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Immigration, fair wages, climate change dominate town hall

PEABODY — About 100 people from Norfolk to Lawrence gathered at Peabody’s new middle school Tuesday night to urge state senators to support a broad range of bills on public transportation, immigration, fair wages, climate change, criminal justice reform, housing and campaign finance reform, among other topics.

The town hall style forum was part of the annual Commonwealth Conversations tour hosted by Sen. Joan Lovely, D-Salem, and her Senate colleagues. Tuesday’s North Shore tour made stops in Chelsea, Malden, Lynn and Peabody.

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Peabody has say in statewide conversation

EABODY — It was the North Shore’s turn to host a Commonwealth Conversation in the form of a Town Hall Forum at the Higgins Middle School on Tuesday night.

Commonwealth Conversations began as a way for members of the Senate and local government to hear citizen concerns in nine areas of the state.

Members of the audience were given two minutes to stand before legislators and speak their minds on whatever issue they wished to address.

State Sen. Joan Lovely of the Second Essex District was one of nine senators present for the forum, along with State Rep. Thomas Walsh (D-Peabody).

Earlier in the day, the legislators visited Roca in Chelsea, attended a forum regarding transportation at the Lynn Museum and took a development walking tour of Malden.

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Lynn Talks Transportation

LYNN — Input from North Shore residents at a public forum on Tuesday at the Lynn Museum will help legislators and MassMoves create a statewide transportation vision.

As part of the state Senate’s 2017 Commonwealth Conversations, MassMoves, funded by the Barr Foundation, is facilitating nine public workshops across the state. Lynn was the eighth forum, according to a description of the event. MassMoves is an initiative to engage citizens across the state about their ideas for a 21st century transportation system.

Participants in the workshop were asked to weigh in on potential goals of a 21st century transportation, polling on their importance. Some of the goals were: It should be easier and faster to get around, whether by car, public transportation, walking or biking; transportation should be cleaner, producing far fewer greenhouse gases and other types of pollution than it does today; the transportation network should be resilient, meaning it can bounce back from severe weather; and transportation should use the latest technology to manage traffic and provide real-time information to help residents plan their trips.

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Town hall forum with senators Tuesday in Peabody

PEABODY — State lawmakers are coming up to the North Shore Tuesday to hear from the public on all manner of issues.

To close out the day, the Commonwealth Conversations tour will stop in at the brand new Higgins Middle School in Peabody for a town hall style meeting in which area residents are invited to share their concerns with senators from around the state.

The program is the latest in a series of regional visits by senators, following up on a successful 2015 tour. The North Shore stop is hosted by Sen. Joan Lovely as well as Sens. Tom McGee, Jason Lewis and Sal DiDomenico.

Lovely says there will be events throughout the region to bring local issues as well as broader topics to the attention of the senators. They will start out the morning in Chelsea, and then head to Lynn for a roundtable discussion on public transportation.

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McGee Leading Transit Tour Talk

LYNN — It might be one of the few times when you talk and politicians listen.

Two dozen state senators are expected to attend the latest Commonwealth Conversations next Tuesday at the J. Henry Higgins Middle School in Peabody at 6:30 p.m.

But don’t expect speeches, these Town Hall-style forums put the microphone in your hands.

“We don’t talk, we listen,” said state Sen. Thomas McGee (D-Lynn). “You get two minutes to make a comment, ask a question or both.”

The Massachusetts Senate launched the statewide listening tour in 2015 designed to connect legislators with constituents to hear their ideas, concerns and suggestions.

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Barrett spotlights Waltham history at event

Senator Michael Barrett wants Waltham to be one of the biggest tourism draws in the state.

Barrett, who represents the Watch City, also represents Concord and Lexington, the second biggest out-of-state tourist destinations in the state behind Boston.

“I’m looking to make Waltham number three,” he said. “I’d like that to be the big three in Massachusetts tourism.”

That was one of the reasons that Barrett chose the Charles River Museum of Industry & Innovation to host a “Commonwealth Conversation” event, a series of get-togethers created by the state senate to get legislators out in the communities they represent.

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Town Hall with Spilka and Eldridge in Ashland

ASHLAND – Several local legislators will hold Town Hall-style meeting at the Warren Conference Center Tuesday night.

The discussion will be driven by questions from residents. State Sen. Karen Spilka, D-Ashland, and Jamie Eldridge, D-Acton, will be joined by State Sen. Cynthia Stone Creem, D-Newton and Mike Barrett, D- Lexington.

The meeting is part of the Commonwealth Conversation series, intended to take the pulse of area residents.

“Commonwealth Conversations is an opportunity for MetroWest residents to make their voices heard on their values, concerns and ideas,” said Spilka.

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Commonwealth Conversations tour coming to North Shore

On Tuesday, April 11, the Massachusetts State Senate will hold its Commonwealth Conversations tour on the North Shore bringing Beacon Hill to Main Street for a second consecutive session. The tour will see Senators from districts across the state join in meetings and events to better understand the lives and concerns of people from the North Shore.

“It is crucial that the Senate hear from different constituencies across the state on issues they feel strongly about,” stated Sen. Joan Lovely. “This tour welcomes all members of the North Shore to have a conversation with the Senate and provide feedback on a wide range of issues and concerns, so we can work to continue improving the communities we represent.”

The goal of the tour is to foster civic engagement and discourse while helping each senator learn more about issues in and outside of their own districts. The North Shore visit will be hosted by Sens. Lovely, Ken Donnelly, Tom McGee, Jason Lewis and Sal DiDomenico. Joining them at each stop will be Senate President Stan Rosenberg and other Senators from across the state.

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Massachusetts State Senators Talk Transportation On Listening Tour

Listen to the interview with State Senate President Stan Rosenberg:

Members of the Massachusetts State Senate are on a statewide listening tour with visits scheduled in each of the 40 Senator’s districts.

Each of the nine regional one day stops in the tour includes a session devoted to transportation. It is an attempt to build consensus on a public transportation vision.

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Officials sound off to legislators on broadband, schools

CONWAY — A 14-member state Senate delegation got a blast about rural issues from nearly a dozen officials from the four western counties Tuesday.

The legislators were taking a listening tour and began their day in the Conway Town Hall.

Speakers from regional planning agencies tried to explain some of the interrelated problems rural towns face, including:

Declining populations have increased the financial burden for the remaining, aging population to pay for services and schools, and for finding replacement workers, town committee members and volunteer firefighters.

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Population growth, one of the biggest concerns in Franklin County

CONWAY, Mass. (WWLP) – Residents in rural Massachusetts want to make sure that their issues aren’t forgotten.

Dozens of residents gathered at Conway Town Hall on Tuesday to tell state lawmakers about issues that communities in Franklin, Berkshire, and Hampshire Counties are dealing with.

The roundtable discussion was part of the State Senate’s Commonwealth Conversations Tour, which senators are holding in every region of the state, to hear about challenges cities and towns are dealing with.

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State senators tour Barnes Air National Guard Base

WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A group of state senators are touring several locations in western Massachusetts Tuesday, with one of their stops being Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield.

Transportation is the theme of this “Commonwealth Conversations Tour,” and state officials believe more money is needed to improve it.

The visit to Barnes focused on partnerships and civilians. The senators also were able to view some of the F-15 jets that are flown by the 104th Fighter Wing at Barnes.

Senator Don Humason (R-Westfield) whose district includes the base, led discussions which were primarily on transportation in western Massachusetts. He says the region’s infrastructure remains a serious problem.

“We have challenges, as we know, with our infrastructure. We’re an old state, its a crumbling infrastructure, as much as the state and federal government are putting money into transportation, I know we still have work to do,” Humason said.

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2017 Commonwealth Conversation tour brings state senators on Western Mass. swing

WESTFIELD- A PVTA bus was the transportation choice of the day as Massachusetts State Senators toured Western Mass. as a part of the 2017 Commonwealth Conversations forum.

Transportation issues were a major topic of discussion during the day-long event.

Tuesday was the sixth stop of a four-month tour which began at the Suffolk Law School on January 31. Three more tour dates are scheduled, with the final stop being in Worcester on April 25.

"The best ideas are often found not within these halls but in our neighborhoods and our coffee shops, in our board rooms and union halls, in our office break rooms and at our family tables." said Senate President Stan Rosenberg in a statement.

Stops in Western Mass. included Conway Town Hall, Barnes Municipal Airport, Umass-Springfield and MGM-Springfield.

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Senators get earful at Lowell stop on listening tour

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.

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State senate roundtable coming to western Mass.

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.

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Senate leaders to visit Western Mass. on statewide listening tour

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.

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State legislators visit Cape Cod Oyster Co. in Marstons Mills

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.

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Mother Brook Arts and Community Center hosts lawmakers

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.

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State senators get a sense of the Cape

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

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Area senators to host ‘Commonwealth Conversations’ Tour

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.

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Central MA Senators to Host Commonwealth Conversations Tour 2017

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.

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Join in the 'Conversation' with your local state senator

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.

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SouthCoast residents give legislators earful at Commonwealth Conversations forum

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.

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Senate tour of Taunton

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.

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Commonwealth Conversations tour announced

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.

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OP-ED By Senator Jason Lewis: Senate Hits the Road to Hear From Residents

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.

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From the State Senator’s Office: Commonwealth Conversations 2017 Tour

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.”

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Senate going on the road again: Transportation will be a focus of Commonwealth Conversations

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.

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Mass. lawmakers' listening tour swinging through SouthCoast

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.

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Senate President Stan Rosenberg, elected to 2nd term, lays out 2017 priorities

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.

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Mass. Senate 'listening tour' successfully brings Beacon Hill to Main Street: Guest viewpoint

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.

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State senators continue Commonwealth Conversations tour

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.

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State senators open up conversation with constituents as part of statewide tour

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.

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Lexington state senators join the Commonwealth Conversations

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...

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Senators' bus tour hits Lowell teen center

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.

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