The Donoghue Digest: Fall 2017 Edition

The fall edition of my newsletter is jam-packed with stories on what I’ve been up to in recent months on Beacon Hill. From the two special commissions that I established and chaired, to my work in crafting our state’s budget, and events in the district – it’s been quite the summer!

You can read the full newsletter below and sign up to receive email updates here.


Dear friends,

The summer and early fall have seen a great deal of action both in the district and on Beacon Hill. In this newsletter, you will read about some great local events I attended, two special commissions on major economic-development issues I led, state budget provisions I authored, and information about student financial aid.

The 46 pieces of legislation that I filed this session continue to move through the committee process of the 190th General Court. Over nine days in September, I personally testified or submitted written testimony on eight of my bills on topics including increasing food donation, reducing food waste, establishing a good Samaritan law for severe underage drinking incidents, adding the perspectives of nurses to the Health Policy Commission, expediting the transition to a renewable energy portfolio, and reestablishing the Clean Environment Fund.

The combination of active constituents, an important agenda of issues, and my leadership positions on Beacon Hill energizes me. This session, I serve as Chair of the Senate Committee on Steering and Policy, which helps set the agenda for what legislation the Senate will consider, and as Senate Chair of the new Joint Committee on Export Development, which focuses on international trade and our global economic competitiveness.

Thank you for the opportunity to solve problems and expand opportunities for the people of the First Middlesex District. Please share questions, concerns, and ideas by calling my office at 617-722-1630, or by contacting me by email or social media.

Sincerely,

 

 

 

 

Eileen M. Donoghue
State Senator
First Middlesex District


In the District

I had such a great time catching up with constituents and taking in all of the music, art, and delicious foods at this year’s Grotonfest. One of my favorite events of the year, this festival showcases the best that Groton has to offer, which includes my good friend Rep. Sheila Harrington. The creativity of the entrants to the Lowell Kinetic Sculpture Race – an event that combines Lowell’s artistic legacy, as well as its emerging expertise in engineering – proved inspirational. I enjoyed seeing these elaborate, hand-crafted creations rolling down the streets of Lowell and floating in the Merrimack River.


Daily Fantasy Sports, Online Gaming, and eSports Report

After almost a year of studying daily fantasy sports, online gaming, and the eSports industry in Massachusetts, the legislatively-created Special Commission that I co-chaired formally concluded its duties and in August approved a legislative report with findings and recommendations.

The report green-lights Daily Fantasy Sports in Massachusetts, giving the sector a path forward for legalization and legitimacy. The report also set a course for future online gaming if the Legislature moves in that direction. Additionally, our report includes in-depth research into eSports, a billion-dollar professional video gaming industry that attracts millions of viewers online and has the potential to generate a tremendous amount of economic activity for the Commonwealth. There is an opportunity for which Massachusetts could become a hub of eSports and bring tens of thousands of fans to arenas from Lowell to Worcester to Springfield. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Legislature to strike the balance between promoting emerging industries, and protecting the interests and needs of Massachusetts.

You can read the full report here:  Final Report of the Special Commission on Online Gaming Fantasy Sports Gaming and Daily Fantasy Sports


September 11 Commemorations

I had the privilege of spending the day in Groton, Lowell, and Pepperell along with many others who gathered to remember those who were lost sixteen years ago on September 11, 2001 and to honor the first responders of the First Middlesex District.

September 11 united our society. We grieved for one another and unified as one people to confront the evil forces that sought to tear asunder the fabric of our society. That fabric proved stronger than our enemies knew, in part because of our solidarity. Thankfully, the consequences of the challenges that we have faced over the past sixteen years have not proven as enormous as those that we confronted in 2001. Troublingly, however, the unity that pulled us together sixteen years ago seems like a mystical memory. While debate makes our nation great, after certain events people of good will must unite. We did so sixteen years ago and must continue to do so today. So as we continue to mourn the lives lost on September 11, 2001, let us recommit ourselves to carry on in their names so that they did not die in vain.

Thank you to all the first responders for doing what they do every day, to State Representative Sheila Harrington for joining me in Pepperell, to Lowell High School Head of School Marianne Busteed for hosting the Lowell event, and to Lt. Col. Eileen Ironfield for representing the armed forces at the Lowell event.


Time Zone Commission Report

As Senate Chair of the Economic Development and Emerging Technologies Committee in 2016, I helped pass major economic development legislation that, among many other provisions, also established a special commission to analyze the impacts of remaining on year-round Daylight Savings Time (DST).

I chaired this Commission, which on September 20 released a draft report that included recommendations for a thoughtful implementation of year-round DST should Massachusetts ever decide to pursue this policy change:

  • Regional action. Massachusetts should only move to year-round DST if a majority of other New England states also do so.
  • Later school start-times. Any move to year-round DST should be accompanied by statewide standards for delaying school start-times to mitigate safety issues and help students.
  • Public awareness. The Commonwealth should not adopt year-round DST unless it simultaneously commits funding to educate the public about the implications of the change.

Massachusetts Clean Energy Future Tour

Massachusetts has a proud history of environmental activism. We continue to work to reduce our carbon footprint to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change on future generations. The hurricanes that ravaged Florida, Texas, and Puerto Rico remind us that these issues should lie beyond politics given their increasing impacts on people.

Since May, the Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change has held hearings throughout the Commonwealth to get input on pressing issues in clean energy and climate and to help the legislature determine the next steps that the Commonwealth should take to keep Massachusetts healthy, sustainable and strong.

On September 25 at Groton-Dunstable Regional High School, I hosted a spirited public forum on climate change featuring State Senator Marc Pacheco and State Representative Sheila Harrington. We heard thoughtful suggestions from constituents that will help drive our legislative agenda. Thanks to all who turned out for the discussion on this critical topic.


State Budget Updates

As a member of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, I spend a great deal of time helping to shape the Commonwealth’s budget.  I prioritize items that create jobs for my constituents and economic opportunities for my district, while also making sure that we take care of the most vulnerable populations in Massachusetts; and I fight to override vetoes of worthy programs.

These three major budgetary provisions that I sponsored survived the legislative gauntlet and became law:

  • A budget amendment for $200,000 to expand addiction treatment programs at the Lowell Community Health Center.
  • $6 million for Shannon Grants, which reduce gang involvement and youth violence by supporting street outreach workers, education and employment programs, and collaboration between law enforcement and social service agencies. Last year Shannon Grant-funded programs served 3,000 young people in Lowell.
  • A $100,000 line item for the Massachusetts Food Trust, which increases access to nutritious food and creates jobs by providing financing to build or expand food enterprises. Last year, I helped authorize $6.4 million in capital funding for the program; the funds I secured this year will allow the Trust to begin investing in communities like Lowell.

I hope that as the Senate continues its deliberations on the budget, it will override two vetoed amendments to restore needed funding to two other important items I sponsored, that at little up-front cost to the Commonwealth, would increase the competitiveness of Massachusetts.

  • One would have provided $200,000 for a matching funds grant program that the Lowell Development & Financial Corporation would administer to encourage startups to stay and grow in Lowell by subsidizing office and lab space in the city.
  • The other would dedicate $100,000 to a new program that would assist Massachusetts companies in exporting products and services, attract job-creating foreign investments, and expand the Commonwealth’s visibility in the global marketplace.

Financial Aid Application Season Kicks Off in October

Students and families should know that American Student Assistance offers free help locating and applying for financial aid.  Beginning this month, students and parents can complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid available at www.fafsa.ed.gov. Many private colleges and universities also require a second form, the CSS/FINANCIAL AID PROFILE, available at www.collegeboard.com.

American Student Assistance College Planning Centers offer free one-on-one assistance with financial-aid applications and other aspects of college planning. Interested parties can access these services in-person, walk-in or appointment basis, or over the phone by calling the toll-free information hotline 1-877-ED-AID-4U (1-877-332-4348), which ASA operates thanks to funding from the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education. For guidance, information on the College Planning Center closest to you, or hours of operation and locations, please call the hotline or visit www.asa.org/plan.

Additionally, ASA’s Boston College Planning Center, located at the main branch of the Boston Public Library in Copley Square, will hold FAFSA Workshops every Saturday from 10 to 11 a.m. and Federal Student Aid ID Workshops every Tuesday from 6 to 7 p.m. beginning October 1 through December 16. Attend these workshops for free by emailing [email protected].


In the News

State Panel backs switching to all-year daylight saving time
By Jon Chesto, Boston Globe, September 20, 2017

The panel, charged with studying whether Massachusetts should switch to Atlantic Standard Time, concluded in a draft report that the advantages would outweigh the disadvantages. Namely, the annual disruption in March, when clocks “spring” forward one hour to daylight saving time, would be eliminated and sunlight would last until later in the day during winter. Massachusetts couldn’t move to year-round daylight saving time alone; a majority of New England states would also have to switch, according to the report. It was written by the commission’s chair, Eileen Donoghue, a state senator, and her staff. Changes could still be made: Donoghue is seeking comments from other commission members, and they are expected to vote on the report Nov. 1.

Any change would be years away, though. If the commission adopts the recommendation, it would then need to be endorsed by the Legislature and the US Department of Transportation.“I think we’ve done a good job putting forth information and data that would support changing the way we’re doing it,” Donoghue said. “Just because we’ve always done it that way may not be good enough reason to keep doing it. But the solution is more complex.”

Panel sees benefits to Massachusetts changing time zones
By Bob Salsberg, U.S. News & World Report, September 20, 2017

State Sen. Eileen Donoghue, a Lowell Democrat who chaired the commission, conceded that a time shift isn’t likely anytime soon, but was optimistic about the longer term prospects.

“If I had a crystal ball, I would hope that we together with the other New England states and New York and other states that see fit, would stop turning our clocks back and forth for no good reason,” Donoghue said.

Lowell’s STEM Academy Introduction to many possibilities
By Robert Mills, Lowell Sun, September 9, 2017

Students at Lowell’s STEM Academy will seek to turn old, used cell phones into virtual-reality machines with help from a $2,000 grant provided Friday by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.

State Sen. Eileen Donoghue of Lowell, Superintendent of Schools Salah Khelfaoui, and Laura Perloff, PhRMA’s director of advocacy and strategic alliances, spoke with students at the school as they announced the grant.

Massachusetts Leaders Unite to Condemn Hatred
Press Release, August 18, 2017

In the wake of the violence and tragic deaths of three people in Charlottesville, all of us, now more than ever, must together explicitly denounce hatred, racism, and bigotry in the United States.

I proudly cosponsored a joint resolution, which the Commonwealth will send to President Trump, condemning the scourge of white nationalism and neo-Nazism that has sparked fear and division.

All Americans must show compassion for one another rather than be torn apart by hateful ideologies.

State panel says daily fantasy sports should be classified as gambling
By Andy Rosen, Boston Globe, July 31, 2017

A divided state commission Monday voted to recommend classifying daily fantasy sports contests as gambling, a setback for DraftKings Inc., which may now have to fight in its home state against a designation it says could threaten its business.

The panel, set up under a law that gave temporary legal status to the emerging industry, called on the Legislature to permanently legalize the games and consider additional oversight of their operations. But in its report on regulating online gaming, the commission also said the games should be subject to gambling rules.

Among the five voting to accept the report was Eileen M. Donoghue, a Lowell Democrat and the panel’s cochairwoman. She said the commission recommendations are fair because they will make clear that DraftKings and other companies are safe to operate in the state.

Export development committee welcomes Ban Ki-moon to State House
Press Release, June 8, 2017

The eighth Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon visited the State House yesterday to discuss international trade and engagement with the new Joint Committee on Export Development, which aims to develop partnerships between the commonwealth and other nations and promote Massachusetts as a global economic leader.