Hello Friends! A few updates on some big issues this morning:
-I recently joined colleagues in sending a letter to President Biden and Congressional leaders urging them to take swift and decisive action to reform our nation’s immigration laws. My intent is that federal legislation/action is desperately needed to stem the tide of migrants entering our nation illegally.
– I also recently signed on to legislation (HD4561) to amend our state’s Right to Shelter Law, clarifying that it is intended to apply only to sheltering United States citizens (and those here under legal right) in time of need. If you are not in my district, I urge you to contact your legislator to support this legislation along with me.
– On a similar note, I urge everyone to contact your elected officials in opposition to HD4420, a bill seeking to make major changes to our state’s firearms laws. I remain opposed to this bill.
– As always, if you’re looking for more information on these and other issues, please feel free to contact my office. You can also learn more on the Massachusetts House and Senate Website, which has a wealth of information about pending bills. You can also find your legislator if you’re unsure what district you live in. Here’s the link: https://malegislature.gov.
Enjoy your Friday!
Rep. Steve Xiarhos Remarks to Convention of States Assembly
WELCOME TO THE PEOPLE’S HOUSE — IN BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS — WHERE OUR AMERICAN FREEDOM WAS BORN!
Thank you so very much for being here today and for asking me to share a few words with you.
I think it’s fitting to note that we are here in the Massachusetts Statehouse.
Massachusetts is well known for the role it played in the formation of our great nation. Everyone knows about the Boston Tea Party, which happened right across town. And, everyone knows about Lexington and Concord, which happened just down the road a bit.
But here, right here in the Massachusetts Statehouse, this is where the ideals upon which our nation was founded are alive and well. This is where we work on those principles each and every day.
For us Bay Staters, the Statehouse is democracy’s home address.
It’s that spirit of democracy, and an innate desire to protect and perfect our democracy, which is why we’re here today. It’s a cause I believe in deeply on a personal level.
My son — United States Marine Corporal Nicholas G. Xiarhos — rests in peace in his beloved dress blues in our Massachusetts National Cemetery, forever frozen in time at age 21. Nicholas and his Marines fought, bled, and died for our nation, to protect our freedom and our democracy and I am not about to see those freedoms undermined or abandoned.
We are blessed in this nation to have a blueprint for democracy, one handed down to us by our nation’s Founding Fathers back in 1787. In fact, we will celebrate Constitution Day coming up on September 17 to commemorate the Constitutional Convention and the document it bestowed to us. And, what a marvel that document is.
Our Constitution remains the oldest surviving plan of democratic government in the free world.
It’s brilliance is unrivaled!
Our Founding Fathers knew how important it was to create a system of government that would withstand the test of time and protect those God-given liberties they fought so hard for as part of the American Revolution, the ideals expressed just a few years before in the Declaration of Independence. Ideals that life, liberty, and happiness were the underpinnings of any good nation, as well as the principle that all men are created equal. And, as they knew that men are not angels, they created a system of checks and balances and reserved powers to make sure that freedom would not be undermined.
Today, we continue to enjoy the blessings bestowed upon us by the Constitution. This is something I know well, as I am privileged to be a practitioner of our democracy every day through my service as a State Representative from the 5th Barnstable District on Cape Cod. I call it “The Fightin’ 5th” and it’s a job I love dearly.
But, here’s the point. For all of our Constitution’s magnificence and enduring importance, it is not a perfect document. After all, nothing man-made is ever truly perfect. And, that’s why we are all here today.
Like any other document, the Constitution was meant to be changed over time, when needed, by way of amendment. In fact, even the Founding Fathers realized the Constitution as originally drafted wasn’t the final word. That’s why they created the Bill of Rights, arguably one of the most important parts of our Constitution, by way of amendment soon after the Constitution was ratified.
The Constitution sets forth two ways it may be amended. The first and most common way is for two-thirds of Congress to propose an amendment, which then must be ratified by three-fourths of the legislatures of the states.
This process has withstood the test of time.
But, many of us look around these days and wonder why there hasn’t been an amendment to our Constitution ratified since 1992. In fact, the 27th Amendment, which requires that Congressional pay raises not take effect until the next Congress, took 202 years to be ratified by the states after being proposed by the first Congress alongside 11 other amendments, ten of which became the Bill of Rights.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s noticed that there are a few things that we could consider changing about how our government works. And, I’m sure I’m not the only one who knows that these changes are difficult if not impossible to make by way of Congressional amendments.
So, there is another way to amend the Constitution, and it’s set forth right in Article 5. It’s a process that hearkens back to the first three words of the Constitution, reminding us that in America the power resides in “We, the People,” and that power not expressly granted to the federal government are reserved to the several states.
Article 5 allows two-thirds of state legislatures to call for a so-called Convention of States to consider and propose amendments to the Constitution, which then can be ratified and take effect as if they had been proposed by Congress.
I am proud to be the sponsor of the bill that would call for Massachusetts to join the growing chorus of states calling for a Convention of States this year.
Why is this important?
Well, it’s pretty simple. I’ve been in elected office for just three years now, and in that time I’ve learned something pretty simple: government is not inclined to limit or to take away its own power. That’s something we see all the time here on the state level, and it’s definitely true when it comes to our federal government.
For years, presidents have called for line item veto authority to constrain the power of Congress to spend money. It’s a power that executives in many states, including our own Governor here in Massachusetts, are privileged to wield. But when the President considers a spending bill, it’s just an up-or-down. A Convention of States could solve that problem by proposing a Constitutional amendment that Congress would never pass itself.
Likewise, how about a balanced budget amendment? The Massachusetts Constitution requires that our state pass a balanced budget every year. (And, thank God it does!) But the federal Constitution has no such requirement.
That’s precisely why our nation gets deeper and deeper and deeper into debt each and every year. Isn’t it time for the states to impose fiscal discipline on the runaway spending that Congress engages in? A Convention of States could do just that.
How about term limits? The Constitution proposes qualifications of office for Senators and Congressmen. But there is no term limit. Our country was built on an understanding that people from all walks of life would bring their perspectives to our nation’s capital. And then, they were meant to go home. Nobody was meant to be a career politician. But, mark my words, Congress is never going to agree to term limits. Many states have passed initiatives, but isn’t this an issue best addressed by one national rule?
The list goes on and on, but the principle is the same. It is clear that it’s time for our nation to consider a Convention of State to limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, impose fiscal restraints, and place term limits on federal officials. And, that’s exactly what legislation I’ve presented here in Massachusetts would call for.
Nineteen states have already passed the Convention of States resolution. We need 34 states to get to a convention, and it takes 38 states to ratify any amendments that are proposed.
Let’s all realize how important this process is to our democracy. And, let’s all remember that this process would not harm our Constitution or our government – it’s a process called for by the Constitution itself and is meant to improve the Constitution and the way our federal government works, not undermine it.
In his famous Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln said:
“…we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.”
My son died for our freedom. Like so many others who came before him, my son died to protect this nation. Today, as a Gold Star Father, I stand before you as one who is resolved that his death will not be in vain.
We must do all we can to make sure that government of the people, by the people, and for the people is as perfect as it can be, and to keep the hopes and dreams of our Founding Fathers alive and well in this, our ever changing world.
As always, the power to accomplish all of this rests with us. We, the people.
Please join with me in calling for a Convention of States to make this happen. Let’s pass this resolution, let’s hold a Convention of States, and let’s have the people decide what is best for us.
I am a free Massachusetts man because millions of Americans fought, bled, and died for me. And I promise that those sacrifices will not be in vain.
Thank you, and may God continue to bless OUR Commonwealth of Massachusetts, our powerful Nation, and our great Constitution!
Letters to Gov. Healey re. Migrant Housing Crisis
September 6, 2023
I think it’s concerning and offensive that increasing numbers of illegal immigrants are being housed by the state at taxpayer expense at Joint Base Cape Cod and in private local hotels and motels. I acknowledge the failure of our federal officials to secure the border and pass needed immigration reform, which chiefly caused this crisis. I also believe every person in our state should be treated with compassion and dignity. But, I look at situations like the one at Liberty Lodge in Sandwich and wonder why we have veterans at risk of homelessness while across town illegal immigrants receive free shelter and other benefits.
I recently sent a letter to Governor Healey expressing my concerns and demanding action under the emergency declaration she issued recently. This is a situation of great importance, including right here on Cape Cod, and I am not okay with the way it’s currently being dealt with by our state.
More recently I joined several colleagues in the House to send a follow-up letter elaborating further on my concerns…
Rep. Xiarhos Statement Opposing HD4420
July 20, 2023
I’ve been asked by many people my position on legislation filed by my colleague, Representative Day, to significantly change our state’s gun laws (HD4420). This bill has received a lot of attention in the press recently, and it’s generated more than 100 inquiries from constituents to my office. As I continue responding individually to inquiries, I want to state my position publicly here: I do not support HD4420.
Friends, you all know that I served as a Deputy Police Chief for many years. As such, I am very familiar with our state’s procedures for licensing gun owners. I am very familiar with responsible firearm ownership, and I am proud to support the 2nd Amendment.
I am also, sadly, very familiar with the dangers posed by criminals with guns. The murder of my co-worker, Yarmouth Police Department K9 Sergeant Sean Gannon, and the attack on his devoted K9 companion, Nero, at the hands of a gun-wielding violent felon will forever haunt me.
I must say that I am growing increasingly concerned with the prevalence of guns being used to commit crimes nationwide. It is truly worrisome to watch society become more violent. While there are many, many reasons behind this trend, it also would be wrong to deny that guns sometimes factor into violent crime, and that troubles me.
To the extent any of our laws require improvement, such as to address issues identified by law enforcement in the name of public safety, I am always open to reviewing credible legislation. That’s my job as a State Representative, and on issues like this one, it’s something I have expertise in as a former cop. I believe very strongly in the need to keep the public safe. But, I believe HD4420 goes too far.
When if comes to Massachusetts — a state with already some of the most-restrictive gun laws in the nation — I think our top priority should be enforcing our existing gun laws. We need to crack down on the illegal possession, trafficking, and use of firearms. In particular, we need to take guns out of the hands of violent criminals.
If we’re not sufficiently enforcing the laws we already have, enacting more laws won’t help much. What’s more, implementing even-more-restrictive gun laws and enforcing them against law-abiding, responsible firearms owners takes away people’s constitutional rights without justification, and that’s not okay with me.
I am additionally concerned by rumors that this bill might advance through the legislative process without sufficient public input, hearings, and vetting. This is not acceptable. Should this occur, a bad bill would be further weakened by bad process, and that would concern me even more. At the very least, significant policy changes require a process that is open and accountable.
So, in response to many inquiries, my position is that if I am asked to vote on HD4420 in its current form, I will loudly vote no. I encourage everyone with an interest in this issue to continue contacting your elected officials to make your opinions known.
Xiarhos testimony in favor of legislation to provide additional protection against assault and battery
Submitted to the Joint Committee on the Judiciary – May 16, 2023
May 16, 2023
Hon. James B. Eldridge, Senate Chair
Joint Committee on the Judiciary
The State House, Room 511-C
Boston, MA 02133
Hon. Michael S. Day, House Chair
Joint Committee on the Judiciary
The State House, Room 136
Boston, MA 02133
Re: Testimony in Support of House Bills 1823 and 1825
Dear Senator Eldridge and Representative Day:
I write to testify in support of the passage of House Bill 1825, An Act relative to enhanced penalties for those who commit assault and battery against school sports officials, and House Bill 1823, An Act relative to assault and battery against healthcare personnel, school officials, and first responders. I am proud to be the sponsor of both of these bills.
I believe these bills are necessary and appropriate to fix loopholes in existing law regarding the crime of assault and battery against people who serve the public as first responders, school officials, nurses, or school sports officials, and police dogs. I strongly believe these people deserve added legal protection by providing police enhanced power of arrest with regard to crimes committed against them, as well as additional penalties for crimes committed against them.
Under Massachusetts law the crime of assault and battery is governed by Section 13A of Chapter 265 of the General Laws. Under this statute, assault and battery is classified as a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 2 ½ years in a house of correction or by a fine of not more than $1,000.
Because assault and battery is classified as a misdemeanor, police officers in the Commonwealth do not have the power of arrest unless the crime involved a breach of the peace, or if it was committed in the presence or view of the officer, or if it was still continuing at the time of the arrest or only interrupted, so that the offense and the arrest formed parts of one transaction. See Commonwealth v. Mekalian, 346 Mass. 496 (1963) and Commonwealth v. Gorman, 288 Mass. 294 (1934).
In recent years the Legislature has recognized that the punishment for assault and battery and the lack of the power of arrest is insufficient to address certain situations. With that in mind, the Legislature has given police the power of arrest without a warrant for assault and battery committed against a family or household member or in violation of a restraining order (Section 28 of Chapter 276). The Legislature also has enhanced penalties for assault and battery resulting in serious bodily injury, or committed against pregnant women or victims of domestic abuse (Section 13A of Chapter 265). Likewise, the Legislature has enhanced the penalty for assault and battery against a police officer or a public employee while such person is engaged in the performance of their official duties (Section 13D of Chapter 265).
While these recent changes are welcome to help address assault and battery against certain classes of vulnerable individuals, they are still insufficient to safeguard certain other individuals who deserve enhanced protection because of the nature of their professional work.
One of the areas where this is most apparent, sadly, is with regard to assault and battery committed against school sports officials. We have all seen the headlines about referees and other officials at school sporting events who have been the victims of intimidation, verbal abuse, and in some cases assault and battery while the course of their work. The most recent notable case of this crime occurred in late December in Cohasset, where police allege that a high school basketball referee was punched in the face by a 17-year-old player during a game.
These sorts of cases highlight two deficiencies with existing law. First, police often lack the power of arrest in cases of assault and battery against school sports officials because those officials are not full-time employees (they either volunteer their time or work as part-time independent contractors) and therefore do not fall under the protections of Section 13D of Chapter 265. Second, the existing penalties for assault and battery are not sufficient to deter these crimes, and are not parallel to the enhanced penalties afforded to cases of similar assault against similarly-situated full-time public employees.
House Bill 1825 would fix this loophole in existing law by clarifying that the enhanced protections of Section 13D of Chapter 265 would apply to any person who serves as a referee, umpire, linesman, timer or scorer, or who serves in a similar capacity, while working, supervising or administering a sports event, including but not limited to a school sports event, and who is registered as a member of a local, state, regional, or national organization that is engaged in providing education and training to sports officials, and regardless of whether such a person serves as a volunteer, independent contractor, or contract employee. According to information available from the National Association of Sports Officials, this language is similar to legislation that has been adopted by several other states and which is being considered in several other state legislatures this session.
Sports officials are not the only ones who should be afforded enhanced protection under the law. House Bill 1823 seeks to add to the list of protected persons set forth in Section 13A of Chapter 265. The intent of this bill is to apply enhanced penalties to assault and battery committed against: (1) any first responder; (2) any teacher, school librarian, school adjustment counselor, school nurse, school social worker or school psychologist in any public school; (3) a registered nurse or licensed practical nurse, (4) a person serving as a referee or other official of a school athletic event, or (5) a police dog, all while actively engaged in the performance of their respective professional duties. Under these new provisions, assault and battery committed against any of these individuals would be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than 5 years or in the house of correction for not more than 2 ½ years, or by a fine of not more than $5,000, or by both such fine and imprisonment. It is important to note that existing provisions of Section 13A would not be changed for those already protected by law.
As a former police officer and Deputy Police Chief, I believe these enhanced penalties and power of arrest are just and reasonable to protect people who actively serve the public and who, by the nature of their professional work, place themselves in a vulnerable and dangerous position each and every day. I believe the Legislature should do everything within its power to make sure that crimes against these individuals are thoroughly investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and that those found guilty of these offenses are punished with appropriate consideration of the seriousness of the crime they committed.
It is for these reasons that I respectfully encourage the Joint Committee on the Judiciary to issue a favorable report on House Bills 1823 and 1825 and to recommend them for passage by the Legislature this session.
Thank you for your consideration of these important pieces of legislation.
/s/ Steven G. Xiarhos
State Representative (R – 5th Barnstable)