State Capitol Briefs — Friday, August 15, 2014

Image: Thinkstock
Image: Thinkstock

LOBBY FIRM TO PAY $100,000 IN CONTINGENCY CASE
A Beacon Hill lobbying firm has agreed to pay $100,000 to the Franciscan Hospital for Children in exchange for Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office not seeking civil or criminal charges in a case involving a contingency fee. The AG’s office contended lobbying fees The Brennan Group charged over a period of years were payments illegally contingent on successful lobbying, while the lobbying firm headed up by John Brennan, a former senator, claimed the actions were “the result of independent, discretionary action by the [Office of Health and Human Services].” In July 2004, The Brennan Group made an agreement with the Brighton children’s hospital to lobby the Legislature for Franciscan to be eligible for Pediatric Disproportionate Share Hospital Medicaid payments and lobbied for grants known as the Distressed Provider Expendable Trust Fund in exchange for 5 or 10 percent of the grants to Franciscan. In July 2006 the parties agreed on a new agreement for Brennan to lobby lawmakers on funds from the New Essential Community Provider Trust Fund in exchange for a share of the grant funding. Between November 2006 and October 2008 Franciscan paid the lobbyists $370,855 under the agreement. The Brennan Group, which was represented by defense attorneys Tom Kiley and Carl Valvo, held the position that it would be “hard to predict” the outcome of legal action. “Our office will continue to ensure that the relationships between lobbyists and their clients conform with the law,” Coakley said in a statement. The hospital is now represented by Joyce & Joyce. – A. Metzger/SHNS

TRAMADOL A SCHEDULE IV DRUG STARTING MONDAY
Massachusetts pharmacists were informed this week that the US. Drug Enforcement Agency has published a final ruling placing Tramadol into schedule 4 of the Controlled Substances Act. The change will take effect on Monday, according to a memo from Massachusetts Board of Registration in Pharmacy David Sencabaugh. Tramadol goes by the trade names Ultram and Ultracet. According to the DEA, it was approved for marketing in the U.S. in 1995 and soon after its approval there were reports of diversion and abuse, which led to revisions to product labeling and the addition of warnings. An opioid analgesic, it is approved to treat moderate to moderately severe pain in adults and it is most commonly abused by narcotic addicts, chronic pain patients and health professionals, according to the DEA. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 3.2 million people in the U.S. aged 12 or older used tramadol for non-medical purposes in their lifetime. – M. Norton/SHNS

COMPANY FINED $38,000 FOR IMPROPER ASBESTOS REMOVAL
A Jamaica Plain company has been slapped with a nearly $38,000 penalty for violating state asbestos removal regulations. Inspectors in November 2012 observed insulation that contained asbestos had been improperly removed from a boiler and heating pipes at a home in Worcester, according to the Department of Environmental Protection, which announced Friday that it had assessed the penalty on Crestline Weatherization and Construction. Code enforcement officials in the city complained to the DEP and state inspectors found insulation uncontained on the basement floor of the residence. The state agency said the company also failed to notify the state before beginning the asbestos removal. The state requires notification and also requires asbestos-containing materials to be removed wet and to seal asbestos waste in leak-tight containers with warning labels and then disposed at a landfill that is permitted to accept asbestos material. “Asbestos is a known carcinogen, and following required work practices is imperative to protect workers as well as the general public,” Lee Dillard Adams, director of MassDEP’s central region office, said in a statement. – M. Norton/SHNS

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