Saturday, February 28, 2015

Lowell Dems Head Top Committees

Friday, February 27, 2015

Lowell Dems Head Top Committees
By Matt Murphy
State House News Service
and Amelia Pak-Harvey

BOSTON — Grappling with significant turnover in the House ranks over the past two years, House Speaker Robert DeLeo tapped new leaders on Thursday to helm key committees this session with buzz building around labor issues, energy reform and Gov. Charlie Baker's promise to push for an overhaul of the state's Medicaid program.

Among Greater Lowell representatives, two Lowell Democrats landed chairmanships. Rep. Thomas Golden will co-chair the joint committee of Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy Committee as lawmakers contemplate an array of proposals to boost renewable energy sources and ensure system reliability.

With increased electric rates from National Grid and a proposed natural gas pipeline from Kinder Morgan, the committee could play an important role throughout the next administration.

In energy matters, Golden emphasized price and availability.

“It’s important that we make sure that we have plenty of supply into Massachusetts,” he said. “Probably the most important thing is to work towards affordability.”

Golden praised Lowell’s electric aggregation pact with Dominion Retail that the city initiated last year, which decreased electric costs by 8 to 10 percent.

The aggregation process allows municipalities to save money for residents by buying energy in bulk.

Golden later filed a bill on gas aggregation, replicating Lowell’s idea to possibly generate savings for residents throughout the state.

“Those are just different ways to look at how to save money,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dave Nangle will chair the committee on Steering, Policy and Scheduling, which works with the House speaker to determine the order that bills should hit the House floor.

As bills pour out of their respective committees, Nangle said he would work with the speaker and his staff to determine if and when any action will be taken.

“It’s a great spot,” Nangle said of his chairmanship. “I’m honored to have been chosen by Speaker DeLeo to serve in this leadership capacity, and I look forward to working with him and the rest of his team in moving our legislative priorities forward.”

DeLeo rolled out the leadership and committee assignments at a closed door caucus with Democratic members who voted to ratify the appointments that in many cases carry additional stipends for lawmakers. Lawmakers receive a base salary of $60,032. Most committee chairs receive an additional $7,500, although committee chairs on a few panels receive an additional $15,000. Exacerbated by a wave of snowstorms and state budget imbalances, the first two months of the session have slid by without much activity as senators named to committees in January waited to learn of their House counterparts.
2015 lowell sun 02/27/2015

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