Thursday, April 7, 2022

Representative David DeCoste To Serve On Soldiers’ Homes Conference Committee

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) has appointed State Representative David F. DeCoste (R-Norwell) to a six-member conference committee charged with reconciling the differences between the House and Senate’s proposals to reform the oversight and governance structure of the Holyoke and Chelsea Soldiers’ Homes.

Legislators have given initial approval to sweeping administrative changes at the two state-run soldiers’ homes, following the deaths of 77 residents of the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home near the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. DeCoste previously served on the special joint oversight committee that was established in the wake of these deaths, which cited “systemic governance failures” and “long-standing staffing deficiencies” at the facility as contributing factors. Another 38 COVID-related deaths were reported at the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home.

“As a legislator, David has been an outspoken advocate
for his fellow veterans and their families,” said Representative Jones. “He understands the importance of implementing meaningful reforms to ensure that our veterans receive the best possible care and services and to prevent a repeat of the terrible tragedy that claimed the lives of so many veterans during the pandemic.”

DeCoste is a 22-year veteran of the United States Army, where he achieved the rank of Major. He previously served as a member of the Massachusetts Post-Deployment Commission, which was created in 2016 to develop recommendations for programs to assist the state’s service members as they transition to civilian life after deployment.

Joining DeCoste on the conference committee are the chairs of the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs, Representative Paul McMurtry (D-Dedham) and Senator John Velis (D-Westfield), along with Representative Joseph Wagner (D-Chicopee), Senator Mike Rush (D-Boston) and Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester).

In 2018, DeCoste was a member of the conference committee that finalized the BRAVE Act (An Act relative to veterans’ benefits, rights, appreciation, validation and enforcement), which expanded property tax exemptions and other state benefits for Massachusetts veterans. He later served on a special commission that developed recommendations to make higher education more affordable for those who have served in the military.

A member of the House of Representatives since 2015, DeCoste represents the Fifth Plymouth District, which is comprised of Hanover, Norwell and Rockland. He currently serves as the Ranking Minority Member of the Joint Committee on Housing, and as a member of the House Committee on Operations, Facilities and Security; the Joint Committee on Public Service; and the Joint Committee on Transportation.

Monday, February 14, 2022

Representative Steven Howitt Named To Hate Crimes Task Force

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) has appointed State Representative Steven Howitt (R-Seekonk) to serve on the state’s newly-reorganized Hate Crimes Task Force.

Members of the task force serve in an advisory capacity to help guide state policy on hate crimes and to provide support to victims. As part of its mission, the task force will work to improve the prevention, investigation and prosecution of hate crimes by encouraging cooperation and coordination between law enforcement agencies and communities affected by hate crimes. It will also provide technical assistance to help school districts incorporate hate crime education into their curricula.

“As a Commonwealth, we must all stand united against hate-filled messages and acts of violence that single out a particular group based on their race, religion, or other protected class,” said Representative Jones. “Steve has been a leader on these issues through his words and actions, having co-sponsored legislation to reform the state’s hate crimes statute as well as the genocide education bill that was signed into law last December. He will be a valuable addition to the task force as it works to prevent and respond to hate crimes and to provide outreach and support to victims.”

Established in statute by the Massachusetts Legislature as part of the Fiscal Year 2022 state budget, the Hate Crimes Task Force traces its origins to 1991, when it was initiated by former Governor Bill Weld. What was then known as the Governor’s Task Force on Hate Crimes was formalized through Executive Order 401, issued by former Governor Paul Cellucci on December 5, 1997. Governor Charlie Baker reaffirmed and reconstituted the task force on November 6, 2017 through Executive Order 578.

As currently constituted, the Hate Crimes Task Force is co-chaired by Secretary of Public Safety and Security Terrence Reidy and includes appointees from the Attorney General’s office and the House and Senate Minority Leaders, as well as the House and Senate chairs of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary and the Joint Committee on Racial Equity, Civil Rights and Inclusion. Governor Baker has 19 appointees to the task force who represent a broad cross-section of stakeholders, including victim assistance agencies; advocates for communities affected by hate crimes; district attorneys’ offices; and state, local and university police departments.

The Hate Crimes Task Force is required to submit an annual report to the Governor and the Legislature by December 31. In addition to outlining targeted objectives and metrics for measuring the effect of the task force’s recommendations on hate crimes, the annual report will also include any recommended legislation, regulations, policies or procedures to better combat hate crimes.

Howitt currently serves as the Ranking Minority Member on both the Joint Committee on Export Development and the Joint Committee on Transportation. He is also a member of the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure.

A member of the House of Representatives since 2011, Howitt represents the Fourth Bristol District communities of Norton (Precincts 1 and 2); Rehoboth; Seekonk; and Swansea (Precincts 4 and 5 

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

House Minority Leader’s Statement on Governor Baker’s Fiscal Year 2023 Budget Proposal

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) issued the following statement in response to Governor Charlie Baker’s release of his Fiscal Year 2023 budget proposal: 

“As he has done every year since taking office in 2015, Governor Baker has delivered a fiscally sound and responsible budget proposal to the Legislature. The governor’s budget commits to providing over $5.9 billion in Chapter 70 education aid to local and regional schools districts, along with $1.2 billion in unrestricted aid to communities to support essential municipal services. I am also pleased to see the administration’s filing of accompanying legislation to deliver tax relief to the residents of the Commonwealth, which along with the budget includes a doubling of the tax break available for children and dependents, an increase in the Circuit Breaker tax credit to assist our seniors, and an updating of the estate law to eliminate the ‘cliff effect’ for homeowners. Governor Baker’s budget offers a strong starting point on which the House and Senate can now build their own spending proposals for the upcoming fiscal year.”  

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

House Minority Leader’s Statement on Governor Baker’s 2022 State of the Commonwealth Address

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) issued the following statement in response to Governor Charlie Baker’s 2022 State of the Commonwealth address: 

“Governor Baker may not be running for re-election in 2022, but it’s clear that he has no intention of resting on his laurels during his final year in office. The governor used tonight’s State of the Commonwealth address to outline an ambitious agenda that focuses on making Massachusetts more affordable by tackling critical issues such as reducing housing costs and offering a series of tax policy changes that will benefit all residents of the Commonwealth. The Baker-Polito Administration can point to many positive accomplishments over the last seven years, but there is still much more work to be done. Governor Baker has made it clear that he intends to follow through on his vision for moving the Commonwealth forward, and I hope his message and the policy proposals he unveiled tonight will find a receptive audience in the House and Senate.” 

Monday, January 17, 2022

Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.”– the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

The House Republican Caucus honors the life and legacy of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose message of non-violence provided a path for achieving meaningful progress on the issues of justice and equality.