After a long, hard fought election season, I am sure we can all agree that no matter the results, everyone is glad that the campaign television commercials, radio spots, and telephone calls are done. As the dust settles, it’s time to come together, put political differences aside, and get back to the work that is expected of us.
Speaking of the telephone calls, the last two sessions I have co-sponsored legislation with my colleague, Rep. Pignatelli of Lenox, that would create a “Do-Not-Call” list for Massachusetts residents to opt-out of receiving campaign related “robo-calls.” It’s a common sense way to give you the choice to receive or not receive these types of phone calls. I know that without exaggeration, most of us received hundreds of these calls.
State Crime Lab/Meningitis Scandals
Over the course of the next month, I will be joining my colleagues on the House Committee on Public Safety, as well as the House Committee on Public Health and House Committee on Post Audit and Oversight, to conduct hearings looking into the breakdowns in controls and procedures in the State Crime Lab case involving a chemist who falsified drug tests in over 1,000 cases before our courts. The intent of these hearings is to garner information and determine what controls, procedures, and policies need to be changed, including how management of the state crime lab failed to act on discrepancies in the accused chemist’s work. The committees will also be looking at ways in which we regulate and enforce safeguards with regards to pharmaceutical producers to make sure that medicine that is produced by these companies does not harm to the general public, as has happened with a growing amount of meningitis cases which has already resulted in over 30 deaths. I encourage anyone who would like to submit questions for the hearing to send me an email at James.Dwyer@mahouse.gov or to send a letter to Rep. Jim Dwyer, State House Room 254, Boston, MA 02133.
Question 1: Many people were unaware that the Legislature had already reached a compromise with the auto industry to make sure that small, independent auto repair shops would have access to technology that would allow them to fix your car. The “Right to Repair” bill passed the Legislature this past year after it could be removed from the ballot. However, the people have spoken and I look forward to addressing the differences in what the Legislature passed and what the people voted for to make sure that you have the choice to bring your car where you want to have it fixed and that we level the playing field for small, independent auto repair shops.
Question 2: The measure known as “Death with Dignity” failed at the ballot. This question would allow for doctors to provide medications to those who have been given 6 months to live due to terminal illness so the patient could end their suffering. While I have compassion for those who are suffering during the end of their life, I agree with the general public that this legislation would have long standing moral questions and create a very steep, slippery slope.
Question 3: Voters passed legislation allowing for the legalization of the use of marijuana for medical purposes only. I respect the will of the voters, but I know that many of my colleagues, law enforcement officials, and health professionals realize that the legislation needs some work. There are many exemptions and exceptions that need to be addressed, the regulating of medical marijuana needs to be fine tuned, and we need to give our local communities the tools to ensure safety and the quality of life the residents expect.
Many people may have seen Bob Katzen’s “Beacon Hill Roll Call” article regarding what are known as “per diem” payments to legislators for travel to the State House. In the 4 years that I have been State Representative, I have never applied for nor sought to receive a “per diem” for going to work. I chose to run for State Representative and knew the responsibilities required of me. I don’t believe someone who lives 10 minutes north of Boston should be paid for going to work, never mind legislators who live within walking distance, a ride on T or a cheap cab ride of the State House.