Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Rep. Durant: No Question Mass. Can Afford To Give Residents A Break From The State Gas Tax

The following column by Representative Peter Durant (R-Spencer) appeared in the June 26 print edition of the Boston Globe in response to the question “Should Massachusetts suspend the state gas tax?”:

Recently, the average price for a gallon of unleaded gasoline topped $5 for the first time in Massachusetts. This means someone with a 20-gallon tank in Natick, Plymouth, or Salem would need to spend more than $100 to fill their vehicle. Filling up your car twice a week, as many do, is approaching $1,000 per month in fuel costs. This is a significant and painful bite for many residents of the Greater Boston area and across the Commonwealth this summer.

A suspension of the 24-cent gas tax would have three immediate benefits.

First and foremost, it would provide instant relief to consumers and businesses struggling with incredibly rapid inflation.

Second, it would buy time for cities and towns to adjust and plan. As an example, budget constraints caused by the high cost of gasoline could affect spending on our first responders, potentially making communities less safe. One Michigan police department is responding to some “non-life-threatening” calls with phone conversations instead of responding in person. Added pressure on municipal budgets could push communities to seek Proposition 2 ½ overrides, extending further pain to local taxpayers.

Third, actions speak louder than words. Suspending the state gas tax would show our constituents we are committed to helping them, not just providing lip service. And if a broader tax cut package appears before the end of the legislative session, all the better. More relief from the high cost of living in Massachusetts is always welcome.

Critics will argue that suspending the gas tax will not lower prices at the pump, that suppliers will pocket the profits instead. However, Maryland, Georgia, and Connecticut demonstrated that this theory is simply not true — all saw corresponding reductions in price after suspending their gas taxes.

Others will say the Commonwealth’s bond rating will be negatively affected. However, S&P Global Ratings said temporary gas tax suspensions are unlikely to cause changes to state bond ratings.

Finally, the question from leaders on Beacon Hill is: Can we afford it? After all, suspension of the gas tax through the end of the year will cost the state upwards of $200 million, but with a major budget surplus expected this fiscal year, there is no question we can afford to give the taxpayers of Massachusetts a break they deserve.

Monday, June 27, 2022

Representative David Muradian Named To Sports Betting Conference Committee

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) has appointed State Representative David K. Muradian, Jr. (R-Grafton) to serve on a six-member conference committee that will work to develop a consensus framework for legalized sports betting in Massachusetts.

More than 30 states have authorized sports betting since a 2018 US Supreme Court ruling cleared the way for states to regulate the process, including Connecticut, Maine, New York, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. Massachusetts has taken steps to join that list, with the House of Representatives approving sports wagering legislation on July 23, 2021 and the Senate passing its own version on April 28, 2022.

“Massachusetts continues to lose valuable revenues to our neighboring states that have already moved forward with implementing some form of state-sanctioned sports wagering,” said Representative Jones. “Although the House and Senate have taken significantly different approaches to this issue, I am confident that David will find a way to work with his fellow conferees to reach a compromise that will best position the Commonwealth for a successful rollout.”

Under the House proposal, sports wagering would be allowed for both professional and college sporting events, but the Senate version would preclude college betting. The Senate has also proposed a significantly higher tax rate than the House to be assessed on sports betting receipts and would ban sports betting ads during live sports broadcasts.

Joining Representative Muradian on the conference committee are Representative Jerald Parisella (D-Beverly) and Senator Eric Lesser (D-Longmeadow), who currently serve as the co-chairs of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies. Also serving on the conference committee are the chairmen of the House and Senate Ways and Means Committees, Representative Aaron Michlewitz (D-Boston) and Senator Michael Rodrigues (D-Westport), along with Senator Patrick O’Connor (R-Weymouth).

First elected to the House of Representatives in 2014, Representative Muradian represents the Ninth Worcester District communities of Grafton, Northbridge and Upton. He currently serves as the Ranking Minority Member of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies and the House Committee on Operations, Facilities and Security, and is a member of the House Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change and the Joint Committee on Housing.

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Representative Jones’ Statement on House Override of Governor Baker’s Work and Family Mobility Act Veto

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) released the following statement today regarding the House of Representatives’ override of Governor Charlie Baker’s veto of the Work and Family Mobility Act:

“Governor Baker and the members of the House Republican Caucus have raised legitimate concerns about the Work and Family Mobility Act, which will give individuals access to a state driver’s license without having to provide proof of lawful presence. The Registry of Motor Vehicles is not adequately equipped to determine the validity of the alternative documentation allowed under this legislation to verify the true identity of individuals applying for a license, which is problematic given that a driver’s license can open the door to many things. The bill lacks basic safeguards and provides no real guarantees that it will actually enhance public safety as its proponents have claimed. Furthermore, it is grossly unfair for the state to be issuing driver’s licenses to undocumented individuals that are identical and indistinguishable from the licenses provided to those who have followed the law to secure lawful presence or citizenship. This is bad public policy, and I am disappointed that the House chose to ignore these concerns and override the Governor’s veto.”

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Representative Smola Appointed to FY23 Budget Conference Committee

Representative Todd M. Smola (R-Warren, Ranking Member, Committee on Ways & Means) has been selected as one of three House legislators appointed to the conference committee that will negotiate differences between the House and Senate versions of the state budget. Both the House and Senate recently passed budgets totaling roughly $49.8 billion for fiscal year 2023. The conference committee will reconcile differences between the two proposals. Rep. Smola will be joined on the committee by Reps. Aaron Michlewitz (D-Boston) and Ann-Margaret Ferrante (D-Gloucester) from the House of Representatives. On the Senate side, Sens. Michael Rodrigues (D-Westport), Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington) and Patrick O’Connor (R-Weymouth) have been appointed to the committee.

"I am honored to have been selected to the budget conference committee once again,” said Representative Smola. "The budget is the number one priority for the legislature and every aspect of it is closely examined and deliberated. I look forward to working with my fellow conference committee members to produce a responsible budget for the commonwealth."

“As the Ranking Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, Todd has long been committed to prioritizing the needs of our cities and towns while also advocating for fiscally responsible state spending on behalf of the Commonwealth’s taxpayers,” said House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading). “His many years of experience in helping to craft the annual state budget will be an asset to the conference committee as it works to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate spending plans and develop a consensus budget for Fiscal Year 2023.” 

Fiscal year 2023 begins on July 1st, which gives the conference committee less than a month to negotiate a compromise between the two versions of the budget. A final document will go to the House and Senate for a vote before moving to Governor Baker’s office for final approval. For additional information please contact Representative Smola at or (617) 722-2100.

Monday, June 6, 2022

Remembering D-Day, 78 years later

Today marks the 78th anniversary of D-Day, the start of the Allied invasion of Western Europe, when more than 156,000 American, British and Canadian troops stormed the beaches of Normandy in France. The invasion was launched in the early morning hours of June 6, 1944, and marked a major turning point for America and its allies during World War II, but came at the cost of thousands of American lives.

Today’s anniversary, coming just one week after Memorial Day, serves as another reminder of the commitment and sacrifices made by America’s military personnel. The Massachusetts House Republican Caucus salutes our D-Day veterans, and the many men and women who continue to keep our country strong by serving in the United States Armed Forces.