Wednesday, August 22, 2012

2012 Summer Survey

I invite you to participate in this year's Summer Survey which covers aspects of health care reform, prescription drug abuse, and the economy. Please add your comments about the topic areas within the survey (limited to 500 characters) or by commenting below (no limit).


Click here to see the results so far.

PARTICIPANT COMMENTS

Health Care

We are self-employed and my health insurance is our biggest monthly expense...more than our mortgage.

The problem is government involvement, not the lack thereof. Anyone who was alive before medicare was started can tell you how cheap healthcare was back then.

If our congress isn't "well versed" on ObamaCare how are the citizens supposed to be. Randy, it would be great to get an a-political explanation of exactly what the Act will/will not do.

I am on Medicare and Tricare, having served my country honorably, and have had pretty good luck on the Cape with doctors and treatment. Thank God I am healthy. But Obamacare promises to destroy all that and put us on the health care level of a third world country. Looks like Obama wants to diminish health care for seniors so he can give it the crack dealer down the street.

Is there a new mass legislation?

Has anyone actually read the entire Affordable Care Act?

I feel that I am not a good person to be asked the first two questions. I've been on Cape for 11 or so years, found a great primary care physician soon thereafter and have never left her. I think if I tried I would feel the impact of question # 1. I have lots of friends who would strongly agree with it. As for the 2nd question, I am a very healthy person who needs very little medical care. I basically see my doctor once a year and rarely need to see a specialist. Maybe once in my 11 years.

I feel we need to address the lawyers and insurance companies causing increases that don't control their charges.

I believe that health care is not a right.

There is no straightforward and short explanation of these that has been published in the press.

Gov't should stay out of my life.

My daughter was transported by ambulance at 1:00am to a Boston hospital on a Saturday night/Sunday morning because there wasn't a single Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist available anywhere on the Cape to examine or admit her for further testing. She spent 36 hours in the Boston hospital and left with medication. The issue could have been easily handled at a Cape hospital if someone was available.

I need to learn more yet.

Anyone opposing the Affordable Care Act is either stupid or a political hack for the right-wing extremists.


Prescription Drug Abuse

Rehab vs jail should be either/or. Either you go to rehab or you go to jail. After the third time to rehab, you go to jail.

Druggies know what they're doing. Throw them in jail and have them share a cell with Big Bruno. Most come out of so-called "rehab" programs and start using again anyway. It's a sob sister sham.

Rehab should be required as well as jail time.

Just legalize all the drugs and tax them. if no one needs a prescription, all this just goes away, and the state gets a legitimate new income source.

The last question should include an increase in punishment for following offenses, much like OUI and the drivers license except that actual jail time should be included. Jail time for this type of offense MUST be community services to towns. For each offense...up to a point (3 strikes?) more hours of work required. Not easy work. Perhaps landscaping jobs around town, cleaning town buildings, etc.

They should receive jail time also.

Rehabilitate tor first offence. Jail any additional offences. If you wont learn yhd first time and you endanger others lives by your self indulgent dangerous behavior then you should go to jail

We have friends, in fact a Sandwich family, whose son's life and theirs were ruined by Oxycontin beginning with a legit prescription by the boy's MD following surgery for a broken bone. If he had been REQUIRED to enter rehab early on, after committing several crimes, their collective outcome might have been far better.

Control drugs at mfg. level not retail. Make it illegal to give free samples to doctors.

Jail time does nothing to address the addiction. Sending people with no other criminal record to jail or putting them on probation for possession of illegal drugs only clogs up the system and doesn't address the individual's problem.


Economy/Unemployment Rate

There was a time in this country when Unions were needed. Today, I feel there are enough whistleblower laws in place that Unions are no longer necessary. They are nothing more than a sanctioned mafia.

Get rid of public unions.

It is just pure dumb luck. There are certainly small businesses making some type of difference, but our economy is still garbage, just not as big a pile of garbage as the rest of the country. Not having a full time job is not having a full time job, and I have not had one in years, and I have not found one with a reasonable pay check in 8 years.

Perhaps MA is lower unemployment than the national average - but on the Cape - it is still very, very difficult to find a good job. Been unemployed now for six months - and not looking better.

Being unemployed in the IT field for over two years and having gone to CCCC to get an AS in IT hasn't helped! I'm no longer on unemployment but that doesn't mean I shouldn't be counted as unemployed. I think more people are in my position or worse yet; taking two minimum wage jobs to survive that look like two jobs being filled. We need to get an accurate count of the unemployed and the under employed to have an realistic perspective as to where our economy is going. We need higher paying jobs!

In my view The unions and the gov. work hand in hand to create work projects that the tax payers are paying for in the long run. I believe that the private sector would do a much better job and get more done and would hire workers to keep the unemployment down.

NE (Boston) is "Mecca" for health care, both treatment and research, for the entire planet.

Union laws such as prevailing wage should be banned.

The Cape continues to be a wasteland in terms of jobs for most professionals. The money lost to our local economy that is spent off Cape is no doubt staggering. This impacts not only for profit businesses, but non-profits. Both have a difficult time accessing professionals who make purchases and often support charities near where they work because of the convenience.

The right-wing propaganda about government being the problem grows tiresome, as it's pure baloney. And the obscene taking out of context the comment by Obama that "You didn't build that," which referred to roads, bridges, and other government-funded infrastructure, is simply unconscionable. That Hunt can still call himself a Republican shows he has no integrity.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Hunt raises $30K in first reporting period for 2012

Campaign sets a strong pace in advance of three major fundraisers

EAST SANDWICH - August 20, 2012 - Incumbent State Representative Randy Hunt of East Sandwich reported today cash and in-kind contributions totaling $30,312 for the reporting period from January 1 to August 19, 2012.

"I am very pleased with the strong financial support our campaign continues to garner, especially in a year when we have opposition in the general election and plenty of competition for fundraising dollars," commented Hunt. "It takes a great deal of resources to get the word out to over 40,000 residents of the 5th Barnstable District. Although hundreds of people visit my blog and state rep website every day, it is still the old school advertising, door knocking, mailings and telephone calling that will carry the day."

The Committee to Elect Randy Hunt is particularly pleased that the $30K has been received prior to the campaign's three major fundraisers:

Saturday, August 25th - Texas BBQ & Trap Shoot4pm at the Monument Beach Sportman's Club

Monday, September 17th - "Slice & Ice" Golf Outing & 19th Hole Social, noon at the Ridge Club in Sandwich

Saturday, October 13th - Jazz Concert featuring Tony Lujan Quintet6:30pm at the East Sandwich Grange Hall

Hunt added, "With $17,000 in cash heading into the height of the campaign season and our biggest three fundraising events still in front of us, we are in great shape to accomplish all that we've planned right down to election day, Tuesday, November 6th."

Find out more about the campaign by visiting http://ElectRandyHunt.com.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

MassDOT funds Quaker Meeting House Road sidewalk project

UPDATE: WBZ ran a news story on the QMH Road sidewalk grant. See it here:

http://boston.cbslocal.com/2012/08/13/state-program-helps-communities-fix-infrastructure-problems/

Aesop taught us a thing or two about perseverance in the fable The Tortoise and the Hare. That lesson was applied to the long awaited project to build a sidewalk on the entire length of Quaker Meeting House Road in the Town of Sandwich and, as was the case in the children's story, the project/tortoise made it across the funding finish line five years after it was pitched by a citizens' group to the board of selectmen.

The source of the long delay in funding was the project's timing. Proposed just prior to the economic collapse and Great Recession, it quickly took on a low priority when even high priority projects were not getting funded.

This changed last year with a big effort by the offices of both Senate President Therese Murray and myself. The economic recovery provided some breathing room and MassDOT created a funding mechanism to deal with smaller projects that never seemed to rise to the top of the priority list. Murray and I wrote letters of support for the project and assign staff to "dog" the project through the approval process. Personnel at MassDOT were also very helpful along the way, seeing the value of this public safety project.

All of this effort moved the project within eye shot of the goal line, at which time the Senate President made a personal effort to complete the process. The contract between the town and MassDOT is for $960,000 and DPW Director, Paul Tilton, indicated that work should start this fall and, with luck, can be concluded before next summer.

See the press release about the project by clicking here.


Here are my comments from today's press conference:

I am very pleased that this key project for the Town of Sandwich has been funded. This road is home to three of the four public school buildings in the town and has been too congested for school children and other walkers to negotiate it safely for years now.

Someday, someone will not be injured or killed by a passing car because of the sidewalk that will run the length of Quaker Meeting House Road. We'll never know when that person's life won't be ended, or significantly changed, but I assure you that moment will happen.

Shortly after assuming my job as state representative in 2011, I came to the realization that a project with an earmark and five bucks will buy you a latte at Starbucks. The real work is in generating the plans, promoting the project, getting it in front of the proper decision makers, and making sure that the merits of the project are understood.

My thank you's go out: 
To the people who created a grassroots effort to bring the project to the forefront, who displayed both passion and research at a 2007 selectmen meeting, and who penned more than a twenty letters that were filed with MassDOT;

To the selectmen and our town manager and assistant town manager who embraced the project and made it a priority;

To the people that designed the sidewalk system and handled the details of filing plans, writing letters of explanation, and following the progress of the project hearings, our Engineering Department & DPW, led by Paul Tilton;

To my legislative aide, Susann Koelsch, for being relentless in keeping this project on the political radar and moving forward;

To Jackie Horigan, the Senate President's Director of Constituent Services, who helped us decipher the approval process and who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to keep the project on track;

To the Secretary of Transportation, Richard Davey, MassDOT Highway Administrator, Frank DePaola, and all of the staff in District 5, who supported this project from the beginning and found a way to make it happen;

And, finally to Senate President Therese Murray, who wrote multiple letters of support, committed the resources of her office to help us move the ball down the field and into the red zone, and personally took the actions that ultimately resulted in the funding of the Quaker Meeting House Road sidewalk project. Without you, Madam President, we would not be here today, and you have my sincerest appreciation for being a dedicated and effective proponent for your senate district and for the entire commonwealth. It is my pleasure to serve with you in the Massachusetts legislature.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Prescription Monitoring Program works

The Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) in Massachusetts is an effective tool for alerting doctors and other prescribers of Schedule II and III substances that a new patient has a history of using, perhaps abusing, pain medications. The recently passed bill, Senate 2125, requires registration in this program by all prescribers within three years; however, it is hoped that doctors, dentists, et al, will see the benefit of the PMP and start using it right away.

I received an email from a nurse this morning who relayed an anecdote to me about a situation her friend encountered in a doctor's office recently:

She was sitting in her doctor's office waiting to be called for her appointment when she observed a couple who both had appointments in the same office. My friend could not make out the conversation as the couple was whispering. Within minutes the wife was called in to see the doctor.  
Shortly after she came out and sat in the same seat next to her husband. Now my friend could hear the conversation and the husband asked: "What did the doctor say?" The wife replied, "Well, evidently there is some prescription monitoring program the doctor is connected to. He said he looked in it and saw I am on eleven different pain medications and wants me to come off of them." 
As my friend observed the couple's interaction, she noticed the wife seemed to take this with ease, but the husband became quickly distraught. He replied, "What? What do you mean monitoring program? What gives him the right to tell you to come off the meds?" My friend was called in next and didn't hear any more of that conversation. After she told me the story, she said "Lisa, I know now what the importance of the PMP is." 
This is why it is so important for people like you and the people working for us to create laws that are vital in our communities and how it is that people have been able to doctor shop and doctors, who are not registered in the PMP, are unaware of their patients' history.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Prescription drug abuse bill hits the governor's desk


Will reduce doctor-shopping, fraud and increase treatment

BOSTON  August 9, 2012 – With a new state report finding that 12 Massachusetts residents die every week from opiate-related overdoses serving as a backdrop, the House and Senate today gave final approval to legislation that will reduce the number of people abusing or selling prescription painkillers, while increasing opportunities for those battling addiction to receive treatment.

The bill requires, among other steps, that doctors, dentists and other practitioners conduct drug history screens for new patients. It also creates a professional working group to recommend new prescribing standards for painkillers, and requires all prescriptions for painkillers -- such as OxyContin, Percocet and Vicodin -- be written on tamper-resistant pads.

This bill recognizes the role everyone has to play in battling this epidemic, from doctors and pharmacists, to parents and patients, said the bills lead sponsor, Sen. John F. Keenan (D-Quincy), co-chairman of the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse. It consists of practical, common-sense strategies that will have a real, positive impact.

 You know weve got a problem when drugs like these are responsible for more accidental deaths in Massachusetts than motor vehicle accidents, said Senate President Therese Murray (D-Plymouth). This was one of our top priorities and Im glad that we got this bill done. The abuse of these drugs has devastating effects on individuals and families of every socio-economic background. The costs are high, both to families and the economy, not to mention the significant impact on public safety. This bill will help save lives and keep us all safer.

This legislation is a big step forward in dealing with the epidemic of prescription drug abuse in the commonwealth, said Rep. Liz Malia (D-Jamaica Plain), the committees House chairwoman. Too many lives have been lost and too many families have been destroyed. We are fortunate in Massachusetts to have the leadership of Governor Patrick, Speaker DeLeo and Senate President Murray, who truly appreciate how important it is for us to rise to the challenges we have before us. Hopefully this legislation will open the door to a better understanding of addiction and more effective ways of education and prevention.

This bill may well be the most important, life-saving legislation we've passed this session," observed Rep. Randy Hunt (R-Sandwich). My thanks go out to all of the people who worked so hard to pull this together, most especially to our committee chairmen and staff, those who work in the field of addiction recovery, and individuals whose family members have been affected by the nightmare of prescription drug addiction.

This is the biggest step we have taken to combat the abuse of prescription drugs, said Rep. Marty Walsh (D-Dorchester). “I want to thank the leadership of the House and Senate for pushing this legislation, and I would like to commend all of the advocates who worked tirelessly to pass this bill.

The legislation includes a ban on synthetic stimulants known as bath salts.

I am pleased that the House and Senate have acted upon this important piece of legislation, said Rep. George Ross (R-Attleboro), who filed the original bath salts ban. The ingredients found in this hallucinogen produce a potentially dangerous narcotic that is now readily available to anyone in Massachusetts. In passing this legislation, the Commonwealth has taken a proactive approach to eliminating this growing epidemic.

A report released by the OxyContin and Heroin Commission in 2009 found that Massachusetts has one of the nations highest rates of opiate abuse, causing 3,265 deaths from 2002 to 2007 and 23,369 hospitalizations in 2006 alone. Last month, the state Department of Public Health released a study that found that 627 Massachusetts residents had died from opiate-related overdoses in 2009, the last year data was available.

The Patriot Ledger of Quincy reported last month that 93 people from 10 small South Shore communities had died from opiate-related overdoses between 2007 and 2011, and that 99 people had died in Quincy, Braintree and Weymouth alone between 2009 and 2010.

The Drug Enforcement Agency reports that Vicodin is the second-most abused drug by high school seniors, behind marijuana. Local police chiefs estimate that opiate addiction is the leading cause of property crime. Meanwhile, taxpayers are spending hundreds-of-millions of dollars annually in costs associated with the epidemic including hospital visits, court appearances, jail time and social services.

Prescribers would automatically be enrolled in the states Prescription Monitoring Program when they renew their controlled substance prescribing license. They will then be required to use the PMP to review a new patients drug history to ensure the patient is not doctor shopping for painkillers. Limited exemptions from this requirement will be granted for emergency treatments, or if the PMP system is inoperable. Currently, participation in the program is voluntary, with only 1,800 out of 40,000 prescribers signed up. The bill also allows licensed professional staff in the practitioners office to conduct the screens, thereby not taking time away from patient visits.

To promote awareness, the Department of Public Health will be required to produce informational pamphlets explaining addiction risks, signs of dependency, where to go for treatment, and ways to safely store and discard drugs. The pamphlets will be distributed by pharmacies with each prescription filled.

Pharmacies, drug distributors and other relevant parties will also be required to alert local or state police when reporting missing controlled substances to the Drug Enforcement Administration. Under the bill, doctors and hospitals will be required to notify a parent or guardian of any minor treated for drug overdose. Information on substance abuse treatment options must also be provided, and a social worker will be available for counseling prior to hospital discharge.

The legislation also requires all prescriptions for controlled substances to be written on secure forms, using special watermarks, serial numbers or micro-printing to be determined by the Department of Public Health. This requirement is already in place for Medicare and Medicaid recipients.

In addition, the bill forms a working group of practitioners, nurses, and pain advocates to draft best practices for the use of prescription painkillers in the treatment of acute and chronic pain. The commission of the Department of Public Health can then turn those recommendations into regulations.

The bill also does the following:

Restricts pharmacists from filling out-of-state prescriptions for narcotics unless the prescriptions were written by practitioners in the five contiguous states, plus Maine;

Requires professional training for pharmacists on using the PMP as part of their relicensure process;

Restricts MassHealth enrollees with a history of excessive use to one pharmacy;

Allows sheriffs to enter into a study on the effectiveness of medication-assisted treatment for the successful transition of inmates back into society;

Commissions a study on substance abuse among seniors; and

Mandates professional training for court personnel and legal counsel on substance abuse services available for those facing criminal charges.

According to Centers for Disease Control, more people are overdosing on prescription pain killers (approximately 12,000 nationally in 2007) than on cocaine and heroin combined, with the number of people needing emergency treatment for overdoses having tripled in the last decade. Of the nearly 2 million emergency room visits nationally in 2009, almost half involved prescription drug abuse.

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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Representative Randy Hunt continues perfect voting record

State Representative Randy Hunt has maintained his perfect voting record through the end of the legislature's formal sessions.

"My commitment to the 5th Barnstable District residents is to be a visible and open representative, accessible to my constituents, and on the scene in Boston as well as the district," said Rep. Hunt. "The votes of all state representatives are in the public domain and I'm proud to have maintained a perfect voting record during my first term."

See the voting percentages of all of the state representatives by clicking here.

Homeland Response Force - FEMA Region 1

FEMA Region 1 HRF Mission
To provide FEMA Region 1 with a rapid military response force trained and equipped to deploy within 6-12 hours of alert, providing brigade and battalion level mission command structures for synchronization of all state active duty and Title 32 forces in order to provide timely life saving skills within the first 72 hours of a large scale chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear incident.

I had the pleasure to visit the Massachusetts Military Reservation this morning to observe the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region 1 Homeland Response Force (HRF) executing a large scale training and certification mission. It is expected that, by the end of this week, the HRF will receive its certification and join nine other HRFs across the country to complete the network of quick response forces.

Army and Air National Guard troops from all six New England states and personnel from other agencies were participating in this effort. Major General L. Scott Rice, Adjutant General (Acting), of the Massachusetts National Guard helped the civilians and elected officials observe the many hotbeds of activity, sorting out in layman's terms what was happening. Many others provided briefs on their areas of command, which ranged from the Unified Area Command to the Triage Area at the incident site.

Also joining the event was Robert Salesses, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, from Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta's office and a number of Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency personnel and directors.

The exercise today was based on a vehicle driving to the corner of Fenway Park and the operator detonating an onboard explosive during a Red Sox / Rangers game. In the scenario, part of the debris strikes a tanker truck on I-90 carrying a chemical which is released and blows across the baseball park. Simultaneously, a second vehicle explodes outside of the TD Garden during a Cirque Du Soleil show.

The photos below are of a disaster site mock up, the triage area, and decontamination area. Actors playing the parts of the injured and their family members did a great job of adding true-to-life hysteria into the exercise, which is something that the responders must be prepared for in an actual disaster.

(Click on any photo to see a higher resolution version)
Disaster site with building and two rubble piles
Building with five entry points for first responder training
Rubble pile (an appropriate spot for a Dodge Stratus)
Triage area
Contaminated people waiting to leave the "hot zone"
Non-ambulatory decontamination area
Responder decontamination area

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Synchronized sports

Apparently, the new mantra being followed by the International Olympic Committee is: If a sport is entertaining with one person doing it, then it's got to be better with two.

What could be more riveting than witnessing diver Greg Louganis win four golds and a silver? That would be watching Qin Kai and with his partner Luo Yutong take gold in synchronized diving.

Two, two, two men in one.

They were pretty good, I'll admit, splashing less liquid out of the pool than I do dropping an olive into a martini.

And speaking of water sports, I have a great deal of admiration for the women who participate in synchronized drowning. I can only imagine how hard it is to do leg scissors with pointed toes while your head is five feet below the surface. This is a sport clearly devised by an Eastern Block, thick-mustached, sadist swimming coach to punish his slowest students.

I noticed, by the way, that there are several channels on cable which are carrying the Olympics. One is dedicated to basketball, another to soccer. Then there's another that covers the stuff that's too obscure to make it onto NBC.

I saw horse jumping (which is actually called equestrian something or another) and watched for at least 15 minutes without seeing Ann Romney's horse. Quite a disappointment, for sure.

Flipping back to that channel, after watching USA's Dream Team crush Nigeria 156 to 73 (which, by the way, must have gotten a lot of attention in Nigeria because, for those two hours, I received no email offers to park $16 million from an exiled princess in my bank account), I caught a preliminary round of trampoline jumping.

I had no idea that trampolining is an Olympic sport. When I was a kid, the neighbor with a trampoline had the most frequented house by the ambulance service.

Tramp, as it's called by the Professional Trampoline Announcers Guild of America, has been an Olympic sport since the days the Games were held in the Parthenon. Only back then it was performed on a cotton sheet held by an out-of-work fire brigade. You see, when everyone's house is built out of stone, there's not much need for firefighters.

I watched Rosannagh MacLennan (not to go off on a tangent here, but a word of advice to parents having kids: Don't saddle them with ridiculous spellings of their names. Researchers have determined that it wastes upwards of seven months of their lives having to spell it out. My daughter, Gayle Alicen Hunt told me this.) from Canada win the gold medal.

I was focused in amazement as Rosanna (see how much easier that is?) was leaping at least a hundred or two hundred feet in the air performing all kinds of twisting jack knifes, backwards layouts, and triple axels.

Then it occurred to me: How much better would this sport be if six jumpers competed in synchronous? Six perfectly coordinated athletes executing precise maneuvers with the synchronicity of six Swiss watches.

They could even mix it up by jumping onto the next person's trampoline and the one on the end would jump over the other five, landing on the now open trampoline. Think of it as human juggling.

Wait a second...

I already saw this as a kid when I went to see the Greatest Show on Earth.

No way the International Olympic Committee would agree to sanction a Ringling Bros Circus act. That would be way under the dignity of the modern Olympic Games.

Nope. Scratch that idea. I'm off to watch rhythmic gymnastics.

Copyright 2012 by Randy Hunt.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Subscribe by email

I noticed that a few people have signed up to follow this blog via email. I wasn't even doing that myself, so I tried it and it works really well. Shortly after I publish a new post to the blog, you get an email with the new post(s), complete with pictures and links.

So, instead of making the effort of coming to this blog, you can sit back, relax, and let the blog come to you. I've moved the "Follow By Email" sign up box to the top of the right side column.

Try it. You'll like it. (Ten points to the first person to identify what company used that line in their advertising in the 1970s.)

Friday, August 3, 2012

Randy Hunt, State Rep - First term accomplishments

A couple of days after the end of formal sessions for the Massachusetts 187th General Court is a good time to review the most significant accomplishments of my freshman term. I realize that this is a long list and don't expect everyone to wade through every item and the many links to additional information I've provided, but I hope it gives you some perspective on the many issues that I've dealt with during the past two years.

1) 100% voting record - I participated in every roll call vote of the House of Representatives from swearing in on January 5, 2011 through July 31, 2012. In my mind, showing up is not an accomplishment, but rather something one does out of discipline and commitment to a job. It does, however, take the wind out of the sails of someone who claims that he would be a full-time legislator. What might that be, I ask? A 150% voting record?

2) 100% attendance at committee hearings - Same category. I made all of the hearings of my joint committees, often being the one or two in attendance besides the chairmen. How disrespectful is it to the people that drive to Boston for a hearing, some who make the hours-long trip from Western Mass, to be met by three or four members of a 13-member committee?

3) Resolution of many constituent cases - The most satisfying aspect of this job is helping constituents navigate the sometimes perplexing labyrinth of state agencies, regulations, paperwork, etc. Some just require being pointed in the right direction; some need a good deal of hand holding to resolve a problem. For this, I thank my legislative aides, Ben Nugent in 2011 and Susann Koelsch in 2012.

4) Sidewalks for public safety - Languishing for years in the inactive file, the sidewalk project for Quaker Meeting House Road in Sandwich was something I worked on right after taking office. With a coordinated effort between my office and Senate President Murray's office, we got the appropriate level of attention on the funding and were able to close the deal on July 13, 2012. Expect work to begin this fall and continue next spring. See more at http://www.randyhuntcpa.blogspot.com/2012/07/massdot-funds-quaker-meeting-house-road.html.

5) U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the bridges - The horrific tie-ups at the Sagamore Bridge this spring were, to a great extent, avoidable. Although the Cape Cod delegation of state legislators and the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce warned the Army Corps that Mother's Day would become a debacle unless they cleared the bridge for the weekend, we were given the proverbial middle finger. I came out swinging on this issue (see http://www.randyhuntcpa.blogspot.com/2012/05/sagamore-bridge-army-corps-of-engineers.html) and appeared on a Boston television news channel to let everyone know that Cape Cod was open for business after the work had been completed. A meeting with the Army Corps is scheduled later this month to discuss how to manage repairs while minimizing disruption to motorists.

6) Other infrastructure projects - Several projects in the district have been progressing during my first term as state rep, including the Route 6 Exit 5 off ramp and roundabout construction, the Route 6 Exit 2 reconfiguration, a roundabout to improve the safety of Cotuit Road at South Sandwich Road in Sandwich, and the improvements at Sandwich Road and Route 6A in Bourne (at the new Market Basket).

7) Honoring a fallen soldier - I had the honor of witnessing the governor sign legislation into law naming the twin span bridges on Route 3 just west of the Sagamore Bridge "The Staff Sergeant Matthew A. Pucino Bridges." A family member and I discussed how to memorialize Matt Pucino, who was killed by an IED in Afghanistan on his third tour of duty as a Green Beret in 2009. I suggested naming the previously unnamed span that was built as part of the flyover project and cosponsored a bill with Senate President Therese Murray, Representative Vinny deMacedo, and Representative Susan Gifford. See more at http://www.randyhuntcpa.blogspot.com/2012/06/bridge-in-sagamore-beach-named-for.html.

8) Prescription drug abuse - The Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse, chaired by Senator John Keenan of Quincy and Representative Liz Malia of Jamaica Plain, took up the issue of curbing prescription drug abuse, one of the main planks I campaigned on in 2010. An omnibus bill resulted, Senate 2125, and I became the "town crier" on behalf of this bill for Cape Cod. We organized an awareness night in March at Sandwich High School and I worked with many concerned people and organizations to push for passage of this bill. I'm proud to announce that it passed the House in July and promises to bring us additional tools in the battle against prescription drug addictions and abuse of "bath salts." See more at http://www.randyhuntcpa.blogspot.com/2012/02/new-legislation-to-curb-prescription.html.

9) Helping small businesses - As a CPA working with about 75 businesses, I have the opportunity to get "up close and personal" with the owners and see first hand how difficult it can be to survive in these tough economic times. One of the most onerous situations I've experienced is how the auditors from the state fine companies with more than ten employees when it is determined that an insufficient number of employees are signed up for the company's health plan. This can cost thousands of dollars in penalties even in cases where every employee is covered by a spouse's plan. I offered an amendment to the health care reform bill that doubles the threshold which defines a small business from ten to twenty employees and I cosponsored an amendment that forces the auditors to stop counting employees who have alternate health insurance coverage. These amendments passed with 100% "Yea" votes in the House and became part of the final bill. See more at http://www.randyhuntcpa.blogspot.com/2012/06/health-care-payment-reform-bill.html.

10) Economic Development and Jobs Act - The Republican caucus of the House of Representatives announced in September 2011 that it would be organizing several stops on a "jobs tour" to reach out to constituents for ideas to help Massachusetts in its recovery from the recession and to encourage job growth. I was one of about eight representatives who requested to host a tour stop in October. Through this effort and similar efforts by the Joint Committee on Community Development and Small Business and Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies, the Economic Development and Jobs Act of 2012 was written and passed. The bill has broad reaching components to it such as the creation of the MassWorks Infrastructure Program and Innovation Investment Fund, as well as targeted relief measures such as the elimination of minimum excise tax on startup corporations for three years. See more at http://www.randyhuntcpa.blogspot.com/2012/08/economic-development-and-jobs.html.

11) Storm Response Bill - After Tropical Storm Irene, much of Cape Cod was without power for up to a week. I didn't fault the crews that were dealing with the recovery--they did yeomen's work--but I did find the customer service end of our monopoly electric utility to be worse than bad. I testified at a DPU hearing about the poor storm response (the only state representative who attended the hearing at Barnstable High School) and wrote a letter containing a number of suggested improvements to the chairmen of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, on which I serve. See that letter here: http://randyhuntcpa.blogspot.com/2011/09/requests-for-committee-hearing-on.html. The result of my efforts and several other members of the joint committee was the storm response bill that was sent to the governor this week. See more at http://www.randyhuntcpa.blogspot.com/2012/08/storm-response-bill-sent-for-governors.html.

12) VALOR Act - I have to give a great deal of the credit to Tom Lynch, a Sandwich resident and stalwart supporter of veterans, for roaming the halls of the Statehouse preaching the importance of the VALOR Act. My simple role in this was to connect Tom with a talented researcher in the Republican Leader's Office, Stolle Singleton, and a couple of other legislators from the Veterans Affairs committee. I then had the pleasure of voting for this important legislation in May 2012. See more at http://www.randyhuntcpa.blogspot.com/2012/06/valor-act-and-post-911-gi-bill-are-keys.html.

13) State Government and Finance Reform Bill - This bill is one that is more interesting to policy wonks and financial nerds, which is why I was appointed to the conference committee to sort out and reconcile the differences between the Senate and House versions of this bill. I know many legislators in the majority party who have never served on a conference committee, so I was very pleased to be appointed to this committee during my freshman term. See more at http://www.randyhuntcpa.blogspot.com/2012/08/state-government-and-finance-reform.html.

14) Other legislation - There were several other pieces of legislation that I was proud to support. Unlike in the examples above where I played a direct role in developing the legislation, these bills sprang from the efforts of my colleagues and I was happy to press the "Yea" button when they came up for roll calls:
Melissa's Bill - This mandates the maximum sentence be served for criminals convicted of a third violent felony.
Municipal Health Insurance Reform - This bill allows towns and cities to manage their health insurance copays and deductibles outside of collective bargaining. It has saved nearly $175 million in its first year. See more at http://randyhuntcpa.blogspot.com/2011/04/why-i-voted-to-control-cost-of-health.html
Court and Probation Department Reorganization - This legislation was sparked by the Probation Department hiring scandal and the need for a professional administrator to handle the day-to-day operations of the court system. I met with Harry Spence, the new court administrator, a couple of days ago who is on track for making many improvements in both efficiency and cost reductions. See more at http://randyhuntcpa.blogspot.com/2011/05/massachusetts-house-passes-court.html.
Crackdown on Human Trafficking - The bill ensures that anyone involved in the organization of forced labor and sexual servitude faces tough criminal penalties. See more at http://randyhuntcpa.blogspot.com/2011/06/house-passes-legislation-to-combat_01.html
Alimony Reforms - Our archaic alimony system was unfair on many grounds. This legislation brings the calculation of alimony payments into the realm of reasonableness and creates several types of alimony to accommodate for varying circumstances of the parties involved. See more at http://randyhuntcpa.blogspot.com/2011/09/ma-alimony-bill-to-be-signed-by-guv-on.html.

State government and finance reform bill passed


BOSTON – July 19, 2012 – The legislature today sent a bipartisan bill to the governor that makes fundamental changes in the operations of state government, updating antiquated finance laws and implementing performance measurement requirements for all government agencies and programs to improve efficiency, transparency and accountability.

“This legislation is a major sea-change for the Commonwealth,” Senate President Therese Murray (D-Plymouth) said. “It fundamentally reforms how state government works. It requires all state agencies and programs to start measuring performance and outcomes. Through data-driven evaluations, we can provide real transparency and accountability, and build budgets on what really works.”

“I commend Chairman Kocot of the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight and the rest of my colleagues in the Legislature for the passage of this bill,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop). “This legislation streamlines our Commonwealth’s government and finance administration, while also promoting transparency and accountability.” 

“This is a strong bill that will increase the transparency and efficiency in our State Government,” said Senator Stephen M. Brewer (D-Barre), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “As we move forward with technology, we are able to make more information more readily available.  This bill will improve the performance of our budgeted agencies and allow us to make decisions with the most accurate information possible. Furthermore, I believe that cities and towns are going to welcome the opportunity to receive local aid payments on a monthly basis rather than a quarterly basis.”

“I am proud of the work that the Senate has done on the State Administration & Finance Reform Conference Committee and thank Senate President Therese Murray for her continued leadership on major reform,” said Senator Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland), the conference bill’s lead Senate conferee. “This legislation is consistent with our past efforts to increase government accountability and transparency and to ensure it is a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars.” 

“This legislation will enable Massachusetts to save tax dollars through enhanced performance management and streamlined financial processes, and will improve our ability to compete proactively in the modern world marketplace,” said Representative Peter V. Kocot (D-Northampton), House Chair of the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight.

“I am happy with the bill that came out of our conference committee,” said Senator Kenneth J. Donnelly (D-Arlington), conferee and Senate chair of the Joint Committee of State Administration and Regulatory Oversight. “It is a good government bill that helps bring us into the 21st century by updating laws on state finance and management practices. It continues the Senate’s focus on reforming, streamlining and improving the performance and cost effectiveness of state government.”

“This bill will increase government efficiency, transparency and accountability,” said Representative Stephen Kulik (D-Worthington). “It modernizes government and will improve its function moving forward. I congratulate the conferees and my colleagues in the Legislature for their hard work on this legislation.”

“I am pleased with the Conference Committee’s recommendation,” said Senator Michael R. Knapik (R-Westfield), Ranking Minority Member on the conference committee. “I commend my fellow conferees on a balanced approach to a complex issue. This bill highlights the Legislature’s commitment to improving transparency and accountability throughout state government. These initiatives will reduce redundancy among state agencies and will require them to begin measuring performance and outcomes, cutting down on waste, improving efficiency, and saving Massachusetts taxpayer dollars.”

"This finance reform bill also sets the stage for further improvements to our state budgeting process by calling for a study of how zero-based budgeting techniques can be implemented, with the objective of having agencies take a fresh look at their operations on a periodic basis," said Representative Randy Hunt (R-Sandwich).

The final legislation requires the use of data to regularly evaluate the effectiveness of agencies and programs throughout state government, including the executive branch. For the first time, each agency will be required to have a performance management system in place and develop a strategic plan for measuring performance that can be evaluated publicly and by the Legislature and Governor.

The bill modernizes state government by pushing agencies toward more efficient electronic accounting and reporting systems with the elimination of outdated paper-based methods, and it also makes the following updates:

·        Requires quarterly cash flow reports to compare actual results with prior estimates on spending and revenue and analyze the reasons for any discrepancies to improve future budget forecasts;

·        Sets the state’s debt limit at $17.07 billion starting the first day of fiscal year 2012 and changes the arbitrary index rate to make it more responsive to true economic conditions, helping to control the state’s debt limit and further improve the state’s bond rating;

·        Requires an independent debt affordability study to be performed before the Governor sets a bond cap and issues bonds for a particular fiscal year, and requires that report to be publicly available online;

·        Requires improved reporting of spending on capital projects; and

·        Requires monthly distribution of unrestricted local aid instead of quarterly distribution beginning in fiscal year 2014 to help cities and towns better identify their available cash flow and reduce the state’s reliance on short-term borrowing to support cash flow.

Additionally, the bill establishes a commission to make recommendations on the feasibility of moving the Commonwealth from traditional “maintenance”-based budgeting to a modern “zero”-based budgeting process for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2016. This budgeting method is finding great success in some states, including Utah and Virginia.