The BBA’s Government Relations Department regularly works with legislators, the executive branch, and the judiciary, but the landscape in which we do so will be quite different at the start of 2015 from the past four years, with a new Governor, Attorney General, Senate President, Senate Ways and Means Committee chair, and House co-chair of the Judiciary Committee.
The biggest news from Tuesday’s statewide election is that Charlie Baker narrowly defeated Attorney General Martha Coakley. Outgoing Governor Deval Patrick was recently honored with the BBA’s Beacon Award for his historic commitment to diversity and inclusion in the judiciary. The responsibility for nominating judges will now rest with the new Governor.
All such judges must be confirmed by the Governor’s Council, an elected eight-member body, and there we will see little change at the start of the next two-year term, with only one new member in Joseph Ferreira, a part-time attorney and retired Somerset police chief, who spent 36 years as a police officer and is replacing Councilor Oliver Cipollini.
Karyn Polito will chair the meetings of the Governor’s Council, in her new role as Lieutenant Governor. Since the departure last year of former Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray, Governor Patrick chaired those meetings, though he lacks the LG’s authority to cast the decisive vote in case the Council is evenly split.
Maura Healey, who has served on the BBA Council and Executive Committee, will become the nation’s first openly gay Attorney General. A first-time candidate, she previously worked under current AG Coakley as Chief of the Business and Labor Bureau, the Public Protection and Advocacy Bureau, and the Civil Rights Division.
The other newly-elected statewide official is Deborah Goldberg as State Treasurer, replacing Steve Grossman, who left the office to run for Governor. Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin and State Auditor Suzanne Bump will return to those offices.
Massachusetts’ nine-member Congressional delegation will gain Seth Moulton, elected from the Sixth District, on the North Shore, which is currently represented by John Tierney. U.S. Senator Ed Markey was elected to a full six-year term, having first won election in 2013 to the seat when John Kerry became U.S. Secretary of State.
In the State Legislature, Vinny de Macedo will be one of five new Senators, after winning the South Shore seat that out-going Senate President Therese Murray gave up. House Representative Ryan Fattman defeated Senator Richard Moore in central Massachusetts. All other Senators seeking re-election won, leaving the Republicans with six seats in the 40-member body come January, their highest total in ten years. Three other Senate openings were created by the departures of Senator Stephen Brewer, who declined to run again; Senator Barry Finegold, who opted to run instead for Treasurer; and Senator Gale Candaras, who ran for Hampden County Register of Probate in a race still too close to call. Those seats will be filled, respectively, by House Representative Anne Gobi, former House Representative Barbara L’Italien, and Eric Lesser.
But the biggest changes in the Senate will come at the leadership level: Stanley Rosenberg is expected to be chosen by his colleagues as the new Senate President, when the Senate convenes for the 2015-2016 legislative session. He will then have the opportunity to name his leadership team, as well as all Senate committee chairs, which will include a new Ways and Means chair to write the Senate’s budget, now that Chairman Brewer is retiring.
In the House, Speaker Robert DeLeo and Ways and Means Chair Brian Dempsey will likely stay in their current positions. However, the Speaker will name a new House co-chair of the Judiciary Committee, after former Representative Eugene O’Flaherty left earlier this year to become Corporation Counsel to the City of Boston and was never officially replaced.
While final results have not all been determined, it appears that two sitting Representatives, Denise Andrews and Rhonda Nyman, lost re-election bids on Tuesday, to Susannah Whipps Lee and David DeCoste, respectively. Overall, House Republicans are poised to add at least five seats, and possibly six, to their existing total of 29 out of 160. Of special note to BBA members, Michael Day of Stoneham, Co-Chair of the Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Section, was elected to the State House, winning an open seat.
One thing we like to keep an eye on when viewing the Legislature is the number of Senators and Representatives who are attorneys. By our best count, that figure will be 54, out of a total of 200, when the new Legislature is sworn in early next January. This represents a drop of 6 or 7 from the start of the last two-year session, and it underscores the work we must sometimes do to educate non-lawyer legislators about issues of importance to lawyers, the courts, and the practice of law.
Four statewide ballot measures were also contested: Voters approved a repeal of the 2013 law indexing the gasoline tax to inflation (Question 1) and a new requirement that employers of 11 or more offer paid sick time to employees (Question 4), but rejected an expansion of the Bottle Bill (Question 2) and an effort to repeal the 2011 law that allows casino gambling (Question 3).
We will continue to update you on developments on Beacon Hill, and we look forward to working with the elected officials above on behalf of the BBA.
— Michael Avitzur
Government Relations Director
Boston Bar Association