Maiden speech on H1566 – online legal notices

Mr. Speaker, through you to the members, I rise in support of House 1566, an act concerning electronic publication of certain legal notices.

Before I get to that, however, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you Mr. Speaker for your leadership, your guidance, and your dedication to this institution. I have enjoyed the opportunity to work with you for the past two and half years, and am grateful for your support and help in preparing this legislation. And I want to extend a big thank you to everyone in your office who have been invaluable in this effort.

I’ll never forget our time together at the legislative academy in December 2012. I left there with a sense of excitement about what was ahead. On my way home from Amherst that day, I leaned from the radio that there had been a terrible shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary school in Connecticut that same morning. And I knew that event would shape our agenda for the legislative session I was about to join.

Your leadership and guidance on the gun violence and school safety issues taught me a lot about governing, and about how being thoughtful and patient can lead to great results. You’re a great teacher, and I am honored to be a part of your team.

I also wanted to thank each and every member of this House for being dedicated to the cause of governing this great Commonwealth. It is been a joy to work with each and every one of you, and I’m proud to refer to you as friends and colleagues.

I want to extend my sincere thank you to the gentleman from Dedham, who from my first day in this great Hall, took the time to help me navigate the legislative process. He’s been a great friend and mentor since that day, and I am most appreciative.

I also want to thank the gentleman from Milford. He too has been a great friend and mentor for many years, and a reliable source on lawmaking. A little-known fact is that I was born in the house across the street from the gentleman from Milford, so he was part of my “early education.” Some day I’m going to return those rocks he used to throw at me. I have followed his rise through local government and into the state house and quickly learned that the only way to get into this house at the same time as him was to move to another town.

I thank the gentle lady from Easton, my classmate and my dear friend. She’s such a welcome presence in this House, a great listener, and I am glad to have her on speed dial.

Mr. Speaker, your leadership team – the gentleman from Quincy, the gentle lady from Somerset, and the gentleman from the South End of Boston – have offered invaluable advice and counsel. They along with the gentleman from Hingham, the gentleman from Medford, the gentleman from Brighton, the gentleman from Stoughton, the gentle lady from Provincetown, and the gentle lady from Amherst have never hesitated to assist and have provided keen insight. For that, I continue to be grateful.

I thank the gentleman from Haverhill for his leadership, guidance, and patience. I continuously marvel at his ability to prepare, present, and fine-tune the budgets year after year – and at the same time maintain a smile and inviting presence.

I also thank the other gentleman from Brighton (our Housing chair), the gentleman from Clinton, the gentleman from Natick, the gentleman from South Hadley, and the gentleman from Dartmouth for their help in navigating this great institution.

I thank the gentlelady from Wellesley for her guidance in all things involving education.

And I thank the gentle lady from North Attleboro for being one of the nicest, sweetest, and welcoming people I’ve come to know. It’s nice to have her in my corner when I’m in the minority party at events south of my district.

I thank the Clerk and everyone in his office for the instructions and guidance they provide on a daily basis. And to the wonderful court officers, I thank you for your dedication to this institution and for making us feel welcome and safe day in and day out.
And finally, I think the aides and other staff in the building for making it all work. In particular, my aide Chris has been with me for three years and we’ve learned a lot together. I can’t thank him enough for being a part of this team.

Everyone in this building is dedicated to success and helping others along the way. I have brought many tour groups through this building and they all have left in awe of this building and the people in it. To every one of you who have stopped to say hello to tell a story to these groups, you should know that you have made these folks feel revered and re-stored their faith in government.

Of course, none of this would be possible without the love and support of my wife Maureen and three children Alicia, Natalie & Jeff Jr. They are a blessing, and I also want to say a special hello to my daughter Natalie who is at Fort Eustis in Virginia finishing up her Army National Guard training. Natalie, thank you for your service.

One of the marvelous things about working in this building is the notion that we strive to provide equality of opportunity for all citizens. And what this body does, provides the foundation for that hope. Be it through our schools, our public safety system, our roads, our health system, our safety net, or our commitment to justice, our government works to assure that everyone gets an opportunity to succeed. There is no greater or noble purpose and I feel blessed to be on this journey with you.

I often look up at the frieze along the ceiling of this room that was constructed in 1898. It includes the names of 53 people who contributed to make this Commonwealth and country the great place that it is. But as I look up at that frieze, I also see the face of my great-grandfather Giuseppe Morcone who came to America in 1895 from Castel Franco, Italy to build a new life for his family. (Mr. Speaker I bet you never imagined that someone with the name Roy had Italian heritage).

I also see the faces of my grandparents Louis and Lucia Roy who left Québec Canada in the 1920s to seek a new life in Massachusetts. And I see the face of my great-grandparents Konstantin Tominsky and Anna Hirschfield who escaped Poland in 1912 and set sail to Ellis Island for the hope and opportunity that America provides.

For each of them, it was a remarkable journey in pursuit of a dream that they would pass on to another generation. And it’s a dream that continues to this day.

Like your ancestors, they too are some of the great people who contributed to make this Commonwealth and country a great place. A few months ago, my uncle came to visit the state house and he wondered about how my grandparents would’ve felt if they knew that their grandson was working in this building. I have thought about that and I think I know. If the sense of hope and exuberance that I feel every day as I enter into this building is any measure, I think they too would be at the top of the world.

Now in speaking of opportunity, I want to get back to H1566.

This electronic publication of legal notices act is a measure that bolsters public access to democracy. It increases access to public records, documents and hearings. It encourages civic engagement and it will revolutionize access to public notices, long left to the back pages of newsprint in small fonts and unattractive layouts. By providing both print and online access, we expand access to information.

Public notices inform citizens of the everyday activities of government. From government spending to developing new policies, it is important for people to be informed of actions taken by public officials that affect citizens’ everyday lives. Without Public Notices, citizens cannot properly and adequately make informed decisions.

For centuries, these public notices only appeared in print. But as we well know readership of print papers has taken a sharp decline. At the same time, overall readership of newspapers has been on the rise because of the Internet and online access. It’s time that public notices take part in this increased readership.

All of this will be done at no additional cost to any government entity. For this we can thank the newspaper publishers association for stepping up to the plate, and working with us to forge a path to success on this legislation.

I ask for your support of this legislation, and ask that when a vote is taken, it be taken by a call of the yeas and nays.