Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo has tapped Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez to head the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.
The Boston Democrat succeeds Rep. Brian Dempsey, a Haverhill Democrat who announced last week he was leaving the Legislature to join a Boston lobbying firm.
The Ways and Means Committee is responsible for preparing the House version of the annual state budget.
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Sanchez was first elected to the House in 2003 and has previously chaired the committees on Public Health and Health Care Financing.
DeLeo lauded Sanchez's ability to "understand the finer points of policy and translate them into workable solutions."
The appointment makes Sanchez an immediate contender to eventually succeed DeLeo as speaker.
Dempsey had been widely considered the heir apparent to DeLeo before his surprise decision to step down.