HANSON – Current and prospective small business in Hanson are invited to a special Small Business Summit to get to know local town leaders and learn about many state services available to help small businesses thrive.
The event, co-hosted by Hanson Town Administrator Ron San Angelo and State Representative Josh Cutler, will be held Tuesday, March 18 at 5:30 p.m. at the Hanson Town Hall in the Selectmen’s meeting room.
This is a great opportunity for small business leaders to get to know key staff members at Hanson Town Hall and learn how the town and business community can work together. Representatives from the regional Mass. Small Business Development Center will also be on hand to explain many of the services available to help new and existing small business.
Some of these free services include guidance on how to write a business plan and launch a start-up, how to market and promote your business, how to develop a financial plan and improve cash flow and how small business can tap in to government procurement and international trade programs
“As a town we need to work with our local businesses. They are a great asset to the community and I look forward to working with them to help them be successful in their endeavors,” said Town Administrator Ron San Angelo.
Capital funding sources for launching or growing a small business will also be discussed, including details on how to tap into state and federally assisted programs, venture capital and SBA loan guarantee programs.
“Small business is the economic engine that drives the South Shore. I applaud Hanson selectmen and town leaders for reaching out to the business community and encourage everyone to join us for this great forum and learn more about how the state can partner to help our local businesses,” said. Rep. Josh Cutler.
Sponsors of the event include state Sen. Tom Kennedy, Hanson Board of Selectmen and the Mass. Small Business Development Center Southeast Region. Light refreshments will be served.
Rep. Josh Cutler joined his colleagues in the Mass. House in approving a bi-partisan bill aimed at preventing natural gas leaks, reducing methane gas emissions and making utility companies more accountable to repair their own aging pipelines.
It is estimated that Massachusetts has 5,700 miles of leak-prone underground gas distribution pipes and in many cases consumers are forced to foot the bill for gas leaks that might occur before the gas ever reaches their property. There is little incentive for utilities to repair many of these leaks so the result is harmful methane gas being released into the atmosphere.
The bill establishes an infrastructure replacement program to accelerate the process of replacing aging pipelines in a manner that can lower capital costs for companies and gas rates for consumers. The legislation also creates uniform classification standards with corresponding requirements and timelines for repair, surveillance or reevaluation.
The legislation also creates a Gas Expansion Program which makes natural gas service available to new consumers and allows companies to offer financing programs to those switching to natural gas. This should result in cost savings for households, businesses and municipalities.
“The legislation presents a painless and inexpensive way to reduce emissions while also saving ratepayers money and preventing deadly explosions. The bill will also create jobs around the Commonwealth for those working to repair these leaky pipes,” said Rep. Lori Erlich (D-Marblehead), Vice Chair of the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development.
The legislation will also:
- Require gas companies to coordinate surveys, replacements and repairs with municipalities and state paving organizations;
- Mandate gas companies to report location, classification and date of leak to DPU;
- Authorize DPU to establish a minimum winter patrol standard for cast-iron pipelines;
- Increase worker safety by requiring minimum safety standards for utility infrastructure.
The bill passed the House unanimously and now moves to the Senate.
Notification of Vegetation Maintenance Activities for Transmission Rights-of-Way
Testimony of State Representative Josh S. Cutler
September 17, 2013
Chairwoman Ann Berwick, Commissioner Jolette Westbrook, Commissioner David Cash, Mass. Department of Public Utilities
I want to thank you for this opportunity to submit comments on the Department’s proposed regulations to establish requirements for Notification of Vegetation Maintenance Activities in Transmission Rights-of-Way.
As both a state legislator concerned with safe energy transmission practices and as a homeowner with a transmission right of way on my own property, I appreciate the difficulties associated with this process. It is clear that a great deal of time and thought has gone into these draft regulations.
I would also like to acknowledge the challenges facing our public utilities, for whom we demand exactingly high standards –– 100% uptime, zero interruptions, plentiful energy supply at affordable rates, with of course zero inconvenience to us. An impossible standard to be sure.
These draft regulations will help to improve the communication process to make future vegetation management events smoother and less disruptive to homeowners.
I believe, however, that there are additional steps that can be taken to further improve the notification process and it is in that spirit I offer my comments today.
Before I do so I would like to publicly offer my thanks to Chairwoman Berwick, Commissioners and Members of the Department and especially Nancy Stevens and her staff for your assistance, cooperation and communication this past summer as we worked to keep our constituents informed during what for many homeowners in my community became a tense and frustrating vegetation removal process. Your assistance was, and continues to be, deeply appreciated.
Let me dive into the substance of my comments. Fundamentally my concern with the existing practice and the draft regulations as proposed is the standard of notice – in short it’s not high enough. Currently a homeowner enjoys a higher standard of notification when their neighbor down the street builds a swimming pool than when a public utility comes on their own private property and removes an apple tree that has born fruit on their property for decades. That should not be the case.
To address this inequity I offer the following recommendations:
1) The definition of abutter under Section 22.02 is too narrowly drawn and does not include many parties who are impacted by a vegetation management plan. I recommend using the “Parties of Interest” standard found MGL Chapter 40A, Section 11, which is the same standard every city and town must follow for a special permit application. This standard includes not just immediate abutters, but owners of land directly opposite on any public or private way and abutters to the abutters within 300 hundred feet of the property line. It also specifies that the abutter list should be culled from the most recent applicable tax list – an important requirement, especially if the regulations are to allow a “good-faith” exemption which is not found in the public notice requirements under Chapter 40A, Sec. 11.
2) The requirement for 30-day notice by first class mail is a welcome regulation. Door tags are helpful but they are easily lost, misplaced or rained on and should not replace U.S. Mail as a formal form of notification. However the regulations should specify that both the homeowner and the current resident receive notification. In some cases non-owner occupied properties or out of town homeowners in my community did not realize what was going on with the vegetation management plan until much later in the process, which in turn created more distrust and conflict.
Just as importantly notice should include the dates when vegetation management is to occur and cease. In some cases homeowners were notified in early June and vegetation removal did not occur until mid August. It’s important to remember that we are talking about bringing heavy duty trucks, chainsaws and tree cutting equipment onto private property, in some cases right in people’s backyards where their children play, ride their bikes or play in treehouses. Not knowing from one day to the next whether these trucks and equipment might appear makes for a difficult summer. A reasonable start and end date is not asking too much.
3) Part of the vegetation management process often includes removal of city or town-owned vegetation, or vegetation in a scenic right of way. This type of removal usually triggers review by a local planning board, tree warden or other municipal board. Abutters, or Parties in Interest, should also receive notice of such action. Simply posting on a local telephone pole, as illustrated in the attached photo, is not sufficient. In many cases removal of vegetation in scenic byways can be as harmful as removal on one’s own property.
4) Notification regulations should also include a requirement for the marking of specific trees and vegetation areas to be removed or reduced. This occurred in many instances, but not all. The process needs to be uniform so that all homeowners will be aware and have opportunity to review what specific changes are proposed on their property before they are made. Since Public Utilities are not required to conduct land surveys or stake out properties prior to tree clearing to ensure the area they are cutting is actually within the right of way, this is a critical requirement for the notification process.
5) The log of notification attempts should be made available to municipal officers not just on request, but as a matter of course. This will assist cities and towns in handling incoming resident inquiries and offer an important check on the process.
6) There is no mention of herbicides or pesticides in the draft regulations. I recommend more stringent notification requirements prior to the application of any chemicals in vegetation treatment areas.
No amount of regulation can solve all potential conflict, especially in the arena of property rights, and certainly the needs of homeowners must be considered in view of the broader public policy goal of protecting our electricity transmission in a safe, reliable and economically viable fashion. These draft regulations, and the additional comments I have offered today, will go a long way to improve this process.
Again, I thank the Department for its time both today and the many hours of work leading up to this hearing. On behalf of my constituents and colleagues your efforts are deeply appreciated.
Josh S. Cutler
6th Plymouth District
State House, Room 39
Boston, MA 02133
As many of you have heard, oyster beds in Duxbury (and Plymouth & Kingston) were closed for commercial harvesting on Friday due to limited reports of a bacteria called Vibrio. I wanted to offer everyone an update and some background as this is a critical issue for our district.
Vibrio is a bacterial pathogen that occurs naturally in oceans around the world. It is more prevalent with raw oysters in warmer waters but due to climate change and rising water temperatures it is occurring more often in our area. Vibrio is not fatal, but it can cause some unpleasant side effects. Usually it occurs within 24 hours of consumption. Foreseeing this potential concern, the state recently implemented a Vibrio (Vp) management plan.
Statewide there have been 50 cases of Vibrio reported this season. 19 of those cases were traced to out of state sources and 3 were sourced to our harvest area, which is what triggered the closure.
This development is obviously frustrating to all the oyster fans (not just locally but around the world!) who have come to love Duxbury and the South Shore's famed oysters. But for our oyster growers, both large and small, it presents a severe economic hardship.
Rep. Calter and I and our legislative team are working with state officials to make sure we keep the communication lines open with our local oyster growers. To that end I'm pleased to report that at our request the commissioner of the Department of Public Health and other key state officials will be coming to Duxbury this Friday to meet personally with our local oyster growers. The purpose of this meeting will be to answer questions about the closure, share data and focus on a path forward so we can work together to re-open the beds in the safest and most expeditiously manner possible.
I want to stress that bacteria is exceedingly rare. There were just 3 reported incidents sourced back to our local oysters and we believe they are more likely the result of poor food retail handling practices rather than any local harvesting procedures. (In fact, in two of the three cases the oysters were consumed out of state.) In other words, oysters are safe and tasty and you should eat them! Statistically you're more likely to get sick eating chicken. (Not that you should stop eating chicken.) Also, there are strict procedures already mandated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in place regarding oyster harvesting and handling and in many cases our Duxbury growers exceed those standards.
Finally, it is worth noting that while the Mass. Department of Public Health and Division of Marine Fisheries are responsible for the oyster bed closure, they are operating under federal mandates from the FDA and the Center for Disease Control.
If you have any questions about this issue, or if you are a local oyster farmer and want to attend our meeting, please don't hesitate to contact me, or call me on my cell at 781-217-5854. I will continue to provide updates as more needed.
Great talk this evening at Hanson Town Hall with State Auditor Suzanne Bump. We had nearly every town board represented plus visitors from neighboring towns. Our discussion focused on unfunded mandates and how they are determined, especially those impacting our schools. We also learned about how state stormwater management regulations are putting a financial squeeze on cities and towns. Tomorrow our office will be sending out a letter to formally request a Local Mandate determination on that issue. Many thanks to Auditor Bump for coming down and spending time with us and also to my co-host Rep. Geoff Diehl.
Here's the intro to the Lyme Disease report issued today. You can read the entire document by clicking on the link below.
Lyme Disease Commission Reports on Epidemic in Massachusetts
BOSTON – The Special Commission to Conduct an Investigation and Study the Incidence and Impacts of Lyme Disease released their report today which provided a detailed analysis of the issues facing the state surrounding Lyme disease as well as the Commission’s recommendations.
“As Chair of the House Committee on Post Audit and Oversight, I identified a real public health crisis in Massachusetts,” stated David P. Linsky (D-Natick). “There was no clear plan or recommendation for treatment, prevention, or education relative to Lyme disease in this state and I am proud of the hard work that the Commission that I established put into this report in order to begin to properly address many of these issues”.
The Massachusetts House Post Audit and Oversight Committee established the Lyme Disease Commission in the FY10 budget after the release of their report; Lyme Disease in Massachusetts; A Public Health Crisis which outlined the lack of understanding and initiatives to correct this public health issue.
The purpose of the Commission was to provide a more in depth analysis of the disease in the Commonwealth while bringing together local experts from a wide variety of backgrounds in order to help develop proposals as to how to better educate, treat, and prevent the spread of Lyme disease. The Commission consisted of twenty-one members ranging in experience from state legislators and public health officials to doctors and disease specialists to patients and advocates.
Upon the formation of the Commission the members broke into five sub-commissions; State Surveillance and Reporting, Education and Awareness, Funding, Prevention, and Insurance and Liability Issues which met on a regular basis and the full Commission came together once a month to discuss each group’s findings. Collectively, the Commission made recommendations in each area including more research for diagnostic testing, funding for school and medical professional education programs and mandated insurance coverage.
The report is available on the Massachusetts Legislature’s website under the House Post Audit and Oversight Committee, “Committee Documents” tab at http://www.malegislature.gov/Content/Documents/Committees/H46/LymeDiseaseCommissionFinalReport-2013-02-28.pdf as well as directly through Representative Linsky’s office which can be reached at (617) 722-2575 or by emailing David.Linsky@MAHouse.gov