September 2020

Primary Day: Massachusetts Decides for Incumbency

While the 2018 election cycle produced significant change as incumbents across the nation were roundly defeated, the question lingered as to whether it was a sign of things to come.  While the general election is not until November, the September primary for the 2020 Massachusetts election droppable-1600199322283cycle provided an early indication that incumbency still has its benefits.

In one of the most closely watched races in the Nation, United States Senator Ed Markey defeated United States Representative Joe Kennedy III for the right to face Republican Kevin O’Connor.  Senator Markey resisted a spirited fight from Congressman Kennedy for a six-year seat that rarely opens up.  With the potential for a Biden-Harris presidency, political eyes will continue to watch United States Senator Elizabeth Warren, who could very well be appointed to a high-level Administration position.  Any such move would free up the other Senate seat, immediately making Congressman Kennedy the frontrunner to claim the seat.

In a variety of Congressional races, incumbents handily beat back challenges from progressive candidates who continued to challenge the so-called “establishment.”  Congressman Rich Neal, Congressman Stephen Lynch, and Congressman Seth Moulton dispatched of their opponents as progressive candidates were unable to gain enough traction.  While the other incumbent Congressional seats had no meaningful opposition to speak of, the open seat being vacated by Congressman Kennedy drew a slate of candidates. While Newton City Councilor Jake Auchincloss appears to have squeaked past Jesse Mermell, the former President of the Alliance for Business Leadership, a potential recount may be in the not-too-distant future given the number of ballots submitted through the mail.

At the State level, incumbents continued to flex their political muscle as Democratic Representatives Kevin Honan, Jerald Parisella, Frank Moran, Danielle Gregoire, David Linsky, James Murphy, David Rogers, Christine Barber, John Rogers, Mark Cusack, Paul Donato, and Daniel Ryan, and Republican Rep. Nicholas Boldyga all won. The only incumbents to lose were Senator Jim Welch and Representative David Nangle. The Massachusetts legislature, which has seen a large number of retirements or decisions to “not run again” this session, will have a number of new, but familiar faces potentially filling seats. Former Boston City Councilor Rob Consalvo bested his primary opponent for the shot to claim his former boss’s (Representative Angelo Scaccia’s) seat. Meghan Kilcoyne, Legislative Director for House Chairman Hank Naughton, advanced to the general election where she will meet a Republican candidate.

As the Massachusetts legislature pivots to its fall calendar, with upcoming budget deliberations and conference committee reports, among other items, keep an eye on whether certain campaign issues lead to action in the State House in an effort to bolster incumbent candidates.  While voter turnout during Presidential years is normally quite high, the number of contested primary races may have provided a snapshot into voter engagement in November.

EPA Awards Coastal Restoration Grants for Massachusetts and Rhode Island Communities

As reported in a press release from late August, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), along with Restore America’s Estuaries (RAE), announced the awarding of $1.8 million in new funding to local organizations working for clean water and healthy coastal ecosystems in Southeast New England. The funding is provided by EPA under the 2020 Southeast New England Program (SNEP) Watershed Grants, a collaboration between EPA Region 1 and RAE. The grant program builds and supports partnerships that tackle the region’s most pressing environmental issues, such as nutrient pollution and coastal habitat loss.

In 2012, Congress charged EPA with conserving and restoring southeast New England’s coastal environment, and, in 2014, began providing funding to develop a SNEP. As EPA’s pass-through organization, Restore America’s Estuaries is now working with EPA to manage the SNEP Watershed Grants program, funding local organizations that are restoring clean water and healthy coastal ecosystems while strengthening local communities.

This year’s awards will support 11 important initiatives, including dam and culvert removal, shellfish restoration, and urban community resilience planning. The awards—$1.8 million in Rhode Island and Massachusetts—were selected through a rigorous competitive process, with the advice of an independent, interdisciplinary committee of coastal scientists and managers. RAE received more than 40 grant applications totaling more than $10 million in requests from which the 2020 grants were selected. With non-federal match, these SNEP grants will result in more than $2.3 million in new project funding for Southeast New England’s coastal ecosystems and communities in 2020.

Awarded projects in Massachusetts include:

  • Pleasant Bay Alliance: Nitrogen Management in Pleasant Bay ($132,178). Pleasant Bay is the largest estuary on Cape Cod. This grant will support a partnership among the Towns of Chatham, Orleans, Harwich and Brewster to implement innovative solutions to reduce pollution and ensure clean water for residents and visitors to Cape Cod.
  • Buzzards Bay Coalition: Multi-Community Collaboration to Reduce Nitrogen in Upper Buzzards Bay ($118,275). This grant continues funding to the Buzzards Bay Coalition to lead a large-scale partnership among the Towns of Wareham, Bourne, Plymouth, and Marion, MA, and the Mass. Maritime Academy, to complete engineering and other studies aimed at expanding the capacity and service area of the Wareham wastewater treatment plant.

 

  • Friends of Bass River: Upper Bass River Watershed Restoration ($253,779). With this award, a local watershed organization will complete engineering and permitting to reconnect historic cranberry bog wetlands with the riparian system of Cape Cod’s largest river by replacing failed road crossings in Yarmouth, MA.
  • Holyoke College: Bioreactors for Nitrogen Removal in Coastal Cranberry Farms ($232,352). This project will implement and study the effectiveness of an innovative, low-tech method for reducing nitrogen pollution to coastal waters from cranberry farming operations with installations in Barnstable, MA
  • Center for Coastal Studies: Ecosystem Research Conference for Pleasant Bay ($8,984). This grant will support a conference to inform stakeholders about the state of the science on Pleasant Bay, Cape Cod’s largest estuary.
  • Audubon Society: Protecting Salt Marshes ($150,000). This awarding of funds will provide a variety of science and restoration activities at coastal sanctuaries on Buzzards Bay in Wareham and Dartmouth, MA, to study the impacts of sea level rise on salt marshes; implement innovative restoration techniques to address such impacts; and monitor the results of the work.

For more about EPA’s Southeast New England Program and SNEP Watershed Grants, please visit: www.epa.gov/snecwrp and www.snepgrants.org

Baker-Polito Administration Announces $7.8 Million for Infrastructure and Planning Projects to Boost Local Maritime Economies

At the end of August, the Baker-Polito Administration announced more than $7.8 million in Seaport Economic Council grants to support 17 projects across the Commonwealth. Through these grants, the Seaport Economic Council (SEC) will help coastal communities capitalize on their unique assets to advance economic growth, create jobs, and prepare for the impacts of climate change.

The SEC provides grant funding to eligible coastal communities and other entities in support of innovative ideas and projects that promote job creation and economic growth, transformative public-private partnerships, educational opportunities for young people, local economic development planning efforts, and coastal infrastructure improvements. The projects supported in this round range from major infrastructure projects in New Bedford, Fall River, and Yarmouth, to planning grants that will help South Shore communities like Cohasset and Kingston prepare for economic development and climate change, respectively. Additionally, the Seaport Economic Council continues its support for programming that exposes young people in urban neighborhoods to maritime careers and puts them on a path to continuing education.

According to the Baker-Polito Administration, the Seaport Economic Council has invested over $52 million through 113 grants in 47 coastal communities, funding projects ranging from local priorities to shared Commonwealth-wide initiatives since its re-inception in 2015. Some of this year’s awards include the following projects:

  • City of Revere – River Front Masterplan ($100,000). This award will fund a land use planner and a maritime engineer to assist in developing a master plan for the 19.4 acre waterfront Revere River Front. The master plan will examine issues and opportunities, establish a phased implementation timeline, and identify public and private resources available to facilitate the plan’s implementation.
  • FRRA & City of Fall River, City Pier Phase 3, ($1,000,000). This grant funding will be used to fund Phase 3 of the City of Fall River’s waterfront revitalization efforts, which will ultimately enhance public accessibility to the waterfront and City Pier, strengthen recreational and commercial maritime uses, create full time and seasonal employment opportunities, and facilitate significant private investment. The City of Fall River plans on leveraging $1,600,000 in matching funds from the Fall River Redevelopment Authority (FRRA) to complete this project. Phases 1 and 2 were completed in 2017 with $3.2 million in funding from MassWorks, MassDevelopment, and the Seaport Economic Council, matched by $2 million in funding from the FRRA.
  • City of Gloucester and Fishing Partnership Support Services, ($170,000). This grant award will translate data from the Fishing Partnership Support Services (FPSS) and other findings into a feasibility study that will seek to stimulate economic growth in the commercial fishing industry and coastal communities. The study will identify assets and best practices in support of a multi-year plan to foster coastal economic resilience and protect the safety of commercial fishermen in Massachusetts.
  • Mass Maritime Academy, Aquaculture and Marine Science Laboratory Facilities and Technologies Update, ($990,000). This grant funding will upgrade the existing Massachusetts Maritime Academy (MMA) Aquaculture and Marine Sciences (AMS) Laboratory facility, add modernized instrumentation, improve clean lab culture capabilities, and install a renewable energy storage system. Once upgraded and fully operational, the AMS Laboratory will provide local, regional and national scientists a platform to focus on economically important species and habitats.
  • New Bedford Port Authority, North Terminal Expansion, Pier Repairs & Fendering, ($1,000,000). This grant will strengthen the Port of New Bedford’s commercial fishing piers and South Terminal, as well as extend the North Terminal to provide additional berthing space for commercial fishing and offshore wind vessels.

 

Seaport Economic Council grants are awarded on a competitive basis, and offer flexible funding to empower communities to bring forward the best ideas and projects for cultivating and stimulating the maritime economy and job growth. Generally, five types of grants are encouraged and prioritized with maximum awards of about $1 million. Most grants, however, are anticipated to be much smaller. For more information about the Seaport Economic Council, please visit: https://www.mass.gov/service-details/learn-more-about-the-seaport-economic-council-grant-program.

AG Healey Appoints New Chief of Fair Labor Division

In August, Attorney General Maura Healey named Ms. Lauren Moran, Esq. Chief of the Office of the Attorney General’s Fair Labor Division, the portion of the office charged with enforcing wage and hour, public construction, and child labor laws.

As Chief of the Fair Labor Division, Ms. Moran will oversee the Division’s enforcement of Massachusetts laws that protect workers including the payment of minimum wage, prevailing wage, overtime, and public construction bid laws, as well as the state’s Earned Sick Time Law and Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. The Fair Labor Division has broad powers to investigate and enforce violations of these laws through criminal prosecutions and civil enforcement actions.

Ms. Moran has served as the Deputy Chief of the Fair Labor Division since October 2015. Prior to her appointment as Deputy Chief, Moran worked in the Fair Labor Division for more than five years representing the state in both criminal prosecution and civil enforcement actions and conducting community engagement on behalf of the division. Ms. Moran also previously served as the Chief of Staff for the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance for three years. She is a graduate of Suffolk University Law School and Syracuse University and a resident of Cambridge.

The AG’s Fair Labor Division is currently made up of 17 attorneys, 22 investigators and seven intake and support staff. Forty percent of the Division’s employees speak at least one other language, including Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, and Vietnamese. More information about the state’s wage and hour laws is available at www.mass.gov/ago/fairlabor.

Baker-Polito Administration Announces $500,000 in Grants to Support Projects for Polluted Stormwater Runoff

The outset of August saw the BakerPolito Administration award $500,000 in grants to support local efforts to address polluted stormwater runoff to protect coastal water quality and habitat. The grants, provided by the Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM), were awarded to the towns of Arlington, Barnstable, Kingston and Milton, and the City of Salem.

The Coastal Pollutant Remediation (CPR) Grant Program seeks to improve water quality and protect coastal habitats by reducing or eliminating nonpoint sources of pollution, the leading cause of water quality impairment in the nation. This type of pollution primarily occurs when contaminants are picked up by rain, snow melt and other flowing water and carried over land, in groundwater or through drainage systems to the nearest body of water and ultimately out to sea. Nonpoint source pollution reduces water quality, negatively impacts habitat for coastal wildlife and reduces opportunities to harvest shellfish and swim due to mandated closures.

The following five projects have been funded through this year’s grants:

  • Town of Arlington ($184,774). The Town of Arlington, in partnership with the Town of Lexington and the Mystic River Watershed Association, will construct multiple infiltration trenches to treat stormwater runoff entering the Mystic River Watershed. The Mystic River has one of the largest herring runs in Massachusetts and this project will expand on a multiple year effort to improve water quality in the watershed.
  • Town of Barnstable ($173,255). The Town of Barnstable, in partnership with the Association to Preserve Cape Cod, will construct stormwater green infrastructure to treat runoff at South County Road through a nature-based approach. This project builds on a multi-year effort by the Town to improve water quality within the Three Bays watershed, with a goal to improve water quality for coastal habitat, swimming and shellfishing.
  • Town of Kingston ($73,000). The Town of Kingston will finalize the design of a system to treat nutrients and pathogens in stormwater runoff. This project continues Kingston’s long-term work to treat bacterial pollution to help expand opportunities for shellfish harvesting in the Jones River and Kingston Bay.
  •  Town of Milton ($23,870). The Town of Milton will finalize the design of stormwater infrastructure to treat nutrients and bacteria from road runoff. The goal of the project is to help improve water quality in Unquity Brook, an important habitat for Rainbow Smelt. 
  • City of Salem ($45,100). The City of Salem, in partnership with Salem Sound Coastwatch, will develop a series of videos that demonstrate operation and maintenance of stormwater green infrastructure, such as rain gardens. The videos will be shared widely and will be designed to be transferable to other communities to help build green infrastructure capacity across the Commonwealth.

CZM is the lead policy and planning agency on coastal and ocean issues within the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. Through planning, technical and grant assistance and public information programs, CZM seeks to balance the impacts of human activity with the protection of coastal and marine resources. The agency’s work includes helping coastal communities address the challenges of storms, sea level rise and other effects of climate change; working with state, regional and federal partners to balance current and new uses of ocean waters while protecting ocean habitats and promoting sustainable economic development; and partnering with communities and other organizations to protect and restore coastal water quality and habitats.

For more information on CZM, please visit: https://www.mass.gov/orgs/massachusetts-office-of-coastal-zone-management.