In case you missed it, today marks the second day of debate on the House Ways & Means Fiscal Year 2015 Budget.
As you may have heard, the House of Representatives recently unveiled their $36.2 billion state budget proposal. While the Democratic-majority set an unfortunate tone to this year’s budget debate by refusing to consider amendments relative to local aid, education spending, and welfare reform, the House Republican Caucus will not be deterred.
During this year’s budget debate, the House Republican’s firmly believe that the Legislature must make considerable strides in delivering a budget that is mindful of the economic times, while producing a spending plan that delivers an accountable and transparent state government which reflects the taxpayers’ priorities, and seeks to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse.
This evening’s debate will now transition to amendments relative to social services/veterans and soldiers homes. Below, you will find the amendments offered by House Republicans, along with a brief description of the amendment.
Veterans and Soldiers Homes
Amendment 57 - Veterans Training and Employment Program (Jones, Bradley) EARMARKS $50K from the Veterans' Outreach Centers account (1410-0012) for a Veterans Training and Employment Program to subsidize the cost of employment while training veterans for jobs at Massachusetts-based businesses. Veterans must have been honorably discharged after at least 90 days of deployment. To participate in this program, businesses must first apply and be accepted by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Amendment 58 - Establishing a Homeless Veteran Housing Priority Commission (Jones, Bradley) ADDS a new outside section establishing a commission to study the feasibility and effects of designating 10% of public housing in the Commonwealth with preference given to combat veterans.
Amendment 330 - An Act Relative to the VFW Solomon Post 8819 (Lombardo, Marc) EARMARKS $125K from the Agawam and Winchendon Cemeteries account (1410-0018) for the Solomon Post in Billerica.
Amendment 340 - Veteran Pilot Program (Vieira, David) EARMARKS $150K from the Veterans' Outreach Centers (1410-0012) for the Complimentary Alternative Medicine (CAM) paradigm pilot program for veterans suffering from the effects of PTSD and/or TBI. Increases the overall appropriation by $150K.
Amendment 676 - An Amendment to Increase Veterans' Services Administration Funding (Kuros, Kevin) INCREASES the total appropriation for Veterans Services Administration (1410- 0010) by $895K.
Amendment 765 - For the operation of the department of veterans' services (Ferguson, Kimberly) EARMARKS $85K from the Veteran's Services Administrations and Operations account (1410-0010) to be used annually to train 3 assistance dogs for male or female veterans. Does not increase overall appropriation.
Amendment 3 - Online Identity Authentication System (Jones, Bradley) ADDS a new outside section directing the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) to establish a three year pilot program to develop and maintain a computerized integrated eligibility system to verify income, assets, and identity when determining an applicant’s eligibility for public assistance benefits. Provides that the EOHHS may enter into a contract with a third-party vendor for the purposes of developing and maintaining the integrated eligibility system.
Amendment 4 - Background Check Requirements Department of Children and Families (Jones, Bradley) ADDS a new outside section mimicking the language of the Department of Early
Education and Care and adds it to the policy of the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to ensure that DCF is taking the appropriate precautions in its hiring and placement process. Requires CORI, SORI, and fingerprint-based background checks.
Amendment 7 - Best Interests of the Child (Harrington, Sheila) ADDS a new outside section ensuring that "the best interest of the child" will be the standard for the Department of Children and Families (DCF) and the court, in cases involving the care and protection of children.
Amendment 15 - DCF Hiring of a Physician Medical Director (Jones, Bradley) ADDS a new outside section directing the Department of Children and Families to hire a Physician Medical Director to provide the Department with medical expertise and oversee medical case evaluations made by social workers.
Amendment 19 - DCF Report on the Integrated Casework Practice Model (Jones, Bradley) ADDS an outside section directing the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to report on and evaluate the Integrated Case Practice Management (ICPM), including the effect this model has had on the Department since its implementation. The report should include data on the impact of reducing child maltreatment, efficient utilization of department resources, and the feasibility of expanding ICPM throughout the Department.
Amendment 35 - Out-Of-State Client Department of Children and Families (Jones, Bradley) ADDS a new outside section directing the Department of Children and Families to utilize appropriate resources to return a child under the care of the Department back to their home state in the circumstance that said child is not a resident of the Commonwealth.
Amendment 42 - Survey Commission for Department of Children and Families (Jones, Bradley) ADDS a new outside section establishing a 15-member commission to prepare an anonymous survey to be distributed by June 1, 2014 to all clients of the Department of Children and Families (DCF), including involuntary and voluntary clients, and employees of DCF (social workers and supervisors). The commission shall study, review and report on the outcome of the surveys and assess the needs and resources of the Department.
Amendment 160 - Children's Vitamin Rebate (Jones, Bradley) EARMARKS $500K from the Department of Transitional Assistance account (4403-2000) for a Children's Vitamin Rebate Program. Does not increase the overall appropriation.
Amendment 173 - DCF Licensing Requirements (Jones, Bradley) STRIKES the Department of Children and Families (DCF) licensing social worker requirements, established in SECTION 15, requiring all social workers employed by DCF to obtain a license as a certified social worker within 6 months, instead of 3 years. Requires social workers to have a bachelor's degree at the time of appointment and requires a supervisory social worker to be a licensed certified social worker (LCSW) or a licensed independent clinical social worker (LICSW) and have a master's degree in social work or a related field at the time of appointment. Directs the Commissioner to issue a report on the salaries and educational background of all social workers and supervisors, and provide a cost estimate of requiring that at least 50 percent of social workers employed by DCF are LISCW or LCSW.
Amendment 495 - Finding Missing DCF Children (Lombardo, Marc) ADDS $200K by creating a new line item (4800-xxxx) in the Department of Children and Families for the establishment of the Missing Children Investigation Trust Fund to compensate private investigators to aid in the search of any child who went missing while under the custody of the department.
Amendment 609 - An Amendment to Account for DCF Spending on the Justina Pelletier Case (Lyons, James) CHANGES the language for the DCF account (4800-0015) to direct DCF to immediately submit a report detailing a complete account of all funds spent on the Justina Pelletier case since DCF first removed Justina from the custody of her family, and prohibits DCF from expending any additional funds on the case until said report has been filed. While the report is being prepared, Justina is to be returned to the custody of her parents.
Amendment 727 - Conducting background checks on household members of foster care home (O'Connell, Shaunna) ADDS a new outside section requiring the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to conduct CORI checks on all household members of a foster home over the age of 14.
Amendment 737 - Protecting children in DCF care (O'Connell, Shaunna) ADDS a new outside section requiring DCF to administer random drug testing once a month to the parents or guardians of children in DCF custody due to drug/alcohol related incidences. Requires parents/guardians with one or more convictions shall submit to treatment. Stipulates that no child shall be placed with a parent/guardian who has failed a drug test.
Amendment 744 - Children's Advocacy Center of Bristol County (Poirier, Elizabeth) EARMARKS $500K in the guardianship and foster care programs of the Department of Children and Families (4800-0038) for the Children's Advocacy Center of Bristol County. Does not increase the overall appropriation.
Amendment 751 - Protecting infants born addicted to drugs (O'Connell, Shaunna) ADDS a new outside section requiring infants who are born addicted to drugs as a result of their mother's drug use, be placed under the care and custody of the Department of Children and Families.
Amendment 764 - Safe placement of newborns (O'Connell, Shaunna) ADDS a new outside section expanding the places considered to be a "baby safe haven," allowing placement of newborns with emergency responders.
Amendment 809 - Out of state spending of taxpayer funded programs (O'Connell, Shaunna) ADDS a new outside section prohibiting the use of cash assistance administered by DTA outside of the Commonwealth.
Amendment 819 - Relative to repayment of public assistance (O'Connell, Shaunna) ADDS a new outside section directing DTA and DOR to garnish the wages and/or state tax returns of any recipient or former recipient who has fraudulently collected benefits until all monies owed to DTA have been collected.
Amendment 823 - Yearly audit of taxpayer funded programs (O'Connell, Shaunna) ADDS a new outside section mandating the State Auditor to preform and audit of the Department of Transitional Assistance on a yearly basis.
Amendment 856 - An Act Relative to Parent Rights (Lombardo, Marc) ADDS a new outside section prohibiting parents and legal guardians from being charged with medical child abuse if the parents seeks medical care; the medical provider has made a diagnosis and provided a course of treatment; and the parent is willing to follow the course of treatment. Prohibits the decision of parents to follow a treatment plan from being overridden, even in cases of life-threatening conditions.
Amendment 1023 - Limiting Department of Children and Families custody in cases of disputed
diagnosis (Durant, Peter) ADDS a new outside section prohibiting DCF from having custody of a child for more than 30 days if said child is the subject of conflicting medical diagnoses.