Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Rep. Jones: Changing the Electoral College Should Only Be Done After Careful Consideration

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) was recently asked to weigh in on the question of whether the U.S. President should be elected by national popular vote, rather than the Electoral College. This column ran in the Globe North section of the Boston Globe on Sunday.

Altering something as important as the way we elect a president should rightfully be done through a Constitutional amendment. The Electoral College has served the country well since its inception. If we are to make any changes to it — and jettisoning it ought not be one of those — we should do so only after careful consideration.

National popular vote advocates have been trying to circumvent this process by getting states to join a multi-state compact. Since 2007, 10 states and the District of Columbia have joined, pledging to award their electoral votes to the presidential candidate who carries the national popular vote. Together, they account for 165 electoral votes, 105 short of the 270 needed for the compact to be implemented.

When Massachusetts joined the movement in 2010, proponents claimed it would make the state more relevant during presidential elections. Choosing the president by national popular vote would not necessarily increase Massachusetts’s clout during a presidential campaign. In fact, an argument could be made that it would actually disenfranchise many voters.

In his 2008 Cato Institute analysis, “A Critique of the National Popular Vote Plan for Electing the President,” author John Samples warned of such a scenario, noting that “[National popular vote] will encourage presidential campaigns to focus their efforts in dense media markets where costs per vote are lowest; many states now ignored by candidates will continue to be ignored under NPV.”

There could be other unintended consequences for Massachusetts. Let’s say Hillary Clinton wins the Democratic nomination and Donald Trump is the Republican nominee. On Election Night 2016, Clinton could carry Massachusetts by a wide margin, but if Trump wins the national vote he would receive all of Massachusetts’ 11 electoral votes.

The United States is a geographically diverse country, and the Electoral College reflects that by allocating two electoral votes to each state, and the remaining electoral votes based on population. This helps to ensure that all states – large and small – have a role in the process.

As an alternative to the national popular vote compact, we should do what Nebraska and Maine do and award two electoral votes to the popular vote winner, and our remaining electoral votes to the winner in each of the state’s Congressional districts. Such a change could encourage more competitive races without undermining the Electoral College and while respecting our Constitutional process.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Rep. Dooley: Nebraska and Maine’s Hybrid Model for Electing President a ‘Reasonable Solution’

Representative Shawn Dooley (R-Norfolk) wrote the attached column for the Boston Globe in support of creating a hybrid model for electing the President similar to what Nebraska and Maine already use. This column ran in the Globe West edition on Sunday.

For the past few years there has been a movement afoot to do away with the Electoral College in favor of electing our president simply by popular vote.

At face value, this might seem to create a simple and streamlined approach to electing our president, but in reality it will serve to minimize the voice of residents in lower-population states such as Massachusetts.

By oversimplifying the electoral process, candidates would concentrate their time and resources on the most populous states.

A more reasonable solution, not requiring a constitutional amendment, would be to revamp the Electoral College and create a hybrid model similar to the versions Nebraska and Maine have installed in recent years.

This hybrid method takes into account the popular vote by automatically awarding the overall state winner the two electoral votes the state gets from having two senators.

More importantly, this model increases the importance of congressional districts by having their electoral votes go to the top vote-getters in those districts, as opposed to the statewide winner-take-all method utilized in 48 states. Switching to it might put some of Massachusetts’ nine other electoral votes in play.

This hybrid method would have a very positive effect for a diverse state such as Massachusetts.

Currently we are considered a safe state for the Democratic Party, so neither candidate spends much time trying to garner support among average voters. Campaign stops in Massachusetts are done solely to fill the candidate’s coffers by meeting with the ├╝ber rich rather than to hear the concerns and hopes of the majority of voters.

In addition, I believe this will help spur debate and participation in the electoral process. Instead of the nightly news calling Massachusetts 30 seconds after the polls close, the votes will need to be counted. If a candidate’s message is able to resonate with a particular region, he or she would have the ability to win the vote of that particular congressional district. Citizens would no longer feel hopeless and disenfranchised because their votes did not matter.

The goal is for more people to become engaged and active in our political process. Having presidential candidates spend time and resources in the Commonwealth will enhance the political process and make Massachusetts more relevant in the presidential election.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Rep. DeCoste: Repeal the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact for Presidential Elections

Representative David DeCoste (R-Norwell) wrote the attached column for the Boston Globe in support of retaining the Electoral College system for U.S. Presidential elections and repealing the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. This column ran in the Globe South edition on Sunday.

In August 2010, Governor Deval Patrick signed legislation making Massachusetts the sixth state to sign the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. The compact is designed such that once the combined electoral votes of the signatory states reaches 270, those states pledge their electors to the winner of the national popular vote. As of today, 10 states plus the District of Columbia with a combined 165 electoral votes have passed legislation supporting the compact.

In 2000, the Supreme Court awarded the presidency to George W. Bush over Al Gore, halting a recount in Florida that had Bush leading by a 537-vote margin. That marked the fourth election in US history in which the eventual winner failed to win the popular vote. Nationwide, Gore received 543,895 more votes than Bush.

In 2004, fewer than 60,000 voters in Ohio could have carried that state for John Kerry over George W. Bush, sending Kerry to the White House despite losing the national popular vote. If the compact was in force, electors from Massachusetts would have voted for the winner of the nationwide popular vote, George W. Bush, despite 62 percent of the Massachusetts vote supporting Kerry.

The compact guarantees a legal challenge. The Constitution prohibits agreements among states without the consent of Congress. A losing candidate would appeal, initiating another election result decided by a Supreme Court majority.

Are these the outcomes Massachusetts citizens want?

The intent of the Founding Founders in constructing the electoral framework was to insure that urban voters in a few states would not control presidential elections.

Although I would not support it, I believe citizens who seek to elect the president by popular vote should go the route of seeking a constitutional amendment to do away with the Electoral College. Should they instead effect the interstate compact, we would have a hybrid system in which the compact states’ votes would be based entirely on the countrywide popular vote while non-compact states would vote as they do today.

I believe the presidential votes of our state should reflect the votes of our citizens. I support repeal of the compact legislation.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Honoring Our Veterans

The willingness of our citizens to give freely and unselfishly of themselves, even their lives, in defense of our democratic principles, gives this great Nation continued strength and vitality.
-- President Ronald Reagan, in his 1981 Veterans Day Proclamation

The Capitol View salutes the many brave men and women who have served in our armed forces, both past and present, as we observe Veterans Day.  The willingness of these individuals to place themselves in harm’s way to help preserve our many freedoms and democratic principles is something that should never be forgotten.  Our veterans deserve our utmost respect and gratitude, not only today, but every day.  We thank them for their service to our country.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Representative Orrall on ‘Greater Boston’

Representative Keiko Orrall (R-Lakeville) appeared on Thursday night’s edition of WGBH-TV’s Greater Boston as part of a panel discussion of the October 28th GOP Presidential debate moderated by host Jim Braude.  Joining Representative Orrall on the show were former Social Security Commissioner Mike Astrue and former State Treasurer Joe Malone.

You can watch the segment in its entirety by playing the video link posted here.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Rep. Jones’ Proposal Limiting Sex Offenders’ Ability to Stay Their Final Classification on an Appeal Now on Governor’s Desk

A proposal by House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) to limit the amount of time sex offenders can secure a stay of final classification pending a court appeal is one step closer to becoming law, following its passage today in a modified form by the House of Representatives and state Senate.

Representative Jones first offered the proposed changes during the House debate on the Fiscal Year 2016 state budget in April.  Governor Charlie Baker later returned the proposal with some slight modifications designed to ensure that the changes would not violate the separation of powers doctrine of the state Constitution.  The Legislature approved the governor’s recommendations today.

In addition to prohibiting the state’s Sex Offender Registry Board (SORB) from granting a stay of final classification for longer than 60 days, the state’s courts would be restricted from granting a similar stay on appeal for more than 60 days, unless accompanied by written findings showing good cause for extending the stay.  All court appeals related to SORB classification would be subject to an expedited hearing process whenever a stay is granted.

Representative Jones said these changes will help to ensure that the public is protected from dangerous individuals who are considered to pose a high risk of re-offending.

“If an individual is required to register as a sex offender, they have a right to appeal their classification, but they should not be able to manipulate the system in an attempt to escape scrutiny for their crimes,” said Representative Jones.  “The public has a right to know if there is a dangerous sex offender living or working in their neighborhood, and limiting a stay of final classification will help preserve the public’s ability to access this information.”

There are currently three levels of sex offender classification in Massachusetts.  Level 1 sex offenders are considered to represent a low risk of re-offending and therefore are not deemed dangerous enough to warrant the release of their personal information to the public.  As a result, this information is made available only to certain local, state and federal agencies, including the Department of Correction, county correctional facilities, the Department of Youth Services, the Department of Social Services, the Parole Board, the Department of Probation and the Department of Mental Health, as well as all city and town police departments and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for law enforcement purposes.

Level 2 sex offenders are considered to be a moderate risk of re-offending, while Level 3 sex offenders are deemed to pose a high risk of re-offending.  Due to public safety concerns, information on both Level 2 and Level 3 sex offenders is readily accessible to the public through the local police department and the SORB.

Under current law, a sex offender who has been classified by the SORB can seek what is referred to as a 30A judicial review through the court system.  A stay of the classification is typically granted pending the appeal, which results in the sex offender essentially becoming declassified.  When this happens, the police cannot disclose information on these individuals to the public because they technically are no longer designated as a Level 2 or Level 3 offender.

“The prospect of a sex offender being able to delay their classification status indefinitely is completely unacceptable, given the serious nature of these types of crimes,” said Representative Jones.  “The changes approved today will provide important protections for the public by tightening the current sex offender law and upholding the public’s right to know.”

The sex offender classification changes are now on Governor Baker’s desk awaiting his signature.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Rep. Kane Appointed to Public Health Committee


House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) is pleased to announce that he has appointed Representative Hannah Kane (R-Shrewsbury) to the Joint Committee on Public Health.

Representative Kane replaces former Representative Leah Cole (R-Peabody), who previously served on the committee before resigning her House seat on September 28th to resume a full-time nursing career.  In addition to her new committee assignment, Representative Kane will continue to serve as a member of the Joint Committee on Transportation, the House Committee on Personnel & Administration and the House Committee on Redistricting.

“The Public Health Committee deals with a wide range of issues that directly impact the health and well-being of every Massachusetts resident and I am confident that Representative Kane will do an exemplary job to help facilitate the committee’s work in this area,” said Representative Jones.

“I am honored to accept this appointment and I look forward to working with my colleagues to address some of the critical public health issues that will come before the committee this session,” said Representative Kane.

Representative Kane has recently hired a new intern who will aid in the research of important public health issues such as the proposed legalization of recreational marijuana use, an issue Representative Kane has openly opposed and one that is likely to appear as a ballot initiative in 2016. The new research intern, James Ko, is currently in his junior year at Boston University as a political science major. Representative Kane also serves on Worcester County District Attorney Joe Early's Opioid Task Force.

Representative Kane represents the 11th Worcester District, which is comprised of the town of Shrewsbury and Precincts 4 and 5 in Westborough.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Rep. Whipps Lee Named to State Administration and Regulatory Oversight Committee


House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) is pleased to announce that he has appointed Representative Susannah Whipps Lee (R-Athol) to the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight.

The Athol Republican replaces former Representative Leah Cole (R-Peabody), who previously served on the committee before resigning her House seat on September 28th to resume a full-time nursing career.  As a member of the State Administration Committee, Representative Whipps Lee will review legislation pertaining to competitive bidding on public contracts, public construction, the state’s open meeting laws, state regulations, state agencies, and lobbyists’ reporting laws, among other issues.

In addition to her new committee assignment, Representative Whipps Lee will continue to serve as the ranking minority member on the Joint Committee on Elder Affairs; the assistant ranking minority member of the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse; and as a member of the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government.

“Representative Whipps Lee has proven to be a strong advocate for the residents of her district and the Commonwealth as a whole while serving in the Legislature, and I am confident she will continue to do a tremendous job protecting the public’s interest in her new committee assignment,” said Representative Jones.

“I appreciate the trust Representative Jones has placed in me, and I look forward to getting to work and addressing the many important issues that remain before the committee,” said Representative Whipps Lee.

Representative Whipps Lee is currently serving her first term in the Massachusetts House of Representatives.  She represents the Second Franklin District, which consists of the communities of Erving, Gill, New Salem, Orange, Warwick, Wendell, Belchertown, Athol, Petersham, Phillipston, Royalston, and Templeton.

Monday, September 28, 2015

House Minority Leader Brad Jones’ Statement on DCF Reforms Announced by Governor Baker

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) issued the following statement today regarding proposed reforms at the state’s Department of Children and Families released by Governor Baker this morning:

“I commend Governor Baker for developing a timely and comprehensive reform package to address the very serious systemic problems that exist at the Department of Children and Families.  Implementing clear and concise intake policies, reducing caseloads, utilizing CORI checks and requiring a full review of a family’s prior history with DCF and the frequency and nature of 911 calls to a household are all crucial to ensuring that the children entrusted to the state’s care are not placed in harm’s way.  The Fiscal Year 2016 budget includes more than $8 million in additional funding for foster care and clinical support services for DCF clients compared to Fiscal Year 2015, and the House is scheduled to appropriate an additional $5 million in a supplemental spending bill this week to address immediate staffing and training needs at DCF, all of which will help further the administration’s objectives.  I also want to commend the Service Employees International Union Local 509 for its willingness to work with the administration to implement these reforms and ensure their long-term success.  There is much work that still lies ahead, but the proposal released today will move DCF in the right direction.”

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Rep. Kane Appears on 'Greater Boston'

Representative Hannah Kane (R-Shrewsbury) was a guest on last night’s episode of Greater Boston, joining host Jim Braude and Senator William Brownsberger (D-Belmont) to discuss the multiple ballot questions to legalize marijuana that are being eyed for the 2016 state election.  Kane spoke out against the ballot questions, citing her concerns about the impact legalization would have on the state’s youth.

You can watch the segment in its entirety by playing the video link attached below.  The segment begins at approximately the 13-minute mark.

Monday, September 21, 2015

House Minority Leader Brad Jones’ Statement on Representative Leah Cole’s Resignation


House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) issued the following statement today regarding Peabody state Representative Leah Cole’s announcement that she will be resigning her House seat effective September 28 to return to practicing nursing full-time:

“Leah Cole has served in the Legislature with distinction since her arrival on Beacon Hill in 2013.  She campaigned on a pledge to protect the interests of the state’s taxpayers, to promote job creation and to demand government accountability, and she has delivered on that promise.  As a licensed practical nurse, Leah has first-hand knowledge and personal insight into how our health care system works, and has actively pursued policy changes designed to improve the quality of care and lower costs.  She has been a tireless champion for the residents of the Twelfth Essex District, and I know I speak for all of my colleagues when I wish Leah well as she embarks on this exciting new chapter in her life.”

Rep. Cole to Resign House Seat Effective Sept. 28


Today, Rep. Leah Cole (R-Peabody) announced her intention to resign her seat in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, effective September 28 - one week from today. Rep. Cole is resigning to focus on her nursing career.  Having achieved a perfect attendance record for votes in the House, Rep. Cole is resigning to ensure the people of her district continue to have strong, undivided attention and representation in the future.

“As many people know, prior to being elected to the House of Representatives, I was working as a nurse full-time and continued to work as a nurse part-time after being elected.  I decided to get involved in public service because I wanted to contribute to our state policies and invoke positive changes, but I never intended for politics to be a life-long career,” said Rep. Leah Cole.

Cole continued, “It has come to a point where I can no longer continue to be the State Representative, as well as pursue my passion of nursing.  Though I am deeply grateful for the opportunity I have had to serve, given to me by the people of Peabody, I have come to the difficult decision to focus on my nursing career. It has been an honor to represent the people of Peabody for these past two years, and I have loved working in the Legislature to deliver on priorities for our district.”

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Rep. Howitt Files Pension Divestment Bill Targeting Companies that Sanction Israel

State Representative Steven S. Howitt (R-Seekonk) filed legislation today that 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.

Representative Howitt’s bill would direct the Pension Reserves Investment Management Board (PRIM) to contract with an independent third party to develop a list of scrutinized companies that have engaged in politically-motivated actions designed to penalize, inflict economic harm, or otherwise restrict commercial relations with the State of Israel.  The PRIM Board would be required to remove all investments from companies appearing on this list, which would be created within 90 days of the bill’s passage and subsequently updated on a quarterly basis.

“This bill is designed to put companies on notice that if they choose to pursue anti-Israeli policies, the state of Massachusetts will refuse to be a part of it and will not allow its pension assets to be used to help finance such reprehensible actions,” said Representative Howitt.  “This will send a clear and unequivocal message that the Commonwealth in no way condones policies that are detrimental to the State of Israel or its right to exist.”

The divestment bill was filed in response to the so-called BDS movement (boycott, divestment and sanctions), a pro-Palestinian campaign that seeks to isolate Israel, both financially and politically.  Similar divestment legislation has been enacted this year in Illinois and South Carolina, while other states – including New York – have recently filed their own versions.

Representative Howitt’s bill includes a timeline requiring the PRIM Board to divest 50% of its assets from scrutinized companies appearing on the list within 6 months, and 100% if its investment holdings within 12 months.  Once divestment proceedings are underway, the PRIM Board must also send letters of recommendation to fund managers requesting, but not requiring, that they either remove companies with indirect holdings from the fund, or create similar investment funds that do not include companies with indirect holdings.

After the initial list of scrutinized companies is created, the PRIM Board will have 30 days to file a report with the clerks of the Massachusetts Senate and House of Representatives.  The board will then be required to file annual reports detailing the most recent scrutinized companies list, all divested assets, and a list of scrutinized companies the Commonwealth has yet to divest from at the time of the report’s filing, as well as updates on the creation of new any funds that exclude indirect holdings.

The bill also calls for greater transparency by requiring the PRIM Board to fully disclose, on a semiannual basis, any decision to end divestment in, or to reinvest in, a company that previously appeared on the list of scrutinized companies.  Written notification must be provided to the Attorney General’s office, the Senate and House Ways & Means Committees, and the Joint Committee on Public Service stating the reasons and evidence used for ending divestment or reinvesting in these companies.

Representative Howitt is currently circulating the bill for additional co-sponsors, and hopes to draw strong bipartisan support from his colleagues in the Legislature.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

House Minority Leader Brad Jones is Inaugural Guest on ‘State Matters with Matt Muratore’


State Representative Mathew Muratore (R-Plymouth) recently welcomed House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) as his guest on the debut episode of “State Matters with Matt Muratore”.  The half-hour show includes an overview of the legislative process, the importance of constituent service, and the role of state government.  Representative Jones and Representative Muratore also discuss the problems at the MBTA, the regulatory review process initiated by Governor Charlie Baker, and efforts to combat the state’s opioid crisis.

“State Matters with Matt Muratore” airs every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 9 a.m., 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on PACTV.  You can watch the show in its entirety here or by playing the video link below.


Monday, September 14, 2015

House Minority Leader Brad Jones: Two-Tiered Tax System a Bad Idea for State's Taxpayers


The Boston Globe ran the attached opinion piece by House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) in its Globe North edition on Sunday regarding the “millionaire tax” ballot question proposed for the 2018 state election:

One of the potential ballot questions being eyed for the 2018 state election would replace Massachusetts’ flat tax rate – currently set at 5.15 percent – with a two-tiered system where taxpayers in a higher income bracket would pay at a higher rate. Voters have rejected five similar ballot measures in the past, most recently in 1994.

The Fair Share Amendment now being proposed would tax income over $1 million an additional 4 percent, with the new revenues that would be generated earmarked for education and transportation.

Certainly everyone can agree on the importance of maintaining a quality education system to prepare our children for college and the workforce. And after last winter’s historic snowfall ground the MBTA to a virtual halt and stranded thousands of commuters, there is no doubt that transportation improvements need to be near the top of the agenda. But there are ways to improve our schools and public transportation without raising taxes.

Massachusetts residents already face the fourth highest per capita combined state and local tax burden in the country. Raising the income tax rate for one group of Massachusetts residents puts us on a slippery slope. How long before we start imposing higher taxes on other segments of the population and making the state even more unaffordable?

Historically, Massachusetts has a poor track record when it comes to taxes. In 1989, facing a large budget deficit, the Legislature passed a “temporary” tax increase, raising the income tax from 5 percent to 5.95 percent. Frustrated voters demanded relief and sent a clear message by overwhelmingly approving a 2000 ballot initiative to return the tax rate to 5 percent. Today, 26 years after the “temporary” tax increase went into effect, taxpayers are still waiting to get back to the promised 5 percent.

Here is something else to consider: In 1989, the state budget totaled $12 billion. Today it stands at $38.1 billion, more than three times the 1989 total.

The fact is, Massachusetts does not have a revenue problem; it has a spending problem. The Legislature needs to practice fiscal restraint by setting priorities and making sure taxpayer money is being used both efficiently and cost-effectively, rather than automatically resorting to tax increases.

Friday, September 11, 2015

September 11, 2001: Fourteen Years Later, We Still Remember … And We Will Never Forget


Today, our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts. The victims were in airplanes or in their offices: secretaries, business men and women, military and federal workers, moms and dads, friends and neighbors. Thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil, despicable acts of terror. The pictures of airplanes flying into buildings, fires burning, huge – huge structures collapsing have filled us with disbelief, terrible sadness and a quiet, unyielding anger. These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat. But they have failed. Our country is strong. A great people has been moved to defend a great nation.”  – President George W. Bush

The House Republican Caucus joins with Americans everywhere today to remember and honor the victims of the 9/11 attacks. On this somber anniversary, let us also salute our nation’s troops who are serving overseas to keep America strong and preserve the many freedoms we enjoy.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Representative Donald Wong Named to Metropolitan Beaches Commission


House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) has appointed Representative Donald Wong (R-Saugus) to serve as his permanent designee on the Metropolitan Beaches Commission.

Created as part of the Fiscal Year 2015 state budget, the Commission was recently expanded from 19 to 27 members and is responsible for conducting an annual review of the existing maintenance, operational and infrastructure needs of the state’s metropolitan beaches.  In addition to identifying any security measures and capital-intensive repairs necessary to ensure the future recreational use of these beaches, the Commission is also charged with examining best management practices and alternative funding sources – including public-private partnerships and nonprofit entities – to promote improved water quality and beautification efforts.

“Our state beaches are wonderful natural resources, and Representative Wong is committed to working with the Metropolitan Beaches Commission to ensure that they are properly maintained and remain fully accessible for the enjoyment of all residents,” Representative Jones said in announcing the appointment.

The 18 metropolitan beaches that fall under the purview of the Commission include: Nahant Beach in Nahant; Red Rock Park, King’s Beach and Lynn Beach in Lynn; Revere Beach and Short Beach in Revere; Winthrop Beach in Winthrop; Constitution Beach, Carson Beach, City Point Beach, M Street Beach, Pleasure Bay, Malibu Beach, Savin Hill Beach, and Tenean Beach in Boston; Wollaston Beach and Squantum Point Park in Quincy; and Nantasket Beach in Hull.

“I am honored to be appointed to the Commission,” Representative Wong said.  “The Commonwealth’s beaches are among our most valuable resources and deserve our strongest efforts to promote improved water quality and to maintain the beaches’ beauty for generations to come.”

In addition to Representative Wong, the Commission is comprised of 11 other state legislators; 1 member appointed by the Governor or the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs; 1 member appointed by the Commissioner of Conservation and Recreation; and 3 members appointed by the Mayor of Boston, including 1 resident each from East Boston, Dorchester and South Boston.  The Commission also includes 6 members representing the communities of Lynn, Nahant, Revere, Winthrop, Quincy and Hull, and 4 members representing the philanthropic, non-profit, business and academic communities in the Greater Boston area.

The Commission is responsible for holding annual hearings to solicit testimony from interested stakeholders, including local municipalities, non-profit organizations, friends’ groups, and business and community leaders.  The Commission is also required to file an annual report containing its recommendations with the Senate and House chairs of the Joint Committee on the Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture, and the clerks of the two legislative branches.

Representative Wong represents the Ninth Essex District, which includes portions of Saugus, Lynn and Wakefield.  A former Saugus Town Meeting member and past Chairman of the Saugus Board of Selectmen, Representative Wong is currently serving his third term in the Massachusetts Legislature.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Representative Muratore Weighs in on Release of CHIA Health Care Cost Report for 2014

Representative Mathew Muratore (R-Plymouth), a member of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing, was interviewed by WWLP-TV State House Correspondent Tiffany Chan yesterday following the release of a new report by the Centers for Health Information and Analysis detailing Massachusetts’ health care costs for 2014.  The story and segment that aired last night is posted below.

The cost of health care is on the rise. The Centers for Health Information and Analysis’ (CHIA) annualreport shows the state spent a whopping $54 billion on health care in 2014. Governor Charlie Baker blames the rocky rollout of the Health Connector website. One of the governor’s fellow Republicans in the House agrees and doesn’t think it will be repeated.

“I think it’s a one time problem with the Health Connector, everyone being put on, redetermination isn’t being done at MassHealth,” said State Representative Mathew Muratore (R-Plymouth).

The Health Connector website wasn’t able to determine whether people qualified for subsidized health insurance last year. As a result, the state spent more money to make sure people were covered, if only temporarily.

That wasn’t the only problem. The spending report found that the cost of prescription drugs is skyrocketing. Senate President Stan Rosenberg, an Amherst Democrat, wants to save money by allowing the state to bulk purchase drugs. He said, “We should be able to take advantage of our buying power by aggregating demand and negotiating with pharmaceutical companies, bringing down costs.”

Massachusetts recently started to bulk purchase the anti-opioid drug Narcan.

Governor Baker expects that health care spending in 2015 won’t be as high as last year.