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Boston Rep. Jeff Sánchez Tapped For House Ways And Means Chairmanship

Massachusetts State Reps. Jeffrey Sanchez, D-Jamaica Plain, left, Harold Naughton, D-Clinton, right, take testimony from James DeVita, center, a member of the Mass. Board of Registration in Pharmacy, during a legislative hearing on the New England Compounding Center and tainted pharmaceuticals at the State House in Boston in 2012. (Steven Senne/AP)MoreCloseclosemore
Massachusetts State Reps. Jeffrey Sanchez, D-Jamaica Plain, left, Harold Naughton, D-Clinton, right, take testimony from James DeVita, center, a member of the Mass. Board of Registration in Pharmacy, during a legislative hearing on the New England Compounding Center and tainted pharmaceuticals at the State House in Boston in 2012. (Steven Senne/AP)

Boston Democrat Rep. Jeffrey Sánchez will succeed outgoing Rep. Brian Dempsey as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, a pivotal fiscal affairs and policy-making post in state government.

The 47-year-old state representative from Jamaica Plain currently helms the Health Care Financing Committee and previously co-chaired the Legislature's Joint Committee on Public Health. He has been active on economic justice issues and legislation aimed at addressing racial and ethnic health disparities, and recently co-chaired a special commission that examined price disparities in the health care sector.

House Democrats plan to take up House Speaker Robert DeLeo's appointment Monday during a caucus. Sánchez, who has served in the House for 14 years, will be the first Latino to head the committee.

"I am proud to nominate Chairman Sánchez as Chair of House Ways & Means," DeLeo said in a statement Sunday night. "His intellect, experience and leadership skills make him an ideal fit for the role. Jeff is someone who is able to understand the finer points of policy and translate them into workable solutions."

Hinting at the potential for challenging health care policy changes at the federal level, DeLeo said the work Sánchez has done as committee chairman "will be crucial as we address the health care challenges inherent to the budget and grapple with uncertainty on the national level."

"I'm incredibly humbled to be nominated for this position by the Speaker," Sánchez said in a statement. "Having chaired the Committees on Public Health and Health Care Financing, I hope to use this post to protect those in most need off it — like many of my constituents — while protecting our state finances and the Massachusetts economy."

DeLeo added, "Chairman Sánchez's philosophy on leadership is based on listening, learning and bringing people together to build consensus. Those qualities will serve the House, the Legislature and the Commonwealth incredibly well. I look forward to the exceptional work he will do as Chair of House Ways & Means."

Dempsey, of Haverhill, announced Thursday he's leaving the Legislature and stepping down from his chairmanship to join the Boston-based lobbying firm ML Strategies.

The first piece of work facing Sánchez will be a review of amendments Gov. Charlie Baker returns when he signs the fiscal 2018 budget. Baker has until Monday to take action on the $40.2 billion spending bill, which did not include Medicaid reforms sought by the governor.

With additional reporting from WBUR's Steve Brown

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