As my RMG colleague Rob Eno pointed out today, Massachusetts House of Representatives Minority Leader Brad Jones scrambled to co-author legislation designed to amend the rules of the House so that the restriction to bills on the House floor would be lifted. This victory for transparency was made possible by a hearty band of Republican House members dubbed the "Gang of Five". The resolution filed by Dan Winslow was supported by his plucky Gang of Five colleagues Shaunna O'Connell, Jim Lyons, Marc Lombardo, & Geoff Diehl. Everyone else - including Democrats! - knew a good thing when they saw it & quickly threw their support behind the legislation. The rest, as they say, was history.
But the question remains: why didn't Jones himself take the initiative to challenge the lack of transparency promulgated by Speaker of the House Bob DeLeo? Why did he wait till the last minute to help his GOP colleagues? WHY?
As Eno pointed out in another post, special election Republican candidates Carol Claros & David Steinhof actually did pretty good considering the fact that both first-time candidates had scarce resources & their respective races happened deep within Democrat territory. Still, DeLeo had no problems publicly pounding the pavement & shaking the money tree for the members of HIS party like Dan Donahue (Claros' opponent) who were also running in those special elections.
Now where was the Minority Leader when two Republican candidates had a chance to win two open seats? Sure, the MA House Republican PAC doled out $500 & Jones personally donated $100 to Claros (no word yet if he did the same thing for Steinhof), but...but was THAT all he did? Why wasn't an independent expenditure from the GOP PAC done for either Claros or Steinhof? Jones allowed his name to be attached to an invitation to an event for Steinhof but he never showed up at said event. In fact he was completely absent from ANY event staged for Claros & Steinhof. He was a NO-SHOW!!!
Some Establishment Republicans may titter over a cartoon & squeal, "where's Waldo?" but ALL GOP activists should righteously respond with "the hell with Waldo - where's Jones? What's he doing? Where's the leadership?"
When I called upon Republicans in the MA House of Representatives to start thinking about a post-Brad Jones GOP (& to act upon it), one person responded by stating that rank-and-file Republicans must like him as a leader otherwise he wouldn't get re-elected. But that argument to me doesn't mean anything. Fear can make people do things that are against their political principles (let alone the principles of their political party) - especially when they witness what happens to other members of their caucus who are perceived to lose favor with (or incur the envy of) Jones himself.
Take for example Jones' decision to remove Shaunna O'Connell from the Ways & Means Committee & replace her with Matt Beaton. I'm sure Beaton is a nice guy but he comes from a district that's considered "safe" for a Republican. O'Connell comes from the city of Taunton - not exactly a bastion of GOP strength. You'd think that a rising star like O'Connell would find a mentor in Jones. You'd think that he would keep her in a high profile position to give her the leverage she needs in a city like Taunton. You'd think that both Jones & O'Connell would work together on an urban strategy that is ESSENTIAL for the GOP's long-term success. "Let's win one for the Gipper," you'd hope they'd cheer!
But then again I pinch myself & remember that it's Brad Jones we're talking about here. Not exactly the brightest bulb in the closet when it comes to Republican strategy in both its short term & long term forms. That lack of mentorship & support was demonstrated yet again when a study done by Leah Cole didn't get passed in a conference committee report on the budget. If Jones wanted that study to get through, it would've gone through in a heartbeat.
But does Jones have the heart to assist his members? From what I've heard, Jones has been AWOL when it comes to attending the few available events for GOP state representative candidate Carol Claros as she runs for office.
Notice the pattern here? Jones appears to distance himself from strong, independent Republican women whose leadership qualities present a sharp contrast to the "lead-from-behind" boy's club that best exemplifies the House Minority Leader's office. That wasn't always the case (Elizabeth Poirier was appointed by Jones to be Assistant House Minority Whip) so one has to wonder why Jones no longer cultivates women to hold positions of power within the House Minority Leader's office. Well, maybe that's the price a party pays when it allows its alleged leaders to enjoy automatic re-appointments when the record shows said leaders no longer merit their position (&, in fact, hurt the party the longer they cling to power). Jones is a relic of the past & should be placed in a GOP museum. We need new blood - ASAP!
The recent revelations that House Minority Leader Brad Jones has acted as an enabler for Beacon Hill's majority party in the House of Representatives should come as no surprise to long time Republican activists.
Jones has been & will continue to be an apt symbol of GOP impotence. He is comfortable with a status quo that he hopes will reward him with perks & a nice pension once he retires from public life. He has no interest in rocking the boat. He has no interest in effectuating genuine political change. Jones is content to play a faux opposition leader & he gets away with it because too few within the party call him out on it. Most of them are too busy fawning over his fake leadership credentials & his manufactured "celebrity". Want to see human self debasement in action? Check out the Republicans who get weak at the knees and gush over Jones when he deigns to acknowledge their presence.
The GOP State Committee should have as an agenda item a meeting with both Jones & Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr in order to determine why both men have failed to advance Republican ideas & elect more Republican candidates. Is that likely to happen? Not with the current makeup of the membership. Members of the House GOP, however, should instigate among themselves some serious discussions about a post-Jones era on Beacon Hill. It's LONG overdue.
After reading yesterday's story about Marc Lombardo and Jim Lyons fighting for Members's Rights on the House Floor during informal sessions, you may ask yourself, what's the big deal? Only uncontroversial bills are supposed to pass during informal session.
The problem is that over the past 10 months three bills advanced during informal session that warranted the full house acting with a roll call. Here are those bills you can judge for yourself.
Coffee shops, bistros, and so-called holes in the wall will no longer be allowed to skirt a state health regulation if a bill passed by the Massachusetts House Tuesday becomes law.
The bill would close a loophole that exempts restaurants with fewer than 25 seats from a state law that requires such businesses to have someone on site who is trained in the procedures for removing food lodged in someone's throat, said state Representative Ruth Balser, Democrat of Newton.
Dave Andleman of the Restaurant and Business Alliance explained the bills ramifications.
"With the Massachusetts hospitality industry losing 7,000 jobs in the last 3 months, we should not add more costs to our small businesses," David Andelman, alliance president, said in a statement.
"While we applaud the good intention of this bill, it is not fair that this vague bill burdens any businesses with liability for something beyond their control," Andelman said.
You may remember, earlier this year, the Massachusetts House of Representatives passed a $4B supplemental budget in informal session. This was with no debate, and could have been stopped if one member of the house objected, as these are the rules during informal sessions. The Republican Leadership Office, led by Bradley Jones (R-Reading) did not object to this spending bill.
This was the impetus for the conservative faction of the the Republican Caucus to start attending informal sessions, to stop bad legislation and spending bills from being passed while virtually no-one was in the House Chamber. As part of that process the conservative members were given access to the "can", the place where the days bills are kept, near the Rostrum.
That changed this week. Speaker DeLeo's office gave notice to the Republican Leadership Office (RLO) that only one person from both parties would be allowed near the Rostrum during informal sessions.
Red Mass Group has obtained Bradley Jones' email to members outlining the change.
Dear GOP Colleagues:
I am writing to let you know the Republican Leadership has been informed by the Speaker's office that only members of the Republican Leadership or the member designated to cover session by the RLO will be permitted to go through the "can" during Informal sessions. As always, members who have an interest may go to the Clerk's office prior to session to conduct any inquiries. Likewise, the Speaker's office indicated session inquiries by Republican members should be directed to the RLO as Democrat members are directed to the Speaker's office.
Attending Informal Sessions to listen and observe is a great way of learning about the process and what is going on. So too is routinely reading the Session notices distributed by State House News and reading the House/Senate Journal. Stopping by the RLO to talk with the Leadership or staff is also a good way of finding out what is going on.
The Republican Leadership and staff work very hard prior to and during session to be aware of what is on and not on the agenda. As always the RLO and staff will continue to be vigilant during each session - holding those items of particular concern and trying to advance those of particular interest.
I would reiterate that my door is always open and I am routinely in the office. Likewise, my cell phone number and email address, both State House and personal, are in everyone's possession.
(Emphasis Red Mass Group's)
Some members took offense at the second paragraph of that email, which implies that rank and file members should be effectively seen and not heard during informal sessions. This brings us to what happened yesterday.
Sources are telling Red Mass Group that Mike Franco has decided to run in the special election to fill Mike Knapik's former seat. The reason seems to be that Don Humason is the "establishment" pick for the senate seat. While the establishment may be lining up behind Humason, in no way is he an establishment pick.
Part of the misconception is that Don Humason has a very good ability to disagree, without being disagreeable. Lets look at the recent history.
In 2009, now Sheriff, Lew Evangelidis and others waged a fight for the House Republican leadership. It was a fight in which they came up a couple votes short. Don Humason was with Evangelidis and company. When the vote for speaker was cast, the legislators supporting Evangelidis over Brad Jones voted present for Speaker. It is customary to vote for the Minority leader if you are a Republican. You can see this vote on page 7A of this linked PDF.
In addition to this vote, which wasn't very establishment, Humason supported Rick Green in this year's fight for Party Chair.
When RINO Hunting, we should train our sights on actual RINOs. Humason is as far away from that as you can be.
"I've heard from a lot of tech businesses and a lot of people - more than I think we normally hear from," said Spilka. "There's a lot of information that has come to light about the tech tax and the potential impact. ... It's the opposite message we want to send the tech industry."
Asked if she still would have introduced the bill even if she weren't running for Congress, Spilka replied, "Absolutely," but also denied having any regrets for voting for the tax.
"No, I voted on the best information I had at the time," said Spilka. "There wasn't the human outcry that there is now."
Karen, sorry but the Republicans in the legislature shared with you how bad this was. Also you didn't have public hearings, so how could you hear the public's position if you shut them out of the process?
Brad Jones and Bruce Tarr had particularly pointed words for Spilka.
"It's not lost on me that she's a candidate for Congress and that we found out about her filing this bill in the media as opposed to an email to her colleagues," said House Minority Leader Brad Jones.
Critics of the tax accused lawmakers of not doing their homework.
"We were on a very dangerous path of tax-first, ask questions later," said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, whose two amendments Spilka voted against. "There was such a rush to increase taxes that a lot of time was not taken to fully consider this."
File under... Flip Flop Hooray Ho!
Dan Wolf Should Challenge Ethics Ruling in Court
It is not often that I agree with my good friends over at Blue Mass Group. On the issue of the Ethics Committee ruling on Dan Wolf's eligibility to run for public office I certainly do agree. It is preposterous to me that someone that owns a business that pays the state money for a service can't run or hold office. David Kravitz is challenging Wolf to man up and fight the ruling in court.
Wrong, Dan. If you think they are wrong, it absolutely serves the public for you to take on the Ethics Commission in court. Of course, the Ethics Commission is supposed to be a "watchdog of state government." But, to beat a metaphor to death, watchdogs can sometimes jump the fence that keeps them where they're supposed to be, and then go on a rampage through the streets, biting innocent people who weren't intruding on their territory at all. When that happens, somebody needs to get that watchdog back inside the fence. And that seems to be basically what's happened here. That unwelcome task has fallen to you.
It's important that the Ethics Commission - an unelected and basically unaccountable group of individuals whom at least 99.9% of MA residents (including me) cannot name - be free from interference in properly carrying out its mandate. It's equally important, IMHO, that the Ethics Commission not go beyond that mandate, in the process depriving the people of MA of the services of honorable public servants. As you yourself asked, "'How does getting me out of the state Senate and out of running for governor serve the public good?'"
Answer: it doesn't. So, Dan, get your lawyers to draw up the papers. If the Commission was right, the courts will say so, and you can then step away knowing you really did have no other choice. If they were wrong, you'll have done the people of Massachusetts a service. Win-win.
Fully agree here. If Wolf thinks he is being singled out, it is his duty to challenge the ruling.
The amendments coming out of the Republican Leadership office are mighty wordy. We were only able to put 4.5 amendments in the last post before reaching the character limit in our software. So here's another section of GOP Leadership Office Amendments.
Part 2 of the series on Budget Amendments will look at Republican reform amdendments, most of which were filed by Marc Lombardo (R-Billerica), Shaunna O'Connell (R- Taunton), Geoff Diehl (R-Whitman), Kevin Kuros (R-Uxbridge), and Jim Lyons (R-Andover).
The House budget for Fiscal year 2014 is out, and can be read at this link. In addition, amendments to the budget were due yesterday at 5:00 PM. Here at Red Mass Group, over the weekend, we will list all Republican Amendments. They will be listed in amendment number order.
You can see the first set of amendments after the jump.
(While I am normally hard on Leader Jones. In this instance Jones has stepped up to the plate. His PAC spent $57,958 this election cycle. This is about the same he spent in 2010 which was $61,448. And significantly more than what they spent in 2008.
Jones deserves credit for what he's done with the PAC. Real credit, and I'll give it to him when it is due. - promoted by Rob "EaBo Clipper" Eno)
It is disappointing when our Republican leadership fails. Under our state law, Republicans are only allowed one PAC to support our House candidates. The House Minority Leader is responsible for the PAC. That would be Brad Jones.
Last year we lost three Republicans in the House after working so hard to double our numbers in 2010. One of them was due to redistricting. The other two lost narrow races. You have to place the blame on Brad Jones for these losses. Recent campaign reports show that the PAC under Brad Jones' leadership finished the election cycle with $7000 cash on hand. He kept $7000 in the bank instead of helping our candidates.
We had two Republicans lose and he has money in the bank. As you know the GOP candidates were targeted by the Democrat Super PAC. Jones should have spent it all to help these freshmen Republicans. This is a case of failed leadership.
More to follow on why Jones doesn't help fellow Republicans.
Hillary Chabot breaks the story we've all known was out there but were afraid to mention. Bravo Hillary!!!
"He's going to have to run in a special election and face another election two years down the road if he wins," said House Minority Leader Brad Jones (R-North Reading), who said the election of Brown's former deputy finance director, Kirsten Hughes, is playing a role in Brown's decision. "He might find it daunting if the party isn't united behind him."
So Brown IS waiting to decide to run based on who wins Mass GOP chair race? Why should it matter? I think former Senator Brown, who has happily disowned the GOP (but not their money) for a year now should answer why he is waiting. It can't possibly be that he has some sort of understanding, can it?
I know it looks bad that his former finance gal works at Mass GOP and his other former finance gal, who used to work there, then worked for him now wants to run the state org but come on, let's give him the benefit of the doubt, no?
If I was a pessimist, which I'm not, I would think that this story was dropped today by Brown in order to scare the last few undecideds into siding with him after badgering State Committee members with personal plea phone calls for weeks. (Rumor has it Green is up by two.)
If it is the job of the chairman of the party to support party candidates, why is Brown so concerned? And why would he allow something as inconsequential as this to influence his desire to return to the Senate and do what's best for the citizens of MA. If you want to serve, you run! Odds and lack of party support didn't scare him off in 2010. Maybe DC really did change the guy.
I think Brown (and Jones) have jumped the shark here. A non-decision like this alienates him even more from the "People" that put him in his "Seat". If Hughes wins, he may get the money and the "party", but he likely won't have the necessary grassroots to get him over. And not because of party unity but because of shenanigans like this.
Can we leave the hack appointments to the Democrats? They're much better at hiding it.
Is it just me or does it seem as though the number of special elections in Massachusetts is expanding like a family of tribbles?
Fresh on the heels of Jack Hart's announcement to leave the State Senate triggering a special election and the confirmation of Senator Kerry as Secretary of State triggering a special US Senate election (the only special election that matters if you're minority leader Brad Jones) we now have the resignation of Martha "Marty" Walz from her State Representative seat serving parts of Boston and Cambridge to join Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts.
When the opposition party doesn't oppose, they take away a line of attack from GOP candidates. This was very evident in a wide ranging debate between Korey Welch and Rhonda Nyman on WATD. During the debate, Welch, a Republican, made an issue of Nyman's vote for a bloated out of control budget. Here response? It can't be that bad, all but four Republicans voted for it.
To recap, this budget is the highest budget ever in the history of the Commonwealth. It has millions of dollars of spending for illegal immigrants. It doesn't fix the structural problems with this state. But hey all but four GOPers voted for it, so it must be good.
It is past time for the Republican Party in Massachusetts to offer an alternative vision of governance.
The Associated Press is reporting that the Massachusetts Health Care Price control legislation, supported by the House Republican leadership, is now being used as a model for a federal law. Obama allies are now eying the law, described by the Boston Business Journal as "Soviet-style", as a blueprint for national policy.
The approach broadly resembles a Massachusetts law signed this summer by Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick that puts pressure on hospitals, insurers, and other major players to keep rising costs within manageable limits. It could become the Democratic counterpoint to private market strategies favored by Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and running mate Paul Ryan.
Health costs lie at the heart of budget problems confronting the next president. Health care accounts for 18 percent of the economy and about one-fourth of the federal budget, and many experts believe it can't grow unchecked without harming other priorities. Because the United States spends much more than other advanced countries, there's a consensus that savings from cutting waste and duplication won't harm quality.
"We think of these as the next generation of ideas," said Neera Tanden, who was a senior member of the White House team that helped pass the health law. Tanden is now president of the Center for American Progress, a Washington think tank close to the administration.
And of course, if nationally you are opposed to this approach, you'll be branded extreme. Why? A large part because it received "broad bi-partisan support" in Massachusetts. There is a reason that I have been hard on our current minority leadership over this bill. This was the whole reason. It is wrong policy, and their go-along to get along attitude will now be used to bring us price-controls at the national level.
In Massachusetts, the new cost control law has its share of skeptics, but it doesn't seem to have provoked a backlash.
"These global budgets are going to be negotiated between health insurers and providers," said Jay Gonzalez, the state's secretary of administration and finance. "They are agreeing to pay for services in a different way. It isn't rationing. It isn't capping."
It's time for Massachusetts Republicans to offer a competing vision of governance. Something we are not getting at this time.
It took a Democrat, Jim Miceli of Wilmington, to give the most impassioned speech against, what the Boston Business Journal termed, "Soviet style" health cost control legislation. While the Republican leadership of the house was suggesting that their members vote for the legislation, Miceli lead the charge of the conservative wing of the house. Here is the video of the speech.
18 Republicans joined Miceli in voting against the legislation. On the day that Governor Deval Patrick signed the legislation, Moody's set a negative credit outlook on every hospital in the Commonwealth.
Yesterday morning, Deval Patrick signed the health care cost control legislation, labeled as "Soviet-style" by the Boston Business Journal, and supported Brad Jones and other Republican leaders. Within hours, Moody's hinted at a downgrade in the credit ratings of the world class hospitals in Massachusetts. State House News has the story:
he health care cost control law signed by Gov. Deval Patrick Monday will hurt the bottom lines of Massachusetts hospitals and limit their flexibility to grow, a major credit rating agency warned Monday.
"The Legislation is credit negative for Massachusetts hospitals because it will limit their revenue growth and reduce their operating flexibility," Moody's Investment Services wrote in a credit analysis of the new law.
The report also suggested the money derived from a $225 million one-time assessment on health plans and major health care providers to help support community hospitals would artificially work to keep smaller hospitals in business, while limiting the expansion opportunities for larger hospital groups and hurting their credit standings.
"Another negative credit effect of the bill is that the state will use an excise tax on insurers to support smaller and less profitable hospitals, potentially allowing them to remain in business longer than would otherwise be possible and limiting the ability of larger systems to consolidate and grow through acquisitions," Moody's wrote.
This is just one reason that Red Mass Group went after the Republicans that supported this legislation by publishing their contact information. This is bad public policy, and bad legislation and will lower the quality of care in Massachusetts. Thank you to the 11 GOP Representatives who saw the light.