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Kennedy files bill to give ratepayers chance to review electricity rate decisions

Michael Holtzman, The Fall River Herald

A bill filed by U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III to ensure ratepayers have the right to appeal electricity rates reviewed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission went through congressional subcommittee hearings Tuesday with supportive testimony, Kennedy said.

His action — combined with that of U.S. Sen. Edward Markey, who the same day introduced a companion version of the bill — included a separate joint letter to President Barack Obama seeking nomination of a critical fifth member to FERC.

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Forcing the conversation on mental health

Kevin Cullen, The Boston Globe

Joe Kennedy walked into Zaftigs in Brookline the other day and ordered the one thing that has kept him upright the last three weeks: coffee.

He and his wife, Lauren, just had their first child, Eleanor, and Ellie Kennedy is already running the show, deciding who sleeps and who doesn’t.

Having watched his wife in action, Kennedy now knows women are the superior gender, that if men could get pregnant, paternity leave would begin at the moment of conception and last for years.

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Kennedy: U.S. must be ready to sanction Iran

Congressman Joe Kennedy III, The Boston Herald

The weekend before last was an historic moment in American diplomacy. International inspectors certified that Iran had shipped 25,000 pounds of low-enriched uranium to Russia, removed the core of the Arak reactor, and dismantled more than 13,000 centrifuges. Iran’s nuclear infrastructure is no longer on the threshold of weaponization and it has fulfilled its commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. That is undeniably good news.

Successful implementation of the plan does not, however, mark the end of the risks that Iran poses to the United States and to our allies. That’s because the agreement was, by design, limited to Iran’s nuclear program. Left untouched by the nuclear accord are the regime’s ongoing support for terrorist organizations, violations of human rights, and illegal development of a ballistic missile system. Across these three areas, Iran continues to violate international law and foment unrest in the most volatile region in the world.

In October, Iran launched a ballistic missile in clear violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions separate from the nuclear agreement. In November, Iran launched another.

In December, the Iranian Navy fired rockets in the Strait of Hormuz within 1,500 yards of the USS Harry Truman and the brave men and women serving aboard it. And while the recent release of five Americans unjustly imprisoned in Iran is good news, the last-minute attempts to detain prisoners’ family members prove the government of Iran still has a long way to go to earn our trust.

These actions signal that while the Iran nuclear deal is a diplomatic milestone, it is going to be implemented in an environment where Iran will continue to test the boundaries of how far it can push.  When Iran launched those ballistic missiles last year, flaunting the very technology that could be used to carry a nuclear weapon beyond its borders, its leaders knowingly violated international law. Yet they chose to move forward with the launches, testing not only their technology but also the world’s willingness to hold them accountable.

The international community met those tests with silence. Congress cannot afford to do the same.

Earlier this month, I introduced the bipartisan Zero Tolerance for Terror Act to ensure that Congress can hold Iran accountable for violations of international law. The bill would do two things. First, it would affirm that non-nuclear sanctions can be imposed at any time for non-nuclear offenses, making clear that nothing in the nuclear deal prevents the United States from applying future sanctions on Iran related to terrorism, human rights, and ballistic missile technology. These new sanctions, like the ones announced last week, would be outside the scope of the nuclear deal and would not give the government of Iran any cause to back away from its commitments under that agreement.

Second, the bill would allow Congress to quickly consider and impose new sanctions without procedural delay if the government of Iran commits acts of terror that threaten American interests, provides support for terrorist organizations that do the same, or acquires ballistic missile technology in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions. Introduced with two Democrats and two Republicans, the bill has received continued bipartisan support from members of Congress who both supported and opposed the nuclear deal.

The ballistic missile sanctions announced by the White House a week ago Sunday demonstrate to Iran, and to our allies around the world, that compliance with international law is not optional. Iran’s leaders answered the new sanctions with defiant claims that it will continue to advance its missile development program, underscoring our need to remain vigilant in the years ahead.

Implementation of the nuclear deal gives Iran an historic opportunity to reap the benefits of sanctions relief and make sorely needed investments in the Iranian people and their potential. If Iranian leaders choose instead to cheat the nuclear deal, support terror, and flaunt an arsenal of ballistic missiles, my bill makes clear that Congress stands ready to respond.

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Bristol County designated High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area; gets additional police assistance to battle opioid abuse

Jim Hand, The Attleboro Sun Chronicle

The good news is that the federal government will be making more resources available to Bristol County police departments in the near future. The bad news is that the county became eligible for the help because its heroin addiction problem is so bad.

The federal Office of National Drug Control Policy announced Thursday that Bristol County has been designated a high intensity drug trafficking area, making it eligible for federal funding.

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Kennedy sponsors bill to sanction Iran in case of misdeeds

Jim Hand, The Attleboro Sun Chronicle

With concern growing over Iran testing ballistic missiles, U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III has proposed a bill that would authorize Congress to quickly impose sanctions against the country as a deterrent.

The bill by Kennedy, D-Brookline, would give Congress the ability to “fast track” sanctions against Iran if it is shown to be engaging in terrorism, supporting terrorism or testing ballistic missiles in violation of international law.

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