“A Nuts and Bolts Mr. Fix-It”

Gov. Baker Praised For Major Reforms, Common-Sense Approach

BOSTON — Governor Charlie Baker has “ended up being exactly as Candidate Baker advertised: a nuts-and-bolts Mr. Fix It,” according to a column in today’s Boston Globeby Meredith Warren. Warren’s column praised Governor Baker for achieving fiscally responsible priorities  – like the temporary suspension of the Pacheco Law for the MBTA – despite a Democrat-controlled Legislature that has historically resisted reform.

Year one with Mr. Fix It

BOSTON GLOBE
By Meredith Warren
12/14/15
http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2015/12/14/charlie-baker-first-year-boring-but-productive/XhgU9J1k2AtfB8f3AexOSN/story.html

IF YOU’RE THE type who got a thrill from Governor Mitt Romney’s rivalry with top Democratic leaders, or who delighted in Governor Deval Patrick’s dramatic rhetoric, then Massachusetts politics in 2015 has been an utter disappointment.

Turns out Governor Charlie Baker ended up being exactly as Candidate Baker advertised: a nuts-and-bolts Mr. Fix It, who doesn’t indulge in partisan fighting and political theatrics.

It seems a majority of Massachusetts voters actually prefer boring to blustery. In a recent poll that gauged support for governors across the United States, Baker earned a 74 percent approval rating from Massachusetts residents, a level of support no other governor could reach.

[Baker, DeLeo, and Rosenbeg] have teamed up several times on initiatives that normally would have been the subject of partisan back-and-forth. Who would have guessed that Baker would convince Democrats to temporarily suspend the Pacheco Law (a law favorable to unions) and set up a control board at the MBTA, much less expand the earned income tax credit, all in his first year?

Baker also does his homework. Instead of offering knee-jerk reactions and quick fixes, he prefers to investigate and consult data to make long-term decisions.

When snow crippled the MBTA last winter, Baker set up a commission to find out what went wrong and make recommendations for how to move forward. He brought together social workers and administrators at the Department of Children and Families to develop a comprehensive plan to correct major failures at the agency.

A more recent case in point: When pressed to allow Syrian refugees into Massachusetts, Baker insisted on pausing to ask questions and gain assurances of safety. Others tried to turn the situation into a political fight, but Baker’s pause to find out details before making a decision fit precisely with his basic approach to governing.

So, for those of us who enjoy political intrigue, we’re going to have to get our fix watching “House of Cards’’ on Netflix. For now, at least, there’s not a lot of high-intensity drama playing out in the halls of Beacon Hill.

But, then again, Netflix doesn’t have a real state to run. Charlie Baker does.

(Click here to read the full column)

 

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Veteran will Challenge Rep. Lyons in 2016

The Lowell Sun

UPDATED:   11/06/2015 01:10:41 PM EST

 

Oscar Camargo

Oscar Camargo

ANDOVER — A U.S. Army veteran will challenge incumbent state Rep. James Lyons in the 2016 election.

Oscar Camargo said he will formally announce his run on Wednesday, Nov. 11, in front of Andover’s Old Town Hall.

In a press release, Camargo described himself as socially progressive and fiscally conservative, which fits with the profile of the 18th Essex District. A graduate of Northeastern University and the Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy at Tufts University, Camargo cited his involvement in community organizations such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Knights of Columbus, and Ironstone Farm.

While living in North Andover in 2014, he was one of two Democratic primary challengers to incumbent Rep. Diana DiZoglio.

Lyons has held the seat, which represents parts of Andover, Boxford, North Andover and Tewksbury, since 2011.

Read more: http://www.lowellsun.com/breakingnews/ci_29081358/veteran-will-challenge-rep-lyons-2016#ixzz3qldlidzo

State Rep. Michael Brady – D wins over State Rep Geoff Diehl – R

Democrats on Tuesday kept their hold on a Brockton-based state Senate seat, with state Rep. Michael Brady beating state Rep. Geoff Diehl.

Diehl, R-Whitman, conceded to Brady, D-Brockton after the polls closed. A third candidate in the race, Anna Ruduc, ran as an independent.

The late state Sen. Thomas Kennedy, who died in June, had held the seat since 2009. The district includes Brockton, Halifax, Hanover, Hanson, Plympton and Whitman, and parts of East Bridgewater and Easton.

The special election to replace Kennedy drew the attention of the state Democratic Party and the state Republican Party, and their heavyweights. Gov. Charlie Baker, R-Swampscott, backed Diehl, while U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Cambridge, supported Brady.

2016 Republican Floor Fight? Be there!

The Republican State Committee recently voted to choose 2016 Republican Convention delegates through the caucus system. So anyone who’s registered to vote as a Republican by February 10, 2016 can run in a caucus to be delegate to the 2016 Republican Convention! But why run?

First, look at the field of candidates? There’s likely never been as much energy and as many full platform conservative candidates as there are this year. There’s considerable talk that there may even be a “floor fight” for the nomination similar to those featuring Dwight Eisenhower and Robert Taft in 1952 or even Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford in 1976. (Imagine: Reagan only needed 59 votes to win the 1976nomination!)

But there’s more than that!

Townhall.com recently published a piece by Katie Kieffer titled, GOP Elites Secret Plan to Expel Donald Trump and Ben Carson. The piece describes how the Republican establishment, RNC leadership and staff, will alter the Rules of the Republican Party to block not only Trump or Carson, but any candidate they don’t like.

Can this happen? Absolutely! Google the Fair Play Rule in the 1952 Convention and you’ll see what can happen. But not if someone is watching and knows what to do about it.

Ms. Kieffer unwittingly highlights a key role that convention delegates can and should play: guardians of the Platform and the Rules Committees (and of who gets into the Convention, but the Credentials Committee is another post!). Most see political party conventions for their entertainment value and for unifying and giving the winning nominee a jump-start for the final months of their campaign. But the Republican Convention also establishes the Platform for the Republican Party and the Rules for the Republican Party for the following four years.

Phyllis Schlafly and Eagle Forum know full well the games the GOP establishment elders attempt to play on the Platform Committee. She has fought for over 40 years to keep the pro-life plank in the Republican Party Platform. How? By getting pro-life delegates elected and placed on the Platform Committee. She’s a grassroots guardian!

As an aside, the 2016 Platform Committee will not only see a fight for the pro-life plank but with the SCOTUS decision in Obergefell (pronounce oh berg a fell) v. Hodges there’ll also be a fight for the traditional marriage plank of the platform.

Grassroots guardians also have to guard the Rules as the same principle stands when it comes to the Rules of the Republican Party. The only difference between the Rules Committee and the Platform Committee is the high-profile nature of the issues (it’s sexier!) associated with the Platform Committee. I mean, really, who cares about the Rules when you can fight about life and marriage!

I do, because the rules establish, among a great many things, the balance of power within the Republican Party between the staff and leadership of the Republican National Committee and the members of the Republican Party—the grassroots, that is.

Because few people pay attention to the rules, power-seeking, and to some nefarious, elements have had a field day with the Rules over the past 20 or 30 years. That’s how Rule 40(b), the Rule that Kieffer writes about, was changed. There continues to be a slow but sure inertia to the concentration of power in the Republican Party.

But just as the Freedom Caucus in the House of Representatives ousted John Boehner from the Speakership, so to must regular members rise up, run for delegates, and be active in all aspects of the 2016 Republican Convention. It all comes down to the votes. With enough full-platform conservatives on the Convention floor, we can wage a floor fight over not only the Platform and the Rules, but for a truly, full-platform conservative Republican Presidential candidate! This is not a Convention to miss!

Read Katie Kieffer’s column here: http://townhall.com/columnists/katiekieffer/2015/10/19/gop-elites-secret-plan-to-expel-donald-trump-and-ben-carson-n2067142?utm_source=thdaily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=nl&newsletterad

Transgender ‘bathroom bill’ a battle of conflicting rights

None of our rights is absolute. Even our most precious rights have limitations. The First Amendment protections of the free exercise of religion, freedom of speech, and the right to assemble are expansive but hardly unconditional. The proverbial rule against “yelling ‘Fire!’ in a crowded theater” is a common example of why our individual rights must sometimes be circumscribed for the public good. Some restrictions are needed to secure the rights of all, against the abuses of the few.

We are, however, more frequently faced with “rights in conflict,” rather than clear-cut abuses. In balancing competing rights, legislatures sometimes get it wrong.  For example, in 2007, the Massachusetts Legislature passed a so-called “buffer zone” law to limit the free speech rights of pro-life activists in order to ease entrance to abortion facilities. In McCullen vs. Coakley, the United States Supreme Court unanimously held that the Massachusetts law was overly restrictive and violated the free speech rights of peaceful protestors.

Today, the Massachusetts legislature once again has before it a bill involving competing rights. In a nutshell, the question before the legislature is this: Should Massachusetts eliminate protections for persons who expect restrooms, locker rooms, and dressing rooms to remain lawfully sex-segregated?

Those longstanding rights come smack up against the Transgender Public Accommodations bill (House Bill 1577), “an act relative to gender identity and nondiscrimination.” Often referred to as “the bathroom bill,” HB 1577 removes biology and physiology from primary consideration when a person chooses to enter an intimate public place such as a rest room — whether in a school, library, restaurant, government office, department store, or sports arena.

In 2011, the Massachusetts legislature passed the Transgender Equal Rights Act. While expanding protections against discrimination for transgender persons, that bill specifically maintained traditional expectations about who is permitted in the most sensitive public settings — bathrooms and other lawfully segregated facilities.  If this new bill is allowed to become law, those expectations will be wiped away.

Now, we vividly see the rights in conflict. The goal of HB 1577 is to expand protections for transgender persons. But at what point do those broadened protections conflict with the rights and protections guaranteed to others?

If passed, this law would guarantee the ability of transgender persons to choose whichever public restroom they prefer: men’s or women’s. Access to a restroom of one’s personal choice would override the right to privacy and security that the general public has long enjoyed. Up until recently, there has never been a question about whether a public women’s room is exclusively reserved to women. This bill says that men who claim to identify as women will share access to such heretofore restricted public facilities. What matters is the personal claim of “gender identity,” not the person’s objective anatomy.

Even assuming that those who seek unfettered access to the bathroom of their choice will not abuse that right, real and potential challenges, conflicts, and tensions will remain. But what if someone does seek to abuse that right, posing an outright danger to the public?

All of these conflicts are magnified tenfold whenever children are involved. Should underage boys and girls be assured that their right to privacy is protected in public restrooms? Or should the claims of adults trump those children’s rights?

As a member of the House of Representatives, I believe that the protection of children is paramount. That’s reason enough for me to oppose House Bill 1577. Voting against the bill is the surest way to allay the apprehensions of parents who fear that their children will be subject to awkward or even traumatic situations. Always lurking in the background is the possibility of abuse of access, an abuse which we can all unite in forcefully and unequivocally condemning.

Not every parent shares these concerns. And not every family agrees as to the best resolution of the conflict. That’s the unending dilemma of rights in conflict. There’s always a need to balance one against another. As a legislator, I am constantly reminded of the ongoing need to get that balance as correct as possible. In this case, I believe the right to privacy and security for all persons, especially for children, outweighs the demand for universal access. I shall be voting to maintain current rights, policies, and protections when I vote “No” on “the bathroom bill.”

Jim Lyons (R-Andover) represents the 18th Essex District in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. 

posted at: http://newbostonpost.com/2015/09/23/transgender-bathroom-bill-a-battle-of-conflicting-rights/

As Obama Addresses Labor In Boston, Anti-Worker ‘Cadillac Tax’ Looms

Warren Gives A++ Grade for Socking it to Middle Class Families 
BOSTON — As President Barack Obama descends on the Bay State to join union bosses and Democratic politicians at the annual Labor Day Breakfast, a key element of Obamacare is poised to hurt most Massachusetts families, including those in union households. Obamacare’s “Cadillac Tax” on “high-cost” health insurance plans will take effect in 2018, and will force Massachusetts working families to pay thousands of dollars a year in new taxes: over $50,000 over ten years for the average police officer, for example. MassGOP Chairman Kirsten Hughes released the following statement:

“While Obama and the union bosses applaud each other at today’s breakfast, working families – especially union households – face a crippling Obamacare tax that will force them to pay thousands of dollars a year in new taxes. With union leaders and a bipartisan coalition agreeing that the tax needs to go, Massachusetts needs leaders to stand up to Obama to avert this disastrous burden on workers across the Commonwealth. But despite the consistent failure of Obamacare in Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren gave the law a grade of “A++” last week. Our Commonwealth deserves better leadership in Washington, D.C.”

Background:
The “Cadillac Tax” Is Going to Hit Massachusetts Hard
Pioneer Institute: “Any Profession That Has Robust Healthcare Benefits – Construction Workers, Teachers, Police, State And Local Public Workers, And A Majority Of Those On Private Insurance – Will Be Immediately And Significantly Impacted By This Tax.”(Josh Archambault, “Impact Of The Federal Health Care Law’s ‘Cadillac Insurance Tax’ In Massachusetts,” Pioneer Institute, October 5, 2012) 

Unions And A Bipartisan Coalition Are Opposed To The Tax
The President Of The Massachusetts AFL-CIO Said The Tax Will Be ‘Catastrophic.’ (Steven Tolman, This Week In Business, NECN, 9/6/15) 

There Is Bipartisan Opposition To Obamacare’s Cadillac Tax. “Opposition cuts across both parties, with half of the House of Representatives now co-sponsoring one of two bills — one Democratic, one Republican — that would rescind the levy. House Republican leaders are mulling a vote on repeal.” (Brian Faler, “‘Caidllac Tax’ Could Wreck Popular Medical Accounts,” Politico, 8/31/15)

Working Families Will Suffer Under the Tax
A Police Patrol Officer With A Family Insurance Plan Will Pay $53,907 More On Average In Taxes Over 10 Years. (Josh Archambault, “Impact Of The Federal Health Care Law’s ‘Cadillac Insurance Tax’ In Massachusetts,” Pioneer Institute,10/5/12)

The Health Insurance Tax Will Affect Well Over 50% Of Workers In Massachusetts. “The report says that the so-called ‘Cadillac’ tax will affect well over 50 percent of workers in Massachusetts. This is due to the fact that Massachusetts health insurance rates are the highest in the country.” (Julie M. Donnelly, “Study: Obamacare’s ‘Cadillac’ Health Care Tax Would Hit Half Of All Mass. Workers,” Boston Business Journal, 10/10/12)

But Massachusetts Democrats Like Elizabeth Warren Heap Praise On Obamacare
Warren Gave Obamacare In Massachusetts A Grade Of ‘A++’ (“Political Happy Hour With Elizabeth Warren,” Boston Globe, 9/2/15)
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Plymouth and Bristol Special Election

MassGOPPressReleaseBanner

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

September 1, 2015

CONTACT:
Terry MacCormack
781.799.1987

Rep. Diehl Is Voters’ Only Choice For Fiscal Discipline, Accountability

BOSTON – Rep. Geoff Diehl (R-Whitman) has officially filed with the Secretary of State as a candidate in the special State Senate election for the Second Plymouth and Bristol district. Diehl is the only Republican candidate in the race. MassGOP Chairman Kirsten Hughes released the following statement welcoming Diehl’s candidacy:

“The voters of the Second Plymouth and Bristol district deserve a state senator who will stand for government accountability and fiscal discipline, and Geoff Diehl has a record of fighting for those values. From leading the charge in the successful campaign to stop the automatic gas tax hikes, to advocating for smaller and smarter government, Rep. Diehl has proven he always has taxpayers’ interests in mind. I’m pleased that he is running for the senate to offer a strong contrast to the Democrats’ tired defense of the tax-and-spend status quo. The MassGOP looks forward to working toward his election to send a strong addition to the GOP team on Beacon Hill.”

Background:
The Second Plymouth and Bristol District special senate election is scheduled for Tuesday, November 3. The district includes the following cities and towns: Brockton, East Bridgewater (Pcts. 1-3), Halifax, Hanover, Hanson, Plympton, and Whitman.

Rep. Diehl, a Republican from Whitman, has represented the 7th Plymouth District in the House since 2010. 

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Black Lives White Lives

images-5  by Dennis Galvin

African American communities are experiencing escalating levels of violence, resulting in a racially disproportionate murder rate in Massachusetts. Some allege these deaths are part of a program of police “genocide”, but the fact is, that overwhelmingly, the killers of young African American men are other young African American men. Some of the violence is “gang related”. Some appears to be related to personal vendettas. One valid criticism, that has been raised, is whether society’s response to the carnage has been commensurate across racial lines.

Between 1961 and 1967 Boston experienced a brutal gang war. Those involved were all white and predominantly Irish. Gangs in Charlestown and Somerville shot it out over an insult to someone’s girlfriend. When the feud ended sixty five young men lay dead.

Society’s response to today’s urban violence, when compared to the reaction that occurred 50 years ago to the “Irish Gang War” supports the claim that the responses is disparate.  The hue and cry against the gang violence of the sixties led to the formation of a “state crime commission”, a legislative body that essentially wielded grand jury power. The commission subpoenaed witness, and took testimony under pains of perjury. Those connected to the shootings were hauled before the commission and gave valuable testimony. The true extent of organized crime in Massachusetts was revealed. The commission brought about the establishment of the Special Services Unit within the State Police, which effectively used electronic eavesdropping authority and asset forfeiture to combat organized criminal violence.   Ultimately, it was the US Attorney General Robert Kennedy’s who targeted organized crime and curtailed the wanton violence.

As the bodies fall in Roxbury and Mattapan, the lack of government action by both federal and state authorities, is conspicuous. No special grand jury has been convened to investigate this violence. State authorities do not appear to be actively assisting Boston with electronic eavesdropping, raids, and forfeitures to remove the financial incentives. It would appear that there is a difference between black lives and white lives, when it comes to murder and what society does about it. Until our society takes steps to ensure commensurate levels of protection and justice across racial lines, the national dream of an integrated society remains elusive.

Gloucester Times Praises Gov. Baker’s Approach To Reining In Borrowing

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

July 14, 2015
“An Approach We Feel Is Best For Massachusetts And Its Taxpayers”

BOSTON — In an editorial today, the Gloucester Times praises Governor Baker’s approach to reining in state borrowing, criticizing tax-and-spend Democrats for opposing the plan: “he deserves support, not scorn, from the Legislature.”

Our view: Baker right to rein in state borrowing
GLOUCESTER TIMES

By The Editorial Board
7/14/15
http://www.gloucestertimes.com/opinion/our-view-baker-right-to-rein-in-state-borrowing/article_5708afe9-2fdb-507c-b18a-6f80e56e2992.htmlAfter several rounds of spending cuts and other austerity measures to counteract a $768 million budget deficit brought about by the profligate spending of the Deval Patrick era, one would think Massachusetts lawmakers would commit themselves to being better stewards of the people’s money.

One would be wrong.

Democratic legislators are already complaining that Gov. Charlie Baker isn’t borrowing enough money to spend on pet projects in their home districts. They say they are offended and confused by the administration’s approach to money management.

The disagreement stems from the Baker administration’s conservative approach to borrowing, one that doesn’t increase the state’s debt cap. It’s an approach we feel is best for Massachusetts and its taxpayers.

Baker’s $4.1 billion capital spending plan for fiscal year 2016 would help pay for improvements to state highways, building maintenance projects and renewed economic development. The plan calls for $2.125 billion in general obligation funds, according to the State House News Service. That’s the same as fiscal year 2015 and the first time in six years the executive branch hasn’t increased borrowing by $125 million.

“The more money we borrow now, the less we have available in the operating budget to spend on discretionary spending and the capital program, as you know, has grown significantly in the last few years,” Kristen Lepore, Baker’s administration and finance secretary, told lawmakers at a hearing earlier this month.

Lepore said the administration’s spending plan was “responsible,” especially in light of the fact that borrowing has increased by 64 percent over the past decade.

It’s a sensible approach, a point that was lost on lawmakers.

State Rep. Antonio Cabral, a New Bedford Democrat, said state revenues are growing.

We say Baker is keeping a campaign promise to spend the taxpayers’ money like a responsible adult.

Baker’s sober approach comes as a new study ranks Massachusetts 48th out of the 50 states in financial health, as determined by short- and long-term debt and other obligations, including unfunded pension and retiree healthcare liabilities.

On a long-run basis, Massachusetts’ liabilities exceeded total assets by 47 percent. The state also carried a higher level of bonded debt than the national average. Unfunded pension liabilities were significant at more than $89 billion, close to three times the state’s estimates.”

Yes, the economy seems to be on the rebound. But Norcross says that’s no reason to abandon prudent borrowing and spending policies:

“Even states that appear to be fiscally robust — perhaps owing to large amounts of cash on hand or revenue streams from natural resources — must take stock of their long-term fiscal health before making future public policy decisions.”

That’s exactly what the Baker administration is doing, and he deserves support, not scorn, from the Legislature.

Click here for the full article

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MassGOP Slams Five Congressional Dems from MA on Medical Device Tax

MassGOPPressReleaseBanner

Capuano, Neal, Kennedy, McGovern, Tsongas Stand Against MA Jobs

BOSTON — Today, the U.S. House voted to repeal the medical device tax, a job-killing impediment to growth and innovation in Massachusetts.  The Commonwealth hosts over 400 medical device firms directly responsible for 25,000 jobs and impacting over 80,000 more in related industries.  Yet five Massachusetts Democratic congressmen voted to stand against Massachusetts workers by maintaining the medical device tax, which costs these companies over $400 million annually. MassGOP Chairman Kirsten Hughes released the following statement:

“Given the size and scope of the medical device industry in the Commonwealth, this tax is a direct attack on Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Democrats who voted to keep this job-killing impediment to growth have shown that they care less about the interests of the Commonwealth and more about their partisan, Washington, D.C. agenda.”

Below are the five Massachusetts Democrats who voted against 400 Massachusetts companies and 100,000 Massachusetts workers:

Democrat Michael Capuano
Democrat Joseph Kennedy
Democrat James McGovern
Democrat Richard Neal
Democrat Niki Tsongas
Background:
Today, the US House of Representatives voted to repeal the medical device tax, but five Massachusetts congressmen voted to keep the tax. “Legislation repealing the 2.3 percent federal tax on medical devices cleared the U.S. House Thursday on a vote of 280-140, and an industry leader in Massachusetts predicted the proposal would pass the Senate if it emerges for a vote but face a veto from President Barack Obama. Members of the Massachusetts delegation were split on the vote, with four voting for repeal and five voting against repeal.” (Michael Norton, US House votes to repeal medical device tax, State House News Service, 6/17/15)

The costs of the medical device tax affect tens of thousands of Massachusetts jobs and hundreds of Massachusetts businesses in the health care sector, according to a recent study by the Pioneer Institute. “The new report, authored by Pioneer Health Care Policy Director, Josh Archambault and Xiaofei (Jackie) Zhou, examines the potential impacts on the over 400 medical device companies in Massachusetts, making the state the second highest concentration of employees in the nation, at 24,268. The law could also impact 82,000 additional jobs in related industries,” (“New Report: Medical Device Tax Will Cost MA Employers $422 Million+ Per Year,” Pioneer Institute, 4/18/13)

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