MAJOR BILLS DELAYED IN CONFERENCE COMMITTEE

COMPOUNDING PHARMACY REFORM

WELFARE REFORM

MERCURY THERMOMETERS

EARLY VOTING - ELECTIONS REFORM

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

House Minority Leader’s Statement on Release of House Fiscal Year 2015 Budget

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) issued the following statement today in response to the release of the House Fiscal Year 2015 budget:

“I appreciate the work done by Chairman Dempsey and the House Committee on Ways and Means in delivering the House Fiscal Year 2015 budget.

While the Democratic-majority set an unfortunate tone to this year’s budget debate by refusing to consider amendments relative to local aid, education spending, and welfare reform, the House Republican Caucus will not be deterred.

As we begin our initial review of the spending plan, particular attention will be given to how the Fiscal Year 2015 budget attempts to addresses the Commonwealth’s continued structural imbalance. Furthermore, we as a Legislature must make considerable strides in delivering a budget that is mindful of the economic times, while producing a spending plan that delivers an accountable and transparent state government which reflects the taxpayers’ priorities, and seeks to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse.

The Republican Caucus anticipates the opportunity, albeit brief, to analyze the House budget and offer amendments which reflect the will and desire of Massachusetts residents and communities.”

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Special Elections - 4th Hampden, 16th Suffolk, and 5th Middlesex Districts

In case you forgot, today is the special election for two seats in the Massachusetts House of Representatives and one seat in the State Senate.

In the race for the 4th Hampden District, Republican Dan Allie is facing off against Democrat John Velis. This race is for the seat left vacant when Republican Don Humason of Westfield was elected to the State Senate.

The second special election contest being held today is in the 16th Suffolk District for the seat vacated by Kathi-Anne Reinstein. The race for this seat finds Republican Todd Taylor facing off against Democrat RoseLee Vincent.

Finally, the 5th Middlesex District finds Democrat, and current State Representative, Jason Lewis facing off against Melrose Alderman at Large, Monica Medeiros. The seat the two candidates are vying for was vacated when Katherine Clark was elected to the United States House of Representatives.

To find out where you vote, please click here.

Friday, March 28, 2014

House Republican Leadership Letter To Governor Patrick Regarding Justina Pelletier


March 28, 2014

His Excellency Deval L. Patrick, Governor
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
State House, Room 105
Boston, MA 02133

Dear Governor Patrick:

As you are undoubtedly aware, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts currently finds itself at the crossroads of state involvement and parental rights in the case of a young woman currently in the custody of the Department of Children and Families – Justina Pelletier. This case has captured the hearts and attention of many as we have witnessed the struggle of parents desperate to return their daughter to her home state of Connecticut in the ongoing quest to afford her the medical treatment she so desperately needs. As such, we write you today to urge you, in the strongest possible terms, to open the line of communication with Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy, and work to facilitate the safe and prompt return of Justina to Connecticut.

The case of Justina Pelletier has evolved before our very eyes, and has unfortunately been elevated to an unprecedented level. The Pelletier family, residents of Connecticut, has been forced to challenge the will of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in both the courts and through the media. While the Pelletier family continues their effort to seek the best medical care for their daughter, an ongoing struggle with the Commonwealth has placed their daughter in an untenable position, and has forced the family into an unimaginable situation – a showdown with our state over the custody of their own child.

Just this week, in a ruling by the Juvenile Court of the Commonwealth, the Honorable Joseph Johnston wrote in his disposition order that, “Heightened efforts must be undertaken by the MA DCF to place Justina in Connecticut and to transfer both the clinical and legal case to Connecticut.” We, the undersigned, agree whole-heartedly with this directive of Justice Johnston that Justina should be returned to her home state. Therefore, we urge you to pursue every means necessary, in consultation with Governor Malloy, to return Justina to Connecticut. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts can no longer be viewed as obstructionists in a family’s desire to return their daughter home to Connecticut.

We appreciate there may be a myriad of facts in this case to which we are not privy, and we are by no means interjecting ourselves into the medical diagnosis and subsequent treatment of Justina. We are, however, of the certain belief that this young woman belongs in her home state of Connecticut where she can both receive medical care and be close to her family.

We would be happy to meet with you to discuss this issue in greater detail, and we look forward to your timely attention to this extremely pressing issue.

Sincerely,

Representative Bradley H. Jones, Jr.
Minority Leader
20th Middlesex District

Representative George N. Peterson, Jr.
9th Worcester District

Representative Elizabeth A. Poirier
14th Bristol District

Representative Bradford Hill
4th Essex District

Representative Viriato Manuel deMacedo
1st Plymouth District


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

House and Senate Republican Lawmakers Decry Inaction on Unemployment Insurance Rate Freeze

With a drastic increase to the Massachusetts unemployment insurance rate taking effect during the first quarter, House and Senate Republican lawmakers have filed legislation to freeze the unemployment insurance rate at its current level. The move comes after continued inaction from the Democratic-led Legislature to act on preventing an increase to the unemployment insurance rate paid by thousands of small businesses across the Commonwealth.

  Led by House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) and Senate Minority Leader Bruce E. Tarr (R-Gloucester), Republican lawmakers are attempting to prevent a $500 million exposure to businesses, should Democratic legislators fail to act on legislation protecting hardworking entrepreneurs across Massachusetts.

“By leveraging the freeze of our state’s unemployment rate as a means to obtain their desired minimum wage level, Democratic lawmakers have signaled their willingness to use the Commonwealth’s small businesses as a pawn in their political game,” said State Representative Brad Jones. “At this time, it is an extreme disservice to businesses throughout the Commonwealth to not consider this proposal separately based on its merit. A freeze of the unemployment insurance rate is imperative for both our state’s workforce and entrepreneurs. If not approved immediately, this increase will have a negative impact on our economy.”

The effort to prevent an increase to the state’s unemployment insurance rate comes six months after Republican legislators were successful in advocating for the repeal of the crippling technology tax which was approved by Democratic lawmakers. As was the case with the largest and broadest tax on computer and software services in the nation, an increase of 33% to the rate incurred by small businesses in regards to unemployment insurance will have a long-lasting and negative effect on the businesses that are the backbone of the Massachusetts economy.

“Freezing unemployment insurance rates is critical to the viability and sustainability of employers and jobs in our state, and if we don’t act now we will be risking serious damage to our economy,” said Senator Bruce Tarr. “The House and Senate may well continue to be divided over issues like the minimum wage, but there can be no doubt that we should act immediately on behalf of the commonsense a freeze represents.”

Having been filed in both the House and Senate, House Docket 4163, An Act Relative to the Unemployment Insurance Rate, awaits assignment to a legislative committee.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

House Minority Leader Brad Jones’ Statement on Speaker DeLeo’s Proposal to Raise State’s Minimum Wage

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) issued the following statement today in response to House Speaker Robert DeLeo’s proposal to raise the state’s minimum wage to $10.50/hour:

“I welcome the release of Speaker DeLeo’s proposals for Massachusetts’ minimum wage rate and the reform of the unemployment insurance system. Economic competiveness must remain a cornerstone of the Commonwealth’s fiscal agenda. As such, I look forward to working with my colleagues across the aisle on striking a balance towards achieving a competitive living wage which will best serve the needs of the Commonwealth’s residents and small businesses alike.

By starting at a lower hourly wage than the State Senate’s proposal, the Speaker's proposal is a better place to start the conversation about crafting a plan that balances the needs of our state’s workforce and the concerns of the thousands of small businesses that are the backbone of Massachusetts’ economy. Furthermore, the lack of an indexing component to the state’s minimum wage rate will force lawmakers to consider a myriad of factors should the Legislature wish to consider adjusting the minimum wage rate in the future. In addition, the Speaker's plan relative to tipped employees appears to be more responsible than competing proposals.

Unfortunately, the Speaker’s proposal falls flat on a number of key provisions, which if not included in the House’s final proposal, will ultimately hurt the thousands of small businesses in our state. The lack of an aggressive approach to unemployment insurance reform is a missed opportunity for the Legislature to demonstrate our support for hardworking business owners. Additionally, the omission of an increase to the state’s earned income tax credit will hinder the overall goal of supporting Massachusetts’ working families.

As we begin this debate, we as a Legislature must put forth a concerted effort that both bolsters our state’s private sector workforce, particularly those on the lower rungs of the income ladder, while supporting those businesses that are pivotal to our state’s economic future.”

Thursday, March 6, 2014

House Republican Caucus to Offer Local Aid Resolution

In an ongoing commitment to providing fiscal certainty to the Commonwealth’s cities and towns, the House Republican Caucus has filed a Local Aid Resolution to provide municipalities with timely notice of the Legislature’s commitment to support them with local aid in Fiscal Year 2015.

In an email distributed to House colleagues, House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading), who drafted the resolution, said, “Local officials across the state are planning their budgets for the coming fiscal year. The decisions they make will determine such things as the quality of education for our children, the ability to keep our citizens safe, and the opportunity to offer other local services.” The letter to Republican and Democratic legislators goes on to say, “Giving municipalities numbers they can rely on will afford them confidence in their planning and decision-making process.”

All of these decisions hinge, in part, on how much local aid each community will receive from the state this year. As of now, these funding levels remain uncertain.

The resolution proposes the following:

• Increase the amount of Chapter 70 school aid given in the current fiscal year by $113 million, which correlates to an additional investment of $50 per student;

• Increase the amount of Unrestricted General Government Aid by $75 million – an 8.15% increase over Fiscal Year 2014;

• Level fund the Reimbursement to Cities in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) with the FY14 appropriation;

• Increase the level of funding for Regional School Transportation by $2.5 million over Fiscal Year 2014;

• Fund the reimbursement for the Special Education Circuit Breaker at $252.5M, slightly above the Fiscal Year 2014 level; and

• Set the level of funding for Homeless Student Transportation (McKinney/Vento) at the projected FY15 district claim amount of $14.9 million.

“As a former local official, I appreciate and understand the need for a strong set of local aid numbers,” said Representative Jones. “Knowing firsthand the current struggle of cities and towns, I am confident that my Republican colleagues and I have presented a strong set of numbers to be considered. I encourage my colleagues across the aisle to join Republicans as many cities and towns in the Commonwealth are anxiously awaiting the release of local aid.”

This resolution would provide, among other things, flexibility during budget debate so that the Legislature may further increase local aid appropriations from an established floor. It would also provide predictability for municipalities who are in the midst of constructing their own budgets.

The entire House of Representatives will now have the opportunity to join the House Republican Caucus in demonstrating its commitment to the Commonwealth’s cities and towns.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Assistant House Minority Leader George Peterson’s Statement on Release of Gun Violence Task Force Report

Assistant House Minority Leader George N. Peterson, Jr. (R-Grafton) issued the following statement today in response to the release of the report of the Gun Violence Task Force:

“After a brief review of the report issued this afternoon, I thank Speaker DeLeo and the Gun Violence Task Force for their diligent work in providing this in-depth analysis and action plan in a timely manner. The work performed by this group is vitally important as the topic of firearm safety progresses at the state level.

The findings released today make targeted recommendations surrounding firearm safety training, school safety, and the reduction of the number of types of firearm licenses available in the Commonwealth. Addressing these issues in the coming months will benefit the state’s residents and lawful firearm-owners alike.

While the report released today highlights Massachusetts’ better than average record of suicide, homicide, and firearm-related incidents, the findings fail to show that since the Commonwealth adopted strict firearm laws in 1998, the aforementioned firearm-related events have in fact doubled in that time. This omission begs the question of the necessity for the restrictive laws passed more than fifteen years ago.

Furthermore, the report has asked for the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, in conjunction with the Massachusetts Gun Control Advisory Board, to make recommendations relative to the suitability of an individual to be licensed to own a firearm. To me, this approach leaves too much discretion to the state’s Police Chiefs and Advisory Board. It is my belief that a better way to handle factors relative to firearm ownership should be the explicit definition of those persons who would be prohibited from owning a firearm. Further to that point, if Chiefs and the Gun Control Advisory Board are to have discretionary power over the issuance of licenses, they should also have the burden of proof, upon appeal, to demonstrate why that individual is not suitable to possess a firearm.

As is the case with any legislation, the devil will be in the details. However, I look forward to joining my colleagues on the other side of the aisle in producing legislation that protects the Commonwealth’s residents, while respecting the Second Amendment rights of our state’s citizens.”

House Minority Leader’s Statement on the Retirement of State Representative George Peterson

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) issued the following statement today following Assistant Minority Leader George Peterson’s announcement that he will not seek re-election to the House of Representatives:

“While I am sad to hear that Representative Peterson will not seek re-election to the House of Representatives, I wholeheartedly support his decision, and wish George and Diana nothing but the best.

For the past two decades, George has been a great colleague, an invaluable membership of my Leadership team, and a cherished friend. A zealous advocate of the outdoors and a champion of Second Amendment rights, Representative Peterson truly embodies what it means to be a public servant. His passion and dedication for the residents and businesses of the Ninth Worcester District are what make him such an effective member of the Legislature.

I thank Representative Peterson for his service to the Commonwealth and look forward to standing beside George as he continues his tireless advocacy on behalf of his constituents during his remaining time on Beacon Hill.”

Assistant House Minority Leader George Peterson’s Statement on Forthcoming Retirement from the Legislature

Assistant House Minority Leader George N. Peterson, Jr. (R-Grafton) issued the following statement today announcing his retirement from the Massachusetts House of Representatives:

“Today, with a heavy heart, but a clear mind, I announce that I will not seek re-election for the office of State Representative. My decision to retire from the House of Representatives has been extremely difficult. However, this next chapter in my life will allow me to join my wife Diana in spending quality time with our children and grandchildren as we travel around the country.

For over 20 years, Beacon Hill has been my second home. While my heart has always been in Grafton, and with the people of the Ninth Worcester District, my time in Boston has been invaluable. Being a legislator, particularly a Republican lawmaker, can be a test of will and patience. However, I wouldn’t trade my time as a member of the Massachusetts Legislature for anything. My tenure in the House of Representatives has not only allowed me the opportunity to forge relationships with my colleagues in the Legislature, but also has provided me the platform necessary to help make the Commonwealth a better place to live, work, and raise a family.

Perhaps the hardest part of leaving the job I love is bidding farewell to the House Minority Leader, our Leadership team, and all of my Republican colleagues. This group of lawmakers, albeit small, works day in and day out to effect positive change in the lives of the residents of Massachusetts. We have cheered one another along in victory, and remained strong and united in defeat. I am forever grateful to them for their guidance and friendship.

I would be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to thank the staff for all of their tireless work, and continued dedication. Since being elected in 1994, I have worked side-by-side with some truly incredible aides and analysts. These individuals are continually the first ones in, and the last ones out. We as legislators would not be where we are today without their unwavering support.

This announcement is not my departure from Massachusetts and its political landscape. While I may be hanging up my hat as an elected official, this state is home, and I care too much about its wellbeing to walk away altogether. I will forever have the dedication to continue to make the Commonwealth an ongoing source of pride for future generations.”

Thursday, January 23, 2014

House Minority Leader’s Statement on Governor Patrick’s Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Proposal

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) issued the following statement yesterday after receiving a copy of Governor Patrick’s Fiscal Year 2015 state budget proposal.

“After a cursory glance at the Fiscal Year 2015(FY15) state budget proposal, it is abundantly clear that the Patrick Administration’s spending plan for next year does nothing but highlight Governor Patrick’s lame-duck status.

Once again, the Governor is treating the taxpayers of Massachusetts as an endless revenue stream, proposing to hit them again for revenue in the form of new statewide taxes. This approach has not garnered support from taxpayers in the past, and it will once again fall flat.

In spite of hundreds of millions in new taxes and revenue initiatives, proposed by Governor Patrick and green-lighted by Democrats on Beacon Hill, the Governor continues to rely on tapping into the state’s reserves in order to fund his FY15 budget proposal. For a Governor who consistently touts a nation-leading ‘Rainy Day’ fund – left to him by his Republican predecessors – this plan further highlights the Governor’s myopic approach to the state’s finances.

Once again, the Governor has produced a budget that is heavy on spending and far too reliant on dubious revenue sources. While Governor Patrick’s focus seems to be cementing his legacy, the Legislature must set its sights on producing a budget for the taxpayers that balances meeting the needs of today in a fiscally responsible and sustainable fashion."