From State House News Service
ON THE AGENDA
- Mr. Moore goes to Washington, in a position to make an impact
- AIDS Project Worcester caseworker speaks at State House
- McGovern needles Trump in push for tax-return transparency legislation
- Neal nabs key leadership post on Pelosi team
- Chandler joins healthcare fact-finding mission to Minnesota
TOP OF THE HILL
Millbury senator tapped for U.S. Attorney General planning panel
While Massachusetts’ influence in Washington could wane with Republican Donald Trump in the White House, at least one state senator expects to be among those making suggestions to the new administration’s Department of Justice.
State Sen. Michael O. Moore of Millbury, a Democrat and member of the DOJ’s Global Justice Information Sharing Initiative Global Advisory Committee (GAC), spent two days in Washington, D.C., last week working with the GAC on ways to use data to fight the opioid epidemic, combat sex trafficking and improve information sharing.
First formed in 1998, the DOJ describes the GAC as “the preeminent voice of state, local, and tribal governments on information sharing matters,” and the group provides recommendations to the U.S. Attorney General.
“It’s a very impressive group that’s been assembled to actually look at the full range of information-sharing that’s necessary in the law enforcement community and it’s not strictly geared towards police, FBI,” Moore said. “It’s got the courts, it’s got the sheriffs, a whole litany of different groups you might not associate with this. It’s a good collaborative of entities and national groups.”
Part of the GAC meeting was focused on the transition to the Trump administration, Moore said, and he expects to continue serving on the GAC after Trump is inaugurated.
Moore, who served 22 years on the state Environmental Police and is now Senate vice chairperson of the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security, was appointed to the committee over the summer after the National Conference of State Legislatures asked him to lend his experience to the panel as its representative.
The group meets once a year, Moore said, but subcommittees operate largely via conference call and email throughout the year. Among the issues Moore said he is working on are policies for automated license plate readers and secure communication channels for law enforcement agencies.
— Colin A. Young
VIDEO OF THE WEEK
World AIDS Day on Beacon Hill
Speakers, including Chastity Bowick of AIDS Project Worcester (who was featured in the Sun for her role as a leader of APW’s Trans4mations transgender support group), covered an array of topics in a World AIDS Day presentation Thursday at the State House.
“I DON’T KNOW WHERE THE HEAD OF OUR NEXT PRESIDENT IS GOING TO BE when it comes to standing up to abuses by people like Vladimir Putin against opposition leaders and journalists and anybody he disagrees with.” — U.S. Rep. James P. McGovern, D-2nd
Congressman Jim McGovern, the second-highest-ranking Democrat on the House Rules Committee, joined House Democrats last week in calling for passage of legislation to require presidential candidates to disclose three years of their tax returns. This year, President-elect Donald Trump became the first presidential nominee in more than 30 years not to release his tax returns.
Speaking on the FY 2017 National Defense Authorization Act Conference Report on Thursday, McGovern emphasized the need for the American people to know where a presidential candidate has financial dealings because of the direct impact that could have on national security.
McGovern pointed to the example of President-elect Donald Trump and his glowing praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin, raising questions about Trump’s potential financial dealings in Russia and whether he would stand up to Putin to protect U.S. interests and defend human rights.
“Tax returns provide the public with vital information about our presidential candidates. Have they paid taxes at all? Do they keep money offshore? Or have they taken advantage of tax loopholes? This is important information that voters have a right to know.
“The American people should expect candidates running for president to be open and transparent about their tax returns. And this legislation would ensure that transparency. It is hard for me to believe that giving people the right to know about presidential candidates’ financial dealings is controversial. I hope that this isn’t,” McGovern said.
“I think where a presidential candidate and soon-to-be-President has financial dealings is directly related to our national defense. Does he have investments in Russia? Does he have investments in countries that have been hostile to human rights or to U.S. interests in various parts of the world? That is very relevant,” he added.
[from a press release from McGovern’s office via State House News Service]
IN THE NEWS
Neal climbs ladder on Pelosi leadership team
The state’s all-Democratic Congressional delegation will soon enter a new era in the minority in both the House and Senate, and without an ally in the White House come January when President-elect Donald Trump takes the oath of office.
The Mass. delegation’s ebbing clout became further complicated last week when at least two of the nine members of the House voted against Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s continued leadership, throwing into question their postings on key committees and influence with Democratic leadership.
The other six members of the delegation backed Pelosi, including the dean of the delegation, U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Springfield, who late last week was elected the ranking minority member on the House Ways and Means Committee. With legislative battles over taxes looming during the Trump administration this, indeed, is a key post.
“Congressman Neal fights hard for families in Western Mass, and he will bring a wealth of experience to the position of Ranking Member on Ways and Means,” U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren said in a statement. “House Democrats and the people of Massachusetts will benefit enormously from Richie’s leadership on the Committee.”
Neal was unavailable for comment.
While Reps. Seth Moulton, D-Salem, and Stephen Lynch, D-Boston, went public with their support for Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan to lead the caucus in the new Congress, U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano, D-Somerville, remains the only House member from Massachusetts whose leadership vote is unknown. “Rep. Capuano has not stated how he voted yesterday and will not be commenting on this matter,” spokeswoman Alison Mills told State House News Service Dec. 1.
After the Nov. 8 elections, Capuano in a television interview said: “I love Nancy Pelosi, but I’m a coach. I kind of think there comes a time. … The Democratic caucus has to go back real clearly and have this discussion and we will be doing that.”
Pelosi held off a challenge from Ryan with 134 votes to Ryan’s 63.
“The House members owe a lot to Nancy Pelosi. She’s done a lot of hard work through the years and done a lot to help many of them get elected and get re-elected. She’s shown a lot of leadership and when I’ve worked personally with Nancy Pelosi she has been terrific,” Warren said.
— Matt Murphy
Chandler among state senators on healthcare fact-finding mission to Minnesota
With health expenditures exceeding economic growth in Massachusetts, Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, D-Amherst, will lead a bipartisan group of seven senators on a fact-finding trip to Minneapolis this month as part of a broader effort to explore ways other states are responding to healthcare cost drivers such as prescription drug prices.
Rosenberg first announced plans to visit other states at an October annual healthcare cost trends hearing hosted by the Health Policy Commission. A spokesman for the senate leader said the trip has been planned for Dec. 15 and Dec. 16, and the full agenda is still being worked out.
Rosenberg will be accompanied by Senate Majority Leader Harriette Chandler, D-Worcester, Health Care Financing Committee Co-chairperson Sen. James Welch, D-West Springfield, Senate Ways and Means Chairperson Karen Spilka, D-Ashland, and Sens. Jason Lewis, D-Winchester, John Keenan, D-Quincy, and Patrick O’Connor, R-Weymouth, the only Republican on the list of trip attendees.
During his first term as Senate leader, Rosenberg has shown a preference for delegating major policymaking responsibilities to ad-hoc groups of senators who operate outside of the formal structure of joint House-Senate committees, and separate House and Senate committees.
The trip is being organized and paid for by the Milbank Memorial Fund, a New York-based public policy group that helped organize a similar trip for senators to Colorado this past session as they prepared to deal with the possible legalization of marijuana.
Rosenberg told the Health Policy Commission in October that the Senate has a particular interest in learning about best policy practices in the areas of pharmaceutical drug pricing, long-term care, social disparities in the delivery of healthcare, behavioral health and substance abuse.
“These areas we are hoping by identifying best practices in other states might inform the conversation here and lead to legislation and other policy actions that could help make a big difference in our work here on cost containment,” he said at the October hearing.
A 2012 law required the state to set a statewide benchmark for annual healthcare expenditure growth in a bid to keep costs in check. A September report by the Center for Health Information and Analysis, an agency created under the law, found that health spending grew 4.1 percent in 2015, outpacing the 3.6 percent benchmark for the second consecutive year.
In addition to the state Legislature’s Health Care Financing Committee, which reviews fiscal matters relating to health care policy, a separate special commission reestablished by law this year has been meeting with the goal of developing a set of recommendations by March to respond to the continued rise of healthcare costs in Massachusetts.
— Matt Murphy