Rausch Retains Post in Spilka Senate Shakeup
Colin A. Young-State House News Service
Senate President Karen Spilka handed down leadership and committee assignments Wednesday, keeping in place all of her top deputies from last session but putting different senators in charge of most committees for the six-week-old two-year legislative term.
The assignments that were ratified in a caucus of Senate Democrats on Wednesday will lead to new perspectives atop two-thirds of the joint committees and five of the 11 Senate standing committees as Spilka shuffled the deck.
Some committees will probe new issues this session, while others are more likely to begin by jumping back into the fray over topics that perennially get an airing on Beacon Hill and those that were debated without resolution last session. The senators appointed Wednesday and the representatives expected to be appointed Thursday to serve as chairs of committees will wield varying levels of influence over the legislation before their panels and will aim to control the flow of bills to the House and Senate floors.
Some of the assignments carry significant workloads, but also come with pay stipends that will boost every Senate Democrat's pay above the $73,654 per year base pay that all state lawmakers earn. The stipends range in size from $7,095.60 for the vice chair of most committees to $88,694.99 for the chair of the Ways and Means Committee.
Senators agreed to an internal rules plan last week that created a new Senate Committee on the Census, which will be chaired by Brownsberger. The rules also replaced the Senate Reimagining Massachusetts Committee with a new Senate Juvenile and Emerging Adult Justice Committee, which will be under the leadership of Sen. Brendan Crighton of Lynn.
Of the three Democrats who voted last week to keep a term limit in place for the Senate president, only Sen. John Keenan of Quincy saw a change in his chairmanship. He'll trade the Housing Committee chair for the post atop the Election Laws Committee, which will vet the push to let people register and vote on Election Day.
Just 10 joint committees will have the same Senate co-chair as at the start of last session: Lewis remains Senate chair of Education, Sen. Patricia Jehlen of Somerville will continue as Senate chair of both Elder Affairs and Labor and Workforce Development, Sen. Becca Raush of Needham will stay on as Senate chair of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee, Friedman will still be Senate chair of Health Care Financing, Sen. Jamie Eldridge of Acton again helms the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Walter Timilty of Milton will chair the Public Safety Committee again for the Senate, Sen. Michael Brady of Brockton remains Senate chair of the Public Service Committee, Barrett will again serve as Senate chair of the Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy Committee, and Sen. John Velis of Westfield will once again lead the Veterans and Federal Affairs Committee for the Senate.