Posts Tagged ‘Krista Kano’

Evaluating Productivity a Tough Job With State Comparisons List

Saturday, August 18th, 2012

By Krista Kano and Alyssa Moni

In which state would you rather be a constituent?

State A pays its full-time legislators over $60,000 a year, plus hefty compensations for committee chairs.  Their pay reflects a smaller legislative body where each representative has a larger constituency.

State B pays its part-time legislators under $15,000 for the year with no extra compensation besides travel expenses. There are more legislators, each representing a smaller number of people.

An economical-minded constituent may opt for State B, which pays its entire legislative body what State A may pay a single chairman.  But a constituent looking for a more productive legislature may choose State A. because its lawmakers put in more hours and have a considerably higher monetary incentive to serve constituents.

It’s a theoretical toss up, but in reality there are distinctly different results.

Massachusetts’ 200 legislators are each paid $61,132.99 a year; committee chairmen get $7,500 to $15,000 extra.  In 2010 of the 5,363 bills that were filed, 476, less than 9 percent, were enacted into law.

New Hampshire’s 424 legislators, comprising the largest legislature in the U.S., are paid $200 a year for a six-month session running from January to June. Last year Granite State lawmakers filed 946 bills, passing 376 into law – a rate of about 40 percent.

How would you score it? Massachusetts passed more bills, but at a lower rate of bills filed. With less time and far less money, New Hampshire may seem more efficient. But there are other, less measurable factors: What was the complexity of the bills? What was the level of debate?

“The work of a legislature can be affected by many factors – such as the economy, whether it is a redistricting year, if there are any major federal or state court cases, or any disasters in the state,” says Brenda Erickson, senior research analyst at the National Conference of State Legislatures. “These are all the kinds of things that impact the productivity and priorities in a state legislature.”

One thing is for certain. Massachusetts lawmakers start out a session with a much fuller plate. The national average for bill introductions is 2,209 bills per year, according to Erickson. The average for the Massachusetts General Court, however, is over 7,000 bills.

“Massachusetts is very hard to compare when talking about bill introduction because it is the only state where anyone can introduce a bill, even just a citizen off the street,” she said.

According to John Regan, executive vice president of the Associated Industries of Massachusetts, the state’s two-year session also complicates comparisons to other states.

“The odd number years tend to be a little lighter because they’re laying the ground work which gets finalized in the second half which are the even years,” he said.

Regan, who closely follows Beacon Hill for his association, notes that what a legislature chooses not to act on is as important as what it chooses to move forward.

“There’s a balance between quantity and quality and I would argue for quality,” he said. “Just because they process a lot of bills and move a lot of bills does not make a legislature productive. It’s not like a pencil factory and we’re counting how many pencils go out and how fast. The Legislature doesn’t balance that way.”

And this year, according to Regan, quality was focused on balancing the budget.

“The amount of time you spend managing your finances is a lot more when money is tight,” he says.

Another factor is the way states handle their budgets. New Hampshire is one of 19 states that have biennial budgets, meaning the legislature debates the budget on even-numbered years.  On odd numbered years, the legislature can focus all its efforts on other issues.  Massachusetts and 31 other states write a new budget each year, taking up months of legislative time.

It would be expected that ideological debate would consume the legislative process in New Hampshire, which had an evenly divided House (222 Democrats, and 176 Republicans) and Senate (14 Democrats and 10 Republicans) in 2010, but it seems that that isn’t the case.

Massachusetts, with 142 Democrats and 15 Republicans in the House and 35 Democrats and five Republicans in the Senate, still does not pass as many bills as New Hampshire.

“Each state is unique,” Erickson said. “And that trickles down to the legislature. Each legislature represents a microcosm of its state’s people, traditions, and political cultures, and it can be impacted by them. ”

Special Report: Openness and Productivity on Beacon Hill

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

USA522letterBWPrintSession Featured Big Bills, Less Public View

BOSTON – Not long after state lawmakers ended their formal work for 2011 with a near-midnight November session, they began congratulating themselves for an exemplary season of legislating.

Among those accomplishments: casinos with the promise of new jobs and tax revenue, a law allowing municipalities to negotiate health insurance for public workers, balancing a budget in tough economic times and stabilizing the state’s pension plan.

“I would say this was one of the most impressive sessions over the past 30 years in terms of legislation passed,” said Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Association.

But how much really got done this year, and, more importantly how much of the legislative process that moved these bills to law took place in public?

Numbers can be interpreted in different ways. Of the 206 bills passed in 2011, 39 – or 19 percent – affect the entire state – many in significant ways. Another 25 percent of the bills signed by Gov. Deval Patrick established sick leave banks for public employees. The rest were administrative laws pertaining to individual cities and towns, such as alcohol licenses and land transfers.

But behind the issue of legislative productivity looms a larger question about the process that moved various bills down the road, or left them on the roadside. A survey by the Boston University Statehouse Program of 19 major legislative committees that shape and move legislation found this process increasingly takes place outside the public view.

Among the findings:

- The staff for 15 of the committees polled said some voting is done through e-mails rather than in open executive sessions. The staff of 10 committees said the votes were not available to the public. State law requires that roll-call votes in executive sessions be recorded and made public. But committee rules do not address e-mail voting.

- Minutes and other details of committee meetings were not available from 18 of the committees, according to their staff. State law does not require such documentation of legislative committees, although it is required by other Massachusetts.

- Among the lack of documentation are records of attendance by committee members. Observers say fewer committee members now show up for public hearings as the work of the committees takes place through phone discussion or e-mail polls.

(more…)

Special Report: How to Score a Legislature

Sunday, January 1st, 2012

Evaluating Productivity a Tough Job With State Comparisons List

By Krista Kano and Alyssa Moni

In which state would you rather be a constituent?

State A pays its full-time legislators over $60,000 a year, plus hefty compensations for committee chairs. Their pay reflects a smaller legislative body where each representative has a larger constituency.

State B pays its part-time legislators under $15,000 for the year with no extra compensation besides travel expenses. There are more legislators, each representing a smaller number of people.

An economical-minded constituent may opt for State B, which pays its entire legislative body what State A may pay a single chairman. But a constituent looking for a more productive legislature may choose State A. because its lawmakers put in more hours and have a considerably higher monetary incentive to serve constituents.

It’s a theoretical toss up, but in reality there are distinctly different results.

Massachusetts’ 200 legislators are each paid $61,132.99 a year; committee chairmen get $7,500 to $15,000 extra. In 2010 of the 5,363 bills that were filed, 476, less than 9 percent, were enacted into law.

New Hampshire’s 424 legislators, comprising the largest legislature in the U.S., are paid $200 a year for a six-month session running from January to June. Last year Granite State lawmakers filed 946 bills, passing 376 into law – a rate of about 40 percent.

How would you score it? Massachusetts passed more bills, but at a lower rate of bills filed. With less time and far less money, New Hampshire may seem more efficient. But there are other, less measurable factors: What was the complexity of the bills? What was the level of debate?

“The work of a legislature can be affected by many factors – such as the economy, whether it is a redistricting year, if there are any major federal or state court cases, or any disasters in the state,” says Brenda Erickson, senior research analyst at the National Conference of State Legislatures. “These are all the kinds of things that impact the productivity and priorities in a state legislature.”

One thing is for certain. Massachusetts lawmakers start out a session with a much fuller plate. The national average for bill introductions is 2,209 bills per year, according to Erickson. The average for the Massachusetts General Court, however, is over 7,000 bills.

“Massachusetts is very hard to compare when talking about bill introduction because it is the only state where anyone can introduce a bill, even just a citizen off the street,” she said.

According to John Regan, executive vice president of the Associated Industries of Massachusetts, the state’s two-year session also complicates comparisons to other states.

“The odd number years tend to be a little lighter because they’re laying the ground work which gets finalized in the second half which are the even years,” he said.

Regan, who closely follows Beacon Hill for his association, notes that what a legislature chooses not to act on is as important as what it chooses to move forward.

“There’s a balance between quantity and quality and I would argue for quality,” he said. “Just because they process a lot of bills and move a lot of bills does not make a legislature productive. It’s not like a pencil factory and we’re counting how many pencils go out and how fast. The Legislature doesn’t balance that way.”

And this year, according to Regan, quality was focused on balancing the budget.

“The amount of time you spend managing your finances is a lot more when money is tight,” he says.

Another factor is the way states handle their budgets. New Hampshire is one of 19 states that have biennial budgets, meaning the legislature debates the budget on even-numbered years. On odd numbered years, the legislature can focus all its efforts on other issues. Massachusetts and 31 other states write a new budget each year, taking up months of legislative time.

It would be expected that ideological debate would consume the legislative process in New Hampshire, which had an evenly divided House (222 Democrats, and 176 Republicans) and Senate (14 Democrats and 10 Republicans) in 2010, but it seems that that isn’t the case.

Massachusetts, with 142 Democrats and 15 Republicans in the House and 35 Democrats and five Republicans in the Senate, still does not pass as many bills as New Hampshire.

“Each state is unique,” Erickson said. “And that trickles down to the legislature. Each legislature represents a microcosm of its state’s people, traditions, and political cultures, and it can be impacted by them.”

Bill would toughen child abuse reporting laws

Friday, November 11th, 2011

By Krista Kano, MetroWest Daily News
November 11, 2011

An area lawmaker’s plan to broaden state law mandating the reporting of child abuse is being called a small step that could go further by toughening punishment and extending the statute of limitations.

Rep. Kevin Kuros, R-Uxbridge, whose alma mater Penn State University is the center of an abuse scandal, told the State House News Service he would “most likely” file an amendment to the state’s child abuse law that would require all state employees to report crimes against children.

“Right now, not all state employees are mandatory reporters,” he said.

Kuros made his remark shortly after Penn State football coach Joe Paterno announced on Wednesday that he would retire at the end of the football season. The university’s Board of Directors later Wednesday decided to fire Paterno immediately.

Paterno’s firing followed allegations that he failed to report that his assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, had sexually assaulted a young boy in a school shower in 2002.

Massachusetts has an extensive list of professions that are required to report any child abuse or neglect. These so-called mandatory reporters include medical personnel, teachers, clerks, probation officers and clergy members.

Failure to report abuse can result in a fine of up to $1,000, but if that failure results in the death or serious bodily harm of a child, a person can be fined up to $5,000, put in jail for up to 2 1/2 years, or both.

Dave Clohessy, executive director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests called the plan to expand Massachusetts’ list of mandatory ” a good, but partial step.”

Clohessy, whose national organization came to prominence during the Catholic clergy abuse scandal, said it would be better to extend or eliminate statutes of limitations for such crimes.

“Typically, the penalties are slight and the enforcement is rare,” he said. “A better remedy is to reform or repeal the statute of limitations (on crimes against children).”

Mitchell Garabedian, a Boston attorney whose has represented more than 750 victims and survivors of clergy sexual abuse said, “(The fine) should be increased substantially so the law has teeth and impact. A $1,000 fine to a financially well-heeled supervisor is really not going to cause that supervisor to report a violation whereas a law with greater sanctions might.”

According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, both Florida and Indiana make it a first-degree misdemeanor to fail to report child abuse or neglect. Both states classify all citizens as a mandated reporter. Delaware also classifies everyone as a mandated reporter but a 2002 court decision suggests that only medical personnel and school employees are required to report abuse.

Massachusetts lawmakers expanded the list of mandatory reporters following the child abuse scandal involving the Boston Roman Catholic Archdiocese in 2002, adding nearly all individuals responsible for the care of children to the list. Although clergy are considered to be mandatory reporters, the same requirements do not apply if the information was gained through religious confession.

“There’s no reason not to have such a law given the unfortunate impact of sexual abuse that children suffer,” said Garabedian. “Children need to be protected and this is one way to further protect children.”

Redistricting won’t bring flood of GOP challengers

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

By Krista Kano, MetroWest Daily News
November 9, 2011

Although the shakeup brought by the downsizing of Massachusetts congressional districts might be seen as a window of opportunity, many potential Republican candidates have decided to sit out the 2012 election, while another says it is too early to say.

Dan Haley, who ran against state Rep. Carolyn Dykema, D-Holliston, in 2008, will be staying at the McDermott Will and Emery LLP law firm, while Mary Z. Connaughton of Framingham, who ran unsuccessfully against Democrat Suzanne Bump for the state auditor’s office, will continue at the Pioneer Institute, a public policy research firm, as a certified public auditor.

“I saw that the new maps came out and saw that it certainly mixes the pot a bit,” Connaughton said yesterday. “When the pot is mixed there are more opportunities, but no, I won’t be running. I haven’t even thought about it.”

Since 2000, Massachusetts’ population increased by 3.1 percent, while others states, on average, rose about 10 percent. As a result, Massachusetts lost a congressional seat and the Special Joint Committee on Redistricting had to redraw the state’s congressional map into nine districts, instead of 10.

The reshuffling has moved many boundaries, eliminating Democratic strongholds in several districts and creating a new district without a resident incumbent on Cape Cod. But Haley says the changes aren’t enough to entice him to run.

“I think just looking at the lines, it’s certainly more rational than before, but that being said is all relative,” Haley said yesterday. “What we had before looked like a Jackson Pollock. The districts are a little less convoluted, but I think anyone who believes the notion that this process was open and unpolitical is being more than a little bit naive.”

Under the redistricting proposal, MetroWest is now at the intersection of four different congressional districts. Shrewsbury, Northborough and Westborough are the only MetroWest towns that remain in U.S. Rep. James McGovern’s new 2nd District. Framingham and Natick remain in U.S. Rep. Edward Markey’s new 5th District. All other MetroWest communities have been moved to districts represented by other members of Congress.

Connaughton said although the inclusion of six Republican-leaning towns to the 7th Congressional District represented by Rep. Michael Capuano, is favorable to the GOP, the addition of Cambridge offsets the advantage.

“Cambridge has a very high Democrat voting population and it wasn’t in the district before,” she said. “Now about half of it is in the district so that may offset the Republican voters added to the district.”

Marty Lamb, a Republican who ran against McGovern in 2010, said he hasn’t had a chance to examine the maps, and hasn’t yet ruled out seeking the position again. Under the new maps, Lamb would be running against Markey, instead of McGovern, since Lamb’s hometown of Holliston moved into a new district, now under Markey’s wing.

“I’m pushed out of running against McGovern which is no surprise whatsoever, but it’s very premature to even consider it,” Lamb said.

Lamb also suggested that state legislators needed to take a second look at MetroWest because the new maps put Framingham and Holliston in the same district as North Shore communities.

“What do Holliston and Framingham have to do with Revere and Winthrop? That’s a good question for my state rep and state senator because I’m not sure what the connection is there,” Lamb said. “MetroWest seemed to be the big afterthought.”

House passes state redistricting bill

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

By Krista KanoMetroWest Daily News

November 2, 2011

The House took less than 90 minutes to pass the state’s complex redistricting bill yesterday after quickly rejecting amendments submitted by four local legislators to tweak the map.

The 150-3 vote ended a process that began this fall when the Special Joint Committee on Redistricting traveled across the state to explain the redistricting process and to gather public comment.

The Senate yesterday approved its redistricting map, 36-0.

In the House, Rep. Brad Hill, R-Ipswich, a member of the redistricting committee, was one of the dissenters along with reps. Steven Levy, R-Marlborough, and Thomas Conroy, D-Wayland.

Nine amendments were offered to the legislation, including two from Levy, and ones from Rep. Carolyn Dykema, D-Holliston, Rep. George Peterson, R-Grafton, and Rep. Matthew Beaton, R-Shrewsbury, which all involved redrawing their district boundaries.

Of the four legislators, only Levy, who represents the 4th Middlesex, chose to speak about one of his amendments that called for redrawing much of central Massachusetts, prompting a short debate.

Levy’s district now includes all of Marlborough, Berlin and northern Southborough. The committee redrew the 4th Middlesex to include all of Marlborough, southern Northborough and central Westborough. Levy’s amendment would have kept Marlborough and northern Southborough together in the 4th Middlesex and moved Berlin to the 3rd Middlesex.

“There’s more than one possible solution to the problem, and when an alternative is offered, it should be discussed so that we give the commonwealth the best draft,” Levy said.

Levy said his version would minimize change and would keep 7,500 more people in their current districts than the committee’s map.

Changes to Levy’s district reflect a population boom in Berlin, Marlborough and Southborough. In 10 years, Berlin’s population has grown from 2,380 to 2,866, a 20.4 percent increase. Marlborough’s population rose from 36,255 to 38,499, a 6.1 percent increase. Southborough increased 11.2 percent, from 8,781 to 9,767.

Rep. Michael Moran, D-Brighton, co-chairman of the redistricting committee, countered Levy’s argument, saying Levy’s amendment would affect seven districts.

Moran explained that the target district size – determined, by dividing the total Massachusetts population by 160 House districts – is 40,923, plus or minus 5 percent. That makes the lowest district size 38,877 and the largest 42,969.

“No matter how you draw this map, Marlborough has to be included with some other city or district with it, so you’d still have to split another community to join it,” Moran said. “This amendment alone shifts 28,727 people and that’s not including the five other districts it would affect.”

The amendment was rejected, as was Levy’s second amendment, which he had previously described as a “last resort” to keep his district together.

The House and Senate votes will move the redistricting plan to Gov. Deval Patrick, meeting a deadline of Nov. 4 for the 2012 election. This year’s redistricting was relatively non-controversial, with the redistricting committee earning praise from legislators and good-government groups.

In previous years, the maps were often challenged in federal court.

For the first time in the history of Massachusetts redistricting, the committee held a two-week public comment period before voting on the new maps.

The committee still needs to submit a congressional district map to the House and Senate, reducing the number of congressional districts from 10 to nine.

Link to story

Redistricting plan leaves Marlborough divided

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

By Krista KanoMetroWest Daily News

October 26, 2011

The 4th Middlesex district has yet another new shape, following a vote by the Legislature’s redistricting committee that changed two other House districts but left the rest of its plan for the state’s new legislative map intact.

“It doesn’t make a big difference,” said Rep. Steven Levy, R-Marlborough, who was elected to represent the 4th Middlesex in 2010. “They still decided to keep Marlborough split.”

Yesterday, the Special Joint Committee on Redistricting approved several changes to the first draft map released on Oct. 18. The changes reflect the feedback the committee received in the form of 160 emails, 100 phone calls, and numerous office meetings, House Chairman Michael Moran, D-Brighton, said.

Levy said his constituents were especially vocal about their dislike of the redrawn district, which is quite different from the district boundaries he was elected to represent. Only the two-thirds of Marlborough remain from the original district map.

“The way they’re looking at it is they elected me to be their representative, and even though these (new maps) don’t take effect until 2013, they still feel like their representative is being taken away because for some of them, I won’t even be on their ballot,” said Levy.

Last week, Levy submitted a redrawn map to the committee that he says leaves more towns intact and keeps more people living in their original district, but no aspects of his map appeared in the version voted on by the committee.

Levy plans to submit his map to the House as an amendment, as well as some “last resort” amendments that would reunite Marlborough or bring Marlborough and Berlin back together.

Levy said the committee received complaints from Berlin residents and a resolution from the Marlborough City Council that it wants to remain within the 4th District.

The first draft of the House redistricting map changed the 4th Middlesex, which had encompassed all of Berlin and Marlborough and an eastern portion of Southborough. Under the committee’s plan, it would contain western and southeast Marlborough, southern Northborough and central Westborough.

At yesterday’s meeting, the committee proposed giving the 4th Middlesex the western two-thirds of Marlborough and giving the eastern third of the city to the 13th Middlesex.

Committee member, Rep. Bradley Jones, Jr., R-North Reading, explained at the meeting that the changes to Marlborough were an attempt to make the district more compact.

The committee approved two other changes, moving the town of Plainfield back to the 1st Franklin District and a heavily Latino-populated Cambridge precinct back to the 2nd Suffolk District.

The committee also made a few changes to the Senate map, moving a majority-minority precinct into Dorchester and Mattapan into the 2nd Suffolk District.

The Senate map was passed unanimously while the House map had one dissenter, Rep. Brad Hill, R-Ipswich. Sen. Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester, did not vote on the House map.

The maps now go to the House and Senate for amendments and approval and then on to Gov. Deval Patrick. Patrick must approve them Nov. 6 so candidates can fulfill the one-year residence requirement to run for office.

Link to story

Framingham could win big with casino money

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

By Krista KanoMetroWest Daily News

October 22, 2011

Proponents of a Senate casino amendment that would distribute education funds to some wealthier Massachusetts towns and cities fended off criticism yesterday, saying the plan is only fulfilling goals made by the state in 2006.

That year, the state set a budget formula for all school districts to use, with the state hoping to provide at least 17.5 percent of the money needed to support the budgets. But the state has struggled to make those payments, with 158 of 326 communities considered underfunded this year, when the state came up $113 million short.

The state money was distributed based on need, meaning poor communities received more than cities and towns with higher property tax revenues.

The gambling bill amendment looks to counteract that. Called Strengthening our Schools, the amendment gives underfunded districts priority when the extra money from casino revenue is doled out.

Public schools are due to get 14 percent of casino revenue under the amendment filed by Sen. Katherine Clark, D-Melrose, which is now being considered by a conference committee since it was passed by the Senate but not voted on in the House.

“It’s more a matter of equity,” said Sen. Michael Moore, D-Millbury. “The communities who aren’t receiving any additional aid aren’t because they’re already receiving the promised amount.”

Southborough, for example, has received all of the nearly $3 million it was promised by the state in 2007 and would not get any more under the amendment.

Framingham, the town most significantly underfunded, according the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, would receive the most. There is a $7 million difference between what Framingham was promised and what it received for the 2011-12 fiscal year.

If the amendment becomes law, many high-need districts will not receive more funding because they have already met their target aid, lawmakers said.

The amendment’s many co-sponsors included Sens. James Eldridge, D-Acton, and Karen Spilka, D-Ashland.

“People need to be clear that this money would not be available until after the casinos are built and revenue is coming into the state, which would take several years,” Spilka said.

The amendment passed, 34-4, in the Senate, with Sens. Mark Montigny, D-New Bedford, Marc Pacheco, D-Taunton, Sonia Chang-Diaz, D-Boston, and Patricia Jehlen, D-Somerville, dissenting.

“I hope that we will not be making educational policy in this forum,” Jehlen said during debate on the amendment Oct. 11. “I ask that we refer this debate back to the Education Committee so we may do what’s best for all of the children, not just what would benefit our particular communities.”

Rep. Alice Peisch, D-Wellesley, chairwoman of the Joint Committee on Education, said she hasn’t made up her mind on the amendment.

“If we start to allocate the money before we even receive it and can see what the actual needs of the communities are, then we may have boxed ourselves into a situation that doesn’t give us flexibility,” she said. “I’m concerned that early education might actually be in a greater need than the communities in this particular amendment.”

The amendment, which does not appear in the House version of the bill, will be discussed in a conference committee of three representatives and three senators. That committee will create a uniform version of the bill to be sent to the House and Senate for a final vote before going to Gov. Deval Patrick.

The House has named Reps. Joseph Wagner, D-Chicopee, Brian Dempsey, D-Haverhill, and Paul Frost, R-Auburn, as its committee members. The Senate will announce its representation next week.

Redistricting leaves local reps swapping among themselves

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

By Krista KanoMetroWest Daily News

October 20, 2011

The borders of the 8th and 18th Worcester districts would change dramatically under the first draft of a new legislative district map, but their lawmakers say they are working to make the transition easy for residents.

“I would imagine if people were to take a look at all 160 districts in the commonwealth, mine has changed the most,” said state Rep. Kevin Kuros, R-Uxbridge.

Under the redistricting plan, Kuros swaps most of his precincts with state Rep. Ryan Fattman, R-Sutton. Kuros said he doesn’t see the new boundaries as a problem.

“I think the transition will be pretty smooth, because most of the towns I’m picking up are coming from Rep. Fattman, and the ones I’m losing are going to Rep. Fattman, and we have worked closely since January,” Kuros said.

Both Fattman and Kuros are first-term Republicans who beat Democratic incumbents in their districts.

The state Legislature’s Special Committee on Redistricting released the first draft of its new district map Tuesday. Lawmakers and residents have one week to comment on the proposed changes. The committee will then discuss and vote on its proposal and send it to the House and Senate for debate and enactment by Oct. 31.

This is the first time that the committee has allowed public comment prior to a vote.

The committee has said it hopes the new map will be in force by Nov. 6 so legislators and new candidates can meet the requirement of living within their district for at least a year before seeking election or re-election.

Fattman, who represents the 18th, and Kuros, who represents the 8th, said the changes should not be a problem for them since they already work together. They have combined their budgets with permission of House Speaker Robert DeLeo and now share the same office, chief of staff and legislative aides at the State House.

“We did that to be collaborative, and that’s something we’ll continue to do as we transition,” Fattman said.

Both Fattman and Kuros also hired the same company to manage their constituent database management systems, which they said they hope will make for a seamless transition.

“Come January (20)13, if we’re both lucky enough to get elected, (the transition) won’t even be noticed,” Kuros said. “We’ve been scheduling meetings in each other’s districts so we can introduce each other to the new constituents. We’ll be doing that together. Between those scheduled introductory meetings and using the same technology, I think we can make it pretty smooth.”

In the old maps, the 18th consists of Bellingham, Blackstone, Millville, northern Uxbridge and all of Sutton except the northeastern corner. It wraps around the northeastern part of the 8th, which has Dudley, Webster, southeastern Oxford, Douglas and southern Uxbridge.

The redrawn map has compacted the 8th and 18th, making them squarer and uniting Sutton under the 18th and Uxbridge under the 8th.

Under the new maps, Millville, Blackstone and Bellingham have moved to the 8th, as has the entirety of Uxbridge. The 18th Worcester, having lost those communities, gains southern Oxford, Webster and Douglas, while keeping all of Sutton.

The change reflects the significant population rise in some of the towns. Uxbridge’s population rose 20.63 percent in the last decade, according to U.S. Census results, while Millville’s population rose 17.11 percent.

Both the 8th and the 18th’s populations rose by nearly 10 percent.

“I think if you take a look at what happened within the district, mine got more compact from five towns to four towns, and these are all good things,” Kuros said. “The districts that are more compact allow better service, so there are a lot of positives to come out of it. Change is just difficult.”

The state lost one of its 10 congressional seats as a result of the Census count. The new congressional boundaries will be revealed later this month.

Link to story

Redistricting plan would shake up representation in MetroWest

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

By Krista KanoMetroWest Daily News
October 19, 2011

The first draft of the new map of the state’s legislative districts was unveiled yesterday, causing a stir in several MetroWest communities.

“There have been significant changes to the district, and I’m not particularly happy about it,” said Rep. Steven Levy, R-Marlborough, who has already spoken to the chairman of the redistricting committee, offering his own plan that leaves Marlborough intact.

The redistricting process redraws legislative and congressional districts based on each decade’s U.S. Census. The population count found an increase in residents in the Worcester area and a drop in population on Cape Cod and in western Massachusetts.

The state lost one of its 10 congressional seats as a result of the Census count. The new congressional boundaries will be revealed later this month.

Under the committee’s plan, Marlborough, which now fits within the 4th Middlesex District, would be split so that the northeastern portion of the city joins the 13th Middlesex. That district would also include a small section of north Framingham.

Levy said Marlborough’s city council has already passed a resolution voicing their opposition to the city being split in half, which Levy plans to submit to the committee. He said he is prepared to negotiate to keep Marlborough intact.

“I understand changes have to be made and nobody can keep the district exactly the way it was, but the priority ought to be to preserve the communities as a whole,” he said. “I absolutely appreciate the complexity of the task and the hard process that the committee has to go through, but I’m not happy with the results.”

The 4th Middlesex, in addition to losing northeastern Marlborough, would also lose Berlin and northeast Southborough while gaining southern Northborough and a middle sliver of Westborough.

Westborough had been split among the 9th Worcester, the 11th Worcester and the 8th Middlesex, with the dividing lines emanating from the center. Under the new plan, Westborough would be split vertically between the 11th Worcester, the 4th Middlesex and the 8th Middlesex.

Rep. Thomas Conroy, D-Wayland, and his 13th Middlesex would also gain the northeast portion of Framingham while losing eastern Wayland to the 14th Norfolk.

Conroy said he wouldn’t offer and opinion until “people of my district weigh in.”

Natick, now split between the 5th and 14th Middlesex districts, would be united as part of the 5th Middlesex district.

Southborough, now split between the 4th and 8th Middlesex districts, would be entirely in the 8th.

Framingham’s current split between the 6th and 7th Middlesex would shift so that the 7th is only in the southeast portion of the town, turning the southwest into the 6th.

In releasing the proposed maps at a State House event, the Redistricting Committee chairmen, Rep. Michael Moran, D-Brighton, and Sen. Stanley Rosenberg, D-Amherst, stressed that this is a first draft and that this year’s redistricting process has been changed to include a weeklong public comment period before the committee votes.

This is the first time that the committee has allowed public comment prior to a vote.

“This openness and transparency has added to the value of the maps,” said Moran. “I believe it truly represents the faces of this state.”

The committee held 13 hearings across the state and received about 400 testimonies from the public.

Pam Wilmot, executive director of Common Cause Massachusetts, praised the committee for its open process this year.

“This is a substantial step forward and a marked break with the past where maps were rushed through the legislative process in a matter of days,” she said.

The committee’s vote would be followed by debate in the House and Senate around Oct. 31.

Link to story

Other News »