House Reflects on
Accomplishments as Session Breaks
Focuses on Job Creation, Economic Development; Passes Major Reforms
(BOSTON) – State Representative Carlo P. Basile joined his
colleagues in the Massachusetts House of Representatives today in
celebrating recent session accomplishments as the Legislature breaks
As of Tuesday, July 31st, the House passed major legislation
pertaining to economic development, health care cost containment,
the MBTA, criminal justice, and aid for citizens and municipalities
across the Commonwealth.
“With a strong focus on creating jobs and improving
Massachusetts’ innovation economy by cutting costs and streamlining
the state’s higher education system, I am proud to say that the
House of Representatives had one of the most productive sessions in
recent memory,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo.
“In addition to creating jobs, the House paid due attention to
the needs of small businesses, families, and municipalities while
also passing several important reforms that will improve the quality
of life for everyone in Massachusetts in the future.”
“Now that this highly successful session has ended, I commend my
colleagues in the Legislature for their hard work in easing the
economic burdens of the Commonwealth and its people during this
economic slump,” Representative Carlo P. Basile (D – East Boston),
Vice Chairman, Financial Services, said.
“By focusing on health care cost reduction, home owners’ rights,
job creation, and updating our own infrastructure; Massachusetts
continues its pursuit of bettering itself and improving the lives of
With an eye to offsetting the pain of the economic downturn, the
House closed the session by passing two major pieces of legislation
that create jobs and curb health care costs on patients and
The House placed creating and retaining jobs at the center of its
agenda. It sent to the Governor a strong piece of legislation that
implements strategically-focused economic development policies to
make Massachusetts more competitive.
The bill achieves that by improving the Commonwealth’s innovation
economy, promoting economic prosperity through infrastructure
investments and streamlined permitting, facilitating the expansion
of new and existing businesses, and training our workforce for the
future. The bill also places a unique focus on the “innovation
economy” as one of the pillars of Massachusetts' economic future.
Few issues burden families and businesses as much as the high cost
of health care. Accordingly, the House worked on historic health
care cost containment legislation that addresses the unsustainable
cost of health care while allowing the health care industry to
continue to provide world-class quality care.
The bill aims to empower patients and assist hospitals while
streamlining health care in the Commonwealth through the use of
electronic health records. Under this law, patients will be provided
with more tools to make informed decisions as they pertain to care
and cost and struggling hospitals will get assistance from a
Distressed Hospital Fund.
Aware of the tough economic circumstance some families find
themselves in, the House took action to protect homeowners who have
fallen victim to predatory mortgages and unnecessary foreclosures.
Under this legislation, lenders and banks will have to offer loan
modifications to borrowers in certain circumstances so that
foreclosure can be avoided.
Also at the end of session, the House approved a tough sentencing
bill that cracks down on habitual offenders and establishes new
requirements to improve the functions of the state parole board.
After much deliberation, the House approved a bill that requires the
habitual offender tag to be placed on anyone convicted of two crimes
from a list of the most serious offenses, including murder, rape and
kidnapping. It mandates that any habitual offender found guilty of a
third offense from the list of most serious crimes would be
ineligible for parole. The balanced bill also reduces mandatory
minimum sentences for certain drug offenses.
These major successes have built upon the successes of last year
wherein the House worked to pass myriad legislation pertaining to
municipal health care, court reorganization, and expanded gaming.
These major pieces of legislation follow the House’s work on a
municipal health insurance reform plan that aimed to help
communities save on healthcare costs, while also protecting care
quality for retirees and municipal employees. Under this
legislation, municipal workers pay no more in co-payments and
deductibles than those paid by subscribers to the largest plan
offered by the Group Insurance Commission (GIC), which provides
health insurance to state workers and legislators.
The municipal healthcare reform legislation was a large part of
the year’s budget and just recently, Governor Patrick announced on
the one-year anniversary of this legislation that over 127
communities in the Commonwealth have combined to save an estimated
$175 million in health insurance premiums, nearly double the
predicted savings at the time of House approval.
Another major success of the House over these past two years has
been the final passage of landmark expanded gaming legislation. The
long-awaited expanding gambling bill that was passed by the House
and Senate and later signed by Governor Patrick will allow for three
resort casinos in separate regions of the state and one
competitively-bid slot facility. These gambling venues are projected
to provide 15,000 jobs in the Commonwealth, fuel our growing economy
and generate hundreds-of-millions of dollars a year for the state.
Back in January, the House refocused on cost savings, immediately
picking up where it left off after the holidays with passage of
unemployment insurance rate freeze legislation that would save the
average employer $141 per employee. Efforts such as these ease the
burden on small businesses during these tough fiscal times.
After approving legislation that improves the governance, financial
accountability, and state and local oversight of regional education
collaboratives, the House worked a number of other bills that allow
landfills to be used for renewable energy, update the state’s
current organ donation law, and provide easier access to forensic
analysis in court cases to help avoid wrongful convictions.
During the budget process, the House renewed its commitment to
the Commonwealth’s citizens and municipalities by crafting a budget
for fiscal year ‘13 that focuses heavily on local aid and passing
legislation that will improve the quality of life here in
The House and Senate agreed upon a $32.5 billion spending plan
that prioritizes funding for cities and towns and commitments to
reform and job creation. The budget does not contain any new taxes
and uses a combination of ongoing revenue initiatives, one-time
resources and spending reductions to close a $1.4 billion budget
gap, the smallest budget gap the state has had since FY08.
The budget increases funding for local aid by $288.9 million over
FY12 projected spending, including $899 million for unrestricted
local aid, increases Chapter 70 funding to $4.17 billion, ensuring
that all school districts receive at least an additional $40 per
pupil in aid, and increased Regional School Transportation funding
to $45.52 million. Additionally, the budget fully funds the Special
Education Circuit Breaker at $242 million for first time since FY08.
In addition, the budget calls for increased oversight of
community colleges, continues to improve public higher education
resources and connects those resources to workforce needs across the
state, adds to the state’s community preservation trust fund, and
increases funding for elder protective services, substance abuse
services, independent living centers, and the department of veterans
services. The budget also worked to reform the state’s EBT system in
an attempt to weed out any fraudulent use of the state’s resources.
In a year where we’ve seen a lot of fiscal improvement with a steady
decline in the unemployment rate and an increase in our state’s bond
rating, Chairman Dempsey of the House Committee on Ways and Means
announced that Massachusetts finished FY ’12 at $107 million above
benchmark with a balance of $1.34 billion in the state’s
The House finished of the year working on a number of other bills
that aimed to improve the quality of life for servicemen and women,
those in need of housing, and commuters. With passage of the VALOR
Act, the House expands the services offered through the
Massachusetts Military Family Relief Fund, assists military families
in transitioning in and out of Massachusetts, and increases the
efficiency of veterans’ service officers in our communities. The
House later worked to add a level of job security for call and
volunteer firefighters and, through passage of supportive housing
legislation, the House created easier access to supportive housing
for those who need it most.
Throughout the session, the House has remained committed to
improving the state’s transportation system and supporting the MBTA.
The House approved funding to improve transportation infrastructure
in municipalities across the state through a Chapter 90 allocation
and also passed legislation that closes the MBTA’s gap for the
upcoming fiscal year and provides vital assistance to the regional
Other session accomplishments include:
* Passage of a groundbreaking court reorganization and probation
reform legislation in accordance with Supreme Judicial Court Chief
Justice Roderick L. Ireland. Following the recommendation of the
Monan Commission Report, the bill created an Office of Court
Management and a Chief Justice of the Trial Court to divide the
responsibilities currently held by the Chief Justice for
Administration and Management.
* Approval of a strong and fair casino compact between the
Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, and
* Creation of another sales tax holiday on August 11th-12th as part
of the economic development legislation in an effort to boost sales
for local businesses, and
* Passage of another round of pension reform legislation that is
projected to save the Commonwealth more than $5 billion over 30
* Passage of legislation that created 160 new Representative
Districts and 9 new Congressional Districts through an open,
transparent process, and
* A crackdown on human trafficking by approving legislation that
ensured that anyone involved in the organization of forced labor and
sexual servitude would face tough criminal penalties. The bill also
established important protections for victims and children that help
them access necessary services, and
* Approval of the transgender equal rights bill that provides
fundamental protections for the Commonwealth’s approximately 33,000
transgender residents, and
* Implementation of an emergency medical response system in
Massachusetts public and charter schools as a requirement for school
committees and trustees, and
* Improvement of accessibility and transparency in the state’s
election system by promoting civic awareness, streamlining the
process by which citizens may register to vote, and calling for
election audits in certain circumstances. This legislation also
allows 16-year-olds to pre-register to vote, and
* Improvement of the quality of child care services across the
* Reformation of guidelines for determining the form, amount and
duration of alimony payments, and
* Approval of Evergreen legislation that includes language in
collective bargaining agreements stating that employer contracts
will remain valid beyond the agreement’s terms until a new agreement