Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Representative Whipps Named to Special Commission Studying State Fire Code Regulations


House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) has appointed Representative Susannah Whipps (R-Athol) to serve as his designee on a special commission that will study the regulation of cutting, welding and other hot work processes governed by the state fire code to enhance the safety of the public and first responders.

Representative Whipps is one of four state legislators serving on the 11-member special commission, which will also include State Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey, Boston Fire Commissioner Joseph Finn, and five members appointed by Governor Charlie Baker with backgrounds in public safety and related construction trades.

“As the owner of a company that manufactures equipment for the water and wastewater industry, Representative Whipps is very familiar with the regulations and standards governing welding work,” said Representative Jones.  “Susannah’s knowledge in this area will be an asset to the special commission as it considers potential changes to the current state fire code.”

As part of its investigation, the special commission will study the current requirements for issuing licenses and permits for hot work processes that are capable of initiating a fire or explosion to determine if these requirements provide adequate protections.  The special commission will also consider the use of supervised details and firewatchers; the adequacy of fees to cover inspection, oversight and other municipal costs; the deterrent effect of penalties for violations; cost recovery assessment for damages resulting from the failure to comply with rules and regulations; the training and certification required to perform the work; and other ways to enhance work safety.

The special commission will file a report containing its findings, including any proposed legislation, by June 1, 2017.

A seventh generation Athol resident who previously served for nine years on the Athol Board of Selectmen, Representative Whipps was recently re-elected to her second two-year term in the Massachusetts Legislature.  She represents the Second Franklin District, which consists of the communities of Erving, Gill, New Salem, Orange, Warwick, Wendell, Belchertown, Athol, Petersham, Phillipston, Royalston, and Templeton.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Representative Dooley Named to Task Force on Integrity in State and Local Government


House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) has appointed Representative Shawn Dooley (R-Norfolk) to serve as his designee on the Task Force on Integrity in State and Local Government.

Created at the request of House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, the task force will conduct an investigation and study of the existing legal and regulatory framework governing the conduct of all state, county and municipal elected officials, as well as appointed public employees. The investigation will include a review of the state’s Conflict of Interest Law, the Financial Disclosure Law, and the regulations of the State Ethics Commission.

“Representative Dooley brings a unique perspective to the task force, having served in government at both the local and state levels,” said Representative Jones.  “Shawn’s experience and expertise will be an asset to the task force as it works to identify ways to clarify and strengthen the state’s ethics laws.”

Representative Dooley is one of six state legislators serving on the 13-member task force, which is being co-chaired by the chairs of the House and Senate Ethics Committees and the House and Senate chairs of the Joint Committee on State Administration & Regulatory Oversight.  Other members serving on the task force include Attorney General Maura Healey; the respective Chief Legal Counsels for the Governor, the Senate and the House; and three members with expertise on issues relating to ethics, public integrity or campaign finance who will be appointed by Governor Charlie Baker, Senate President Stanley Rosenberg and Speaker DeLeo.

The task force will file a report of its findings with the Governor, Senate President and Speaker on or before March 15, 2017.

Representative Dooley represents the Ninth Norfolk District, which is comprised of the towns of Norfolk, Plainville, Wrentham, Medfield, Millis and Walpole.  He previously served as the Norfolk Town Clerk and as the Chairman of the Norfolk School Committee before winning a special election in January of 2014.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Rep. Brad Jones Re-Elected as Minority Leader


Representative Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) has been unanimously re-elected by his Republican colleagues to serve an eighth term as Minority Leader of the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

“Having the support of the entire House Republican Caucus means a tremendous amount to me, and I thank my colleagues for their continued confidence in my ability to lead our Caucus as we embark on a new legislative session,” said Representative Jones. “I am especially grateful for the continued support of the residents of Lynnfield, Middleton, Reading and North Reading and the trust they have placed in me to serve as their voice on Beacon Hill.”

A lifelong resident of North Reading, Representative Jones was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1994, and has served as House Minority Leader since 2002.  He was recently re-elected to his twelfth term representing the 20th Middlesex District.

Representative Jones continues to maintain his perfect voting record.  He has cast 6,554 consecutive roll call votes and has not missed a single vote in his nearly 23 years in the Legislature.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Representative Kane: Governor Baker Made Right Decision in Issuing His 9C Cuts


The following column by Representative Hannah Kane (R-Shrewsbury) appeared in the January 1 edition of the Boston Globe's West Section:

The governor is empowered to use his authority to reduce spending if the Secretary of Administration and Finance determines that budgeted revenues will not be sufficient to meet budgeted expenditures. Disappointing tax revenues and growing exposure for underfunded accounts such as public defense services for indigent defendants and family homelessness services have prompted Governor Charles Baker to use spending cuts to bring this year’s state budget back into balance.

The reductions are one quarter of one percent of the $39.25 billion state budget. While the scope does not lessen the impacts of these cuts, which affect several of my own priorities, we must be candid in the overall fiscal environment of the Commonwealth.

The Baker-Polito Administration took office in January 2015 inheriting serious fiscal challenges: a $765 million mid-year fiscal 2015 budget deficit and a nearly $1.8 billion shortfall looming for fiscal 2016. The fiscal 2015 budget gap remained despite governor Deval Patrick having already implemented over $198.1 million in cuts himself in the fall of 2014.

The culprit of this persistent gap is expenses that far outpaced yearly tax revenue growth. The fiscal 2015 budget that Governor Patrick signed into law was up 5.6 percent from the preceding year. Compounding the aggressive expense growth was an unhealthy reliance on the state’s stabilization — or “rainy day” — fund and one-time revenue sources to balance the budget for eight years.

The Baker-Polito Administration, working with the House and Senate, has brought fiscal restraint to Beacon Hill. Together, we are seeking to rebuild the Commonwealth’s long-term fiscal health by controlling expenses, rebuilding the rainy day fund reserves, and paying down debt, while achieving balanced budgets that provide increases in local aid and education funding and address such priorities as defeating the opioid epidemic and bringing reforms to the Department of Children and Families — all without tax increases. While debate on the necessity and merits of timing will always accompany the painful decision to authorize cuts, the administration strongly believes that the fiscal indicators necessary to trigger their use are clear.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Representative Jones: Governor Baker's 9C Cuts Were Unfortunate, But Necessary


The following column by House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. appeared in the January 1 issue of the Boston Globe's North Section:

The $98 million in budget cuts announced by Governor Baker on Dec. 6 were unfortunate but necessary.

While there’s never a good time to make cuts of this magnitude, accusing the governor of acting prematurely ignores the fiscal realities the state is facing. It also conveniently overlooks the fact that Governor Baker already had delayed taking action months ago in deference to requests by legislative leaders.

Governor Baker had no hidden agenda in implementing his cuts. He was only trying to achieve one simple but important policy objective: producing a constitutionally required balanced budget.

Faced with a continued softness in revenues persisting through the first five months of the fiscal year, Governor Baker had no choice but to act. In January 2016, the state was projecting $26.9 billion in revenues for fiscal 2017, a 4.3 percent increase over fiscal 2016. When tax collections began falling short of projections in the spring, fiscal 2017 revenue estimates were reduced to $26.2 billion. Then, in October, revenues were again revised downward, to $26 billion, reflecting 3.1 percent growth over fiscal 2016.

In July, the governor vetoed about $265 million from the original fiscal 2017 budget, due to his belief that the Legislature drastically underfunded several areas of the budget based on the historical amount these programs typically received for funding. The Legislature later restored most of the governor’s original cuts, leaving the problems of underfunding, and thus an unbalanced budget, in place.

In addition, revenue projections used by the Legislature for its budget were reduced by $175 million in October. Revenues remained below this lower benchmark by about $21 million through November. This $195 million revenue shortfall, coupled with historical spending exposures, necessitated the administration’s cuts.

Governor Baker has indicated a willingness to consider reversing some of these cuts if the revenue outlook improves, but it is still very much an open question whether the resources will actually be available to do so. The bottom line of how we will pay for these items remains.

I am hopeful that revenues in December and beyond will rebound, that spending exposures will be less than anticipated, and that we can then have a conversation about restoring at least some of the cuts in the months ahead.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Rep. Jones’ Statement on Joint Rules Agreement


House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) released the following statement regarding today’s announcement by House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Stanley Rosenberg that they have reached an agreement on the Joint Rules that will govern the Legislature during the upcoming 2017-2018 session:

“While the Joint Rules changes announced today are welcome, they are effectively pretty minimal and represent at best only a small fraction of the changes we should make.  We need to go further to ensure a more open and transparent legislative process moving forward, and the House Republican Caucus is prepared to offer additional reforms when the new rules are debated in January."

Friday, November 11, 2016

VETERANS DAY 2016


It is the Veteran
It is the Veteran, not the preacher, who has given us freedom of religion.
It is the Veteran, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the Veteran, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the Veteran, not the campus organizer, who has given us freedom to assemble.
It is the Veteran, not the lawyer, who has given us the right to a fair trial.
It is the Veteran, not the politician, who has given us the right to vote.
It is the Veteran, who salutes the flag,
It is the Veteran, who serves under the flag,
To be buried by the flag,
So the protester can burn the flag.
Author: Anonymous
The Capitol View joins with Americans everywhere to honor our nation’s veterans, including the 367,531 service men and women who currently reside in Massachusetts.  We are forever grateful for their service to our state and our nation, and thankful for the many freedoms we continue to enjoy as a result of their willingness to serve.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Rep. Dooley Appointed to Ride for Hire Task Force


House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) has appointed Representative Shawn Dooley (R-Norfolk) to serve as his designee on a legislative task force that will review the current laws, regulations and local ordinances governing licensed hackneys, taxis, livery and transportation network companies in the Commonwealth.

Created as part of a new state law regulating Uber, Lyft and other ride-sharing companies operating in Massachusetts, the Ride for Hire Task Force will explore issues related to public safety, consumer protection and the economic fairness and equity of the regulatory structure governing the ride for hire industry.

Representative Dooley currently serves on the Joint Committee on Financial Services, which held a public hearing on several ride-sharing proposals last fall and produced an earlier version of the bill that was signed into law in August.

“It’s important that we have sufficient safeguards in place to protect the public while also making sure consumers have a wide range of transportation options available to them,” said Representative Jones.  “Representative Dooley’s work on this bill in committee gives him a unique perspective on the industry that will enable him to be a key contributor to the task force.”

The Legislature this year authorized the creation of a new division within the state’s Department of Public Utilities (DPU) to oversee the ride for hire industry.  As part of its review, the task force will look at ways for the new division to compile statistical reports relative to the number and type of incidents reported to transportation network companies, and the possibility of establishing municipal licensing commissions to regulate the development and oversight of the industry at the local level.

The task force will also explore requiring transportation network companies to provide an emergency safety alert feature on their user interface so riders can connect a call to the police, send alerts about their trip and their driver to local authorities, access contact information for the company’s incident response team, and send automated messages to preselected emergency contacts using real time global positioning system monitoring.

The task force is due to report back to the Legislature with its recommendations by July 1, 2017.

In addition to Representative Dooley, the task force will also include Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack, Secretary of Public Safety and Security Daniel Bennett, Insurance Commissioner Daniel Judson, the director of the new division that will oversee transportation network companies, and three other legislators.  The remaining six members of the task force will be appointed by Governor Baker, and will include representatives from the Disability Law Center, the Massachusetts Municipal Association, and the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, as well as members representing transportation network companies, the hackney and taxi industry and the livery industry.

Representative Dooley represents the Ninth Norfolk District, which includes the towns of Norfolk, Plainville, Wrentham, Medfield, Millis and Walpole.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Representative Hannah Kane Named to Special Commission on Local and Regional Public Health


House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) has appointed Representative Hannah Kane (R-Shrewsbury) to serve as his designee on the special commission on local and regional public health.  The commission was created through legislation signed into law recently by Governor Charlie Baker.

As a member of the special commission, Representative Kane will help assess the effectiveness and efficiency of municipal and regional public health systems in Massachusetts.  The commission will file a report by July 31, 2017 containing recommendations for strengthening the delivery of public health services and preventive measures at the local and regional level.

“Representative Kane has done a tremendous job as a member of the Joint Committee on Public Health, and I am confident she will bring a wealth of information and insight to the special commission as it works to develop ways to improve the delivery of public health services in Massachusetts,” said Representative Jones.

Representative Kane is one of four state legislators serving on the 25-member commission, which is being chaired by Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel.  The commission also includes a representative of the Massachusetts Municipal Association and several members representing public health sector organizations from around the state.

“I am honored and excited to serve on this commission as I have a keen interest and some local insight given the Town of Shrewsbury’s experience and success in a regionalized public health model partnership with the City of Worcester and neighboring towns,” stated Representative Kane.

In carrying out its research, the commission will examine the capacity of local and regional public health authorities in comparison to national public health standards and recommendations, while also evaluating existing regional collaboration and various service delivery models.  The commission will also look at existing municipal and state resources for local health; educational standards, credentialing and training issues for both the current and future public health workforce; and ways to strengthen the reporting, gathering and analysis of public health data.

Representative Kane represents the 11th Worcester District, which is comprised of the town of Shrewsbury and Precincts 4 and 5 in Westborough.  In addition to the Joint Committee on Public Health, Representative Kane also currently serves as a member of the Joint Committee on Transportation, the House Committee on Personnel & Administration and the House Committee on Redistricting.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Representative Smola Named to Special Commission on Pension Forfeiture


Representative Todd M. Smola (R-Warren, Ranking Member, Committee on Ways & Means) has been selected to serve on a special commission to review the decision of the Supreme Judicial Court in Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission v. Edward A. Bettencourt. House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) selected Representative Smola for the post. He is one of four state legislators named to the commission.
                                                       
Created as part of the Fiscal Year 2017 state budget, this special commission is charged with making recommendations, including proposed legislative amendments to Massachusetts state law relative to the state retirement and pension systems. He will be joined by designees from the Attorney General, the State Treasurer, the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association, the Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission and the Retired State, County and Municipal Employees Association of Massachusetts.

“Representative Smola has a strong understanding of the state’s pension laws, having previously served as a member of the Joint Committee on Public Service,” said Representative Jones.  “The knowledge he brings to the table will be an asset to the special commission as it reviews the state’s existing forfeiture law and considers potential pension reforms to recommend to the Legislature.”

“This court case raised a number of important questions about how we maintain government accountability in Massachusetts; while at the same time protect the legal rights of individuals,” said Representative Smola. “I appreciate the confidence that Representative Jones has placed in me to serve in this capacity. I look forward to working on the commission and proposing reasonable reforms that help to promote fairness and responsibility."

The commission will make a report of its recommendations no later than March 1, 2017.