STATE CAPITOL BRIEFS - LUNCH EDITION - WEDNESDAY, JUNE 25, 2014

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

MBTA FARES RISE

The MBTA reminded riders Wednesday that the latest round of fare hikes take effect on Tuesday. According to the T, fares will rise by an average of 5 percent, with increases expected to generate between $20 million and $24 million in new revenue and lead to a reduction in ridership of less than 1 percent. Under the new fares, the charge for an adult local bus ride with a CharlieCard will be $1.60 with the on-board cash fare for a bus ride rising to $2.10. The adult rapid transit fare will rise to $2.10 with a CharlieCard and $2.65 with a paper ticket. The cost of commuter rail rides will increase to $5.75 in Zone 1, $8.50 in Zone 5 and $11.50 in Zone 10. A single ride on the Hingham or Hull ferries to Boston will cost $8.50 under the new fares, with the cost of a monthly boat pass rising to $275. The most expensive monthly pass will be in Zone 10 on the commuter rail, at $362 per month. The transportation financing law approved last year, which raised taxes on tobacco and gasoline, also called for transportation agencies to raise revenues. Several candidates for governor this year have called for debate on transportation financing to be reopened, saying larger public investments are needed. - M. Norton/SHNS

PATRICK SIGNS BIOSIMILARS LAW, TOUTS IT AT SAN DIEGO CONVENTION

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Deval Patrick, who has spent the past two days in California attending the 2014 BIO International Convention, arrived in San Diego on Tuesday packing a newly minted law that supporters say will give Bay State patients access to "biosimilars," which are similar to biological medicines such as vaccines, allergenics, gene therapy and proteins generally made of human or animal materials. The law allows pharmacists to substitute a biosimilar for a biological medicine when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration "has determined that the two biological products are interchangeable and the prescriber has not instructed otherwise." Sen. Richard Moore predicted the law would be popular at BIO convention, where Senate President Therese Murray and other lawmakers are in attendance, and he was right. "This important legislation enjoys the support of physicians across the country, patient groups, and both biologic and biosimilar manufacturing companies," said Jim Greenwood, BIO's President and chief executive officer, in a statement Wednesday. "By signing this bill into law, Governor Patrick added Massachusetts to a growing list of states that have taken a leadership position in allowing retail pharmacies to substitute interchangeable biologic medicines." Patrick signed the bill Monday night before leaving for San Diego, and announced it at the convention. BIO organizers said the Massachusetts law will maintain incentives for innovation and promote a competitive market for biologic therapies. - M. Murphy/SHNS

WAGNER: CASINO LAW RESPECTS WILL OF LOCAL VOTERS

Touching on an argument that expanded gambling proponents are likely to emphasize in the coming campaign over whether to repeal the 2011 casino law, one of the law's architects noted Tuesday that the law allows voters in any community where a casino is proposed to decide the fate of that proposal. "The law envisioned a process in which a community's voters would have the final say, and that is how the process has played out," Economic Development Committee Co-chairman Rep. Joseph Wagner of Chicopee said in a statement released after the Supreme Judicial Court ruled a repeal question eligible for the November ballot. "Some cities and towns welcomed the opportunity to be a host community. Others voted against partnering with an applicant. But in every case, the wishes of the community's voters were respected." Wagner touted hopes of thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in new state revenue from casinos, called the 2011 statute "one of the most comprehensive and thoughtful gaming laws in the country," and said casino applicants are subject to "strict suitability requirements, providing for public health, and preserving local control over development." Opponents of the 2011 law say casinos will fall short of the economic development potential cited by supporters while raising crime and addiction rates. Casino opponents have also pointed to the sharp shift in views on casinos under Speaker Salvatore DiMasi, a vocal opponent, and his successor Robert DeLeo, who led the push for the 2011 law. - M. Norton/SHNS

REP WHO VOTED FOR CASINO BILL NOW "NOT SURE" ON BALLOT QUESTION

Tuesday's ruling clearing the path for a November vote on a casino law repeal question means lawmakers who were around for the 2011 casino law deliberations get a chance to re-evaluate. Rep. Tom Sannicandro, who voted in favor of the 2011 casino gaming law, said he is "not sure yet" how he will vote on a ballot question to repeal it. "We were in the depths of that huge recession looking at possible job creation," the Ashland Democrat told the News Service after a Wednesday morning fundraiser on Beacon Hill. Sannicandro also said "people want to gamble" and he is "open to both" a repeal of the legislation and the establishment of casinos in Massachusetts. The Supreme Judicial Court on Tuesday overturned a decision by Attorney General Martha Coakley, allowing the question to go to voters in November. Asked whether the Legislature should return to gaming legislation if voters strike down the casino law, Sannicandro said, "I think we've got to wait and see what happens." Speaker Robert DeLeo, who was listed as a sponsor of Sannicandro's funder at Emmet's, did not attend Wednesday morning, and Sannicandro said he had received a call Tuesday from someone close to DeLeo indicating he may not be able to make it. Sen. Jamie Eldridge, Rep. Jay Kaufman, Governor's Councilor Robert Jubinville and assorted lobbyists made their way in and out of the confab. Sannicandro said DeLeo is a "phenomenal advocate for people with disabilities, and that's how I bonded with the speaker." Gov. Deval Patrick has previously attended a fundraiser for Sannicandro, and Sannicandro said he was a supporter of Patrick "really early" in his 2006 bid for the Corner Office, which he said might account for the governor's support of him. - A. Metzger/SHNS