Reporting Jim Armstrong
ANDOVER (CBS) – When they wrote their bill, this pair of Republican state lawmakers expected it to be controversial. But they may have underestimated the extent to which they would have to keep explaining what they were really trying to do.
Rep. James Lyons of Andover and Rep. Marc Lombardo of Billerica were outraged to learn of last month’s ruling by a federal judge, ordering the state to pick up the nearly $700,000 legal bill of convicted murderer Michelle Kosilek.
Kosilek, when she went by the name Robert, murdered her then-wife in 1990. In the years since, Kosilek has fought many legal battles, eventually winning a publicly-funded sex-change operation.
“People are really recognizing the absurdity of this,” says Representative Lyons. “The taxpayers of the Commonwealth are being forced to basically subsidize a vicious, wife-killing murderer.”
Explained Representative Lombardo: “We understand that this is absolutely absurd, that the taxpayers time and time again in the Commonwealth get hit in the wallet and it needs to stop.”
If citizens are paying Kosilek’s legal team, Lyons and Lombardo figure everyone who lives here should get the same thing — and they wrote a bill to do just that.
“Why not provide the same benefit to the hard-working taxpayers that they are being forced to give to a convicted murderer,” asks Lyons.
That’s where the confusion comes in. In the past few days, the pair have had to explain that they are not trying to fund free sex change procedures statewide.
“Rep. Lyons and I are not advocating for sex changes funded by the government,” says Lombardo. “What we’re advocating for is if we’re going to give $700,000 in legal fees to a convicted murderer, then innocent residents should get $700,000 in legal fees for whatever they’re going to bring to court.”
Their bill’s brought new attention to the Kosilek case, which the lawmakers say is just the point.
“This is our opportunity to start this conversation in a very profound way,” says Lombardo.
The representatives know this bill won’t go anywhere on Beacon Hill, but they hope it will inspire other bills that will reduce what they consider to be wasteful spending.