STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
REPS. MIKE MORAN of Boston, Alice Peisch of Wellesley, and Frank Moran of Lawrence all got big promotions Thursday as House Democrats rolled out their committee and leadership assignments for the new term.
House Speaker Ron Mariano tapped Mike Moran to serve as his majority leader, elevating the 10-term veteran from Brighton to the No. 2 role among House Democrats. Moran previously served as an assistant majority leader, and he also led the House’s redistricting efforts following the US Census in both 2010 and 2020.
The move fills a role that had been vacant for more than a year following former majority leader Claire Cronin’s resignation in January 2022 to become US ambassador to Ireland. It also puts Moran into a position that Mariano held before he became speaker, spurring speculation that the next speaker, once Mariano decides to step down, will come down to a battle between Moran and Rep. Aaron Michlewitz of Boston, the current chair of the House Ways and Means Committee.
“We didn’t settle on Mr. Moran. We chose Mr. Moran because of the work that he’s done in the body,” Mariano told reporters after a private caucus ratified the assignments. “He’s chaired redistricting twice, he’s helped numerous members get reelected, and he’s earned the right to hold that position.”
The assignments announced Thursday also finalize what House Democrats can expect to earn from stipends that accompany leadership posts. Those stipends, paid on top of the $73,654 all lawmakers earn in base pay, range from $109,163.07 for speaker and Senate president to $7,095.60 for committee vice chairs.
For his work as majority leader, Moran will receive an extra $81,872.30, substantially more than the $47,758.84 that assistant majority and minority leaders will receive this term.
Peisch, who was first elected in 2002, jumped into the top levels of House leadership as assistant majority leader after more than a decade in the policy trenches as co-chair of the Education Committee. During that tenure, she played a central role in the work to overhaul how state government funds K-12 public schools.
The other Moran in the leadership hierarchy, Frank Moran of Lawrence, served as a third division chair last session and won a second assistant majority leader role this session.
Rounding out the top echelon of Mariano’s team are two returning deputies: Rep. Kate Hogan of Stow, who will once again hold the title of speaker pro tempore, and Rep. Sarah Peake of Provincetown, who remains the other second assistant majority leader.
Two of the four division chairs, Rep. Ruth Balser of Newton and Rep. James O’Day of West Boylston, are also returning to roles they held last session. They’ll be joined in the 2023-2024 term by newly elevated first division chair Rep. Danielle Gregoire of Marlborough, who last session co-chaired the Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets Committee, and second division chair Rep. Paul Donato of Medford, who was a longtime assistant majority leader to former House Speaker Robert DeLeo before being bumped to assistant vice chair of House Ways and Means last session.
Five of the nine House leadership positions will be held by women. Mariano said representatives have “chosen people that are best for the job,” adding that he is not concerned about the majority leader job once again going to a man following Cronin’s resignation last year.
“I had a female majority leader because at the time, we felt she was the best, most qualified person for the job. Now she’s not here,” Mariano said. “I can only pick the people that are here. If I could go to MIT and pick someone who’s on the faculty there, I’d do it, but I can’t, so I’m limited to the 160 members that we have, and I pick the best-qualified people that I think will help us make decisions and move the agenda forward.”
At the joint committee level, Mariano tasked Rep. Denise Garlick of Needham with co-chairing the Education Committee, the role Peisch held last session, at a time when lawmakers are deliberating over early education subsidies, the future of the MCAS, and how to handle an influx of new tax revenue earmarked for education and transportation purposes.
Garlick heads to that demanding committee post after serving as its House vice chair in the 2013-2014 session. Last term, she led the House Committee on Bills in the Third Reading.
The Third Reading job goes this session to Rep. Thomas Walsh of Peabody, who last session led the House Ethics Committee, and replacing Walsh in that role is Rep. John Barrett of North Adams.
One returning committee chair who might be pressed into action on the earlier side is Rep. Thomas Stanley of Waltham, who is once again the top representative on the Joint Committee on Elder Affairs.
Mariano said he views nursing home legislation that panel was weighing last session as unfinished business. He did not offer details about the proposal in question.
“Tom Stanley’s committee had a piece that he had worked on for most of the session last year and we just never got to it,” Mariano said. “I kept him on the committee because I do want to tackle it. It’s around nursing homes, it’s around care for the elderly. So I think that if I had to pick something first, that would probably be it, because he put a lot of time and a lot of effort into it and I think it’s worthy of bringing before the membership.”
House Republicans, who now hold just 25 of the chamber’s 160 seats, find themselves spread increasingly thin over the Legislature’s 31 joint committees and the House’s 11 single-branch committees.
GOP members ratified their own assignments in a caucus Tuesday, shuffling who holds many of the ranking minority member positions on those panels.
Rep. Mathew Muratore of Plymouth, who previously served on House Ways and Means, scored the new assistant ranking member post on Ways and Means which was created via a successful GOP amendment to the House Rules this month.
Three Republicans who served on Ways and Means last term will no longer be on the budget panel — former Reps. James Kelcourse and Timothy Whelan, who are no longer House members, and Rep. Peter Durant, who was left off of Ways and Means this session and instead assumes the role of ranking member on the busy Judiciary Committee. They were replaced by Reps. Kelly Pease, Alyson Sullivan-Almeida, and Steven Xiarhos.