STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

NEGOTIATORS AGREE TO $194 MILLION MIDYEAR SPENDING BILL

A House-Senate conference committee has agreed to a consensus $194 million midyear spending bill, which could emerge for a vote in the House on Wednesday. The bill includes $45.5 million for the Department of Housing and Community Development, $16 million for the Group Insurance Commission, $8 million for the Committee for Public Counsel Services, $7.8 million for the Department of Youth Services, and $4.8 million for the Executive Office of Health and Human Services. The legislation also aims to help the state pay bills associated with efforts to keep roads clear of snow and ice this winter. A House plan to freeze unemployment insurance rates and help businesses avoid a spike in premiums was not included in the bill agreed to Tuesday night by the conference committee. The bill's bottom line does not account for a $52 million transfer to the Massachusetts Transportation Fund or the $16 million in Group Insurance Commission payments, which are reimbursed to the state, according an aide. - M. Norton/SHNS

BANKERS: HOUSE BILL COULD LEAVE SOME UNDERINSURED IN FLOODS

A flood insurance bill due up for a vote Wednesday in the House could leave borrowers significantly underinsured if they suffer a catastrophic flood loss, according to the Massachusetts Bankers Association.


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The House is scheduled to vote Wednesday on legislation banning lenders from requiring borrowers to purchase federal flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program in an amount exceeding the outstanding mortgage on their property. "The bill could create scenarios where borrowers are significantly underinsured and should they suffer a catastrophic flood loss, they would be unable to rebuild or repair their properties," the association wrote in testimony on the bill (H 3783) obtained at the request of the News Service. "While our member banks would be protected up to the amount of their mortgage, these properties could become abandoned and create a host of new issues for local communities." The association said it supports the bill's goal - assisting borrowers facing big increases in flood insurance premiums - but "strongly" believes the issue requires federal action. The bankers group also urged lawmakers to clarify a disclosure mandated under the bill about additional flood insurance, cautioning that the language in the bill was likely to confuse consumers and questioning whether lenders are the appropriate party to provide the disclosure since insurance agents typically assess the adequacy of insurance coverage. House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Attorney General Martha Coakley are pushing the House bill. "This will lower premiums for homeowners and serve as a backstop for the astronomical flood insurance rates that people will be required to purchase," Coakley told the Finance Services Committee last month. She said, "Without this help, we're gravely concerned that many additional homeowners will face foreclosure and local merchants may be at risk for going out of business." Superstorm Sandy struck in the fall of 2012, causing particular damage to New York and New Jersey, a few months after Congress passed into law the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act, which required new flood maps, the elimination of some discounts and more accurate risk measurements to boost solvency of the National Flood Insurance Program. - M. Norton/SHNS

COMPANY PAYS STATE $45,000 IN CASE INVOLVING DONATIONS TO WALSH

A Framingham company has made a $45,000 payment to the state to settle a case concerning prohibited corporate campaign contributions to Martin Walsh's Boston mayoral committee. According to the Office of Campaign and Political Finance, Walsh's committee had no knowledge that contributions were made using corporate funds and has voluntarily donated the money to charity. Reliable Roofing and Sheet Metal disguised "the true source" of the funds, according to a disposition agreement between company president and owner James O'Donovan and OCPF. Campaign finance regulators interviewed employees and persons associated with the company and reviewed personal and corporate bank records and determined that Reliable Roofing made donations to Walsh's mayoral campaign by reimbursing its employees or their relatives for making contributions as way of getting around donation limits. The agreement references two events held on April 30 at the Stockyard Restaurant in Brighton, one for the Walsh campaign and one to celebrate O'Donovan's birthday. At the events, at least 20 employees associated with Reliable Roofing made contributions totaling $10,500 to the Walsh committee, while another $5,000 was contributed by people related to the employees. OCPF reviewed subpoenaed bank records showing that some contributors deposited funds from Reliable Roofing into their personal accounts shortly before or after the April 30 event, some in the exact amount of the campaign contribution and others with "reimbursement" noted in the memo section of the check. O'Donovan agreed as part of the settlement not to make any independent expenditures, to make contributions to a political action committee, or to solicit contributions on the premises of the company for any Massachusetts political candidate until Dec. 31, 2016. - M. Murphy, M. Norton/SHNS

A Framingham company has made a $45,000 payment to the state to settle a case concerning prohibited corporate campaign contributions to Martin Walsh's Boston mayoral committee. According to the Office of Campaign and Political Finance, Walsh's committee had no knowledge that contributions were made using corporate funds and has voluntarily donated the money to charity. Reliable Roofing and Sheet Metal disguised "the true source" of the funds, according to a disposition agreement between company president and owner James O'Donovan and OCPF. Campaign finance regulators interviewed employees and persons associated with the company and reviewed personal and corporate bank records and determined that Reliable Roofing made donations to Walsh's mayoral campaign by reimbursing its employees or their relatives for making contributions as way of getting around donation limits. The agreement references two events held on April 30 at the Stockyard Restaurant in Brighton, one for the Walsh campaign and one to celebrate O'Donovan's birthday. At the events, at least 20 employees associated with Reliable Roofing made contributions totaling $10,500 to the Walsh committee, while another $5,000 was contributed by people related to the employees. OCPF reviewed subpoenaed bank records showing that some contributors deposited funds from Reliable Roofing into their personal accounts shortly before or after the April 30 event, some in the exact amount of the campaign contribution and others with "reimbursement" noted in the memo section of the check. O'Donovan agreed as part of the settlement not to make any independent expenditures, to make contributions to a political action committee, or to solicit contributions on the premises of the company for any Massachusetts political candidate until Dec. 31, 2016. - M. Murphy, M. Norton/SHNS

PATRICK TO ATTEND "LATE-NIGHT SERVICE" EVENT AT KENDALL SQUARE