NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

February 5, 2013

O'Connor Ives to lead joint tourism committee

Staff Reports
Newburyport Daily News

---- — NEWBURYPORT — When Kathleen O’Connor Ives ran for the 1st Essex District state Senate seat, one of her talking points was that as a Democrat, she could secure committee assignments that would permit her to help the district.

O’Connor Ives was recently named to lead the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development, according to spokeswoman Hailey Klein.

The freshman legislator from Newburyport also will serve as vice chairwoman of a Community Development and Small Businesses Committee. She said in the release her work on both committees would dovetail well together.

During the campaign, O’Connor Ives said she stressed the strong position of the communities in the district, located all along the Merrimack River, to leverage the area’s resources to spur economic development.

In a statement yesterday, O’Connor Ives said, “Travelers spent $16.9 billion in Massachusetts in 2011. Each city and town in the 1st Essex District has a tourism economy with growth potential.

“I’m focused on expanding that success in the Merrimack Valley and communities throughout the commonwealth.”

O’Connor Ives will also serve as member of the Higher Education, Financial Services and Consumer Protection joint committees.

Since taking office Jan. 1, she said she had filed six bills by the Jan. 18 legislative filing deadline and co-sponsored 13 pieces of legislation by the Feb. 1 deadline.

Among the bills is an act protecting consumers from unsolicited loans that would prevent credit card companies from subjecting consumers to receiving “credit card checks” they never request.

“People commonly get these checks in the mail and this can easily result in identity theft and unauthorized use of credit lines,” O’Connor Ives said. “Consumers are inconvenienced with having to shred them to avoid theft and it shouldn’t be their burden. If this legislation passes, credit card companies could mail these checks only after they’re requested by the consumer.”

She also filed a welfare reform bill that would require any electronic benefit transfer card issued to an eligible recipient to bear the recipient’s photograph, require any retailer that accepts EBT cards to post the Department of Transitional Assistance EBT fraud hotline in a visible area, and list on each application and renewal form those items that are prohibited from purchase with EBT cards.

“It’s essential that we take the simple steps necessary to combat fraud in the system so it can continue to work for the people that need it,” O’Connor Ives said.

Other bills she filed would require nursing care facilities to obtain informed consent before prescribing psychotropic drugs, would require health insurance policies that provide prescription drug insurance to cover medically prescribed “audible medication dispensers” for those with limited eyesight and would strengthen the Freedom of Information Act to include a $50 daily penalty for noncompliance within 30 days of requests for public information.

O’Connor Ives also co-sponsored legislation in the areas of public safety, veterans’ assistance, water quality protection, toxin reduction, stronger sex offender laws, health care, equal access to Department of Mental Health and Department of Development Services for individuals with autism, and for a middle ground between local housing authorities and state-recommended consolidation.