STATE CAPITOL BRIEFS - MORNING EDITION - TUESDAY, AUG. 5, 2014

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

MASS. BIZ CONFIDENCE NEARING POST-RECESSION HIGH

Perceptions of the national economy among Massachusetts employers returned to positive territory in July for the first time since before the Great Recession in August 2007, according to economic index results released Tuesday. Associated Industries of Massachusetts reported that its business confidence index rose 2.5 points to 56.2, and is up 6.2 points since January. Business confidence among Bay State employers had been in the neutral range for more than a year but is nearing its post-recession high of 57.1 in April 2012. AIM reported that there's a growing sense of "economic normalcy" among Massachusetts employers. Fifty is considered neutral on the 100-point index scale. "Many Massachusetts employers added staff in the first half of the year, with additions outweighing reductions by almost three to one and expectations for the next six months are similar," Sara Johnson of HIS Global Insight, an AIM Board of Economic Advisors member, said in a statement. "Greater confidence in the stability of the economy is at last making employers more willing to hire." - M. Norton/SHNS

PATRICK TO SIGN SUBSTANCE ABUSE BILL WEDNESDAY

Gov. Deval Patrick will sign legislation on Wednesday that aims to increase access to long-term treatment for substance addiction in a ceremony in his office, according to an invitation shared with the News Service.


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Health and Human Services Secretary John Polanowicz and Department of Public Health Commissioner Cheryl Bartlett are among those expected to attend. Patrick has been lobbied in recent days by Bay State health insurers hoping the governor would return the bill to the Legislature with amendments removing sections that would require coverage of up to 14 days at an inpatient facility and limit insurers' ability to deny coverage of clinical services. An insurer would be unable to review a patient's treatment plan for continuing coverage until seven days after the start of inpatient care, under the bill. A spokeswoman for the governor could not immediately say whether the governor planned to sign the bill (S 2142) in its entirety, or return sections with amendments. The bill-signing ceremony will take place at 3:15 p.m. in the governor newly renovated office on the third floor of the State House. On Wednesday morning, U.S. Sen. Edward Markey plans to holds press conference at Boston Medical Center with National Drug Control Policy Office Acting Director Michael Botticelli and others to discuss a strategy to address opioid addiction and prevent overdoses. - M. Murphy/SHNS

NEW SUNDAY HOURS WILL TAKE EFFECT OCT. 26

Sunday, Oct. 26, will be the first Sunday when state package stores will be allowed to open two hours earlier after Gov. Deval Patrick signed a bill into law in July. Seekonk Rep. Steven Howitt, who sponsored the bill, said he had been hoping for the change in time for the beach season, and noted it would take effect in time for football season. "I'm very pleased," Howitt told the News Service about the bill's passage into law. The law moves the earliest hour liquor stores can open from 12 p.m. to 10 a.m., which Howitt said would be an economic boon for border communities. - A. Metzger/SHNS