STATE CAPITOL BRIEFS - LUNCH EDITION - TUESDAY, JULY 22, 2014

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

CLT OPPOSES SENATE PLAN TO PUT FISCAL NOTE ON BALLOT QUESTIONS

Warning it may make it more difficult for any initiative petition to be approved, Citizens for Limited Taxation is calling on the state Senate to strike from its campaign finance bill (S 2264) a provision requiring voter guides - in addition to statements describing the impacts of "yes" and "no" votes on ballot questions - to also include a note from the Executive Office of Administration and Finance assessing the impact of a ballot question on state and municipal government finances. In a memo released Tuesday, ahead of afternoon debate on the bill, CLT noted the provision was dropped in House-Senate conference committee talks on a previous election-related bill and suggested the measure would enable a "hostile governor" to direct his budget chief to "write a note claiming that 'the initiative would cost too much; prove that it wouldn't.' " As the News Service reported Monday, the provision was added by Sen. Stanley Rosenberg's Ethics and Rules Committee. CLT alleged the provision "reflects Sen. Rosenberg's ongoing determination to kill the initiative petition process . . .


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" The Senate bill calls for a statement of not more than 100 words and outlines a process whereby any 50 voters pay petition the Supreme Judicial Court to require that the statement be amended, with the court required to issue an order requiring an amendment only if it is clear that the statement is "false, misleading or inconsistent" with the requirements of the law. If the measure survives continuing debate over the bill, the provision would begin to take effect in 2015, after this year's elections. A CLT official said the group has contacted Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr's office to urge him to sponsor an amendment striking the measure. CLT's Barbara Anderson said Sen. Robert Hedlund and Rep. Brian Dempsey were helpful in dropping the measure from early voting legislation that was ultimately signed into law. - M. Norton/SHNS

HOUSING AUTHORITY REFORM TEED UP IN SENATE FOR THURSDAY

A week after the House approved similar legislation, the Senate on Thursday will debate a bill (S 2292) aimed at improving the oversight and performance of local housing authorities without scrapping local control. Gov. Deval Patrick in early 2013 proposed moving to a new governance structure with just six regional housing authorities spread across the state, but lawmakers responded coolly to the idea of forfeiting the local point of contact for residents. The bill released by Senate Ways and Means on Tuesday would require additional training, audits and oversight by the Department of the Housing and Community Development to improve the performance of local boards and encourage efforts to coordinate and share resources between smaller local housing authorities. The Senate set a deadline of 3 p.m. on Wednesday for senators to file amendments to the Ways and Means bill. Meanwhile, the Senate on Tuesday plans to take up three additional bills released by Ways and Means in addition to the campaign finance disclosure bill already on the agenda. One bill (H 2070) would require the Department of Public Health and the Center for Health Information Analysis to share health data with the Boston Public Health Commission about residents of the city to assist with Boston's planning for public health needs. Another bill to be debated (H 3888) would establish a new office within the health and human services secretariat to investigate and identify health care disparities attributable to race, ethnicity or disability. The new agency would be called the Office of Health Equity, and the director would sit on the state's Health Disparities Council. The Senate will also take up legislation (S 477) requiring private health insurers, non-profit hospital corporations and HMOs to implement an out-of-pocket maximum prescription drug cost for patients not to exceed the minimum annual deductible of a high deductible health plan, as determined by the Internal Revenue Service. - M. Murphy/SHNS

A week after the House approved similar legislation, the Senate on Thursday will debate a bill (S 2292) aimed at improving the oversight and performance of local housing authorities without scrapping local control. Gov. Deval Patrick in early 2013 proposed moving to a new governance structure with just six regional housing authorities spread across the state, but lawmakers responded coolly to the idea of forfeiting the local point of contact for residents. The bill released by Senate Ways and Means on Tuesday would require additional training, audits and oversight by the Department of the Housing and Community Development to improve the performance of local boards and encourage efforts to coordinate and share resources between smaller local housing authorities. The Senate set a deadline of 3 p.m. on Wednesday for senators to file amendments to the Ways and Means bill. Meanwhile, the Senate on Tuesday plans to take up three additional bills released by Ways and Means in addition to the campaign finance disclosure bill already on the agenda. One bill (H 2070) would require the Department of Public Health and the Center for Health Information Analysis to share health data with the Boston Public Health Commission about residents of the city to assist with Boston's planning for public health needs. Another bill to be debated (H 3888) would establish a new office within the health and human services secretariat to investigate and identify health care disparities attributable to race, ethnicity or disability. The new agency would be called the Office of Health Equity, and the director would sit on the state's Health Disparities Council. The Senate will also take up legislation (S 477) requiring private health insurers, non-profit hospital corporations and HMOs to implement an out-of-pocket maximum prescription drug cost for patients not to exceed the minimum annual deductible of a high deductible health plan, as determined by the Internal Revenue Service. - M. Murphy/SHNS

NAUGHTON NOT NAMED GUN BILL CONFEREE