Speaker Bob Deleo made major changes in the House leadership yesterday, shuffling the positions of Speaker pro tempore, Majority Leader, and Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. Out as Majority Leader was Rep. Jim Vallee, who was named Chair of the Veterans Affairs Committee, where Methuen’s Linda Dean Campbell will continue to serve as Vice Chair. The new Majority Leader is Ron Mariano of Quincy. Over at Ways and Means Rep. Charley Murphy lost that portfolio to Rep. Brian Dempsey of Haverhill, who handled the casino bill in the last session as Chair of the Economic Development Committee.
Dempsey has made a big move here. He is a truly hard working and effective Rep. Congratulations Rep. Dempsey. Rep. Mike Costello, representing the Amesbury/ Salisbury area, will leave his post at Public Safety and move to Chair the Financial Services Committee. Rep. Hank Naughton will take over as Chair of Public Safety. Another local move of note was the elevation of Rep. Steven Walsh to the Chair of the Health Care Financing Committee, replacing Rep. Harriet Stanley of Haverhill/Bradford.
A key portfolio for the Speaker is the Chairmanship of the Economic Development Committee, which handles expanded gaming. Rep. Joe Wagoner has been named by the Speaker as the new Chair of this Committee, which will see significant activity if a gaming bill is resurrected. Rep. Wagoner has been the Chair of Transportation for some time, and he will be replaced by Rep. Bill Straus as Chair of that Committee. The Joint Committee on Transportation will now have two new Chairs, with Senator McGee taking over that portfolio in the Senate.
As far as the leadership positions Rep. Charlie Murphy leaves Ways and Means to become assistant Majority Leader (whip), while Rep. Kathi-Ann Reinstein will be the second assistant Majority Leader. The new Speaker Pro Tem will be Rep. Patricia Haddad, who took over for Thomas Petrolati.
That is a whole bunch of change, with Speaker Deleo putting a firm hand on the House for what promises to be a very challenging session.