Friday, February 26, 2021

Rep. Whelan On Special Commission Studying Civil Service Law, State Police Hiring Practices

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) has announced the appointment of State Representative Timothy Whelan (R-Brewster) to a special legislative commission that will review the state’s civil service law and the hiring practices of the Massachusetts State Police.

Created as part of the new policing reform law signed on December 31, the commission will explore ways to improve diversity, transparency and community representation in the recruitment, hiring and training of civil service employees, as well as within the State Police and in communities that are not subject to the civil service law.

“Tim has an extensive public safety background, having previously served as a correctional officer and a State Police sergeant for many years,” said Representative Jones. “His knowledge and expertise will help to guide the commission as it looks for ways to ensure a diverse pool of qualified candidates for hiring and promotion within the ranks of the State Police and municipal departments.”

The commission itself will include a broad range of members, including representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts; the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People New England Area Conference; the Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus; the Massachusetts House Asian Caucus; and the Massachusetts Municipal Association. Other organizations represented on the 29-member commission include the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association Incorporated; the Massachusetts Association of Minority Law Enforcement Officers, Inc.; the Fire Chiefs’ Association of Massachusetts, Inc.; the Mass. Veterans’ Service Agents Association, Inc.; and the Disabled American Veterans, Department of Massachusetts, Inc. 

The commission will study the employment, promotion, performance evaluation and disciplinary procedures used for civil service employees, municipal employees in communities not subject to the civil service law, and the State Police, and will seek to identify any barriers that exist in hiring, recruiting or promoting. The commission will also consider potential revisions to the current civil service law, including changes to civil service exams, merit preference status, eligible lists and appointment from eligible lists by hiring authorities.

As part of its undertaking, the commission will evaluate the feasibility of creating a statewide diversity office within the Executive Office of Administration and Finance to establish and oversee the implementation of affirmative action plans and guidelines for municipalities, and to monitor communities for noncompliance. The commission will also examine the feasibility and cost of hiring or appointing a diversity officer for every city or town with a municipal police or fire department.

The commission will file a report containing its findings and recommendations by September 30, 2021.

First elected to the House of Representatives in November of 2014, Whelan is currently in his fourth term representing the First Barnstable District, which is comprised of Precinct 1 in Barnstable; Precincts 1 and 2 in Brewster; the town of Dennis; and Precincts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 7 in Yarmouth.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Rep. Vieira Named To Special Legislative Early Education & Care Economic Review Commission

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) is pleased to announce the appointment of State Representative David Vieira (R-Falmouth) to serve as his designee on the Special Legislative Early Education and Care Economic Review Commission.

Created as part of the Fiscal Year 2021 state budget, the special commission will conduct a review of how childcare programming is currently funded in the state and will make recommendations for potential legislative reforms and policy changes.

“Early education and care programs provide critical support systems for working families,” said Representative Jones. “I am confident that David will take a leading role on the commission by working to ensure that Massachusetts families have access to affordable, quality programs and services.”

As part of its mission, the special commission will review the funding streams supporting early education and care in Massachusetts, as well as models for accessing childcare, including providing employee benefits that include childcare. The commission will also focus on the many challenges the 2019 novel coronavirus has created in providing continued access to high quality early education and care, particularly for the state’s most vulnerable children and families. In addition to exploring ways to support and stabilize the early education and care workforce, the commission will also investigate the economic impact COVID-19 has had on childcare providers and the economy, including the impact on parent-pay programs not supported through a state subsidy.

The special commission is required to hold a minimum of five public meetings to solicit feedback from relevant stakeholders, including those working in the early education and care sector, families, and employers.

First elected to the House of Representatives in November of 2010, Vieira is now in his sixth term representing the Third Barnstable District, which is comprised of Precincts 3, 4, 5 and 6 in Bourne; Precincts 3, 4, 7, 8 and 9 in Falmouth; and the town of Mashpee.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Rep. Muratore Named To Permanent Commission On The Status Of Persons With Disabilities

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) has announced the appointment of State Representative Mathew Muratore (R-Plymouth) to serve as his designee on the Massachusetts Permanent Commission on the Status of Persons with Disabilities.

Created as part of the new policing reform law signed on December 31, the Commission will serve as an independent state agency that will work to advance the cause of all persons with disabilities living in the Commonwealth.

“Matt’s advocacy on behalf of individuals with disabilities has been recognized by a number of organizations, including the Arc of Greater Plymouth, which named him its Legislator of the Year in 2017,” said Jones. “As a member of the Commission, Matt will continue to play a key role in helping to effectuate positive changes to support all Massachusetts residents with disabilities.”

The Permanent Commission on the Status of Persons with Disabilities will review and recommend corrective action to address any disparities that exist within the range of state disability services options available to individuals with disabilities, including transportation, access to employment, and public assistance programs pertaining to food, housing, child care and other benefits. In addition to promoting employment opportunities for persons with disabilities in both the public and private sector workforce, the Commission will also establish school-to-work activities for transition aged youth with disabilities that establish a bridge to self-sufficiency and engage school supports, family members and employers. 

As part of its mission, the Commission will assess the programs and practices of all state agencies as they affect persons with disabilities, and will advise both the executive and legislative branches of government regarding the potential impact of proposed legislation. It will also work to promote and facilitate collaboration among local disability commissions, disability rights advocacy organizations and disability employment service providers.

The 23-member Commission will include representation from the Attorney General’s office, the State Treasurer’s office, the Secretary of State’s office, and seven members who will be appointed by Governor Charlie Baker. The Commission will also include the executive director of the Disabled Persons Protection Commission, along with representatives from the University of Massachusetts Medical School Work Without Limits program; the Massachusetts Disability Policy Consortium; the Association of Developmental Disabilities Providers, Inc.; and the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council.

The Commission will be responsible for filing an annual report on or before October 31.

Representative Muratore was recently appointed to the House Ways and Means Committee, which reviews all legislation impacting state finances. He is also currently serving as the Assistant Ranking Minority Member of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing; the Ranking Minority Member of the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government; and the Ranking Minority Member of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development.

First elected to the House of Representatives in November of 2014, Muratore is currently in his fourth term representing the First Plymouth District.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Representative Hannah Kane Appointed To Newly-Created Rare Disease Advisory Council

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) has appointed State Representative Hannah Kane (R-Shrewsbury) to serve as his designee on the newly-established Rare Disease Advisory Council.

During the 2019-2020 legislative session, Representative Kane was the lead co-sponsor, along with Representative Joseph McKenna (R-Webster), of legislation calling for the creation of the Council, which will advise the Governor, the Legislature and the Department of Public Health on the incidence of rare disease in Massachusetts. She also sponsored an amendment based on the legislation she filed that was adopted as part of an omnibus health care reform bill that was signed into law on January 1.

“Hannah has been at the forefront of this issue and has spearheaded the effort to create a permanent state entity devoted to addressing the needs of the rare disease community in Massachusetts,” said Representative Jones. “I am confident she will help make the Council an effective voice for improving access to research, diagnosis and treatment for those individuals who are living with a rare disease.”

The new law defines rare diseases as any condition that “affects fewer than 200,000 people in the United States, has status as an orphan disease for research purposes, or is known to be substantially under diagnosed and unrecognized as a result of lack of adequate diagnostic and research information.”

The 29-member Council will be chaired by Dr. Monica Bharel, the state’s Commissioner of Public Health. It will be responsible for developing and maintaining a comprehensive rare disease plan for the Commonwealth, and will be required to file an annual report by December 31.

Later this month, Representative Kane is scheduled to speak virtually about the creation of the state’s Rare Disease Advisory Council as part of Biogen’s Lunch N’Learn program and at the NORD (National Organization for Rare Disorders) Rare Action Network of MA virtual lunchtime event.

“The Massachusetts Rare Disease Advisory Council will ensure that a framework for tackling rare disease is in place in the Commonwealth, it will bolster education around rare disease and it will ensure that the rare disease community is being championed here,” said Representative Kane. “I am honored to be a member of the initial Council and grateful to the Minority Leader for appointing me as his designee. Massachusetts life science companies are at the forefront of discovery in treatments for rare diseases and our health care institutions lead the world in break-through treatments. Massachusetts can and will lead a coordinated effort to confront rare diseases head-on and provide life-saving treatments to residents suffering from these diseases.”

In addition to the Rare Disease Advisory Council, Representative Kane is also serving as the House Minority Leader’s designee on the Massachusetts Food Policy Council and the Massachusetts Commission on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth. From 2016-2018, she served on the Special Commission on Local and Regional Public Health, and on the Regional Transit Authority Task Force from 2018-2019.

Representative Kane is the Founder and Co-chair of the first in the nation Food System Caucus, which is the second largest caucus in the Massachusetts Legislature. She currently serves as a member of Governor Charlie Baker’s Food Security Task Force, which was created in response to the challenges to the food production and distribution system created by COVID-19 that has led to increased food insecurity. Governor Baker also appointed her in February of 2020 to serve on the Special Commission on Family Care and Child Care Services. 

First elected to the Legislature in 2015, Representative Kane is now the Ranking Minority Member of both the Joint Committee on Public Health and the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. She is also serving as a member of the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery, as well as the newly-formed Joint Committee on Racial Equity, Civil Rights and Inclusion.

Representative Kane represents the Eleventh Worcester District, which is comprised of the town of Shrewsbury and precincts 4 and 5 in Westborough.