... Former Baker chief of staff Kadish to present Future of Transpo findings Dec. 19 ...... Chamber, CLF, T Advisory Board to issue annual reports measuring MBTA improvement progress ...... MGC: MGM Springfield, Plainridge generated $35.7 mil in gross gaming revenue in October ...... WGBH's Kadzis: media overplays progressives, "not properly calibrated to the public at the moment" ...... Effort to crack down on plastic bags about to get a boost with Boston's own ...... VFW urges feds to heed its own failing ratings assigned to VA nursing homes ...... Mass. retailers see holiday season sales growing 3.8 percent, to $18 billion this year ...... SEIU Local 509 hits Northeastern U. over filing in case before National Labor Relations Board ...... Attorneys Melia, Tetreau nominated by Baker to Probate and Family Court judgeships ...... Comerford: DHS public charge rule would hurt families who are already struggling ...... Eversource warns consumers to beware of scammers posing as employees of the energy company ...... South Coast Chamber recognizes Lockheed Martin, New Bedford Harbor Hotel ...... BCBS of MA releases report on drivers of MassHealth per-enrollee spending growth ...... U.S. Senate committee plans Nov. 26 hearing in Lawrence on gas disaster response ...... Advisor: Baker "will not be a candidate for U.S. Senate" ...... Senate President Spilka recovering from foot surgery ...... National holiday season sales expected to rise 4.8 percent ...... Worcester attorneys nominated for Probate and Family Court judgeships ...... Trial Court to celebrate National Adoption Day with events on Friday ...... Minimum wage set to rise from $11 to $12 an hour on Jan. 1, 2019 ...... ...
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By Colin A. Young

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, NOV. 15, 2017....Just in time for the last formal session of 2017, the Massachusetts House on Wednesday welcomed two new members, restoring the chamber to a complete 160-member roster of representatives.

Andres Vargas of Haverhill and John Barrett III of North Adams, both of whom won special elections last Tuesday, were sworn in by Gov. Charlie Baker in the House Chamber early Wednesday afternoon.

Vargas won the seat vacated in July by former Ways and Means Chairman Brian Dempsey. Barrett fills the seat previously held by the late Rep. Gailanne Cariddi in western Massachusetts. Cariddi died in June after a private battle with cancer.

Before administering the oath of office, Baker said he and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito like when people with experience in local government are elected to the State House because they bring an understanding of how state-level decisions impact cities and towns. Vargas was a Haverhill city councilor and Barrett was the longtime mayor of North Adams.

Speaking from the podium on the House floor, Barrett talked about Cariddi and how when she came to him to express interest in running for North Adams City Council he "couldn't get her there soon enough."

"She loved you and you all loved her," Barrett told the House. "And when she died, part of this legislative session died with her. Her legacy will live on because she embodies everything that is good about this profession."

Barrett served as mayor of North Adams for more than 25 years, leaving office in 2009 after he was not elected to a 14th consecutive term.

Vargas told his new colleagues about his advocacy work as a teenager and how lawmakers took him seriously even though he was a high school student, an experience he said led him to public service. He pointed to the opioid epidemic and civics education as two of his early priorities.

"We had good news that the overdose rates in Massachusetts are down by 10 percent, but I think there's a lot more work to do, so I'm looking forward to tackling the opioid crisis, working together with colleagues here in the House, but also jumping on legislation that first got me started in politics, which was civics education legislation," Vargas told the News Service. "That's something that I started when I was 16 and in high school, so it'd be great to kind of close the circle on that and pass some legislation that ensures that every student in the commonwealth has access to civics education before they go on to college or to do something else."

While attending Boston University, Vargas interned in Dempsey's office and the office of Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz of Boston. He also worked as a communications intern in the Obama White House. Vargas was elected in 2015 to the Haverhill City Council, the body where Dempsey got his political start in 1988.

[Katie Lannan contributed reporting]


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