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Thank you . . .

. . . for the opportunity to serve the 10th Norfolk District as your State Representative.

The first year in office has been exhilarating. I have learned a great deal about the process of legislating and have been working hard in the House to make Massachusetts a great place to work and live.

My office has tried to keep you updated on State House activities through this newsletter, through our Facebook page, our website, and our regular office hours. In the next few days, I will send out a special newsletter with highlights from the 2013 legislative season.

As always, if you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions, please send me a note by clicking here, or give me a call at 617-722-2400. I look forward to continuing to work with you.

Gun violence report near completion

Facing a challenge in balancing mental health privacy and public safety considerations, the gun violence task force appointed by House Speaker Robert DeLeo held its final hearing on Dec. 13 with a report to be issued soon. 

“I think there’s some thoughtful provisions in the various legislation,” said Chairman Jack McDevitt, a Northeastern University criminal justice researcher. Broadly speaking, the report will cover school safety, mental health, and gun licensure where the task force will aim to “streamline our process and strengthen it.” 

The group, which includes a diversity of opinions, has met in private with advocates on both sides of the gun access debate, mental health practitioners and researchers, school officials and police chiefs from rural, suburban and urban areas. 

The eight-person task force includes former Massachusetts and Louisiana Inspector General Robert Cerasoli; Revere School Superintendent Paul Dakin; Harvard Professor of Health Policy David Hemenway; John Herman, associate chief of the psychiatry department at Massachusetts General Hospital; Natick Police Chief James Hicks, president of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association; Boston College associate professor Marylou Sudders, a mental health expert for the US Department of Justice and a member of the Health Policy Commission; and Raffi Yessayan, a New Bedford attorney, former gang unit prosecutor and crime novelist.

To help prepare for the upcoming debate on the report, Rep. Roy spent a day with the Gun Owner's Action League (GOAL) learning about Massachusetts gun laws. The coursework included training in handling firearms, shooting at a range, and a review of safe handling techniques. To view more on the day of training, click here.

"I am committed to learning as much as possible about gun violence and finding ways to curb it," noted Rep. Roy. "I have spent the last 12 months reading and researching the issue, and GOAL provided me with some actual field training. I understand that we can’t do anything without respect and empathy for all opinions and ideas on the topic, so I am taking in as much information as possible."

Health care assistance available

No matter the politics, it's important that everyone in our state know their options under the Affordable Care Act. To assist in this effort, here are two options available to Massachusetts residents.

Consumer Reports has created a free online tool, HealthLawHelper.org, to provide you detailed, personalized information about your health-care options under the recently enacted Affordable Care Act. Click here for some factual, unbiased and straightforward information about the law. Just answer a few anonymous questions about your personal situation, and you get detailed options for your health coverage. 

If you need to talk to someone directly about any healthcare questions, reach out to the Health Care for All helpline at (800) 272-4232. HCFA seeks to create a consumer-centered health care system that provides comprehensive, affordable, accessible, culturally competent, high quality care and consumer education for everyone, especially the most vulnerable. You can view HCFA’s website by clicking here.

Registry resumes renewal reminders

MassDOT Registrar of Motor Vehicles Rachel Kaprielian has announced birthday postcards will begin appearing again in mailboxes across the Commonwealth to remind drivers whose licenses expire to renew online or head to a branch for a new picture.
 
“The Registry ended the license reminder service 5 years ago in a fiscal crunch; over time we have had to get creative and more cost effective in all aspects of our business,” said Registrar Kaprielian. “Today, supported by advertising dollars, we are proud to once again offer this service to our customers.”
 
The birthday postcard is personalized in order to provide the customer with the most efficient service possible by relaying one of two messages. The postcards will indicate if the driver is eligible to renew online at MassRMV.com or if it they must visit a branch.
 
A Massachusetts license is valid for five years and there are 4.75 million active licensed drivers in the Commonwealth today. Based on renewal rates, the RMV will send out between 87,000 and 92,000 postcard reminders monthly.
 
Every 10 years license holders need to visit one of 30 RMV branches across Massachusetts, or one of the RMV’s partner AAA offices, to have a new license photo taken as part of their credential renewal. Drivers age 75 and older at the time of renewal are required to have the renewal transaction completed in a branch or AAA office.

District grants

Rep. Roy is pleased to announce that Franklin received two S.A.F.E. grants totalling $9,000 to support programs to provide fire safety programs for students and seniors in the community. 

Medway received over $60,000 in grants to fund wheeled recycling carts and educational materials for its curbside recycling programs. The funds were made available under the Sustainable Materials Recovery Program through the Department of Environmental Protection.

Seniors visit the people's house

Twenty-five seniors from Franklin joined us for an enjoyable tour of the people’s house.

The seniors got a personalized tour of the House chambers with Rep. Roy and House Clerk Steven James, a photo with Representative Roy and Franklin Senators Spilka & Ross on the grand staircase, and then another personalized tour of the Senate chambers.

Several in the group were interviewed by WBZ’s Paula Ebben regarding where they were and what they were doing when they learned about President Kennedy’s Assassination 50 years ago.

For more pictures from the tour, click here.

Cultural visit

Rep. Roy hosted the Massachusetts Cultural Council Executive Director Anita Walker and Communications Director Greg Liakos for a tour of some of Franklin's cultural sites.

The day started at the Franklin Arts Academy at Franklin High School, meandered over to the Sculpture Park on Panther Way, back to the new FHS, and then to the Franklin Performing Arts Center.

For more info on the tour, check out the Milford Daily News report by clicking here. And to see more photos from the visit click here.

Income tax rate drops

Rep. Roy joined his colleagues in the House of Representatives in recognizing Massachusetts’ fiscal management, responsible budgeting and prudent investments which led to  an automatic reduction of the state income tax for the second time in three years.

As of January 1, 2014 the rate will decrease from 5.25 percent to 5.2 percent. This decrease demonstrates the effect of strong fiscal management and prudent investments in achieving economic growth.

To achieve the automatic rollback the state must reach various benchmarks including:
  • Inflation-adjusted growth for baseline revenues in fiscal year 2013 must exceed those from fiscal year 2012 by 2.5 percent;
  • The consecutive three month period between August and November 2013  must have a positive inflation-adjusted baseline revenue growth compared to the same three month period in 2012.
“Thanks to our sound fiscal management, economic growth initiatives and commitment to passing responsible, carefully designed budgets on time, Massachusetts has achieved stability and grown our economy,” House Speaker Robert. A DeLeo said. “I’m proud that we have been able to protect hardworking residents through our efforts and I believe this rollback is yet another encouraging step as we rebuild the economy.” 

Earlier this month, the Department of Revenue (DOR) reported that tax collections through November were $359 million above the fiscal 2014 (FY14) benchmark. Tax collections are up 9.7 percent over the first five months of FY14.

Manufacturing roundtable to be held at Tri-County

On Friday, January 24, 2014 at 9 am, Rep. Roy and Rep. John Fernandes are hosting a Manufacturing Roundtable at the Tri-County Regional Vocational Technical High School in Franklin, Massachusetts. Legislators from all 11 towns in the Tri-County area will also participate in the meeting.

Two hundred eighty nine manufacturers, representing employers in the 11 towns making up the Tri-County school district, have been invited to participate in the discussion. They will meet to help address the skilled labor shortage that manufacturers in our area face. Tri-County is considering some options, but we are looking to the business community to help come up with workable solutions.

Manufacturing is vitally important to the Massachusetts economy. It is the sixth largest employment sector here, and is helping to lead us out of the recession. In Massachusetts, manufacturing contributes to more than 10 percent of gross state product (GSP). Currently there are 7,680 manufacturing establishments in Massachusetts that employ more than 275,000 residents. Over the next five years, manufacturing establishments are expected to expand their employment by an estimated 65 percent. In order to sustain this growth, we need to help by developing a strong nexus between educational and training opportunities and the specialized worker skills required by these companies to ultimately succeed.

The Tri-County meeting will be a forum to discuss partnering with manufacturing leaders to ensure that their companies have the tools and highly trained workforce they need to grow. The manufacturing of today involves expertise and training in technology, programming and streamlined production and we need to prepare and train people to work in this vital sector. What were once dark, gritty factories, are now high-tech, innovative facilities that provide good paying jobs to skilled and educated employees.

In order to facilitate the discussion, we have invited Eric Nakajima, the Assistant Secretary for Innovation Policy for the Executive Office of Housing & Economic Development, Bob Vozzella, the manufacturing manager at TE Connectivity and an instructor of manufacturing at Wentworth Institute, Steven Dockrey, Tri-County’s Superintendent, and representatives from MassDevelopment and the 495/MetroWest Partnership, to highlight ways in which we can come together to prepare a new generation of workers in this vital sector. Our efforts are supported by the Legislature’s recently-formed, bipartisan Manufacturing Caucus which serves as a link for legislators cutting across issues that affect the manufacturing industry. 
Copyright © 2013 State Rep Jeff Roy, All rights reserved.
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