Re-elected leadership in the Massachusetts House of Representatives and the Senate were pretty candid on Wednesday about what they believe needs to be done in the coming year. They say everything from gun control to sex offender classification are among their priorities.
The economy remains the top priority for Mass. legislators in 2013.
"Top priority is jobs," says Mass. Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr. "Top priority has got to be jobs and continuing the economic recovery because right now the state budget being cut by millions- that's a call to action and we intend to take that seriously."
House Speaker Robert DeLeo also explained what he would like done to help the economy and businesses.
"The first order of business is freezing unemployment insurance rates," says DeLeo.
Speaker DeLeo also tells FOX 25 the state's transportation system is facing a financing gap into the billions in the coming years. Although he promised no new taxes last year, he couldn't say the same this year. However, DeLeo did say more reforms may be needed.
"We've got some issues surrounding the transportation issue and until we're able to find a fiscal solution that I'd have to say that anything and everything is on the table," says DeLeo.
House Minority Leader Brad Jones expressed his concern over any potential increase in taxes.
"Any statewide increase in any statewide tax is a mistake and I think it sends the wrong message for our economy, which is still fragile," says Rep. Jones.
Aside from the economy, both House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Therese Murray discussed gun control on Wednesday. In the wake of the deadly shootings in Newtown, Conn., DeLeo says he is setting up a commission to look at ways to toughen Mass. gun laws and keep weapons out of the hands of the mentally ill.
Murray says lawmakers can address gun violence without "demonizing mentally ill."
Murray also says she is making sure cracking down on sex offender classifications is a priority.
This comes after the arrest of John Burbine. The level one sex offender from Wakefield is accusing of raping more than a dozen children while working as a daycare provider.
"We're going to up those classification rates. That individual should never have been classified as a one. We're still trying to figure out why. He should have been a two or three," says Murray.
Gov. Deval Patrick didn't speak publicly on Wednesday, but did issue a statement saying he looks forward to working with lawmakers in the new session. He also plans to outline his plan during the State of the State Address on Jan. 16.
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