Posts Tagged ‘Mounira Al Hmoud’

Rally to Pass Paid Sick Days Bill

Monday, April 9th, 2012

By Mounira Al Hmoud

BOSTON – Dozens of supporters rallied Tuesday for a state law mandating paid sick days for private employers in an annual event that proponents said may finally bring success to workers around the state.

Organized by Massachusetts Paid Leave Coalition, the rally featured workers, employers, nurses, elected officials and someone in a green giant microbe called Germie, who spread flu among the crowd as people chanted “Paid sick time isn’t just for you, Germie’s here spreading the flu,” and “Germie, Germie stay away, Pass the sick time bill today.”

Almost a third of the workforce in Massachusetts has no paid sick days, according to a 2011 report by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.
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A ‘super’ turnout is expected

Monday, April 9th, 2012

By Mounira Al Hmoud

BOSTON – MetroWest election officials say town meetings and a Republican presidential primary featuring a favorite son should bring a sizeable turnout for next week’s Super Tuesday vote.

But some wish former Gov. Mitt Romney and some of his Republican rivals would have come to the state to make their case, even though most political pundits say the race belongs to Romney.

“People who have been politically active before understand this is the way it has to be, our candidates have to be where they can make a difference,” said Nancy Quimby, vice chair of Westborough’s Republican Town Committee.
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Lawmakers meet students on Public Higher Education Day

Monday, April 9th, 2012

By Mounira Al Hmoud

BOSTON – A boisterous crowd of nearly a thousand students and faculty members gathered at the State House Thursday to lobby lawmakers for a better education at a lower cost.

The students packed Gardner Auditorium with a standing room only crowd, wearing their school colors and shouting their university names as speakers exhorted them to lobby in support of Gov. Deval Patrick’s plan to raise the university system’s budget by 5 percent.

Richard Freeland, the state’s commissioner for higher education, praised the crowd saying education power is fueled by the unity of students, faculty and their legislators.
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Gov. Patrick and Sen. Spilka ease small businesses regulations

Monday, April 9th, 2012

By Mounira Al Hmoud

BOSTON – Acting on a legislation authored by a MetroWest lawmaker, the Patrick administration has identified some 150 regulations – from measurement of clams to regulatory barriers to renewable energy projects – it plans to end or revise with the goal of making life easier for the state’ s small businesses.

The goal of the Economic Development Reorganization Bill, written by Sen. Karen Spilka, D-Ashland, in 2010, is to review 1,000 regulations by year’s end and 2,000 by the end of 2013.

Spilka said she was very pleased with the results.
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Superheros organize MBTA rally at the State House

Monday, April 9th, 2012

By Mounira Al Hmoud

BOSTON – Members of advocacy groups and unions dressed in superhero costumes rallied at the State House Thursday to oppose the MBTA’s plan to raise fares and cut services.

A crowd of around 50, dotted with blue capes worn by the Massachusetts Senior Action Council and red by other organizations including the T Riders Union and On the Move Coalition, gathered on the steps of the State House to bang drums and chant “Save the T,” and “No More Cuts.”

The demonstrators met with Mo Cowan, Gov. Deval Patrick’s Chief of Staff, delivering petitions that offered their self-named Fast Five solutions to save money, including the use of surplus snow and ice removal money to pay down the MBTA’s debt and implementing the UPass program at universities.
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Lawmakers pressured on planned T hikes

Monday, April 9th, 2012

By Mounira Al Hmoud

BOSTON – Public transportation advocates have a busload of ideas, ranging from shifts in state transportation funding and increase in Registry fees and tolls, to avoid fare hikes and services cuts to the MBTA and regional transit authorities.

“The MBTA serves a million trips a day,” Elizabeth Weyant, an attorney with consumer group MassPIRG, told a Statehouse gathering held Tuesday to find another way to deal with MBTA deficits. “Failure to actually maintain our transportation system means train breakdowns, crowded roads, decline in servicing system.”

The MBTA has proposed fare increases as much as 43 percent along with cuts in weeknight commuter rail service after 10 p.m. Bus service throughout the region would also be reduced.
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How will the warm winter impact maple season?

Monday, April 9th, 2012

By Mounira Al Hmoud

BOSTON – With wintery temperatures largely a memory this year, the lack of “sugar weather” is threatening to reduce the production of maple syrup and raise its price.

“The production depends highly on cold and light. Trees do need a good hard freezing period that would help turn sugar into something that may produce maple syrup,” said Winton Pitcoff, coordinator of the Massachusetts Maple Producers Association. “We’ll just have to wait and see how it goes.”

Although Massachusetts’ maple sugar industry is dwarfed by Vermont and New Hampshire, it still represents an important economic factor in the state. Each year some 60,000 tourists each year spend $1.9 million during the sugaring season at the state’s maple farms and restaurants, bed-and-breakfasts, country inns, and other attractions, according to Massachusetts Department of Agriculture Resources website.
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DeLeo: No new taxes or fees

Monday, April 9th, 2012

By Mounira Al Hmoud

BOSTON – In a speech before the full House, speaker Robert DeLeo told members he would not support new taxes or fees to balance next year’s budget, emphasizing that jobs, health care, higher education and the economy would be the Legislature’s top priorities for the remaining six months.

“For the past two years, this House has rejected balancing the budget with new taxes and fees,” he said. “As such, we will release a budget from the House Committee on Ways & Means that does not rely on new taxes and fees.”

MetroWest lawmakers had mixed reactions to the no-tax pledge.
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Federal ban on Burmese python may affect Massachusetts’ residents

Monday, April 9th, 2012

By Mounira Al Hmoud

BOSTON – A federal ban on the importation and interstate transportation of certain types of snakes is not likely to have a major impact in Massachusetts at first sight, but some in the pet industry and pet owners could be affected.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service added four types of non-native snake species as injurious under the Lacey Act, which forbids their importation and interstate transportation after March 23. The four species are the North and South African python, also called Rock python, the yellow anaconda, and the Burmese python.

The Lacey Act is a conservation law aimed at protecting plants and wildlife by creating civil and criminal penalties for trade violations
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The three-strikes bill met with opposition

Monday, April 9th, 2012

By Mounira Al Hmoud, The MetroWest Daily News

BOSTON — House and Senate conferees reported progress on a sentencing bill Friday as citizens groups gathered at the State House to protest a provision that would eliminate parole for violent criminals.

“Mass incarceration will lead to the appearance of for-profit prisons in Massachusetts, which will be a revolving door for a high rate of crime, incarceration, and recidivism,” said the Rev. George Walters-Sleyon of the Center for Church and Prison. “The state Black and Latino Legislative Caucus unanimously opposed the bill for its harshness.”

The so-called three-strikes bill would eliminate parole for those convicted of three violent crimes. But the Senate version of the bill would also reduce mandatory minimum sentences for those convicted of nonviolent crime and drug offenses, and reduce the size of school zones that trigger harsher penalties for those who deal drugs near schools.
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