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December 28, 2013

A Lovely year on Beacon Hill

With one year on the job, Sen. Joan Lovely has found some surprises, lots of work

(Continued)

Life as a state senator has meant a busy schedule, weekly office hours in the district, service on committees, and lots of work getting up to speed on issues, particularly those in her mental health and substance abuse committee. “It’s a seven-day-a-week job, but I knew that going in,” she said. On Christmas Eve day, for example, she did a newspaper interview while driving to a meeting in the district.

For all that, Lovely points to key first-year efforts, including work on controlling the tolls North Shore residents pay to get to Boston. She supported photo IDs for those receiving government benefits. And she voted with colleagues to increase Chapter 90 (highway) aid from $200 million to $300 million.

“The governor (Deval Patrick) is the one that releases these funds,” she said. “But he only released $200 million. Cities and towns were counting on that $100 million. ... He’s sitting on it.”

Additionally, Lovely helped pass a home rule petition allowing Peabody to take its police chief out of Civil Service, giving the mayor more flexibility in hiring a replacement when former Chief Robert Champagne retired. A parking garage was approved for Beverly — she praises Rep. Jerry Parisella’s work on that one. And she supported increased spending for the developmentally disabled.

Lovely credits her staff and regular advice from Fred Berry, the respected former majority leader, with easing her way. Looking ahead, with a November election on her calendar, she hopes to address homelessness and its cost in towns like Danvers, where local motels provide emergency shelter.

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