Thursday, December 7, 2017

'A Date Which Will Live in Infamy'


It was 76 years ago today – on December 7, 1941 – that the US Army and Naval Base at Pearl Harbor came under attacked by the Imperial Japanese Navy.  More than 2,000 U.S. military personnel were killed and over 1,000 more were wounded in the early morning attack, prompting President Franklin D. Roosevelt to proclaim that this would be “a date which will live in infamy.”

On this Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, all of us here at The Capitol View want to offer our sincere gratitude and appreciation to the service men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice. We also want to thank those who continue to serve our nation and keep America strong.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

House Approves Representative Jones’ Proposal to Address State Backlog of Untested Rape Kits

The Massachusetts House of Representatives has approved a proposal offered by House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) to overhaul the state’s policy for tracking and testing rape kits.

Adopted as an amendment to a comprehensive criminal justice reform bill, Representative Jones’ proposal calls for the creation of a rape kit tracking system within the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPSS), which will be used to maintain the current location and status of all untested kits and will also allow victims of sexual assault to anonymously track their kits.  The amendment was adopted on a vote of 155-0.

In addition to requiring rape kits to be kept for 50 years, the amendment also mandates an audit of all existing untested kits associated with a reported crime to measure the extent of the current backlog, which is currently unknown. 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.

“We don’t even know how many of these rape kits have gone untested, and that is unacceptable, given how crucial the evidence collected from these kits can be in helping to convict dangerous criminals and connect individuals to unsolved crimes,” said Representative Jones. “Each untested kit represents a missed opportunity to provide a sense of healing to a survivor and increased safety to a community, but today’s vote is an important step in helping survivors of sexual assault to achieve justice.”

Representative Jones’ amendment is modeled after national policy guidelines advocated for by the Joyful Heart Foundation.  Thirty-two other states have already passed rape kit reform laws, while major cities like Cleveland, Detroit, and Memphis have taken action to test 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.

The Massachusetts Senate recently approved its own criminal justice reform bill, which did not address the backlog of untested rape kits.  A conference committee will soon be appointed to work out the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

SALUTING AMERICA'S VETERANS


The Capitol View joins with Americans everywhere in honoring our veterans and thanking them for their service to our state and our nation.  In observation of Veterans Day, we present the following poem that explains the important role veterans have played in preserving the many freedoms we continue to enjoy.
 
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  

Friday, October 27, 2017

House Minority Leader’s Statement on Sexual Harassment Prevention Order Adoption

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) issued the following statement today following the House’s adoption of an Order directing House Counsel to undertake a comprehensive review of its policies to ensure a workplace free of sexual harassment:


“I applaud Speaker DeLeo’s decision to initiate a comprehensive review of House policies on sexual harassment.  Everyone deserves a safe work environment free of sexual harassment, and no one should ever fear they will be subject to retaliation for reporting unacceptable behavior by a colleague, co-worker or supervisor. I strongly endorse this effort to address a very serious issue, and I stand ready to assist in any way possible.”

Friday, September 22, 2017

House Minority Leader Brad Jones Backs Passage of Drone Search Warrant Legislation in MA


The following column by House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) appeared in the September 17 edition of the Boston Globe’s North Section:

One of the most fundamental legal protections enshrined in the US Constitution as part of the Bill of Rights is the prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures. Under the Fourth Amendment, all citizens have a reasonable expectation of privacy and cannot be subject to a search without a probable cause warrant.

The growing popularity of unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, presents a challenge to upholding personal privacy rights in Massachusetts because our state laws have not kept pace with this rapidly evolving technology. That may soon change.

Proposed legislation I am cosponsoring would require police to obtain a search warrant before using drones as part of a criminal investigation. Several other states – including Florida, Maine, North Dakota and Virginia – already have similar requirements in place, and Massachusetts residents should be able to enjoy these same protections.

Requiring warrants for drone surveillance would in no way hinder law enforcement’s ability to investigate suspected criminal activity. Rather, it would simply ensure that state and municipal police departments are following the same procedures they already use when conducting an investigation without the use of drone technology.

The proposed legislation contains a provision allowing drones to be used without a warrant in certain limited emergency situations, but only if there is “reasonable cause” to believe there is an imminent threat to the life or safety of a person, such as when a child goes missing. In these cases, the operator of the drone would be required to document the specific nature of the emergency, and a supervisor would need to file an affidavit detailing the reasons for the warrant-less emergency usage within 48 hours of the drone’s deployment.

The bill contains additional privacy protections by mandating drones be used only to collect data on the individual who is the actual subject of the warrant, and requiring any data collected on other individuals not targeted by the warrant be deleted within 24 hours.

Currently, only a handful of municipal police departments in Massachusetts have purchased drones, including Attleborough and Hanover, but that number is likely to increase in the future. Implementing statewide guidelines now, including a warrant requirement for conducting drone surveillance, is critical to ensuring residents’ civil liberties and civil rights are properly protected.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Representative Mirra: Privatizing MBTA Garages Would Mean 'Better Service at a Lower Cost’


The following column by Representative Leonard Mirra (R-Newbury) appeared in the September 10 edition of the Boston Globe’s North Section:

After years of mismanagement and neglect, the financially plagued MBTA is burdened with waste and inefficiency. As recently as 2015, it was projecting a cost growth rate that was three times the amount of revenues. Of the $132 million spent on bus maintenance in fiscal 2016, nearly $100 million was for labor.

Bankrolled by T riders and taxpayers, the MBTA had the highest vehicle maintenance per hour costs of bus operation of six comparable transit agencies in 2015, according to a new report from the Pioneer Institute.

At $44.30 per hour, MBTA bus maintenance costs were 65 percent higher than the $26.82 average of the nation’s 25 largest public transit agencies that year. Clearly, we can do better. Thankfully, bus maintenance privatization offers the MBTA an opportunity to address some runaway expenses.

The proposal to privatize bus operations is not a scheme to “bust unions,” nor a “race to the bottom” that drives down wages and harms working conditions. The plan simply allows for private companies to allow MBTA cost savings through increased flexibility and lower staffing, while still employing union machinists working under their collective bargaining contracts.

For instance, T supervisors are prohibited from turning wrenches, leaving them unable to assist machinists. In a private company, “working supervisors” would be free to work alongside machinists when needed.

Maintenance privatization is hardly a revolutionary idea. Our Regional Transit Authorities — two of which operate in Greater Lowell and through much of the Merrimack Valley — have had private companies service buses for years. Their costs are much lower. While the T’s total cost per revenue hour is $56, RTAs hover around $31, with the Worcester RTA at $25.

The T outsourced overhauls on 190 buses in 2012. The agency found that doing the work in-house cost 50 percent more than shipping buses to Michigan. Recently, the T outsourced cash-handling to Brinks, cutting costs by two-thirds; Brinks runs nearly 15 percent under the $300,000 monthly contract.

While bringing costs under control cannot be accomplished overnight, outsourcing certain operations will move us closer. A focused and efficient transportation agency, combined with reinvested cost savings, means better service at a lower cost.

Monday, September 11, 2017

REMEMBERING 9/11

“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

Today, we gather as families, as communities, but more importantly as Americans to remember those individuals who lost their lives on September 11, 2001.

Let us never forget.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

WCVB-TV's Mike Beaudet Highlights One of Representative Jones' Sex Offender Bills


WCVB-TV aired an investigative piece on former priest and convicted pedophile Paul Shanley last night which highlighted legislation filed by House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) to prohibit multiple sex offenders from residing at the same address.

House Bill 858 would bar level 3 sex offenders – those deemed most likely to reoffend – from “renting, residing, or otherwise occupying a single-family dwelling or a unit in a multi-family dwelling with another finally classified level 3 sex offender, regardless of the permanent or temporary residential status of either sex offender, unless those persons are legally related by consanguinity, affinity or adoption.”  Representative Jones originally filed this bill two years ago, in response to concerns raised by the North Reading Police Department and several constituents who had contacted him about two level 3 offenders who were living together in town.

Shanley was recently released from prison after serving 12 years for rape and abuse of a child and now resides in Ware, MA.  Two other level 3 offenders are also residing at the same address, in a building owned by yet another level 3 offender.

House Bill 858 is currently pending before the Joint Committee on the Judiciary.  A public hearing on the legislation has not yet been scheduled.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

House Minority Leader Brad Jones Hails Today's Signing of MA Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) hailed today’s signing of House Bill 3680, An Act Establishing the Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, saying it “will provide many important protections for working mothers in the Commonwealth.”

Representative Jones was one of the original co-sponsors of this legislation, which was filed in January as House Bill 1038.  A redrafted version of the bill was reported out favorably by the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development on May 1, and it later received unanimous approval in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act requires employers to offer reasonable accommodations to workers who are pregnant or nursing, including modified work schedules, temporary assignment to a less strenuous position, and more frequent bathroom breaks.  It also prohibits employers from discriminating against pregnant workers when hiring or promoting, or retaliating against an employee for requesting an accommodation.

“The new law sends a clear message that Massachusetts will not tolerate discrimination in the workplace,” said Representative Jones.  “I’m proud to stand in support of pregnant workers in the Commonwealth.”

The new law takes effect on April 1, 2018.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Salem News Endorses Rep. Jones' Call for 'Wait and See' Approach to Budget Veto Overrides

The Salem News has endorsed House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr.’s efforts to convince House leadership to adopt a “wait and see” approach to taking up Governor Baker’s FY18 budget veto overrides.  The newspaper is backing Representative Jones’ call for delaying any veto overrides until after this summer’s revenue figures are in, agreeing that legislators “should refrain from overriding vetoes until there is a better idea of the state’s financial health.”

You can read the Salem News’ editorial here.