Payano Calls for Auto Insurance Formula Change to Reduce Costs in Urban Areas

State Sen. Pavel Payano, representing Lawrence, Haverhill and Methuen, wants to reduce auto insurance rates in urban areas by making the statewide average part of the rating formula. Payano and other lawmakers are looking to change how heavily a resident’s ZIP code weighs in determining the cost of their auto insurance, claiming that people of color in low-income and urban areas pay higher rates. But insurance companies say the move would take away one of the only tools left for them to determine rates, and could raise insurance payments for all. “Right now in Massachusetts, residents living in urban and diverse communities are being forced to pay substantially more than their suburban counterparts for auto insurance,” said Payano, who filed a bill that would change the rating formula to give no more than 75% weight to a person’s local area and 25% weight to a statewide average, aimed at tempering the rates in urban areas. Payano based the formula off of Connecticut’s insurance rating territory policy.

New State Economic Development Undersecretary Stanton Launched Career at Haverhill City Hall

One of the new undersecretaries in the reorganized state Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development received her start as a Haverhill City Hall staffer 16 years ago. Sarah A. Stanton is taking charge of one of the “three pillars of economic development,” Economic Strategies, under Housing and Economic Development Secretary Yvonne Hao. Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini told WHAV he hired Stanton right out of school as his executive assistant. He said he is not surprised by her advancement over the years. “She was a really bright kid.

Rep. Vargas Secures Haverhill-Specific Business, Housing, Art and Reading Grants in Budget

Grants of $50,000 each to Haverhill groups to support small business, defray the cost of building accessory apartments at private homes, help pay for a public art project and aid grade-level reading are among priorities Haverhill Rep. Andy X. Vargas won this week in amendments to the House spending plan. Vargas also said support for veterans’ programs, repairs at two city parks and permanent free school meals were included in the proposed state budget for the year beginning July 1. The budget remains to be reconciled with a state Senate version and be signed by Gov. Maura Healey to take effect. “This balanced budget represents the needs of families and of Haverhill. The funding secured for local projects will help our community’s veterans, assist in restoring our parks, support public art and boost accessible housing,” Vargas said in a statement.

Regional School Districts Welcome Plans for Higher State Transportation Reimbursement

Though regional school districts could receive more money to pay for student transportation than they’ve received in years through Gov. Maura Healey’s current budget proposal, the Massachusetts Association of School Committees says it is still hoping for long-promised full help from the state. The law entitles regional school districts, such as those in rural areas, to a 100% reimbursement for school transportation expenses, but state funding has consistently fallen short of this benchmark, leaving municipalities to pick up the expenses. Locally, Pentucket Regional School District Superintendent Justin Bartholomew has repeatedly raised similar concerns during interviews over WHAV. Association President Andrea Wadsworth said the state originally promised to reimburse the costs as an incentive to regionalize districts that take up large areas of land but have fewer students, where bus rides are longer and more expensive. It has been funded around 65 to 75% for the past few years, meaning Healey’s commitment to cover 90 percent of the cost to get students to school was well-received by municipal leaders at the Local Government Advisory Committee.

In Case of Mistaken Identity on the State’s Part, Ruth’s House is Not Security Grant Recipient

It was a grant of a lifetime…and then it wasn’t. Yesterday, WHAV reported Ruth’s House, a popular Lafayette Square thrift shop with a charitable mission, was to receive a nearly $100,000 state grant to bolster security. The information came Wednesday in a press release from the state Office of Grants and Research. The release clearly listed “Ruth’s House, Haverhill, $98,797.02” under Commonwealth Nonprofit Security Grant Program. Unfortunately, the state admitted Thursday, that despite listing “Haverhill” specifically, the grant was actually awarded to JGS Housing Services, doing business as Ruth’s House of Longmeadow, a nonprofit assisted living facility.

State Awards Nearly $100,000 Grant to Ruth’s House of Haverhill to Upgrade Security

See update here. Ruth’s House of Haverhill will update its security thanks to a Commonwealth Nonprofit Security Grant announced Wednesday. The Lafayette Square nonprofit was awarded $98,797 under a state program to assist at-risk organizations with on-site security measures. It was part of $3 million given to 47 organizations at “increased risk of hate crimes or terror attacks.”

“Today’s recipient organizations contribute immeasurably to the life of our Commonwealth as nonprofits fulfilling unique missions,” said Gov. Maura Healey. “The security enhancements made possible by this funding ensure their continued preparedness against potential threats.

Former Andover Town Employee Pays $9,000 State Ethics Fine For Accepting $17,500

Former Andover Youth Services Assistant Director Glenn Wilson paid a $9,000 fine for violating state ethics laws by receiving money from a nonprofit related to his employment and because of his position as a town employee. The state Ethics Commission said Tuesday Wilson signed an agreement, admitting to the violations and he waived his right to a hearing. According to the Commission, in 2016, Wilson and Andover Youth Services Director William Fahey met with the president of the private nonprofit Hurston Family Foundation, who proposed the foundation would provide funding for Andover Youth Services for building maintenance, programming and staff. Subsequently, it was agreed Hurston Family Foundation would send the money to another private nonprofit, Andover Youth Foundation, which would in turn pay Andover Youth Services. The first donation in May 2016, earmarked $3,000 for payments of $500 each to Wilson, Fahey, and four other Andover Youth Services staff.

Sens. Finegold and Payano Hail Senate Passage of Housing, Education, Safety Net Bill

Last week, the Massachusetts Senate passed legislation that makes investments in housing, education and key safety net programs.

According to a joint press release from Sens. Barry R. Finegold and Pavel Payano, the bill extends programs first implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic and adds $814.3 billion in bond borrowing to support economic development projects across the Commonwealth. “I am especially grateful to see over $85 million allocated for housing, including $45 million for emergency shelter assistance. Housing in our Commonwealth is less affordable today than at any time in modern history. These funds will go a long way in supporting the work of local organizations in districts like mine, where the demand for affordable housing far outweighs the supply,” said Payano

Overall, the bill provides $368.7 million to various essential social services, including $130 million for SNAP food assistance benefits, $68 million for the Early Education C3 stabilization grant program, $65 million for the continuation of free school meals, $45 million for emergency shelter assistance and more than $40 million to support affordable housing for immigrants and refugees.