STATE CAPITOL BRIEFS, AFTERNOON EDITION, WEDNESDAY, FEB. 5

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

SENATE AIDE: STAFF CAN FILE UI BILL AMENDMENTS FROM HOME

While the Senate was closed Wednesday due to a snowstorm, the 2 p.m. amendment-filing deadline for proposed changes to an unemployment insurance system reform bill remained in effect. A spokeswoman for Senate President Therese Murray told the News Service that the deadline had not been changed, that staff could access the system and process amendments while working from home and that Murray would make adjustments if necessary. The bill (S 2001) is scheduled for debate in the Senate on Thursday afternoon. Under the bill, rates paid by Massachusetts employers to fund unemployment benefits would be essentially stabilized over four years, with employers who conduct more layoffs seeing an increase and other employers seeing a drop in unemployment taxes. - M. Norton/SHNS

MASS DEMS ADOPT PLATFORM OPPOSING GAS TAX INDEXING REPEAL

The Massachusetts Democratic Party on Tuesday night adopted a resolution to oppose a statewide ballot initiative that would repeal the six-month old law indexing future gas tax increase to inflation. At a meeting in Lowell, the Democratic State Committee voted unanimously to adopt the resolution, which argues that the $1 billion to be collected over the next 10 years from inflation-adjusted increases to the gas tax is necessary to "maintain our transportation and unlock economy opportunity through enhancements to our system.


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" The resolution states: "We oppose efforts to repeal these new transportation revenues because a reduction in funding for transportation will harm the state's economy and make it harder for hard-working families to get to the places they need to go." The initiative to repeal the indexing law is being led by Republican State Committee member Steve Aylward and several Republican lawmakers, including Rep. Geoff Diehl, of Whitman. Proponents of repeal say indexing the gas tax to inflation unfairly absolves lawmakers from having to take future tax votes, and is not necessary in order to make investments in transportation infrastructure and public transit. Most state tax rates are fixed. - M. Murphy/SHNS

STORM WIPES OUT WORK ON JUDICIAL NOMINEES

Fairlie Dalton's pending nomination for a Housing Court judgeship will experience a snow delay, as the Governor's Council meeting Wednesday was called off and rescheduled for Feb. 12. The council, which provides advice and consent on the governor's judicial nominations, also postponed scheduled interviews with Matthew Shea, a nominee for a seat on the Holyoke District Court, and Laurence Pierce, nominated for the Superior Court bench. Pierce is the regional administrative judge and an associate justice for the appellate division of the Northern District Court. Dalton is the first assistant clerk magistrate at the Northeast Housing Court in Lawrence and was nominated for a judgeship in the Northeast Division. Shea is an assistant Hampden County district attorney and has served as a Superior Court supervisor since 2011. State courts were also closed for the day, Wednesday. - A. Metzger/SHNS