• Maria Duaime Robinson

My inaugural speech

Updated: May 17, 2019

I gave my inaugural speech today on the floor of the House in support of an amendment proposed by Rep. Jonathan Hecht from Watertown that would provide additional time for members and the public to review bills.

An inaugural speech is a tradition in the Mass House where the Speaker comes out, the membership gives a round of applause, and everyone comes down to shake your hand. Many members don't give a inaugural speech for months, if not years. I did mine on the first day of formal session, now giving me the opportunity to speak on any issue moving forward.

Here's the text of what I said: "First, thank you Mr. Speaker for the opportunity to provide open debate on these amendments on the floor. I appreciate the movement from leadership towards open, public debate.

I also want to thank the Rules Committee for their hard work on making the rules of the House more inclusive. In particular, I appreciate the work being done to make the rules gender neutral, a suggestion brought to leadership’s attention by my colleague, the gentleman from Scituate. 

Today I am proud to stand in support of the amendment being proposed by Mr. Hecht. I have spent the past few months working on amendments to make this body more accountable and transparent to the public at large. This amendment being proposed today has always been a key component.

In my hometown of Framingham, we recently embarked on a massive shift from a town to a city, changing the way our residents are governed. Over that past first year, we have heard over and over again that additional transparency is required at the local, state and federal levels. Transparency is an opaque term — we throw it around a great deal, and frankly, it holds different meaning to each individual. To me, in this setting, I see transparency as an opportunity for the public at large to engage in the legislative process. The more that we give our constituents a chance to understand what is being contemplated in the Legislature, the better they can inform our decisions. 

Since November, I have heard from wise and experienced members to be in district and to listen. Support for this amendment comes as a result of listening to my constituents. They want to be able to understand what I am working on; they want to be able to weigh in. They want to be able to ask expert advice on bills — as do I. They want to be able to think through the unintended consequences — as do I. They are demanding more time to read, digest, and advocate on bills, and I want to be responsive to their interest. In fact, it’s my responsibility to be responsive to their interest. 

Having 72 hours to read bills before they come to the House floor allows for the time to do all that, plus to utilize tools such as online polls (which I know several colleagues here enjoy using) to better engage our constituents. 

Many people have discouraged me from using this topic for my inaugural speech. My understanding is this — an inaugural speech should be held for an issue that I care about deeply. Well, I care about how this House operates. I care about my constituents and the issues that they care about. Rules are important. This amendment is important. 

Representative democracy as envisioned by our forefathers (shown in the paintings above me -- no women, though) requires public participation. I support this amendment because it allows more time for thoughtful engagement from the people we represent. I appreciate your consideration and urge your support of Amendment 1."

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