John Velis

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John Velis
John Velis.jpg
Member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives
from the 4th Hampden district
Incumbent
Assumed office
April 16, 2014
Preceded by Donald Humason, Jr.
Personal details
Born John Christopher Velis
(1979-01-26) January 26, 1979 (age 36)
Westfield, Massachusetts
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Lorraine Almeida fiancée (2012–present)
Relations Peter Velis (uncle)
Residence Westfield, Massachusetts
Alma mater University of South Florida (B.S)
Suffolk University Law School (J.D.)
Occupation Attorney
Awards Bronze Star ribbon.svg Bronze Star
Website Massachusetts legislature website
Campaign website
Military service
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 2011–present
Rank US military captain's rank.gif Captain
Unit 3rd LOD (Reserve)
Battles/wars War in Afghanistan

John Christopher Velis (born January 26, 1979) is an American politician and member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. He is a Democrat from Westfield, Massachusetts and represents the 4th Hampden district.[1][2]

Early life, education, military career, & legal career[edit]

Velis was born on January 26, 1979 in Westfield, Massachusetts to Susan and Jim Velis, one of three children with his brother Adam and sister Jennifer. His uncle, Peter Velis, served as a Hampden Superior Court Judge from 1999–2012 and member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, where he represented the 5th Hampden district (Southampton, Montgomery, and Westfield) from 1973–1979. He was educated at Westfield High School and graduated in 1998, attended Roxbury Community College, graduated from University of South Florida in 2004 with a Bachelor of Science in political science, and from Suffolk University Law School in 2008 with a Juris Doctor.

Prior to practicing law with his uncle, Velis spent time a number of government settings holding internships in the Hampden County District attorney's office, Hampden County Superior Court and the Massachusetts Treasurer's office. He was also an intern at the White House during the term of President George W. Bush. After returning to civilian life, Velis was appointed by Westfield Mayor Daniel Knapik to the Commission for Citizens with Disabilities and is a volunteer basketball coach for the Greater Westfield Boys & Girls Club.

Military service[edit]

Velis joined the military in 2011 as a member of the United States Army Reserve and is currently a Captain in the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps as part of the 3rd Legal Operations Detachment.

While on active duty in Afghanistan, Velis participated in the War in Afghanistan's Operation Enduring Freedom and taught the Rule of Law to tribal leaders and brought warring parties together to achieve peaceful solutions, overseeing all ISAF-NATO rule of law efforts throughout the Zabul Province in the war-torn nation.

Political career[edit]

Massachusetts House of Representatives[edit]

Velis's political career began when declared his candidacy for the Massachusetts House of Representatives, representing the 4th Hampden District seat held by incumbent Republican State Representative Donald Humason, Jr. However, Humason won a special election to the Massachusetts Senate after Michael Knapik resigned to take a job at Westfield State University, triggering another special election. He was unopposed in the Democratic primary and defeated Republican opponent At-large City Councilor Dan Allie in the general election on April 1, becoming the first Democrat to represent Westfield in 35 years. He began serving the remaining 7 months of Humason's House term and campaigned for a first full-term in the regular November election, defeating Allie in a rematch.[3][4][5][6]

Committee assignments[edit]

188th General Court (2013–2015)
  • Joint Committee on the Judiciary
  • Joint Committee on Public Health
189th General Court (2015–2017)
  • Joint Committee on the Judiciary
  • Joint Committee on Public Health
  • Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs
  • Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy
Election results[7]
Year Office Election Subject Party Votes % Opponent Party Votes %
2014 State Representative Special John C. Velis Democratic 2,697 53.4% Daniel J. Allie Republican 2,354 46.6%
2014 State Representative General John C. Velis Democratic 7,327 58.9% Daniel J. Allie Republican 5,111 41.1%

Political positions[edit]

Velis describes himself as a fiscally conservative Democrat, whose views are guided by common sense for the common good.

Budget, Spending and Taxes

Velis supported a $36.3 billion fiscal year 2015 budget with no tax increases and voted in favor of in-state tuition for veterans at Massachusetts State colleges and universities at about 12:00 AM on Thursday, May 1, securing about $165,000 in the house budget for the city of Westfield. How the funds are allocated, $100,000 to Noble Hospital will increase ease of access to the front entrance for older adults and the disabled; $50,000 grant for new Senior Center furnishings to make it more inviting to a wider range of older adults, host more activities and increase its use; and $15,000 to stimulate the local business community.[8]

He did not vote on Bill H.4111, a bill that appropriates funds for the expansion of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center; rather deciding to abstain from voting, showing neither support or opposition.[9]

He voted in favor of increasing the minimum wage from $8.00 per hour to $11.00 per hour by 2017.[10]

Education

Velis co-sponsored Bill H.4200 with Representative John Scibak, a petition relative to the scheduling of high school athletic contests.[11] He was one of 35 legislators to vote "no" on Bill H.4091, a bill that authorizes the expansion of charter schools in certain communities.[12]

Autism and other disabilities

Velis cast his first vote in support of Bill H.4047, a bill relative to assisting individuals with autism and other intellectual or developmental disabilities. This legislation is intended to improve educational opportunities and access to services for people with autism or other intellectual disabilities. Bill H.4047 would also create a special commission to look at state policies dealing with individuals with autism, and allow families to set aside money tax free in savings accounts to pay and plan for the long-term care and housing of children with intellectual disabilities.[13]

Transportation

Velis has co-sponsored Bill S.2169 with Senator Donald Humason, Jr., a petition with the approval of the mayor and city council for legislation relative to the acceptance of Paper Mill Road as a public way in the city of Westfield.[14]

Crime

Velis voted in support of Bill S.714, an act relative to juvenile life without parole sentences. Under the measure, people convicted of first-degree murder for crimes that occurred while they were between the ages of 14 and 18 could be eligible for parole after serving 20 to 25 years in prison. For crimes that were deemed to involve deliberate premeditated malice or extreme atrocity or cruelty, the wait would be 25 to 30 years.[15][16]

Manufacturing

Velis has co-sponsored Docket HD4311 with Representatives Diana DiZoglio and Jonathan Zlotnik, otherwise known as An Act Relative to the Taxation of Inventory in Manufacturing. According to DiZoglio, the bill is designed to gradually eliminate the inventory tax manufacturers pay on raw materials over a period of four years.

Gun control

Velis is a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution and is opposed to further legislation limiting the rights of law-abiding citizens. He was one of 11 Democrats to vote against House Speaker Robert DeLeo's bill aimed at preventing gun violence.[17]

Personal life[edit]

He met his girlfriend Lorraine Almeida in 2005 and has been engaged since December 13, 2012.

References[edit]

External links[edit]