation,” said Senator Moore.
The Massachusetts State Senate announced the "Commonwealth Conversations 2017 Tour" that will bring Beacon Hill back to main street for a second session.
The tour, cosponsored by Senate President Stan Rosenberg, D-Amherst, Sen. Michael Rodrigues, D-Westport, and Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester, is a statewide listening tour of each senator's district to visit with local residents, businesses, and interest groups to listen directly to their needs and concerns.
Sen. Richard Ross, R-Wrentham, will be hosting a tour with Sen. John Keenan, D-Quincy, Sen. Michael Rush, D-West Roxbury, Sen. Patrick O'Connor, R-Weymouth, and Sen. Walter Timilty, D-Milton, in the South Shore/Metrowest region on Tuesday, Feb. 28.
By Michael Holtzman The Herald News
FALL RIVER — Higher taxes for millionaires, restoring college funding cuts, threats to health care, gun laws pro and con, not losing women's domestic violence services, accountability for animal abuse in Westport, not letting the poor, addicted and disadvantaged suffer in a myriad of ways.
Those were among a wide landscape of issues from 50-plus questioning citizens in a crowd double that size at Tuesday night's "Commonwealth Conversations" hosted at Bristol Community College.
Fall River was the second of nine stops in nine weeks for the public to address a geographically diverse group of senators at a two-hour forum moderated by Sen. Michael Rodrigues, D-Westport.
The Commonwealth Conversations 2017 Tour, a statewide listening tour of each senator's district to visit with local residents, businesses and interest groups, got a look at much of Bristol County Tuesday. The tour kicked off Tuesday morning at Martignetti's, the largest wine distributor in New England and one of the largest in the country.
WRENTHAM -- The Massachusetts State Senate announced the "Commonwealth Conversations 2017 Tour," which will bring Beacon Hill back to main street for a second session.
State Sen. Richard Ross, R-Wrentham, will host a tour with state Sen. John Keenan, D-Quincy; state Sen. Michael Rush, D-West Roxbury; state Sen. Patrick O'Connor, R-Weymouth; and state Sen. Walter Timilty, D-Milton, in the South Shore/Metrowest region on Feb. 28.
The goal of the tour is to foster more civic engagement while helping each senator learn more about issues outside of their own districts. Each member of the Senate has committed to attending at least two of these sessions outside of their own region that is not an adjoining district to their own. Each day will end in a town hall open to the public for the specific region.
One of the four stops in each region will be a public transportation-focused session led by the Barr Foundation.
Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed column from Senator Jason Lewis; who represents the communities of Malden, Melrose, Wakefield, Stoneham, Reading and parts of Winchester
The Massachusetts State Senate launched Commonwealth Conversations in 2015 in order to make the Senate as a body more responsive and accessible to residents all across Massachusetts. Similar to the Community Conversations discussions that I have organized in our district, these forums provide invaluable opportunities for dialogue and sharing feedback and ideas.
The Massachusetts State Senate has announced the “Commonwealth Conversations 2017 Tour,” bringing Beacon Hill back to main street for a second session. The Commonwealth Conversations Tour, cosponsored by Senate President Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst), Senator Michael Rodrigues (D-Westport), and Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (D-Gloucester), is a statewide listening tour of each Senator’s district to visit with local residents, businesses, and interest groups to listen directly to their needs and concerns.
“As the Massachusetts State Senate sets out on a new path forward, it’s an honor to host this session’s first public forum for the Commonwealth Conversation at Sargent Hall, Suffolk University Law School,” said Senator Boncore. “I am proud to represent a district so rich in history, and it feels fitting to start such an important conversation with our communities in Boston, Cambridge and Somerville.”
THE MASSACHUSETTS SENATE IS GOING on the road again this year, holding nine so-called Commonwealth Conversations around the state with a special focus on regional transportation needs.
The day-long events will for the second year in a row allow senators to hear directly from people in each region of the state, but one common focus of each gathering will be a 90-minute session on transportation needs and concerns arranged by and paid for by the Barr Foundation.
On Feb. 7, state senators from across Massachusetts will come to SouthCoast to get a firsthand look at the region's pressing issues, particularly a long-promised and talked-about rail link to Boston.
The lawmakers' visit will be part of a statewide initiative called Commonwealth Conversations, and it follows a similar listening tour across Massachusetts two years ago that produced a comprehensive report on several important issues such as the opioid crisis, criminal justice reform, the environment and education.
"We as a Senate agreed it was a worthwhile event two years ago, and we're going to do it again," state Sen. Mike Rodrigues, D-Westport, said during a recent meeting with the Herald News Editorial Board.
BOSTON - Senate President Stan Rosenberg, D-Amherst, was elected on Wednesday to a second two-year term as leader of the Massachusetts Senate.
In a speech before the newly sworn-in members of the Senate, Rosenberg laid out his priorities for the upcoming session, which range from regulating self-driving cars to reforming the criminal justice system to passing paid family leave and raising the minimum wage.
Since we took office on January 7th, we've initiated a sweeping set of reforms that promise to change the culture of the Massachusetts State Senate and make it more accessible, more open, and more transparent in its procedures.
Some consider these changes long overdue. We share their instinct – the time is ripe for action.
Bristol Community College President John J. Sbrega told a visiting delegation of state senators on Wednesday he appreciates their continued support, while at the same time urging them to loosen their purse strings.
FALL RIVER - For the past month, state senators have been traveling the state as part of the Commonwealth Conversations Tour, an effort to promote civic engagement organized by Westport's Sen. Michael Rodrigues. On Wednesday, the tour will bring the elected officials to the SouthCoast.
The seventh of eight forums, the local senators will wrap up a day of visits to area communities with a town hall-style meeting at Bridgewater State University.
Rodrigues and state Sen. Marc Pacheco, D-Taunton, Mark Montigny, D-New Bedford, and James Timilty, D-Walpole, will be joined by Senate President Stan Rosenberg, D-Amherst, and Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester, and other senators from across Massachusetts.
The Massachusetts senators are traveling around the state hoping to engage constituents in a conversation about priorities for the state. Part of that conversation is going on via social media. Here is a look at where our senators have been and what they have discussed...
LOWELL -- UTEC and its biggest supporters touted their achievements in keeping youths out of trouble to an audience of about a dozen senators who stopped by as part of a regional bus tour Monday.
The United Teen Equality Center on Hurd Street was one of several stops on the latest leg of the Senate bus tour. A group of senators has been traveling to a different part of the state on eight separate days, starting a month ago and ending March 18.
State Sen. Michael Rodrigues, a Westport Democrat, said he came up with the idea for the bus tour while at a Senate retreat soon after the election. With a new governor and new Senate president, it was a good time to tour schools, service providers and others across the state to hear about a broad range of issues, he said.