MMA honors 9 Legislators of Year

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The MMA is honoring nine members of the General Court with its Legislator of the Year award, largely due to their strong support of the Municipal Health Insurance Reform Act, which was signed into law last July.

The first to receive the award was House Speaker Robert DeLeo, who accepted the honor during the opening session of the MMA’s Annual Meeting & Trade Show on Jan. 20 before a crowd of more than 700 local officials from across the state.

“I am so grateful for this honor and I’m even more grateful for what this award represents,” said DeLeo, who began his political career as a Town Meeting member and then a selectman in his hometown of Winthrop. “To me, it demonstrates that our municipal leaders understand that we on Beacon Hill are doing everything in our power to help cities and towns – measures such as municipal health insurance reform, which will save these communities money, preserve jobs, and create much opportunity for growth. The House will continue to look to the MMA as a partner in all that we do.”

During the award ceremony, Natick Selectman Josh Ostroff, who served as president of the MMA during 2011, called the speaker’s leadership on municipal health insurance “truly remarkable.”

It was the third time the MMA had honored DeLeo as a Legislator of the Year.

The following six legislators received their awards during the second day of the Annual Meeting, on Jan. 21:

• House Ways and Means Chair Brian Dempsey
• House Ways and Means Vice Chair Stephen Kulik
• Senate Ways and Means Vice Chair Steven Baddour
• House Minority Leader Bradley Jones
• Joint Committee on Public Service House Chair John Scibak
• Joint Committee on Public Service Senate Chair Katherine Clark

Senate President Therese Murray and Senate Ways and Means Chair Stephen Brewer, also named Legislators of the Year, were unable to attend Annual Meeting and will receive their awards this month.

“Over the last several years, Massachusetts cities and towns have struggled with the burgeoning costs of health insurance, growing an average of 15 percent per year,” said MMA Executive Director Geoff Beckwith. “These honored legislators made municipal health insurance reform the centerpiece of legislative action. Without the leadership of our Legislators of the Year, the Municipal Health Insurance Reform Act of 2011 would not have become law. This reform act will save local taxpayers at least $100 million a year, will preserve essential services and protect the jobs of police officers, firefighters, teachers and other key municipal workers all across the state.”

The Legislators of the Year are also being recognized for their work on the fiscal 2012 state budget, which restored $65 million in local aid; for the passage of $200 million for the Chapter 90 local road and bridge program, and the enactment of strong pension reform legislation, which will reduce local pension costs by $2 billion over the next 30 years.

“The MMA, on behalf of local officials across the state, is honoring these lawmakers for their leadership, contributions and commitment to providing fiscal stability to municipalities, and for championing innovative programs to address challenges facing local government,” Beckwith said.

House Speaker Robert DeLeo
Speaker Robert DeLeo
Speaker DeLeo is no stranger to the MMA’s Legislator of the Year Award. Of the hundreds and hundreds of lawmakers who have served in office during the past 30 years, he is one of only two members of the House to win the award three times during their career – perhaps because of his love for local government as a former selectman from Winthrop, perhaps because of his dedication to the highest standards of public service, or perhaps because he always focuses on results that make a difference. The MMA is deeply grateful for his leadership, his dedication, and his determination to do his best for all of us.

Senate President Therese Murray
Senate President Therese Murray
President Murray has received the MMA’s Legislator of the Year Award three times, one of only two members of the Senate to do so. The award reflects her commitment to serving the communities in her district and her attention to local needs in every piece of legislation that crosses her desk. The MMA deeply appreciates her dedication and leadership, and her commitment to including every voice in the process, no matter how challenging the issue.

Rep. Brian Dempsey

Representative Brian Dempsey
Rep. Dempsey, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, is a former Haverhill city councillor, and it’s clear that local government is still in his bones, even though he has moved on to become one of the most influential legislators on Beacon Hill. The MMA last honored Rep. Dempsey as a Legislator of the Year for 2002 for his outstanding record as chair of the Public Service Committee and his steadfast support for local aid. His door has always been open to the MMA and cities and towns, no matter what the issue is. He is recognized as one of the most effective legislators in the state, caring about doing his best for all the best reasons.

Sen. Stephen Brewer
Senator Stephen Brewer
Sen. Brewer, chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, always advocates for cities and towns. A former Barre selectman, he always remembers his roots. The local officials from the 29 communities in his district know they have no better friend on Beacon Hill. That’s why he is receiving this award for the third time, a record matched by only one other senator in the past 30 years: Therese Murray.

Rep. Stephen Kulik
Representative Stephen Kulik
Local officials have heard and spoken accolades about Rep. Kulik, vice chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, for years. That’s because he also has local government in his veins, as a former selectman from Worthington and a past president of the MMA and the Massachusetts Selectmen’s Association. He is now a three-time MMA Legislator of the Year, the only House member to match Speaker DeLeo’s “three-peat.” Rep. Kulik cares passionately about building and protecting strong communities, and every year he stands tall to advance the principles of home rule and hometown government.

Sen. Steven Baddour
Senator Steven Baddour
Sen. Baddour, vice chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, was a key strategist on municipal health reform, and his strong advocacy among his colleagues, on the committee and on the Senate floor was essential. Sen. Baddour is a powerful voice for the taxpayer and for communities, which is why he received the MMA’s 2004 Legislator of the Year recognition as well. His efforts and leadership are truly appreciated.

Rep. Bradley Jones Jr.
Representative Bradley Jones, Jr
Rep. Jones, the House Minority Leader, is a former selectman from North Reading, and his connection to towns and cities has always been strong. Not only did Rep. Jones support the municipal health insurance and pension reforms, but he submitted the amendment accepted by the House to return $65 million in local aid to communities in October, offsetting 100 percent of the local aid cut originally included in the fiscal 2012 state budget. His resourcefulness in identifying a revenue stream from unspent funds in the fiscal 2011 budget enabled the Legislature to send a budget to the governor that improved the local aid position for every city and town.

Rep. John Scibak
Representative John Scibak
Rep. Scibak, House chair of the Public Service Committee, was appointed to his key post last January and immediately championed municipal health insurance reform, comprehensive pension reform, and all local government causes. His work made it possible for real reform to prevail. A former selectman from South Hadley, Rep. Scibak was also the MMA’s 2005 Legislator of the Year. He has a long record of support for the communities of the Commonwealth.

Sen. Katherine Clark
Senator Katherine Clark
Sen. Clark took the helm last January as Senate chair of the Public Service Committee, and was immediately placed in the center of the debates around municipal health insurance reform and pension reform. Her work helped strong reform to prevail in a very challenging environment, facing tough odds. She meets with all stakeholders and her door is open to all local officials. Everyone in her district knows that she is always responsive and caring about local government.