As former District Attorney of Norfolk County, Bill understands the vital role that our police, firefighters, and emergency responders play in keeping our community safe. He has continually supported our local public safety departments throughout his time in Congress.
In response to a disturbing 2015 exposé by the Boston Globe, Bill introduced the Prevent Repeat Offenders Act of 2015. This legislation seeks to remedy a loophole that allows the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to release convicted sex offenders from their custody without registering them in accordance with the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act. Bill’s legislation remedies this loophole and requires ICE to handle and register convicted sex offenders in the same manner as required by the federal Bureau of Prisons, including notifying local authorities.
Bill has secured federal funding through Assistance to Firefighter Grants (AFG), run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The purpose of the AFG program is to meet the firefighting and emergency response needs of fire departments and nonaffiliated emergency medical service organizations. AFG grants often help local emergency response units to obtain critically needed supplies, resources, and equipment, such as emergency vehicles, protective gear, and staff training opportunities. In 2014, towns within the Ninth District received well over $1 million in AFG funding.
Bill has also worked with many towns throughout the district in order to obtain Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grants. SAFER grants are designed to provide funding to fire departments and volunteer firefighter organizations to help them increase or maintain the number of trained firefighters available within the community. This funding was especially critical to Fall River, who received over $2 million to maintain a fully functioning department.
Since coming to Congress in 2011, Bill has been ringing the alarm bell with respect to airport perimeter security. He led a field hearing in September 2011 at Logan Airport, where TSA officials, airport security experts, and GAO officials discussed the importance of and what is lacking in airport security and has participated in field hearings on airport security in New York. He enlisted Democratic leaders on the Homeland Security Committee to support a request to update all reports on perimeter security at airports. GAO is conducting this study. As the leader in Congress on perimeter security issues, Bill is now working with newly-confirmed TSA Administrator Neffenger, who has ordered a top-to-bottom review of our airports’ perimeters.
Bill was the first Member of Congress to hold FEMA accountable for inaccurate implementation of new flood maps for Massachusetts – an error that would cost policy holders’ rates to skyrocket. Recognizing that something was amiss with the recently released flood maps, Bill requested an independent review of the maps by a scientist and engineer affiliated with UMass Dartmouth’s School of Marine Science and Technology and Applied Coastal Research and Engineering, respectively. Their findings, detailed in the Keating White Paper, indicated that FEMA applied an inappropriate methodology for our region when establishing the new flood zone maps.
The error uncovered by the Keating White Paper was cited as evidence by local towns and homeowners against FEMA, and assisted with the successful delay in implementing the maps in Plymouth County.
Recognizing the devastating affect a dramatic increase in flood insure would be to home owners, small business owners, and our housing market, Bill continued working to ensure that incorrect data and maps would not be a problem for communities in the future. In March 2014, the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act was signed into law, including the Keating Provision requiring FEMA to notify communities and Members of Congress of remapping, mandating FEMA work with communities on appropriate data and models, and requiring FEMA to certify that future flood zone maps are drawn using the most up-to-date, accurate science available.