After almost a year of studying the impacts of 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 approved a legislative report of its findings and recommendations.
The special commission report recommends a direction for online gaming that will bring both the efficiency of an omnibus approach and the careful precision of a case-by-case approach. In a cautious and thoughtful manner, the report proposes a new “online gaming” definition,
green-lights Daily Fantasy Sports in Massachusetts, and sets a course for future online gaming if the Legislature decides to move in that direction.
This report also scrutinizes eSports, a billion-dollar professional video gaming industry that attracts millions of spectators and can generate a tremendous amount of economic activity for our state. While relatively unknown just a few years ago, eSports has gained significant mainstream appeal and represents a promising economic development opportunity for the commonwealth. By building partnerships now, we could make Massachusetts a hub of eSports and bring tens of thousands of fans to arenas from Lowell to Worcester to Springfield.
As Senate Chair of the Economic Development and Emerging Technologies Committee, I helped to pass major economic development legislation last year that established, among other things, a special commission on the Commonwealth’s Time Zone. Initially spurred by a citizen’s petition, the commission has engaged in a 10-month discourse with experts in in fields of economic development, public health and safety, crime, transportation, broadcast media, and others.
This commission, which I chaired, issued a final report of findings and recommendations for the Legislature’s consideration today.
Based on a research-driven analysis of what such a change would mean for those who live and work in Massachusetts, the commission recommended that Massachusetts could make a data-driven case for moving to the Atlantic Time Zone (effectively observing year-round daylight saving time), contingent upon:
- Regional action. A change should only occur if a majority of other Northeast states (possibly including New York) also do so.
- Later school start-times. Any move should be accompanied by statewide standards for delaying school start-times to mitigate safety issues and improve student academic performance, health and well-being.
- Public awareness. Any change must be accompanied by public awareness initiatives about transitions to and from daylight saving time.
As higher education becomes increasingly expensive, we see all too often how students and families struggle with high costs and considerable debt. Meaningfully reforming student debt will require a joint effort from every stakeholder, including students and their families, our institutions of higher learning, employers in our knowledge-based economy, and our elected officials. Meanwhile, however, we must work together now before the crisis worsens.
That is why the Joint Committee on Higher Education, of which I serve as vice chair, established a special subcommittee to investigate, study, and make recommendations on the issue of student loan and debt. The Joint Committee on Higher Education’s Subcommittee on Student Loan and Debt conducted public hearings at seven colleges and universities throughout Massachusetts and sought input from dozens of organizations and individuals with substantive knowledge and experience in student loans and debt.
After months of gathering data, the subcommittee submitted an extensive report of recommendations that includes expanding financial literacy, increasing and reforming certain state aid, decreasing the time to degree, regulating for-profit schools, and advancing loan forgiveness programs. These conclusion came from the understanding that Massachusetts must do more to keep higher education affordable for students because the Commonwealth’s future growth hinges on their success.
Though the idea never came to fruition, the chance to host the Olympic Games was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that deserved exploration. I was honored and excited to establish and co-chair the special commission tasked with studying the feasibility of hosting the 2024 summer games in Massachusetts.
Hosting the Olympic Games would have resulted in significant long-term benefits to the Commonwealth’s economy, while also improving infrastructure, creating job opportunities, and raising our state’s profile.
This endeavor would have transformed the First Middlesex District, as one component of hosting the summer games called for water based competitions to be held in the Merrimack River. To accommodate such conditions, the long awaited Rourke Bridge replacement project would have been radically expedited – alleviating the ongoing congestion issues that plague commuters.
As the former Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies, I am keenly aware of the importance that economic development has on communities – and Lowell is no exception.
That is why I have been incredibly proud to be a champion of economic development throughout the Commonwealth and have helped our city receive more than $1.5 billion in state investment since fiscal year 2011.
From projects such as the Lowell Judicial Center and the Hamilton Canal Innovation District, development and investment in the Mill City is rapidly rising. We have witnessed the Merrimack Valley become a growing hub for innovation in recent years, as companies such as Kronos have decided to make Lowell their permanent home.
Even with so much development going on throughout the city, Lowell and its local organizations remain steadfast in their commitment to reducing the Commonwealth’s carbon footprint. Organizations such as UTEC have received hundreds of thousands of dollars for renovation projects that include solar installation, passive cooling systems, and charging stations for electric vehicles. Lowell also boasts the reputation of becoming the oldest Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Platinum building in the country.