Monday, June 29, 2015

Rep. Jones' Statement on the Passing of State Senator Thomas P. Kennedy of Brockton

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) issued the following statement today regarding the passing of state Senator Thomas Kennedy:

Senator Kennedy was a tireless advocate for his constituents and a committed public servant who championed the needs of the elderly and the disabled.  I had the privilege of serving with him for many years in the House of Representatives.  He embodied the true spirit of public service by dedicating his life to helping others, and has left behind a lasting legacy.  My thoughts and prayers go out to his family at this difficult time.”

Monday, June 22, 2015

Rep. Muratore Named to Managed Care Organization Advisory Group

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) has appointed Representative Mathew J. Muratore (R-Plymouth) to serve on a special House advisory group on Managed Care Organizations (MCOs).

The advisory group was created by House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo to review the delivery of Medicaid health benefits by MCOs and to develop potential savings to address the many financial challenges these organizations face.  The advisory group will take into consideration all cost-drivers impacting the industry, including the costs associated with rare disease treatment medications, and will also examine potential alternative payment methods.

“Representative Muratore is an experienced health care administrator whose knowledge of the industry will serve him well as the advisory group works to craft ways to reduce health care costs for managed care organizations without compromising the quality of care that is available to Massachusetts residents,” said Representative Jones.

Representative Muratore is one of seven legislators who will serve on the 13-member advisory group.  The six non-legislative members will include two representatives appointed by the Massachusetts Association of Health Plans (MAHP), at least one of whom will be from a plan serving a disproportionate share population; a representative from the Massachusetts Hospital Association (MHA); a representative from a hospital system that operates at least four disproportionate share hospitals; a representative from the Massachusetts Council of Community Hospitals; and a representative from the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council.

The advisory group will begin meeting this month and will hold at least one public hearing prior to issuing a final report, along with any legislative recommendations, by its October 1, 2015 deadline.

Representative Muratore represents the First Plymouth District, which consists of Precincts 2 through 8, 10, 12, 14 and 15 in the town of Plymouth.  He was elected to the Legislature in November of 2014 after previously serving on the Plymouth Board of Selectmen.

A member of the Massachusetts Senior Care Association, Representative Muratore began his career as a nursing home administrator in 1991.  Prior to joining the House of Representatives, he served as the Administrator at Plymouth Rehabilitation and Health Care Center from 2003 until January of 2015.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

NECN Highlights Caucus Efforts to Collect $1.2 Million in Unpaid Sex Offender Registration Fees

New England Cable News is shining a light on the huge problem surrounding unpaid sex offender registration fees in Massachusetts, two months after the House Republican Caucus secured a budget amendment designed to put some teeth into the law.

Currently, sex offenders are assessed an annual $75 registration fee, beginning at the time of their initial registration, but the state does little more than send a reminder and follow-up letter to those individuals who fail to pay the fee. Due to the lack of proper enforcement, since 2012 the state has collected less than half of the $2.3 million in fees assessed during this time period.

The budget amendment – filed by House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) – would provide for meaningful sanctions by requiring the Sex Offender Registry Board to notify the Department of Revenue (DOR), the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) and the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) whenever any registration fee is 60 days past due. DOR would then be allowed to deduct the amount owed by the sex offender from any state tax refunds that might be due to them, while the RMV would be prohibited from issuing or renewing a sex offender’s driver’s license or motor vehicle registration until the fee has been collected.

The amendment was co-sponsored by the House Republican leadership team, including Representatives Brad Hill (R-Ipswich), Elizabeth Poirier (R-North Attleboro), Susan Gifford (R-Wareham), Paul Frost (R-Auburn) and Todd Smola (R-Warren). Additional co-sponsors include Representatives Nicholas Boldyga (R-Southwick), Marc Lombardo (R-Billerica), Sheila Harrington (R-Groton), Shawn Dooley (R-Norfolk), Kimberly Ferguson (R-Holden), Leah Cole (R-Peabody) and Steven Howitt (R-Seekonk).

Be sure to check out Representative Jones’ interview with NECN’s Ally Donnelly on the video link posted below.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Rep. Whelan Honored by Molly Bish Foundation

State Representative Tim Whelan (R-Brewster) was recently honored with a legislative award by his colleagues and the Molly Bish Foundation for his work to protect children in Massachusetts.

“I am honored to have been recognized with this award,” said Whelan, who is a retired State Police sergeant. “During my career in law enforcement I have worked on several cases involving missing children and additionally I’ve helped the State Police design a land navigation training program used by search teams in rural areas of the commonwealth. I thank the Bish Foundation and the organizers for their kind recognition.”

The Molly Bish Foundation was founded in 2000 after the abduction and murder of Molly Bish, a teenage lifeguard in Warren. The foundation organizes Missing Children’s Day at the State House each year. This year’s event was held on May 26.

Pictured above are Representative Todd Smola (R-Warren), the Ranking Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee; Representative Whelan; and Assistant House Minority Leader Brad Hill (R-Ipswich).

Friday, June 12, 2015

House Minority Leader Brad Jones Discusses Caucus' Call for Inspector General Investigation of Patrick's Use of Off-Budget Accounts

There are still many unanswered questions surrounding former Governor Deval Patrick’s diversion of millions of taxpayer dollars into off-budget trust accounts to pay for flights, hotels, transportation and other travel-related activities during his second term.  Tiffany Chan of WWLP Channel 22 News interviewed House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. yesterday about the House Republican Caucus’ call for an investigation into these hidden accounts by the Inspector General.  The story and interview are posted below.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

House GOP Caucus Calls for Post Audit, IG Investigation of Patrick’s Use of Trust Funds

The House Republican leadership today filed an Order with the House Clerk and submitted a letter to the Inspector General on behalf of the Caucus calling for an investigation into former Governor Deval Patrick’s use of off-budget trust accounts to subsidize travel junkets and other questionable activities with public dollars from the state’s quasi-independent agencies between 2009 and 2014.

The Order, which was referred to the House Rules Committee this morning, calls upon the House Committee on Post Audit and Oversight to investigate the use of these hidden trust accounts, which was first reported on by the Boston Herald yesterday.  The Herald investigation found that tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer money was diverted to these accounts, without legislative oversight, to help fund many of the former governor’s overseas trade missions, including the costs of air flights, hotels and transportation.

The Order calls for a detailed accounting of all deposits and expenditures from these accounts, and directs the committee to “make recommendations for implementing appropriate corrective measures to ensure proper oversight and legislative approval of similar trust accounts that utilize public dollars in the future, including regular audits of said accounts”.  The Order requires the committee to file a report on its findings, along with any legislative recommendations, with the Clerk of the House and the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee by September 9, 2015.

Also today, the House Republican leadership contacted Inspector General Glenn A. Cunha on behalf of the Caucus to request that his office conduct its own investigation into the matter.  In a letter to Cunha, the House Republican leadership wrote that the Herald’s findings “warrant a thorough investigation by your office to ensure that the Patrick Administration did not circumvent what should always be an open and transparent process when it comes to the expenditure of taxpayer dollars.”  The letter was signed by House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) and Representatives Brad Hill (R-Ipswich), Elizabeth Poirier (R-North Attleboro), Susan Gifford (R-Wareham), Paul Frost (R-Auburn) and Todd Smola (R-Warren).

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Rep. Poirier Named Legislator of the Year

Congratulations to State Rep. Betty Poirier (R-North Attleboro), who was honored today as the Legislator of the Year by The Arc of Bristol County.  The Arc’s Legislator of the Year Award is presented annually to an elected official who has provided leadership in advocacy, community outreach, or in providing expanded opportunities for individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities.  Rep. Poirier received her award at The Arc’s 56th Anniversary Celebration, which took place at the Holiday Inn Taunton.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Representative Wong to Serve on Mystic River Water Quality Commission

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) has appointed Representative Donald Wong (R-Saugus) to serve as his designee on the newly-formed Mystic River Water Quality Commission.

The Mystic River Water Quality Commission was created through special legislation signed by former Governor Deval Patrick on December 24, 2014.  The 13-member Commission is charged with investigating and studying the conditions necessary to bring the water quality in the Mystic River Watershed to a level that supports wildlife and recreational endeavors, such as fishing, boating, swimming and bird and wildlife viewing.

The Mystic River Watershed covers 76 square miles and consists of 44 lakes and ponds in Boston and 21 communities north of the city, including the Mystic River; the Upper and Lower Mystic Lakes; the Aberjona River; Horn Pond; Horn Pond Brook; Mill Brook; Alewife Brook and its tributaries; Winter Brook; the Malden River; Chelsea Creek; Island End River; and Belle Isle Marsh.  In 2013, the watershed was able to meet state water quality standards for boating 83 percent of the time, but only 49 percent of the time for swimming due to bacterial contamination.

“The Mystic River Watershed is an important environmental resource that has undergone significant improvements since the 1970s, but still falls short of meeting the state’s water quality standards on a consistent basis,” said Representative Jones.  “I am confident that Representative Wong will do an outstanding job to help develop a plan for improving the water quality within the watershed for the enjoyment of both current and future generations of Massachusetts residents.”

In addition to Representative Wong, the Commission will be comprised of three other legislators; the Commissioner of Conservation and Recreation; the Commissioner of Environmental Protection; the Director of Fisheries and Wildlife; and six members appointed by Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Matthew Beaton.  The six appointees will include: a member of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority; an environmental water quality expert from a state university; a representative of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); two members representing environmental justice communities in the Mystic River Watershed; and a member of the Mystic River Watershed Association, Inc.

The Commission is due to submit a final report, along with any legislative recommendations, by July 31, 2017.

Representative Wong represents the Ninth Essex District, which consists of Precincts 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 in Saugus; Ward 1, Precincts 1 and 2 in Lynn; and Precincts 1, 2, 3 and 7 in Wakefield.  A former Saugus Town Meeting member and former Chairman of the Saugus Board of Selectmen, Representative Wong is currently serving his third term in the Massachusetts Legislature.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Representative Randy Hunt: It's Time to Repeal the Anti-Privatization Pacheco Law

Attached below is a copy of a column by Representative Randy Hunt (R-East Sandwich) regarding the Pacheco Law which ran in the Globe South edition of the Boston Globe yesterday:

Raise your hand if you were late to work last winter because of the T. Raise your hand if you experienced increased traffic congestion because T riders were driving to work.

You can put your hands down. You know what happened. The MBTA finally crumbled under the weight of not only the snow and ice, but the weight of deferred maintenance, uncollected fares, outrageous absenteeism, and years of inefficiencies exacerbated by a law that was designed to protect inefficient government-run programs, namely the Pacheco Law.

Hatched in 1993, the Pacheco Law quickly converted Massachusetts into the most anti-privatization state in the country. With that came a steep cost that taxpayers continue to pay today, both in terms of dollars spent — for example, according to a 2013 Pioneer Institute report, the MBTA’s bus transit system ranks fourth out of 379 US systems in highest maintenance costs per mile driven — and the virtual handcuffing of government agencies seeking to improve operations.

Road maintenance is another poster child for inefficient operations, and you don’t have to go far to illustrate the point. According to a Reason Foundation report released last year, the six New England states maintain 24,225 miles of roads, 3,662 miles of them in Massachusetts. The average annual expenditures per road mile for the six states, including Massachusetts, is $360,000. In Massachusetts, we pay $675,000. If we paid the average amount per road mile, we would save $1.2 billion per year. Put another way, Massachusetts could invest an additional $1.2 billion per year in its roads and bridges, something everyone on Beacon Hill believes is necessary.

The Speaker of the House, Robert DeLeo, has joined hands with Governor Charlie Baker by backing a five-year hiatus from the Pacheco Law for the purpose of making necessary reforms at the MBTA. Senate President Stanley Rosenberg has not supported this relief.

It is not a stretch to believe that the MBTA’s woes, and those of its passengers, will continue if the Pacheco Law is not put aside for a while. If it is, the next five years will prove that it is time for the Pacheco Law to go.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Representative Muratore Named to Ocean Advisory Commission

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) is pleased to announce his appointment of Representative Mathew J. Muratore (R-Plymouth) to the Ocean Advisory Commission.

Established in 2008 as part of the Oceans Act, the Commission works closely with the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs to develop and maintain the state’s ocean management plan. Its 18 members include legislators, municipal officials and representatives of state agencies, along with environmental and fishing industry stakeholders.

The ocean management plan establishes formal standards for new ocean development projects and is designed to protect critical marine habitats within the Commonwealth’s territorial waters.  The plan serves as a guideline for how the state’s environmental agencies interpret, monitor and enforce the state’s environmental laws.

“The Ocean Advisory Commission plays a critical role in helping to preserve and protect one of our most important natural resources,” said Representative Jones.  “I am confident that Representative Muratore will do an exemplary job in carrying out his duties and responsibilities as a member of the Commission.”

The initial ocean management plan was filed in December of 2009.  A revised version was released in January of this year, in keeping with the enabling legislation’s directive that the plan be updated at least once every five years.

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 elected to the Legislature in November of 2014.