John Velis

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John Velis
John Velis.jpg
Member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives
from the 4th Hampden district
Assumed office
April 16, 2014
Preceded byDonald Humason, Jr.
Personal details
Born
John Christopher Velis

(1979-01-26) January 26, 1979 (age 40)
Westfield, Massachusetts
Political partyDemocratic
RelationsPeter Velis (uncle)
ResidenceWestfield, Massachusetts
EducationUniversity of South Florida (B.S)
Suffolk University Law School (J.D.)
OccupationAttorney
AwardsBronze Star Medal ribbon.svg Bronze Star
WebsiteLegislative website
Campaign website
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Years of service2011–present
RankArmy-USA-OF-03.svg Major
Unit3rd LOD (Reserve)
Battles/warsWar 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, and 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.

Massachusetts House of Representatives[edit]

Elections[edit]

In 2014, Velis declared his candidacy for the Massachusetts House of Representatives, representing the 4th Hampden District seat held by incumbent Republican state representative Donald Humason, Jr. During the same year, however, Humason won a special election to the Massachusetts Senate after State Senator 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 seven 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]

In 2016 and 2018, he was re-elected to a respective second and third term unopposed.

Tenure[edit]

Velis's committee assignments were as follows.

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
190th General Court (2017–2019)
  • Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs (Vice Chair)
  • Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture
  • Joint Committee on Health Care Financing
  • Joint Committee on Marijuana Policy
191st General Court (2019–2021)
  • Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs (Vice Chair)
  • Joint Committee on Financial Services
  • Joint Committee on the Judiciary
  • Joint Committee on Ways and Means
  • Committee on Ways and Means
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%
2016 State Representative General John C. Velis Democratic 15,399 99.4%
2018 State Representative General John C. Velis Democratic 11,734 99.1%

Military service[edit]

Velis enlisted in the United States Army Reserve in 2011 and is currently serving 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.

In August 2017, Velis was sent to South Korea for about a month to participate in joint military training exercises with the U.S. Army and allies.[8] On July 4, 2018, Velis was promoted to the rank of major while on deployment in Afghanistan.[9]

Political positions[edit]

Velis describes himself as a fiscally conservative Democrat.

Taxes[edit]

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.[10]

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.[11]

He voted in favor of increasing the minimum wage from $8.00 per hour to $11.00 per hour by 2017.[12]

Education[edit]

Velis cosponsored Bill H.4200 with Representative John Scibak, a petition relative to the scheduling of high school athletic contests.[13] 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.[14]

Disability rights[edit]

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.[15]

Transportation[edit]

Velis has cosponsored 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.[16]

Crime[edit]

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.[17][18]

Manufacturing[edit]

Velis has cosponsored 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 rights[edit]

In 2015, Velis introduced legislation on behalf of Gun Owners Action League (GOAL) and the Massachusetts affiliate of the National Rifle Association that would create a commission to review policies regarding the alleged dangers of gun free zones, which GOAL said had become targets for terrorists and murderers.[19] Velis is opposed to legislation limiting the gun 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.[20]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Daniel Hunt, former state parks official, wins Democratic nomination to fill Martin Walsh's Mass. House seat". The Boston Globe, March 4, 2014.
  2. ^ "Elections: Special State Primary Candidates". Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth.
  3. ^ "Democrat John Velis defeats Republican Dan Allie to win Westfield state representative seat". The Republican. April 1, 2014.
  4. ^ "Velis defeats Allie again in 4th Hampden District". Anthony Fay. November 4, 2014.
  5. ^ "Newly elected Westfield state Rep. John Velis to be sworn into office April 16". The Republican. April 11, 2014.
  6. ^ "John Velis of Westfield, 3 others sworn in as members of Massachusetts House of Representatives". The Republican. April 16, 2014.
  7. ^ "Massachusetts Election Statistics". Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
  8. ^ Glaun, Dan (May 23, 2017). "State Rep. and Army Reserve Captain John Velis to be sent on training mission near North Korean border". The Republican. Retrieved July 5, 2018.
  9. ^ Kinney, Jim (July 4, 2018). "Massachusetts State Rep. John Velis, in Afghanistan on Army deployment, promoted to major on Fourth of July". The Republican. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  10. ^ "Velis Weekly Update for May 2, 2014". Steve Dondley. May 9, 2014. Archived from the original on May 13, 2014.
  11. ^ "Bill H.4111". May 28, 2014.
  12. ^ "Bill S.2123 & S.2195". June 18, 2014.
  13. ^ "Bill H.4200". June 16, 2014.
  14. ^ "Bill H.4091". May 21, 2014.
  15. ^ "Bill H.4047". April 16, 2014.
  16. ^ "Bill S.2169". June 9, 2014.
  17. ^ "Bill S.714". June 19, 2014.
  18. ^ "House passes juvenile parole bill" (PDF). Peter Francis. June 19, 2014.
  19. ^ "Gun Rights Activists Push Bill Aimed At 'Gun Free Zones'". CBS Boston. Associated Press. July 22, 2015.
  20. ^ "Gun control bill advances to Massachusetts Senate after House clears it with 112–38 vote". State House News Service. July 9, 2014.

External links[edit]