Dear Billerica Residents,
The month of July saw several important votes in the Legislature, including alimony reform, municipal healthcare reform, and the sales tax holiday. There was quite a rush to get as much done as possible in July given the tradition of not having formal sessions during the month of August.
After being visited by national labor representatives, the Governor filed some significant amendments to the municipal healthcare bill and sent it to the House and Senate for a vote. The amendments cost municipalities millions of dollars more in order to make healthcare changes. From the starting point of the municipal healthcare reform bill to where it finished with the Governor's amendments, it was weakened significantly. I voted against the Governor's amendments. Ultimately, though, I'm pleased we gave tools to Massachusetts cities and towns that enable them to have more control over how they administer healthcare in their communities.
Alimony reform was passed in the House after being stalled for years. Major changes were made to the current system by inserting parameters for time periods of alimony payments based on the length of the marriage. One goal achieved is that parties in a divorce, particularly short term marriages, will be able to move on with their lives financially in a reasonable period of time.
The House also passed a sales tax holiday for the weekend of August 13-14. This has become an annual event in Massachusetts. I am happy to have supported this tax break for residents, but also want to point out that our neighboring state of New Hampshire has a tax-free holiday 365 days each year. The amount of spending done every year on the tax holiday weekend points out the flaw in our tax policy and highlights the 6.25% disadvantage Massachusetts suffers to New Hampshire the other 363 days. The House GOP offered an amendment to lower the sales tax back to its traditional 5% rate, but House Democrats killed the amendment.
Finally, I had the pleasure of participating in the Billerica Lions' annual golf tournament. It was a great success again this year. I congratulate the Billerica Lions' for their continued work in our community. I also had a meeting with a number of people who have been involved in the Billerica Bike Path throughout the years. I was brought up to date on the status of the project and am currently working with Town Manager John Curran to see if we can take the necessary next steps to move this project forward.