Friday, April 29, 2011
HOUSE OVERWHELMINGLY ADOPTS MUNICIPAL HEALTH INSURANCE PLAN DESIGN REFORM
113-42 Vote Embraces Key Municipal Priority Advanced by Speaker DeLeo and Chairman Dempsey Cities and Towns Would Have Ability to Make Plan Design Changes or Join GIC
April 27, 2011
At 11:03 p.m. on Tuesday, April 26, the members of the House of Representatives, by an overwhelming vote of 113-42, adopted a strong municipal health insurance reform plan advanced by the Speaker and the House Ways and Means Committee. The MMA applauds the extraordinary leadership of Speaker DeLeo, Ways and Means Chairman Dempsey, Ways and Means Vice Chairs Kulik and Walz, Public Service Committee Chair Scibak, and all House members who voted to add the reform amendment to the fiscal 2012 state budget. The reform package includes the following provisions:
# Adds a new Section 19A to Chapter 32B, which, if adopted by the Board of Selectmen in a town, the Mayor or City Manager and Council in a city, or by the school committee in a regional school district, allows the community or district to increase its co-pays, deductibles and other plan design features up to the level included in the most subscribed plan offered by the Group Insurance Commission, or to transfer its subscribers into the GIC if the community would save more through that option;
# Requires the appropriate public authority (generally the municipal executive) to convene a meeting of a special committee comprised of a representative of each collective bargaining unit and a retiree representative, and submit the proposal to that "public employee committee" regarding the plan design changes or transfer to the GIC, and conduct a 30-day discussion period to discuss the details of the proposal and negotiate how to allocate 10 percent of one year's estimated cost savings, provided that the allocation of the savings shall only be used for health related programs (such as an HRA or other related items) for active employees and retirees;
# If the 30-day discussion results in an agreement with the committee, the community shall implement the changes and the 10 percent savings shall be allocated as agreed;
# If the 30-day discussion does not result in an agreement with the committee, the community may implement the plan design changes or transfer as originally proposed, however the community shall set aside 20 percent of one year's estimated savings for an HRA to offset costs for high utilizers and retirees (this provides an incentive to municipalities to reach an agreement with the committee, and is the House's preferred alternative to binding arbitration, which is not in the amendment); and
# The amendment makes it clear that the decision to implement plan design changes or enroll in the GIC is not subject to collective bargaining -- the employee/employer contribution percentage is still subject to collective bargaining, as is any change in co-pays or deductibles that would exceed those in the GIC's most subscribed plan.
The MMA will be analyzing the final language adopted by the House, and will provide further information as more becomes available. In the meantime,please contact your Representatives today to thank them for their vote in support of reform (please see the list of "yes" votes below).
This is one major step on the road to reform. Action will now turn to the Senate, which has passed labor-favored language on this issue for the past two years. This will be a major challenge, so please contact your Senators today as well to ask them to follow suit and support real and meaningful relief for cities and towns.
Thank you for your tireless advocacy -- you have made the difference in this effort!
Representatives Voting Yes on Chairman Dempsey's Amendment (roll call 51), listed in order of appearance on the roll call machine: DeLeo, Mariano, Haddad, C. Murphy, Aguiar, Arciero, Ashe, Atkins, Atsalis, Balser, Basile, Benson, Binienda, Bradley, Brownsberger, Cabral, Campbell, Canessa, Cariddi, Coakley-Rivera, Conroy, Costello, Curran, Dempsey, DiNatale, Donato, Dykema, Fernandes, Ferrante, Finn, Forry, Fox, Galvin, Garballey, Gobi, Hecht, Henriquez, Hogan, Holmes, Honan, Kafka, Kane, Kaufman, Keenan, Khan, Kocot, Koczera, Kulik, Lewis, Linsky, Madden, Malia, Markey, McMurtry, Michlewitz, Moran, J. Murphy, Nangle, Naughton, O'Flaherty, Peake, Pedone, Peisch, Pignatelli, Puppolo, Rogers, Rosa, Rushing, Sanchez, Sannicandro, Scaccia, Schmid, Scibak, Smith, Speliotis, H. Stanley, Story, Swan, Torrisi, Vallee, Wagner, C. Walsh, Walz, Jones, Peterson, Poirier, Adams, Barrows, Bastien, Beaton, Boldyga, deMacedo, D'Emilia, Diehl, Fattman, Ferguson, Frost, Gifford, Harrington, Howitt, Humason, Hunt, Kuros, Levy, Lombardo, Lyons, O'Connell, Ross, Smola, Vieira, Webster, and Wong.
Monday, April 25, 2011
The Daily News article about the votes is here.
A lot of the ugly details you want to know about Crow Lane are here at http://www.mass.gov/dep/about/region/crowlane.htm
To paraphrase from the website:
An amendment to the April 30, 2010, Final Judgment and Settlement Agreement for the closure of the Crow Lane Landfill was filed by the Attorney General's Office in Suffolk Superior Court on December 21, 2010, on behalf of the MassDEP. The amendment incorporates revisions to the landfill closure plan (the Revised Corrective Action Design) that improve and simplify construction of a portion of the landfill perimeter berm by reducing the height of the berm along Crow Lane and shortening the length of the landfill access road. The amendment includes several other provisions:
· The flexible membrane liner ("FML") cap will be extended to cover the bottom of the storm water culvert on the north side of the berm;
· Wetlands restoration and replication will occur on the south side of Crow Lane to compensate for some impact to the wetlands on the north and west side of the Landfill caused by berm design improvements [minimum of 2 to 1 replication/ restoration ratio for any lost wetlands];
· Construction protocols and deadlines are included for installation of the sand drainage layer and placement of the loam and seed on top of the synthetic cap on the landfill; and
· Final design plans must be submitted to MassDEP for the landfill storm water collection basin 1, including storm water calculations to demonstrate that it meets the design performance standards and will supply clean water to the vernal pool on City property across Crow Lane. Any final blasting that must be done for the storm water basin to meet the MassDEP approved design depth and to assure proper discharge to the vernal pool will be controlled and strictly monitored to make sure no odor problems develop.
Two of the tasks included in the amended closure plan (which I highlighted above in red) were recently brought before the Council at the request of the Mayor. The two orders were for the Council to authorize the Mayor to enter into licensing agreements to allow on City property:
1) Wetlands restoration and replication
2) a culvert under Crow Lane to get clean water to the vernal pool on City property.
The two orders were sent to the Council’s Planning and Development Committee and were brought to the Council floor tonight. Both orders were rejected by 4 yes-7 no votes.
I voted in favor for two reasons:
1) These two steps are necessary for the Landfill to be properly closed by June 30, 2011. They are necessary as part of the Final Settlement Agreement, not because New Ventures has any interest in doing them. The last thing the City and the neighbors who have suffered for so long need is for New Ventures to complain to the judge this summer that the closure hasn’t happened because Newburyport dragged it out.
2) I appreciate that the Mayor sought Council input even though she did not need it and has the authority to authorize these agreements without Council approval. The licensing agreements were improved and clarified with Council suggestions, including strengthened language about the City’s ability to approve the contractor and manage the process. In an email tonight after the Council votes, the Mayor indicated she will be going ahead and signing the agreements.
I understand Council reluctance to have anything to do with New Ventures after all the conditions NV created which have made life a living hell for the neighbors. The biggest mistake was years ago in even allowing New Ventures into the community. The best course now is for the City, DEP and New Ventures to move ahead on the final closure activities and get this chapter closed.
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Charter Commission Upcoming Meetings
The Charter Commission will be discussing recall at their Monday, April 11 meeting at 7 pm at the Police Department.
The Charter Commission will be having a Public Hearing on Wednesday, April 13 at 7 p.m. at the Police Department. This is the last public hearing before the draft charter is finalized. We are looking for public feedback & we will be discussing the changes that have occurred since the publication of the preliminary report AKA draft charter on March 4th.
Charter Commission information can be found at http://nbptcharterreview.weebly.com/