I have said on a number of occasions in this paper that voting on legislation is less than 2% of the job of a Representative. Sometimes, you may read in Roll Call that the Legislature met for 15 minuets in one week. This upsets people. But it shouldn't.
Virtually everyday I post what I did that day on my public Facebook page. You don’t need a Facebook account to access this page and you can find it through the home page of my website. Every Friday, I also send out a weekly email listing the projects that I worked on that week, as well as other media coverage and links to my votes in Committee and the House on bills that week if any votes happened.
There are a lot of other projects that Reps are doing in the non-voting time. Let me briefly talk about some of this other work.
In my opinion, constituent service is probably the most important aspect of my job. This is where you have a well situated and connected advocate to help you navigate state bureaucracy, file bills for you and represent you. People call me up all the time needing help with getting their license to carry (LTC), unemployment income, homelessness crises, access to healthcare, help understanding a new state law, etc. I get dozens of calls a week for constituent service issues. I can’t resolve every problem. But I take on every challenge.
Other times I have meetings to advance projects I am working on, or to explore new projects. One project I am working on is for school internet infrastructure. In this I am seeking to use state funds to pay to upgrade the internet bandwidth at school districts not PARCC ready, which includes Attleboro. PARCC is the new standardized test replacing the MCAS in the fall of 2014. PARCC is an assessment done online so it is imperative that school districts have the necessary bandwidth to do the online test.
Another ongoing project I work on is something I campaigned on. I am constantly meeting with different service providers or state agencies, and raising this issue in Committee hearings. I impose upon them the need for meaningful performance measures. I explain how their program can be measured, how it should be reported, and why this is useful to the state legislature. You don’t see this work in my voting record. My name is not attached to these measures (except for the bills I file on this issue). Nothing will be done in a week, or even a month. It takes years to do a proper measure. But we are moving towards better knowing what programs work and what ones don’t.
I also spend a lot of time in Committee hearings. I put on my website a link for citizens to look up when public committee hearings are happening so that Attleboro residents can observe or participate in bill hearings. And I email my Committee and House Chamber votes every week to anyone who submits their email through my website.
I file legislation. I file bills that I campaigned on, and I file new bills as issues arise. Once I file a bill I need to advocate for that bill, gain support, track its progress through committee, and invite guest speakers to advocate for that bill.
Reps go to ribbon cuttings, memorial services, visit schools and senior homes, and a host of other events that connect the Rep with the community they serve.
At long last, we have the voting on bills that you read about in Roll Call. Any time you want to know why I voted for or against something, call me and I’ll gladly tell you. Please, don’t take a bill’s title as an indicator if a bill is a good idea or not. For example, I would vote against “An Act Funding the Cure for Cancer in Kids” … if the bill was asking for $2 billion. $2 billion is just not realistic with other equally important competing priorities. But my opponents would say I voted against the cure for cancer in kids. That’s politics.
Finally: Q: Why did your State Rep visit North Korea? A: I wanted to learn. It is that simple. For example, before I lived in Saudi Arabia for six months in 2003, I read a lot about the country, people, religion and culture. But once in the country, what I experienced first-hand was far more informative than what I learned in the books or saw on TV. It was the same idea with North Korea. Hopefully my next trip will be to Iran!