Local delegation’s committee assignments and legislative priorities are set
BOSTON — Attleboro-area legislators say they are pleased with their committee assignments for the 2019-2020 session, adding they will enable them to pursue their top priorities.
“I am very excited,” said Sen. Paul Feeney, D-Foxboro. “The Senate president made it clear that she took great detail and time in making sure that the committee assignments were reflective of each of us as individual senators and attach priorities that we’ve been working on.”
Feeney was named chairman of the Legislature’s Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee and vice chair of Public Safety and Homeland Security, along with seats on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies, State Administration and Regulatory Oversight, and Export Development committees. He was also named vice chair of the Senate Post Audit and Oversight.
Feeney said he wants to ensure the necessary resources and training are available to police and fire departments, and that public safety works locally.
Rep. F. Jay Barrows, R-Mansfield, will continue to serve on the Legislature’s Financial Services and the House Ethics committees.
Legislative aide Dex John Iannone said Financial Services matches Barrows’ personal expertise as a small family-run business owner. The committee reviews legislation about credit unions, banks and banking institutions, as well as insurance companies, including motor vehicle insurers.
The House Committee on Ethics is responsible for considering all rules violations and questions concerning the conduct of both elected members and employees of the chamber. The committee can recommend a variety of sanctions against any member who violates the branch’s code of conduct.
Rep. James Hawkins, D-Attleboro, was assigned to four different committees, the House-Senate panels on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, and Labor and Workforce Development, in addition to the House committees on Bonding, Capital, Expenditures and State Assets and Steering, Policy and Scheduling.
Hawkins said a seat on the committee that deals with utilities allows him to continue his advocacy on local concerns, such as gas pipeline safety, an prominent issue after the explosions in Lawrence and Andover. He has been a vocal opponent of the proposed Rehoboth compressor station, which adjoins the Poncin-Hewitt fields in Attleboro and is less than a half-mile from two Attleboro schools.
As one of the few card-carrying union members in the Legislature, he said he brings to the Labor Committee a strong understanding of the importance of unions for working families in Attleboro.
He said the same goes for his role on the Steering, Policy and Scheduling Committee.
“There are so many issues like mental health, climate change, criminal justice reform, and more that I care about but could not possibly be on all those committees, and this is a chance to be involved with seeing that important legislation moves forward,” Hawkins said in an email interview.
Hawkins said the seat on the bonding committee will give him an opportunity to advocate for some of the capital needs of Attleboro, possibly including a homeless shelter and a parking garage.
Rep. Shawn C. Dooley, R-Norfolk, will serve on the Legislature’s Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies, Financial Services Committee, and Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy Committee.
Although Dooley no longer sits on the Ways and Means Committee, he does not consider it a demotion, according to William Rigdon, his chief of staff. Rigdon said having a more senior position on a smaller committee versus being a rank-and-file member on a larger committee is Dooley’s preference.
Dooley said he feel rewarded by his committee assignments, which offer a wide range of issues that directly affect his district residents. He cited clean energy projects and fiscal responsibility in the financial services and banking industries.
Rep. Elizabeth Poirier, R-North Attleboro, will serve on the House Committee on Ethics. She was not available for an interview.
Sen. Walter F. Timilty, D-Norfolk, Bristol and Plymouth, was assigned to leadership positions on both the Veterans and Federal Affairs and Environment Committee and Natural Resources and Agriculture Committee.
The veterans in each county that Timilty serves comprise about 5 percent of the total population, according to U.S. Census Bureau. Timilty said being in the leadership post enables him to work for the well being of the veterans and provide them a better life after coming from the military.
Timilty also emphasized the importance of being assigned to the Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Committee, considering the abundance of lands in his districts. Issues such as farming problems, conservation, hunting and fishing, solid waste disposal, and sewerage can all be discussed and resolved through this committee.
Sen. Becca Rausch, D-Needham, prioritized reproductive health, civil rights and anti-discrimination in her first Senate term.
According to Rausch, the reproductive health agenda offered pregnant women an affirmative right to access abortion and abortion-related health care services, and protecting that right against undue interference.
As part of her agenda, Rausch filed the bill that would require all presidential primary candidates to disclose four years of federal income tax returns, and move the state primary date from September to June.
In addition, Rausch also sponsored anti-discrimination legislation, including a bill to promote efficiency in co-parent adoptions. She said it is unjust for certain parents, such as parents in same-sex marriages, spend extra money affirming their parental rights.
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