Friday, July 29, 2016

The Jewish Advocate Weighs in on Representative Steven Howitt's Anti-BDS Bill

The Jewish Advocate's Sara Brown has posted an update on the anti-BDS legislation filed by Representative Steven Howitt (R-Seekonk).

Introduced last September, Representative Howitt's bill would require the Massachusetts public employee pension system to divest all holdings from companies that engage in boycotts or other economic sanctions against the State of Israel. Similar divestment efforts have been successful in 11 other states, including Illinois, South Carolina and Rhode Island.

The story is available on the Advocate's website.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Rep. David DeCoste Named to Massachusetts Post-Deployment Commission


House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) has appointed Representative David F. DeCoste (R-Norwell) as his designee to the Massachusetts Post-Deployment Commission, which will develop recommendations for programs to assist the state’s service members as they transition to civilian life after deployment.

The Commission will study the barriers facing military personnel returning from deployment and identify ways the state can better assist these veterans with accessing education, employment, healthcare, housing and other services.  The Commission will also develop recommendations for providing mental health counseling services to returning veterans for treating post-traumatic stress injuries, and improving communication between mental health support services and veterans who may benefit from these services.

Representative DeCoste is a 22-year veteran of the United States Army, where he achieved the rank of Major.  He currently serves on the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs, as well as the Joint Committees on Housing and Public Service.

“Veterans transitioning back to civilian life often face significant barriers when trying to secure housing or a job,” said Representative Jones.  “With his extensive military background, Representative DeCoste understands the many challenges facing our returning service members. I am confident he will use this expertise to help the Commission identify the most effective ways to improve the delivery of services to our veterans.”

Representative DeCoste is one of six legislators serving on the Commission, which will be chaired by Secretary of Veterans Services Francisco A. Ureña and include representatives from several of the state’s executive agencies.  In addition to Major General Gary W. Keefe, the Adjutant General of the Massachusetts National Guard, the Commission will also include representatives of three Massachusetts-based veterans organizations: Leroy Ashwood, President & CEO of Brave for Veterans, Inc. of Norwood; Sharon Tracy, Executive Director of Quabbin Mediation, Inc. of Orange; and John Downing, CEO & President of Soldier On, Inc., which has offices in Leeds and Pittsfield.

The Massachusetts Post-Deployment Commission was created by the Legislature as part of An Act relative to housing, operations, military service, and enrichment, also known as the HOME Act, which Governor Charlie Baker signed into law on July 14.

The Commission is scheduled to file a report containing its findings and recommendations with the Legislature by September 17, 2017.

Representative DeCoste represents the 5th Plymouth District, which is comprised of the towns of Hanover, Norwell and Rockland.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Rep. Kane Appointed to MA Food Policy Council


House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) has appointed Representative Hannah Kane (R-Shrewsbury) as his designee to the Massachusetts Food Policy Council.

Established by the Legislature in 2010, the Massachusetts Food Policy Council’s primary purpose is to promote the increased production, sale and consumption of Massachusetts-grown foods.  The Council also develops programs to deliver healthy, affordable Massachusetts-grown foods to the state’s residents, particularly in communities with disproportionate cases of obesity and chronic diseases.

“Representative Kane has been a strong supporter of the Westborough Food Pantry, St. Anne’s Human Services in Shrewsbury, and other local charities that provide food to families in need,” said Representative Jones.  “I am confident she will be a valuable asset to the Council and continue to be an effective advocate for improving access to locally-grown food products.”

“I am honored to have been selected to serve as Minority Leader Jones’ representative to the Massachusetts Food Policy Council,” said Representative Kane.  “I am looking forward to joining the council and addressing the challenges associated with increasing the availability and accessibility of food produced in Massachusetts, through which we will promote healthier lifestyles, stimulate economic development and encourage sustainable agricultural practices. I am a proud sponsor of the Shrewsbury Farmers Market and a significant portion of the funds raised at the Hannah Kane Charity Classic golf tournament go to helping feed local families. The funds allocated to the Westborough Food Pantry also help local farmers through the use of vouchers for WFP clients to buy fresh produce at the Westborough Farmers Market.” 

Representative Kane is one of four legislators to serve on the 17-member Council, which also includes seven food industry representatives and six state agency representatives.  Members of the Council serve for three-year terms, and are eligible for reappointment.

The Council is required to file an annual report with the Governor and the Legislature no later than December 31. All of its meetings are open to the public.

Representative Kane represents the 11th Worcester District, which is comprised of the town of Shrewsbury and Precincts 4 and 5 in Westborough. 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Rep. Muradian Appointed to Higher Education Distance Learning Study Commission


House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) has appointed Representative David K. Muradian, Jr. (R-Grafton) to a special state commission that will explore allowing Massachusetts colleges to provide distance learning programs to out-of-state students.

The special commission, which was created through an outside section of the Fiscal Year 2017 state budget, is charged with making recommendations for the Board of Higher Education to enter into interstate reciprocity agreements.  Accredited, degree-granting colleges and universities in Massachusetts will be allowed to voluntarily participate in these agreements to provide distance learning programs to students in other states.

The commission is scheduled to hold its first meeting the week of August 1, and to report back to the Legislature and the Board of Higher Education with its recommendations by October 31.

“As a member of the Joint Committee on Higher Education, Representative Muradian has a strong interest in promoting and expanding the rich variety of academic programs offered by our state colleges and universities,” said Representative Jones.  “I have full confidence that David will discharge his responsibilities admirably and that his talent and expertise will add significantly to the work of the commission.”

“I am honored to be appointed to this special commission,” said Representative Muradian.  “I look forward to working with the other members to develop a distance learning proposal for the Legislature’s consideration.”

Education Secretary James Peyser is chairing the 17-member special commission.  In addition to Representative Muradian, the commission’s members include Higher Education Commissioner Carlos Santiago, Attorney General Maura Healey, the House and Senate Chairs of the Joint Committee on Higher Education, and North Shore Community College President Patricia A. Gentile.

Governor Charlie Baker will appoint 10 of the commission’s members.  These appointees will include a representative of a consumer advocacy organization; a student representative; a representative of an organization that advocates for students; and a representative of an online learning association.

Representative Muradian represents the Ninth Worcester District, which consists of the communities of Grafton, Northbridge and Upton.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Representative Kelcourse to Serve on Economic Development Conference Committee


House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) is pleased to announce his appointment of Representative Jim Kelcourse (R-Amesbury) as a member of the economic development bond bill conference committee.

The House of Representatives and the Senate recently passed different versions of the economic bond bill, which is designed to promote job creation and retention in the Commonwealth.  The House has authorized $915.5 million in borrowing over the next five years to recapitalize the MassWorks infrastructure program and to fund a variety of grant programs to assist municipalities and employers, while the Senate has approved $743.9 million in capital spending over three years.

Representative Kelcourse will serve on the conference committee alongside Senators Eileen Donoghue (D-Lowell), Karen Spilka (D-Ashland) and Vinny deMacedo (R-Plymouth), as well as Representatives Joseph Wagner (D-Chicopee) and Brian Dempsey (D-Haverhill).  The conferees will try to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill so a compromise proposal can be sent to Governor Charlie Baker for his signature before the end of formal legislative sessions on July 31.

“As a member of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies, Representative Kelcourse has a clear understanding of the many challenges that stand in the way of creating a more favorable business climate and improving the state’s economy,” said Representative Jones.  “I am confident that Jim will be an asset to the conference committee as it works to develop a plan to help spur economic development and job creation throughout the Commonwealth.”

“I’m excited about this opportunity to serve on the conference committee,” said Representative Kelcourse.  “Not only is economic growth and job creation vital to Massachusetts, but it’s also very important to Newburyport, Salisbury and Amesbury.”

Representative Kelcourse represents the First Essex District.  A former Amesbury city councilor, he currently serves on the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies; the Joint Committee on Education; and the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Representative Barrows Appointed to Serve on Non-Compete Conference Committee


House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) is pleased to announce his appointment of Representative F. Jay Barrows (R-Mansfield) as a member of the conference committee that will review proposed reforms to employee non-compete agreements in Massachusetts.

Both the House of Representatives and the Senate recently approved bills to regulate the use of non-compete agreements, which are often used in the technology and financial service industries to prevent employees from leaving a company to join a competitor within the same geographic area.  The House version of the bill limits most non-compete agreements to one year and requires employers to pay half of the employee’s annualized salary during this non-compete period, while the Senate version limits non-competes to three months but requires that employees be paid their full salary while the non-compete agreement is in effect.

Representative Barrows will serve on the conference committee alongside Senators Daniel Wolf (D-Harwich), William Brownsberger (D-Belmont) and Ryan Fattman (R-Webster), as well as Representatives Brian Dempsey (D-Haverhill) and John Scibak (D-South Hadley).  The conferees will work to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate versions of the non-compete bill so a compromise proposal can be sent to Governor Charlie Baker for his signature before the end of formal legislative sessions on July 31.

“Representative Barrows has spent many years running his own business in the private sector, which gives him a unique perspective on the issue of non-competes,” said Representative Jones. “Jay brings a wealth of real-world knowledge and expertise to the conference committee, and can use this insight to help provide his fellow conferees with a better understanding of both the good and bad aspects of non-compete agreements as they work to craft a compromise.”

Representative Barrows currently serves as a member of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing and the House Committee on Ethics.  He represents the First Bristol District, which consists of Precincts 2, 3 and 6 in Mansfield; Precincts 3,4 and 5 in Norton; and the town of Foxborough.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Representative Vieira Appointed to Municipal Modernization Conference Committee


House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) is pleased to announce his appointment of Representative David Vieira (R-Falmouth) as a member of the municipal modernization bill conference committee.
                                        
The House of Representatives and the Senate recently approved different versions of An Act to modernize municipal finance and government in an attempt to give cities and towns more flexibility and local control, in part by updating or eliminating obsolete laws and streamlining state oversight.  The two bills reflect many of the provisions that were included in the Baker-Polito Administration’s version of the bill filed last December.

Representative Vieira will serve on the conference committee alongside Senators Barbara L'Italien (D-Andover), Michael Rodrigues (D-Westport) and Patrick O'Connor (R-Weymouth), as well as Representatives Ronald Mariano (D-Quincy) and Paul Donato (D-Medford).  The conferees will try to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill, with the goal of producing a compromise proposal that can be sent to Governor Charlie Baker for his signature before the end of formal legislative sessions on July 31.

“As a longtime town moderator, Representative Vieira has a tremendous understanding of the issues that are most relevant to our cities and towns,” said Representative Jones.  “David will bring a wealth of real-world knowledge and expertise to the conference committee as it works to produce a bill that will give communities the tools they need to better manage their finances and day-to-day operations.”

Representative Vieira currently serves as a member of the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security; the House Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets; and the House and Joint Committees on Rules.  He represents the Third Barnstable District, which consists of Precincts 3, 4, 5 and 6 in Bourne; Precincts 3, 4, 7, 8 and 9 in Falmouth; and the town of Mashpee.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Rep. Kuros: No to $15/hour minimum wage

The following opinion piece by Representative Kevin J. Kuros (R-Uxbridge) appeared in the July 10th edition of the Globe West section of the Boston Globe:
 
Proponents of a $15 per hour minimum wage should be careful what they wish for. For some, it will amount to a 50 percent pay raise from $10 to $15 per hour. But for others, it will mean a 100 percent pay reduction as their job is replaced by technology.

Recently I visited a popular “fast-casual café” chain and was surprised to see that in place of the cashiers were ordering kiosks – essentially tablet PC’s with credit card readers attached. From the easy-to-use prompts and beautiful pictures of the menu items, to the available nutritional information and sandwich customization options (no tomatoes, thank you), I ordered and paid for my lunch without speaking to another human. After ordering, I found a seat and displayed my receipt that was printed at the kiosk. A few minutes later a smiling employee brought my soup and sandwich (as ordered, with no tomatoes) to my table on her way to delivering several other meals as well. I thought to myself “Welcome to every fast food restaurant in the future.”

It’s simply a matter of economics. Assume a tablet PC and card reader cost $500 each in bulk. A 40-hour work week at $15 per hour is $600. With no sick time, no health care benefits, no dealing with withholding taxes and payroll services, no training issues and no personnel management needed, technology will continue to replace entry level jobs in more and more businesses.

And therein lies the problem. Many of us learned important life skills working entry level customer-facing jobs. Responsibility. Dealing with others. Customer service. Promptness. Courtesy. How to make change for a twenty.

Two years ago the minimum wage was $8 per hour. Today it is $10. A move to $15 will represent nearly a doubling of labor costs in just a few years, and accelerate the move away from cashiers and toward ordering kiosks and the reduction of labor.

I oppose an increase in the minimum wage not with malice toward those who would get a 50 percent raise, but rather, with empathy for those who will see a 100 percent pay reduction.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

FLAG DAY 2016

Today is Flag Day, a day set aside to commemorate the Stars and Stripes and all that it symbolizes.

It was on this day in 1777 that the Continental Congress approved the design of a national flag for our newly formed nation, declaring “that the flag of the United States shall be of thirteen stripes of alternate red and white, with a union of thirteen stars of white in a blue field, representing the new constellation.” 

The original flag has undergone several redesigns over the years to reflect our nation’s expansion, but one thing has not changed: the American flag remains a symbol of hope for the rest of the world, a visible reminder of the principles of freedom and democracy on which this great nation was founded. 

Happy Flag Day!

Monday, May 30, 2016

MEMORIAL DAY 2016


Today, the United States stands as a beacon of liberty and democratic strength before the community of nations. We are resolved to stand firm against those who would destroy the freedoms we cherish. We are determined to achieve an enduring peace -- a peace with liberty and with honor. This determination, this resolve, is the highest tribute we can pay to the many who have fallen in the service of our Nation. – Ronald Reagan, May 25, 1981

As we observe Memorial Day, the members of the House Republican Caucus join with Americans everywhere in saluting our nation’s fallen soldiers. Their sacrifices will never be forgotten.