By Brian Messenger
---- — State Rep. Brian Dempsey, D-Haverhill, has retained his post as chairman of a powerful legislative committee in charge of the state’s finances.
Dempsey was named chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee last week by House Speaker Robert DeLeo. Committee appointments were also recently assigned to nine other Merrimack Valley lawmakers -- including three new state representatives and a rookie senator.
Joining the region’s delegation on Beacon Hill are state representatives Diana DiZoglio, D-Methuen; Frank Moran, D-Lawrence; Lenny Mirra, R-West Newbury; and state Sen. Kathleen O’Connor Ives, D-Newburyport.
“I think we have a strong delegation,” Dempsey told The Eagle-Tribune on Friday. “Obviously, we have some newly-elected members but they bring a lot to the table with their interest and enthusiasm.”
Dempsey will serve as Ways and Means chairman for the 2013-2014 legislative session. The committee handles all legislation dealing with state finances, including crafting the House version of the state budget. No bills that involve spending make it to the floor of the House without the approval of the Ways and Means Committee.
DeLeo, D-Winthrop, handed out committee assignments to members of the House on Wednesday. The speaker made very few changes to his senior leadership team. Dempsey was initially named Ways and Means chairman by DeLeo in January 2011.
“It’s certainly an honor and a privilege,” said Dempsey, who has served in the House since 1991. “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the last two years chairing the committee. It’s a lot of work, a very busy schedule each day, but I enjoy it.”
Dempsey said Ways and Means has a “full plate” heading into 2013 with Gov. Deval Patrick’s budget proposal. With major debates looming on tax reform and transportation and education spending, he said lawmakers must take into account the weak economic recovery.
“We need to continue to be cautious and prudent in our spending and budgeting,” said Dempsey. “There’s a lot to do.”
DeLeo will be joined on the 32-member House Ways and Means Committee by Linda Dean Campbell, D-Methuen.
The Valley lost a local voice on the Senate Ways and Means Committee last year when Vice-chair Steven Baddour, D-Methuen, left office to work for a Boston law firm. Baddour was replaced in the Senate by O’Connor Ives after the November election.
After taking office in January, O’Connor Ives was recently named chairwoman of the joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development, as well as vice chairwoman of the joint Community Development and Small Businesses Committee.
O’Connor Ives represents Methuen, Haverhill, Newburyport, Amesbury, Salisbury, Merrimac, and about half of North Andover.
In a news release, O’Connor Ives said her work on both committees will dovetail well together. She said travelers spent $16.9 billion in Massachusetts in 2011, and each community in her district “has a tourism economy with growth potential.”
“I’m focused on expanding that success in the Merrimack Valley and communities throughout the commonwealth,” said O’Connor Ives.
O’Connor Ives will also serve on the Higher Education, Financial Services and Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure committees.
Also representing the region in the state Senate are Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester, and Barry Finegold, D-Andover.
Tarr will continue serving as Senate minority leader. He represents the 1st Essex and Middlesex District, a portion of which includes Boxford, Georgetown, Groveland and parts of North Andover.
Tarr will continue to serve in 2013-2014 on the joint committees for Health Care Financing; State Administration and Regulatory Oversight; and Senate Steering & Policy. He will also begin serving on the Housing; Bills in Third Reading and Election Laws committees.
Finegold, a former state representative who joined the senate in 2011, has retained his spot as chairman of the Election Laws committee. He was also named vice chairman of the joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, of which he served as chairman while in the House.
Finegold said renewable energy represents “the wave of the future for economic development.” As for election laws, he has filed the 2013 Election Law Reform Act to address a number of issues regarding voter access and election audits.
Finegold represents the 2nd Essex & Middlesex, which includes Lawrence, Andover, Dracut and Tewksbury.
He will continue serving on the Education; Health Care Financing; and Labor and Workforce Development committees. Finegold was also assigned to the Municipalities and Regional Government committee.
The following are committee assignments for local members of the House of Representatives:
Linda Dean Campbell, D-Methuen (15th Essex, parts of Haverhill and Methuen): Election Laws (vice chairwoman); Ways and Means; Public Safety and Homeland Security.
Marcos Devers, D-Lawrence (16th Essex, parts of Lawrence): Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities (vice chairman); Education; Economic Development and Emerging Technologies.
Diana DiZoglio, D-Methuen (14th Essex, parts of Haverhill, Lawrence, Methuen and North Andover): Education; Election Laws; Steering, Policy and Scheduling.
James Lyons, R-Andover, (18th Essex, parts of Andover, Boxford, North Andover and Tewksbury): Higher Education; Public Health; House Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change.
Lenny Mirra, R-West Newbury (2nd Essex, Georgetown, Groveland and parts of Haverhill and Boxford): Community Development and Small Businesses; Health Care Financing; Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy.
Frank Moran, D-Lawrence (17th Essex, parts of Andover, Lawrence and Methuen): Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure; Education; Election Laws.
Material from the State House News Service and Newburyport Daily News was used in this report.