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House passes gun bill

Something remarkable happened at the State House this month.

In a country where gun-control proposals usually provoke a harsh backlash from gun-rights advocates, we approved an historic gun violence bill that drew support from both the Gun Owner’s Action League (“A great victory for Second Amendment advocates in Massachusetts.”) and Stop Handgun Violence (“This is a huge win.”).  As reported in the Boston Globe (click here to read the article), with the vote, the state is a leader when it comes to bridging what often seems like an intractable gulf between the two sides.

Brian Malte, policy director for the Brady Campaign, said he could not recall such a respectful debate in any other state that has tightened its laws. That is obviously a credit to House Speaker Robert DeLeo, who built on the state’s strong record on gun control to craft even more sophisticated legislation.

As Rep. Roy stated at the beginning of the legislative session, he was committed to figuring out how best to balance the mental health, safety and constitutional issues involved. He understood that we could not do this without respect and empathy for one another’s opinions and ideas. It’s amazing what can happen when we listen to one another and work together.

The bill is currently before a House and Senate conference committee to iron out differences between the two versions of the bill that were passed. It is hoped that a compromise will be reached before the end of the session on Thursday.

House passes safe access bill

Last week, the House passed the Safe Access bill, balancing the right to access health care with the free speech concerns of those who wish to protest.

Prior to the vote, the Judiciary Committee heard very emotional testimony on the proposed bill to address the Supreme Court decision on the Massachusetts buffer zone case. Rep. Roy serves on the Judiciary Committee. Testimony from the hearing noted that the Supreme Court has upheld reasonable buffer zones at polling places, and even maintains one in front of its building in Washington, DC. In that context, the proposed bill would allow protesters to promote their messages, so long as they do not substantially impede access to those who wish to enter a reproductive health center.

"It's a delicate balance to craft legislation in this area, but the proposed bill does a good job of maintaining the right to speak and respecting privacy rights," noted Rep. Roy. In addition, he thanked everyone who offered respectful, thoughtful, and personal stories at the Judiciary hearing.

You can view the WBZ report on the bill and hearing by clicking here.

Massachusetts is the best state

Massachusetts a great place to live, work and raise a family, and we aim to keep it that way. And as reported in the Washington Post, that success often starts with a good education. No state lays that groundwork better than Massachusetts.

That's according to the Education Week Research Center, a nonpartisan group that measured indicators such as preschool and kindergarten enrollment, high school graduation rates, and higher education attainment. The yearly study also considered family income and parental employment, which are linked to educational achievement. You can read the report by clicking here.

Massachusetts again emerged as the top-achieving state, a position it has held since the index was first introduced in 2008.

This recognition gives credence to the commitment etched on the exterior of the Boston Public library: "The Commonwealth requires the education of the people as the safeguard of order and liberty."

DTA recognition ceremony

Rep. Roy attended the Department of Transitional Assistance Client Recognition Ceremony in Framingham. While there, he witnessed the awarding of certificates to several clients who had participated in programs providing them with the basic skills, education, and support services needed to acquire and retain jobs.

"It was certainly wonderful to see these people who participated in a government program that helped them help themselves," said Rep. Roy. "With these certificates, they are well-versed in what needs to be done to get employed, and hopefully they will all be back on track in the workforce. This will help them, their children, and their communities."

Congratulations to the graduates.

Direct shipment of wine to begin soon

Beginning in 2015, residents will have the luxury of merely hopping online to order wine from out-of-state vineyards.

The Fiscal Year 2015 budget included a provision that allows the direct shipment of wine, something that was prohibited in Massachusetts before July 2014. Massachusetts became the 40th state to authorize these sales.

Former Patriot Drew Beldsoe was at the State House in March pushing wine shipment reform (he owns a vineyard in Washington). 

Pan Mass Challenge

Next weekend, Rep. Roy will ride his 12th Pan Mass Challenge with Phil's Phriends. He is committed to raising funds for cancer research by riding in the 2014 PMC and would love for you to join him.

The PMC raises more money for charity than any other single athletic event in the country, $414 million since 1980 and $39 million last year alone! This success is the result of a lot of people riding for, and caring about, a cure. 

To donate to Rep. Roy's ride, click here.

Franklin & Medway make top 100

It was nice to see that Franklin (#47) and Medway (#72) have both made the list of the top 100 communities in Massachusetts. You can read the report by clicking here.

To translate "great community" into a quantifiable assessment, GoLocalWorcester went to the data. Their researchers spent hours poring over measures from public sources that help define a great place to live. They gathered and assessed housing prices, tax rates, median household incomes, crime statistics, and school performance on standardized tests in elementary, middle, and high schools. They counted places to go out and have fun, from bars and restaurants, to theaters, historic sites and museums, and golf courses. They even counted libraries.

Rep. Roy congratulates both towns and noted that it's an honor an privilege to represent the people in them.

Medical marijuana tax bill heard

The Revenue Committee heard our bill seeking a local sales tax on medical marijuana last week. Town Administrator Jeffrey Nutting joined Rep. Roy to offer testimony at the State House. The town of Dennis was also there seeking similar authorization from the Legislature.

The legislation would allow the town to impose a 5 percent local sales tax on the retail and wholesale sale of medical marijuana. The tax would apply to the retail and wholesale sale of the marijuana cultivated in town and sold in another community. 

The bill was filed after Franklin's Town Council adopted a resolution requesting Rep. Roy to seek authorization from the Legislature allowing it to tax facilities in town. The text of the resolution can be read by clicking here.

Channel 22 News from western Mass was very interested in the marijuana sales tax bill because the Franklin growing facility will set to the dispensary in Northampton. You can view its report on the story by clicking here.

Magna Carta on display in Boston

Thanks to the hard work or our colleague Rep. Cory Atkins of Concord, the Magna Carta will be on display at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston through September 1.

It's one of four of the original documents remaining from 1215 and is one of the seminal documents in the development of limited government, individual rights and liberties, and the rule of law. This is a must see exhibit and joins other historical loans as well as portraits and works of art from the Museum’s collection—including the MFA’s Sons of Liberty Bowl (1768) by Paul Revere, which is engraved with the words "Magna/Charta" and "Bill of/Rights"—to tell the story of patriots and revolutionaries who fought for freedom in the face of tyranny.

The exhibition also includes portraits, marble busts, and historical documents related to several of the Founding Fathers, presidents, and abolitionists, particularly from Massachusetts, who were inspired by the liberties enshrined in Magna Carta. To learn more about the exhibit, click here.
Copyright © 2014 State Rep Jeff Roy, All rights reserved.
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