STATE CAPITOL BRIEFS - LUNCH EDITION - MONDAY, AUG. 11, 2014

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

NAVAL BASE REDEVELOPMENT BILL REACHES GOVERNOR

Legislation aimed at accelerating the redevelopment of the South Weymouth Naval Air Base and rearranging the oversight and governance structure for a project known as Southfield has cleared its final legislative hurdle. The bill (H 4372) gained momentum on Beacon Hill over the final week of July but fell just shy of reaching Gov. Deval Patrick's desk until Monday, when a final Senate enactment vote occurred during a lightly attended session. According to Starwood Land Ventures, the bill and a recent agreement with the town of Weymouth will help reduce barriers by addressing a range of issues, including parkway financing, utilities and tax rates, zoning, and the provision of municipal services. Starwood predicts "thousands" of new jobs in connection with the residential and commercial development. - M. Norton/SHNS

BRANCHES IN AGREEMENT ON ANIMAL ABUSE BILL

House and Senate lawmakers are using the quiet of informal sessions to reach agreement on animal welfare legislation. The Senate on Monday agreed to House changes to legislation known as the PAWS Act, which stands for "protecting animal welfare and safety." Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr said the bill (H 4388) reflects a broad-based agreement and would have a significant impact on addressing animal abuse in Massachusetts, if signed into law. Among other things, the bill requires veterinarians to report cases of suspected animal abuse to the police or risk being reported themselves to the Board of Registration in Veterinary Medicine.


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The bill now needs only final enactment votes in each branch to reach Gov. Deval Patrick. - M. Norton/SHNS

ROCK WALL CLIMBING BILL CLEARS HOUSE

Both branches are now on record in favor of legislation implementing new safeguards for fabricated rock wall climbing businesses. The House on Monday approved legislation (S 2253) that the Senate approved on July 8 on a vote of 38-1. The bill requires climbing wall licensees, if offering customers an opportunity to climb walls of more than 12 feet, to ensure that all climbers are wearing protective headgear and fitted with a safety harness and that workers are properly trained in the use of safety systems. The bill also disallows operation of climbing walls that are not equipped with an inflatable protective base and guardrail surrounding the base of the wall. As drafted, the bill calls for state public safety officials to adopt necessary regulations by Jan. 1, 2015, when the new law would take effect. - M. Norton/SHNS

SOUTHBOROUGH ALCOHOL LICENSES WIN FAVOR IN HOUSE

After sidelining Gov. Deval Patrick's proposal to make alcohol licensing a purely local responsibility, the House and Senate on Monday quietly went about the business of approving local licensing requests. The House passed a pair of bills based on legislation proposed by Acton Sen. James Eldridge and Holliston Rep. Carolyn Dykema. One bill (H 4311) specifies a license for Panzano Market in Southborough and the other (H 4312) authorizes a license for Sperry's Country Market Beer and Wine. Both businesses are located on Turnpike Road. The Senate on Thursday gave the green light to a bill allowing the town of Easton to grant one more license, which is limited to North Easton Village under a proposal based on legislation filed by Rep. Claire Cronin. The Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee is still weighing a Rep. Kate Hogan bill to grant five alcohol licenses to people operating businesses at Highland Commons in Hudson (H 4313) and a Rep. Jay Barrows bill (H 4361) specifying licenses for the Mansfield Crossing Pouring License Area and the Mansfield Marketplace/The Pavilion Pouring License Area. Gov. Patrick in April proposed as part of his economic development bill a plan to place authority for granting liquor licenses in the hands of municipalities, which the governor said would "allow local communities to make responsible decisions regarding their economic development and growth." Patrick is reviewing a redrafted version of the so-called jobs bill that does not contain that proposal. - M. Norton/SHNS

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