Thank You! What's Next?

As of this writing, the nation still waits for the outcome of the Presidential Election. But, for the majority of candidates, the 2000 campaigns are over and the winners chosen.

With few contested local races in Westfield this year, the votes are counted, the decisions in. As a candidate who was unopposed, it is still reassuring to receive a substantial vote. Voters often simply don't bother to mark their ballot for an uncontested office.

In my case, more than 12,500 Westfield voters out of the 15,739 who went to the polls took the time to cast their ballot for me. That's 79 percent of the voters. To each of you who cast those ballots, thank you.

As I've written before, I am proud to serve Westfield. The role of a public servant is still relatively new to me, considering my career of more than 30 years in the private sector. But as I begin my fourth two-year term, I can honestly say that I like this job. It is an honor to take part in the legislative process in Boston, with all of its frustrations and flaws.

It is particularly gratifying, and this is the part I like best, to help the citizens of Westfield and Montgomery. Dealing with the state bureaucracy is daunting for the average citizen. It is particularly difficult for many who are disenfranchised, in trouble, lack access or have no one to turn to. It's a privilege to be in a position to help.

The new legislative session begins with the swearing in ceremonies of the 182nd Great and General Court on January 3, 2001 at the State House. The lack of any real partisan balance continues. The House will have 136 members who are Democrats and only 24 Republicans. The Senate for the next two-year session is even more lopsided, with 34 Democrats and 6 Republicans.

While you may think we already have too many laws on the books (and I tend to agree), new legislation will be proposed and then considered by the many committees. In Massachusetts we have an inordinate number of bills proposed each session compared to other states. This year there probably will be more than 8,000 pieces of legislation introduced.

Why? First, there are bills that your representatives in the Legislature will file. I have several this year as do other members of the House and Senate. Democratic and Republican leaders' file many, many bills. But there's another reason for the large number of bills proposed.

The Commonwealth allows every citizen the opportunity to file legislation. All you do is contact your own Senator or Representative and explain your legislative idea. He or she is required to file it for consideration by the Legislature.

As you might guess, there are some very good ideas submitted. And there are proposals that are, well, with little merit. However, each one must be acted upon, in one way or another, by the Legislature.

Bills are not carried over from one session to the next (each legislative session runs for two years). So you will find many bills that have been proposed in the past reappearing in the new session.

Here are some of the proposals that I will be filing:

A bill to authorize a feasibility study to make Westfield Army National Guard Armory handicap-accessible. Some work has already started; I want to be sure work is completed.

A bill to exempt dietary supplements (vitamins, minerals, herbs, etc.) from the 5 percent state sales tax.

A bill to impose a fine of $100 for transporting a child under 12 in the bed of a pickup truck (there are exceptions to this for vehicles on a farm, for example.) The fine for letting a dog ride in the pickup is more than a kid in the truck.

A bill to exempt certain students from physical education in public schools. Introduced at the request of a young student in Westfield.

A bill to allow for "Do Not Resuscitate/DNR" stickers to be placed on Massachusetts Driver's licenses at the holder's request (much like the Organ Donor stickers.)

A bill (introduced initially 2 sessions ago) to eliminate the sales tax on aircraft purchased in the State and to eliminate the use tax on aircraft garaged, maintained or repaired in Massachusetts. First suggested by Barnes Airport manager at the time, George Gifford.

That's just a small sample. Right now, we are preparing bills, which we have to file in December . So if you have an idea, or would like to know more about how this part of the legislative process works, simply call my office or send an e-mail.

All materials copyright 1997 - 2014