By John Lynds
Everett State Sen. Sal DiDomenico was picked by Senate President Stan Rosenberg to chair the state legislature’s new Italian Caucus. DiDomenico will chair the caucus on the Senate side while with Rep. Paul Donato (D-Medford) and Rep. Adrian Madaro (D-East Boston) will co-chair the caucus on the House side.
“I’m honored to be chosen by the senate president to chair this caucus,” said DiDomenico. “I look forward to working with the Italian Consul General and Italian Ambassador to the U.S. to move our state and Italy closer together.”
The new caucus, made up of state representatives and senators of both parties, was put into motion after the Italian Consul General to Massachusetts Nicola de Santis asked the state legislature to form an Italian Caucus. The Consul General and both the House and Senate have been working for a while to form a formal body that can concern itself with positively enhancing Italian cultural in the state, as well as increase bilateral relations between the state and Italy.
“This is definitely something we’ve been talking about for a while,” said DiDomenico. “This caucus will serve as conduit between the consul general’s office, the ambassador and the legislation as we collaborate on things we have in common like tourism, trade, energy issues, student exchange programs and education. A lot of other ethnic groups have formed caucuses in the legislature, and I think the absence of an Italian caucus was a glaring omission considering how large our Italian American population is in the Commonwealth.”
Already Massachusetts is one of the leading traders with Italy in the U.S. With almost 14 percent of the state’s population identifying themselves as “Italian American” the Speaker and Senate President thought the time was right to have a caucus to enhance opportunities with Italy while celebrating Italian heritage in a more formal way.
The caucus held its first formal event in the State House’s flag room last week and included de Santis as well as the Ambassador from Italy Armando Varricchio. It was Varricchio’s first visit to Boston since becoming Ambassador.
The caucus is a bipartisan and open group that not only includes full blooded Italians but members who have some Italian heritage or even a spouse who is Italian.
“We have long worked with Italian American groups and now we have a formal body that can maybe better address some concerns and issues,” said DiDomenico. “Our goal at some point is bring some of the legislators to Italy so we can collaborate in person with some of the regions that are most represented in Massachusetts.”