Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Rep. Dooley Appointed to Ride for Hire Task Force

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) has appointed Representative Shawn Dooley (R-Norfolk) to serve as his designee on a legislative task force that will review the current laws, regulations and local ordinances governing licensed hackneys, taxis, livery and transportation network companies in the Commonwealth.

Created as part of a new state law regulating Uber, Lyft and other ride-sharing companies operating in Massachusetts, the Ride for Hire Task Force will explore issues related to public safety, consumer protection and the economic fairness and equity of the regulatory structure governing the ride for hire industry.

Representative Dooley currently serves on the Joint Committee on Financial Services, which held a public hearing on several ride-sharing proposals last fall and produced an earlier version of the bill that was signed into law in August.

“It’s important that we have sufficient safeguards in place to protect the public while also making sure consumers have a wide range of transportation options available to them,” said Representative Jones.  “Representative Dooley’s work on this bill in committee gives him a unique perspective on the industry that will enable him to be a key contributor to the task force.”

The Legislature this year authorized the creation of a new division within the state’s Department of Public Utilities (DPU) to oversee the ride for hire industry.  As part of its review, the task force will look at ways for the new division to compile statistical reports relative to the number and type of incidents reported to transportation network companies, and the possibility of establishing municipal licensing commissions to regulate the development and oversight of the industry at the local level.

The task force will also explore requiring transportation network companies to provide an emergency safety alert feature on their user interface so riders can connect a call to the police, send alerts about their trip and their driver to local authorities, access contact information for the company’s incident response team, and send automated messages to preselected emergency contacts using real time global positioning system monitoring.

The task force is due to report back to the Legislature with its recommendations by July 1, 2017.

In addition to Representative Dooley, the task force will also include Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack, Secretary of Public Safety and Security Daniel Bennett, Insurance Commissioner Daniel Judson, the director of the new division that will oversee transportation network companies, and three other legislators.  The remaining six members of the task force will be appointed by Governor Baker, and will include representatives from the Disability Law Center, the Massachusetts Municipal Association, and the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, as well as members representing transportation network companies, the hackney and taxi industry and the livery industry.

Representative Dooley represents the Ninth Norfolk District, which includes the towns of Norfolk, Plainville, Wrentham, Medfield, Millis and Walpole.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Representative Hannah Kane Named to Special Commission on Local and Regional Public Health

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) has appointed Representative Hannah Kane (R-Shrewsbury) to serve as his designee on the special commission on local and regional public health.  The commission was created through legislation signed into law recently by Governor Charlie Baker.

As a member of the special commission, Representative Kane will help assess the effectiveness and efficiency of municipal and regional public health systems in Massachusetts.  The commission will file a report by July 31, 2017 containing recommendations for strengthening the delivery of public health services and preventive measures at the local and regional level.

“Representative Kane has done a tremendous job as a member of the Joint Committee on Public Health, and I am confident she will bring a wealth of information and insight to the special commission as it works to develop ways to improve the delivery of public health services in Massachusetts,” said Representative Jones.

Representative Kane is one of four state legislators serving on the 25-member commission, which is being chaired by Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel.  The commission also includes a representative of the Massachusetts Municipal Association and several members representing public health sector organizations from around the state.

In carrying out its research, the commission will examine the capacity of local and regional public health authorities in comparison to national public health standards and recommendations, while also evaluating existing regional collaboration and various service delivery models.  The commission will also look at existing municipal and state resources for local health; educational standards, credentialing and training issues for both the current and future public health workforce; and ways to strengthen the reporting, gathering and analysis of public health data.

Representative Kane represents the 11th Worcester District, which is comprised of the town of Shrewsbury and Precincts 4 and 5 in Westborough.  In addition to the Joint Committee on Public Health, Representative Kane also currently serves as a member of the Joint Committee on Transportation, the House Committee on Personnel & Administration and the House Committee on Redistricting.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Representative Kelcourse Appointed to Online Gaming and Fantasy Sports Commission

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) has appointed State Representative Jim Kelcourse (R-Amesbury) to serve on a special commission charged with conducting a comprehensive study relative to the regulation of online gaming, fantasy sports gaming and daily fantasy sports.

Created as part of a statewide economic development bill signed into law by Governor Baker on August 10, the nine-member special commission will consider all aspects of online gaming and fantasy sports, including issues related to economic development, consumer protection, taxation, legal and regulatory structures, the implications for existing gaming, and the burdens and benefits to the Commonwealth. The special commission is due to report back with its findings and recommendations by July 31, 2017.

“Fantasy sports gaming has come under increased scrutiny this session, and it is important for the state to maintain proper oversight of the industry to ensure that consumers are protected,” said Representative Jones.  “I am confident that Jim’s knowledge and insight as a member of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies will help guide the special commission as it works to develop a plan to address the many issues surrounding fantasy sports gaming in the Commonwealth.”

Under the economic development bill, online fantasy sports companies like the Boston-based DraftKings are allowed to operate in Massachusetts until July 31, 2018 as long as they comply with regulations established by Attorney General Maura Healey.  Those regulations, which took effect on July 1, limit participation in fantasy sports contests to individuals who are 21 or older, prohibit fantasy sports contests that are tied in to amateur or college athletic events, and establish a deposit limit of $1,000 per month for most players.

The special commission will be chaired by State Representative Joseph Wagner (D-Chicopee) and Senator Eileen Donoghue (D-Lowell), who currently serve as the House and Senate Chairs of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies.  The commission will also include a member appointed by Governor Baker with industry expertise in fantasy sports gaming, a member appointed by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, and a member appointed by the Attorney General who has expertise in fantasy sports gaming consumer protection.

Representative Kelcourse represents the First Essex District, which includes the communities of Amesbury, Newburyport and Salisbury.  In addition to serving on the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies, he is also a member of the Joint Committee on Education and the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Representative Kimberly Ferguson Named to Special Commission on Behavioral Health

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) has appointed State Representative Kimberly N. Ferguson (R-Holden) to serve as his designee on the Special Commission on Behavioral Health Promotion and Upstream Prevention.

Created as part of the Fiscal Year 2017 state budget, the special commission is charged with investigating evidence-based practices, programs and systems to prevent behavioral health disorders and promote behavioral health across the Commonwealth.  In addition to developing recommendations for improving behavioral health in Massachusetts through early detection and intervention, the commission will also focus on increasing collaboration at the state and local levels between community coalitions and public health, mental health, healthcare, education, social services and public safety organizations.

“Representative Ferguson’s education and background in speech/language pathology will serve her well as a member of the special commission,” said Representative Jones.  “I am confident that she will make a positive contribution to the commission as it works to improve the state’s ability to assist individuals and families dealing with behavioral health issues.”

The commission will hold a minimum of 3 public hearings, and is required to issue a report within 24 months of its first meeting.  The commission also has the option of making a draft report available for public comment before filing its final version.

Representative Ferguson is the Ranking House Republican on the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities, and is also a member of the Joint Committee on Education and the House Committee on Ways and Means.  A former member of the Wachusett Regional School District Committee and the Holden Board of Selectmen, she is currently serving her third term in the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

Representative Ferguson represents the First Worcester District, which is comprised of Holden, Paxton, Princeton, Rutland, Precinct 1 in Sterling and Precinct 2 in Westminster.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Representative Muratore Named to Special Legislative Commission on Public Records

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) has appointed State Representative Mathew Muratore (R-Plymouth) to a special legislative commission that will consider expanding the definition of public records and examine ways to make information about the legislative process more accessible to the public.

In carrying out its mission, the commission will explore the constitutionality and practicality of subjecting all three branches of state government – the Legislature, the executive branch, and the judiciary – to the public records law.  It will also study ways to improve the use of information technology and other means to ensure that the public has access to information about the legislative process, including public hearing agendas, public testimony, committee votes and roll call votes recorded in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Muratore is one of 14 legislators serving on the special commission, which was created as part of the comprehensive public records law overhaul signed by Governor Charlie Baker on June 6, 2016.  A member of the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight, which drafted an earlier version of the public records law reform bill, Muratore also served on the conference committee that produced the final bill, which constituted the first significant changes to the Massachusetts public records law in more than 40 years.

“Representative Muratore has a strong understanding of the public records law, and this knowledge will serve him well as he works with the other commission members to determine how to create more openness and transparency throughout state government,” said Representative Jones.

The commission is schedule to file a report, along with any recommendations for legislation or changes to existing legislative rules, by December 30, 2017.

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 first elected to the Legislature in November of 2014.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Remembering September 11th

“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

Those of us who are old enough can remember exactly where we were on September 11, 2001.  Fifteen years ago today, thousands of innocent lives were lost in the terrorist attacks on New York, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania.  But on that terrible day, we also witnessed countless acts of compassion, heroism and caring, with many individuals sacrificing their own lives to save others.  As we mark this somber anniversary, let us keep the families of the victims, the first responders, and the service men and women who continue to protect us in our thoughts and prayers, not only today, but each and every day.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Representative David Vieira Appointed to Serve on Public Records Law Working Group

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) has appointed Representative David T. Vieira (R-East Falmouth) as his designee on the working group charged with reviewing and evaluating the application of the public records law as it relates to law enforcement.

Created as part of the recent public records law reform package signed by Governor Charlie Baker, the working group will review determinations of the supervisor of records and judicial decisions related to requests for investigatory materials compiled by law enforcement.  Current law exempts these materials from the public records law if their disclosure “would probably so prejudice the possibility of effective law enforcement that such disclosure would not be in the public interest.”

Following its review, the working group will issue its findings regarding the public interest in releasing records made and kept by police departments, including arrest records, as well as the privacy and confidentiality concerns related to the release of such records.  A report on the working group’s finding and recommendations will be filed with the Legislature by December 30, 2017.

“As the Ranking Member of the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security, Representative Vieira has a firm grasp on the issues that impact law enforcement,” said Representative Jones.  “I believe David’s experience will serve him well on the working group as it considers potential changes to the public records law.”

“Transparency is critical to restoring citizen trust in government, and I look forward to finding the nexus between transparency in law enforcement records and the confidentiality necessary to protect the public interest,” Representative Vieira said.
Representative Vieira is one of four legislators serving on the working group, which will be chaired by Secretary of State William Galvin and include a total of 16 members.  Secretary of Public Safety and Security Daniel Bennett; Court Administrator of the Trial Court Harry Spence; Attorney General Maura Healey; and Secretary of Administration and Finance Kristen Lepore will also serve as members.

In addition to these state officials, the working group will also include representatives of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts; the Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association; the Massachusetts Town Clerks Association; the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association; the State Police Commissioned Officers Association of Mass.; the Massachusetts Coalition of Police; and the Massachusetts Municipal Association.

Representative Vieira represents the 3rd Barnstable District, which consists of Precincts 3, 4, 5 and 6 in Bourne; Precincts 3, 4, 7, 8 and 9 in Falmouth; and the town of Mashpee.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Representative Orrall Named to Special Commission to Investigate Pay Disparity

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) has appointed Representative Keiko M. Orrall (R-Lakeville) as his designee on a special commission that will investigate pay disparity in Massachusetts.

Created as part of the historic pay equity bill that was signed into law on August 1, the special commission will study the factors, causes and impact of pay disparity based on race, color, religious creed, national origin, gender identity, sexual orientation, genetic information, ancestry, disability and military service.  The commission will report back to the Legislature with its findings by January 1, 2019.

“Representative Orrall has been a strong advocate for pay equity and ending gender-based wage discrimination in the workplace,” said Representative Jones.  “I am confident she will prove to be a valuable asset to the special commission as it looks at the root causes of pay disparity and how we can address this issue moving forward.”

Representative Orrall is one of eight members serving on the commission, which will be chaired by Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Ronald L. Walker II.  Attorney General Maura Healey will also serve on the commission, along with five other members to be appointed by the House Speaker, Senate President and Senate Minority Leader.

Representative Orrall represents the 12th Bristol District, which is comprised of the towns of Berkley and Lakeville and portions of Taunton and Middleborough.  She currently serves on both the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development and the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies.

Friday, July 29, 2016

The Jewish Advocate Weighs in on Representative Steven Howitt's Anti-BDS Bill

The Jewish Advocate's Sara Brown has posted an update on the anti-BDS legislation filed by Representative Steven Howitt (R-Seekonk).

Introduced last September, Representative Howitt's bill would require the Massachusetts public employee pension system to divest all holdings from companies that engage in boycotts or other economic sanctions against the State of Israel. Similar divestment efforts have been successful in 11 other states, including Illinois, South Carolina and Rhode Island.

The story is available on the Advocate's website.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Rep. David DeCoste Named to Massachusetts Post-Deployment Commission

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) has appointed Representative David F. DeCoste (R-Norwell) as his designee to the Massachusetts Post-Deployment Commission, which will develop recommendations for programs to assist the state’s service members as they transition to civilian life after deployment.

The Commission will study the barriers facing military personnel returning from deployment and identify ways the state can better assist these veterans with accessing education, employment, healthcare, housing and other services.  The Commission will also develop recommendations for providing mental health counseling services to returning veterans for treating post-traumatic stress injuries, and improving communication between mental health support services and veterans who may benefit from these services.

Representative DeCoste is a 22-year veteran of the United States Army, where he achieved the rank of Major.  He currently serves on the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs, as well as the Joint Committees on Housing and Public Service.

“Veterans transitioning back to civilian life often face significant barriers when trying to secure housing or a job,” said Representative Jones.  “With his extensive military background, Representative DeCoste understands the many challenges facing our returning service members. I am confident he will use this expertise to help the Commission identify the most effective ways to improve the delivery of services to our veterans.”

Representative DeCoste is one of six legislators serving on the Commission, which will be chaired by Secretary of Veterans Services Francisco A. UreƱa and include representatives from several of the state’s executive agencies.  In addition to Major General Gary W. Keefe, the Adjutant General of the Massachusetts National Guard, the Commission will also include representatives of three Massachusetts-based veterans organizations: Leroy Ashwood, President & CEO of Brave for Veterans, Inc. of Norwood; Sharon Tracy, Executive Director of Quabbin Mediation, Inc. of Orange; and John Downing, CEO & President of Soldier On, Inc., which has offices in Leeds and Pittsfield.

The Massachusetts Post-Deployment Commission was created by the Legislature as part of An Act relative to housing, operations, military service, and enrichment, also known as the HOME Act, which Governor Charlie Baker signed into law on July 14.

The Commission is scheduled to file a report containing its findings and recommendations with the Legislature by September 17, 2017.

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