Monday, February 12, 2024

Representative McKenna Appointed to Massachusetts Rare Disease Advisory Council

State Representative Joseph D. McKenna (R-Webster) is proud to announce that he has been appointed by House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) to serve on the Massachusetts Rare DiseaseAdvisory Council.

McKenna is replacing State Representative Hannah Kane (R-Shrewsbury), who previously served on the Advisory Council but has reached the end of her three-year term.

The 29-member Advisory Council is responsible for advising the Governor, the Legislature and the Department of Public Health on the incidence of rare disease in Massachusetts, which is defined in state law as any condition that “affects fewer than 200,000 people in the United States, has status as an orphan disease for research purposes, or is known to be substantially under diagnosed and unrecognized as a result of lack of adequate diagnostic and research information.”

Although it was created as part of a 2021 omnibus healthcare reform bill known as An Act promoting a resilient health care system that puts patients first, the initial proposal to establish a Rare Disease Advisory Council was filed as a stand-alone bill in 2019 with McKenna and Kane as the lead co-sponsors.

“Joe has been at the forefront of advocating for the rights of individuals with rare diseases to ensure that they have access to appropriate health care, and he has continued to promote additional research and the development of effective diagnosis and treatment options for individuals living with rare medical conditions,” said Representative Jones. “Joe’s knowledge and passion for these issues will help provide a seamless transition for the Advisory Council as it continues its important work to assist this previously underserved population.”

In addition to developing and maintaining a comprehensive rare disease plan for the Commonwealth, the Advisory Council is also required to file an annual report by December 31.

“Though my lived experience as a member of a family with an extensive history of Hemophilia, a rare bleeding disorder that claimed the life of my father while also impacting two cousins and a nephew, I know and understand the daily challenges that patients, family members, caregivers, and care providers in the rare disease community face,” said Representative McKenna. “I am passionate about helping to elevate the voice of this incredible community and I am so excited to join many talented and passionate individuals to continue this mission as a member of the Council.”

McKenna was first elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 2014, after previously serving for three years as Chief of Staff to former State Representative Peter Durant (R-Spencer), who was recently elected to the Senate in a special election. In addition to serving as the Ranking Minority Member of both the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure and the House Committee on Human Resources and Employee Engagement, McKenna is also a member of the House Committee on Post Audit and Oversight, the House and Joint Committees on Ways and Means, and the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies.

McKenna represents the Eighteenth Worcester District, which includes the towns of Webster; Sutton; Douglas; Precincts 1 and 4 in Oxford; and Precinct 1 in Uxbridge.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Representative Jones’ Statement on Governor Healey’s Fiscal Year 2025 Budget Proposal

 House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) released the following statement today in response to Governor Maura Healey’s filing of her Fiscal Year 2025 state budget proposal:

“Governor Healey has filed a Fiscal Year 2025 budget that calls for significantly increased spending across state government, but those aspirations need to be tempered by the fiscal realities facing the Commonwealth. After six-plus months of tax revenues coming in lower than expected, Governor Healey has already implemented hundreds of millions of dollars in mid-year cuts and downgraded projected revenues by $1 billion for Fiscal Year 2024. At the same time, funding for the migrant shelter crisis continues to drain much-needed revenues that would otherwise have been spent on other programs and services, with no end in sight, as evidenced by the Governor’s companion piece of legislation filed today that would empty the Transitional Escrow Fund to pay for this program. It’s telling that using the $863 million available in this fund will still leave a projected funding shortfall of about $91 million, a number that is sure to grow unless meaningful reforms are implemented. The members of the Republican Caucus look forward to reading through the Governor’s budget, participating in the hearing process, and learning more about her specific spending plans to ensure that the interests of the state’s taxpayers are protected.”

Monday, January 15, 2024

Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
– the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in his Letter from Birmingham, Alabama jail, April 16, 1963

Throughout his lifetime, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a tireless advocate for justice and equality. As a leader of the American civil rights movement, he proved that non-violent protest can be used to achieve positive change in society. Today, the Massachusetts House Republican Caucus honors Dr. King’s remarkable life and enduring legacy.

Monday, January 8, 2024

Representative Jones’ Statement on Governor Healey’s Fiscal Year 2024 Budget 9C Cuts

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) released the following statement today following Governor Maura Healey’s announced 9C budget cuts:

“As the state’s fiscal situation worsens, difficult choices must be made to ensure that the Fiscal Year 2024 budget is balanced. In weighing the financial options available to maintain this balance, the state needs to set clear spending priorities to protect essential programs that benefit the residents of Massachusetts and ensure that taxpayer dollars are being managed responsibly. Unfortunately, some of the mid-year spending cuts announced by the Healey Administration today fall short of these goals. The state is hemorrhaging money while the price tag for addressing the migrant shelter crisis continues to climb at an unsustainable pace with no accompanying efforts to reform the system. This is exactly what Republicans predicted would happen when we debated the Fiscal Year 2023 closeout budget in December. The one reform we were able to secure in the emergency shelter program was a reporting requirement from the Administration, but no financial controls to slow this rate of spending which is now crowding out other priorities. As we sift through the fine print of the Administration’s budget balancing proposal it is clear we must do better in meeting the daunting fiscal challenges that lie ahead, and that requires a serious rethinking of our priorities moving forward.”

Thursday, December 7, 2023

Remembering Pearl Harbor, 82 Years Later

On December 7, 1941 – 82 years ago today – the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor came under attack. When it was over, 2,403 service members and civilians were dead and another 1,178 injured, leading President Franklin D. Roosevelt to declare that it would forever be remembered as “a date which will live in infamy.”

What happened on that fateful Sunday morning 82 years ago is a stark reminder of the true cost of freedom. While very few Pearl Harbor survivors are still alive today, our nation remains forever grateful to all of them for their service and their sacrifices.

 

On National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, the Massachusetts House Republican Caucus joins with Americans everywhere to honor the memories of the many individuals who perished at Pearl Harbor more than eight decades ago. We also pray for the safety of the many active servicemen and servicewomen stationed around the world who continue to stand ready to defend our nation.

Monday, December 4, 2023

House Republican Caucus Statement on House Acceptance of Fiscal Year 2023 Closeout Budget Conference Committee Report

The attached statement was released by House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) on behalf of the Massachusetts House Republican Caucus following this morning’s House standing vote to accept the conference committee report on the FY23 final deficiency appropriations bill:

 

“The House Republican Caucus understands the importance of passing a final deficiency appropriations bill to address the unfunded union contract situation, provide disaster relief funding for cities and towns, and meet the fiduciary responsibilities associated with closing the books on Fiscal Year 2023. At the same time, we remain deeply concerned about the lack of meaningful reforms contained in the bill to address the emergency shelter crisis created by the recent influx of thousands of migrants, which remains an untenable situation that must be resolved. Democratic leadership put us in an impossible situation by intentionally weaving these separate issues together. There is no legitimate reason that funding for union contracts and aid for cities and towns needed to be tied to controversial immigration policy; it was done by design.

The Democrats are trying to promote a false narrative laying the blame on our caucus for holding up final action on the closeout budget for the last few days. The reality is the Democrats delayed action on this bill for nearly two months, failed to reach an agreement before formal sessions ended on November 15, and did not produce a conference committee report until November 30, exactly eleven weeks after Governor Healey first filed the bill.

There has been little regard over the past 19 days, by some, for those caught in the crosshairs of this situation. We are in deep disagreement with the flawed immigration policy and lack of meaningful reform contained in the conference committee report. We all know the funding in this bill is just the tip of the iceberg which will ultimately crowd out spending in other areas absent serious and meaningful reforms.

We are dismayed that we were denied the opportunity by Democratic leadership to do our job as legislators, the job that we were elected to do by the citizens of this Commonwealth. Our Democrat colleagues, and all citizens who exercise their right to vote, no matter their opinion on these particular issues, also should be deeply dismayed by that fact. However, we refuse to engage in political games with the livelihoods of the hardworking men and women of our great state during the holiday season when they are already burdened daily by enormous financial obstacles created by failed policies, wasteful spending, and burdensome regulation. These contracts were negotiated in good faith and agreed to many months ago, and these workers should have received their pay raises before Labor Day, without being dragged by leadership into such a highly contentious issue as immigration policy.

Whether the majority party likes it or not, this is a democracy, and a democracy works best when multiple viewpoints are afforded a voice. One-party rule stifles debate, silences voices, and moves our state further from the democracy that this country was built on. When the majority ignores the rights of the minority, democracy is lost, and that is nothing to celebrate.”

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

House Republican Caucus Statement on Fiscal Year 2023 Final Deficiency Appropriations Bill

 House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) released the following statement today on behalf of the Massachusetts House Republican Caucus regarding the pending FY23 final deficiency appropriations bill:

 

“It has now been two weeks since Democratic leadership in the House and Senate failed to reach agreement on the FY23 final deficiency appropriations bill, making this the longest-delayed closeout budget since at least 1995. As a result, tens of thousands of state and county employees are still waiting for their long-overdue pay raises, cities and towns can’t access critical disaster relief funding, dozens of state programs are still in deficiency, and the Commonwealth as a whole is facing potentially serious financial repercussions for leadership’s failure to pass a bill closing the books on the previous fiscal year in a timely fashion.

 

On November 20, the House Republican Caucus attempted to break this impasse by submitting a letter to the conferees urging them to report a bill, in part, to fully fund the more than 90 collective bargaining agreements contained in both the House and Senate versions of the supplemental spending plan. Doing so would allow the state to fulfill its commitment to funding these contracts while leaving the more contentious provisions of the budget such as emergency shelter funding for newly arrived migrants in conference to be subject to further negotiations. As of today, the caucus has not received any response from the conferees, and it appears that they have yet to meet as a group and have instead relied on private discussions between the House and Senate Ways and Means chairs to try to broker a deal. 

 

The House Republican Caucus remains deeply concerned and strongly opposed to the migrant provisions put forth by House and Senate Democrats, which make up a significant portion of the closeout budget at $250 million. The state’s emergency shelter system has been overwhelmed by the recent influx of thousands of individuals and families arriving in Massachusetts, while cities, towns, and school districts continue to be burdened by the increased costs associated with housing and educating these migrants. Although Governor Healey has implemented a cap on the number of migrant families entering the emergency shelter system at 7.500 and moved others to a waitlist, there is currently no plan in place to stem the flow of new arrivals and no policy reforms implemented to ensure that longtime residents in need are not denied housing assistance, which is completely unacceptable. 

 

If it is the intent of Democratic leadership to attempt to pass the $2.8 billion closeout budget in its entirety in an informal session, minus any meaningful policy reforms, we want to make it clear that we strongly oppose this option. The fact that the Speaker, Senate President, and Governor have been unable to reach consensus on the migrant issue shows that this is too contentious an issue to take up in an informal session. The House Republican Caucus believes this spending bill should receive a roll call vote in a full formal session, and not be passed in a sparsely attended informal session. The hard-working men and women who have been waiting months for their collectively bargained pay raises continue to show up for work, and the members of the House and Senate should be prepared to do the same and reconvene in a full formal session.” 

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Honoring All Who Served On Veterans Day

Throughout our nation’s history, Americans have answered the call to serve. The Massachusetts House Republican Caucus salutes the many men and women of our armed forces, both past and present, for their service to our Commonwealth and to our nation. We are forever grateful for their willingness to serve and to place themselves in harm’s way so that all Americans can continue to enjoy the many freedoms and personal liberties we hold dear. We also want to recognize and thank all of our military families, who truly understand the meaning of sacrifice and the enormous cost of preserving our many freedoms.

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Durant Wins Senate Special Election

Congratulations to House Republican Caucus member and Senator-elect Peter Durant, who defeated Democratic Representative Jon Zlotnik in yesterday’s special Senate election for the Worcester and Hampshire District. Durant, who has been a member of the House since winning a special election in May of 2011 and currently represents the 6th Worcester District, succeeds former Senator Anne Gobi, who resigned earlier this year after being named as Governor Maura Healey’s Director of Rural Affairs. Be sure to check out full media coverage of yesterday’s special election results in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, CommonWealth Beacon, Boston Herald, Boston Globe, WGBH, SpectrumNews1, and MassLive

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Statement: Massachusetts House Republican Caucus Stands in Support of Israel

The Massachusetts House Republican Caucus released the following statement today expressing its support for Israel and condemning Hamas’ attack on the nation’s citizens:

“The members of the Massachusetts House Republican Caucus stand in solidarity with the citizens of Israel as the country defends itself against the unprovoked terrorist attacks by Hamas that began during the Jewish Sabbath. We condemn, in the strongest possible terms, these horrific terrorist acts which have already killed or injured thousands of innocent civilians, including many women and children. We also condemn the indiscriminate abduction of individuals and Hamas’ threat to execute these hostages. Today, we call on all state and federal officials across the nation to join us in denouncing Hamas’ appalling actions and to confirm our unwavering support for the citizens of Israel.”