The Boston Globe from Boston, Massachusetts on January 5, 2005 · 21
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The Boston Globe from Boston, Massachusetts · 21

Boston, Massachusetts
Issue Date:
Wednesday, January 5, 2005
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WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 5, 2005 T h e Boston Globe City & Region B5 17 new state legislators await Mostly men to be sworn in on hill today By Janette Neuwahl GLOBE CORRESPONDENT The 17 newly elected state legislators to be sworn in this morning are primarily men, mostly Democrats, and nearly one-fourth of them are under the age of 30. Thirteen of the 17 are House members, and starting today all the House lawmakers will begin the session jammed into a single office called the bullpen, where each new lawmaker will have a desk and an aide, steps away from another new lawmaker. Yesterday afternoon, State House staffers were organizing the computers and phones for the group. The youngest new representative is Stephen Canessa, 24, who served on the Lakeville School Committee while attending Bridgewater State College. Canessa quit his information technology job at Framingham State College last spring to focus on his campaign, but in the meantime finished his master's degree in business administration from Suffolk University. "When I announced my candidacy, I was 23 years old," Canessa said. "People started to laugh, but as the campaign progressed they saw how hard I worked and how seriously I embraced the opportunity. ... No matter what happens this session, I will never be outworked." Although many of the new legislators were familiar with the lo Leadership change ends exile for some lawmakers LEGISLATURE Continuedfrom Page Bl that he will reach out to women and minorities and other House lawmakers who have been wandering in the political wilderness for years. "There is a real sense it's going to be a leadership that is going to be more receptive, more honest, more open, more member-driven," said Representative Douglas W. Petersen, a Marblehead Democrat whose well-publicized falling out with Finneran led to the loss of his committee chairmanship four years ago. "I'm certainly hopeful it's a new era. Everything Sal has done so far indicates that." Representative Michael E. Festa, Democrat of Melrose, echoed the feeling among those who felt they were marginalized by Finneran. "I think it's very clear that the whole atmosphere in the House is different," Festa said. "There's an understandable anticipation whenever you have a new speaker . . . but I think especially in this case. You've got a speaker who's got a progressive political record, and I think it's very clear that that in and of itself will manifest itself in some change. "There is a palpable excitement and a positive upbeat attitude that is really surrounding the place," Festa said. With DiMasi running the Son of actor Chris Cooper dead at 17 in Kingston ASSOCIATED PRESS Jess Lanier Cooper, the 17-year-old son of Academy Award-winning actor Chris Cooper, has died at the family's Kingston home, a spokeswoman said yesterday. The teenager died Monday of natural causes related to his cerebral palsy, family spokeswoman Cara Tripicchio said. A memorial service was scheduled for Saturday in Duxbury. His parents are advocates for children with special needs and insisted their son attend mainstream classes at Silver Lake Regional High School, where he earned a place on the honor rolL The teen was the only child of Cooper and his wife, actress Marianne Leone, who has appeared on the HBO series "The Sopranos." Cooper, 53, won an Oscar for best supporting actor last year for his role as an orchid thief in the movie "Adaptation." ' ij "" " "r7' ict-exr I J vr. .. -. - -a ! f..n-.'t Lisa Nargi, who manages telecommunications for the House and the Senate on Beacon Hill, set up yesterday for freshman legislators in Room 437, a single office known as the bullpen. gistics of lawmaking, several attended a three-day workshop at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in early December to understand policy-making. But even before the workshop, the freshman legislators had filed bills concerning taxes, healthcare, the extension of regional transportation, House and fellow Boston Democrat Robert E. Travaglini overseeing the Senate, the Legislature faces a full agenda, including calls to expand health coverage, boost the minimum wage, and distribute money more evenly to schools. The lawmakers are also likely to take up a proposed amendment to ban gay marriage, but allow gay couples to join in civil unions. Meantime, Governor Mitt Romney is positioning himself to run for reelection in 2006. Finneran, who resigned last fall to take a job at the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, used a tight cadre of lieutenants to bend the House to his will during his eight years as speaker. His critics say that Finneran, a fiscal and social conservative, thwarted measures that conflicted with his Catholic be 'I think it's very clear that the whole atmosphere in the House is different.' Michael E. Festa State representative, Democrat of Melrose liefs. His supporters say he held the state's fiscal situation steady through troubled times, often quashing attempts to raise taxes or increase spending dramatically. For the eight years that Finneran ruled the House, many members and political critics objected more to his leadership style than to his ideology: He buried bills in Romney eyes uniform sick leave policy SICK LEAVE Continued from Page Bl co-workers fill an individual bank by donating their unused sick days to their sick colleague. Instead of that approach, the administration wants workers to rely on a statewide bank, established a decade ago, that serves all executive branch employees who donate at least a day to it Unlike the individual banks, the Employees Extended Illness Leave Bank limits overall leave to 120 days in a two-year period, and workers who are eligible for workers' compensation or other disability benefits cannot draw from it Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey rejected four bills establishing sick leave banks last week, as part of Romney's new policy. Romney had signed or declined to veto 24 sick bank bills over the past two years before deciding to change the policy. Previous governors, including Romney's Republican predecessors, generally signed off on sick leave banks and other measures designed to help individuals or towns, seeing them as an inexpensive way to curry favor with lawmakers. The Globe reported last month that Romney has vetoed 26 I' ( T -7, i I 1 and affordable housing to meet the Dec. 1 deadline to submit legislation for this season. Somerville Democrat Carl Sciortino, who ousted 16-year incumbent Vincent P. Ciampa, has cosponsored bills that aim to increase tax deductions for renters, reflecting many legislators' goal of committees, and used his mastery of arcane legislative rules to stifle debate once they reached the House floor. Those who opposed him, like Petersen, were banished to small quarters in the basement or on the top floor of the State House. Those disaffected members are hoping that DiMasi will keep to his word about being more inclusive. "It's more than our new speaker being more progressive than his predecessor," said Representative Jay R. Kaufman, a Democrat from Lexington ana a leading Finneran critic. "His leadership style promises to be quite different. He has said he expects to have more debate, and greater expectations of both rank and file members and committee chairs." DiMasi, who has declined to be inter viewed, has spent the last three months meeting with each of the House's Democratic incumbents and newcomers, seeking a consensus for an agenda for the session. He is expected to outline those goals when he addresses the Democratic caucus and the full House today. The new speaker will hold off local bills, for land purchases and special elections, since taking office two years ago. In a letter explaining the new policy, Healey said the Legislature used to pass individual sick leave bank bills to help workers who were critically ill, were ineligible for the statewide bank, or had exhausted their benefits. But in recent years, she said, the bills have expanded in virtually every respect, helping workers, who are not terminally ill, have chosen not to participate in the statewide bank, intend to use the days to care for a sick family member, or have not yet used all their sick, vacation, and personal time. "Allowing employees to donate sick leave to individual sick banks undercuts the effectiveness of the EI LB by creating competing sick banks and by discouraging eligible employees from participating in the EI LB in the first place, which hurts all participating members," Healey wrote. "At bottom, there simply is no compelling reason why the Commonwealth should continue to promote paid sick days as an unrestricted benefit for employees who have the opportunity to participate in the EI LB, who have the the call to the 'bullpen' pJK'MII' I " ' " "w"' i. - t I PI I I" " t i 1 I ' f I f providing more affordable housing. Senator Edward Augustus of Worcester and Representative Tom Sannicandro both authored bills with the same goal in mind, though their prescription is to increase tax breaks for senior citizens facing rising property taxes. "Right now, seniors are pitted until the end of the month making one of the most important decisions of his tenure: the appointment of committee chairmen and assigning of members to committees. The appointments are a major source of speculation among members, whose political careers can rise or fall on the assignments, and among Beacon Hill lobbyists, whose clients' business interests are at stake. DiMasi, in private conversations, is in effect promising to return the House to an era, last seen under former House speakers George Keverian and Charles F. Flaherty, when much of the work was done in committees and when many public policy decisions were in the hands of committee chairs and the members. Finneran critics point to Petersen's case as a clear example of the former speaker's abuse of power. Ironically, it was DiMasi who played a key role on Finneran's behalf. Petersen's falling out with the former speaker came when he refused to vote for measures designed to kill the Clean Elections Law. DiMasi, as Finneran's majority leader, tried to knuckle Petersen under but the Marblehead Democrat refused to budge. A public flareup ensued, and Petersen was removed as House chairman of the natural resources committee. ability to purchase long-term dis- ability insurance, and who often have generous sick leave policies already in place." Romney spokeswoman Shawn Feddeman added: "The LegislaJ ture is certainly well-meaning with these bills, but we think itj makes sense to adopt some uni form principles for the sick leave bank." David Holway, president of the National Association of Govern- ment Employees, said the stated wide bank is not well-publicizedJ an assertion that Feddeman re- jected. Holway also said workers in executive agencies are avoiding the statewide bank because they! know the Romney administration! oversees it "They don't trust any system! where this administration has any input" said Holway, who could not say whether the number of indi vidual sick bank bills has in- creased during RomneyTs term iri office. "The governor, by adopting policies that are blatantly unfair, is taking himself more and more out, of the process. . . .He's making himself irrelevant by his actions.' Scott Greenberger can be reached I i GLOBE STAFF PHOTOJANET KNOTT 28 phones and 15 computers against the schools in fighting for money, so this way they wouldn't be quite as burdened by property taxes," said Sannicandro, an Ashland Democrat. As a veteran school committee member and father of four, Sannicandro brings a particular interest in education and healthcare. One But Petersen said yesterday that he never personally blamed DiMasi, but rather saw the situation as Finneran's increasing abuse of his power. "My experience shows that it is very easy to be enticed by the trappings of power," he said. "Sal was acting as an agent for the speaker's position. I felt he was doing what he felt was required of his position." Kaufman said that campaign finance reform is indeed an issue that has been stifled in the House under Finneran. "We really never had the debate on campaign finance reform," he said. "What should have happened was a serious attempt to debate potential reforms to the Clean Elections Law. Rather than that, the law was just scuttled." 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"We really need to take a hard look at the way this state funds education so we can find a more predictable stream of funding education in the Commonwealth that is not dependent on property taxes," said Spilka, a former Ashland representative. . Representative Jennifer Flanagan of Leominster filed six bills. She is most interested in seeing legislation passed that would put a nurse in every Massachusetts school. "We have kids with epilepsy, diabetes, and there are just a variety of medical issues kids are dealing with throughout the day," she said. "With the amount of illnesses in schools right now, it's important to have nurses in the building." Beyond wrestling with the hot issues of the day, most legislators are simply looking forward to getting on the job even those in the minority. "Both parties for the first time are interested in a lot of the same issues," said one of the two Republican representatives, Richard Ross of Wrentham. Ross has been roaming the halls of the State House for the past eight weeks trying to acclimate himself. "In the election, I was surprised at how much of the passion came back," he said. "I can't wait to hit the ground running on Wednesday." EDUCATION e CAREER DEVELOPMENT Muscular Therapy Institute Setting the Standard for Excellence Formats to fit your schedule Financial Aid for those who qualify Explore Your Future Today 617.576.1300 To Advertise In The Next Directory Please Call 617-929-7999 University SSSEr

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