Legislative panel ready to investigate Holyoke Soldiers' Home

  • Holyoke Soldiers’ Home GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

State House News Service
Published: 7/20/2020 2:13:59 PM

BOSTON – The 17 state lawmakers who will investigate this spring’s COVID-19 outbreak and resident deaths at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home are now in place.

The House and Senate this month agreed to form an oversight committee to probe matters including the home’s leadership and staffing, its COVID-19 response and preparedness, communications with the Baker administration around COVID-19, and the results of any other investigations into the facility. A report and any draft legislation are due by March 31, 2021.

The order establishing the committee assigns the co-chairs of the Veterans and Federal Affairs Committee, Rep. Linda Dean Campbell of Methuen and Sen. Walter Timilty of Milton, to lead the panel, with the other 15 members to be appointed by House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Senate President Karen Spilka and minority leaders Rep. Brad Jones and Sen. Bruce Tarr.

DeLeo, Spilka and Tarr made their appointments last week, and a spokesman told the News Service Monday that Jones had named Spencer Rep. Donald Berthiuame and Norwell Rep. David DeCoste to the committee.

Sen. Dean Tran of Fitchburg is the sole Senate Republican appointee. On the Democratic side, Spilka tapped Sens. Anne Gobi of Spencer, Mike Rush of Boston, John Velis of Westfield, and James Welch of West Springfield.

The House Democratic appointees are Joseph Wagner of Chicopee, Ruth Balser of Newton, Jerry Parisella of Beverly, Chris Markey of Dartmouth, Jim Arciero of Westford, Aaron Vega of Holyoke, Michael Finn of West Springfield and Mindy Domb of Amherst. Vega is not seeking re-election.

The Holyoke-focused special committee’s membership overlaps with the standing Veterans Committee. Seven of the 17 lawmakers serve on both panels – Timilty, Campbell, Rush, Tran, Arciero, DeCoste and Berthiaume.

Campbell said last week that the committee will have subpoena power and that it will “look at all aspects of the Holyoke tragedy with the purpose of bringing forth very substantial legislation.” “Our goal is to take our time and get this right,” she said.

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