STATE CAPITOL BRIEFS, MORNING EDITION, THURSDAY, JAN. 30, 2014

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

TASK FORCE'S REPORT ON GUN VIOLENCE POSTPONED TO MONDAY

Speaker Robert DeLeo's gun violence task force has delayed the release of its report from Thursday until Monday. Task force chairman Jack McDevitt, of Northeastern University, told the News Service in a Wednesday evening email that "scheduling difficulties" had required the postponement. "I have learned that while Massachusetts has some of the strongest gun laws in the country, there is room for improvement," DeLeo told members in a biennial speech Wednesday. "After the group releases its report, we will file legislation to go before the Committee on Public Safety to make Massachusetts a safer place." Just as Rep. Thomas Conroy (D-Wayland), co-chair of the Labor Committee and a candidate for state treasurer, appears to be waiting for signals from DeLeo before advancing minimum wage legislation, so too does Rep. Hank Naughton (D-Clinton), co-chair of the Public Safety Committee, appear to be waiting for DeLeo's task force to report before deciding what to include in gun legislation long promised from the committee. Stop Handgun Violence founder John Rosenthal last month put up a new billboard near Fenway Park displaying the projected number of gun deaths in the United States since the massacre at Sandy Hook, beginning at 32,833. "I'm waiting to read the report like everybody else. I'm hopeful but not optimistic," Rosenthal told the News Service in December.


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"I just have a sense that the Legislature is going to not enact meaningful improvements to our already very effective gun laws." - A. Metzger, M. Norton/SHNS

HOUSE PASSES TRANSPORTATION BORROWING BILL

After a 12-hour session that featured no public debate, the House voted 151-0 late Wednesday night to approve a $12 billion transportation borrowing bill that includes a record $300 million for local road and bridge repairs for fiscal year 2015. The bill also authorizes $2.2 billion to be spent on the South Coast commuter rail project, along with scores of smaller authorizations for local projects. The bill also includes a provision to rename South Station in Boston the "Governor Michael S. Dukakis Transportation Center at South Station." After raising gas and tobacco taxes last year to help pay for transportation system investments, lawmakers settled in for a much quieter discussion Wednesday about what to include in the five-year borrowing bill. The debate occurred primarily in private discussions between members and staff throughout the day. With 262 amendments filed to the bill, House leaders worked behind the scenes to determine which ones to pass or reject through a process that allows amendments to be consolidated. Rep. William Straus (D-Mattapoisett), co-chair of the Joint Committee on Transportation, worked his way around the chamber all evening speaking to members. More than 150 amendments were swept into one consolidated amendment, and adopted without debate. - C. Quinn/SHNS

IN REORGANIZATION, WALSH TOUTS ROLE OF ECONOMIC, ARTS CABINETS

Saying his restructuring would lead to more efficiency and better service delivery, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh outlined a reorganized Cabinet Wednesday in which the arts and culture are elevated and two Cabinets in place under former Mayor Thomas Menino have been consolidated. The new City Hall structure will include 12 Cabinets: Arts and Culture; Chief of Staff; Economic Development; Education; Environment, Energy and Open Space; Finance and Budget; Health and Human Services; Housing and Neighborhood Development; Information and Technology; Operations and Administration; Public Safety; and Streets, Transportation and Sanitation. The consolidated Cabinets are Advocacy and Strategic Investment, and Public Property. Walsh said his leadership team will include the following offices: the corporation counsel, chief of policy, and chief communications officer. Walsh predicted the new Streets, Transportation and Sanitation will better align operations of the Department of Public Works, the Boston Transportation Department and Boston Water & Sewer. Walsh's team also called the creation of the Economic Development Cabinet "the first step in a broad effort to streamline and support the areas of focus that contribute to Boston's economy, including tourism, jobs and employment, businesses development, and real estate development." More changes could be coming at the department level. - M. Norton/SHNS

RUSH, FORRY BACKING FINEGOLD'S BID FOR TREASURER

As expected, Sen. Barry Finegold of Andover formally joined the state treasurer's race Wednesday during an appearance at a Hyde Park housing complex where he and his parents once lived. "I learned so many lessons from my parents as I watched them struggle to provide a life for me. We weren't poor and we certainly weren't rich, we were middle class in every way," Finegold said, according to his campaign. "I fought hard for everything in my life. I worked for every dollar I have made and earned every success my family and I enjoy today." According to Finegold, he worked his way through law school while holding two jobs and started his own law practice, where he still works, before being elected first to the House in 1996 and then to the state Senate in 2010. While he traced his roots back to Hyde Park Wednesday for his campaign announcement, Finegold was raised in Andover and Tewskbury, graduated from Franklin and Marshall College in Pennsylvania, and at 24 became the youngest selectman in Andover's history. Sen. Mike Rush of West Roxbury is backing Finegold's campaign and appeared with him on Wednesday. Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry, like Rush a former House member, is also supporting Finegold. Former 2006 candidate for lieutenant governor Deb Goldberg and state Rep. Tom Conroy are also running for treasurer as Democrats. Republican businessman Mike Heffernan announced his candidacy on Monday. Treasurer Steven Grossman is running for governor and not seeking re-election. - M. Norton/SHNS