Dear Friend, 

I hope you've been well. As spring begins, here's what I'm working on.

State Sen. Mike Barrett

Sites like the Fernald School in Waltham served as both home and school for people with intellectual disabilities, who weren't asked their consent even when they were capable of expressing it. Sadly, Fernald also served as a site for medical experiments involving things like the effects of radiation on human beings, experiments that today are widely seen as gross violations of human rights.  

With respect to Massachusetts citizens with developmental and mental health challenges, and as regards our improved respect for human rights and humane treatment, the past can be a guide, but only if we truly know it. A bill I’ve sponsored would open state records on Fernald and other institutions after 75 years -- a move that would allow researchers and families to learn the stories of those who lived at places like Fernald.

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Climate change poses a major risk to Boston’s Seaport district -- a new neighborhood acutely vulnerable to rising sea levels and intensifying storms. David Abel’s amazing film Inundation District -- which he screened, at my invitation, at the State House -- is an in-depth look at the issue. A terrifying film that puts climate risks in perspective.

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My outstanding colleague, Sen. Jo Comerford, is notching legislative wins for people with disabilities. I had the pleasure of introducing her at a State House get-together where she was named Legislator of the Year by the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council and the Arc of Massachusetts.  


The event featured a real-time transcript -- a wonderful tool for those with hearing loss. You can see the black scrolling screens to either side of the podium. I've filed a bill that would require the closed captioning option on TVs to be turned on when requested by a patron in a public establishment. Working hard to make this happen.

The housing shortage is on everyone’s mind -- and it’s a tough nut to crack. In Lexington, I joined legislative colleagues and concerned citizens to discuss solutions. A new housing bond bill submitted by Gov. Healey would make a solid contribution. Shoutout to the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization for hosting and drawing such a huge turnout.

Johan Coisman of Weston was just named a National STEM Challenge Champion. The 12-year-old was recognized for his research into fighting climate change. His winning idea centers on enabling clouds to reflect intense sun rays back towards their source and away from Earth, by changing the size and salinity of water droplets. If you’ve tuned into CBS News recently, you may have seen Johan demonstrate his project.

Hank Manz was a larger-than-life figure in Lexington. As a Scoutmaster, youth hockey commissioner, and member of the Lexington Select Board, Hank offered leadership brimming with wisdom and wit, and absolutely without rancor. He passed away in December 2020. What a pleasure to welcome the Manz family to the State House, where Gov. Healey signed a bill naming a bridge spanning I-95 in Hank's honor.

"Mass. Lawmakers Aiming for an Omnibus Climate Bill in 2024"

RTO Insider

Top legislators in Massachusetts this year hope to pass a major climate and energy bill, which could bring significant permitting and siting reform, and boost transportation and heating electrification.

“The clock is ticking,” Sen. Mike Barrett (D), Senate co-chair of the legislature’s Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy (TUE), told NetZero Insider. The legislature has until the end of July to reach a consensus.

The TUE committee was responsible for a large portion of the omnibus climate bills passed in 2021 and 2022 under the administration of Gov. Charlie Baker (R). These bills contained wide-ranging provisions aimed at expediting the state’s clean energy transition, including setting emissions limits for the major sectors of the state’s economy and directing the procurement of 5,600 MW of offshore wind capacity.

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"When the barbed wire comes down at Concord prison, the possibilities are endless"

The Boston Globe

If ever there was a win-win-win deal for state taxpayers, prison reform advocates, and potentially for housing advocates as well, it’s the proposed closing of the state’s medium-security prison at Concord and the potential reuse of its 62-acre site on Route 2.

The potential for the prison site situated on the dreaded Route 2 Rotary is enormous. For starters it should spur discussion of a reconfiguration of one of the state’s most fearsome traffic circles.

But beyond that, “It’s perfect for housing,” state Senator Mike Barrett, whose district includes Concord, told the Globe editorial board. “It’s walkable to West Concord [center]” and its train station. “It could be a whole new neighborhood.”

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