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