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News2023-02-22T12:13:17-05:00

Xiarhos Files Legislation to Require Better State Oversight of Onshore Electric Infrastructure Supporting Offshore Wind Energy

June 26, 2024

BOSTON – State Representative Steve Xiarhos (R – Barnstable) filed special legislation this week to compel the development of statewide compliance standards and safety protocols for mitigating dangers posed by onshore electric infrastructure that supports offshore wind-generated energy.

Initially numbered as HD5210, the bill was prompted by, and mirrors concerns raised by officials in the Town of Barnstable recently relative to several wind energy projects now in development offshore. Barnstable has signed multiple host agreements with electric utility companies to bring offshore wind power onshore through the community, for later distribution to the general power grid. However, the town has noted that there is a severe lack of state oversight and planning when it comes to the risks associated with the infrastructure to support wind-generated power once offshore energy comes ashore. These risks include the possibility for fire or environmental contamination at high-capacity electric substations, some of which may be built in or near residential neighborhoods. Town officials have voiced concern about possible negative effects to the air, soil, and drinking water, including the sole source aquifer. Residents in the area also have noted concern about possible negative side effects from electromagnetic energy.

“I’ve heard all of the concerns, I think they are valid, I share them, and I am determined to do something to address them at the state level,” Xiarhos said in a statement regarding the legislation he filed. “That’s what my bill is intended to do.”

According to Xiarhos, the legislation would require high-level state officials with oversight of utility facility siting, environmental matters, public safety and public health to come together and study the problem, and to develop suggested legislation to address the issue in the near-term. “We need stakeholders and experts with experience in these matters to take a very close look at the potential issues and to develop meaningful solutions to the problem, quickly, if these projects are to proceed,” Xiarhos said. Under the legislation Xiarhos filed, state officials would be asked to take a special look at ways the state could impose compliance standards on projects to ensure public health and safety, and to mitigate any potential environmental concerns. Xiarhos said he also wants the state to look at potential protocols for how to address a catastrophic event if one were to occur, including potential reimbursement for the costs towns incur to respond to and clean up after an event like a fire or a toxic spill.

“These are real potential hazards, and as town officials have noted, once local zoning is passed there is a lack of state oversight for these projects and a dangerous lack of health, safety, and environmental protocols and planning on the state level,” Xiarhos said. “While I have full faith and confidence in local first responders to deal with a situation were one to occur, I think it also would be preferable to have the state involved since these projects are being undertaken to address statewide energy goals. I appreciate the efforts of town officials and residents to bring these concerns to the forefront and I believe it is important for the state to consider them.”

Xiarhos said he wants to make it very clear that he supports clean energy generation and that nothing in his legislation would in any way disrupt or delay any projects the state already has committed to. “Barnstable and other communities have signed host agreements with power companies for these projects, in their discretion, and my bill does not undermine those agreements,” Xiarhos said. “I believe in the importance of clean energy and I am committed to doing my part to see clean energy projects further our goal of providing sustainable, environmentally-friendly energy for this and future generations in our state. However, I also believe very strongly that the projects that generate this energy should not pose environmental, public safety or public health dangers to the residents who live and work in the areas where these projects take place. And, in particular, I think it’s important for the state to back up its commitment to clean energy generation with proper standards, protocols, and expectations for how to deal with potential negative impacts and particularly potential catastrophic events. The well-being of the residents of Cape Cod always must come first and foremost with all we do, and I see it as an important part of my job to protect people.”

Xiarhos Honored with American Legion MA Legislator of the Year Award

June 20, 2024

MARLBORO – At the annual American Legion convention held last week in Marlboro, State Representative Steven Xiarhos (R – 5th Barnstable) was honored with the prestigious Legislator of the Year Award by the American Legion Department of Massachusetts. This award recognizes outstanding dedication and service to veterans and their families.

The American Legion, the nation’s largest wartime veterans service organization, commended Representative Xiarhos for his tireless advocacy and legislative efforts that have significantly improved the lives of veterans across the state. His commitment to addressing the unique challenges faced by veterans, including healthcare access, employment opportunities, and mental health support, has earned him this esteemed recognition.

In his acceptance speech, Representative Xiarhos expressed his deep gratitude and reaffirmed his commitment to continuing his work on behalf of veterans. “It is a tremendous honor to receive this award from such a respected organization. Our veterans have sacrificed so much for our country, and it is our duty to ensure they receive the support and resources they deserve,” said Xiarhos.

The convention, which brought together hundreds of veterans, their families, and supporters, also featured various workshops and discussions aimed at enhancing veteran services and addressing current issues faced by the veteran community.

Steve Xiarhos has served as State Representative for the 5th Barnstable District on Cape Cod since 2021. The district currently includes the Town of Sandwich and portions of the Towns of Barnstable (Precincts 10, 11, and 12) and Bourne (Precincts 1, 2, 3, 5A, and 7). For more information please visit www.XiarhosForRep.com.

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Professional Fire Fighters of MA Organization Endorses Steve Xiarhos for State Rep.

May 22, 2024

BARNSTABLE, Mass. – Steve Xiarhos has officially received the endorsement of The Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts in his campaign for re-election as State Representative in the 5th Barnstable District.

“Your tenure on Beacon Hill has been marked by your unwavering advocacy for firefighters and our families,” said Richard D. MacKinnon Jr., President of the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts. “Your consistent support for our priority legislation and your vocal representation of our interests have not gone unnoticed. You pride yourself on the relationships you hold with your local firefighters. We look forward to your next term on Beacon Hill and continued leadership for firefighters and our families.”

According to President McKinnon, the Barnstable Firefighters Local 3276 made a motion for the endorsement at the group’s May state meeting, which was adopted unanimously by assembled delegates.

The Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts represents over 12,000 active and retired firefighters, EMTs and paramedics from 231 local unions from across Massachusetts. The organization is affiliated with the International Association of Fire Fighters AFL-CIO CLC.

“It is my distinct honor to be endorsed by the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts in my campaign for re-election as State Representative, and particularly to have been recommended for this honor by the members of the local union from Barnstable,” Steve Xiarhos said. “As a former police officer and in my work as the Assistant Ranking Minority Member of the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security, I place a heavy emphasis on policies that protect first responders and help them perform their daily mission to keep us safe. I personally believe that our firefighters, EMTs, police, and other members of the first responder community are heroes and that it’s our responsibility to have their backs. They can count on me to support them because I believe in them and the importance of their mission.”

Xiarhos has been vocal in his support for policies that would eliminate PFAS (certain complex chemicals that resist grease, oil, water, and heat) from gear worn by firefighters due to health and safety concerns. He also has secured important state funding for local public safety projects, including funds for emergency generators and a trailer to serve as a temporary fire station for firefighters in Bourne. He has advocated this session for stiffer criminal penalties for those who commit assault and battery against first responders. And, he has worked extensively with local fire departments to provide training and support in the implementation of Nero’s Law, legislation Xiarhos sponsored that helps to provide emergency first aid to police dogs injured in the line of duty.

The endorsement is the latest in a series of recent endorsements announced by the Xiarhos campaign. Noteworthy recent endorsements include:

  • The Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts
  • The State Police Association of Massachusetts PAC
  • Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association
  • Massachusetts Coalition of Police
  • The New England Police Benevolent Association
  • Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association
  • Joint Base Cape Cod Fire Fighters Local S-28
  • The Bourne Republican Town Committee
  • The Sandwich Republican Town Committee

Xiarhos says his campaign has received and plans to continue announcing several additional endorsements in coming weeks.

Steve Xiarhos has served as State Representative for the 5th Barnstable District on Cape Cod since 2021. The district currently includes the Town of Sandwich and portions of the Towns of Barnstable (Precincts 10, 11, and 12) and Bourne (Precincts 1, 2, 3, 5A, and 7). Xiarhos has officially qualified for the ballot to seek re-election this November.

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Xiarhos supports healthcare reform legislation to preserve patient care

May 17, 2024

BOSTON – Citing the need to protect patient access to healthcare, State Representative Steven Xiarhos (R-Barnstable) recently voted to support comprehensive hospital oversight legislation that would change how regulators monitor and contain costs, strengthen financial data reporting requirements, and require notice to patients before the discontinuation of essential health services.

House Bill 4643, An Act enhancing the market review process, was engrossed by the House of Representatives on a vote of 152-1 on May 16.

Representative Xiarhos noted the House bill was developed largely in response to the unfolding crisis at Steward Health Care, a multi-state organization that operates nine community hospitals in Massachusetts. Steward filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on May 6 and is looking to sell or auction its hospitals, a development which has raised concerns about potential closings and loss of services for patients.

In a direct nod to the Steward situation, House Bill 4643 prohibits licenses from being issued to an acute care hospital if the main campus of the hospital is leased from a healthcare real estate investment trust. Steward sold its properties to a real estate investment trust in 2016 and now leases them.

Representative Xiarhos said House Bill 4643 seeks to provide protections to consumers and to prevent similar problems in the healthcare industry in the future, partly through increased oversight and financial data reporting requirements. Some of the reforms contained in the bill include:

  • Notice of the Discontinuation of Health Services, Closure, Sale, or Relocation – Hospitals would be required to provide the Department of Public Health (DPH) with 90 days’ notice prior to the closure of the hospital or the discontinuation of an essential health service, while clinics and physician practices would need to notify DPH not less than 180 days prior to any sale, relocation, or closure. Representative Xiarhos said clinics and physician practices would also be required to notify their patients in writing within 90 days of the transaction to provide information on finding a new healthcare provider and the contact information for the entity assuming responsibility for the patient’s medical records.
  • Essential Service Closure Impact Assessment – The Health Care Policy Commission (HPC) would be authorized to conduct an essential service closure impact assessment to analyze the impact of the proposed essential service closure on healthcare access, cost, quality, or market function. DPH is also authorized to hold a hearing no less than 90 days before such a transaction to consider the impacts of the proposal such as the potential loss or change in access to services, alternative providers, and available options to DPH to mitigate the impacts of the closure.
  • Increased Financial Data Reporting Requirements – House Bill 4643 enhances hospital and provider organization reporting requirements through various means including:
    • Requiring hospitals to report their audited financial statements of the parent organization’s out-of­ state operations, significant equity investors, healthcare real estate investment trusts and management services organizations to the Center for Health Information and Analysis (CHIA);
    • Requiring financial statements submitted by provider organizations to CHIA to include information on parent entities including their out-of-state operations, and corporate affiliates, including significant equity investors, healthcare real estate investment trusts and management
      services organizations; and
    • Allowing CHIA to collect information from provider organizations regarding other assets and liabilities that may affect the organization’s financial condition or their facilities, including, but not limited to, real estate sale-leaseback arrangements with healthcare real estate investment trusts.

Representative Xiarhos noted that the bill also requires CHIA, as a part of its data analysis in monitoring the financial conditions of acute hospitals, to conduct an analysis of margins, including margins by payer type; investments; and information on any relationships with significant equity investors, healthcare real estate investment trusts and management service organizations. CHIA must also share a confidential list of healthcare entities with HPC whose contribution to healthcare spending growth is considered excessive and a threat to the state’s ability to meet the healthcare cost growth benchmark.

According to Representative Xiarhos, the legislation also increases the fines that CHIA may assess on a healthcare entity for failure to timely report information from $1,000 to $25,000 per week for each week of delay. It also removes the current maximum annual penalty of $50,000 for such a violation.

Expanding the Attorney General’s Office Authority in Health Care Market Oversight – The legislation enhances the Attorney General’s Office’s (AGO) power in health care market oversight by allowing the AGO to obtain information from significant equity investors, health care real estate investment trusts and management services organizations. It also permits the AGO to seek injunctive relief upon a referral from the HPC concerning a material change notice or cost market impact review.

Establishment of the Division of Health Insurance – House Bill 4643 establishes a Division of Health Insurance with the authority to oversee the health insurance market in the Commonwealth. The division will be overseen by a commissioner whose responsibilities will include protecting the interests of consumers, enhancing the accessibility and affordability of health care, and prioritizing the affordability of health insurance products during rate review. The commissioner will also be responsible for developing affordability standards for the approval of rates subject to rate review.

Establishment of a Health Resource Planning Council – Representative Xiarhos noted that House Bill 4643 establishes a Health Resource Planning Council to develop a state health plan that will identify: the anticipated needs of the Commonwealth for healthcare services and facilities; the existing healthcare resources available to meet those needs; the projected resources, including the healthcare workforce, necessary to meet those anticipated needs; and the priorities for addressing those needs.

Representative Xiarhos said House Bill 4643 also extends liability for False Claims Act (FCA) violations to people who: have an ownership or investment interest in any person who violates the FCA, knows about the violation, and fails to disclose it to the state within 60 days.

During floor debate, the House adopted several amendments, including a proposal filed by Representative Hannah Kane (R-Shrewsbury) requiring the state health plan developed by the Health Resource Planning Council to include rare diseases care within the scope of specialty care units. Another adopted amendment, filed by Representative Marjorie Decker (D-Cambridge), directs the Health Policy Commission to conduct an analysis and report on the use of prior authorization for health care services and its impact on cost, quality, and access.

House Bill 4643 now moves to the Senate for its consideration.

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Important Public Safety Bills Released from Committee

May 9, 2024

Recently, the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security issued a report recommending that certain bills ought to pass and that their consideration be scheduled by the full House. We are pleased to announce that this list of bills included several bills that were filed or co-sponsored by Rep. Xiarhos.

Here’s what you need to know:

H.2422 – Matt’s Law (filed by Rep. Xiarhos)

In August 2022, Corrections Officer Matt Tidman was brutally attacked by an inmate at MCI Shirley who used a free weight from the prison gym as a weapon. Rep. Xiarhos filed House Bill 2422, known as “Matt’s Bill,” to require exercise equipment to be secured and ban free weights at medium and maximum-security prisons in the state. Officer Tidman and his family joined Rep. Xiarhos to testify in favor of the legislation this past January.

H.2421 Active Shooter Response Training (filed by Rep. Xiarhos)

Protecting our schools and keeping kids and teachers safe is a top priority. Rep. Xiarhos filed H.2421 to require the Secretary of Public Safety to establish a statewide Active Shooter/Hostile Events Response (ASHER) Program, which would develop and implement standard training requirements to achieve an integrated preparedness, response, and recovery for active shooter or hostile event situations in the Commonwealth, consistent with nationally-recognized standards.

H. 2423 Nero’s Law Update (filed by Rep. Xiarhos)

The Legislature passed Nero’s Law in 2022 to provide emergency medical treatment for police dogs injured in the line of duty. This law was a signature accomplishment for Rep. Xiarhos, and was inspired out of the tragic 2018 incident where Yarmouth PD Sgt. Sean Gannon was killed and his police K9, Nero, was seriously injured. House Bill 2423 carries the law forward by making clarifications to allow advanced life support treatment to be rendered by properly-trained personnel in emergency situations.

H. 2424 Dakota’s Law (filed by Rep. Xiarhos)

Rep. Xiarhos also is the sponsor of House Bill 2424, known as Dakota’s Law. This bill also is an important next step following the passage of Nero’s Law. Dakota’s Law would establish a state fund to provide benefits (subject to annual appropriation) to care for police dogs after they retire from active duty.

Other Bills

Rep. Xiarhos is proud to be a co-sponsor of House Bill 2322 (filed by Rep. Durant) to study and investigate post traumatic stress disorder in law enforcement officers and to make recommendations for which methods, practices and programs, including existing programs in the commonwealth, are most effective in preventing and treating post traumatic stress disorder in police officers.

He also co-sponsored H. 2339 (filed by Rep. Hawkins) to reduce and eventually eliminate toxic chemicals that are contained in protective equipment worn by firefighters. And, he is a co-sponsor of H. 2321 (filed by Rep. Donahue) to upgrade fire standards in statewide light frame construction, especially in multi-unit dwellings.

Collectively, these bills now move out of committee to the full House for consideration later this legislative session. If you support these bills, please contact your Representative and Senator and let them know!

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