• Massachusetts Senate Committee Leadership Established, Signaling Priorities
  • February 16, 2015
  • Law Firm: Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky Popeo P.C. - Boston Office
  • Yesterday afternoon, Senate President Stanley Rosenberg revealed his senior leadership team and announced which legislators he selected to lead the Senate’s special and standing committees.

    The committee assignments give clues as to President Rosenberg’s stance on a number of issues, while his decision to create five special committees and add three new standing committees hints at what the Senate’s agenda may include for the beginning of the two-year legislative cycle.

    Senator Karen Spilka, a sixth-term democrat from Ashland, will take one of the most coveted and influential committee chair positions, leading the powerful budget-writing Senate Ways and Means Committee. She replaces Stephen Brewer, who did not seek re-election, and will be joined by Senator Sal DiDomenico, who will take over as vice-chairman of Ways and Means.

    Senator Benjamin Downing of Pittsfield will continue to chair the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities & Energy, which has jurisdiction over the exploration, exploitation and development of renewable and conventional energy sources, the siting of energy facilities, public utilities, wind farms, the bottle bill and more.

    Rosenberg tapped Senator Jamie Eldridge, a steadfastly liberal Democrat, to take over as chair of the Financial Services committee, which helps to regulate the banking industry.

    Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, who was fervently skeptical of charter schools during last year’s contentious debate over charter school expansion, remains chair of the Education committee, with another senator seen as opposed to charter schools, Senator Patricia Jehlen, as her vice chair. While that appears to signal that the Senate is taking a stand against charter schools, Rosenberg maintains that Senator Chang-Diaz is not hostile to charter schools, but is looking for a “third way.”

    In another telling move, Senator Rosenberg tasked Senator Eileen Donoghue of Lowell, who initiated action in the Legislature on Boston’s 2024 summer Olympic bid, with chairing the Economic Development and Emerging Technologies Committee in the new session.

    Senate Leadership Appointment

    • Majority Leader - Harriette Chandler (D - Worcester) Sen. Chandler, who was elected from the Massachusetts House to the Senate in 2001, previously served as the Senate Assistant Majority Leader.
    • President Pro Tempore - Marc Pacheco (D - Taunton)
      Sen. Pacheco, who is the second longest serving member of the Senate, after Rosenberg, will take over for Sen. Richard Moore, who lost his bid for re-election to Republican Ryan Fattman.
    • Assistant Majority Leaders
      Sen. Rosenberg expanded the number of assistant majority leaders from one to three, selecting the following to serve both as Assistant Majority Leaders, and as chairs of other Senate standing committees:
      • Cynthia Creem (D - Newton)
      • Brian Joyce (D - Milton)
      • Mark Montigny (D - New Bedford)
    • Majority Whip - Anthony Petruccelli (D - East Boston)
      Sen. Petruccelli, who previously chaired the Financial Services Committee, will now join the ranks of Senate leadership.
    • Assistant Majority Whip - Kenneth Donnelly (D - Arlington)
      Sen. Donnelly previously chaired the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight.

    Special Senate Committee Appointments

    The special committees the Senate created shed further light on the Senate’s goals. Special committees include:

    • Special Senate Committee on Housing, which will make recommendations to move the Commonwealth towards a sustainable housing policy that will increase access to housing for low and moderate income individuals and families, reduce homelessness and make recommendations to appropriately allocate state resources.
      • Chair Linda Dorcena Forry (D - Dorchester)
      • Vice Chair Harriette Chandler (D - Worcester)
    • Special Senate Committee on Innovative Education, which will review the current status of alternative models for delivery of education services to discuss the future of those models including sustainability and funding, and to suggest new pathways for innovative education in the Commonwealth.
      • Chair Patricia Jehlen (D - Somerville)
      • Vice Chair Barbara L’Italien (D - Dracut)

    It is worth noting that Senator Patricia Jehlen, who is also vice chair of the Education committee, was skeptical of charter schools during last year’s contentious charter school debate in the Senate.

    • Special Senate Committee on Opioid Addiction, which will assess the implementation of recently passed legislation to combat opioid abuse and make further recommendations to strengthen our Commonwealth’s ability to respond to the opioid crisis with a focus on prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery.
      • Chair Jennifer Flanagan (D - Leominster)
    • Special Senate Committee on Marijuana, which will assess the implementation of medical marijuana and examine the issue of marijuana legalization in other states and make recommendations for the Senate regarding any legalization or ballot initiative on the subject.

    The creation of this commission is timely, as advocates are considering attempting to put a question to legalize majijuana on the 2016 ballot.

      • Chair Jason Lewis (D - Winchester)
    • Special Senate Committee on Government Expenditures, Performance and Accountability, which will examine and evaluate government spending across all public agencies, quasi-public agencies and municipalities throughout the Commonwealth to assess existing finances, systems and procedures and seek to identify measures that will result in savings and efficiencies, improved performance and enhanced outcomes.

      • Chair Brian Joyce (D - Milton)
      • Vice Chair Bruce Tarr (R - Gloucester)