MAJOR BILLS DELAYED IN CONFERENCE COMMITTEE

COMPOUNDING PHARMACY REFORM

WELFARE REFORM

MERCURY THERMOMETERS

EARLY VOTING - ELECTIONS REFORM

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Hardship Listening Tour Wraps up in Townsend

The Hardship Listening Tour wrapped up last night with its seventh and final stop in Townsend. Close to 75 residents attended the forum at the North Middlesex Regional High School. Representatives Brad Jones, Robert Hargraves, Elizabeth Poirier and Jay Barrows hosted the event and listened as dozens of Commonwealth citizens expressed their concerns with the current state of the economy in Massachusetts.

The Hardship Listening Tour was a month long, statewide effort to give constituents an opportunity to discuss proposed tax, toll and fee increases.

Other forums were held in Middleton, Dartmouth, Sandwich, Auburn, Westfield and Attleboro. Nearly 700 people turned out to the various events across the state.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Representative Brad Hill: Lesson Not Learned

Does the Legislature truly want reform and transparency or just the status quo? The Legislature recently debated the way we will redistrict our legislative seats and I must say that I was disappointed in what was ultimately adopted by both the House and the Senate and sent to the Governor’s desk for his affirmation. You see, the Legislature had a great opportunity to change the way we do business. Before I begin to recap recent proceedings, let me give you a brief explanation of the history of district drawings.

Born in Marblehead in 1744, Elbridge Thomas Gerry was elected to a seat on the General Court of the province of Massachusetts in 1772. In the early 1800’s, Gerry ran unsuccessfully for Governor of Massachusetts. Finally elected in 1810, Governor Gerry suffered defeat in 1812 over his support for a redistricting bill that created the word “gerrymander”. Gerrymandering, a term derived from Governor Gerry’s name, is a political tactic still in use today which redraws boundaries of Congressional, legislative and Governor Council districts in order to favor certain political parties according to race, ethnicity, minority groups, and partisanship.
How bad has this process become here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts? Just look back ten years and see that this process prompted litigation from three legislative districts against the State, one of which was found to be unconstitutional and disgraced a former Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. Changes need to happen!

Now back to the recent vote, the legislature was given an opportunity to implement these changes and take the politics out of this process. We could have ensured that although the term gerrymandering was created here, its practice would never again rear its ugly head in Massachusetts. House Republicans called for the creation of an independent commission to redraw and create legislative districts for members of Congress, the Legislature and the Governor’s Council, only to be outvoted and shot down by a majority of members on this crucial issue.

By the way, this wasn’t a Republican idea. This initiative was proposed by Common Cause and endorsed by the League of Women Voters, Governor Patrick, former Governor Mitt Romney, as well as dozens of newspapers throughout the Commonwealth. The Republican’s proposal would have created a commission consisting of a dean or professor of law, political science or government from a Massachusetts institution of higher learning appointed by the Governor; a retired justice appointed by the Attorney General; and an expert in civil rights law appointed by the Secretary of State. It would also allow the four legislative leaders to nominate three names to ensure balance on the commission.

This measure was defeated by a shocking 132-23 vote. What was even more puzzling about this vote was that prior to the actual vote being taken was that at least two dozen of my colleagues who voted against this measure actually co-sponsored legislation that would have done the same thing.

It is time for Republicans and Democrats alike, to work together to promote reform, honesty and transparency in our government. This reform has to start in our districts…it has to start on the borders of our cities and our towns and stretch to the ballot boxes…it has to start with your elected officials…it has to start with you. I implore you to hold us to task on these issues. Write us letters of support or even disagreement, write your own letters to the editor and let everyone know that you care about action and inaction on Beacon Hill. Otherwise, it will continue to be business-as-usual.

Representative Jeff Perry: Taxes Aren't the Solution

It is that time of year again. The Massachusetts Legislature is about to begin our annual budget debate on Beacon Hill. While Governor Patrick and several liberal legislators are suggesting that the only way to solve our current fiscal situation is via new or increased taxation, the fact remains that the State budget is full of earmarks and special interest spending and we have seen very little reform. Taxes aren’t the solution to this economic situation.

Rather than focus on additional taxes, in this recession, government should be lowering taxes. It is Economics 101 that when government collects fewer taxes from the citizens, the additional money is put into the stream of commerce. This will stimulate economic activity, which leads to higher sales and employment tax collections and less people dependent on government programs and services. This is exactly the logic of the federal government lowering interest rates or sending everyone a rebate check when the economy slows down.

The Majority Party on Beacon Hill does not agree with such a proven economic theory and has proposed more than a dozen new or increased taxes. The most widely discussed has been Governor Patrick’s proposed 27-cent increase in the state gas tax. This would give us the highest such tax in the nation, at a total 50.5 cents of taxes per gallon. An increased gas tax will hurt those who least can afford it. Many folks of low or modest income are high consumers of gasoline and would bear the brunt of this increase.

In a direct assault to the tourism industry, Governor Patrick has revived his proposal to raise the meals tax and the hotel taxes. While tourists would be paying a portion of such increases, we all go out to eat and the psychological impact on the restaurant and hotel businesses is potentially devastating. If the message to would be visitors is that Massachusetts is raising our gasoline, meals and hotel taxes, it is only logical many would consider other vacation destinations.

Other ideas of our tax-happy Governor include increasing Registry of Motor Vehicles fees. Governor Patrick is proposing to "update and consolidate" fees at the Registry to raise over $75 million in new revenue (taxes). The Governor has also proposed the sales tax exemption be eliminated on all alcohol, candy and sweetened beverage purchases. This idea would raise over $121 million to fund the growing size and scope of state government.

Not to focus his ideas on just alcohol, Governor Patrick also wants to add a new 5-cent deposit on noncarbonated drinks, including water, flavored water, coffee-based drinks, juices and sports drinks. This tax would raise $20 million annually as the state gets to retain the money for uncollected bottle deposits. We have also heard talk about vacation home rental taxes, higher income and sales taxes, and let us not forgot about those toll increases.

Instead of increasing taxes, I believe by putting more money into the hands of the hardworking American people, history shows that we see more people saving for their future needs (thus less need for government entitlements) and investing or spending into the stream of commerce (to stimulate our businesses and create employment). It is perhaps an overly obvious point, but one always worth pointing out, every time we get someone off a government assistance program and into a job, we gain in three distinct ways. First, government no longer has to subsidize the unemployed worker with unemployment or welfare benefits. Secondly, that same person is now a taxpaying contributor to government via their payroll taxes, sales taxes and social security contributions. And thirdly, and perhaps most importantly for the long-term, this individual is now a productive member of society with a sense of self-worth and pride.

If taxes are the answer to our slow economy, it should be to lower them and let the American people stimulate the economy. Government does not need or deserve any additional tax revenue. The well publicized ethical and patronage problems within state government need to be corrected rather than additional taxation of the hard working people of Massachusetts.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Staff Profile: Lauren Barnes, Deputy Chief of Staff

No stranger to the State House, House Minority Leader Brad Jones’ Deputy Chief of Staff Lauren Barnes recently returned to professional life on Beacon Hill. The Foxborough native and self proclaimed “townie” has worked under several Republicans who have served in the House.

A Providence College graduate, Barnes majored in History and was quite active in the campus community. The number two in the Minority Leader’s office was the publicity chair of Campus Ministry/Pastoral Service Organization, the largest student organization on campus and served as copy editor for the college’s newspaper, The Cowl. She even dabbled in intramural Ultimate Frisbee but didn’t really elaborate on her level of expertise!

Barnes has an interesting story pertaining to what got her involved in state government. Just a few days after she graduated college in 1999, Barnes met with her State Representative Barbara Hyland who was trying to help her make contacts with the Massachusetts Historical Society. A few days later, former Representative Hyland called and offered Lauren a job as her legislative aide. Barnes jokingly said she didn’t even know what a legislative aide did but thought it sounded interesting and quickly said yes to what she calls a great opportunity. She worked for Hyland until her retirement in 2000 and then stayed on as the legislative aide to Hyland’s successor, Representative Mike Coppola until early 2005.

Barnes returned to the State House last October after working for four years for the Town of Mansfield. Every morning, Barnes hops on the train in Mansfield uncertain of exactly what her work day will entail. Barnes’s position includes a whole host of duties. She serves as the liaison between the Minority Leader and the Republican Caucus, manages and supervises staff and tackles special projects for the Leader and other members. Her day is busy from the time she arrives until the moment she walks down the hill to South Station. Barnes says working in state government allows her to help people and hopes to contribute to making the Commonwealth a better place to live and raise a family.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Ethics Reform Bill Passes the House

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. says the passing of the Speaker’s ethics reform bill combined with the GOP amendments adopted during today’s House debate will go a long way in the effort to restore the public’s trust. Jones says the adoption of various Republican amendments is a sign that the Majority Party is willing to work in a bipartisanship way as the Legislature works to improve its standing with the general public.

“It’s important now, more than ever that the members of the House of Representatives on both sides of the aisle work together for the good of the Commonwealth and its constituents,” said Representative Jones. “People are fed up with the finger pointing on Beacon Hill and the ethical improprieties committed by a few that tarnish the efforts of most.”

Representative Jones and his Republican colleagues offered a whole host of amendments tackling the issues of campaigning and fundraising as well as offering stricter guidelines relative to lobbying.

The following is a list of what GOP amendments were adopted during today’s House debate:

1) Require individuals to report bribes, corrupt gifts and monies gained from illegal activities for state income tax purposes.

2) Prohibit convicted felons from registering as lobbyists in the Commonwealth.

3) Candidates may not use their campaign accounts to pay off ethics violation fines.

“I am pleased with the progress made during today’s debate. I hope that these new laws and those already on the books will be properly enforced in the future. We have a lot of work ahead of us, and getting the state’s economy moving in the right direction needs to be the top priority. We as a legislative body and the people of Massachusetts deserve better and ethical improprieties are not only intolerable but an incredible distraction from important business on Beacon Hill.”

In Case You Missed It: Hardship Listening Tour

Six of the seven stops of the Hardship Listening Tour are now a thing of the past. With only one stop remaining on the schedule, we wanted to give you an opportunity to watch one of the forums right here on the blog.

Click here to watch the forum held last weekend in Dartmouth.

Watch Republicans Fight For Ethics Reform on the House Floor

The Massachusetts House of Representatives are taking up an ethics reform bill today on the House floor.

Click here to watch your Republican lawmakers debate this very important issue.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Standing Room Only in Westfield

Representatives Don Humason and Todd Smola as well as Senator Michael Knapik hosted the sixth stop on the Hardship Listening Tour in Westfield last night.

Click here to see WWLP-TV's coverage of the packed event.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ethics Reform Bill a Step in the Right Direction

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. today acknowledged the Speaker’s recently announced ethics reform bill is a step in the right direction toward restoring the public’s trust. Jones said if the GOP amendments being offered on the House floor on Thursday are adopted, the Legislature would be taking an even bigger step.

“It comes as no surprise that the vast majority of the public does not trust Beacon Hill,” said Representative Jones. “A cloud has been hovering over the State House for quite some time and I hope the combination of this bill and Republican amendments will help to restore the public’s faith and trust in its elected officials.”

Representative Jones plans to offer a number of amendments on Thursday when the House takes up the ethics bill. The amendments tackle the issues of campaigning and fundraising as well as offers stricter guidelines that could help prevent ethical improprieties.

The following is a preview of what can be expected on Thursday:

1) Prohibit convicted felons from registering as lobbyists in the Commonwealth.

2) Allow joint fundraisers to be held by a candidate along with the candidate’s special committee. However, fundraising expenses must be share pro-rata and contributions raised may not be reserved for the future use of the special committee or the candidates on whose behalf it was formed.

3) Require individuals to report bribes, corrupt gifts and monies gained from illegal activities for state income tax purposes.

4) Establishes a more timely electronic reporting schedule for contributions received late in the election cycles.

Representative Jones and his Republican colleagues hope these ideas among others will be well received as the Legislature works to clear the air on Beacon Hill.

“We are dealing with troubling economic times, and we need to be putting our best foot forward everyday as Legislators. But we can’t do that if lawmakers are not trusted by the public. These amendments and the others we will be offering are positive steps and we hope the Majority Party is willing to listen to our ideas during the House debate,” added Representative Jones.

Hardship Listening Tour Stops in Westfield

Westfield’s State Representative Don Humason and State Senator Mike Knapik will be holding a Hardship Listening Tour Public Hearing, on Tuesday, March 24th from 6 – 7:30pm. The event will be held at the Westfield Athenaeum and is open to the public.

Humason and Knapik will be joined by State Representative Todd Smola (R-Palmer) at the hearing.

"We really are looking to hear from our constituents - their views on taxes, on education, and on any other issue they find important," Knapik said.

The Hardship listening Tour is a statewide effort to give constituents an opportunity to voice concerns about the proposed gas tax increase, toll hikes and the litany of other proposed tax and fee increases.

“We invite the people of Westfield and Western Massachusetts to come and share their stories of how the Governor’s multitude of tax increase proposals will impact them and their families,” Humason said. “We are also open to hearing any suggestions people might have on ways for the State to save money.

For more information about the event, Representative Humason and his Chief of Staff Sarah Latour can be reached at (413) 568-1366.

Wasteful Spending at Massport Highlighted on WBZ-TV

WBZ-TV's Investigative Team recently aired a story about wasteful spending at Massport.

Click here to see what House Minority Leader Brad Jones had to say about the perks employees are receiving.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Dartmouth Stop on Hardship Listening Tour a Success

House Minority Leader Brad Jones and Assistant Minority Leader George Peterson listen as concerned citizens share their frustrations at the Republican sponsored Hardship Listening Tour.


Hardship Listening Tour to Make a Stop in Townsend

Republican lawmakers recently announced the schedule for their Hardship Listening Tour. Due to tremendous response, Republicans have been asked to host an additional forum in Townsend.

The additional stop will take place on March 30th at the North Middlesex Regional High School from 7-9pm. The listening tour is a statewide effort to give constituents an opportunity to voice concerns about the possible gas tax increase, toll hikes and the litany of other proposed tax and fee increases.

The tour, which will wrap up on March 30th has already made five stops, while 2 remain on the schedule. The additional stop was scheduled in order to give taxpayers all over the state a chance to make it to one of the open forums.

The remaining schedule for the listening tour is as follows:

1) March 24th- Westfield Athenaeum 6-7:30pm
Sponsored by Representatives Donald Humason and Todd Smola and Senator Michael Knapik

2) March 30th- North Middlesex Regional High School 7-9pm
Sponsored by Representatives Bob Hargraves, Brad Jones and George Peterson

For more information on the Hardship Listening Tour, please contact your local Republican lawmaker.

Hardship Listening Tour Stop in Dartmouth Draws a Crowd

The Hardship Listening Tour continued on this weekend with a stop in Dartmouth. The event drew quite the crowd, as dozens of constituents gathered to tell lawmakers what challenges they are facing in their everyday lives.

House Minority Leader Brad Jones and Assistant House Minority Leader George Peterson sponsored the open forum that took place at the Dartmouth Town Hall.

Click here to read the article featured in Sunday's Standard Times.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Three Cheers for the Little Guy

The hardworking taxpayers of Massachusetts deserve a round of applause this afternoon. That’s because they stood up and said no to business as usual on Beacon Hill. For the last month, every tax, toll and fee increase has been proposed by the Patrick Administration. But in a turn of events, today, Governor Patrick announced, with the backing of the Senate President and the House Speaker, he plans to call on the Mass. Turnpike Authority board to delay the toll hike and instead use a portion of authority’s reserve funds to deal with the immediate fiscal crisis facing the Turnpike.

It is unconscionable to think that Governor Patrick and his administration did not explore this option prior to passing a 100% toll increase that would have had a detrimental effect on commuters from the North Shore and Metrowest communities. This is just another scenario that underscores the need for reform before revenue. Governor Patrick promised transparency and there is no greater need for it than right now. In order to successfully tackle the problems facing the transportation system, we must fully understand the magnitude of the situation instead of throwing taxpayer money into a system in disrepair.

Hardship Listening Tour Continues On


House Minority Leader Brad Jones, House Minority Whip Brad Hill and Assistant Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr hosted the fourth stop on the Hardship Listening Tour last night in Middleton.

At least 50 Commonwealth residents attended, taking turns at the podium, voicing their concerns and fears for the future of Massachusetts. Small business owners, retirees and concerned parents all discussed the hardships their facing.

If you missed last night, don't worry, there are still three events scheduled on the tour. The remaining events include stops in Dartmouth, Westfield and Townsend.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Hardship Listening Tour Off to a Good Start

The Hardship Listening Tour got off to a good start on Monday night, as three events were held across the state. The three stops made on Monday night include Attleboro, Auburn and Sandwich. Each venue was packed and at least 100 people turned out at each location expressing their frustration with Republican lawmakers.

WCVB-TV covered the Auburn event, click here to see that story.

Click here to read the Cape Cod Times coverage of the Sandwich stop.

Click here to read the article about the Attleboro event in the Sun Chronicle.

Monday, March 16, 2009

OCPF Director Gets It…Doing More with Less

Office of Campaign and Political Finance Director Michael Sullivan is a prime example of what we should be doing during these tough fiscal times, tightening the belt.

The following is an article recently posted by State House News. We wanted to share this article with you to highlight that some in State Government are taking the necessary steps to be fiscally responsible.

OCPF SEES MORE RESPONSIBILITIES, ASKS FOR SMALLER BUDGET:

State campaign finance law overseers are expecting significant law changes this year that will require more municipal candidates to report and may require certain candidates and entities to file disclosure reports more frequently. In testimony submitted Monday to lawmakers working on fiscal 2010 budget bills, Office of Campaign and Political Finance Director Michael J. Sullivan said the anticipated changes will require more resources to implement educational seminars, print new forms and brochures, cover postage costs and possibly to make software enhancements. But in the face of declining tax collections, the agency Sullivan runs is asking for less money, not more, in next year’s budget. In testimony submitted to the House and Senate Ways and Means committees, which are holding budget hearings Monday in Winchendon, Sullivan said the office’s $1.269 million budget, a 1.3 percent decrease from its fiscal 2009 budget, represents the amount necessary to effectively administer campaign finance laws and prepare for and administer activities tied to the 2010 statewide election, which brings an uptick in requests for guidance from political campaigns. The office did not get his with midyear budget cuts made by Gov. Deval Patrick and expects to revert $100,000, or 7.8 percent of its budget, to the state because it did not hire to fill two positions approved in the fiscal 2009 budget. The office’s fiscal 2010 budget would allow the office to maintain a receptionist/special projects position for the full year and hire an investigator with a financial background.

Representative Jeff Perry's Latest You Tube Message


Massachusetts has added nearly 5,000 new employees since Governor Patrick took office. Click here to watch Representative Perry's latest You Tube message as he explains why the Commonwealth has a spending problem, not a revenue problem.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Governor Patrick vs. Candidate Patrick

Governor Patrick doesn't even resemble Candidate Patrick. With his recent appointment of Senator Marian Walsh to a pricey position, Governor Patrick seems to be going against everything he stood for during the 2006 campaign.

Click here to read today's Boston Herald story about the appointment.

And be sure to click here to read the Herald's editorial.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Governor Patrick Makes Another Expensive Hire

Yesterday, Governor Patrick appointed Senator Marian Walsh to a $175,000 a year job. It was a position that has been vacant for more than a decade. The Boston Herald covered the story in today's paper and needless to say, Republican lawmakers and taxpayers alike are outraged!

Click here to read the full article.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Some People Just Don't Get It!

Democrat Senator Marian Walsh is in the running for a $175,000 a year job with the Massachusetts Health and Educational Facility according to State House News. The assistant executive director position has been vacant for years, so why the sudden rush to fill such an expensive position?

Massachusetts and the country as a whole are in financial turmoil, the Patrick Administration has already made painful cuts and the Commonwealth has the highest unemployment rate it has had in years. Offering Walsh $175,000 would not only send the wrong message, it would clearly be a slap in the face to all of those Massachusetts residents coming home with pink slips and struggling to make ends meet.

Massachusetts agencies and authorities need to be mindful of the current economic situation. A salary of this magnitude could be divvied up into four-$43,000 a year salaries for a state that needs job creation now more than ever.

Hardship Listening Tour to Make a Stop in Dartmouth

Republican lawmakers recently announced the schedule for their Hardship Listening Tour. Due to tremendous response, Republicans have been asked to host a forum on the South Coast.

The additional stop will take place on March 21st at the Dartmouth Town Hall from 1-4pm. The listening tour is a statewide effort to give constituents an opportunity to voice concerns about the proposed gas tax increase, toll hikes and the litany of other proposed tax and fee increases.

The tour, which will kick off on March 16th will now make stops in six areas of the Commonwealth in order to give taxpayers all over the state a chance to make it to one of the open forums.

The schedule for the listening tour is as follows:

1) March 16th- Auburn Town Hall 7-9pm
Sponsored by Representatives Paul Frost, George Peterson, Karyn Polito and Lew Evangelidis

2) March 16th- Human Services Building in Sandwich 7-9pm
Sponsored by Representatives Jeff Perry, Susan Gifford and Vinny deMacedo

3) March 16th- Attleboro City Hall 7-9pm
Sponsored by Representatives Elizabeth Poirier, Richard Ross, Jay Barrows and Senator Scott Brown

4) March 18th- Middleton Flint Library 7-9pm
Sponsored by Representatives Brad Jones and Brad Hill and Senators Richard Tisei and Bruce Tarr

5) March 21st- Dartmouth Town Hall 1-4pm
Sponsored by Representatives Brad Jones, George Peterson and Daniel Webster

6) March 24th- Westfield Athenaeum 6-7:30pm
Sponsored by Representatives Donald Humason and Todd Smola and Senator Michael Knapik

For more information on the Hardship Listening Tour, please contact your local Republican lawmaker.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Jones Apppears on NECN


House Minority Leader Brad Jones appeared on NECN last night as the Legislature gets ready to vote on a supplemental budget.

Click here to hear what Representative Jones had to say.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

House Republicans Release Legislative Agenda

House Minority Leader Brad Jones, on behalf on the House Republican Caucus, released the 2009-2010 legislative agenda.

Click here to read what the Republicans are fighting for this session.

House Republicans Call For Stiffer Penalties for Cop Shooters

Representatives Vinny deMacedo and Daniel Webster joined Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy Cruz yesterday for a press conference to announce legislation has been filed to keep law enforcement officials safe while on the job. The bill, if passed into law, would call for tougher sentences for anyone convicted of shooting a gun at a police officer.

Click here to see the press conference.

Monday, March 9, 2009

GOP Lawmaker Fighting to Protect Law Enforcement


Today, Representative Vinny deMacedo and Plymouth County District Attorney Tim Cruz announce the filing of legislation which will stiffen the criminal penalties for anyone who is convicted of discharging a firearm at a law enforcement officer. This bill would establish a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years for those convicted of “an assault or an assault and battery upon a law enforcement officer by discharging a firearm while said officer is engaged in the performance of duties, and who knows or has reason to know that the individual is a law enforcement officer." District Attorney Tim Cruz stated, “When criminals cross the line and threaten the very people who protect us, then we as a society have to come together and send the clear message that it will not be tolerated. If you shoot at a police officer, then you are going to prison – and you are going for a long time.”

This legislation comes in the wake of escalating violence on the South Shore, where officers have found themselves as targets, facing criminals who boldly brandish their guns. Currently in Massachusetts, there is no statute mandating a minimum mandatory sentence for those convicted of such a crime on an officer. In fact, such criminals have been released back onto the streets in as little as two years. This legislation, if passed, would seek punishment of “not less than ten years up to life imprisonment in the state prison…and a fine of not more than one hundred and fifty thousand dollars may be imposed but not in lieu of the mandatory minimum term of imprisonment…”

After speaking with District Attorney Cruz, deMacedo stated that, “Individuals who open fire at police have complete disregard for the safety of their fellow citizens, and no respect for the law. Whether it’s the Brockton Police, or the Plymouth Police, these officers are courageously putting their lives on the line each and every day to protect the public. The least we can do and I believe it is our duty, is to ensure these dangerous criminals are not released back on the street to continue their terror.”

“Law enforcement officers work every day to make sure that our streets are safe, that our homes and businesses are secure, and that our children grow up in peaceful communities. They are on the front line, protecting all of us from criminals who would do us harm,” said District Attorney Cruz.

With the support of the District Attorney, Representative deMacedo is hopeful this bill will pass through committees, with expediency and high approval. “We must act now and we must act decisively, our law enforcement officers and our communities deserve that.”

Friday, March 6, 2009

Reform before Revenue, Not Just a Meaningless Slogan

Today’s Boston Herald ran an editorial piece on a line you’re hearing a lot, reform before revenue.

And though some are painting it as a meaningless slogan, it is a reality that the Patrick Administration doesn’t want to admit. We’ve heard over and over that Republicans aren’t being honest with taxpayers, that raising taxes is the only way we can get out of this mess.

Not only is that fictitious, but it proves that Governor Patrick and those who support his gas tax increase proposal don’t want to do the hard work. While reform may not close the deficit gap 100%, it will certainly reduce the need for increased taxes and fees. The Governor’s Administration would like you to believe that all of your services will be cut if we don’t raise the gas tax and a host of other taxes and fees. We say lets enact some real reforms and when we’re done examining where every dollar is being spent, we cut the waste and see where the state is at. But in no way shape or form, should increasing taxes always be painted as the only solution, because it is not and if your lawmaker says it is, he or she is simply not being honest.

Reform before revenue is certainly catchy, but it’s also the only way to get this state moving in the right direction economically again. We can’t keep pouring money into a broken system. For years, we’ve been footing the bill for mistakes made in the past and lack of action. We can’t change the past, but we do have the power to shape the future. Overhauling the transportation system will allow us to find the inefficiencies and solve current problems

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Republicans Call for Independent Redistricting Commission Denied

House Republicans today called for the creation of an independent commission to redraw legislative districts for members of Congress, the Legislature and the Governor’s Council. However, the effort for a more balanced and transparent process was denied by an overwhelming high number of Democrats.

“An independent redistricting commission would take the politics out of a very important process while avoiding disenfranchising any racial, ethnic or minority group,” said House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. “I am incredibly disappointed in my colleagues who are putting their own political needs ahead of the needs of their constituents. This was an opportunity to produce real reform and regain the public’s trust. Apparently, that is not a priority of the Majority Party in the Massachusetts House of Representatives.”

The House Republicans’ proposal, which failed on a 132-23 vote, would have created a seven-member redistricting commission consisting of a dean or professor of law, political science or government from a Massachusetts institution of higher learning appointed by the Governor; a retired justice appointed by the Attorney General; and an expert in civil rights law appointed by the Secretary of State.

At least two dozen Democratic legislators previously supported the proposal prior to voting against the independent redistricting commission today.

The commission would also include four legislators, who would be selected by the three non-elected commission members from a list of nominees submitted by the House Speaker, House Minority Leader, Senate President and Senate Minority Leader to ensure bipartisan balance on the commission.

The proposal has been endorsed by the League of Women Voters, Common Cause, Governor Patrick, former Governor Romney as well as dozens of newspapers throughout the Commonwealth.

Republicans Announce Hardship Listening Tour



Senate and House Republicans today announced the launching of the Hardship Listening Tour, a statewide effort to give constituents an opportunity to voice concerns about the proposed gas tax increase, toll hikes and the litany of other proposed tax and fee increases.

The tour, which will kick off on March 16th will make stops in five areas of the Commonwealth in order to give taxpayers all over the state a chance to make it to one of the open forums.

The schedule for the listening tour is as follows:

1) March 16th- Auburn Town Hall 7-9pm
Sponsored by Representatives Paul Frost, George Peterson, Karyn Polito and Lew Evangelidis

2) March 16th- Human Services Building in Sandwich 7-9pm
Sponsored by Representatives Jeff Perry, Susan Gifford and Vinny deMacedo

3) March 16th- Attleboro City Hall 7-9pm
Sponsored by Representatives Elizabeth Poirier, Richard Ross, Jay Barrows and Senator Scott Brown

4) March 18th- Middleton Flint Library 7-9pm
Sponsored by Representatives Brad Jones and Brad Hill and Senators Richard Tisei and Bruce Tarr

5) March 24th- Westfield Athenaeum 6-7:30pm
Sponsored by Representatives Donald Humason and Todd Smola and Senator Michael Knapik

For more information on the Hardship Listening Tour, please contact your local Republican lawmaker.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Republican Lawmakers to Announce Listening Tour

Republican lawmakers in both the House and Senate will be holding a press conference Thursday, where they will announce the launching of the Hardship Listening Tour.

The tour will kick off on March 16th, just two weeks before the significant toll hikes are expected to go into effect. At tomorrow’s press conference, the GOP delegation will announce the dates and locations of the stops on the tour. Residents will be encouraged to attend the forum in their area to share frustration over the proposed gas tax increase, scheduled toll fee hikes among other hardship taxes.

The press conference will be held tomorrow (Thursday) at 11:30 a.m. outside of the House Chamber on the third floor of the Statehouse.

Representative Vinny deMacedo Appears on Fox 25



Ranking member on the House Ways and Means Committee Representative Vinny deMacedo appeared on Fox 25's morning show today.

Click here to watch the interview.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

GOP Lawmakers Create Tip-Line for Wasteful Spending


State Representative Vinny deMacedo and State Senator Michael R. Knapik today announced the creation of a central e-mail address through which citizens could report questionable spending in Massachusetts from the federal economic stimulus package. The address, mass.stimwatch@gmail.com, welcomes tips from Massachusetts citizens who become aware of wasteful or questionable initiatives in their communities.

Knapik and deMacedo are the ranking minority members from their respective caucuses on the Ways & Means Committee and have been appointed to serve on the Legislature’s Temporary Joint Committee on Stimulus Oversight.

Taking their queue from former US Senator William Proxmire (D-Wisconsin) and his famed “Golden Fleece Award,” Knapik and deMacedo hope this initiative will shine daylight and bring transparency to the Commonwealth’s stimulus spending.

“Human nature being what it is and history showing a propensity for losing track of spending when such large amounts of taxpayer money are made available- see BIG DIG- I am afraid this stimulus plan will resemble a late-night commercial for ‘Bureaucrats Gone Wild,’” Knapik offered. “We’ve already read of potentially $21 million for solar-powered trash cans, and I worry that as funding trickles down to 351 cities and towns across the Commonwealth that similar expenditures on frivolities that do nothing to put our citizens back to work will send this stimulus down the river,” he continued.

Calling the taxpayer and local citizenry the government’s best watchdog on fiscal matters, Knapik and deMacedo urged concerned citizens to engage themselves in local government and gain an understanding for how their hard-earned tax money is being spent. While state stimulus spending information will be available at www.mass.gov/recovery, the site will be maintained and decisions made by members of Governor Patrick’s Administration.

“We really can’t afford to sit by and allow tax payers money to be spent without proper oversight from the 6.4 million citizens of the Commonwealth, “ deMacedo said. “We hope this initiative will serve as a check on the unprecedented power the Government will hold in allocating stimulus funding,” he continued.

Massachusetts is estimated to receive between $6 billion and $9 billion in federal aid over the next two years from the stimulus package. As much as $2 billion of this will be in the form of infrastructure investment.

“I was encouraged by comments made by the Vice President on Wednesday night where he threatened stimulus spending managers with embarrassment on television and radio should they squander these resources,” deMacedo added. “I hope President Obama’s pronouncement that ‘nobody messes with Joe’ is heeded and is sufficient warning to the people charged with allocating and accounting for stimulus spending,” Knapik concluded.

Monday, March 2, 2009

GOP Lawmakers File Municipal Aid Legislation

House Minority Leader Brad Jones filed legislation today that will aid municipalities with their strained budgets. House and Senate Republicans are co-sponsors of this timely legislation as areas in the Commonwealth respond to yet another major snow storm.

The legislation, An Act Relative to Aiding Cities and Towns with Unfunded Obligations Associated with Snow and Ice Control, will allow cities and towns to use state-appropriated roadway improvements funds, known as Chapter 90 funds, to offset their snow removal budget. This winter’s above average snowfall, coupled with the rising cost of de-icing materials, has forced many cities and towns to deficit spend their snow and ice budget.

“Cash-strapped cities and towns across the Commonwealth are being forced to make difficult decisions to balance their budgets and the passage of this legislation would provide communities with a small measure of relief that is certainly much needed,” said Representative Jones.

Currently, state law permits a municipality to deficit spend for snow and ice removal provided that the town’s governing body approves expenditures in excess of the appropriated amount; however, the community must make up the deficit from other available funds. Under this legislation, communities can decide whether or not to adopt this provision and this option is only available for the current fiscal year.

The Commonwealth has authorized $150 million in Chapter 90 funds in Fiscal Year 2009 and while some of that money has already been spent by cities and towns, there is approximately $90 million left to be provided to communities.

Click here to see a story that recently aired on NECN highlighting why legislation like this is so necessary.

Republicans Fight for Responsible Spending

Ranking member on the House Ways and Means Committee Representative Vinny deMacedo and his counterpart in the Senate, Senator Michael Knapik are fighting for the responsible spending of the money being allocated to Massachusetts through the Federal Stimulus Bill.

In today's Boston Herald, deMacedo and Knapik encourage Commonwealth taxpayers to be the eyes and ears of wasteful spending. The pair of lawmakers announced "an e-mail “hotline” for the public to report to them - by word or photograph - any perceived abuses or wasting of the funds. Such as: workers sleeping on the job, projects dragging out for no good reason, or expenditures that seem plain absurd."

Check out the article here and be sure to respond to Rep. deMacedo and Sen. Knapik with any thoughts or concerns.