Friday, October 28, 2011

On the Mend and On the Move?!

In case you missed it, MassINC Polling Group released a sobering survey this week regarding Massachusetts residents’ views/outlook on the state’s businesses and economy.

According to the survey, when asked about the economic climate in the Commonwealth, “47 percent of respondents said they were worse off financially today than a year ago.” The report went on to say, “Looking ahead a year, 54 percent said they believe they will be in the same financial shape.”

But back in June, when asked by a reporter about whether Commonwealth has finally turned the corner from the recent recession, the Governor offered this response: “The Commonwealth is continuing its robust recovery. We have added jobs across nearly all sectors, and our unemployment rate has fallen more than a full point below the national average -- signs that our record investments in infrastructure, education, and innovation are paying off.” Obviously, Governor Patrick and his administration aren’t as in tune with the pulse of the residents of the Bay State as they might like to think they are.

MassINC’s survey also asked residents if the state was heading in the right or wrong direction. Forty-five percent of the 500 residents polled said the state is “on the wrong track.”

While the Patrick Administration may think we are “on the mend and on the move”, the residents of Massachusetts beg to differ.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Representative Frost Appointed to Expanded Gaming Conference Committee

In case you missed it, House Minority Leader Brad Jones has appointed Representative Paul Frost (R-Auburn) to serve on the Expanded Gaming Conference Committee.

Representative Frost will join House colleagues and Committee appointees Joseph Wagner (D-Chicopee) and Brian Dempsey (D-Haverhill) as well as Senators Richard Ross (R-Wrentham), Stanley Rosenberg (D-Amherst) and Jennifer Flanagan (D-Leominster) to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate versions of the expanded gaming bill. Currently, the bill calls for three resort casinos and one slot parlor in Massachusetts.

“I am honored to have been appointed to this Committee by House Minority Leader Brad Jones,” said Representative Frost. “The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is on the verge of passing a major piece of legislation that will have a profound effect on both the state’s economy and residents. I look forward to joining my House and Senate colleagues in what I hope will be an open and inclusive process aimed at ironing out the differences in the House and Senate versions of the expanded gaming legislation.”

I remain optimistic that the process is open and will be inclusive of all members of the Committee.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

House Minority Leader’s Statement on the Release of House and Senate Redistricting Maps

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. issued the following statement today in response to the unveiling of the House and Senate redistricting maps:

“The unveiling of the Massachusetts House and Senate redistricting maps represents a milestone in the redistricting effort and comes after a very lengthy process.

Redistricting is never an easy process, but I want to thank Chairman Moran for his efforts in affording time and resources to both the Republican members on the Redistricting Committee and in the Republican caucus.

As a member of the Special Joint Committee on Redistricting, I have been included in discussions regarding specific areas of the state. We are all now aware of the totality of the proposed Legislative map, and will use the days ahead to consider of all of its potential ramifications.

I look forward to the public comment phase of this project and a continued conversation amongst legislators before the maps become finalized


Special Election – 3rd Berkshire District

In case you forgot, today is the special election for a seat in the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

In the race for the 3rd Berkshire District, Republican Mark Jester is facing off against Democrat Tricia Farley-Bouvier, independent candidate Pam Malumphy, and Green Rainbow candidate Mark Miller for the seat left vacant when Rep. Christopher Speranzo stepped down earlier this year.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Governor Not Flying So High After All…

In case you missed it, Governor Patrick was at the Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. hanger at the Westfield-Barnes Regional Airport last week, touting plans to build a new maintenance facility.

According to Associated Press reports, Gulfstream is investing an estimated $20 million to build a “maintenance hangar in town (Westfield) to accommodate its new luxury business jet, keeping the company’s 130 local workers and creating 100 new full-time positions.”

While at first glance this would sound great for the Massachusetts economy - and it is - the Patrick-Murray Administration is leaving out one minor detail: in 2008 they proposed repealing the sales tax exemption for aircraft and aircraft parts.

Passed in 2001, the Exemption for Aircraft & Aircraft Parts allowed airplanes, helicopters, balloons and other aircraft to be exempt from sales tax. Also exempt are parts used exclusively for the repair of aircraft. But when filing the Fiscal Year 2009 budget, the Patrick Administration attempted to repeal this exemption, which it turns out saves the aerospace industry in Massachusetts close to $14.1 million.

Amongst those strongly opposed to any such repeal was Republican Representative and Chair of the Aviation Caucus, Donald Humason. In a May 2011 letter to Representative Jay Kaufman & Senator Gale Candaras, Chairs of the Joint Committee on Revenue, Representative Humason called the proposal “short-sighted” and argued it “would have certain immediate and unintended consequences.”

We unquestionably appreciate and welcome the expansion of businesses and industries within the Commonwealth, but respectfully ask that next time the Patrick-Murray Administration be forthcoming about their previous attempts to potentially thwart such an important economic expansion.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Well, It’s About Time!

In case you missed it, the Jobs Creation Commission recently announced that they will be embarking on a “Listening Tour.” If this sounds all too familiar, that’s because it is! The Republican Caucus just wrapped up their 2011 GOP Jobs Tour in October.

The co-chairs of the Jobs Creation Commission state that the “listening tour” shows the “commitment the Legislature has to moving the economy forward…” While at first glance this might sound appealing to residents of the Commonwealth, what the Jobs Creation Commission fails to tell the taxpayers is that Governor Patrick signed off on the formation of the Jobs Creation Commission back in 2008. According to a State House News article written in December of 2010, “Under a resolve approved Dec. 31, 2008, state officials coping with the effects of the recession were charged with creating a special commission ‘for the purpose of making an investigation and study relative to the economy in order to create and maintain quality jobs in the Commonwealth’.”

It has taken the Commission close to 3 years to go out and listen to the residents of the Bay State who are suffering the most in this downed economy. The Republican Caucus however just wrapped up their 7 stop 2011 GOP Jobs Tour. Crisscrossing the Commonwealth, the GOP Caucus was able to solicit real world solutions from residents, businesses, and Chambers of Commerce.

Since the fall of Lehman Brothers in September 2008, Massachusetts has had a net loss of 71,969 jobs (Bureau of Labor Statistics). So it took the loss of over 71,000 jobs before the Jobs Creation Commission has made the decision to convene.

Republicans have long been calling for the Jobs Creation Commission to sit-down and talk about how to improve the Massachusetts job economy. Interviewed by State House News for a December 2010 article, Republican appointee to the Jobs Caucus Paul Frost said, “In all honesty, jobs certainly should be a number one priority.” Representative Frost went on to say, “Maybe for the Democrats it seems to be campaign rhetoric, talking about job creation, rather than sitting down to talk to people…about how to create jobs.”

While we applaud the co-chairs of the Jobs Creation Commission for finally engaging the people of Massachusetts in conversation, it shouldn’t have taken 3 years and 71,000 lost jobs.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

House Minority Leader’s Statement on the Swearing In of Representative Keiko Orrall

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. issued the following statement today following the swearing in of Representative Keiko Orrall:

“I am pleased to formally welcome Representative Keiko Orrall to the Massachusetts House of Representatives. I, along with my Republican colleagues, look forward to working with her not only on the issues that face the 12th Bristol district, but on those that face the Commonwealth as a whole.”


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

House Minority Leaders Statement on Democrats Continued Refusal to Embrace House Ethics Reform

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. issued the following statement in response to the House Democrats refusal to release the Republican-led House Ethics Reform Order from the House Committee on Rules:

“I, along with the members of the Republican Caucus, am once again disappointed that the Democratic majority balks at every opportunity for ethics reform in the House of Representatives.

Today’s vote clearly demonstrates that a majority of members in the House of Representatives are content with the status quo on Beacon Hill. The members of the Democratic Party have already forgotten about the recent conviction of the third Speaker in a row on charges of corruption, and the recent indictment of the former Treasurer’s Chief of Staff.

The House Republican Caucus continues to be willing to debate the Ethics Reform proposal and remains amenable to any conversation surrounding changes or improvements that the Democratic majority would like to see made.

Until this Ethics Reform Order is released by Chairman Binienda and the House Committee on Rules, the disconnect between Beacon Hill and the citizens of the Commonwealth will unfortunately continue.”


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

2011 GOP Jobs Tour - Sandwich

In case you forgot, tonight marks the seventh stop on the 2011 GOP Jobs Tour. All are invited to join hosts Randy Hunt (R-Sandwich) and Vinny deMacedo (R-Plymouth) for an evening of conversation with local business leaders and Chamber of Commerce members.

Announced during a press conference at the State House, the Massachusetts House Republican Caucus will embark on a six-week Jobs Tour. The Tour will make initial stops in 7 communities across the Commonwealth, with additional dates and stops forthcoming.

Joining Republican legislators at the Tour stop in Sandwich will be invited members from the business community, local and regional Chambers of Commerce, and Representatives Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) and David Vieira (R-Falmouth).

Details for tonight's event in Sandwich are as follows:

October 4, 2011
Sandwich Town Hall
2nd Floor
130 Main Street
Sandwich, MA 02563

Residents who are unable to attend the forum are still encouraged to email with ideas and insight. For more information on the 2011 G.O.P. Jobs Tour, please contact your local Republican lawmaker or follow us on twitter: @GOPJobsTour.

Minority Leaders File Legislation to Protect the Commonwealth’s Ratepayers

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) and Senate Minority Leader Bruce E. Tarr (R-Gloucester), in their effort to bring transparency to the ratepayers of the Commonwealth, have filed legislation to require the competitive solicitation of long-term renewable energy contracts by public utilities.

Filed in response to the costly Cape Wind-National Grid contract, House Docket 4048 seeks to alleviate the unnecessary financial burden that contracts resulting from private negotiations place on the Commonwealth’s ratepayers, businesses, and municipalities.

“It is a sincere fear of mine, that practices similar to the ones used to solidify the contract between Cape Wind and National Grid will lay the framework for a very dangerous and costly precedent here in the Commonwealth,” said Representative Brad Jones. “The legislation that we have filed will help foster an environment of open door, competitive bidding on contracts that have direct, and potentially significant impacts, on the wallets of the residents of Massachusetts.”

Under the Green Communities Act of 2008, utilities are required to solicit long-term renewable energy contracts twice in a 5 year period; however, current law does not require the solicitation procedure to be competitive and instead allows these utilities to engage in closed-door negotiations. Recently, NSTAR successfully secured three long-term renewable energy contracts with smaller land-based wind projects at a significantly lower cost than National Grid’s contract with Cape Wind, illustrating how competitive solicitation procedures stand to benefit the Commonwealth’s ratepayers.

The legislation, filed in both the House and Senate, clarifies the definition of cost-effective long-term contracts to mean those proposed contracts which either: (1) result in net ratepayer savings when compared to current and projected future market prices of energy; or (2) are least costly in terms of electric service rates.

“The cost of electricity is a major factor for the budgets of Massachusetts residents and their employers. Contracts need to safeguard their interests first and foremost,” said Senator Bruce Tarr. “This legislation will work to ensure that the costs passed on to consumers come from a process of transparency and not the shadows of other agendas.”

House Docket 4808 is currently awaiting a bill number and committee assignment.