|Berkshire Delegation Gets Committee Assignments|
|Staff Reports, iBerkshires Staff|
01:22AM / Friday, February 17, 2017
BOSTON — State House leaders have released committee assignments for this session, with the Berkshire delegation picking up two chairmanships in the House and one in the Senate.
Newly elected State Sen. Adam Hinds, D-Pittsfield, was named Senate chairman of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development, as well as Senate vice chairman of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies.
He is also a member of the Joint Committees on Higher Education; Housing; Mental Health, Substance Abuse and Recovery; Municipalities and Regional Government; and Intergovernmental Affairs. Hinds is also the Senate co-chair of the Rural Caucus and an active member of the Gateway Cities, Regional School Districts, and Regional Transit Authorities caucuses.
The Berkshires have had a fairly consistent presence on the tourism committee, which has jurisdiction over legislation concerning tourism, arts and cultural development.
In his statement announcing his assignment, Hinds pointed to 1Berkshire's statistics that show spending in Berkshire County by visitors has increased by more than 25 percent in five years, equaling more than $453 million. Statewide, tourism is recognized as the No. 3 industry in Massachusetts, accounting for 135,000 jobs, $1.3 billion in annual tax revenue and $20.2 billion in direct spending.
"These committees are critical for building our economy and creating jobs. Attracting more people to the region means doubling down on tourism, culture and economic development," said Hinds. "In this role I will be focused on strengthening existing businesses, attracting others, and increasing incomes for working families."
The nominations for Democratic senators are made by Senate President Stan Rosenberg, D-Amherst.
In the House, Speaker Robert DeLeo announced the committee assignments.
State Rep. Paul Mark, D-Peru, will chair the Redistricting Committee, one of the standing committees of the House. Last session, he was vice chairman of the standing Rules Committee.
State Rep. Gailanne Cariddi, D-North Adams, also scored a chairmanship, that as House chair of the Joint Committee on the Environment, Natural Resources & Agriculture. She has previously served as member of that committee.
State Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox, was named vice chairman of the House standing committee for Post Audit and Oversight. He also was appointed to the Joint Committees on Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure, Education, and State Administration and Regulatory Oversight.
Pignatelli has been on the powerful Ways & Means Committee, and is currently listed on the temporary committee. However, state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, will be seated on Ways & Means for this session. State Rep. Stephen Kulik of Worthington remains as vice chairman of Ways & Means.
Farley-Bouvier also was named vice chairman of the Joint Committee on Labor & Workforce Development and a member of the Technology and Intergovernmental Affairs and Children & Families committees.