STATE CAPITOL BRIEFS - LUNCH EDITION - TUESDAY, JUNE 17, 2014

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

COAKLEY CAMPAIGN CLARIFIES TWEET ON $15 MINIMUM WAGE

Candidate for governor Martha Coakley raised some eyebrows Monday when she replied "yes" on Twitter to a question posed by a Channel 5 reporter about whether she supported a $15 an hour minimum wage. As Coakley was meeting with fast food workers in Dorchester Monday morning Jim Lokay of WCVB tweeted "@marthacoakley Lots of national conversation about a $15/hr wage for fast food workers. Do you support that?" Three hours later, Coakley responded, also on Twitter, writing "@LokayWCVB Yes. I support the movement of fast-food workers to organize and push for a living wage. -mc" Asked whether her response meant Coakley supports a $15 minimum wage, campaign spokeswoman Bonnie McGilpin said in a statement, "Martha believes that multinational corporations that reap enormous profits should not be paying workers so little that many have to work two or three jobs just to make ends meet, and often still are forced to rely on taxpayer-funded public benefits. She supports the movement of fast-food workers to organize and push for a living wage." The Massachusetts Senate last week approved a compromise bill raising the $8 an hour minimum wage here to $11 in three annual steps. The House is scheduled to vote on that proposal on Wednesday. - M.


Advertisement

Norton/SHNS

SENATE TEEING UP SMOKE DETECTOR REQUIREMENT BILL

Barring the completion of conference negotiations on a number of issues still in the balance, the Senate on Thursday has a light day planned with a bill on the agenda (S 2157) requiring homes to be equipped with smoke detectors upon sale regardless of when they were built. The legislation put together by the Joint Committee on Public Safety was released favorably in late May. Senate President Therese Murray on Monday told the News Service that she spoke with House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Gov. Deval Patrick about the status of legislation in various stages of progress through the Legislature and the timeline for dealing with those bills. "We're moving pretty quickly ahead," Murray said. The Senate is also expected Thursday to enact a compromise bill concerning gas leaks, which would send that bill to the governor's desk. A House vote is scheduled Wednesday on Senate-approved legislation raising the minimum wage from $8 an hour to $11 an hour over three years. Lawmakers have exactly two weeks before the start of the new fiscal year to finalize a budget for fiscal 2015 and other issues such as welfare reform, domestic violence, compounding pharmacy oversight and mercury recycling are being negotiated by conferences committees, while bills are still being drafted and processed dealing with job creation, charter schools, and gun violence, to name a few major priorities of legislative leaders. Under legislative rules, formal sessions where controversial matters are considered are scheduled to end in 44 days. After that, the House and Senate will keep meeting in informal sessions, with most lawmakers in August turning their attention away from Beacon Hill and toward vacations, their own re-election efforts, and statewide races. - M. Murphy, M. Norton/SHNS

CHARTERS TOUT ATTRITION RATE IN BOSTON SCHOOLS

As state senators mull a House-approved expansion of charter schools in underperforming school districts, the Massachusetts Charter Public School Association has released an analysis seeking to knock down one of the more prevalent criticisms of charter schools. The groups reported that charter school attrition rates in Boston are lower than traditional city public schools and student stability rates are higher. "Charter public schools are often accused of 'evicting' students, but the truth is charter students transfer less often than traditional district students," said Marc Kenen, executive director of the Massachusetts Charter Public School Association, in a statement. "It calls in question one of the biggest excuses used by charter opponents to explain away the academic success of charter public schools." The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education tracks attrition rates, which measure the number of students who start a school year in a new school, and stability rates, which track how many students finish a year in the same school they started. The average attrition rate between 2010 and 2013 in non-selective Boston charter high schools was 10 percent compared to 13 percent in district high schools. The high school stability rate was 92 percent in charter schools compared to 74 percent in district high schools. The House passed a bill this session to lift the cap on charter school enrollment and give certain Level 3 schools on the cusp of falling into a lower category more control over things like the length of the school day to turn around their performance. The Senate hasn't taken up the bill yet. - M. Murphy/SHNS

CASINO FOES, NURSES SAY THEY'RE LOCKED IN ON BALLOT

While there won't be a presidential race on the ballot this November to attract voters to the polls, a series of ballot questions could serve as a draw. Facing a Wednesday filing deadline, proponents of three ballot questions indicated Tuesday they have more than enough signatures ready to lock in slots on the ballot for their initiative petitions. With 11,485 required, the Massachusetts Nurses Association/National Nurses United said it had more than 25,000 signatures ready on behalf of two questions, one establishing strict limits on the number of patients assigned to a nurse and a second proposal requiring hospitals receiving tax dollars to disclose their profit margins, how much they hold in offshore accounts and their CEO compensation. Proponents of a petition repealing the state's 2011 casino law said they had collected more than 26,000 signatures, including signatures from more than half of the delegates to Saturday's Democratic Party convention in Worcester. The Supreme Judicial Court is expected to rule by early July on whether Attorney General Martha Coakley's decision ruling the repeal question ineligible for the ballot will stand. Initiative petition sponsors must turn in signatures with local officials for certification by 5 p.m. Wednesday. - M. Norton/SHNS

BOSTON-AREA CPI ROSE 2.1 PERCENT OVER PAST YEAR

The consumer price index in the Boston area rose 2.1 percent over the last year, according to data released Tuesday by the federal government. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the increase was largely attributed to higher shelter prices, which rose 3.4 percent. Gas prices increased 5 percent and electricity prices increased 9.2 percent. Food prices rose 0.5 percent over the year. - M. Norton/SHNS