Jim Lyons Bids Farewell To Massachusetts House,
Pro-Life To The End

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2018/12/05/jim-lyons-bids-farewell-to-massachusetts-house-pro-life-to-the-end/

Editor’s Note:  State Representative Jim Lyons (R-Andover) gave his farewell address to the Massachusetts House of Representatives on Tuesday, December 4.

Lyons, who represents the 18th Essex House district, about 25 miles north of Boston, is the most visible conservative and pro-life legislator in Massachusetts.

First elected in 2010, he lost his re-election bid in the general election in November 2018. He is leaving office in early January 2019, after completing his fourth two-year term.

Below is a transcript of his remarks, based on a video. The video is below the transcript.


Speaker Robert DeLeo:  The chair recognizes Representative James Lyons.


Representative James Lyons:  Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Before I start, though, Mr. Speaker, I just have to share something with you. I think you’ll, you’ll really appreciate this. When I was a senior in high school, I was elected president of my student Senate. And I had to deal with the principal. Her name was Sister Hermine. And Mr. Speaker, Sister Hermine used to refer to me as the bane of her existence. [laughter]

Not much has changed, Mr. Speaker. [laughter and applause]

Jim Lyons

Speaker Robert DeLeo:  I’m shocked that anyone would look at you in that manner. I —

Speaker Robert DeLeo

Representative James Lyons:  I really want to thank my colleagues. People say, “What’s it like to serve in the House of Representatives with 125 Democrats and 35 Republicans?” I said, “It’s a blast.” I could not have had more fun. I mean that from the bottom of my heart. You guys are great.

[catches himself] I’m an emotional type of guy.

I want to thank the clerk, Stephen James, for all of your courtesies, and all of your help over the last eight years. Your staff and you have been just terrific. Thank you very much.

The court officers. Sometimes I made it a little interesting for you guys. [laughs] Sometimes. Gene had the cuffs out a few days. Especially when Petrolati was up there. So thank you, folks, all of you, for all of your courtesies. You certainly made this, as someone said earlier, this place a great place to work in. And as I said, I enjoyed it, completely.

I want to thank my staff, Jason Ross. Jason is up back. He started with us in January. [applause] He walked in here after seven years and I don’t think he knew what hit him. So Jason, thank you very much, for all that you’ve done.

We walked in here eight years ago with a young fellow named Paul Gangi, and I know Paul’s here. We looked at each other and said, “What do we do now?” We figured it out, but I want you to know that without Paul I would never have been able to do anything that we did today. Paul, thank you for everything. [applause]

Paul has a brother. His name is C.J.. When I first met him I thought it was his uncle. [laughter] But it really wasn’t. It was his brother. And up in our district we have C.J. Gangi, who is a tireless friend and campaigner. Just an incredible asset to everything we did. C.J. Gangi, thanks again. For all you do. [applause]

Before I get to my prepared remarks, I do want to invite everyone to our nativity celebration. It’s on December the 20th, at the Great Hall, from 12 to 4.

“O Death,” asks Paul in Corinthians, “where is thy sting?” Well, I’m not qualified to speak on that, but I can assure you, Mr. Speaker, losing does have a sting. Fortunately, that sting is neither permanent, nor deep, nor grave, especially by comparison to what so many persons must endure in their own lives. During the four terms that I have served, I have had the great honor of representing the people of Tewksbury, Andover, North Andover, and Boxford. As I stand here for the final time, I can say from the first to last I did my best to promote policies and principles that I believe in, and that I believed to be in the best interests of those communities in the Merrimack Valley.

Among those policies that I fought for were lower taxes; higher local aid; less costly government regulation of small businesses, in order to promote entrepreneurship and growth; greater autonomy for parents, to be free of government overregulation; and more expansive interpretation of the First Amendment, to protect free speech and the free exercise of religion, and to protect the fundamental right of political speech and protest.

In parental rights we had a great moment, many of you were here, when Justina Pelletier and her loving family were freed from the entanglements of state government and state bureaucrats, and allowed to return home.

In the First Amendment, we won a great victory for speech when the Supreme Court ruled, 9-0, that the buffer zone bill passed overwhelmingly by this legislature in 2007 was unconstitutional. This was indeed an example of the court doing its duty to protect free speech rights, even politically unpopular speech.

At the same time, I have tried to highlight the responsibilities of judges in state courts to protect law-abiding citizens from predatory criminals.

Under the leadership of my good friend Geoff Diehl, we made a little progress rolling back punitive gas tax hikes. But generally the commonwealth, in my opinion, is still overtaxing working families, consumers, small retail shops, in order to overspend on bureaucracies like MassHealth and the MBTA.

During my terms in office we have seen increases in local aid. I’m not claiming a cause-and-an-effect. However, local aid was one of my top priorities. And I want to thank Governor Baker for his absolute commitment to our local cities and towns.

Another issue, folks, that I’ve stood for every day in office is the pro-life principle. I fully understand that pro-life is not a popular position here on Beacon Hill, nor is it politically [an] advantage in the state at large. Despite knowing the political price that might be paid, I engaged consistently and steadfastly on working to advance — or at least make public — the pro-life agenda.

On pro-life, it would be foolish to proclaim any great advances — or even small ones — in the legislative process. Or, quite honestly, anywhere in state politics. With the ending careers of several strong pro-life legislators this year, our minority voices advocating for the unborn will grow even dimmer. For those who believe that dissent from majority opinion and a diversity of views is healthy for this Commonwealth, the silence of our voices in this corridor can hardly be healthy for the vibrant debate that breathes life into democracy.

Finally, let me talk about the crisis that’s exploded in our region, over the recent years. That is the opiate crisis that affects all communities, all economic classes, and all ethnic groups. On this we are all united across political party and philosophy in the belief that this tragedy must be fought and ultimately cured. I commend Governor Baker for taking the lead, and I commend this Legislature for standing up and funding what needs to be done in this opiate epidemic. And I would urge you to continue to fund additional facilities to provide treatment and recovery assistance.

This opiate epidemic also puts into perspective the sting that I began my words with. For this opiate addiction is a sting – a deep and abiding sting, that has become in a very real way final to far too many families across our great Commonwealth. It is truly and sadly final, and devastating to families.

Which brings me back to the things that in an ultimate sense are so much more important than wins and losses. Those are the things that we experience in our communities, in our neighborhoods, in our churches, among our friends, and most of all, in our homes, with our families. Those are the things that matter most. Those are the places we go, to strengthen our beliefs and our principles.

Family. It’s important to everyone. It’s very important to me. I have my family with me, Mr. Speaker, and I’m going to take the liberty to introduce them.

In 2015, during the budget debate, I filed a piece of legislation to increase funding for the opiate epidemic. The rate of recovery at certain homes was only $75. It had stayed stagnant for eight years. And I sat down with Brian Dempsey, and I said, “Brian, I really think this is an important issue.” And I’d asked him to come to the Gavin Foundation with me. And I brought my son. [catches himself] And ahh [pause] my son gave a speech that day, Mr. Speaker. And after that speech Mr. Dempsey said to me, “Jim, we’re going to do all we can to get that funding.” And with your help, and the governor’s help, we increased millions of dollars into the opiate fight. So thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.


I’d like to tell my sons, both of my boys, if they’d stand up for a second. I know they’re not going to want to do this. [applause] My son Mikey, and my son Tyler. I love you guys. [applause]

And finally, my bride of 37 years. Her name is Bernadette. Affectionately referred to, among a lot of people, for living with me, as St. Bernadette.

So, my wife and I met in 1976, if you can believe that. She was a freshman at Boston College and I was a street peddler, on the sidewalks of different cities in Massachusetts. And my wife is a passionate advocate for the unborn. And we have spent the last 40 years advocating for the unborn. My passion and my drive comes directly from my wife. There is no one [more] committed to helping the unborn than my wife. We have pictures on our refrigerator of children that my wife has helped their mothers bring into the world. My wife has been arrested on the street corners, she’s been referred to as a terrorist. I want you to stand up. I love you, Bernadette. [applause] Thank you, Mr. Speaker.