Tewksbury's newest legislator is making waves on Beacon Hill.
State Rep. Jim Lyons, R-Andover, has co-authored a bill that would require the state to pay legal fees for all "law-abiding tax-paying citizens of Massachusetts" up to $700,000.
That's the amount of legal fees the state has been ordered to pay on behalf of Michelle Kosilek, a transgender inmate who won a highly publicized legal battle to force the state to pay for his sex-change operation. Kosilek, 63, was known as Robert Kosilek when he murdered his wife Cheryl Kosilek in Mansfield in 1990. He changed his name to "Michelle" in 1993.
Lyons and state Rep. Marc Lombardo, R-Billerica, The state has filed an appeal.
To express their displeasure at what they perceived to be an "absurd" ruling by Wolf, Lyons and Lombardo wrote and plan to file their bill, requiring an equal benefit for all residents.
"If innocent taxpayers are forced to fund the unlimited expenses of wife murderers - even when those bills are unrelated to a trial ascertaining criminal guilt or innocence - then shouldn't those law-abiding citizens have access to the same benefits," asked Lyons. "It's the height of absurdity to mandate that taxpayers have an obligation to pay the massive bills of vicious murderers, but those same law-abiding citizens have no right to equal legal benefits. This is an issue of fundamental fairness.”
The new legislative session began on Jan. 2. Lyons and Lombardo say they expect to file their bill shortly, with a goal of keeping the conversation regarding the Kosilek case on the front burner.
“It seems that every day that passes with this case, a new absurd ruling is made that costs taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars,” said Lombardo. “I'm outraged that any taxpayer dollars are being spent on heinous convicted murderers, never mind that those dollars are being used to pay legal fees for efforts to have a taxpayer funded sex change. The taxpayers continue to get a raw deal with this case. We need some reassignment of priorities in our state government.”
Lyons, who owns the Dandi-Lyons Florist and Ice Cream shop in Tewksbury, represents the 18th Essex District. He was first elected in 2010 and re-elected in 2012. Legislative re-districting brought Tewksbury wards 3 and 3A into the 18th Essex District starting in 2013.