BY: Ken Hamwey, Bellingham Bulletin, Sep 28, 2017
Ryan Fattman (R-Sutton) has been Bellingham’s state senator for three years after serving as a state representative for two terms. The former Sutton Selectman, who’s a member of the Senate’s Revenue Committee and also the Post Audit and Oversight Committee, provided the Bulletin with details of several bills and initiatives he has filed for the fall legislative session...
Besides Bellingham, Fattman’s district includes Milford, Mendon, Hopedale, Blackstone, Millville, Uxbridge, Northbridge, Sutton, Douglas, Webster, and Dudley. The 33-year-old legislator and his wife, Stephanie, moved from Webster to Sutton in June; they have a 15-month-old daughter (Hadley Rea). Fattman (pictured right) earned his bachelor’s degree in political science and economics from Suffolk University and has a master’s in public policy from Tufts University.
Following is a thumbnail look at Fattman’s priorities and how some of his bills and advocacy projects will affect Bellingham residents:
• The town of Bellingham has applied for a MassWorks grant of $1.68 million to support the reconstruction of the intersection at Route 140 and Maple Street.
”The Route 140/Maple Street reconstruction project will unlock for immediate construction 427,500 square feet of new industrial space,’’ Fattman said. ”The new private development project represents a $40-million private investment that is expected to generate $840,000 in new annual tax revenue for the town and create 100-plus new jobs for Bellingham and the Metrowest region. The private project is fully permitted and construction is expected to begin this fall.’’
Fattman is advocating for the grant on behalf of the town. He has spoken to Lt. Governor Karen Polito; the Governor’s office; Jay Ash, the Secretary of Housing and Economic Development; and Acting Dept. of Transportation Director Jonathan Gulliver. He said he will continue to push the project so that Bellingham can have more local tax revenue.
”The Route 140/Maple Street Reconstruction Project also has a long-term economic benefit for the town,’’ Fattman said. The town has adopted as-of-right (compliant) commercial and industrial zoning on hundreds of acres along Route 140 and Maple Street. Despite the town’s best efforts at attracting economic development to these sites, prospective companies and developers have cited the under-performing Route 140/Maple Street intersection as an impediment to new growth. Improving the intersection is a key component to the town’s overall economic development success.’’
Fattman emphasized that the grant is a crucial component of the town’s economic development strategy and the town’s Community Compact agreement with the state. ”If approved, the MassWorks investment will be matched by $546,000 in private funds by Campanelli Company and $200,000 in municipal funds to cover the full cost of the $2.43 million public infrastructure improvement,’’ he said.
• An assault on a police officer in Massachusetts is a misdemeanor, but Fattman has filed a version of a bill that would make such an action a felony.
”I attended the Central Mass. Police Chiefs’ Legislative breakfast in Sutton recently and the assault issue was raised. Bellingham Police Chief Gerry Daigle mentioned afterward that he fully supported making the misdemeanor a felony,’’ Fattman said. ”Changing the action to a felony is something that’s important to him, and there’s no doubt that we need more respect for people who put their lives on the line every day. A senate hearing dealt with the issue and a vote should be coming soon.’’
• Foster children often move from one household to another but their records don’t always follow. Bellingham resident Erin Tracy suggested that Fattman sponsor a bill that would resolve that dilemma.
”The bill would create an electronic backpack,’’ he said, ”and it was Erin who provided the idea. Bellingham has couples who take in foster children, but kids often arrive at new homes and have no medical records, no school records or immunization records. I’ve proposed a bill in conjunction with the Department of Early and Secondary Education and Health and Human Services that would create a program to allow for electronic records to be carried to and from foster-care homes. A child’s history and key records would be available to the parents.’’
• In Massachusetts, if a local police officer detains an illegal immigrant who’s committed a crime and has a detainer order issue by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), the suspect can be held for 48 hours until an ICE official arrives and takes the individual into custody.
Fattman noted that the Supreme Judicial Court has ruled that the process is illegal and for it to be legal a bill must be filed and passed. Fattman said that the ICE detainment process was implemented by the Obama administration in bi-partisan fashion but that Gov. Charlie Baker filed a bill in July that will give local and state police the discretion to hold an individual who has an ICE detainer on record.
”The Governor’s bill, however, calls for the individual to be held for only 12 hours, after which a judicial review would be required,’’ Fattman said. ”And his bill also stipulates that a police department designate one person to be the ICE detainer. I support the Governor’s bill, but I’ve offered changes that would make the detainment time at least 24 hours and return to having any police officer carry out the detainer order, as it was previously. But I want to stress that I do not support making Massachusetts a sanctuary state for illegal immigrants.’’
Fattman indicated that the Governor’s bill will be on the legislative schedule this fall, and he believes it ”will be a major issue.’’
• Recreational marijuana is now legal in Massachusetts, but Fattman has filed two bills on the use of the substance.
”I respect the will of the voters and we have to honor their vote,’’ he said, ”but there are some devils in the details. I’ve filed a bill that requires strict labeling for edible marijuana products and another one that prohibits welfare recipients from purchasing the substance with an EBT (electronic benefit transfer) card.’’
Fattman said that a store in Colorado, where recreational marijuana is legal, can display jelly beans that are strictly all candy and close by have a batch of jelly beans that have marijuana as an ingredient. ”I want edible marijuana products labeled so that those who buy them know what they’re getting and those who are selling them properly label them,’’ he emphasized. ”I don’t want edible marijuana to be indistinguishable from a regular food product. Edible marijuana could be candy, brownies, cookies, potato chips and even alcohol.’’