STATE CAPITOL BRIEFS - LUNCH EDITION - MONDAY, JULY 14, 2014

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

SENATE PLANS TO DEBATE GUN BILL THURSDAY

Filling out its calendar for the week, the Senate on Monday teed up another major bill for debate. The Senate's version (S 2265) of House-approved legislation aimed at reducing gun violence will reach the Senate floor on Thursday, with amendments due by 5 p.m. Tuesday. The Senate on Wednesday plans to take up legislation allowing more charter schools in the state's lowest performing school districts. More than 18 months into its two-year session, legislative leaders have left many high-profile bills to the last minute and with the July 31 deadline to wrap formal business approaching the branches are scrambling to push major bills through. - G. Dumcius, M. Norton/SHNS

ALLIANCE COUNTING TRIBE ON ITS SIDE

Opponents of the Cape Wind project marked for Nantucket Sound are promoting a new member of their legal team. The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound says constitutional law professor Laurence Tribe will represent the alliance in its appeal of a federal court decision that dismissed a multi-party challenge of Cape Wind's contract with NSTAR. According to the alliance, the Harvard professor plans to work on the appeal with lawyers from Massey & Gail and Jenner & Block and to argue the court's decision in favor of state regulators, NSTAR and Cape Wind by U.S. District Court Judge Richard Stearns "seriously misinterpreted" the Constitution's Eleventh Amendment.


Advertisement

"The opinion of the district court relied on and quoted what my treatise on the Constitution had said about the Eleventh Amendment to reach a conclusion that neither I nor, much more importantly, the U.S. Supreme Court, would agree with - a conclusion that would make that relatively narrow constitutional provision a veritable engine of destruction for otherwise valid constitutional challenges to state laws, policies, and actions," Tribe said in a statement. The alliance and others last month appealed the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals in Boston in a suit alleging that Massachusetts regulators "had discriminated against out-of-state power companies - despite their lower costs - by pressuring NSTAR to buy power from an in-state energy company, Cape Wind." The suit also alleges that Massachusetts regulators exceeded their authority in setting wholesale rates for the contract. Cape Wind has been lining up financing for its offshore wind farm and project officials on Monday touted a new National Wildlife Federation report entitled "Catching the Wind" and laying out state actions to "seize the golden opportunity" of offshore wind power, creating jobs and addressing pollution and climate change concerns. - M. Norton/SHNS

SUMMER GAS PRICES HOLD AT $3.67

AAA found no changes in gas prices across Massachusetts over the past week. A survey released Monday concluded the cost of a gallon of regular unleaded gas held at an average of $3.67, up 3 cents a gallon compared to a month ago and 5 cents a gallon compared to a year ago. Prices ranged from a low of $3.55 to a high of $3.89. - M. Norton/SHNS

ACTIVIST: $$$ MOVE STATE CLOSER TO UNIVERSAL EARLY ED GOAL

The newly inked state budget represents a "step in the right direction," according to early education advocates, who say the goal of universal access to high-quality early education and care in Massachusetts will require additional resources. In an email Monday, three days after Gov. Deval Patrick signed a $36.5 billion budget, Amy O'Leary of Early Education for all said the spending plan increases spending on early education for the second consecutive year and the new investments represent the largest overall funding increase for early education since 2008. The budget level funds universal pre-kindergarten grants, full-day kindergarten and the Early Childhood Educator Scholarship program, but increases spending in other areas. The budget includes $15 million in new spending to serve about 1,700 income-eligible children on waiting lists for early education; a $6.57 million rate reserve for early educator salaries and benefits; a new $1 million pre-kindergarten classroom grant program; and a $1 million increase for Head Start programs. - M. Norton/SHNS