STATE CAPITOL BRIEFS - THURSDAY, AUG. 7, 2014

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

PATRICK IN BILL SIGNING FLURRY

Gov. Deval Patrick's pen might need an ink refill with all the bills he is signing this week that lawmakers sent to him amidst the frantic last few days of the 2013-2014 formal legislative session. Patrick signed nearly 50 bills on Tuesday and Wednesday, many of which were local bills authorizing communities to exchange or take parcels of land. Some of the other bills Patrick signed include legislation (S 795) that protects engineers, architects, environmental professionals, landscape architects, and other licensed site professionals who volunteer their services at the scene of a disaster or catastrophe. Sen. Karen Spilka, (D-Natick) who sponsored the bill, said engineers and mechanics volunteer to assess structural integrity of buildings after a disaster, but they are not given any protection against liability if an accident occurs. Fifteen other states have passed similar legislation protecting engineers and other professionals who volunteer their services in the wake of a disaster. The governor also signed legislation (H 3860) related to potluck events, which ensures the meals do not fall under Department of Public Health or local board of health oversight if they meet certain conditions. Sen. James Timilty (D-Walpole) told his colleagues potlucks are a staple of local communities, and the legislation clarifies in state law that potlucks can operate without regulation.


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Patrick also signed into law (S 1882) establishing an Alzheimer's and related dementia acute care advisory committee. The Department of Public Health will pull together representatives from health and human services, elder affairs, the Office of Medicaid, patient advocates and caregivers "to craft a strategy to address dementia-capable care in all acute care settings in the Commonwealth," according to the legislation. -C. Quinn/SHNS

HEALEY, TOLMAN DEBATE IN NEWTON

The two Democrats vying for attorney general, Warren Tolman and Maura Healey, are debating Thursday morning at an event hosted by the Newton-Needham Chamber of Commerce and Mount Ida College. Coverage developing...

SESTAK JOINING GROSSMAN ON TRAIL

Treasurer Steven Grossman and Attorney General Martha Coakley are both attending an event in Boston Thursday morning to show support for Logan Airport workers. Grossman, competing with Coakley and Don Berwick for the Democratic Party's nomination for governor this year, then plans to visit the New England Center for Homeless Veterans where he will be joined by retired three-star admiral and former Pennsylvania Congressman Joe Sestak for a campaign event. Coverage Developing.... - M. Norton/SHNS

BBA: PATRICK HAS "CHANGED THE LEGAL LANDSCAPE"

Citing his effort to ensure diversity on the bench in Massachusetts, the Boston Bar Association announced plans Thursday to honor Gov. Deval Patrick with its 2014 Beacon Award. In a media advisory, the bar association wrote, "During his time in office, Governor Patrick appointed the first African American Chief Justice, African American female Justice, Asian American Justice, and openly gay Justice on the Supreme Judicial Court; the first Native American District Court Judge; and the first South Asian Superior Court Justice. To date, the Governor has filled 164 judicial openings during his two terms in office, which represents 40% of the judiciary. Nearly half of those judges were female, and one fifth represented a minority group." Patrick still has more than four months to continue shaping the courts as he is expected to nominate additional individuals to fill vacancies on the bench, including slots opening up as judges take advantage of an opportunity to retire with higher pensions due to a pay raise recently approved by Patrick and the state Legislature. An award ceremony is set for Oct. 14 at the Taj Boston Hotel. - M. Norton/SHNS