Saturday, July 4, 2020

HAPPY 244th BIRTHDAY, AMERICA!



“I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure it will cost us to maintain this declaration, and support and defend these states. Yet through all the gloom I see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is worth all the means.” – July 3, 1776 letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams

On July 4, 1776 – 244 years ago today – the original 13 colonies officially declared their independence from the British monarchy and established the United States of America.  The Massachusetts House Republican Caucus joins with Americans everywhere today in celebrating our nation’s Independence Day. Have a safe and happy Fourth of July!

Monday, May 25, 2020

MEMORIAL DAY 2020: Freedom Is Not Free


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

This poem offers a sobering reminder of the true cost of freedom. Throughout our nation’s history, men and women from all walks of life have answered the call to serve, and many have made the ultimate sacrifice for their fellow citizens. As we observe Memorial Day, the members of the House Republican Caucus join with Americans everywhere in saluting our fallen soldiers and the loved ones they left behind. Their service and sacrifices will never be forgotten.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Marking the 75th Anniversary of VE Day


Today marks the 75th anniversary of VE Day, the day the United States and its Allies agreed to Germany’s unconditional surrender during World War II, marking the end of hostilities in Europe. Although the war would continue in the Pacific for several more months until Japan’s surrender, VE Day signaled that one of history’s deadliest armed conflicts was finally nearing an end after the loss of millions of lives. Today, we remember and honor members of America’s Greatest Generation for their service and sacrifice, and salute those who continue to serve our nation.
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Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Rep. Ferguson Named to Special Commission on Family Care and Child Care Services

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) has appointed State Representative Kimberly N. Ferguson (R-Holden) to a special commission that will explore the possibility of allowing candidates for public office in Massachusetts to use campaign funds for child care expenses.

The Special Commission on Family Care and Child Care Services will look at similar state and federal laws governing the use of campaign funds for family and child care services to see if it is feasible to offer the same benefit to Massachusetts candidates for state, county and municipal offices.  The commission will also set parameters for what constitutes an allowable use of campaign funds for these purposes, and will work to determine if safeguards can be implemented to ensure the state’s Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF) can adequately vet expenditures to prevent the unauthorized use of campaign funds.

At least three other states – Texas, Alabama and Wisconsin – allow campaign funds to be used for child care expenses.  Congressional candidates can also use funds to pay for child care expenses directly related to their campaign.

“The cost of child care is often cited as a deterrent to running for elected office, particularly for mothers of young children,” said Representative Jones.  “I believe Representative Ferguson will do an outstanding job helping the commission determine the proper framework for implementing potential changes to our campaign finance laws that would allow for the use of campaign funds to cover these expenses.”

"I am honored to have been appointed to this Commission by Minority Leader Jones and look forward to getting to work and producing a meaningful report and recommendations with my fellow Commissioners.    I appreciate his confidence in my work and input regarding this important matter," stated Representative Ferguson.

Ferguson is one of six legislators serving on the 11-member commission, which is being chaired by Representative John Lawn (D-Watertown) and Senator Barry Finegold (D-Andover).  The others include Senator Ryan Fattman (R-Sutton) and the House and Senate co-chairs of the Massachusetts Caucus of Women Legislators, Representative Elizabeth Malia (D-Boston) and Senator Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington).

Jill Ashton, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women; OCPF Director Michael Sullivan; and Pam Wilmot, Executive Director of Common Cause Massachusetts, are also serving on the commission.  The final two members will be selected by the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women and by Governor Charlie Baker, whose appointee must have “experience or expertise related to reducing gender, racial and economic disparities in civic engagement.” 

The commission is scheduled to release a report of its findings and recommendations by June 1, 2020.

Ferguson currently serves as the Ranking House Republican on the Joint Committee on Education and the House and Joint Committees on Rules, and is also a member of the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities.  She represents the First Worcester District, which is comprised of Holden, Paxton, Princeton, Rutland, Precinct 1 in Sterling and Precinct 2 in Westminster.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Representative Kane Appointed to State Commission on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) is pleased to announce that he has appointed Representative Hannah Kane (R-Shrewsbury) to the Massachusetts Commission on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth.

As a member of the commission, Kane will work with other legislators, state officials, formerly homeless youth, and advocacy groups to identify ways to improve access to housing and services for Massachusetts residents under the age of 25 who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. As part of its mission, the commission focuses on identifying and removing barriers encountered by unaccompanied homeless youth who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, as well as unaccompanied youth under the age of 18.

In making the appointment, Representative Jones cited Kane’s prior work as a board member at Shrewsbury Youth and Family Services and her ongoing charity fundraising efforts on behalf of the organization, which honored her in 2018 with its Harry S. Cutting, Jr. Award for outstanding commitment, contributions and support of the Shrewsbury community.

“Hannah’s advocacy and dedication to the youth of her district makes her a perfect fit for the commission,” said Representative Jones. “I am confident she will be an active and vocal member of the commission as it works to develop policy recommendations to address and prevent youth homelessness.”

“The Commission is instrumental in protecting youth in our state. As a mother and an elected official, I am passionate about protecting the young people of Massachusetts, especially those who are so vulnerable. I believe my background will make me effective serving in this role and I thank Minority Leader Jones for appointing me to the Commission,” remarked Representative Kane.

Originally established in 2012 as part of the Fiscal Year 2013 state budget, the Massachusetts Commission on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth was reconstituted in 2014 and is chaired by Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders. The commission is responsible for filing an annual report, along with recommendations for regulatory or legislative action, by December 31.

Since her election to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 2015, Kane has served on several special legislative commissions, including the Regional Transit Authority Task Force and the Special Commission on Local and Regional Public Health, which developed recommendations to help municipal and regional public health systems improve the delivery of services and preventive measures. She currently serves on the Massachusetts Food Policy Council and is a Co-Chair and founding member of the Food System Caucus.

Kane represents the 11th Worcester District, which is comprised of the town of Shrewsbury and Precincts 4 and 5 in Westborough. A member of the House Committee on Ways and Means, Kane also serves as the Ranking Minority Member of the Joint Committee on Cannabis Policy and the Joint Committee on Public Health.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving from The Capitol View!

The Capitol View wishes everyone a very safe and happy Thanksgiving!  As you gather with family and friends today to celebrate and give thanks, please remember to keep the men and women serving in our armed forces in your thoughts and prayers, particularly those who are unable to be home with their own families for the holidays.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Honoring Our Nation's Veterans


The Massachusetts House Republican Caucus salutes the members of our armed forces, both past and present, for their service to our Commonwealth and our nation. In honor of Veterans Day, The Capitol View presents the following poem, which helps explain the important role veterans have played throughout our country’s history.

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 

Monday, October 28, 2019

Representative Ferguson Appointed to Student Opportunity Act Conference Committee


State Representative Kimberly Ferguson (R-Holden) has been appointed to the conference committee to resolve differences between Senate Bill 2365 and House Bill 4145, An Act relative to educational opportunity for students.

The Student Opportunity Act was released by the Education Committee on Sept. 19. This legislation looks to implement the recommendations of the Foundation Budget Review Commission, and would add $1.5 billion in new funding to the public school system over a seven-year time frame.

The Senate engrossed its version of the bill on Oct. 3 and the House engrossed its on Oct. 23.

“I am honored to be appointed to the conference committee on this historic piece of legislation and thank the House Minority Leader for this opportunity. To me, this bill represents a road map and a true commitment to our future. Not a week went by that this critical legislation didn’t work its way into conversations with my constituents, various representatives from our schools, and various stakeholders. I continue to be proud that here in the commonwealth we have a strong, bipartisan commitment to education, and the bottom line is that we won’t stop pushing for high academic standards, achievement, and success for all of our children, and the funding to support just that” said Ferguson.

“As a member of the Foundation Budget Review Commission whose 2015 report provided the impetus to revisit the state’s education funding formula, Representative Ferguson understands the key issues that need to be addressed to help eliminate disparities between school districts,” said House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones Jr., R-North Reading. “I have no doubt that she will take an active role on the conference committee by advocating for meaningful reforms and accountability measures to ensure that all Massachusetts students have access to a quality education.”

Ferguson joins her House colleagues Rep. Alice Peisch, chairwoman of the Education Committee, and Rep. Paul Tucker of Salem.

Senators Jason Lewis, Michael Rodrigues, and Patrick O’Connor are the Senate conferees. The six-member conference committee could begin meeting as early as this week.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Representative Muratore to Serve on Skilled Nursing Facilities Task Force

State Rep. Mathew Muratore, R-Plymouth, has been named to a legislative task force that will explore ways to help stabilize the state’s nursing home industry.

In addition to making recommendations to ensure the financial stability of nursing homes in Massachusetts, the Skilled Nursing Facilities Task Force will also consider how these facilities fit within the continuum of elder care services and determine the best approach for addressing workforce shortages within the industry.

Muratore was appointed to the task force by House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones Jr., R-North Reading, who cited the Plymouth legislator’s nearly three decades of work on elder care issues. Prior to his 2014 election to the House of Representatives, Muratore began his career as a nursing home administrator in 1991, and spent 12 years as an administrator at Plymouth Rehabilitation and Health Care Center.

“Matt’s extensive hands-on experience gives him a unique understanding of the many challenges facing our state’s nursing homes,” said Jones. “I expect he will play a key role in helping the task force identify ways to put nursing homes back on a solid financial footing so that seniors and their families will continue to have access to a wide range of long-term care options.”

“Nursing homes play a vital role to residents of the commonwealth by providing options for both short-term rehab and long-term care,” said Muratore. “I am honored to be asked to lend my knowledge and experience as a licensed nursing home administrator for nearly 30 years to the legislative task force and am hopeful that we can continue to find solutions to assist struggling facilities.”

According to the Massachusetts Senior Care Association, nearly 150,000 elderly Massachusetts residents currently live in nursing homes, which employ about 77,000 workers in the commonwealth. Between 2016 and 2019, 24 nursing homes in the state closed their doors, and the MSCA has warned that dozens more are at risk of closure due to the lack of funding and workforce shortages.

Created as part of the Fiscal Year 2020 state budget, the 15-member task force will be chaired by Health and Human Services secretary Marylou Sudders. Other members serving on the task force include the House and Senate chairs of the Joint Committee on Elder Affairs; the secretary of elder affairs; the secretary of labor and workforce development; the commissioner and public health; the assistant secretary for MassHealth; and representatives from the MSCA, LeadingAge Massachusetts Inc., 1199SEIU, the Massachusetts ASsociation of Residential Care Homes Inc., and the Massachusetts Senior Action Council Inc.

The task force will file a report on its findings and recommendations by Feb. 1.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

House Minority Leader Brad Jones Supports Baker-Polito Administration's Temporary Ban on Vaping Product Sales in Response to Declared Public Health Emergency in Massachusetts


House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) posted the following message today after Governor Charlie Baker announced a public health emergency stemming from the use of vaping products:

Governor Charlie Baker declared a public health emergency today in response to a growing number of reported lung illnesses – both in Massachusetts and across the country – that appear to be linked to the use of vaping products.

To address this serious public health issue, the Governor has announced an immediate ban on the sale of all flavored and non-flavored vaping products and devices, including tobacco and marijuana.  The statewide ban applies to all retail store sales as well as online transactions, and will be in effect until January 25, 2020.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are now 530 “probable” cases of lung illnesses linked to vaping in 38 states, seven of which have proven fatal.   The Governor’s office revealed today that there have been three confirmed cases and two probable cases in Massachusetts reported to the CDC.  Although no single product has been identified as the primary cause of these illnesses, many of those affected have reported using either Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-containing products, or both THC and nicotine products.

I strong support the actions taken by the Baker-Polito Administration today.  As the growing number of reported cases show, this is an emerging health crisis that demands immediate action by the state.  While the temporary ban is in effect, Governor Baker says his administration will be consulting with medical experts and the Legislature to determine what additional steps should be taken to protect the public, including passing legislation and making other regulatory changes.  I look forward to taking part in these discussions and to working with the Administration to come up with additional solutions to ensure the public’s safety.

A copy of the Governor’s declaration is available at https://www.mass.gov/guides/declaration-of-public-health-emergency.

If you or someone you know is trying to stop smoking or vaping, you can call the state’s Helpline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit makesmokinghistory.org.