FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Caitlin Favreau, 617-722-2430
June 26, 2018
Rep. DeCoste named to BRAVE Act Conference Committee
BOSTON – House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) has appointed State Representative David F. DeCoste (R-Norwell) to serve on a conference committee charged with reviewing a pair of omnibus veteran bills recently approved by the House and Senate.
An Act relative to veterans’ benefits, rights, appreciation, validation and enforcement, also known as the BRAVE Act, passed the Senate on March 3, while the House of Representatives approved its own version of the bill on March 23. The conference committee will now attempt to reconcile the differences between the two bills, which provide for property tax assistance and increased funeral expense coverage for veterans, among other benefits.
In announcing the appointment, Representative Jones cited Representative DeCoste’s military background as a 22-year veteran of the United States Army, where he achieved the rank of Major.
“David’s years of service have given him a clear understanding of the many challenges facing Massachusetts veterans and their families,” said Representative Jones. “With his military experience, David will bring a unique perspective to the conference committee as it works to resolve the differences between the two bills and produce a final bill to address the needs of the Commonwealth’s veterans.”
Representative DeCoste currently serves as a member of the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs, as well as the Joint Committees on Housing and Public Service. The Norwell legislator will be joined on the conference committee by the co-chairs of the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs, Representative John Lawn (D-Watertown) and Senator Michael Rush (D-West Roxbury), along with Representative Claire Cronin (D-Brockton) and Senators William Brownsberger (D-Belmont) and Donald Humason (R-Westfield).
The conference committee will attempt to reach an agreement before formal legislative sessions end on July 31.
Representative DeCoste represents the 5th Plymouth District, which is comprised of the towns of Hanover, Norwell and Rockland.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Office of Representative David F. DeCoste
State House, Boston, MA 02133-1054
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JUNE 7, 2018
CONTACT: Caitlin Favreau (617) 722-2430
DeCoste Backs Impeachment of Salem Judge Feeley
Boston – State Representative David DeCoste (R-Norwell) is calling for the removal of a Massachusetts judge following a controversial decision to release a defendant facing drug trafficking charges. “We have seen a pattern of leniency and total disregard for public safety on the part of Judge Feely. He has violated his oath of office and must be removed from this powerful position of trust,” commented Mr. DeCoste.
Representative DeCoste is one of more than 40 House and Senate members co-sponsoring a resolution calling on Governor Charlie Baker to recommend a vote by the Governor’s Council to remove Salem Superior Court Judge Timothy Q. Feeley from the bench. A majority of legislators in both branches must approve the resolution to initiate the removal process.
Last month, Salem Superior Court Judge, Timothy Q. Feeley oversaw a hearing of Manuel Soto-Vittini, convicted of trafficking drugs with the intent to distribute 40 bags of heroin. In the midst of an opioid epidemic consuming the state of Massachusetts, this not only created an uproar amongst those on Beacon Hill, but further angered legislators and constituents when the transcripts of Soto-Vittini’s pre-sentencing hearing arose, showing Feeley considering a probationary sentence for the 33-year old Dominican.
“If he was a citizen, I’d send him – I’d probably do House time, but I’d send him to the House. I would,” Feeley said at a lobby conference. These statements followed a discussion with Soto-Vittini’s defense attorney Eduardo Masferrer regarding the fact that a jail sentence would make it more likely for Soto-Vittini “to be found, discovered, and interviewed by ICE officials,” according to Feeley. This was later disproven by an Immigration and Customs Enforcement official who revealed to the Boston Herald, as Soto-Vittini’s conviction was “just under the mandatory legal threshold” to trigger his removal.
This decision, in conjunction with other past decisions of Feeley that are seen as too lenient, sparked a group of Republican legislators to file legislation to impeach the appointment of Feeley. One such legislator, Representative Geoff Diehl, stated that “We saw a judge who made a decision to put basically a drug dealer... back on the street, saying that all he was doing is trying to earn a living for his family... Talk to the families of Massachusetts who’ve had loved ones die.”
Both parties on the Hill are outraged regarding Soto-Vittini’s sentencing, with the Democratic House Speaker, Robert DeLeo, leading his party stating, “I am deeply troubled by what I’ve heard, and I expect that the (Supreme Judicial Court) will determine whether the judge appropriately exercised his discretion... I look forward to a timely report by the SJC on the Judge’s conduct.”
David DeCoste represents the towns of Norwell, Rockland and Hanover in the Massachusetts House of Representatives.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Caitlin Favreau (617) 722-2430
MAY 29, 2018
Representative DeCoste supports bill to enhance veterans benefits in Massachusetts
BOSTON – State Representative David DeCoste, R-Norwell, is backing legislation to enhance veterans benefits in Massachusetts.
House Bill 4525, An Act relative to veterans’ benefits, rights, appreciation, validation and enforcement, also known as the BRAVE Act, passed the House of Representatives on a unanimous vote of 150-0 on May 23.
In addition to doubling state funding assistance for indigent veterans’ burial costs from $2,000 to $4,000, the bill provides for an increase in the property tax exemption available to veterans who perform volunteer work for their home community, raising the cap from $1,000 to $1,500. The bill also adjusts the residency requirement for veterans and surviving spouses to qualify for real estate tax exemptions, reducing the amount of time these individuals must reside in Massachusetts from five consecutive years to two consecutive years.
An additional provision contained in the BRAVE Act gives cities and towns the option to adjust veterans property tax abatements on an annual basis. The amount of the increase would not be able to exceed the cost of living increase for that year, as calculated by the Consumer Price Index.
The BRAVE Act also:
- updates the current military campaign eligibility for the Welcome Home Bonus, and authorizes the family of a deceased service member to receive the $1,000 stipend;
- adds Prisoners of War (POWs) to the list of veterans eligible for a property tax abatement;
- allows municipalities to designate a spot for veterans parking at their city or town hall during normal business hours;
- requires employers to provide employees who are veterans with time off, with or without pay, to observe Veterans Day;
- establishes a special commission to study the cost and feasibility of exempting veterans from tuition and fees when attending a public university, with a report due by December 31, 2018;
- allows combat medics to use their military training and experience to receive EMT certification in the Commonwealth without having to repeat duplicative classes;
- requires the Department of Veterans Services to maintain and publish a list of law firms and organizations that provide pro bono legal representation for veterans;
- allows parents or surviving guardians of veterans who died in service to the country to receive a real estate credit on their property beginning on January 1, 2019;
- authorizes recipients of the Bronze Star to be eligible for Bronze Star License Plates through the Registry of Motor Vehicles; and
- allows qualifying individuals whose vehicles are owned by trusts, partnerships, or corporations to be eligible for Gold Star Family license plates.
The Senate previously approved its own version of the BRAVE Act on May 3. The House and Senate will now attempt to reconcile the differences between the two bills and reach agreement on a final bill that will be sent to Governor Charlie Baker for his signature.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Caitlin Favreau (617) 722-2430
May 17, 2018 firstname.lastname@example.org
House Votes to Raise Tobacco Sales Age to 21
Measure aims to curb youth smoking and establish uniform law across the Commonwealth
BOSTON – Representative DeCoste joined his colleagues in the Massachusetts House of Representatives to pass legislation that seeks to reduce tobacco use and nicotine addiction among youth across the Commonwealth. An Act to protect youth from the health risks of tobacco and nicotine addiction (H.4479) will prohibit the sale of all tobacco, including nicotine delivery products, and other vapor products to individuals under the age of 21. Additionally, the bill expands Massachusetts’ Smoke-Free Workplace Law to include e-cigarettes and vapes, thereby ensuring that all tobacco and vapor products will be banned in establishments where the use of traditional tobacco is currently prohibited.
More than 170 cities and towns in Massachusetts have already raised the minimum sales age for tobacco products to 21 years old. With this legislation, Massachusetts will join five other states who have established a statewide minimum sales age of 21, including California, Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey, and Oregon. Needham, Mass. pioneered this movement in 2005 by becoming the first municipality in the country to raise the tobacco sales age to 21.
“I am proud to support the next step in our effort to curb tobacco use among children and young adults,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo. “Our effort will strike a balance of protecting the health of our children, while creating stability for our retailers and not penalizing adult smokers.”
“Smoking has destroyed the lives of so many in our communities,” Representative Jeffrey Sánchez, Chair of the House Committee on Ways & Means. “At the same time, smoking-related illnesses cost the Massachusetts healthcare system over $4 billion annually. This legislation will stop tobacco and e-cigarette companies from taking advantage of youth and prevent countless more from entering the throes of nicotine addiction.”
“When teens start smoking, studies show that they often become smokers for life,” said Representative Kate Hogan, Chair of the Joint Committee on Public Health. “Youth are particularly susceptible to nicotine addiction and fall victim every day to the damaging effects nicotine has on the developing brain, heart, and lungs. The legislation passed by the House aims to prevent our kids from starting a dangerous habit that can last a lifetime.”
“I applaud Speaker DeLeo and Public Health Chair Kate Hogan on their continued commitment and leadership to save lives and reduce healthcare costs in the Commonwealth” said Representative Paul McMurtry, lead sponsor of the bill. “I am equally as grateful for the passionate support of 103 of our colleagues who stood with us in a courageous effort to save youth from a lifelong addiction to nicotine and tobacco related products”.
- Ban healthcare institutions from selling tobacco products or vapor products;
- Prohibit the use of tobacco products or vapor products on school grounds and buses and at school-sponsored events;
- Restrict manufacturers or retailers from distributing free samples of tobacco products in commercial establishments, excluding in retail tobacco stores and smoking bars; and
- Codify in law the Attorney General’s regulations requiring child-resistant packaging for nicotine substances and containers.
Tobacco and nicotine use remain a leading cause of preventable illness and premature death in the Commonwealth, with more than $4 billion spent annually in Massachusetts on smoking-related healthcare costs. In 2012, the U.S. Surgeon General reported that 90 percent of smokers try smoking before age 18 and 75 percent of teen smokers continue to smoke into adulthood. Studies show the most effective way to lower smoking rates is to prevent teenagers from trying tobacco in the first place; the Institute of Medicine released a 2015 study that found that increasing the minimum age of legal access to tobacco products to 21 years old will prevent or delay initiation of tobacco use by adolescents and young adults.
The legislation takes effect December 31, 2018. Individuals who turn 18 before this date would be exempt from the act’s minimum sales age requirement.
The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.