In the News
After nearly 30 years, a (real) South Coast Rail groundbreaking
FREETOWN – In a lot of ways, it was a groundbreaking on already broken ground.
Tuesday marked the highly celebrated beginning of the SouthCoast Rail project’s southern expansion, bringing MBTA Commuter Rail Service from Boston south to the cities of Fall River and New Bedford.
The occasion was not the first groundbreaking for the project, which has been gestating in Massachusetts politics for roughly 30 years.
This point was not lost on MassDOT CEO Stephanie Pollack, who took a moment Tuesday to recall a 2015 conversation she had with Fall River state Sen. Michael Rodrigues.
At the time, Rodrigues warned Pollack of the shovels he had collected over the years from past SouthCoast Rail groundbreakings and said he didn’t want another one until construction was already underway…
…Rodrigues, whose first SouthCoast Rail groundbreaking was over 20 years ago, praised the state’s most recent efforts and highlighted the potential impact Commuter Rail service will have on the region. “The communities of the South Coast deserve to be economically competitive with the rest of the region, and SouthCoast Rail is a large piece of that,” he said. “I applaud the Baker-Polito Administration for finally making this long-promised project a reality.”
HERALD NEWS - JULY 2,2019
Lawmakers discuss Brayton Point’s potential as ‘renewable energy headquarters’
SOMERSET — Friday proved to be something of a fact-finding mission for U.S. Sen. Edward Markey, who spent part of the afternoon visiting the planned Brayton Point facility that will connect offshore wind farms to local power grids.
“I wanted to understand the vision that has been created for Brayton Point to transition it from fossil fuels to being a renewable energy headquarters for New England and the whole east coast,” said the sponsor of the economic stimulus package known as the Green New Deal.
Friday’s visit saw Markey meeting with Haddad and state Sen. Michael Rodrigues, as well as representatives from energy companies like Eversource and Orsted, as well as Anbaric, the Wakefield-based company building the new power transfer facility on Brayton Point.
The conversation covered some of the history of what had formerly been the Brayton Point Power Station and the ongoing plans for Anbaric to process as much as 1,200 megawatts of electricity.
“I’m extremely impressed by how optimistic the community is about the future. I’m impressed by how optimistic Sen. Rodrigues and Rep. Haddad are about how many additional megawatts of wind are going to be generated and how Somerset can be the staging area for that future,” Markey said at the close of his visit.
HERALD NEWS - JUNE 22, 2019
Mass Legislature Passes $1.9 Billion For Bridges, Roads, Rail and Highway Projects
BOSTON – The Massachusetts Legislature passed a bill authorizing $200 million for Chapter 90 funding to help municipalities complete road, bridge and infrastructure improvement projects.
The bill also facilitates the financing of $1.5 billion for highway projects and $200 million for rail projects at the Massachusetts Department of Transportation…
“The state of our infrastructure has a direct effect on Massachusetts’ economic possibilities and quality of life, for both people and businesses,” said Senator Michael J Rodrigues (D-Westport), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “By supporting our cities’ and towns’ projects, these funds will have a positive impact on every person and industry in the Commonwealth.”
FRAMINGHAM SOURCE - JUNE 6, 2019
Sen. Rodrigues to help lead budget conference
Six lawmakers were named Thursday to negotiate differences between the House and Senate versions of a $42.8 billion fiscal 2020 state budget.
Leadership from the House and Senate Ways and Means committees, led by chairs Rep. Aaron Michlewitz and Sen. Michael Rodrigues, will try to come up with a consensus budget and present it to Gov. Charlie Baker by a July 1 deadline.
STANDARD-TIMES (via SHNS) - MAY 30, 2019
Massachusetts Senate Passes $42.8 Billion Budget For Fiscal Year 2020
BOSTON – After adding $74.4 million in additional funding to its original proposal during three days of deliberations, the Massachusetts State Senate passed a $42.8 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2020. The final budget makes targeted investments in education, transportation and mental health services, among other priorities…
“I am proud of the collaborative process that the Senate employed this week, my first budget debate as Chair. Through robust debate, we made further investments across several key areas including substance use treatment and supports, civics education, security upgrades at non-profits, and suicide prevention,” said Senator Michael J. Rodrigues (D-Westport), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “Through respectful and thoughtful deliberation, and under the leadership of SenatePresident Spilka, the Senate has passed a budget that reflects our commitment to ensuring equity and boldly moving Massachusetts forward. Thank you to my colleagues in the Senate for their many steps passionate advocacy over the course of our debate.”
The most notable area of investment is in K-12 public education funding. The Senate budget funds Chapter 70 at $5.176B, an increase of $268.4M over FY 2019.
FRAMINGHAM SOURCE - MAY 24, 2019
Senate budget proposes more funds for education than House, governor
The Massachusetts Senate upped the ante on K-12 education spending, unveiling a budget proposal Tuesday that would put tens of millions more dollars toward public elementary and secondary schools than either Governor Charlie Baker or House lawmakers have proposed.
The $42.7 billion spending plan is the latest indication that Beacon Hill is serious about revamping the state’s outdated education funding formula — and a sign that Senate lawmakers could push to commit more resources for struggling urban districts than their House colleagues.
…Michael J. Rodrigues, the Senate budget chair, described the education spending figures as a “substantial down payment” on the larger education formula overhaul, which all the key players acknowledge will mean increasing the amount of aid the state sends to local school districts.
“We didn’t want to get out in front of” those working on the education bill, Rodrigues said. “These are very much initial investments . . . in those areas.”
BOSTON GLOBE - MAY 7, 2019
Senate Passes Legislation Supporting Children, Families, and LGBTQ+ Community
Today, the Massachusetts State Senate passed legislation that reaffirms the Commonwealth's commitment to providing support for women, members of the LGBTQ community and children and families in need. The Senate also gave final approval to a $135.9 million supplemental budget for the Fiscal Year 2019.
…“The measures passed by the Senate today will protect the most vulnerable among us and ensure that health care remains a human right,” said Senate Ways and Means Chair Michael J. Rodrigues (D-Westport). “I applaud my colleagues in the legislature for taking immediate action to protect access to critical health care services for over 75,000 Massachusetts residents, eliminate a discriminatory policy that harmed families, provide heating assistance to seniors and veterans, and other vital steps to ensure that all people in the Commonwealth are treated justly.”
CAPE COD TODAY - MARCH 28,2019
Westport centrist Sen. Michael Rodrigues will manage the state budget
Sen. Michael Rodrigues, D-Westport, says he has prepared over his entire career for his appointment as chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, and is eager for the challenge that comes with overseeing how every bill in the Legislature, starting with the budget, is funded.
“This position is a culmination of my lifelong experiences,” he said.
It took him six years to earn a degree in accounting from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, Rodrigues said, because he had to start running his family’s floor covering business full-time when his father passed away suddenly. Then he became part of the Westport Finance Committee.
“I got hooked on public service and developed an interest in budgets,” he said.
STANDARD-TIMES - MARCH 9, 2019
Michael Rodrigues picked as Senate chamber’s budget chief
House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo and Senate President Karen E. Spilka unveiled their leadership teams Thursday, shuffling in two new chairmen to lead the State House’s powerful budget committees just weeks before the state spending debate begins…
Senator Michael J. Rodrigues, a 23-year Beacon Hill veteran, will assume the post in the Senate, where he last year led a closely watched ethics investigation into the Senate’s former leader…
Rodrigues — first elected to the House in 1996 and the Senate in 2011 — replaces Spilka, who started last session as the Senate’s budget chief before rising to the chamber’s presidency in July. She corralled the votes to take the gavel from Senator Harriette L. Chandler, who herself was picked to replace former president Stanley C. Rosenberg on an interim basis.
BOSTON GLOBE - FEBRUARY 14, 2019
Fall River gets bump in grant funding to combat gang violence
FALL RIVER -- Senator Michael J. Rodrigues announced that the city has received a $420,636 grant to combat gang violence, 10 percent more than last year.
The Shannon Community Safety Initiative grant award to Fall River increased this year compared to last based on “positive results” achieved by Chief Albert Dupere and Youth Services Coordinator Christian McCloskey, said Bentley Holt, legislative aide to Sen. Michael J. Rodrigues.
“The Shannon Community Safety Initiative’s programs are a vital component of our community’s public safety, which is always a priority,” Rodrigues said in a statement. “I am gratified to be able to support the efforts of Police Chief Dupere and the city of Fall River’s Youth Services Coordinator Christian McCloskey, in encouraging Fall River’s youth to reject gang violence, and in keeping the city safe.”
HERALD NEWS - FEBRUARY 12, 2019
State senators continue ‘Commonwealth Conversations’ tours
BOSTON – The Massachusetts State Senate has launched the “Commonwealth Conversations 2019-2020 Tour,” bringing Beacon Hill back to main street for a third session. The Commonwealth Conversations tour, organized by Sen. Michael Rodrigues, D-Westport, is a statewide listening tour in which senators will travel to districts across the Commonwealth.
The goal of the tour is to foster civic engagement while allowing senators to learn about issues facing districts outside of their own. The tour will give residents, businesses, and interest groups an opportunity to interact with members of the Senate and directly communicate their needs, concerns and ideas.
“I am honored to once again bring the Massachusetts State Senate to every corner of the Commonwealth,” said Rodrigues. “With the new, more-focused format, the goal of Commonwealth Conversations remains the same. I hope my colleagues and I can become better informed about the challenges and opportunities facing our diverse communities, and reflect what we hear in our work on Beacon Hill.”
HERALD NEWS - FEBRUARY 8, 2019
ACTIVISTS, LAWMAKERS RALLY FOR HEATING HELP FOR LOW-INCOME FAMILIES
STATE HOUSE, BOSTON — Human service activists and lawmakers rallied outside the State House Wednesday, calling for the state to help offset a cut in federal funding by allocating $30 million to help low-income families afford winter home heating bills.
Most of the 48,000 households in Massachusetts that heat with oil have used up their benefits or will do so by the end of January, according to the Massachusetts Association for Community Action, which said 160,000 households in Massachusetts are served under the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. Funding for the federal program was reduced by $11 million this year, and has over several years been cut from $200 million a year to $136 million per year, MASSCAP said.
"It's a critical time," said Sen. Michael Rodrigues of Westport. "It's critical we do this as soon as possible because this money isn't going to mean much in May or June."
WBSM NEW BEDFORD - JANUARY 10, 2019
Fall River to Receive $966,200 in public safety staffing grants
BOSTON – Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and Public Safety Secretary Thomas Turco announced that 16 police and fire departments have received $3,555,000 in state grants to assist municipalities in maintaining public safety and emergency response core services. State Sen. Michael J. Rodrigues, D-Westport, is the lead sponsor of the budget amendment that secures this funding.
For the eighth year in a row, Rodrigues is happy to announce that the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security has awarded public safety staffing grants to the City of Fall River. For Fiscal Year 2019, the grants will total $966,200; $506,164 for the Fall River Police Department and $460,036 for the Fall River Fire Department. Since 2011, Fall River has received more than $6.3M in funding from this program to help ensure the safety of the public by providing adequate funding for emergency response personnel.
HERALD NEWS - DECEMBER 28, 2018
lawmakers reach agreement on short-term rentals
BOSTON - With the clock ticking on the end of the two-year session, House and Senate leaders finalized a deal Thursday to tax and regulate short-term housing rentals through websites like Airbnb, reviving a bill that passed in July but was imperiled by concerns raised by Gov. Charlie Baker.
…Sen. Michael Rodrigues, the Senate negotiator on the bill, said the new version of the bill is the product of “good work and cooperation between the House, the Senate and the governor’s office.
“When the governor signs it, I’ll be very happy. The Senate has been on record wanting to do this for a number of years,” Rodrigues said.
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE / COMMONWEALTH MAGAZINE - DECEMBER 20, 2018
SouthCoast Veterans offered tour of USS Thomas Hudner
BOSTON — By the time they got to the bridge, the Navy guys were on a roll. They knew what they were looking at on the USS Thomas Hudner. And they were impressed. “Do you still use a sextant?” asked Gary Pavao of Somerset, U.S. Navy, 1980 to 1986. Corpsman First Class Dane Pace stood before a bank of computer monitors and a console of dials and switches. There was nothing on the bridge that looked like a steering wheel or a throttle. No compass binnacle. The USS Thomas Hudner, a guided missile destroyer, will be commissioned Saturday in Boston. It leaves Monday for its home port in Florida.
Sen. Michael Rodrigues chartered three buses Wednesday to bring 100 local veterans to Boston for a tour of the Hudner. In a previous statement, the Senator said, “I am excited and proud to provide this opportunity to the SouthCoast’s veterans. Thomas Hudner was a Fall River hero. I am hopeful that our community’s veterans will take this opportunity to tour the ship named in his honor.”
HERALD NEWS - NOVEMBER 29, 2018
Ending the Epidemic: Mass. lawmakers visit Portugal to learn about its solution
BOSTON 25 NEWS - NOVEMBER 2, 2018
15 Mass. legislators to visit Portugal
BOSTON — Fifteen Massachusetts legislators, led by Sen. Michael Rodrigues, will travel next week to Portugal to strengthen the ties between the two regions and meet with President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa and other high officials.
“The country of Portugal is extremely important to Massachusetts, and to the heritage of many of its residents,” said Sen. Rodrigues in a prepared statement. “This trip represents an opportunity to strengthen bilateral relations between the Commonwealth and our closest neighbors across the Atlantic. I am excited for my colleagues to see the country that was the birthplace of many of their constituents and their constituents’ ancestors.”
O JORNAL - OCTOBER 5.2018
State Auditor Bump visits Westport Vineyards To discuss APR Program
WESTPORT — Under a leafy trellis overlooking acres of lush grape vines at Westport Rivers Winery, State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump met with [State Senator Michael Rodrigues and State Representative Paul Schmid] and environmentalists to discuss how farmland can be protected today for future generations.
Bump’s visit coincided with her office’s performance audit of the state’s Agricultural Preservation Restriction Program overseen by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources – the entity charged with keeping Massachusetts’ food supply safe and secure, and its agriculture economically and environmentally sound...
HERALD NEWS - AUGUST 24, 2018
Westport case helps push animal protection bill through the statehouse
WESTPORT — Since the landmark animal abuse case of 2016, local officials and residents have undergone many hours of brainstorming on how the town can prevent animal abuse.
State Sen. Michael Rodrigues and state Rep. Paul Schmid helped secure language in the senate’s bond bill — adopted by the state House of Representatives on Friday — that will mandate training requirements for state animal inspectors. One business day later on Monday, state Sen Mark Montigny filed legislation that outlines conditions unfit for farm animals...
HERALD NEWS - JULY 31, 2018
Online competition, state mandates are hurting Massachusetts retailers, report says
Massachusetts retailers are struggling due to increased competition online and growing costs from state mandates, according to a new report released by a Massachusetts Senate Task Force on Strengthening Local Retail.
However, the report stopped short of offering any recommendations to address the challenges.
The task force was chaired by Sen. Michael Rodrigues, D-Westport, and Vinny deMacedo, R-Plymouth, and made up of legislators, business owners and business advocates...
MASSLIVE - MAY 31, 2018
Men Can Cook competition raises funds for veterans memorial
FALL RIVER — Given the repertoire of deliciousness offered up at the second annual Men Can Cook fundraiser competition on Sunday, there’s no doubt that, yes they can.
Over 300 people crowded the hall at the Liberal Club to feast on offerings from 27 local “chefs.” The money raised is going to the effort to build a Vietnam Veterans War Memorial.
The fundraiser was organized by state Rep. Alan Silvia, Sen. Michael Rodrigues and former city councilor Daniel Rego. Last year, proceeds from the event went to the city’s Veterans’ Center...
HERALD NEWS - MARCH 11,2018
Mass. lawmakers’ listening tour swinging through SouthCoast
FALL RIVER — On Feb. 7, state senators from across Massachusetts will come to SouthCoast to get a firsthand look at the region’s pressing issues, particularly a long-promised and talked-about rail link to Boston.
The lawmakers’ visit will be part of a statewide initiative called Commonwealth Conversations, and it follows a similar listening tour across Massachusetts two years ago that produced a comprehensive report on several important issues such as the opioid crisis, criminal justice reform, the environment and education.
“We as a Senate agreed it was a worthwhile event two years ago, and we’re going to do it again,” state Sen. Michael Rodrigues, D-Westport, said during a recent meeting with the Herald News Editorial Board...
HERALD NEWS - JANUARY 22, 2017