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Wednesday, July 31, 2019

支持反送中 波士頓香港人8/4下午集會音樂快閃馬拉松

#StandWithHK Music Flash Mob in Boston 波士頓港人音樂快閃馬拉松】

最近有關香港運動的連儂牆在海外不同大城市出現,波士頓的港人都在哈佛廣場建起屬於我們的一幅連儂牆,惟日前被中國人塗毀,被逼把連儂牆拆下。連儂牆源自於捷克首都布拉格,以John Lennon的名稱命名,激發當時抗共產主義的思潮。時至今日,連儂牆依然是愛與和平的象徵。

2014年雨傘革命,連儂牆第一次出現於香港,開放給市民張貼他們的訴求,及為示威者打氣。後來在今次的反送中運動中再現,在港九新界十八區皆有蹤跡,感動人心的畫卻也惹起一連串的暴力衝突,但示威者心不死,拆咗再掛。同時,名曲Do You Hear The People Sing亦在運動中被香港人用來表達他們對民主自由的追求。

連儂牆被拆後,波士頓港人一同在自製流動連動牆的陪同下,在市中心高唱Do You Hear The People Sing,向外國人宣揚反送中運動,同時為香港的示威者打氣。接下來,我們希望趁著星期日,突襲多個波士頓高人流的地點,馬拉松式地舉行音樂及流動連儂牆的快閃行動。請大家穿著黑衫出席,歡迎帶同標語或物資(例如水、食物)過來給我們的朋友,為他們打氣。

日期:八月四日(星期日)
路線:[集合] Faneuil Hall (Quincy Market字樣前) → Downtown Crossing (行人區) → Park Street (近Boston Common的出口) → Harvard Square (Mass Ave出口後的公共空間)
時間:下午二時至三時
**請穿著黑衫**


Hong Kong Lennon Wall has been found in overseas cities recently in supporting the anti-extradition movement in Hong Kong, including the one in Boston, at Harvard Square. Unfortunately, it was interrupted by mainland Chinese people and was taken down under police order today. Lennon Wall is originated from Prague, Czech Republic. It was named after John Lennon and was used as a platform for anti-communism ideology. Nowadays, Lennon Wall has become an icon of love and peace.

Lennon Wall first appeared in Hong Kong in 2014 during the Umbrella Revolution, promoting freedom of speech and welcoming everyone to express their opinions. Five years later in HK’s anti-extradition movement, Lennon Wall appeared again in all 18 towns in Hong Kong. Despite intentional breaking, protesters protects and restores it over and over. Meanwhile, famous song “Do You Hear The People Sing” is also widely used by Hongkongers in social movements in pursuance of democracy and freedom.

After the Harvard Lennon Wall was taken down, Hongkongers in Boston once again gathered in Downtown Crossing, with DIY Lennon boards, and sang “Do You Hear The People Sing” in the plaza. We hope to promote the movement to foreigners and show our support to protesters in Hong Kong. Following that, we hope to hold a music flash mob again this Sunday in four of the most crowded place in Boston. Please wear black attires as our dress code. And you are welcomed to bring along signs or materials like water and food for our friends as a support.

Date: August 4 (Sunday)
Route: [meeting point] Faneuil Hall (In front of Quincy Market) → Downtown Crossing (Pedestrian zone between Macy & Primark) → Park Street (Exit close to Boston Common) → Harvard Square (Open space behind the Mass Ave exit)
Time: 2pm-3pm
Dress code: Black shirt

轉載:
Frances Hui 許穎婷
【請廣傳】【波士頓連儂牆被中國人塗毀 被迫拆除】
波士頓連儂牆昨天於哈佛建成,我們義工昨今兩日便一直輪流監察,避免有人搗亂。皆因不少旅行團都會經過該路線,先前已經分別有中國旅客拆下牆上字條,及濫用我們的物資在牆上大貼字條。剛才大概下午四時,一位義工在連儂牆旁邊工作,而我同另一位義工則在對面Campus center休息。後來我遠望察覺到下面的那位義工與另外三位男子互相指手畫腳,感覺情況稍有不妥,便下去支援。
據我們義工同途人描述,有一位白衫嘅中國年輕人用我們的marker在牆中心的poster上寫下字句,雖然字樣模糊,但相信是寫住 “Hong Kong Fuck You Mother”。後來義工上前阻止時,該白衫男子便已逃離現場,現場餘下三個中國男生。該義工指,因為四人先前有交談過,認為他們四人是朋友,故開始質問那三位男子,但三人一直否認與該行動者有關,雙方其後出現口角。
後來我同另一位義工到場,當時雙方尚算理性,我上前了解,嘗試調停不果。其中三位之中一個穿黑衫的男子向我解釋指,他們並沒有在牆上畫字,亦不認識畫字的人,但我卻觀察到他同時手拿我們的黑色marker。當時香港來的遊客路過見證事情發生,故停步拍下爭執過程,對方也拿出手機拍攝我們。因為該義工其實是今次連儂牆的發起人,故情緒開始變得激動,便伸手嘗試阻擋對方拍攝,演變成輕微的肢體碰撞。因此該名義工報警處理,雙方也十分合作,留待警方到達處理。
後來警察分別與我們落口供,了解情況後便作出調停,雙方各自離開。但由於連儂牆設於地鐵站上蓋,屬於麻省鐵路系統管理,所以警察要求我們盡快把牆上的東西拆下。
事件中無人受傷,亦無人被捕。在此想特別嗚謝Cambridge的警察,在與我落口供過程,主動問及連儂牆背後的意念及訊息,更請求我去為他們翻譯一些牆上的中文字條,了解當中有否出現含仇恨性的言論(言論自由在美國是不容納仇恨性言論的)。他們的專業對比起香港警察偏頗的執法手段,大相逕庭,令我們也安全解散。亦感謝在場路過的四位香港人,從拍下事發經過、看顧財物,到幫忙拆牆,互不相識卻出手相助。
雖然連儂牆已經拆下,但我們明天的活動將會繼續如期進行,改用流動連儂牆的形式,在Downtown Crossing舉行。我們也希望大家一起出來,繼續支持香港的運動,並將訊息帶給更多的群眾。

MAYOR WALSH ANNOUNCES CITY OF BOSTON AWARDED $75,000 TO ADDRESS YOUTH HOMELESSNESS THROUGH THE CREATION OF CAREER PATHWAYS

MAYOR WALSH ANNOUNCES CITY OF BOSTON AWARDED $75,000 TO ADDRESS YOUTH HOMELESSNESS THROUGH THE CREATION OF CAREER PATHWAYS
BOSTON - Friday, July 26, 2019 - Building on Mayor Martin J. Walsh's long-standing commitment to creating a coordinated response to youth homelessness, the Mayor's Office of Workforce Development (OWD) was recently awarded $75,000 as part of the Heartland Alliance's National Center on Employment & Homelessness' Pathways Forward Challenge to help incorporate workforce development efforts into the City of Boston's ongoing response to addressing youth and young adult homelessness.

The grant will be used over a two-and-a-half year period to facilitate regular convenings of leadership from workforce development programs, housing and homelessness service agencies, and youth with lived experience of homelessness. The overarching goal of these meetings is to ensure Boston's workforce development ecosystem more effectively meets the needs of youth and young adults experiencing homelessness and housing instability.

"In Boston, we know several factors play a role in housing instability, including  economic mobility," said Mayor Walsh. "By including workforce development in the conversation on homelessness, we are building on the collaborative work that is underway to ensure everyone can call Boston home."

At the convenings, members will address issues such as improving procedures for identifying youth and young adults who are experiencing homelessness and housing instability. The culmination of this work will result in the production and publication of a report which will bring broader attention to the intersection of workforce development and homelessness issues that impact youth and young adults. 

"With guidance from Mayor Walsh, our office is uniquely positioned to drive systemic change that can create access to career pathway opportunities for youth and young adults experiencing homelessness," said OWD Director Trinh Nguyen. "We know there is a role for each of us in helping to end youth homelessness, especially in the workforce industry. From job training to mentorship to building career pathways, we can ensure that all young adults have access to the same resources and opportunities."

OWD will work with a variety of city agencies and outside organizations for this project, including: the City's Department of Neighborhood Development, the City's Health and Human Services Cabinet, Boston Youth Action Board, Bridge Over Troubled Waters, and St. Francis House. 

"We know that increasing access to employment is one of the keys to solving the problem of homelessness among youth and young adults," said Laila Bernstein, Advisor to the Mayor for the Initiative to End Chronic Homelessness. "Gainful employment provides skills and training that can lead to future jobs and also provides connections and relationships that can help prevent youth and young adults from becoming homeless again. We are excited to work with our partner agencies and workforce providers to connect homeless youth with opportunities in the workplace."

Mayor Walsh highlighted unaccompanied youth and young adults as one of the priority populations in Boston's Way Home, the City's action plan to end chronic homelessness. The plan outlines resources for youth and young adults to access better permanent connections, education and employment, and improve their health and well-being. To date, the plan has resulted in ending chronic homelessness among veterans and a 36 percent reduction in overall veteran homelessness. Additionally, through this plan, the City has experienced a 20 percent reduction in chronic homelessness over the last 3 years. Boston's Way Home is supported by the Boston's Way Home Fund, established as part of Mayor Walsh's second-term inauguration. The fund will help to create 200 units of supportive, sustainable, long-term housing for homeless men and women. 

Mayor Walsh's Fiscal Year 2020 budget includes significant investments aimed at ending homelessness, such as $1 million to provide connections to employment, rental assistance and supportive services for youth. In addition, the FY20 budget includes an investment that will fund four formerly homeless individuals to work as peer navigators across shelters in Boston connecting individuals currently experiencing chronic homelessness with permanent housing pathways. The budget also includes an expansion in outreach services to provide assessment, crisis intervention and intensive case management services to unsheltered individuals drawn to spaces and resources of the Boston Public Library.

Earlier this year, Heartland Alliance's National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity put out a call to communities across the nation for ideas on how to increase employment and income for people experiencing homelessness through systems change. After a rigorous review process, Boston was selected as one of seven communities selected to advance their systems ideas through the Pathways Forward Challenge. The other communities include: Allegheny County, PA, Baltimore, MD, Chicago, IL, Houston/Harris County, TX, Santa Clara County, CA and Tarrant County, TX. The selected communities will receive financial resources, technical assistance and support from the Heartland Alliance. 

MAYOR WALSH ANNOUNCES BOSTON WILL HAVE OVERDOSE REVERSAL KITS AT CITY BUILDINGS

MAYOR WALSH ANNOUNCES BOSTON WILL HAVE OVERDOSE REVERSAL KITS AT CITY BUILDINGS
Naloxone donation will further enhance the City's overdose prevention efforts

BOSTON - Saturday, July 27, 2019 - Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced the City of Boston will be installing opioid overdose reversal kits in municipal buildings, thanks to a $30,000 donation from Aetna. The donation will be used to install kits containing the overdose reversal medication naloxone (Narcan), clear instructions for its use, and other medical supplies to assist individuals who experience an overdose. Prior to implementation, the Mayor's Office of Recovery Services will offer on-site voluntary overdose prevention and naloxone administration trainings to all interested City employees.  

"Increasing access to naloxone has been a core strategy in the City's approach to countering the opioid epidemic," said Mayor Walsh. "The unfortunate reality is that overdoses occur in all parts of our City, including in and around City buildings. By ensuring that City of Boston buildings have naloxone on-site and that employees are trained on how to use it in an emergency, we can continue to lead in the national fight against this epidemic."

Following successful pilots at all Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) buildings and select Boston Public Library locations, opioid overdose reversal kits will now be available to use in case of an emergency at Boston City Hall, 26 Court Street, and 43 Hawkins Street. All remaining city buildings will have kits by the end of the calendar year. 

"We are dedicated to helping prevent and address opioid misuse in the communities we serve," said Aetna Senior Vice President Erich Twachtman. "By increasing the availability of Narcan across Boston, we hope it will give more people a chance to get the help they need for recovery."

Naloxone is a medication designed to rapidly reverse opioid overdoses, by binding to opioid receptors to reverse and block the effects of opioids. Naloxone cannot be abused, and does not have significant adverse side effects. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has encouraged workplaces, particularly those that serve the public, to keep naloxone on-site and establish a policy for responding to overdoses. 

Last year, Boston EMS recorded the use of naloxone for 1,928 patients. The City trains and distributes overdose reversal kits throughout the community and trainings are offered online, by request and twice-monthly drop-in trainings open to the public. Last year, the Recovery Services team trained over 6,600 people, and received reports of over 2,300 overdose reversals. The Mayor's Office of Recovery Services supports businesses and other organizations to establish protocols for responding to overdoses in their buildings and implement overdose prevention plans. 

In 2014, Mayor Walsh announced that all first responders would carry the overdose reversal medication naloxone, expanding its reach to the Boston Fire Department and the Boston Police Department. The City of Boston's Post-Overdose Response Team (PORT) conducts follow-up visits after non-fatal overdoses. PORT, a collaboration between Recovery Services,the Boston Fire Department, and Boston EMS connects individuals and families with overdose prevention information, including naloxone, and recovery services through in-person home visits.

In his first term, Mayor Walsh made expanding access to recovery services in Boston a priority by creating the Office of Recovery Services to study substance use in Boston and lead the city's strategy around substance use disorders, addiction and recovery. This is the first municipal recovery office in the nation.

The City has taken a comprehensive approach to tackle the opioid epidemic. The City serves people in all stages of the continuum of care, from providing harm reduction services to ensure people can maintain health in various aspects of their lives, to connecting people with beds at treatment programs, to offering outpatient care and long-term peer supports.

The City of Boston is planning an innovative and holistic recovery campus on Long Island that will expand essential recovery services for the region, fill gaps in the continuum of care and utilize the natural environment to provide a healing space. The City has contracted with Gensler and Ascension Recovery Services to identify the types of services, resources and treatment options that would be best suited for the island and create a master plan for the recovery campus.

Continuing these efforts, the City of Boston filed a complaint in Suffolk Superior Court against 13 opioid manufacturers, four distributors, and one local doctor that have contributed to the local opioid epidemic through misleading marketing and reckless dissemination of opioids that has led to the deaths of more than 830 Boston residents since 2014. As part of the litigation, the City is seeking to recover both past and future damages and injunctive relief associated with addressing the opioid epidemic in Boston.

For more information about overdose prevention, please visit: boston.gov/recovery

Governor Baker Signs Fiscal Year 2020 Budget $43.321 billion

Governor Baker Signs Fiscal Year 2020 Budget
Plan includes historic level of funding for education, reforms to lower drug costs and helps low-income seniors; anticipates another major transfer to the Rainy Day Fund

 For high resolution and additional photos, click here.

BOSTON – Today Governor Charlie Baker signed the Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) budget into law, a $43.321 billion plan that includes the highest-ever level of state funding for public schools in Massachusetts. The $5.2 billion for Chapter 70 aid to education ensures sufficient resources to fund the FY20 costs of an anticipated multi-year overhaul of the school finance formula, while enabling full implementation of the recommendations of the Foundation Budget Review Commission.

“A strong economy and prudent fiscal management have allowed our Administration to work with the Legislature to continue building the Commonwealth’s Stabilization Fund and invest in key areas like housing, education and efforts to fight opioid misuse,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “When we filed our budget and school finance reform proposals in January we pledged to update the formula that funds our public schools, recognizing the challenge that some school districts face in keeping up with the cost of funding a quality public school education for every child in Massachusetts. The Fiscal Year 2020 budget will allow the Commonwealth to take another step toward providing the necessary resources to continue implementing the recommendations of the Foundation Budget Review Commission, and we look forward to working with the Legislature on a bill that modernizes the Chapter 70 school finance formula and provides new tools and resources to ensure that this significant investment leads to better outcomes for all Massachusetts children, especially those in our highest-need communities. This budget also makes law the product of a bipartisan compromise to create a program to control the rising costs of prescription drug prices, saving taxpayers millions.”

“Since taking office, our Administration has been focused on building strong partnerships with Massachusetts cities and towns, from funding for public schools and public safety needs to local economic development programs and housing assistance,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “This fiscally responsible budget continues that commitment, while addressing the Commonwealth’s most pressing needs including care for vulnerable children and assistance for our seniors.”

The budget builds on the Administration’s previous investments to implement the Foundation Budget Review Commission’s recommendations, and includes significant new funding for school districts to meet the cost of educating low-income students, English language learners, and students with special needs, as well as to address the rising cost of health care.

In addition to $5.2 billion in Chapter 70 aid — an increase of $268 million over Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) — the budget includes $115 million for charter school reimbursements for local school districts, a significant $25 million increase to support an updated formula to reimburse districts for charter school tuition increases, including an increase in the facilities stipend for charter schools.

The historic investment in public education is made possible because of continuing responsible management of the Commonwealth’s finances. Since 2015 the Baker-Polito Administration has focused on returning structural balance to the state budget, working with the Legislature to keep spending in line with revenue growth and rebuild the Commonwealth’s reserves, while investing in critical areas of the budget including education, housing, transportation, efforts to fight opioid misuse, the care of vulnerable children and support for cities and towns. The implementation of reforms and efficiencies within the MassHealth program has provided flexibility throughout the rest of the budget, while continuing to protect access to health care.

The budget includes a landmark new drug pricing measure that authorizes the Executive Office of Health and Human Services to directly and more effectively negotiate with drug manufacturers and, if necessary, engage in a public process to identify a proposed value for certain high-cost drugs if negotiations are unsuccessful. This reform is consistent with the Administration’s continuing efforts to manage the growth of MassHealth spending. MassHealth pharmacy spending has nearly doubled since 2012, even while the program has successfully implemented policies to rein in spending growth from historical double-digits to single digits and to ensure MassHealth sustainability. Despite this work, growth in pharmacy spending continued to outpace all other MassHealth spending. 

“Along with the House and Senate, the Baker-Polito Administration has employed fiscal discipline to restore structural balance to the budget, eliminate the use of non-recurring revenue, restrain growth in MassHealth spending, and build the balance in the Stabilization Fund,” said Administration and Finance Secretary Michael J. Heffernan. “These efforts continue to pay off, and along with a strong Massachusetts economy are now enabling major investments in priority areas, including education and transportation.”

The FY20 budget represents an approximately 3.3% increase in spending over estimated spending in Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19). The total $43.321 billion in spending excludes certain trust fund transfers.

The budget includes $1.1 billion in unrestricted local aid for cities and towns, up $183 million since Fiscal Year 2015 (FY15).

Earlier this week, the Administration announced that the transfer of certain FY19 capital gains taxes to the Stabilization Fund has brought the current balance of the fund to $2.8 billion, the highest balance ever. The FY20 budget anticipates a further $476 million net increase in the Stabilization Fund, estimated to bring the balance to nearly $3.3 billion by the end of FY20 — triple the balance when the Administration took office and representing more than 10% of tax revenue, an important protection against any future disruption in the economy.

The budget plan also supports a further drop in the Part B income tax rate to 5% on January 1, 2020, the third income tax reduction since the start of the Administration, returning approximately $90 million to taxpayers in FY20.

The FY20 budget assumes $406 million growth in state tax revenue over preliminary actual FY19 tax revenue, for a total of $30.1 billion, representing a tax revenue growth estimate of 1.4%. This growth rate assumes continued economic growth offset by declines in corporate taxes as well as capital gains taxes. Both these categories are historically volatile and experienced extraordinarily high collections in FY19, and the FY20 budget prudently assumes these collections will not repeat.

The FY20 budget also includes a change that will significantly reduce health care costs for thousands of low-income seniors. Included in the Administration’s House 1 budget proposal in January, the change will expand the income eligibility for the Medicare Savings Program to provide assistance to approximately 40,000 low-income seniors. A state investment of $7 million annually ($4 million in FY20) is expected to leverage more than $100 million in Medicare prescription drug subsidies accruing directly to older consumers.

The budget also fulfills the Administration’s promise to end the temporary, enhanced Employer Medical Assistance Contribution (EMAC) at the end of calendar year 2019.

The budget builds on the Commonwealth’s progress in addressing the opioid epidemic by increasing investments in substance misuse prevention and treatment to a total of $246 million across several state agencies. Since FY15 the Administration has doubled the Commonwealth’s investment in substance misuse programs and services.

Also included is the Administration’s proposal to require online marketplace facilitators to collect and remit tax on sales to Massachusetts customers on behalf of vendors who sell products on their online marketplace platforms, streamlining the revenue collection process and leveling the playing field for Massachusetts “Main Street” retailers.

The budget supports a total of $20.3 million to implement the recommendations of the Administration’s Black Advisory Commission and Latino Advisory Commission, including funding to develop and expand college and career pathways for high school students through the STEM Pipeline and Early College programs, expand targeted workforce development programs for Black and Latino youth, and improve and expand English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) programs.

It also includes a significant increase in support for Massachusetts residents who need housing or shelter, including $179 million in emergency assistance funding to provide shelter to homeless families, $110 million for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher (MRVP) program, $72 million for Local Housing Authorities (LHAs) and $4 million to increase the number of ADA-accessible units within the homeless shelter system.

As part of the budget-signing, Governor Baker signed 99 outside sections and returned 9 to the Legislature with proposed amendments.

Key FY20 Budget Highlights:

Education
                     A total of $1.1 B in funding for the University of Massachusetts, state universities, and community colleges
                     $106 M for scholarship assistance
                     $345 M for special education circuit-breaker funding for cities and towns
                     $76 M for regional school transportation
                     $20 M to fund a rate increase for state-subsidized early education and child-care providers
                     $2.5 M for Early College programs
                     $1.5 M for the STEM Pipeline Fund to expand work-based learning opportunities for high school students in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math

Support for Cities and Towns
                     $5.2 B for Chapter 70 education aid
                     $1.1 B for Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA)
                     $3 M for District Local Technical Assistance to support regionalization projects

Substance Misuse
                     Total of $246 M in funding across several state agencies (not including MassHealth) including:
·                     $172 M for Department of Public Health substance misuse prevention and treatment services, a $13 million increase above FY19 spending
·                     $19 M for medication-assisted treatment within correctional facilities
·                     $3 M to continue funding for Recovery High Schools

Transportation
                     $698 M for transportation overall, including MassDOT operations, the MBTA, and Regional Transit Authorities
                     A $1.1 B sales tax transfer, in addition to $127 million in operating budget support, for the MBTA
                     $90.5 M for Regional Transit Authorities, which includes $3.5 million in funding expressly tied to performance metrics

Energy and Environment
                     $5 M in increased funding for the Department of Public Utilities’ Pipeline Safety Division
·                     Increased assessment on utility distribution companies to fund more pipeline inspectors at the Department of Public Utilities
                     $2.2 M for Climate Adaptation and Preparedness

Housing
                     $179 M in emergency assistance funding to provide shelter to homeless families
                     $110 M for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher (MRVP) program
                     $72 M for Local Housing Authorities (LHAs)
                     $53 M for homeless shelters serving individuals
                     $4 M in new funding to expand ADA-accessible units within the homeless shelter system

Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Prevention
                     $80 M across several agencies, a 25% increase in funding since 2015, including funding to provide emergency shelter to victims of domestic violence and their children

Other Health and Human Services
                     $1.1 B for the Department of Children and Families, representing an increase of $193 M since FY15
                     $902 M for the Department of Mental Health, including $10 M trust for behavioral health access, outreach, and support
                     $50 M gross ($25 M net) for an increase in nursing home rates
                     $10.2 M for the Safe and Successful Youth initiative
                     Fully funds the Department of Developmental Services’ Turning 22 program at $25 M
                     Adopts the Administration’s proposal to disregard the value of a single vehicle when calculating eligibility for the TAFDC program

Workforce and Economic Development
                     $7 M for the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund
                     $3.1 M for Small Business Technical Assistance grants
                     $2.5 M for the Urban Agenda grant program, including targeted workforce development programs for Black and Latino young adults
                     $1 M for Learn to Earn
                     Transfer of any FY19 consolidated net surplus to the Community Preservation Trust Fund ($20 M) and the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center ($10 M)

Criminal Justice and Public Safety
                     Funding to implement requirements of the criminal justice reform law, including $2 M for increased staffing at the State Police Crime Lab to meet the new 30-day testing requirement for Sexual Assault Evidence (SAEK) kits, an increase in funding for the Parole Board to support an anticipated higher caseload of individual newly released into supervision, and additional funding for education, mental health, and medical staff at the Department of Correction
                     $11 M for Shannon grants to communities to reduce gang violence
                     $9 M for medication-assisted treatment within the Department of Correction
                     $4.8 M for mental and behavioral staff within the Department of Correction to address the requirements of criminal justice reform 
                     $4.5 M for a new class of at least 100 State Police recruits
                     $3.2 M to operate a new Southeast Fire Training Academy in Bridgewater (the Administration included $10 M in authorization for construction of the facility in its General Governmental Bond Bill)


Tuesday, July 30, 2019

AG HEALEY CALLS ON CONGRESS TO HELP STATES PROTECT AGAINST TOXIC ‘FOREVER’ CHEMICALS

AG HEALEY CALLS ON CONGRESS TO HELP STATES PROTECT AGAINST TOXIC ‘FOREVER’ CHEMICALS Coalition of 21 AGs Support Federal Legislation to Fight Widespread “PFAS” Contamination
BOSTON – Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey today joined a coalition of 22 attorneys general in urging Congress to pass legislation to help states address the public health threats posed by toxic “forever” chemicals.

In a letter sent today to Congressional leadership, the attorneys general say federal legislation is urgently needed to help states address the growing dangers posed by a family of man-made, super-resilient chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which are contaminating drinking water and other natural resources throughout the nation. The letter also urges Congress to provide financial assistance to help state and local governments offset the high costs associated with cleaning up drinking water supplies due to PFAS contamination.

Across the country, PFAS contamination is most often associated with military bases, firefighting training centers, civilian airports, and industrial facilities. The chemicals have been used for decades as ingredients in firefighting foam. As of March, there were at least 15 public water supplies in Massachusetts that had detectable levels of PFAS—many of which are adjacent to airports and other facilities where large quantities of firefighting foam have been utilized. Cities and towns across the state are spending large sums of money to ensure that Massachusetts drinking water is safe and not contaminated with PFAS.

            “These toxic chemicals are putting the health of our firefighters, our military personnel, and our families in Massachusetts and across the country at serious risk,” AG Healey said. “We need Congress to act immediately to protect public health and help our cities and towns ensure our residents are protected from PFAS exposure and have safe drinking water.”

The two most studied types of PFAS toxic chemicals are perfluorooctane sulfonic acid/perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid/perflurooctanoate (PFOA). PFAS chemicals resist degradation in the environment and accumulate in the human body. Exposure to PFOA can lead to kidney and testicular cancer, thyroid disease, liver damage, and preeclampsia and exposure to PFOS is associated with immune system effects, changes in liver enzymes and thyroid hormones, and other conditions. 

While both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have advanced legislation that addresses issues related to PFAS contamination, the attorneys general urge Congress in today’s letter to deal with “the most urgent legislative needs” of states as Congress works on a final agreement on this legislation. These urgent needs, based on the states’ firsthand experiences, include:  

  • Designating certain PFAS chemicals as “hazardous substances” under the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), otherwise known as the “Superfund” law to provide mechanisms for funding cleanups, including at federal military sites.

·            Including PFAS chemicals in the EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) to provide information about potential new sources of these chemicals, as well as the areas of potential contamination.     
  
·            Providing funding for remediation of PFAS-contaminated drinking water supplies— particularly those in disadvantaged communities, where many residents face severe water affordability issues. Municipalities struggling to afford the high costs associated with cleaning up PFAS contamination in turn may raise water rates for their residents.     
  
·            Prohibiting the use and storage of firefighting foam containing PFAS at military bases and other federal facilities as soon as possible and in the meantime, providing immediate protective measures, especially when firefighting foam is used. 

·            Providing medical screening of PFAS exposure for appropriate personnel and members of the public, including but not limited to firefighters.     

Joining AG Healey in sending today’s letter are the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Guam, Hawai’i, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.