News

House budget boosts ed aid

Published: April 30th, 2016

By Heather Goldin Statehouse Correspondent

BOSTON — Although state legislators are happy with the added education funding in the House version of the fiscal 2017 state budget, local school officials say they need more money for specific programs — from mental-health counseling to additional technology.

“There is not a specific (fund) for technology costs in districts,” said Littleton School Superintendent Kelly Clenchy, whose district provides Google Chromebooks, iPads and MacBook computers for students. “The continued replenishment and purchase of the hardware is important.” Read the rest of this entry »

Charter-school bill divided some senators

Published: April 30th, 2016

By Heather Goldin Statehouse Correspondent

BOSTON — The vote on the state Senate’s controversial charter school bill, which passed through the chamber 22-13 on April 7, was not strictly on party lines or ideologies.

While some local senators favored the bill, which would allow for additional charter school placements in exchange for increasing public education funding for all students, others voted against it because they said the source of funding for those increases was unclear.

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State’s justice system called a ‘revolving door’ for recidivists

Published: April 14th, 2016

By Heather Goldin Statehouse Correspondent

Analysts from a national think tank on Tuesday weighed in on state officials’ attempts to reform a criminal-justice system in which a small group of criminal offenders is responsible for nearly three-quarters of new convictions in Massachusetts.

Steven Allen, a senior policy adviser with the Council of State Governments Justice Center, said the goals of the report are to strengthen the criminal-justice system from both a public-safety and a management perspective.

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Fitchburg officials hopeful for drug court

Published: April 13th, 2016

By Heather Goldin Correspondent

BOSTON — Local officials and state lawmakers are hopeful about plans to establish an adult drug court in Fitchburg next year that would provide closer and more focused help for those with criminal charges related to drug abuse.

Drug courts, which offer supervised substance-abuse treatment for offenders as an alternative to jail time, generally involve a voluntary 18-month treatment program with several phases, including weekly court dates and frequent interactions with probation officers.

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Higher cost of higher ed

Published: April 11th, 2016

By Kayla Canne Sun Chronicle

Bridgewater State University students face a potential $700 increase in student fees next fall, the largest hike since 2007, if the Legislature doesn’t increase funding for public higher education, officials say.

“What happens when the state doesn’t come through with their fair share is we have to raise fees on students to keep the institution going, or cut and reduce programs to make everything workable,” said David Morwick, legislative adviser to the president of Bridgewater State. “We have had fee increases throughout the years, but those fees have grown quite a bit.”

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For Clinton, donations from Attleboro area are fewer but bigger

Published: April 11th, 2016

By Kayla Canne Statehouse news

BOSTON – State election records show that Democratic presidential campaign contributions from the Attleboro area mirror nationwide trends, with Hillary Clinton bringing in the big bucks from fewer contributors, while her primary opponent Bernie Sanders attracts substantially more small donors.

In nine out of 10 Attleboro-area communities, Sanders, the U.S. senator from Vermont, had a higher number of contributions than Clinton, the former first lady and secretary of state. But still, Clinton raised more money in six of the 10 communities, including Mansfield, North Attleboro, Norton, Plainville, Rehoboth and Seekonk.

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Bathroom Bill pushed on Beacon Hill

Published: April 11th, 2016

By Kayla Canne Statehouse News

BOSTON — Transgender rights advocates are hoping that the backlash against North Carolina following its rollback of controversial gender identity legislation will spur Massachusetts lawmakers to take action on a bill that has lingered in committee for months.

“I think the amount of pressure and pushback received by (North Carolina) has elevated this issue here in Massachusetts in a way that has hopefully galvanized folks to take action on this bill,” said Carly Burton, campaign manager for Freedom Massachusetts, an advocacy group pushing for a transgender anti-discrimination bill in the state.

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Bill seeks licensing for Mass. police officers

Published: April 1st, 2016

By Heather Goldin Statehouse Correspondent

BOSTON — Massachusetts is one of only six states that doesn’t license police officers, which, according to St. Louis University law professor Roger Goldman, makes it difficult to regulate training requirements as well as hiring standards.

“There is no procedure in place to keep a Massachusetts police officer from being hired at another law-enforcement agency after being fired for serious misconduct,” Goldman, an expert in police certification, told the legislative briefing Tuesday at the Statehouse. “There’s a big difference between losing your job, and losing your license,” he said to a crowd of almost 50. Read the rest of this entry »

Transgender rights battle heating up on Beacon Hill

Published: April 1st, 2016

By Heather Goldin Statehouse Correspondent

BOSTON — Massachusetts may turn into the next battleground over transgender rights.

Although legislative leaders support a well-publicized bill that would add anti-discrimination protections to transgender people using public accommodations, a lesser-discussed bill also before the joint judiciary committee would take an opposite tack. That bill would limit access to public bathrooms and locker rooms to individuals’ anatomical sex and not their own declared gender identity.

“This a commonsense kind of bill. If you’re anatomically a male you can’t go into the girls bathroom. You have to go into the regular identity bathroom that you belong in,” said Rep. Dennis Rosa, a Leominster Democrat who co-sponsored the bill.

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FSU senior earning extra credit as Hay’s legislative aide

Published: March 28th, 2016

By Heather Goldin Correspondent

BOSTON — Rep. Stephan Hay’s new legislative aide may be still working toward a college degree, but her prior legislative experience shows she is more than qualified to take on her new position.

Megan Pierce said her interest in public service started during her internship with the state Office of Education in the summer of 2014, where she learned about the power legislators have to address public concerns.

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