By Michael Norton


STATE HOUSE -- The gates to Rep. Brian Dempsey's House Ways and Means Committee are swinging wide open with ten days remaining for formal legislative sessions this year.

The panel chaired by the Haverhill Democrat, often a dead end for major legislation, on Monday plans to release bills requiring background checks on people who work with disabled children (H 4125 amended), raising penalties and jail time for animal cruelty (H 4244 amended), and instructing the Massachusetts Broadband Institute to buy and build broadband infrastructure or pay a private company to build out the "last mile" of broadband or fiber to areas of the state that are currently unserved (S 2184).

The committee on Monday is also releasing legislation applying confidentiality requirements to exams performed by the Division of Insurance (H 879 amended), enabling foreign insurers to qualify to post reduced collateral in Massachusetts (H 4030 amended), and regulating foreign and domestic money transmitters (H 4246 amended).

According to a notice to committee members, lawmakers on Friday afternoon were also asked by Monday morning to vote on the following bills:

- H 3670 authorizing the establishment of old growth forest reserves (amended);

- H 878 requiring actuarial opinions in order to maintain the Division of Insurance's accreditation with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (amended);

- H 3858 permitting a person to register a snow vehicle more than 25 years old as a vintage snow vehicle;

- H 4288 authorizing the state to grant easements to NStar Electric Company in Boston for the purpose of installing or repairing transmission lines.


- H 196 establishing licensing standards for drain cleaners in the plumbing industry;

- H 2175 banning the possession of open flame floating lanterns that have a risk of causing house fires;

- S 1987 clearing titles to foreclosed properties.

The bills are likely to receive favorable recommendations and begin moving this week through the House.

Bill texts and histories are available at: