Tuesday, September 11, 2018

September 11, 2001: Seventeen Years Later, We Still Remember … and We Will Never Forget


“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

The House Republican Caucus joins with Americans everywhere today to honor the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and to salute our men and women in uniform who continue to keep America strong and safe. We remember September 11, 2001, and we will never forget.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Rep. Muradian Named to PAWS II/Animal Welfare Bill Conference Committee


House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) has appointed State Representative David K. Muradian, Jr. (R-Grafton) to a conference committee charged with reviewing two legislative proposals to update the state’s animal cruelty laws.

An Act to protect animal welfare and safety in cities and towns, also known as the PAWS Act II, was approved by the Senate on March 15, with the House passing its own version of the bill on June 6.  Both bills seek to expand on the state’s 2014 PAWS law by adding new requirements for reporting animal abuse and prohibiting the drowning of animals.

Representative Muradian will serve on the conference committee alongside Representatives Louis Kafka (D-Stoughton) and Jim O'Day (D-West Boylston), and Senators Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford), Adam Hinds (D-Pittsfield), and Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester).  The conference committee will attempt to reconcile the differences between the two bills and reach an agreement on compromise language by the last day of formal legislative sessions, which falls on July 31.

“Representative Muradian has served on a number of conference committees and has proven that he can work with other legislators to achieve a consensus,” said Representative Jones.  “I am confident he will do everything he can to help get a strong animal protection bill on the Governor’s desk before session ends.”

Representative Muradian currently serves as a member of the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government, which reviewed an earlier version of the PAWS Act II last fall and reported the bill out favorably.  He is also a member of the Joint Committee on Elder Affairs, Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security, and the House Committee on Ethics.

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

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Rep. Berthiaume Appointed to Environmental Bond Bill Conference Committee


House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) has appointed State Representative Donald R. Berthiaume, Jr. (R-Spencer) to a conference committee that will attempt to reconcile the differences between two environmental bond bills recently passed by the House and Senate.

The House bond bill, which was approved on June 13, includes nearly $3 billion in capital authorizations to support a variety of local and statewide environmental initiatives.  The Senate engrossed its own version of the bill – An Act promoting climate change adaptation, environmental and natural resource protection, and investment in recreational assets and opportunity – on July 12.

“Representative Berthiaume is well-versed on environmental policy, having served as a member of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture,” said Representative Jones.  “His experience will be an asset to the conference committee as it works to negotiate a compromise bill.”

A Navy veteran and former Spencer selectman, Representative Berthiaume also serves as a member of the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs, and the House Committee on Ways and Means.  Joining him on the conference committee are Representatives David Nangle (D-Lowell) and William “Smitty” Pignatelli (D-Lenox), along with Senators William Brownsberger (D-Belmont), Anne Gobi and Donald Humason (R-Westfield).

The conference committee will attempt to reach an agreement on compromise language before formal legislative sessions end on July 31.

Representative Berthiaume was first elected to the House of Representatives in November of 2014.  He represents the 5th Worcester District, which is comprised of 11 communities, including Barre; Brookfield; East Brookfield; Hardwick; Hubbardston; New Braintree; North Brookfield; Oakham; West Brookfield; and portions of Spencer and Ware.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Representative David DeCoste Named Member of BRAVE Act Conference Committee


House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) has appointed State Representative David F. DeCoste (R-Norwell) to serve on a conference committee charged with reviewing a pair of omnibus veteran bills recently approved by the House and Senate.

An Act relative to veterans’ benefits, rights, appreciation, validation and enforcement, also known as the BRAVE Act, passed the Senate on March 3, while the House of Representatives approved its own version of the bill on March 23.  The conference committee will now attempt to reconcile the differences between the two bills, which provide for property tax assistance and increased funeral expense coverage for veterans, among other benefits.

In announcing the appointment, Representative Jones cited Representative DeCoste’s military background as a 22-year veteran of the United States Army, where he achieved the rank of Major.

“David’s years of service have given him a clear understanding of the many challenges facing Massachusetts veterans and their families,” said Representative Jones.  “With his military experience, David will bring a unique perspective to the conference committee as it works to resolve the differences between the two bills and produce a final bill to address the needs of the Commonwealth’s veterans.”

Representative DeCoste currently serves as a member of the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs, as well as the Joint Committees on Housing and Public Service.  The Norwell legislator will be joined on the conference committee by the co-chairs of the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs, Representative John Lawn (D-Watertown) and Senator Michael Rush (D-West Roxbury), along with Representative Claire Cronin (D-Brockton) and Senators William Brownsberger (D-Belmont) and Donald Humason (R-Westfield).

The conference committee will attempt to reach an agreement before formal legislative sessions end on July 31.

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

Monday, May 28, 2018

MEMORIAL DAY 2018


FREEDOM IS NOT FREE

I watched the flag pass by one day,
It fluttered in the breeze;
A young Marine saluted it,
And then he stood at ease.

I looked at him in uniform,
So young, so tall, so proud;
With hair cut square and eyes alert,
He’d stand out in any crowd.

I thought… how many men like him
Had fallen through the years?
How many died on foreign soil?
How many mothers’ tears?

How many pilots’ planes shot down
How many died at sea
How many foxholes were soldiers’ graves
No, Freedom is not Free.

I heard the sound of Taps one night,
When everything was still;
I listened to the bugler play,
And felt a sudden chill;

I wondered just how many times
That Taps had meant “Amen”
When a flag had draped a coffin
Of a brother or a friend;

I thought of all the children,
Of the mothers and the wives,
Of fathers, sons and husbands
With interrupted lives.

I thought about a graveyard
At the bottom of the sea,
Of unmarked graves in Arlington.
No. Freedom is not Free!

©Copyright 1981 by Kelly Strong

As our nation observes Memorial Day, the members of the House Republican Caucus join with Americans everywhere to pay tribute to our fallen soldiers. Their service and sacrifices will never be forgotten.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

WCVB-TV's Karen Anderson Highlights Representative Jones' Rape Kit Testing Reforms

WCVB-TV aired a segment last night on House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr.’s efforts to empower victims of rape and sexual assault by changing the way Massachusetts tests and tracks sexual assault evidence kits.

Working closely with the Joyful Heart Foundation, Representative Jones was able to secure a series of reforms in the omnibus criminal justice reform bill Governor Baker signed into law last month.  Sexual assault victims will soon be able to follow the status of their kits through a statewide database being set up within the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPSS).  This database will allow victims to track their kits from the time they are collected and transferred to law enforcement, through the testing and storage process. 

The bill also requires police departments to clear their existing backlog of untested kits associated with a reported crime.  Similar testing conducted in other states has helped police to identify hundreds of serial rapists connected with previously unsolved crimes.

You can watch Representative Jones’ interview with WCVB’s Karen Anderson by playing the video posted here.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Representative Jones’ Statement on Release of Senate Ethics Committee Report

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) released the following statement today in response to the SenateEthics Committee’s report on its investigation into former Senate President Stanley Rosenberg:

“The Senate Ethics Committee’s report underscores the fact that Senator Rosenberg was not only aware of some of his husband’s inappropriate behavior, but also provided him with access to his official State House e-mail account and other confidential information.  Senator Rosenberg’s lapse in judgement and failure to put a stop to this constitutes a clear violation of the public’s trust that has unfairly compromised the integrity of the Massachusetts Senate. Given the information uncovered by the committee’s investigation, Senator Rosenberg should resign immediately from the Senate.  If he does not, it is incumbent that the Senate takes much stronger disciplinary action than what has been recommended in the report.”

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Assistant Minority Leader Brad Hill Appointed to Housing Bond Bill Conference Committee

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) is pleased to announce his appointment of Representative Bradford Hill (R-Ipswich) as a member of the housing bond bill conference committee.
                                        
The House of Representatives and the Senate recently approved different versions of An Act financing the production and preservation of housing for low and moderate income residents in an attempt to ensure longtime residents of Massachusetts can continue to afford to live in the state they call home.

Representative Hill will serve on the conference committee alongside Senators Joseph Boncore (D-Winthrop), John Keenan (D-Quincy) and Patrick O'Connor (R-Weymouth), as well as Representatives Kevin Honan (D-Brighton) and Joseph McGonagle (D-Everett).  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.

“Representative Hill has a clear understanding of the issues that serve as barriers to affordable housing for low and moderate income residents in Massachusetts,” said Representative Jones.  “Brad will bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the conference committee as it works to produce a bill that will promote affordable housing construction, create incentives to rehabilitate and modernize public housing, and support affordable housing opportunities.”

Representative Hill currently serves as the Assistant Minority Leader of the House of Representatives.  He represents the Fourth Essex District, which consists of the Towns of Hamilton; Ipswich; Manchester-by-the-Sea; Rowley; Topsfield; and Wenham.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

House Minority Leader's Statement on Release of House Ways and Means FY19 Budget Proposal

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) issued the following statement today in response to the release of the House Ways and Means Committee’s Fiscal Year 2019 budget:

“I appreciate Chairman Sanchez’s efforts in putting together his first budget proposal. Devising a spending plan of this scope and magnitude is never an easy task, but this year’s budget process will be particularly challenging, given the uncertainties over revenues and the unresolved status of several pending ballot questions which could significantly impact state revenues midway through the next fiscal year.  I’m looking forward to reading through the budget over the next few days and working with the members of the House Republican Caucus to identify potential amendments we can offer to protect the interests of the state’s taxpayers.”

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Representative Jones’ Rape Kit Testing Proposal Now on Governor Baker’s Desk Awaiting Signature

A proposal by House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) to assist and empower victims of rape and sexual assault is one step closer to becoming law.

Language filed by Representative Jones to address the current backlog of untested rape kits and create a statewide database for tracking these kits within the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPSS) was included in a comprehensive criminal justice reform bill approved by the House and Senate today.  The bill is now on Governor Charlie Baker’s desk awaiting his signature.

Under Representative Jones’ proposal, the Secretary of Public Safety and Security will convene a multidisciplinary task force, in conjunction with the Department of Public Health, to develop a tracking system that will provide sexual assault victims with continuous access to information on their kits.  Victims will be able to track the status of their kits from their initial collection and receipt by law enforcement, through the testing and storage process.

The bill also mandates that all existing untested kits associated with a reported crime be submitted for testing within 180 days.  In 2015, EOPSS requested reports from municipal police departments on the number of untested rape kits in their possession, but only 75 out of 351 departments responded.

The task force must also identify mechanisms to fund the testing of kits to remove any existing backlogs, to ensure victims of rape are not denied justice due to budgetary constraints.  Grant programs – including the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence-Inventory, Tracking and Reporting Program (SAFE-ITR) grant and the DNA Capacity Enhancement and Backlog Reduction (Debbie Smith) grant – are already in place to ensure states have the means to provide information to the victim, and bring the offender to justice.  Other cities and states – including the Idaho State Police and Portland, Oregon – also provide software free of charge to streamline the testing and cataloging of kits.

In drafting his proposal, Representative Jones worked closely with the Joyful Heart Foundation – a national organization that advocates for survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse – to develop a comprehensive approach that incorporates the best practices identified in other jurisdictions.  While a number of states have already passed rape kit reform laws, the changes adopted in Massachusetts will be among the most comprehensive in the nation.

“The forensic evidence obtained from testing these kits is critical to helping law enforcement connect individuals to unsolved crimes, but can also be used to help exonerate an innocent person,” said Representative Jones. “The reforms adopted today by the House and Senate send a clear message to survivors of sexual assault that the Commonwealth is fully invested in helping them achieve justice and hopefully realize a sense of healing after enduring such a traumatic experience.”

Major cities like Cleveland, Detroit, and Memphis have tested thousands of backlogged kits in storage.  In Detroit alone, a total of 11,341 kits were tested, resulting in 2,616 matches made on the DNA database and allowing authorities to identify 811 potential serial rapists who have committed crimes in 40 states and Washington, D.C.

In October of 2016, Governor Baker signed a law requiring forensic evidence obtained as part of a sexual assault or rape investigation to be retained for a minimum of 15 years, which corresponds to the statute of limitations for these crimes.  Previously, this evidence was required to be preserved for only six months, and victims had to petition every six months to have it preserved for a longer period of time.

The bill that is now on the Governor’s desk requires hospitals and medical facilities to notify local law enforcement within 24 hours of collecting sexual assault evidence.  Law enforcement agencies must retrieve the evidence kit within 3 business days of being notified, and will have up to 7 business days to submit the evidence for testing at the State Police or municipal crime lab.  The bill requires the lab to test each kit within 30 days of receipt.

The criminaljustice reform bill allows the Secretary of EOPSS to incrementally phase in sexual assault kit tracking systems, but requires all jurisdictions to be fully compliant by December 1, 2019.

Governor Baker has until April 14 to sign the bill into law.