Week Ending February 25, 2011
This week the Legislature took its first action on Governor Patrick’s legislation to reduce health care costs and reform payment systems in Massachusetts. The bill was referred to the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing, which is chaired by Rep. Steven Walsh (D-Lynn) and Sen. Richard Moore (D-Uxbridge). During a procedural hearing held this week by the committee to establish rules for the committee, Sen. Moore said he anticipates the committee will spend the majority of its time this year working on this single piece of legislation. Currently, the committee is drafting a section-by-section summary of the bill to send to House and Senate members.
House Speaker DeLeo (D – Winthrop) and Senate President Murray (D – Plymouth) advocated for a sit-down between legislative leaders and Governor Patrick to discuss the potential for passing expanded gaming bill that would allow resort casinos in Massachusetts. Although both sides were in agreement about authorizing casinos in the state before the end of last session, the issue of slot machines ultimately derailed the bill’s prospects. Speaker DeLeo has been a forceful advocate for racetrack slots while the Governor has insisted that any slot licenses in the state be competitively bid and not restricted to only the state’s handful of racetracks. The Governor on Wednesday remained lukewarm to the idea of meeting with the House Speaker and Senate President to discuss gambling, saying that the gambling bill should not overshadow other legislative priorities and that he speaks with the two legislative leaders every week.
During a joint Ways and Means budget hearing held earlier this week in Amherst, municipal officials advocated for the adoption of a resolution in which the Legislature would commit to at least match local aid levels included in the Governor’s budget filed last month. Legislative leaders issued a similar statement last year, agreeing to a minimum commitment for FY2011 local aid levels. According to the Massachusetts Municipal Association, such a commitment would help municipal governments anticipate state aid levels as they craft their own FY2012 budgets. House and Senate debate surrounding the state’s FY2012 budget will take place in April and May respectively.
John Nunnari, Assoc AIA
Executive Director, AIA MA
MA Chapter of American Institute of Architects
The Architects Building
52 Broad Street, Boston MA 02109-4301