Friday, May 29, 2015
Thursday, May 28, 2015
Monday, May 25, 2015
“Today, the United States stands as a beacon of liberty and democratic strength before the community of nations. We are resolved to stand firm against those who would destroy the freedoms we cherish. We are determined to achieve an enduring peace – a peace with liberty and with honor. This determination, this resolve, is the highest tribute we can pay to the many who have fallen in the service of our Nation.” – President Ronald Reagan, May 25, 1981The price of freedom is not free, but a precious commodity paid for a thousand times over by the many brave men and women who have answered the call to serve throughout our nation’s history. Let us never forget those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve the many freedoms we enjoy today, and let us resolve to honor our fallen soldiers not only on Memorial Day, but every day.
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Wednesday, May 6, 2015
House Minority Leader Brad Jones Secures Budget Amendment Targeting Unpaid Sex Offender Registration Fees
Sex offenders who fail to pay a required registration fee
to the state would face additional sanctions under an amendment to the Fiscal
Year 2016 House budget filed by House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr.
(R-North Reading) and members of the House Republican Caucus.
The House of Representatives approved the amendment on a voice vote on April 29 as part of the proposed $38 billion state budget.
Under current law, sex offenders are assessed a $75 registration fee at the time of their initial registration as a sex offender, and again each and every subsequent year on the anniversary of their registration. Sex offenders who fail to pay the fee are sent notices and follow-up letters, but the law lacks an enforcement mechanism to ensure that the fees are paid in full.
“The current law falls short of providing appropriate penalties for sex offenders who fail to pay the required registration fee,” said Representative Jones. “This amendment would add some teeth to the law to help ensure that the Sex Offender Registry Board receives these fees on a timely basis.”
Representative Jones’ amendment would require the Sex Offender Registry Board to notify the Department of Revenue (DOR), the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) and the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) whenever any sex offender registration fee is 60 days past due. Once these agencies are notified, DOR would be directed to deduct the amount owed by the sex offender from any state tax refunds that might be due to them.
The amendment would also prohibit the RMV from issuing or renewing a sex offender’s driver’s license or motor vehicle registration until the fee has been collected.
The amendment was co-sponsored by the House Republican leadership team, including Representatives Brad Hill of Ipswich, Elizabeth Poirier of North Attleborough, Susan Gifford of Wareham, Paul Frost of Auburn and Todd Smola of Warren. Additional co-sponsors included Representatives Nicholas Boldyga (R-Southwick), Marc Lombardo (R-Billerica), Sheila Harrington (R-Groton), Shawn Dooley (R-Norfolk), Kimberly Ferguson (R-Holden), Leah Cole (R-Peabody) and Steven Howitt (R-Seekonk).
The state Senate is expected to release and debate its own version of the budget in May. A six-member conference committee will then work to resolve the differences between the two branches’ spending proposals and produce a final budget that will be sent to Governor Baker for his signature.
Monday, May 4, 2015
The proposal, which was filed as an amendment to the House version of the Fiscal Year 2016 state budget, would also require background checks on all individuals, age 15 or older, residing in the same household as adoptive or foster parents, as well as all applicants for employment, interns and volunteers who have the potential for unsupervised contact with children in any department-approved program, including individuals who provide transportation services for such programs.
“Children are our most precious resource, but they are also among our most vulnerable residents, and the state should be making every effort possible to guarantee they are never placed in harm’s way,” said Representative Jones. “Requiring background checks similar to those already conducted by the Department of Early Education and Care will help to ensure that DCF is taking appropriate precautions in its hiring and placement process.”
A 2014 audit of DCF revealed that, in a review of 29 case files, the Department was unable to provide documentation for 48 of 63 required background checks. The audit also showed that 25 homes matched the address of registered sex offenders.
Representative Jones’ proposal directs DCF to obtain from the Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry Board all available sex offender registry information associated with the address of any center, home or facility licensed through the Department.
“Whether they are in the actual home or in the same apartment building, sex offenders pose a significant risk to child safety,” said Representative Jones. “Increased oversight and stricter background check regulation policies will help to reduce those risks considerably for children who have been entrusted to the state’s care.”
The amendment, which was approved on a unanimous roll call vote of 159-0, was co-sponsored by the House Republican leadership team, including Representatives Brad Hill of Ipswich, Elizabeth Poirier of North Attleborough, Susan Gifford of Wareham, Paul Frost of Auburn and Todd Smola of Warren. Additional co-sponsors included Representatives Nicholas Boldyga (R-Southwick), Marc Lombardo (R-Billerica), Angelo D’Emilia (R-Bridgewater), Sheila Harrington (R-Groton), Kimberly Ferguson (R-Holden), Leah Cole (R-Peabody), David Muradian (R-Grafton), Tim Whelan (R-Brewster) and Steven Howitt (R-Seekonk).