Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Rep. Dooley Appointed to Ride for Hire Task Force

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 17, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

“I am honored and excited to serve on this commission as I have a keen interest and some local insight given the Town of Shrewsbury’s experience and success in a regionalized public health model partnership with the City of Worcester and neighboring towns,” stated Representative Kane.

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

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

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Representative Smola Named to Special Commission on Pension Forfeiture

Representative Todd M. Smola (R-Warren, Ranking Member, Committee on Ways & Means) has been selected to serve on a special commission to review the decision of the Supreme Judicial Court in Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission v. Edward A. Bettencourt. House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) selected Representative Smola for the post. He is one of four state legislators named to the commission.
Created as part of the Fiscal Year 2017 state budget, this special commission is charged with making recommendations, including proposed legislative amendments to Massachusetts state law relative to the state retirement and pension systems. He will be joined by designees from the Attorney General, the State Treasurer, the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association, the Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission and the Retired State, County and Municipal Employees Association of Massachusetts.

“Representative Smola has a strong understanding of the state’s pension laws, having previously served as a member of the Joint Committee on Public Service,” said Representative Jones.  “The knowledge he brings to the table will be an asset to the special commission as it reviews the state’s existing forfeiture law and considers potential pension reforms to recommend to the Legislature.”

“This court case raised a number of important questions about how we maintain government accountability in Massachusetts; while at the same time protect the legal rights of individuals,” said Representative Smola. “I appreciate the confidence that Representative Jones has placed in me to serve in this capacity. I look forward to working on the commission and proposing reasonable reforms that help to promote fairness and responsibility."

The commission will make a report of its recommendations no later than March 1, 2017.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Representative Kelcourse Appointed to Online Gaming and Fantasy Sports Commission

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

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

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

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

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

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