Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Representative Muratore Named to Special Legislative Commission on Public Records


House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) has appointed State Representative Mathew Muratore (R-Plymouth) to a special legislative commission that will consider expanding the definition of public records and examine ways to make information about the legislative process more accessible to the public.

In carrying out its mission, the commission will explore the constitutionality and practicality of subjecting all three branches of state government – the Legislature, the executive branch, and the judiciary – to the public records law.  It will also study ways to improve the use of information technology and other means to ensure that the public has access to information about the legislative process, including public hearing agendas, public testimony, committee votes and roll call votes recorded in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Muratore is one of 14 legislators serving on the special commission, which was created as part of the comprehensive public records law overhaul signed by Governor Charlie Baker on June 6, 2016.  A member of the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight, which drafted an earlier version of the public records law reform bill, Muratore also served on the conference committee that produced the final bill, which constituted the first significant changes to the Massachusetts public records law in more than 40 years.

“Representative Muratore has a strong understanding of the public records law, and this knowledge will serve him well as he works with the other commission members to determine how to create more openness and transparency throughout state government,” said Representative Jones.

The commission is schedule to file a report, along with any recommendations for legislation or changes to existing legislative rules, by December 30, 2017.

Representative Muratore represents the First Plymouth District, which consists of Precincts 2 through 8, 10, 12, 14 and 15 in the town of Plymouth.  A former Plymouth Selectman, he was first elected to the Legislature in November of 2014.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Remembering September 11th


“One of the worst days in America’s history saw some of the bravest acts in Americans’ history. We’ll always honor the heroes of 9/11. And here at this hallowed place, we pledge that we will never forget their sacrifice.” – President George W. Bush

Those of us who are old enough can remember exactly where we were on September 11, 2001.  Fifteen years ago today, thousands of innocent lives were lost in the terrorist attacks on New York, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania.  But on that terrible day, we also witnessed countless acts of compassion, heroism and caring, with many individuals sacrificing their own lives to save others.  As we mark this somber anniversary, let us keep the families of the victims, the first responders, and the service men and women who continue to protect us in our thoughts and prayers, not only today, but each and every day.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Representative David Vieira Appointed to Serve on Public Records Law Working Group


House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) has appointed Representative David T. Vieira (R-East Falmouth) as his designee on the working group charged with reviewing and evaluating the application of the public records law as it relates to law enforcement.

Created as part of the recent public records law reform package signed by Governor Charlie Baker, the working group will review determinations of the supervisor of records and judicial decisions related to requests for investigatory materials compiled by law enforcement.  Current law exempts these materials from the public records law if their disclosure “would probably so prejudice the possibility of effective law enforcement that such disclosure would not be in the public interest.”

Following its review, the working group will issue its findings regarding the public interest in releasing records made and kept by police departments, including arrest records, as well as the privacy and confidentiality concerns related to the release of such records.  A report on the working group’s finding and recommendations will be filed with the Legislature by December 30, 2017.

“As the Ranking Member of the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security, Representative Vieira has a firm grasp on the issues that impact law enforcement,” said Representative Jones.  “I believe David’s experience will serve him well on the working group as it considers potential changes to the public records law.”

Representative Vieira is one of four legislators serving on the working group, which will be chaired by Secretary of State William Galvin and include a total of 16 members.  Secretary of Public Safety and Security Daniel Bennett; Court Administrator of the Trial Court Harry Spence; Attorney General Maura Healey; and Secretary of Administration and Finance Kristen Lepore will also serve as members.

In addition to these state officials, the working group will also include representatives of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts; the Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association; the Massachusetts Town Clerks Association; the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association; the State Police Commissioned Officers Association of Mass.; the Massachusetts Coalition of Police; and the Massachusetts Municipal Association.

Representative Vieira represents the 3rd 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, August 30, 2016

Representative Orrall Named to Special Commission to Investigate Pay Disparity


House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) has appointed Representative Keiko M. Orrall (R-Lakeville) as his designee on a special commission that will investigate pay disparity in Massachusetts.

Created as part of the historic pay equity bill that was signed into law on August 1, the special commission will study the factors, causes and impact of pay disparity based on race, color, religious creed, national origin, gender identity, sexual orientation, genetic information, ancestry, disability and military service.  The commission will report back to the Legislature with its findings by January 1, 2019.

“Representative Orrall has been a strong advocate for pay equity and ending gender-based wage discrimination in the workplace,” said Representative Jones.  “I am confident she will prove to be a valuable asset to the special commission as it looks at the root causes of pay disparity and how we can address this issue moving forward.”

Representative Orrall is one of eight members serving on the commission, which will be chaired by Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Ronald L. Walker II.  Attorney General Maura Healey will also serve on the commission, along with five other members to be appointed by the House Speaker, Senate President and Senate Minority Leader.

Representative Orrall represents the 12th Bristol District, which is comprised of the towns of Berkley and Lakeville and portions of Taunton and Middleborough.  She currently serves on both the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development and the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies.

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. UreƱa 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.