Berkshire Reps Rise In Legislative Ranks
The speaker of the house assigned committees on Thursday.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Berkshire's House of Representatives delegation is moving up in rank.
On Thursday, Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo assigned committees, which placed local officials in leadership roles.
"I believe the Berkshires fared extremely well with this reorganization of the house," the dean of the delegation, state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, said Friday morning.
Pignatelli was promoted to vice chairman of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development (on which he's served for some time), Rep. Paul Mark to vice chairman of both the Joint and House Rules Committee and Rep. Gailanne Cariddi to vice chairman of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies. State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier was not appointed to a leadership role; the Pittsfield Democrat vocally opposed some of DeLeo's decisions last session.
Farley-Bouvier will continue in her role on the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities. She was added to the committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse.
"It is a terrific intersection of responsibilities. Just last week we had a meeting with the DCF board who told us that the No. 1 issue facing DCF is substance abuse," Farley-Bouvier said. "I'm really pleased to be able to bring that kind of expertise to the county."
Farley-Bouvier said the opioid addiction outbreak across the commonwealth will rise to the top of issues to handle this session. For DCF, she said there is a lot of work to be done to lower the caseload levels for social workers in the department.
She was also placed on the House Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change and the House Committee on Steering Policy and Scheduling. She is no longer on a health care financing committee.
Mark's vice chairmanship is a promotion to leadership levels of the Legislature. When named to that committee, a lawmaker doesn't serve on any others.
"It is a pretty important leadership position to get," Mark said. "It gives me a platform to operate to continue to advocate for all of the issues that I think are important for Berkshire and Franklin County. It gives me a say in every piece of legislation. Instead of one subject matter, I am now part of all decisions."
One important role for Mark now is that any piece of legislation filed from here on out needs the Rules Committee to accept it. The committee also sets the guidelines on how bills will move through the lawmaking process.
"The Rules Committee sets the rules around debate for the House, how each piece of legislation will be considered, it sets the rules on how amendments can be filed. It sets the rules on the general behavior of members. It is exactly what it sounds like," the Peru Democrat said. "I'm very happy the House leadership and fellow members saw this potential in me and gave me this higher level of responsibility."
Mark had previously been on the Joint Committees on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Joint and the tourism and culture, and was vice chairman of the Joint Committee on Higher Education.
Pignatelli, who has been in the House the longest of the Berkshire representatives, also continues with his roles on some of the most important committees — Higher Education and Ways and Means. He also was added to a newly formed committee on redistricting, a critical issue for the population-starved Berkshires.
"I'm very pleased all the way around," the Lenox Democrat said.
Pignatelli is now the ranking member in both the Joint and House Ways and Means committees and Joint Higher Education. His promotion to vice chairman of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development, also deal with importants issue to the Berkshires
"Cultural development, it is the third largest industry in Massachusetts today," Pignatelli said, nothing his district in the Southern Berkshires is full of cultural attractions.
The next redistricting isn't until 2020 but the Legislature wanted to start the process early. Last time, in 2010, the Berkshires nearly lost a representative seat because of population losses.
"We have a challenge and it is great to get a jump start on it early," Pignatelli said.
Cariddi's vice chairmanship also climbs her further up the ranks. Vice chairing the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies is her only assignment but it handles many timely issues. It also puts a North Adams Democrat back in a leadership role on the committee: longtime state Rep. Daniel Bosley had overseen a number of major initiatives, including rural broadband, as its chairman.
The committee will be taking up topics such as casino gambling, industrial development, science and technology, retention of technology-intensive industries, computer and biotechnology, stem cell research, classroom application, workforce technology.
Cariddi had previously been vice chairman of the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government and a member of the Joint Committees on Transportation and on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture.
Tags: appointments, Berkshire delegation, legislators, Legislature, state committees, State House, state officials,