Belmont State Rep. Rogers Co-Sponsors Bill Legalizing Pot in Bay State

Photo: State Rep. Dave Rogers.

For many Bay State residents, it is high time for Massachusetts to follow the lead of states and make marijuana legal.

Belmont’s State Rep. Dave Rogers has heard your pleas.

Rogers, who represents the 24th Middlesex (“ABC”) district including Belmont and precincts in Arlington and Cambridge, and State Sen. Pat Jehlen of Somerville filed a bill (H. 1561) today, Friday, March 13, to legalize, regulate and tax cannabis like alcohol. The bill has 13 co-sponsors.

Under the bill, adults over the age of 21 will be allowed to possess and grow a limited amount of marijuana, joining Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Alaska where marijuana is legal for recreational use.

Massachusetts passed a medical marijuana

The legislation is being pushed by the Marijuana Policy Project which is preparing to place a question on the 2016 Massachusetts general election ballot if this bill fails to pass in the current legislative year.

Rogers and Jehlen consider a ballot question “too blunt of an instrument to establish the complex system necessary to legalize marijuana in a transparent, responsible, and safe manner,” said Jehlen.

Legislation will “allow a full and open legislative debate on this subject, providing an opportunity for policymakers to receive input from a wide variety of stakeholders,” she said.

Last year, State Senate President Stanley Rosenberg created a special committee to investigate how and if the state should legalize marijuana, establishing a structure for the legislature to examine the issue in depth.

“If marijuana is going to be legalized in Massachusetts, we should craft the law properly through an open and deliberative legislative process,” said Jehlen.

Belmont’s Rogers Named ‘River Friend’

Photo: Massachusetts Rivers Alliance Executive Director Julia Blatt presents State Rep. Dave Rogers with River Friend Award. (photo by Mark P. Smith)

The Massachusetts Rivers Alliance recognized Belmont State Rep. Dave Rogers with a “River Friend” award for his outstanding contributions to the restoration and protection of the Commonwealth’s rivers during the alliance’s annual meeting in Belmont.

Although only in his first term, Rogers played a key role in allowing water reform rules to continue to move forward this year, despite opposition by some legislators. The new rules, developed by the Patrick administration over five years with the help of a large stakeholder group, will improve protection for dry rivers throughout the state.

“Rep. Rogers understood what was at stake and quickly jumped in to save this initiative,” said Julia Blatt, Massachusetts Rivers Alliance’s executive director.

“He knew just what to do, and didn’t hesitate to stand up for our rivers.  We are grateful to him for his quick action.”

Rogers was recognized along with his State House colleagues, state Rep. Carolyn Dykema and state Sen. Jamie Eldridge. Longtime Ipswich River advocate and Alliance founder Kerry Mackin, was also honored.

The Massachusetts Rivers Alliance is a nonprofit organization that protects and restores the Commonwealth’s rivers of and provides a unified voice for river protection in the state. Founded in 2007, the Alliance mobilizes and coordinates its members on issues including water pollution, stream flow, and wildlife habitat.

Unchallenged, Belmont’s State Legislators Re-Election Secured Early

It’s a fairly good bet that Belmont residents will be coming out in large numbers for this year’s primary (Sept. 9) and general (Nov. 4) elections. With wide-open contests for most of the big state offices including governor and plenty of ballot questions – a statewide casino ban and paid sick leave – voters should be staying up into the night viewing results.But it will be early evenings for Belmont’s Beacon Hill representatives; while there’s tremendous interest in a wide array of political races on the 2014 ballot, State Sen. Will Brownsberger and State Rep. Dave Rogers find their re-election paths unimpeded by potential challengers for their elected offices.

For Brownsberger – who represents the 2nd Suffolk & Middlesex which includes his Belmont hometown, Watertown and precincts in Boston and Cambridge – after seemingly running continuously for the past several election cycles, “[i]t’s a relief.

“I’ve had a campaign every year in each of the last four years and I welcome the breather,” said won a special election for his current seat in early 2012 but was defeated last year in the race to replace Edward Markey in the US House of Representatives.

For Rogers, who won the seat in a 2012 special election to replace Brownsberger representing the House’s 24th Middlesex, the “ABC” district – comprising precincts in Arlington, Belmont and parts of Rogers’ hometown of Cambridge – while he enjoys campaigning, there is the downside of gladhanding with residents.

“It is a highly time-intensive activity that inevitably would distract any incumbent candidate from the substantive aspects of the job.”

While seemingly minor open races – such as for Lt. Governor – have people willing to throw their hats into those rings, potential challengers to Brownsberger and Rogers would be required to take on an incumbent who have solid support in their districts for their steady, if workaday, legislative records.

“It is hard to say why I do not have an opponent without getting into random speculation,” said Rogers.

“But I hope that, in part, it is a reflection of the considerable effort I am putting forth on behalf of the people I represent, effort that has yielded a number of important, positive developments for our community,” said Rogers, who points to boosting public transportation and public education funding, increasing the minimum wage to the highest in the nation as recent accomplishments.

“Hopefully, people feel I’m doing a good job,” suggested Brownsberger.

In addition, the legislators have the ability to raise the cash needed to run a primary campaign. I probably didn’t go unnoticed by anyone with political ambitions in the “ABC” district that popular Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick would come straight from Logan to highlight Rogers’ fundraiser earlier in the year.

With re-election all but certain, Brownsberger and Rogers are gearing up for the next legislative year in advance of the election of a new governor.

“I’m getting more done than ever before,” said Brownsberger, who was recently appointed by Senate leadership to co-chair the prominent Judiciary Joint Committee.

“I feel I’m hitting my stride and taking on a lot of responsibility in the legislature. I am delivering a lot of value for my district and the Commonwealth,” he said.

“When Patrick came to Belmont in April to endorse me at my re-election campaign kickoff, he told a large, enthusiastic crowd that I had shown political courage on Beacon Hill. I had championed the values and voted for the public policy goals about which my constituents care, even when at times under fairly intense pressure to vote a different way,” said Rogers.

“I believe that I have hit the ground running, and I look forward to continuing service to the community. It’s very hard work, but it’s also a great honor, deeply rewarding and a lot of fun,” he said.

Belmont’s Jennifer Page Honored as a State Unsung Heroine

There are many women around the state who you would call unsung heroines; those who, while not in the news, have made a difference in their communities

Every spring, the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women and both bodies of the Massachusetts state legislature come together to celebrate “Unsung Heroines” from across the Commonwealth. This year, State Rep. Dave Rogers nominate Jennifer Page for the honor.

Belmont first got to know the Stanley Road resident through her work with the Belmont Committee for a Nuclear Weapons Freeze. Long active in local politics, she is a long-serving and widely respected Town Meeting member. As a member of the Vision 21 Committee and as chair of the Vision 21 Implementation Committee, Page helped preside over a wide-ranging conversation about Belmont’s future and take steps to bring changes to Belmont that were consistent with the Vision’s philosophy. As part of this effort, she was instrumental in establishing Sustainable Belmont.

Also as part of her work with the Town’s Vision, she helped to found Meet Belmont, one of Belmont’s best-attended and most informative events for new and long-time residents. Page also encourages organizations she touches to embrace open dialogue and to value a multitude of perspectives, qualities from which Belmont continues to benefit. Residents can see first-hand Page’s influence on Belmont by attending Meet Belmont which will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 26 in the Chenery Middle School cafeteria from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.