Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Senator Hedlund Reflects on Memorial Day

The following is an op-ed from Assistant Senate Minority Leader Robert Hedlund on the meaning of Memorial Day:

John A. Logan, famous American General during the Mexican American War and the father of Memorial Day, once said “Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations, that we have forgotten, as a people, the cost of a free and undivided Republic.” To honor the soldiers and their sacrifice the first Memorial Day, then called Decoration Day, was conducted in 1868 on May 30th, chosen because it was not the day of a battle during the civil war.

These first Memorial Days both in the North and South, by all historical accounts, were somber occasions for families and friends to remember their loved ones. Services were simple and the theme of the day was remembrance. The day was chosen as May 30th because it retained significance as a day of peace during what would become the bloodiest conflict in American history.

This all changed on June 7th, 1968 when the Federal Government passed the Uniform Holiday’s Bill, which moved three holidays from their traditional dates, to a specified Monday creating a three day weekend. Memorial Day was one of them, and was moved from the traditional May 30th, a date of importance, to the last Monday in May. This was the beginning of the end for the traditional Memorial Day as a day of remembrance. As the VFW said in a 2002 Memorial Day Address, “Changing the date merely to create three-day weekends has undermined the very meaning of the day. No doubt, this has contributed a lot to the general public's nonchalant observance of Memorial Day.”

I could not agree with the VFW’s categorization of Memorial Day more strongly. A day once reserved for tradition and honor, for the linking of generations, has over time been corrupted so as to dilute the significance of the Memorial Day holiday. A three day weekend harkening the start of summer, barbeques, and special sale promotions at the mall, all compete for the attention of our citizenry for the meaning of the day.

For this reason I have co-sponsored Senate Bill 1826, reinstituting our old Blue Law closure for Memorial Day only. As politicians and elected officials, we often invoke the specter of remembrance for our war dead and their families; we say how important it is to remember their sacrifices to honor their service, we then conclude our speeches and the few who attend these ceremonies leave, and Memorial Day is over to be forgotten for another year.

That is not the ceremony I want for those that have made the ultimate sacrifice for my freedom. This Memorial Day please remember General John A. Logan and all the men and women who in the service of their country gave their lives, and remember what this day used to be about, not what it has become.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Senator Tarr's Statement on Passage of Senate's Version of Fiscal Year 2012 Budget

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr released the following statement today, following the Senate’s passage of its Fiscal Year 2012 budget:

“The last two days have been characterized by the kind of open, fair and vigorous debate that the issues at hand and the citizens of the Commonwealth deserve. Through this process, the Senate has secured some major accomplishments, including pioneering reform of the methods by which municipal health insurance is provided and paid for and a renewed focus on performance-based governing. Important spending priorities such as special education funding and regional school transportation have also found their place in the actions that have occurred during this budget debate. Yet, although there have been some important accomplishments, there have also been a number of significant missed opportunities to provide relief for beleaguered taxpayers struggling with one of our nation’s worst recessions, to contain the cost of health care that is burdening so many households and employers, and to take actions to spur job creation and revenue growth.

While we must necessarily move forward with a spending document for Fiscal Year 2012, at some point we must do so with an understanding that if we continue to remain inactive in terms of economic growth, further reforms, and health care cost containment, the difficult decisions that we have been facing in this budget debate will grow inevitably worse in the days ahead.”

Video Blog: Senator Tarr Offers Closing Budget Remarks

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Media Alert: Senator Hedlund on Fox25

Tune in to tonight’s Fox25 Nightly News broadcast to see Senator Robert Hedlund discuss his thoughts on Governor Patrick’s scheduled court appearance during tomorrow’s hearing.

Media Alert: Senator Ross on the Jeff Katz Show

Tomorrow morning Senator Richard Ross will be speaking with guest hosts Joe Malone and Holly Robichaud of the Jeff Katz Show on Talk 1200AM Boston to recap the Senate budget debate for Fiscal Year 2012. Please tune in tomorrow morning at 7:35 AM to listen to their discussion.

Video Blog: Senator Tarr Discusses Increases to Regional School Transportation and Special Education Accounts

Video Blog: Senator Hedlund Discusses A U.S. History Education Amendment

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Senator Tarr on the Jeff Katz Show

Tomorrow morning Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr will be speaking with Jeff Katz of the Jeff Katz Show on Talk 1200AM Boston to discuss the upcoming Senate budget debate for Fiscal Year 2012 and many of the amendments that the Senate Republican Caucus filed. Please click here to read a previous post about some the amendments filed by the caucus and here to read the actual text of all 599 amendments filed by the members of the Senate. Please tune in tomorrow morning at 7:00 AM to listen to their discussion.

Video Blogging the Senate Budget Debate

Senator Hedlund on NECN’s “Broadside”

Last night Senate Assistant Minority Leader Robert Hedlund joined former Lt. Governor Tom O'Neil and host Jim Braude on New England Cable News Network’s “Broadside”. Their discussion included the GOP presidential field, President Obama’s visit to Ireland, and U.S. Senator Scott Brown’s 2012 re-election campaign. To watch last night’s clip please play the posted video below or click here.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Some Key Proposed Amendments

The Senate Committee on Ways and Means released its budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2012 last week, and by a 12:00pm deadline on Friday 599 amendments had been filed by Senators seeking to modify that proposal. The Senate Republican Caucus has sponsored a number of amendments which offer the potential to reform state government, impose or strengthen fiscal discipline, and promote economic growth. Among them are:

• Meals Tax Holiday (OTHER-11)
Provides a meals tax holiday from October 21, 2011 through October 26, 2011.

• Job Creation Tax Credit (OTHER-40)
Creates a business tax credit of 50% of a new worker’s income tax for every business that increases its work force. A business may take the credit for no more than 50 new eligible employees added, and must take the credit over the course of three years, provided that the business maintains the employment increase.

• Asset Forfeiture (LOC-64)
Provides for the asset forfeiture of motor vehicles for those individuals charged with violating federal immigration laws.

• Revert Local Aid (LOC-55)
Stipulates that 50% of the state’s surplus revenues available at the end of FY12 be slated for distribution to cities and towns through the Lottery formula.

• Confidentiality Agreements (GOV-113)
Directs state agencies and departments that should they enter into a settlement agreement with an employee that includes confidentiality or gag order clauses, the employer must make publicly available a statement as to why the gag order is in the public’s best interest.

• Taxpayer-Funded Advertising (GOV-115)
Prohibits state advertising on subjects other than public health and public safety.

• Gubernatorial Personnel Cost Savings (GOV-119)
Requires the Governor to report on all salary increases and decreases in FY2011 and planned increases or decreases in FY2012.

• Government Transparency and Accountability (GOV-120)
Establishes a searchable website to find out who is receiving state contracts, grants, and other funds. It would build off other existing but inadequate resources, such as Operational Services Division’s Comm-Pass system, and the Executive Office of Administration and Finance’s budget tracking site.

• Fiscal Responsibility with Grants (GOV-121)
Requires the governor, state agencies and quasi-state agencies to submit a cost benefit and job outcome analysis to the Legislature prior to issuing any grants totaling $500,000 or more to private companies.

• Fair Employment and Security (GOV-122)
Requires the Attorney General to set up a hotline for immigration employment and status violations, and also directs the Attorney General to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Attorney General relative to enforcement of immigration laws. Increases penalties against employers who hire workers not legally present in the United States as well as prevents companies in violation from obtaining state government contracts. The amendment also increases penalties for individuals in possession of and/or who distribute falsified identification documents and protects taxpayers’ money by insuring state benefits are not fraudulently acquired by undocumented residents, including health insurance, housing and educational assistance.

• Voter Identification (GOV-125)
Requires voters to provide at the time of voting an identification document. Those unable to provide an identification document must meet the requirements of Chapter 54, Section 76 of the MGL, requiring the voter to submit their name and residence in writing on the ballot, and for the clerk to keep an accurate record of such voters.

• State Contracting Threshold (ECO-210)
Increases from $500,000 to $2 million the threshold for determining which state projects are eligible for privatization.

• Inmate Fees (EPS-354)
Requires $2 daily payment from prisoners as a form of defraying the costs of incarceration. Also requires sheriffs to report on the success of the program 12 months after passage.

• Restrictions on Cash Benefits and Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) Cards (EHS-444)
Prohibits the purchase of alcohol, tobacco, and lottery tickets with cash assistance benefits. Provides appropriate penalties for both store owners who knowingly sell prohibited items to recipients and for recipients who use benefits for prohibited purchases. Also adds tough penalties for fraudulent uses of cash benefits – for example, fines and possibly prison time for those who misrepresent their life status to obtain benefits.

• Prescription Drug Waste (EHS-445)
Directs facilities licensed by the departments of public health, mental health and corrections to recycle or return unused medication if it is unopened, individually sealed and within its recommended shelf life. Similar legislation has been adopted in 38 states, and will save the state millions of dollars in drug costs. In particular, in nursing homes, unopened and unused drugs are wasted and disposed of after patients leave the facility, discontinue use of the medication, or pass away.

• Medicaid Utilization (EHS-448)
Requires the office of Medicaid to develop and improve regulations to ensure that Medicare-like claims editing is fully and effectively implemented.

• Mandatory Prescription Drug Coverage (EHS-449)
Gives Massachusetts residents the option of selecting a health care plan that does not include prescription drug coverage without violating the individual mandate law.

The amendments proposed by all of the members of the Senate can be viewed by clicking here. Debate on the amendments will begin at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, and will be webcast at http://masslegislature.tv/?l=sen_video.

Senator Tarr on the Fox 25 Morning News

This morning Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr had the opportunity to discuss the upcoming Senate budget debate and some amendments to the budget that the Senate GOP Caucus filed with news commentator VB of the Fox 25 Morning News. Among the subjects discussed were voter id and the income tax rollback approved by the voters in 2000. To watch today's segment please play the posted video below.

Budget debate: What will get cut?: MyFoxBOSTON.com

Senator Hedlund on 'Broadside' Tonight

Assistant Senate Minority Leader Robert Hedlund (pictured at left) will be a guest on Broadside with Jim Braude tonight at 6 p.m. on NECN. Hedlund and Braude will be discussing the GOP field, President Obama's visit to Ireland, and Scott Brown, along with former Lt. Gov Tom O'Neil. Tune in tonight at 6 on NECN to follow the discussion live. The show will be rebroadcast at 8 p.m. and at 3:30 a.m.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Sen. Tarr on Monday’s Fox 25 Morning News

On Monday, May 23rd, Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr will be talking with news commentator VB of the Fox 25 Morning News to discuss next week’s Senate budget debate and amendments filed by the Republican Caucus. Please tune in at approximately 7:35 a.m.

Senator Hedlund on WGBH's "Week In Review"

Assistant Senate Minority Leader Robert Hedlund was on WGBH’s “Week In Review” radio program with Emily Rooney today discussing various topics including the GOP field of contenders and other political and human interest stories from the week. Please play the audio player below or click here to listen to their lively discussion.

Scaling Beacon Hill

Beginning on Wednesday, June 1st, the Massachusetts Senate Republican Blog, “Scaling Beacon Hill”, will permanently switch to the url http://www.scalingbeaconhill.com/. Please click the link and bookmark the page to ensure you have the new address saved.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Senate Adopts Republican Probation Reforms

The Senate adopted a series of probation reforms offered by the Senate Republican Caucus today, incorporating the GOP proposals into a comprehensive probation reform and court reorganization bill that passed unanimously.

A total of seven Republican amendments were approved by the Senate, including one that directs the newly-created advisory committee on personnel standards to use merit-based standards for hiring court personnel, and to post these standards on the trial court’s website. Another amendment requires applicants for any trial court position to be certified as meeting the merit-based considerations for employment before any letters of recommendation submitted on behalf of the applicant can be taken into consideration.

“The probation department has operated for far too long under a dark cloud where politics tainted the hiring and promotion process,” said Senator Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester), who offered the amendments along with Senators Robert Hedlund (R-Weymouth), Michael Knapik (R-Westfield) and Richard Ross (R-Wrentham). “With the passage of this bill, we can begin to restore public confidence that probation and court personnel are being hired or promoted based on their qualifications and skills, and not on other factors such as political connections.”

The move to create a more transparent hiring process was sparked by a scathing November 2010 report by independent counsel Paul Ware that unveiled evidence of an extensive “pay to play” system within the probation department under former commissioner John O’Brien. The report, which detailed examples of “systemic abuse and corruption” within the department, concluded that “[H]iring and promotion have been thoroughly compromised by a systemic rigging of the interview and selection process in favor of candidates who have political or other personal connections.”

“The Ware report uncovered a serious patronage issue within the probation department which needs to be addressed,” said Senator Tarr. “Probation officers play an important public safety role, and it is imperative that these positions be filled by individuals who are truly qualified for the rigors and demands of the job.”

Other Republican amendments adopted by the Senate today would:

• require the newly-created court administrator to study the feasibility of allowing trial court fees and fines to be paid with a credit card;

• clarify the process for filling court vacancies;

• expand the membership of the proposed advisory board charged with offering recommendations on the management of the probation office to include an active member of the Massachusetts Bar and an experienced probation officer;

• require the chief justice of the trial court and the court administrator to submit a report to the Legislature 90 days prior to the temporary closure or temporary relocation of any courthouse, detailing personnel transfers, reallocation of resources, the impact on other courthouses and other factors associated with such actions; and

• ensure that supervision is provided in an orderly and effective manner for those individuals who are subject to dual supervision.

“As a member of the Probation Reform Working Group this winter, I am happy to see both branches of the Legislature are taking seriously the recommendations of our committee and those of the Supreme Judicial Court,” Senator Knapik said. “During our study it became clear that the entire court system required attention, so I am pleased this legislation has taken a broad approach.”

The House approved a version of the court reorganization bill last week. The differences between the two versions will be worked out by a six-member conference committee that is expected to be appointed next week.

Senator Knapik Shares His Thoughts on the Release of Senate's FY'12 Budget Proposal

Senator Michael R. Knapik (right), the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Ways & Means, offered his comments yesterday on the importance of maintaining fiscal discipline as the Committee rolled out its FY 2012 Budget document at an Executive session at the State House. WWLP-TV22 of Springfield was there to record his remarks. Check out Senator Knapik’s comments on the video clip below and read WWLP's story clicking here.

Senate releases budget proposal: wwlp.com

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Senate Republicans Plan to Offer Series of Probation Reforms for Thursday's Debate

The Senate Republican Caucus has filed a series of amendments designed to improve the management of the state’s trial court and to provide more transparency and accountability within the probation department.

The amendments will be debated in the Senate on Thursday as part of a court reorganization bill that was drafted in response to a scathing probation department report issued by independent counsel Paul Ware in November of 2010. That report detailed evidence of “systemic abuse and corruption” within the probation department under former commissioner John O’Brien, including a “pay-to-play” system that often gave job candidates with political connections an inside track over those with more experience and stronger qualifications.

“The bill that is before the Senate tomorrow includes essential reforms the Senate Republican Caucus has long championed, including repealing the probation commissioner’s unilateral hiring authority and establishing a merit-based system to ensure that only qualified court applicants are hired,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester). “While the bill represents a good start, the Caucus has a number of amendments that we feel will make it even better and will go a long way towards restoring the public’s faith in our judicial system.”

The amendments – which are being co-sponsored by Senators Robert Hedlund (R-Weymouth), Michael Knapik (R-Westfield) and Richard Ross (R-Wrentham) – would:

· allow for the transferability of funds within the trial court to ensure that the court’s seven departments and the probation commissioner’s office have adequate resources;

· require the chief justice of the trial court to provide the Legislature with a cost and budgetary analysis of the proposed reorganization’s impact prior to implementation;

· provide for an annual independent audit of the trial court by the State Auditor and Inspector General, beginning in 2013;

· require the advisory committee on personnel standards to use merit-based standards for hiring court personnel, and to post these standards on the trial court’s website;

· require applicants for any trial court position to be certified as meeting the merit-based considerations for employment prior to the consideration of any letters of recommendation submitted on behalf of the applicant;

· expand the membership of the proposed advisory board charged with offering recommendations on the management of the probation office to include an active member of the Massachusetts Bar and an experienced probation officer;

· allow for the removal of officers and employees based on merit-based standards;

· require the chief justice of the trial court and the court administrator to submit a report to the Legislature 90 days prior to the temporary closure or temporary relocation of any courthouse, detailing personnel transfers, reallocation of resources, the impact on other courthouses and other factors associated with such actions; and

· require that future hiring within the probation department be done in consultation with the first justice of the applicable court in which an applicant is to be placed.

Senator Tarr’s Statement on the Release of the FY'12 Senate Ways and Means Budget

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr released the following statement regarding today’s release of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means version of the Fiscal Year 2012 state budget:

Producing a state budget proposal is a daunting task under any circumstances, and particularly so in the face of vanishing federal stimulus funding and a challenging economic climate. Thus, I appreciate the work that’s been done by Chairman Brewer and the members of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means and Senate President Murray to take the initial steps toward a responsible budget for next year without resorting to new broad-based taxes or other inappropriate measures.

Through their work the stage has been set for a vigorous and productive debate about the meaningful reforms and economic growth actions necessary to improve efficiency, expand our state’s economy, create new jobs and strengthen the sustainability of our state government for those who depend on what the budget funds, and those who bear the burden of providing those funds.

Senate Republicans are now working vigorously to digest and analyze the Senate Committee on Ways and Means proposal, and to develop and introduce the types of amendments that can make a true difference for our Commonwealth.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Probation Reform Advances

Today the Senate Committee on Ways and Means released its version of “An Act Relative to the Reorganization of the Judicial System in the Commonwealth,” which contains major changes in the way our courts are managed, and substantial and needed reforms in the practices utilized to hire and promote Probation Department personnel and court officers.

The bill follows the November 2010 public release of the shocking report completed by Independent Counsel Paul Ware for the Supreme Judicial Court and repeated calls for reform by the Senate Republican Caucus. The bill does, in fact, contain some key elements of legislation proposed as recently as last month by Senate Republicans.

An order adopted today set a deadline of Wednesday at noon for amendments to the bill, which is scheduled to be debated in the Senate on Thursday beginning at 1 p.m.

A summary of the bill provided by the Senate Ways and Means Committee is posted below.

Doc 001

Friday, May 13, 2011

Changes are on the Way...

The Senate Republican Caucus' blog is undergoing some design changes. The first change, which is effective immediately, is the blog's name change to "Scaling Beacon Hill". Our blog might have a new name, but will be providing the same great coverage of the goings-on here at the Massachusetts State House as we've done since 2008.

Another change that will be permanently in place on June 1st is the site's domain name/url. The current domain name is www.scalingthehill2010.com but will soon switch to www.scalingbeaconhill.com. Please click the link and bookmark the new page to ensure you have the new address saved.

You also may have noticed that we recently began adding quick link/hot buttons at the end of every post. These buttons are to provide you with easy capabilities to either repost, share or print the most recently posted entry on our blog.

Look for more changes in the coming months.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Senator Tarr on the Jeff Katz Show Thursday

On Thursday morning, Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr will be calling in to the Jeff Katz Show on Rush Talk 1200AM Boston to discuss the meals tax holiday bill that he filed with the GOP Senate Caucus and that is co-sponsored by members of both parties and both branches. The bill will be heard during tomorrow‘s Joint Committee on Revenue hearing in room A-1 of the State House at 10:30 A.M. Please tune in or click here tomorrow morning at 7:00 A.M. to listen to what is sure to be a lively discussion. To read the actual text of the bill please click here.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

New MTF Report Details Cost Savings Associated with Municipal Health Plan Design

The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation (MTF) has long touted the benefits of municipal plan design, citing the potential for cities and towns to realize combined annual health care savings as high as $100 million. Today, the MTF drove that point home by releasing a community-by-community historical analysis that it says helps quantify “the dramatic impact of municipal health care reform on municipal budgets and jobs.”

Over the last 10 years, while health care costs under the state’s Group Insurance Commission (GIC) increased by an average of 6.4 percent annually, “more than 90 percent” of the state’s 351 cities and towns saw their health insurance costs “grow at much faster rates,” according to the MTF. In preparing its analysis, the MTF reviewed each community’s actual health care spending from FY2001 to FY2010 , then compared those numbers to what each community would have spent had their local health insurance costs increased at the same average rate as the GIC.

How dramatic an impact would such a simple reform have on communities? According to the MTF, if cities and towns had been granted plan design authority in 2001, more than $3 billion in health care cost savings would have been achieved statewide over the last decades, or the equivalent of 6,500 municipal jobs, based on an average salary of $50,000 per job per year. Boston alone would have saved a cumulative $260.1 million, or the equivalent of 520 municipal jobs each year.

The Senate Republican Caucus has historically advocated for changes in the financing of municipal health insurance. Without such changes, MTF President Michael Widmer warns, “cities and towns across the state will suffer irreparable damage as they are forced to lay off more and more teachers, police officers, firefighters, and other local employees who provide critical public services.”

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Senator Tarr's Statement on Today's Joint Revenue Committee Public Hearing

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr released the following statement regarding today’s Revenue Committee hearing:

“Bills on today’s Revenue Committee hearing agenda clearly delineate the philosophical differences between some Democrats and the Senate Republican Caucus when it comes to taxes. Our bills are focused on assisting Massachusetts residents and allowing them to keep more of their hard-earned money, including:

Senate Bill 1526, which would establish a commuter tax deduction to help offset rising gas prices;

Senate Bill 1537, which would assist first-time homebuyers by offering a private mortgage insurance tax deduction; and

Senate Bill 1542, which would fulfill the voters’ wishes to reduce the income tax to 5 percent.

Unfortunately, some legislators continue to explore ways to extract even more revenues from the taxpayers. An impartial observer might assume that with April tax revenues coming in at record highs, the Legislature wouldn’t be trying to raise taxes even higher. But Senate Bill 1416 would implement a graduated income tax that would increase the personal income tax from 5.3 to 5.95 percent and the investment income tax from 5.3 to 8.95 percent for some taxpayers.

Taxpayers shouldn’t be lulled into a false sense of complacency just because the House passed a budget with no new taxes. The reality is that some legislators are intent on pursuing every available avenue to raise taxes, but the Senate Republican Caucus intends to stand up for the taxpayers and work aggressively to defeat these proposals. We believe now is the time to be proactive in moving the state forward from a period of recession to prosperity, and the best way to do that is to empower our taxpayers with more disposable income to invest in our economic recovery.”

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Senator Hedlund on 'Week In Review'

Assistant Senate Minority Leader Robert Hedlund was a guest on the April 29th edition of the "Week In Review" on the Emily Rooney Show on WGBH Radio (89.7 FM). Hedlund, along with former State Treasurer Shannon O'Brien and Boston Globe Magazine columnist Tom Keane, joined Rooney for a spirited discussion of former House Speaker Sal DiMasi’s corruption trial, President Obama's decision to release his birth certificate, and other stories and bylines wrapping up the week in politics. Check it out by clicking on the audio link below.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Senator Tarr: 'A Victory for Freedom'

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr released the following statement today regarding the death of 9/11 terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden:

The news that President Barack Obama delivered to the nation on Sunday night of the successful military operation that not only located but killed Osama bin Laden in a compound in Pakistan is a welcome and important development in the war against terrorism and a testament to the commitment of those who defend our nation to bring bin Laden to justice. It has been almost ten years since bin Laden orchestrated the terrorist hijacking of four commercial airliners on September 11, 2001 that resulted in nearly 3,000 victims losing their lives and even more sustaining long-lasting health afflictions.

Although the War on Terrorism is far from over, the elimination of bin Laden is an accomplishment of incalculable significance, and offers us all an opportunity to reflect and think of not only those lost on that tragic day but of those who have fallen bravely fighting to thwart the objectives of tyrants and terrorists. With the efforts of our service members, our intelligence agencies, and the dedication of countless others both domestically and abroad, the search for the most wanted man in the world is over and we can take solace in the fact that bin Laden won't ever have the opportunity to kill again.

The decade long search for bin Laden, initiated by President George W. Bush and advanced by President Obama, is a true testament to the dedication and unity that this nation has maintained in bringing this man to justice and I want to express my appreciation to all of those who contributed to this successful effort.

Senator Tarr Issues Statement on Senate President's Finance Law Reform Proposal

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr testified this morning before the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight in support of Senate Bill 1900, An Act to Improve the Administration of State Government and Finance. After the hearing, Senator Tarr released the following statement:

“I was pleased to testify today in support of the legislation filed by the Senate President, which would implement the first steps in an effort to improve transparency and efficiency in the state’s finances, through tools such as debt affordability analysis and periodic performance management reviews to eliminate waste and duplication. These issues have been a priority for the Senate Republican Caucus for the past several years, and we are happy to partner with the Senate President to address them in this legislative session. We recognize that today’s proposal is an important interim step towards the ultimate goal of having an infrastructure for transparency and accountability permanently in place in state government. We firmly believe that, in the end, it is imperative that we implement a system of zero-based budgeting to ensure that the expenditure of every taxpayer dollar is justified and sustainable. Senate Bill 1619, which is a bipartisan measure that we have filed and is currently pending before the committee, will achieve that goal, and we will continue to aggressively pursue its passage.”

Senator Ross Recovering After Fall

Everyone here at Scaling The Hill would like to wish Senate Minority Whip Richard Ross (R-Wrentham) a speedy recovery. Senator Ross underwent knee surgery last week to repair a torn quadriceps he suffered after taking a fall at the State House. Yesterday, he issued the following statement in response to the outpouring of support and well wishes he's received:

I cannot thank everyone enough for all the kind words, thoughts and prayers I have received since last week's fall at the State House. I am home right now resting comfortably after undergoing emergency surgery last Thursday to repair a torn quadriceps in my left leg. Though it will take a few months of rehab to get back to 100 percent I have no doubt I will be back on my feet in no time. Again I cannot stress enough how much I appreciate everyone's well wishes and I look forward to getting back to work at the State House as soon as possible.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Patriot Ledger Editorial Endorses Hedlund Proposal to Abolish the Governor's Council

An editorial published in last Saturday's Quincy Patriot Ledger offers an endorsement of Assistant Minority Leader Robert Hedlund's efforts to abolish the Executive Council. More commonly referred to as the Governor's Council, the eight-member elected body dates back to Colonial times and is primarily responsible for approving the Governor's judicial appointees, as well as reviewing requests for criminal pardons and commutations. While critics have long dismissed the Council as antiquated and obsolete, the Patriot Ledger was even more blunt in its assessment, referring to the Council as "useless, costly and embarrassing."

Hedlund is actually backing not one but two bills to abolish the Governor's Council. He is the lead sponsor of Senate Bill 17, and is co-sponsoring Senate Bill 15 with Senator Brian Joyce (D-Milton). Both bills were heard by the Joint Committee on the Judiciary on April 14.