Western Mass. Lawmakers Appointed to Soldiers’ Home Conference Committee

BOSTON — State Sen. John Velis and state Rep. Joseph Wagner were appointed to the conference committee tasked with resolving differences between the two different Soldiers’ Home governance reform bills passed by the House and Senate.

“It is absolutely paramount that we get these reforms right, for all the veterans who tragically passed away at our Commonwealth’s Soldiers’ Homes during the spring of 2020 and for all the future veterans who will resides in these homes for the years to come,” said Velis, who also chairs the Legislature’s veterans’ and federal affairs committee. “We passed a really great bill in the Senate that institutes a clear chain of command and maintains power at the local level. The House had a very deliberative approach, which resulted in some very good ideas as well, and I believe there is plenty of room for us to build on. It is so important that our final legislation ensures that there is a clear chain of command in the reporting structure, that the appropriate medical personnel are in place, and that each home’s local board has an indispensable role at their facility. I look forward to working with my colleagues on the conference committee to accomplish these goals.”

The House passed its version, H.4441, on Feb. 10, and the Senate passed its version, S.2761, on March 10. Conference committees meet privately to resolve differences and produce a final report. That legislation is then sent back to each branch and subsequently to the governor’s desk.

The other conference committee members appointed are state Sens. Mike Rush and Bruce Tarr and state Reps. Paul McMurtry and David DeCoste.