Mar 13
on February 11, 2017 at 6:09 PM, updated February 11, 2017 at 6:22 PM
SPRINGFIELD -- Supporters of Planned Parenthood packed the steps of City Hall on Saturday, demanding greater access to reproductive health care for women across the country. The afternoon rally, dubbed "Our Bodies, Our Justice," drew about 100 people who are opposed to national efforts to strip the community health organization of taxpayer funding. Activists and elected officials also called on Congress to leave the Affordable Care Act in place and, at the state level, urged passage of the Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.
Organizers offered free buses from Amherst and Northampton. "We are at a point right now where it is all hands on deck," said Jossie Valentin, a Holyoke city councilor who spoke at the rally. "The pressure is working." Valentin said supporters of women's reproductive freedom should continue to demonstrate, and hold their leaders accountable at the ballot box. "If they are not representing you, you will vote them out!" she said. State Reps. Aaron Vega, D-Holyoke, and John Scibak, D-South Hadley, offered their support as well. Vega said the Trump administration is "shortsighted about where we are in history and what we've accomplished, and ill-informed about what Planned Parenthood really is about." He said his wife relied on Planned Parenthood for health care when she lacked insurance. In addition to OB-GYN services, Planned Parenthood offers physicals, diabetes and anemia screening, certain vaccines, men's sexual health care, and prostate and colon cancer screening. (more…)
Oct 31
Charter schools came out of the 1993 Massachusetts Education Reform Act. Charter schools are public schools run by a board of trustees, and they operate independent of the local school board but answer to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Carolee McGrath sat down with second Hampshire District Representative John Scibak and mom Yolanda Cancel who are not opposed to charter schools, but are opposed to ballot question 2, which would lift the cap on them that currently exists. They believe that lifting the cap will hurt students in public schools by diverting funds away from them.
Oct 31
Thursday, October 27, 2016
Voters in South Hadley and a number of other communities, including Boston, Holyoke and Springfield, will have a ballot question on Nov. 8 regarding the Community Preservation Act (CPA). Before casting that vote, South Hadley residents should consider the following questions: 1. Should South Hadley seek all available state funds for community housing, open space, recreation, and historic preservation rather than relying exclusively on local property taxes? 2. Would you consider a 25 percent to 100 percent match on an investment a good return for your money? 3. Should we receive a portion of the community’s deed-recording fees which currently go to 161 other communities but not South Hadley? 4. Should low-income residents and both low- and moderate-income senior citizens be exempt from the CPA surcharge which would be $35 annually per the average South Hadley household?
Oct 31
kulik stan and scibak.jpg
Rep. Steve Kulik (D-Worthington), Sen. Pres. Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst) and Rep. John Scibak (D-South Hadley) appealed to state utility regulators for full intervenor status in the matter of Berkshire Gas and its ongoing moratorium on new and expanded service. August 31, 2016, Greenfield. (Mary Serreze photo)
By Mary Serreze | Special to The Republican on September 04, 2016 at 1:30 PM, updated September 04, 2016 at 1:36 PM
BOSTON — Four towns and six state legislators have been granted permission by state utility regulators to fully participate in high-level discussions regarding Berkshire Gas Co. and its moratorium on new and expanded service in the Pioneer Valley. However, Pipe Line Awareness Network for the North East (PLAN-NE), a broad coalition which opposes new natural gas pipelines, was rejected in its bid for a seat at the table. The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities on Wednesday approved interventions by Deerfield, Montague, Amherst and Hadley, and a joint intervention by Sen. President Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst) and Reps. Steve Kulik (D-Worthington), Ellen Story (D-Amherst), Peter Kocot (D-Northampton), John Scibak (D-South Hadley) and Paul Mark D-Peru). The lawmakers represent the affected towns. The department made the announcements the day after a Greenfield hearing where Rosenberg read joint testimony from the lawmakers. Rosenberg told DPU Chairman Angela O'Connor that "harm will occur if we are denied intervenor status," and that alternatives to lift the moratorium must be fully explored in the absence of a new, interstate natural gas pipeline. Berkshire in 2014 and 2015 stopped all new and expanded natural gas service in eight Hampshire and Franklin County towns, citing pipeline constraints. Berkshire said the moratorium would stay until Kinder Morgan's Northeast Energy Direct pipeline was built. However, Kinder Morgan pulled the plug on the 420-mile pipeline in April. Rosenberg and others have since pressured Berkshire to devise a "Plan B," saying the moratorium is unacceptable. (more…)
Oct 31
John Scibak
State Rep. John Scibak, D-South Hadley, sharing his thoughts on the controversial 40B affordable housing law during an event organized by Know Your Town on Feb. 26, 2015 held a t the high school library (JIM RUSSELL PHOTO)
Jim Russell | Special to The Republican By Jim Russell | Special to The Republican on February 27, 2015 at 3:31 PM
SOUTH HADLEY — Rep. John Scibak, D-South Hadley, said he supports the state's controversial 40B law intended to promote affordable housing, but at a public forum Thursday he said the measure has been abused and is working with other legislators to reform it. Rivercrest Condominiums, LLC was involved in a protracted, years-long affray with a number of South Hadley residents who opposed the company's effort to build a housing development off of Ferry Street
Know Your Town eventAbout 50 attended the Know Your Town event addressing the state's 40B law
The town's planning board rejected their 27-unit proposal in 2011, saying it did not comport with South Hadley zoning regulations. But Rivercrest subsequently applied for and was granted a state 40B permit that exempted the project from town zoning laws. Their 40B housing plans more than doubled the Ferry Street project to 60 units. The permit was contingent on Rivercrest promising to sell 15 condos at lower than market value – what the state deems "affordable." Projects under 40B projects can spring up in any city or town where affordable housing ratio is less than 10 percent, which the state determines. South Hadley's proportion is at 5.6 percent. Data provide by the company in 2013, when the 40B permit was secured, showed Riverside would sell market rate units at $195,000; the affordable condos at $165,000 for the 1,166-square-foot units. (more…)
Jun 17
Jun 26
Feb 14

House Preserves $9M in Local Aid

BOSTON – State Representative John W. Scibak joined his colleagues in the Massachusetts House of Representatives in approving a $115 million supplemental budget that stops the Governor from taking 1% from the $899 million unrestricted general government aid account, thus preserving $9 million. “I commend my colleagues in the House for voting to preserve these monies that have proven essential in this economic downturn,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo. “Aware of the widespread concern amongst constituents and state officials alike, we will once again look to maintain local aid as a top priority as the FY ‘14 budget-balancing process begins.” “Particularly during tough economic times, we have to do all we can to protect the vital programs funded through local aid,” said Chairman Brian S. Dempsey of the House Ways and Means Committee. “We understand how essential this funding is for our communities. Local aid is a priority and, with this vote, the House continues to prove that fact.” “We applaud the members of the Massachusetts House of Representatives for standing with their cities and towns and preserving $9 million in essential local aid,” said Geoffrey C. Beckwith, the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Municipal Association. “Communities use these funds to pay for police and fire protection, schools, public works and much more, and this vote by the House is very good news for local citizens and taxpayers all across the state.”
Sep 05
"EASTHAMPTON - At a forum Tuesday, public officials and representatives of the construction firm that will replace the Route 10 bridge over the Manhan River pledged to do their best to minimize the impact of what they say is the unavoidable six-month closure set to start next March. "There's no question it's going to inconvenience people," said state Rep. John Scibak, D-South Hadley, addressing the approximately 70 city residents and business owners at the forum. "The question is, How can we do it to lessen that inconvenience?" At the one-hour informational meeting, members of the public questioned a panel that included Scibak, state Sen. Michael Knapik, R-Westfield, Mayor Michael Tautznik, and representatives from the state's Department of Transportation (MassDOT) and Northern Construction Service, the company charged with completing the $3.75 million project..." Read the full article.
Aug 03

State Representative John W. Scibak (D-South Hadley) joined his colleagues in the Massachusetts House of Representatives today in celebrating recent session accomplishments as the Legislature breaks for elections.

As of Tuesday, July 31st, the House passed major legislation pertaining to economic development, health care cost containment, the MBTA, criminal justice, and aid for citizens and municipalities across the Commonwealth. “With a strong focus on creating jobs and improving Massachusetts’ innovation economy by cutting costs and streamlining the state’s higher education system, I am proud to say that the House of Representatives had one of the most productive sessions in recent memory,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo. “In addition to creating jobs, the House paid due attention to the needs of small businesses, families, and municipalities while also passing several important reforms that will improve the quality of life for everyone in Massachusetts in the future.” With an eye to offsetting the pain of the economic downturn, the House closed the session by passing two major pieces of legislation that create jobs and curb health care costs on patients and business, respectively. The House placed creating and retaining jobs at the center of its agenda. It sent to the Governor a strong piece of legislation that implements strategically-focused economic development policies to make Massachusetts more competitive. The bill achieves that by improving the Commonwealth’s innovation economy, promoting economic prosperity through infrastructure investments and streamlined permitting, facilitating the expansion of new and existing businesses, and training our workforce for the future. The bill also places a unique focus on the “innovation economy” as one of the pillars of Massachusett’s economic future. Few issues burden families and businesses as much as the high cost of health care. Accordingly, the House worked on historic health care cost containment legislation that addresses the unsustainable cost of health care while allowing the health care industry to continue to provide world-class quality care. The bill aims to empower patients and assist hospitals while streamlining health care in the Commonwealth through the use of electronic health records. Under this law, patients will be provided with more tools to make informed decisions as they pertain to care and cost and struggling hospitals will get assistance from a Distressed Hospital Fund. Aware of the tough economic circumstance some families find themselves in, the House took action to protect homeowners who have fallen victim to predatory mortgages and unnecessary foreclosures. Under this legislation, lenders and banks will have to offer loan modifications to borrowers in certain circumstances so that foreclosure can be avoided. Also at the end of session, the House approved a tough sentencing bill that cracks down on habitual offenders and establishes new requirements to improve the functions of the state parole board. After much deliberation, the House approved a bill that requires the habitual offender tag to be placed on anyone convicted of two crimes from a list of the most serious offenses, including murder, rape and kidnapping. It mandates that any habitual offender found guilty of a third offense from the list of most serious crimes would be ineligible for parole. The balanced bill also reduces mandatory minimum sentences for certain drug offenses. These major successes have built upon the successes of last year wherein the House worked to pass myriad legislation pertaining to municipal health care, court reorganization, and expanded gaming. (more…)