STATE CAPITOL BRIEFS - LUNCH EDITION - MONDAY, JULY 21, 2014

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

POLICE CHIEFS, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ACTIVISTS TO RALLY OVER GUN BILL

To show support for a measure stricken from gun legislation that cleared the Senate last week, police chiefs plan to rally outside the State House Tuesday with members of the Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, Jane Doe Inc. and Stop Handgun Violence. Former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis plans to join police at the rally, according to organizers, who say police chiefs will express their support for a measure that cleared the House and gives chiefs more discretion to deny rifle permits. Sen. James Timilty, a Walpole Democrat who carried the bill in the Senate and chairs the Legislature's Public Safety Committee, said last week he supported removing the provision from the Senate bill. "This was something that I felt very strongly about," Timilty told reporters, stating that the amended bill would "reflect the constitution." Under current law, local licensing authorities must give people who pass a background check a firearms identification card. Police chiefs, however, have the discretion to issue a license to carry a handgun. The House bill proposed to extend the same discretion for handguns to firearm identification cards for rifles and shotguns. The Senate voted 28-10 on Thursday for a Sen.


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Michael Moore amendment to remove that section of the bill, while retaining the ability of police chiefs to deny FID cards if the applicant fits into a category on the prohibited persons list, such as someone convicted of a felony. The overall bill cleared the Senate on a voice vote, and is now likely destined for a conference committee. With ten days remaining for formal sessions, the House met for 12 minutes Monday and adjourned until Tuesday without naming gun bill negotiators. - M. Norton/SHNS

SRB: TEN JUDGES FILED PAPERWORK TO RETIRE IN JULY

Ten state judges are retiring from the bench in July and three more will hang up their robes in August, giving Gov. Deval Patrick more judicial vacancies to fill before he leaves office at the end of this year. In response to a News Service inquiry, the State Retirement Board disclosed that the following judges have submitted paperwork to retire in July: Probate and Family Court Judge Geoffrey Wilson; Chicopee District Court Judge Mary Hurley; Boston Municipal Court Judge Charles Johnson; Springfield District Court Judge Philip Beattie; Ayer and Concord District Court Peter Kilmartin; Marlborough District Court Judge Sarah Singer; Norfolk Juvenile Court Judge Robert Murray; Berkshire District Court Judge Rita Koenigs; Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Roderick Ireland; and Juvenile Court Chief Justice Michael Edgerton. Judges who plan to retire in August, according to the retirement board, are Superior Court Judge Jane Haggerty, Somerville District Court Judge Neil Walker, and Probate and Family Court Judge John Smoot. Suffolk Superior Court Judge Christine McEvoy plans to retire in September and Cambridge District Court Judge Severlin Singleton plans to retire Oct. 6. Ireland and Edgerton are reaching the mandatory judicial retirement age of 70 this year, according to the state treasurer's office, which oversees the retirement board. The Republican of Springfield reported in 2013 that a significant number of judges may retire early in 2014 at higher pension levels afforded by a $30,000 pay increase that took effect July 1. - M. Norton/SHNS

LAWMAKERS DRAWN TO DISPUTE OVER MARKET BASKET

Lawmakers joined a large crowd in Tewksbury on Monday, rallying against the new leadership of the Market Basket supermarket chain and calling on others to "honor" a boycott of the store. A draft letter to the supermarket board circulating from Sen. Barry Finegold, an Andover Democrat, praised ousted leader Arthur T. Demoulas, while stating it is "not about picking sides" but rather standing up for the workers loyal to the former CEO, some of whom have reportedly been fired. "It's unprecedented to have so many people standing side by side against their company's leadership," said Sen. Sal DiDomenico, an Everett Democrat, who attended the rally with Finegold, and Lowell Democrats Sen. Eileen Donoghue and Rep. David Nangle. He told the News Service, "It is a little unusual for lawmakers to be involved in this kind of dispute," but said the "circumstances" were unique, and he expects more colleagues to join him in the boycott. Arthur T. Demoulas was reportedly removed from his position atop the company from another wing of the family headed by Arthur S. Demoulas. The supermarket is known for low prices and large crowds. A draft copy of Finegold's letter provided mid-day Monday included bipartisan signatories, including House Minority Leader Brad Jones, a North Reading Republican, Rep. Marc Lombardo, a Billerica Republican, and Rep. Denise Provost, a Somerville Democrat among more than 35 lawmakers and mayors. The letter says the board's ouster of the CEO is a decision "motivated by corporate greed and will only serve to destroy the legacy the Demoulas family has worked generations to establish." DiDomenico said the people who attended the rally were "angry," and he believes the uprising "can't be ignored by the current leadership." Finegold is running for treasurer, and the issue has also drawn statements from gubernatorial candidates and others seeking statewide office. - A. Metzger/SHNS

HOUSE APPROVES SOMERVILLE PROPERTY TAX EXEMPTION BID

Somerville Democrats are seeing progress in their efforts to deliver an increased tax break to homeowners who live in their properties. Under a bill approved in the House Monday, the exemption for taxpayers' principal residence would jump from 30 to 35 percent of the average assessed value of all residential properties. Rep. Denise Provost and Sen. Patricia Jehlen are sponsoring the bill (H 4188), which moves next to the Senate. At a hearing in June, Provost said Somerville was the first municipality to increase the exemption to 30 percent about 15 years ago in an effort to encourage people to live in the city. There were many absentee landlords renting to students and some properties were neglected, Provost said, depressing housing prices all over the city. The higher exemption has encouraged more people to own, and live in their properties. Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone supports the legislation, a home rule petition approved by the city council. At the hearing, Sen. Michael Rodrigues, co-chair of the committee, asked if city officials realize the costs of the exemption will be passed on to commercial property taxpayers. "It is well understood there is a shift involved here," Provost said. "Our commercial property base is fairly low in Somerville. In some ways, our main industry is real estate." - M. Norton/SHNS

FORMER SEN. ROBERT HAVERN, AT 65

Robert Havern III, a former state representative and senator from Arlington, died over the weekend after an extended battle with brain cancer. He was 65. Havern served in the Massachusetts Legislature for 27 years, first in the House and later in the Senate from 1991 through 2007. He wielded much influence over transportation policies while serving on Beacon Hill before leaving public service for a job in government relations with the Boston law firm Mintz Levin. He represented Arlington, Burlington, Billerica and parts of Woburn and Lexington. A funeral mass has been scheduled for Wednesday at 10 a.m. at Saint Agnes Church in Arlington followed by a burial in Arlington's Mount Pleasant Cemetery. Senate Majority Leader Stanley Rosenberg said many of his former colleagues in the Senate were expected to attend and the Senate schedule for the week would be adjusted accordingly. Havern's family, including his wife and two sons, have asked that in lieu of flowers donations be made to Brain Tumor Research at Massachusetts General Hospital. - M. Murphy/SHNS

MASS. GAS PRICE DROPS A NICKEL IN PAST WEEK

Gas prices across Massachusetts declined by 5 cents a gallon over the past week, AAA of Southern New England reported Monday. The organization said gas in Massachusetts is averaging $3.62 per gallon, or 9 cents a gallon higher than at this time in 2013. The AAA survey found prices ranging from a low of $3.45 to a high of $3.89. - M. Norton/SHNS