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Legislature Overrides Baker Veto, Restores $90K For Tewksbury Fire Department

Aug 01, 2016 01:00AM ● By Bill Gilman

State Semator Barbara L'Italien

(Edditor's note: The following information was submitted by the office of State Sen. Barbara L'Italien, D-Andover.)

BOSTON – On Sunday, the final day of the two-year legislative session, the House and Senate restored $90,000 in the 2017 state budget for the Tewksbury Fire Department.

The funding, which had been vetoed by Gov. Charlie Baker, is for improvements or new equipment for the town’s fire department.  The money is intended as reimbursement for costs associated with the town’s fire department responding to Tewksbury State Hospital.

Sen. Barbara L’Italien (D-Andover) sponsored the budget amendment in the Senate and made overriding the governor’s veto of the money among her top priorities this weekend.  State Reps. Jim Lyons (R-Andover) and Jim Miceli (D-Wilmington) backed the funding in the House of Representatives.

Sen. L’Italien also secured $90,000 for the town’s fire department last year – money that has already been used to by new life-saving equipment to treat heart attacks, revive overdoes patents and rescue car-crash victims.

The Tewksbury funds were among dozens of budget line items restored by the Legislature on Saturday and Sunday, putting millions in local funding back in the state's $39 billion budget.  

Among the largest pool of restored funding was nearly $8 million that Gov. Baker had cut from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.  Without the override, the cut would have resulted in a 55 percent reduction for the agency that provides grants to nonprofit arts and cultural organizations

Sen. L’Italien, who represents Tewksbury, Dracut, Andover and Lawrence, was also the lead Senate negotiator in a sweeping Municipal Modernization Bill that passed the House and Senate on Sunday.  The new law, which is on its way to the governor for his signature or veto, would eliminate what many local officials view as outdated state rules and provide cities and towns with more autonomy from the state.

“What is at stake here is making the job of our local officials easier,” Sen. L’Italien said of the Municipal Reform package. “We want to bring things up to the 21st century and reflect current practice.”

A few of the dozens of provision in the bill include…

- Offers tax breaks for Veterans and Seniors
- Creates a Municipal Agriculture Commission
- Establishes a Special Education Reserve Fund
- Allows towns to offer incentives to build workforce housing
- Creates reporting requirements and eventually fines for utility companies re: double polls

- Creates a commission to study affordable housing categories
- Fast-tracks police certification
- Allows towns to generate and use revenue from parking lots
- Expands the jurisdiction of small-claims courts to deal with certain tax cases
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