STATE CAPITOL BRIEFS - LUNCH EDITION - TUESDAY, JULY 1, 2014

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

GUN OWNERS GROUP 'HOPEFUL' AFTER MEETING WITH DeLEO

The gun owners group lobbying for changes to House Speaker Robert DeLeo's gun violence prevention bill said Tuesday they are seeing "positive results" based on meetings on Beacon Hill, including one with DeLeo. The Gun Owners' Action League (GOAL) said they were "hopeful" after a "positive" meeting with DeLeo. "GOAL is seeing positive results from our meetings at the State House and that is a direct result from the thousands of emails and phone calls our members and supporters are making to their legislators," Jim Wallace, executive director of GOAL, said in a statement. "There is a misconception the people in Massachusetts - and especially legislators - don't care about our 2nd Amendment civil rights. GOAL, and its members, are proving that theory wrong." The provision that has drawn the most concern from GOAL gives police chiefs the ability to deny a firearm ID card for a rifle or shotgun based on a "suitability" standard. "Some Police Chiefs already abuse the discretionary licensing law," Wallace said. "To expand that policy, and grant greater unconstrained authority to the very people that are already bad actors, is simply unconscionable and unconstitutional." GOAL, arguing the bill unfairly burdens legal gun owners, has also been pushing for the bill to include the group's proposal to create a new division within the State Police that specializes in criminal firearms and gun trafficking.


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The result of recommendations of a task force created after the 2012 shooting inside a Connecticut elementary school, DeLeo's bill (H 4121) was filed on May 27. The House chair of the Public Safety Committee, Harold Naughton, then said the bill would then reach the House floor "within a week or two" after a hearing, which was held on June 3. The bill cleared the Public Safety Committee in a close 7-6 vote, and is currently in the House Ways and Means Committee, according to the Legislature's website. Formal legislative sessions end in 30 days. - G. Dumcius/SHNS

TOWN'S MED MARIJUANA TAX BILL GOES UP IN SMOKE

Revenue coffers in Fairhaven will not be bolstered by taxing medical marijuana after lawmakers on Tuesday sent a proposal to study - typically a legislative dead end. According to lawmakers, the town was the first community to attempt to tax the drug, seeking to tack on a 5 percent sales tax. Medical marijuana use was approved by voters in a statewide referendum November 2012. Sen. Michael Rodrigues, co-chair of the Revenue Committee, said lawmakers could eventually have a broader discussion about taxing marijuana. During a hearing Tuesday, no one testified on the bill (H 4130) filed by Rep. William Straus (D-Mattapoisett). "Medical marijuana is a - although it is not a prescribed drug - but it is similar to a prescribed drug by physician-order only. Prescriptions are tax-exempt. We do not tax medical prescriptions, and maybe someday if things change and there is recreational marijuana, maybe at that time, we'd have a discussion." In May, Sen. Brian Joyce (D-Milton) filed but then withdrew an amendment to substance abuse treatment bill to make medical marijuana subject to the state's sales tax. Calling marijuana a "gateway drug," Joyce estimated $60 million in revenues could result and could help bolster treatment services. On Friday, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health listed Brighton Health Advocates Inc. dba Compassionate Care (Fairhaven) as among applicants "not moving forward at location." - C. Quinn/SHNS

SENATORS LOOK TO LOAD UP JOBS BILL

State senators now only a month away from devoting their energies to getting re-elected will look Tuesday afternoon to load up a job creation bill with amendments. Senators have filed 205 amendments to an economic development bill that legislative leaders have left to the final month of formal sessions for the 2013-2014 cycle. The bill (S 2231) is expected to be the focus of Tuesday's session after the branches worked Monday to deliver a $36.5 billion fiscal 2015 budget and a welfare reform bill to the desk of Gov. Deval Patrick, who is in Panama Tuesday and due to return to Massachusetts on Wednesday. - M. Norton/SHNS