SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

February 11, 2013

Danvers rep wins powerful committee chairmanship

BY ETHAN FORMAN
STAFF WRITER

---- — DANVERS — One of the longest serving state legislators on Beacon Hill has been named chairman of a committee that acts as a gatekeeper for all bills that go before the House of Representatives.

Rep. Ted Speliotis, D-Danvers, has been named chairman of the House Committee on Bills in Third Reading. While the committee may sound procedural in nature, it is a powerful one, in that all bills have to go through it to come to a vote on the House floor.

“I was very surprised and honored to get this position,” Speliotis said, who said he appreciated House Speaker Robert DeLeo nominating him and the support of the Democratic caucus.

“It will allow me input into every bill that goes onto the floor,” Speliotis said. “It puts me in a better position to help my district and make sure I have a voice for my constituents and my constituents’ concerns.”

The way the legislative process works is that bills are first assigned to a committee, such as the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure, the committee Speliotis used to chair. If a bill involves money, it goes to the powerful House Committee on Ways and Means. Then, bills go to the floor of the House for a second reading.

“After that has been approved, then it goes to a third reading, and I chair that committee,” Speliotis said.

Next to Ways and Means, it’s one of the most important committees, because it controls when a bill comes to the House for the main debate, and it helps shape a bill by dealing with disputes and amendments.

“This is the committee that releases the bill to the House,” Speliotis said.

The committee is small and consists of a chairman, vice chairman and a Republican member.

The committee also has a high profile because it has become tradition to have substantive debate on a bill during the third reading. The committee could also keep a bill for the whole session and not release it, for whatever reason.

“There is no rule that a bill has to come out,” Spelioitis said.

The last person to have the position on the North Shore was former state Rep. Jack Murphy in the 1980s, Speliotis said. He, too, served from the 13th Essex District, and he later went on to become majority leader in the House.

“The reality is, it’s a great committee,” Speliotis said.

“I’m thrilled for him and I think the Speaker made an excellent decision,” said Salem Rep. John Keenan, who said it takes someone with knowledge and experience to be in that position.

Speliotis is third in seniority in the House of 160 legislators as far as time served. He served as a state representative from 1979 to 1986, then again from 1997 to the present.

Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at eforman@salemnews.com or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.