State Capitol Briefs — Wednesday, August 6, 2014

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Gov. Deval Patrick on Wednesday received an update on the revamped Health Connector website, which administration officials have sought to fix after a troubled rollout last year and face an early August deadline to prove to the Obama administration that it will work. Officials are seeking to stick with a state-based exchanged with “off-the-shelf” software that they’ve been working to implement, though a final decision on whether to use that or join the federal marketplace, known as, is expected to be made before next week’s Connector Authority board meeting. The afternoon briefing went long, causing Patrick to run a half-hour late to a bill-signing ceremony for information technology bond legislation (H 3770), which includes $50 million to increase broadband service to homes and businesses in underserved areas in central and western Massachusetts. In its release on the information technology bond bill signing, the administration said Patrick had signed on Tuesday a separate capital bond bill (H 3933), which includes $20 million each for renovations to the House and Senate chambers. Patrick apologized to the small crowd gathered in the Governor’s Council chambers on Wednesday for keeping them waiting, and cited the “level of complexity” of the briefing as the reason for his lateness. Asked about the briefing, Jason Lefferts, a Connector spokesman, said in an email that they are making “good progress” on meeting project targets and deadlines. The next Connector board meeting is set for Aug. 14, “but we expect to announce a decision prior to that meeting,” he wrote. – G. Dumcius/SHNS

Despite a decision by the Obama administration to end the use of temporary shelters on military bases to temporarily house immigrant children crossing the border illegally, the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition plans to go ahead with a planned march and rally on Thursday at the State House. Gov. Deval Patrick was informed on Tuesday by the federal government that it would not need to use Joint Base Cape Cod or Westover Air Base in Chicopee to shelter unaccompanied minors crossing the southwestern border from Central American countries like El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. The MIRA Coalition had planned to rally in support of Patrick’s offer to shelter up to 1,000 children for up to four months. MIRA Coalition spokesman Frank Soults, however, said children are still being placed in Massachusetts with relatives and mothers are arriving with children as they await deportation proceedings. “We want to show that there are many, many people in Massachusetts willing to support the kids and help out,” said Soults, describing a meeting he had just Tuesday with a newly arrived mother from El Salvador who he said fled to escape gang violence. The mother had been fitted with an ankle bracelet and needed legal assistance, Soults said. Immigrants, faith organizations, civil rights groups, human rights advocates, labor officials and elected officials plan to march from Copley Square at 6 p.m. to the Boston Common and rally behind the Robert Gould Shaw memorial in front of the State House. Soults said since January 700 unaccompanied minors have arrived in Massachusetts, according to the Office of Refugee Resettlement. Those children have been placed by the government with relatives as they move through the immigration process. – M. Murphy/SHNS

Gov. Deval Patrick on Wednesday nominated a veteran Department of Industrial Accidents judge to serve on the Framingham District Court bench and selected an Essex County assistant district attorney as his nominee for a Lowell District Court judgeship. Industrial Accidents Board Administrative Judge Lynn Coffin Brendemuehl of Natick has served in that capacity since 2000, after working previously as an attorney at the Social Security Administration and the Massachusetts Highway Department. During his time in the Essex County DA’s office, Michael Patten of Gloucester has served as chief of the drug task force and deputy chief of the motor vehicle homicide unit. He previously worked in private practice in Peabody for three years, focusing on criminal defense and civil litigation. If confirmed by the Governor’s Council, Patten will fill the vacancy being create by the upcoming retirement of Judge Neil Walker and Brendemuehl will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Robert Greco. – M. Norton/SHNS

Copyright 2014 State House News Service

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