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Franklin County resident-inspired bills ‘on track to pass,’ Comerford says
06-01-2024 3:04 PM

By CHRIS LARABEE

Two bills inspired by the stories and concerns of Franklin County residents are working their way through the Legislature and are “on track to pass,” according to Sen. Jo Comerford, who worked with her constituents to get the pieces of legislation...

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Details emerge in state’s massive climate bill
06-16-2024 12:01 PM

By SAM DRYSDALE

BOSTON — The base of a late-session climate bill that has been promised by top Democrats in both branches is being drafted by Gov. Maura Healey’s administration, which says that reform to the siting and permitting of clean energy infrastructure is...


Franklin County reps speak to House budget amendments
05-06-2024 3:15 PM

By TANISHA BHAT

Franklin County representatives got about half of what they asked for in amendments to the House version of the fiscal year 2025 state budget.After two separate votes, 11 of the 21 amendments proposed by Franklin County representatives were adopted by...


United Arc event highlights need for continued advocacy for staffing, housing and funding
04-12-2024 12:52 PM

By CHRIS LARABEE

TURNERS FALLS — While staffing, housing and funding were all discussed at The United Arc’s annual Coffee and Conversation on Friday morning, continued advocacy for these issues was the thread tying them all together.In the first-ever co-hosted Coffee...


Greenfield board, state lawmakers look to preserve creative economy
04-09-2024 2:34 PM

By TANISHA BHAT

GREENFIELD — The city’s Cultural Council is looking to eventually expand and start a side-by-side nonprofit that would help raise money for local artists and events in addition to the annual funding received from the state.“When it comes to the...


Legislative Coffee attendees push for housing, road funding
04-08-2024 12:04 PM

By AALIANNA MARIETTA

GREENFIELD — Women from across Franklin County voiced their concerns on affordable housing, the PILOT program, climate action, road repairs and more to their local legislators on Saturday. Rep. Natalie Blais, Rep. Susannah Whipps and Sen. Jo Comerford...


Gun law negotiators close House-Senate talks
03-28-2024 5:26 PM

By SAM DRYSDALE

BOSTON — Lawmakers tasked with negotiating details of a major firearms bill left their work open to the public last week — a move that broke from opaque traditions on Beacon Hill. A week later, those negotiators moved to close their meetings to the...


Sen. Comerford talks health care legislation with region’s physicians
03-14-2024 5:15 PM

By LIESEL NYGARD

SOUTH DEERFIELD — Before a room filled with local health care professionals, state Sen. Jo Comerford shared details about legislation she’s filed this session in hopes of bolstering the health care system to “do well by” those physicians and, in turn,...


Forum with legislators explores rural school aid, recreation tax and more
02-20-2024 12:22 PM

By LIESEL NYGARD

CHARLEMONT — State Sen. Paul Mark and state Rep. Natalie Blais fielded questions on rural school aid, potential recreation taxes, affordable housing and more during a recent public forum attended by roughly 20 residents.The “ReMarks and Refreshments”...


Markey bill includes funds for paraprofessional hires, training
02-19-2024 6:34 PM

By TANISHA BHAT

The region’s paraeducators could receive additional support from the federal government when it comes to recruitment, training and retention as part of a bill proposed in Congress by Sen. Ed Markey.The bill — called the Preparing and Retaining All...


GCC nursing students talk single-payer health care, workplace safety concerns with legislators
02-12-2024 6:36 PM

By DOMENIC POLI

GREENFIELD — Four women representing western Massachusetts in the state Legislature visited Greenfield Community College on Monday for a panel discussion about health care with second-year nursing students.State Sen. Jo Comerford was joined by state...


Neal, McGovern: $78B tax bill a win for families
02-02-2024 5:34 PM

By ALEXANDER MACDOUGALL and CHRIS LARABEE

SPRINGFIELD — U.S. Rep. Richard Neal touted a new tax relief bill passed by the House of Representatives this week, and shared his views on U.S. foreign policy during a gathering with the press on Friday morning.Speaking at the atrium inside the...


Senate passes gun law reforms, 37-3
02-02-2024 3:11 PM

By SAM DRYSDALE

BOSTON — The Senate on Thursday night approved a sweeping overhaul of state firearms laws, setting up talks with the House that could lead to a major new law later this spring or summer.The Senate bill seeks to rein in untraceable ghost guns, bans...


PFAS, slew of other agriculture-related bills on the move on Beacon Hill
02-01-2024 3:33 PM

By SCOTT MERZBACH

NORTHAMPTON — Prohibiting PFAS from consumer products sold in Massachusetts remains an objective for Sen. Jo Comerford, who sees a recently advanced legislative bill to protect soil and farms from such contamination as an important first step to...


As solar array and battery storage debate heats up, Whately backs municipal zoning bill
01-19-2024 2:04 PM

By CHRIS LARABEE

WHATELY — Joining several neighboring communities in the Pioneer Valley, Whately’s Selectboard has signaled its support to write a letter to the Legislature advocating for legislation that could allow municipalities more control over solar energy...


McGovern files bill to aid victims of scams, disasters
01-16-2024 4:31 PM

By JAMES PENTLAND

WASHINGTON — Pushing for action at the federal level to assist homeowners who are afflicted by crumbling foundations, U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern has filed legislation dubbed the Tax Relief for Victims of Crimes, Scams and Disasters Act.Co-sponsored by...


Slew of farm bills advancing on Beacon Hill
01-03-2024 1:04 PM

By SCOTT MERZBACH

A permanent disaster relief fund to assist farmers devastated by acts of nature, and providing farmers more flexibility for using their properties once they are protected in the Agricultural Preservation Restriction program, are among the bills the...


GCC professor speaks out in TV ad for CHERISH Act
12-26-2023 2:49 PM

By MARY BYRNE

GREENFIELD — A Greenfield Community College professor is one of three Massachusetts educators featured in a new television ad urging lawmakers to pass the CHERISH Act, which seeks to provide a more affordable path to a college degree for students and...


Clean energy lobby says it’s ‘get serious’ time; state not on track to meet 2030 goals
12-21-2023 6:03 PM

By CHRIS LISINSKI

BOSTON — Massachusetts will fail to hit a major emissions reduction requirement in 2030 unless Beacon Hill passes significant legislation to accelerate progress, leaders of a top advocacy group warned this week.As plans begin to take shape for the...


Bill seeks to relax forest management practices
11-30-2023 6:28 PM

By BELLA LEVAVI

BOSTON — Multiple Franklin County and North Quabbin residents testified Wednesday in favor of a bill that aims to change forest management and conservation efforts in the state. H.4150, “An act relative to forest protection” filed by state Rep....


Hearing shows rifts over extent of gun regulation
11-29-2023 3:37 PM

By SAM DRYSDALE

BOSTON — Most lawmakers seem to agree that something needs to be done about so-called “ghost guns,” but a fierce debate continues about the extent of additional gun regulation such as restricting where legal gun owners can carry and updating the...

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