` Representative Pat Haddad
State Representative
Patricia A. Haddad

News
BAKER SIGNS LAW RAISING MINIMUM WAGE, CREATING PAID LEAVE PROGRAM
By Colin A. Young STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, JUNE 28, 2018….Gov. Charlie Baker signed a new law Thursday that could affect virtually every resident of Massachusetts, a week after lawmakers settled months of negotiations over proposed ballot questions that could have had dramatic consequences for the state’s finances and economy. Gov. Charlie […]

By Colin A. Young
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, JUNE 28, 2018….Gov. Charlie Baker signed a new law Thursday that could affect virtually every resident of Massachusetts, a week after lawmakers settled months of negotiations over proposed ballot questions that could have had dramatic consequences for the state’s finances and economy.

Gov. Charlie Baker sat down to sign the “grand bargain” bill Thursday flanked by Democrats including incoming Senate President Karen Spilka, House Majority Leader Ron Mariano, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, and Senate President Harriette Chandler. [Photo: Sam Doran/SHNS]

Legislators scrambled to assemble the so-called grand bargain bill after interest groups, fed up with inaction on Beacon Hill, initiated ballot drives and forced legislative leaders to engage with them at the negotiating table, or risk having major policies written into law by voters.

Under the law, the hourly minimum wage will rise from $11 to $15 over a five-year period. During those same five years, time-and-a-half pay for workers on Sundays and holidays will be phased out. An $800 million paid family and medical leave program overseen by the state government and backed by a payroll tax will be launched so workers can more easily take care of themselves and their families without facing fiscal crises.

And every August beginning in 2019, the state will suspend the 6.25 percent sales tax on many purchases for a weekend.

Baker signed the historic wage and benefits legislation into law in his ceremonial office, flanked by House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Senate President Harriette Chandler and other legislators.

“That one’s a done deal,” Baker said at 10:36 a.m. after his signature was on the law. The governor used several pens to sign his name and distributed each to the lawmakers standing behind him. The ceremonial office was packed with reporters, cameras, aides to the governor and staffers from various legislative offices.

The governor was largely a bystander in the negotiations and declined to stake out positions on the issues while encouraging legislators to work on alternatives to the ballot questions. By signing the bill into law, Baker registered his support for its contents.

“The product of this is a far better product for the commonwealth than each of these as standalone entities would have been for Massachusetts, which is why I’m signing it,” Baker said Thursday.

The Republican governor, who is up for reelection this fall, has repeatedly voiced a general opposition to broad-based tax increases but in signing the compromise bill Thursday he gave the green light to a new payroll tax expected to pull in about $800 million.

“I guess the way I think about this is there’s a benefit that’s attached to this thing, and that benefit is a paid family leave provision that did not previously exist in state law,” Baker said Monday when asked if a no-new-taxes stance would prevent him from signing the bill.

The one issue involved in the negotiations that Baker did publicly support was a reduction in the state sales tax. The Retailers Association of Massachusetts proposed a ballot question cutting the tax rate from 6.25 percent to 5 percent.

Baker at the Republican convention in late April touted his support for a sales tax reduction, saying his opponents are against it, but he has not proposed a sales tax cut on Beacon Hill and it’s not clear how he plans to achieve it now that the grand bargain, which keeps the sales tax at 6.25 percent, has been signed into law and retailers have committed to dropping their popular tax relief question after scoring concessions on premium pay and a sales tax holiday.
Baker did not take questions from the press at Thursday’s bill signing, or make comments about the policy implications of the far-reaching legislation.

“The Massachusetts workforce continues to grow with more and more people finding jobs and our administration is committed to maintaining the Commonwealth’s competitive economic environment,” the governor said in a press release after the signing ceremony.

The Raise Up coalition, the amalgamation of more than 100 labor, community and faith-based groups behind the minimum wage and paid leave ballot questions, celebrated the bill becoming law Thursday and shared reactions from workers who will benefit from the new law.

“For the past five years, my coworkers and I have been fighting for higher wages and it is just amazing that we have finally won! Winning $15 will make it easier for me to pay my bills and buy food each month,” Dayail Gethers, a wheelchair attendant at Logan Airport, said in a statement.

Sandra Cormier of Wareham said: “I am excited to have the paid leave insurance bill become law. When my mom got sick and needed help at home, my work offered unpaid leave, but I couldn’t get by without income. I ended up taking early retirement so I could have a small income, helped my mom, and now I’m looking for a job because the bills don’t stop. I would have been glad to contribute a few dollars for insurance that can keep you from losing so much.”

The Raise Up coalition voted last week to drop its paid family and medical leave ballot proposal but waited until Tuesday to make a determination about its minimum wage question. The group confirmed Thursday that since the governor signed the bill it will not submit the signatures necessary to put the questions on the ballot.

In agreeing to the compromise, the coalition passed on bringing its version of the minimum wage increase bill to the voters. Had the question gone to the ballot and won, Raise Up could have celebrated securing a hike to $15 per hour in four years rather than five and would have ensured that the minimum wage was annually indexed to inflation.

With the three ballot questions wrapped in the grand bargain now off the November ballot, voters will be left to decide questions imposing nurse staffing mandates at hospitals and rolling back the state’s new law aimed at preventing discrimination against transgender individuals in public accommodations.

Combined with the Supreme Judicial Court’s rejection of the proposed income surtax ballot question, it also means that Baker’s reelection effort will not contend with a wave of progressive voters eager to vote on the so-called millionaire’s tax, a paid family and medical leave program and an increase in the minimum wage.

David Maher, president and CEO of the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce, said the grand bargain should be the model for how businesses, legislators and advocates can work together to tackle some of the state’s most pressing challenges.

“This new law will bolster the Commonwealth’s ability to attract world-class talent and innovative companies, without decimating budget funds we rely on to fund our schools and transportation system. It’s a compromise that works for Massachusetts, and one we hope can be replicated as we tackle future challenges on housing, education and public transit,” he said.

Not everyone was pleased with the outcome of the grand bargain and soon after the governor signed the bill restaurant workers announced they plan to present lawmakers with “a bill for balance due” Thursday at 2 p.m. The activists said the grand bargain “does not address are the poverty wages of tipped workers.”

The bill increases the minimum wage for tipped workers to $6.75 over five years, though the Not on the Menu Coalition said it “will continue to demand an end to this discriminatory wage system, beginning with today’s action.”

Thursday’s signing of the grand bargain further establishes Raise Up as a force on Beacon Hill, having successfully fought for the last minimum wage increase, an earned sick time ballot law and now having secured another minimum wage increase and the establishment of the paid leave program.

In a statement Wednesday, the coalition pledged to continue to fight on behalf of workers “who were left behind by the Legislature in this bill,” possibly hinting at its next effort.

“We will continue to do this work until every worker in Massachusetts has a livable wage, family-supporting benefits, and a transportation and education system that lifts people up, funded by the wealthy paying their fair share,” the group said. “We are only getting started.”

Shortly after Baker signed the bill, Lew Finfer, one of the leaders of the Raise Up coalition, notified reporters that Baker has “stepped in with state funds” to extend emergency housing for a month to more than 300 Puerto Rican families who are in Massachusetts as evacuees from the hurricane in Puerto Rico. Saying the Federal Emergency Management Agency had refused to extend emergency housing assistance beyond June 30, Finfer said the families are staying in motels in Springfield, Holyoke, West Springfield, Worcester, Lawrence and Dedham.

-END-
6/28/2018

Vineyard Wind ‘likely’ to add Brayton Point to staging locations
NEW BEDFORD — Vineyard Wind will likely use Brayton Point to stage some portions of the construction of its offshore wind turbines, a company executive said Monday. The developer had already committed to use New Bedford as the main construction port for a project with up to 100 turbines, starting about 14 miles south of […]

NEW BEDFORD — Vineyard Wind will likely use Brayton Point to stage some portions of the construction of its offshore wind turbines, a company executive said Monday.

The developer had already committed to use New Bedford as the main construction port for a project with up to 100 turbines, starting about 14 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard.

Erich Stephens, chief development officer for the company, said the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal is a good facility, but limited in size.

“There will be aspects of the construction that have to happen somewhere else besides New Bedford,” he said in an interview.

Stephens said the company is looking at other places in New Bedford to fill the need but will more likely choose Brayton Point, the site of a closed coal-fired power plant in Somerset. The owners are already removing generation equipment from the main building to make way for wind components and planning to accommodate the cranes that would be necessary to lift turbines, he said.

State Rep. Patricia Haddad, D-Somerset, said she invited Vineyard Wind to visit Brayton Point and meet the owners, and the meeting took place several weeks ago. Representatives of Vineyard Wind met with Haddad; state Sen. Michael Rodrigues, D-Westport; and Stephen Collins, representing Commercial Development Co., which owns the plant, among others.

In response to Stephens’ statement that Vineyard Wind will probably use Brayton Point, she said, “I’m glad that they’ve said that out loud.”

Haddad said she believes Brayton Point will be a great complement to New Bedford, not a competitor. It has more than 300 waterfront acres, whereas the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal has 29 acres. But Brayton Point is not as well equipped to handle heavy loads.

 

“I think it could be a great partnership between the two areas,” she said. “I’m in touch with the [New Bedford] mayor frequently, because it would never be about competing. It’s about harmonizing.”

Each site also has constraints on the size of vessels it can accept — Brayton Point limited in height because of bridges, and New Bedford in width because of the hurricane barrier, Stephens said. Vineyard Wind is thinking about which aspects of construction would fit best at each location, he said.

Mayor Jon Mitchell has long advocated making New Bedford the hub of offshore wind in the Northeast. Mitchell’s spokesman Jonathan Carvalho said the idea that wind companies need multiple shoreside locations is nothing new.

“There are certain elements of construction of turbines that simply cannot fit in New Bedford,” he said in an email.

European wind ports often have discrete facilities for different aspects of construction, he said.

Vineyard Wind was the winning bidder in Massachusetts’ first state-supervised procurement process for offshore wind energy.

The state’s electricity distribution companies awarded Vineyard Wind an 800-megawatt project, which could mean up to 100 turbines, depending on their size. That’s enough to power 415,000 households, according to the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center.

All three bidders signed a letter of intent to use the Marine Commerce Terminal, and Vineyard Wind’s bid described that location as the “primary marine terminal” for construction. Construction could begin by the end of 2019.

Stephens said Vineyard Wind has also been speaking with schools and with the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center about how to spend the $2 million the company has committed to recruit, mentor and train workers. Ideas include programs at vocational high schools on the Cape, Islands and SouthCoast that would feed into a program at Bristol Community College; courses at Cape Cod Community College to complement the main program at BCC; and possibly a mock turbine foundation at Massachusetts Maritime Academy to train crew members to transfer from vessels to the turbines.

Media Advisory: Fall River and Somerset
Veteran’s Memorial Bridge (over the Taunton River) Route 6 Westbound Overnight Closure and Detour on Friday June 22 to Saturday June 23 The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) District 5 will conduct overnight work on the Veteran’s Memorial Bridge (over the Taunton River) between Fall River and Somerset on Friday June 22, 2018. Route 6 […]

Veteran’s Memorial Bridge (over the Taunton River) Route 6 Westbound Overnight Closure and Detour on Friday June 22 to Saturday June 23

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) District 5 will conduct overnight work on the Veteran’s Memorial Bridge (over the Taunton River) between Fall River and Somerset on Friday June 22, 2018. Route 6 westbound will be closed to vehicular traffic from 7:00 p.m. Friday, June 22 to 7:00 a.m. Saturday, June 23. The closure is necessary to replace the damaged traffic barrier gate. A detour, with full signage, will be in place to aid vehicles in traveling from Fall River into Somerset via I-1-95 and the Braga Bridge. Traffic traveling on Route 6 eastbound will not be affected. The temporary detour will be in place for all motor vehicle traffic as follows:

Traveling North on North Davol Street:

  • Travel north on North Davol Street to Route 79/138 South (Tiverton RI)
  • Continue south on Route 79/138 South (Tiverton RI)
  • Follow Route 6 Detour signage to I-195 Westbound, traveling over the Braga Bridge
  • Take Exit 4B – Route 103 East/ Somerset
  • Take a right at the end of the ramp onto Wilbur Avenue
  • Follow Wilbur Avenue (Route 103) to Brayton Avenue
  • Follow Brayton Avenue to Route 6

Traveling North on Route 79:

  • Travel north on Route 79 North
  • Bear right to Route 6 East/North Davol Street
  • Travel north on North Davol Street to Route 79/138 South (Tiverton RI)
  • Continue south on Route 79/138 South (Tiverton RI)
  • Follow Route 6 detour signage to I-195 Westbound, traveling over the Braga Bridge
  • Take Exit 4B – Route 103 East/ Somerset
  • Take a right at the end of the ramp onto Wilbur Avenue
  • Follow Wilbur Avenue (Route 103) to Brayton Avenue
  • Follow Brayton Avenue to Route 6

Traveling South on South Davol Street:

  • Travel south on South Davol Street
  • Follow Route 6 detour signage to I-195 Westbound, traveling over the Braga Bridge
  • Take Exit 4B – Route 103 East/ Somerset
  • Take a right at the end of the ramp onto Wilbur Avenue
  • Follow Wilbur Avenue (Route 103) to Brayton Avenue
  • Follow Brayton Avenue to Route 6

Traveling South on Route 79 South:

  • Travel south on Route 79
  • Follow Route 6 Detour signage to I-195 Westbound, traveling over the Braga Bridge
  • Take Exit 4B – Route 103 East/ Somerset
  • Take a right at the end of the ramp onto Wilbur Avenue
  • Follow Wilbur Avenue (Route 103) to Brayton Avenue
  • Follow Brayton Avenue to Route 6

 

Appropriate signage and messaging will be in place to guide drivers during these operations.

 

The schedule for this work is weather dependent and subject to change without notice.

 

MassDOT encourages drivers to reduce speed and use caution while traveling throughout this area.

 

For more information on traffic conditions travelers are encouraged to:

  • Dial 511 before heading out onto the roadways and select a route to hear real-time conditions.
  • Visit www.mass511.com, a website which provides real-time traffic and incident advisory information, access to traffic cameras, and allows users to subscribe to text and email alerts for traffic conditions.
  • Follow MassDOT on Twitter @MassDOT to receive regular updates on road and traffic conditions.
  • Download MassDOT’s GoTime mobile app and view real-time traffic conditions before setting out on the road.

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Brayton Point chosen for wind turbine foundation factory
By Jennette Barnes The Standard-Times Posted at 2:18 PM Turbine foundations will be made at Brayton Point in Somerset if Bay State Wind receives a Massachusetts contract for offshore wind, a company spokeswoman said Thursday. NEW BEDFORD — Turbine foundations will be made at Brayton Point in Somerset if Bay State Wind receives a Massachusetts contract for […]

Turbine foundations will be made at Brayton Point in Somerset if Bay State Wind receives a Massachusetts contract for offshore wind, a company spokeswoman said Thursday.

NEW BEDFORD — Turbine foundations will be made at Brayton Point in Somerset if Bay State Wind receives a Massachusetts contract for offshore wind, a company spokeswoman said Thursday.

German steel maker EEW and Houston-based steel company Gulf Island Fabrication, which will provide foundations for the project, have selected the former Brayton Point power plant as their manufacturing location, according to Lauren Burm, a spokeswoman for Ørsted.

Bay State Wind is a joint venture between Danish energy company Ørsted and New England energy company Eversource.

The steel companies are negotiating to buy the large turbine building at Brayton Point, she said.

Bay State Wind is one of three projects competing in a state-supervised bidding process. Energy distribution companies must buy offshore wind power to comply with a 2016 state law.

The three competitors, including Deepwater Wind and Vineyard Wind, have made a series of commitments about job creation and training leading up to the May 23 date when one or more of the wind projects is expected to be chosen for a contract.

Bay State Wind has previously said the foundation factory would generate 500 construction jobs, including jobs for welders, blaster painters, steel fabricators and associated trades.

EEW will produce large steel pipes and the primary pieces of the foundations, while Gulf Island Fabrication will produce secondary materials and do the painting. EEW has supplied more than 650 monopile foundations to Ørsted’s offshore wind projects around the world.

Thomas Brostrøm, president of Ørsted North America, said the plant would be the first offshore wind manufacturing facility in the country and would generate economic growth throughout Southeastern Massachusetts.

“Making Brayton Point the site for EEW and Gulf Island Fabrication’s future manufacturing foundations for Bay State Wind’s offshore wind project would mark not only the transformation of that power plant from fossil fuel to renewable energy, but it would also mark the birth of a U.S. supply chain here in the commonwealth,” he said in a written statement.

SITE LAUNCHED TO COMPARE HEALTH CARE PRICES, QUALITY
Massachusetts residents have a new tool to help them make health care decisions with the launch Wednesday of an online transparency website that includes procedure pricing comparisons, provider quality metrics and other resources. The Center for Health Information and Analysis’ new CompareCare site, located at MassCompareCare.gov, uses claims data to show the full amount medical […]

Massachusetts residents have a new tool to help them make health care decisions with the launch Wednesday of an online transparency website that includes procedure pricing comparisons, provider quality metrics and other resources. The Center for Health Information and Analysis’ new CompareCare site, located at MassCompareCare.gov, uses claims data to show the full amount medical providers were paid, by both the insurer and the patient, for nearly 300 procedures including X-rays, MRIs, office visits and blood tests. It also provides links to individual health plan websites, where consumers can find information about their expected out-of-pocket costs. CompareCare shows the possible cost of a diagnostic colonoscopy, for example, ranging from $969 at South Shore Endoscopy Center in Braintree to $1,624 at Baystate Noble Hospital Corporation in Westfield, with links to quality metrics at each provider. Educational materials on the website aim to explain common procedures and offer patients specific questions they should “consider asking their doctor and health plan if they are having one of the procedures,” according to CHIA. “We are hopeful that this tool can be used by individuals to assist them in finding providers that are both high quality and lower cost,” Massachusetts Association of Health Plans CEO Lora Pellegrini said in a statement. “The launch of this site is an important step in opening the black box of provider pricing and driving care to the state’s highest value physicians and hospitals.” A 2012 health care cost containment law tasked CHIA with developing a consumer website. – Katie Lannan/SHNS

 

 

MassBudget just released a new report What Does the Federal Tax Law Mean for Massachusetts and How Might the Commonwealth Respond?
  The federal government recently enacted a $1.5 trillion dollar tax cut package that is tilted sharply towards very high-income households and corporations. Our report finds that in 2019 the average tax cut – including the effects of corporate cuts that eventually flow through to individuals – for the highest-income one percent of Massachusetts households […]

 

The federal government recently enacted a $1.5 trillion dollar tax cut package that is tilted sharply towards very high-income households and corporations. Our report finds that in 2019 the average tax cut – including the effects of corporate cuts that eventually flow through to individuals – for the highest-income one percent of Massachusetts households will be $84,720.

These federal tax cuts could likely lead to deep cuts in federal programs that support our state’s economy and people, like improving our transportation system and our public schools, colleges, and universities. The report lays out some options that the state can take to respond to the impact that this law can have on our state’s finances and ability to invest in our Commonwealth’s future.

We will be sharing findings from this report on social media—please feel free to share with your networks.

GREAT LOCAL LAWYERS MAKE GREAT LOCAL JUDGES!
Governor’s Councillor Joseph C Ferreira who believes that local Judges should be chosen from local lawyers who know the region, is pleased to announce an outreach seminar to educate local lawyers in the process to judgeship. The seminars will take place this Thursday, October 12 at noon at UMASS Law, sponsored by the Bristol County […]

Governor’s Councillor Joseph C Ferreira who believes that local Judges should be chosen from local lawyers who know the region, is pleased to announce an outreach seminar to educate local lawyers in the process to judgeship.

The seminars will take place this Thursday, October 12 at noon at UMASS Law, sponsored by the Bristol County Bar association; and at 2:45 at the Yarmouth House in Yarmouth, sponsored by the Barnstable County Bar Association.

Panelists will include the Governor’s Councillor Joseph Ferreira, Governor’s Chief Legal Counsel Lon Povich, Deputy Legal Counsel and  Nominating Commissioner Sharon Shelfer Casey, and members of the Judicial Nomination Commission.

Ferreira stated he is “extremely pleased that the Governor’s Office and members of the Judicial Nomination Commission have agreed to participate in this first of its kind event in his District which covers 47 Cities and Towns.   It is extremely important to demystify the process to ensure that our region’s best and brightest lawyers have an opportunity to be chosen!   In a just two and one half years The Council has vetted and approved 80 Judges, an unprecedented number; including replacing 5 of 7 on the Supreme Judicial Court.  Noteworthy is that for the first time in 100 years, the SJC has a Justice who resides in Bristol County, Elspeth Cypher  “

District Events October 2017
I just wanted to pass along this information to my constituents in regards to events taking place within my district next month.   October: 12th @ 6pm-Somerset Musictown Ball, Venus DeMilo.   14th @ 11am-Swansea 350th Anniversary Time Capsule Opening, Town Hall/Main Street.   21st @1 pm-Somerset Musictown Parade, County Street/Rt. 138.   21st & […]

I just wanted to pass along this information to my constituents in regards to events taking place within my district next month.
 
October:
12th @ 6pm-Somerset Musictown Ball, Venus DeMilo.
 
14th @ 11am-Swansea 350th Anniversary Time Capsule Opening, Town Hall/Main Street.
 
21st @1 pm-Somerset Musictown Parade, County Street/Rt. 138.
 
21st & 22nd @ 10am to 5 pm Bristol Aggie Fall Show, Center Street/Dighton.
 
27th @ 6pm – Swansea 350th Anniversary Gala, Venus DeMilo.
 
28th @ 8pm -Swansea 350th Fireworks, Veterans’ Park/Milford Road.
EQUIFAX CYBER THEFT
September 14, 2017   The scope of the data breach at Equifax combined with the character of the data stolen amounts to an unprecedented cyber theft affecting 143 million Americans, an estimate provided by the company.   To provide context, consider that the U.S. population is about 330 million, of which, close to 250 million […]

September 14, 2017

 

The scope of the data breach at Equifax combined with the character of the data stolen amounts to an unprecedented cyber theft affecting 143 million Americans, an estimate provided by the company.

 

To provide context, consider that the U.S. population is about 330 million, of which, close to 250 million are adults (18 years of age and up). Relatively few 18 to 25-year-olds have credit records with the three primary credit companies—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—so we’re looking at upwards of 75% of people with credit records having had their information stolen.

 

What happened

 

According to Equifax, a vulnerability in a website application called Apache Struts CVE-2017-5638 was exploited by hackers to gain access to the 143 million credit files, 209,000 credit card numbers, and 182,000 credit dispute documents. Apache Foundation, which oversees the widely-used open source software said “The Equifax data compromise was due to failure to install the security updates in a timely manner.” The vulnerability was announced and patched by Apache on March 7, 2017 and modifications were completed by March 10, 2017. The Equifax data breach occurred from mid-May through July.

 

The five-week delay from discovery of the breach on July 29, 2017 to the September 7, 2017 public announcement is understandable given that Equifax hired a cyber security company to perform an assessment to determine how and when the information was compromised. However, the company’s chief financial officer, presumably someone on the short list of executives to be notified of a cyber security disaster, sold more than 13 percent of his Equifax stock on August 1, 2017, a transaction generating proceeds of $946,374. The company stated that CFO John Gamble and two other high-level employees who sold stock on August 1 and 2 were unaware of the data breach at the time of their stock transactions. Equifax stock closed at $146.26 on August 1 and $98.99 on September 13, a loss of one-third of its value post-disclosure.

 

What you can do

 

Go to www.EquifaxSecurity2017.com – There are consumer updates posted to this page along with a link at the bottom of the page called “Potential Impact.” Click this link and then click “Check Potential Impact.” At this point, ensure that you are on a secure web page by looking for a lock icon on the screen or a URL beginning with https://. Enter your last name and last six digits of your social security number, then click on the box “I’m not a robot,” then click Continue. You will receive a message either indicating that Equifax believes “your personal information may have been impacted by this incident” or “your personal information was not impacted by this incident.”

 

You are then offered the opportunity to enroll in Equifax’ TrustedID Premier program for no cost for one year. This program offers credit file monitoring with the purpose of alerting customers of any attempts to access their information or open credit/loan accounts without their permission. Per Equifax: “Consumers who sign up for TrustedID Premier will not be automatically enrolled or charged after the conclusion of the complimentary year of TrustedID Premier. We’ve added an FAQ to our website to confirm that enrolling in the free credit file monitoring and identity theft protection that we are offering as part of this cybersecurity incident does not waive any rights to take legal action. We removed that language from the Terms of Use on the website, www.equifaxsecurity2017.com. The Terms of Use on www.equifax.com do not apply to the TrustedID Premier product being offered to consumers as a result of the cybersecurity incident.”

 

Keep in mind that there are three major credit reporting bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Each company retains information on consumers’ credit transactions, loans, payments, FICO scores, etc. The information stolen from Equifax could be used to open credit cards and apply for loans where the lending institution might have a business arrangement with one of the other credit bureaus; therefore, it is not sufficient to isolate your attempts to block fraudulent use of your data with Equifax. If you plan to file a fraud alert or freeze your credit file, make sure you do this with all three credit reporting bureaus.

 

A fraud alert can be filed which puts the credit bureau on notice that your personal information has been compromised. This should result in the bureau taking additional steps to ensure that changes in your account, including inquiries related to opening new credit cards and loans, are being done by you or with your permission.

 

A credit file freeze blocks attempts to review your account for new credit cards and loans. Keep in mind, however, that access to your credit files is granted more often than you might imagine, and generally for legitimate purposes. For example, buying furniture over two years with no interest requires the financing company to access your credit file to determine your credit worthiness. E-signing a tax return, something that is gaining acceptance in recent years, requires the signer to confirm information that is contained in their credit file.

 

Fraud alerts, freezing accounts, and monitoring credit files is not free. Although the monitoring program for affected Equifax customers is free for a year, you must consider the cost of the additional steps not only with Equifax but with Experian and TransUnion as well.

 

You have had the ability to acquire one free credit file report per year from all three bureaus for many years. Looking at these reports is essential to identifying potential fraudulent transactions. Go to www.annualcreditreport.com or call 877-322-8228 to request your free credit report which includes information from all three bureaus. Do not call the bureaus individually or get tricked into visiting one of the many “free credit score” websites that are, in the end, not free.

 

Finally, the information breach may well be used to e-file fraudulent tax returns, both Federal and state, in an effort to claim a refund. These fraudsters file early in the tax season hoping to get their version of your tax return through before you file your legitimate return. This activity has netted billions of dollars of refunds that vanished into temporary bank accounts and pre-loaded debit cards. Legitimate taxpayers have waited to have their tax returns processed, some having refunds of thousands of dollars held up for months.

 

Currently, the IRS only provides security PINs to taxpayers who have had fraudulent returns filed using their social security numbers. The 6-digit PIN is then required for all future tax return filings. Unfortunately, this “take action after the fact” approach does nothing to protect taxpayers from potential fraudulent returns being filed using the Equifax information. For more information about the IRS’ program, go to https://www.irs.gov/identity-theft-fraud-scams/identity-protection. The Massachusetts DOR has information at: http://www.mass.gov/dor/individuals/identity-theft-information/.

 

Attorney General’s actions

 

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healy announced that her office is filing suit against Equifax. See more here: http://www.mass.gov/ago/news-and-updates/press-releases/2017/2017-09-12-intent-to-sue-equifax.html.

 

Conclusion

 

Take this situation seriously and stay up-to-date regarding further consumer options that are sure to become available as we progress through the aftermath of this unprecedented cyber theft. Our office will continue to communicate new information as we made aware.

SOMERSET REP REFLECTS AS SUN SETS ON STATE’S LAST COAL PLANT
By Colin A. Young STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, JUNE 1, 2017…..The cooling towers and stacks at Brayton Point billowed Wednesday evening as Speaker Pro Tempore Patricia Haddad drove home to Somerset, and as the sun set on Massachusetts’s last coal-fired power plant Haddad reckoned with the plant’s closure. “I was literally watching […]

By Colin A. Young
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, JUNE 1, 2017…..The cooling towers and stacks at Brayton Point billowed Wednesday evening as Speaker Pro Tempore Patricia Haddad drove home to Somerset, and as the sun set on Massachusetts’s last coal-fired power plant Haddad reckoned with the plant’s closure.

“I was literally watching the sun setting for the last night over that area and it was very melancholy,” she said Thursday. “I thought it would be, ‘Oh well, it’s happening,’ but it’s very, very hard to realize that it is real and it happened and it closed. It’s the end of an era.”

The 1,505-megawatt facility that ceased operations late Wednesday night was the last power plant run on coal in Massachusetts and the largest coal-fired power plant in New England, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Haddad said it has been surreal to watch the plant remove the unused coal and begin the process of decommissioning the plant that has been in operation since 1963.

“It’s been a wait since we learned that it was going to close,” she said. “Yesterday was the funeral.”

Coal-fired plants have been closing around the country as the industry competes against lower-cost natural gas, renewable energy sources and regulations designed to protect public health. Coal currently accounts for the generation of just more than 2 percent of the region’s power mix, according to ISO New England, which operates the grid in the six-state region.

Two other coal-fired power plants were shut down in 2014: the Mount Tom plant, near Holyoke, and the Salem Harbor plant.

Brayton Point was Somerset’s largest taxpayer for years, and Haddad said its closure — which follows the 2010 closure of Somerset’s smaller coal-fired Montaup plant — means the town now has to either find new sources of revenue or curtail services.

“We were very fortunate for a very long time that our taxes were very reasonable, we have sewerage, we have full-time fire, full-time police,” she said. “The money was used very judiciously and now we come into a very new era, and we’re in the position of many of the communities in the commonwealth that are struggling.”

The town has delayed hiring a lieutenant for the fire department and is now considering new fees for things like youth athletics, she said.

“The school department is trying to use attrition not to have to lay anybody off, but we’re talking about fees which is something no one in this town wants to do,” Haddad said. “Fees for sports and music, unfortunately we’re looking at those things now.”

For the last three years, Haddad has secured for Somerset up to $3 million a year from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Auction Trust Fund through the state budget to help the town cope with the the loss of tax revenue from the plants.

The same provision is included in the House and Senate’s fiscal year 2018 proposals as well, and Haddad said she is hopeful the money will be available again this year. But the ultimate goal is to get the Brayton Point site back on the tax rolls for Somerset, she said.

“While the town and people in town are always promoting that there are these 300-plus acres on Mount Hope Bay, it is privately owned and therefore we have to wait and see what happens,” Haddad said.

She said her sense is that the plant’s owners want to sell the entire parcel to a developer rather than splitting it into smaller pieces.

Whether at the Brayton Point site or another spot in the area, Haddad is trying to entice companies from the offshore wind industry to put down roots on the South Coast. As her town began to transition from being dominated by the coal power plants, Haddad made her own transition — from being the “Queen of Coal” to being the new “Witch of Wind.”

“We’re now in the process of making us as attractive as possible so that whether they’re from Germany, Denmark or England they will come here,” she said of offshore wind companies. “We would love to see a turbine factory, but at the very least we should see blades because we have the blade testing facility” in Charlestown.

Haddad said the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center’s study of Massachusetts port facilities from just north of Boston to the Rhode Island border, undertaken to inform the offshore wind industry about undeveloped waterfront properties that might be available, “prominently featured” possible locations in Somerset.

Three offshore wind developers are competing to build major wind energy installations in leased tracts 15 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard — DONG Energy, Deepwater Wind and Vineyard Wind, which was formerly called OffshoreMW.

An August 2016 Massachusetts law calls for the procurement of up to 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind energy by 2027, and a draft request for proposals was released last month seeking projects of at least 400 MW. The final RFP is expected to be issued this month, with bidders required to submit notice of intent by July and proposals due December 20, 2017.

Once those developers are identified, Haddad said, it will “set in motion their need for the products” and hasten the development of a local supply chain.

-END-
06/01/2017

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