State Capitol Briefs — Monday, Aug. 3, 2015

Braintree Mayor Joseph Sullivan, who served on the governor’s MBTA reform task force after last winter’s transit failures, will join the Massachusetts Department of Transportation board of directors on Tuesday ahead of its first meeting since recently-announced changes to the department’s leadership structure. Sullivan will join fellow Mayor Dean Mazzarella, of Leominster, on the board. Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito plans to swear in Sullivan at the State House at 9 a.m. Sullivan’s appointment was announced Monday afternoon via Polito’s public schedule. The administration also plans to formally announce Mazzarella’s appointment on Tuesday, though it previously confirmed his appointment to local media last week and he was sworn in and attended the board’s last meeting. The Legislature approved an expansion of the MassDOT board to 11 members in the annual state budget. The board is now chaired by Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack and also includes Ruth Bonsignore, Robert Moylan, Dominic Blue, Betsy Taylor, Steve Poftak, Monica Tibbits-Nutt, and Lisa Calise. Poftak, Tibbits-Nutt and Calise also serve on the new MBTA fiscal management and control board along with Chair Joseph Aiello and Brian Lang, the president of UNITE HERE Local 26. Lang previously held the seat on the MassDOT board designated for a labor representative, but was moved by Baker in the personnel shuffle to the control board. Baker still must fill one seat on the MassDOT board from organized labor. – Matt Murphy/SHNS

Members of a commission charged with examining the safety of pain medications have been named and plan to convene on Thursday. The Massachusetts Opioid Drug Formulary Commission, established under a law approved in 2014, will recommend whether drug products will be placed on the Massachusetts Additional List of Interchangeable Drugs. A formulary is expected to be completed by early winter, according to the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, and will then be adopted by the Department of Public Health. The commission plans to evaluate the most powerful opioids based on their accessibility, cost, effectiveness and abuse-deterrent properties. “In the last year alone, three abuse-deterrent opioids have been approved by the FDA,” Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders said in a statement. “Given the deadly toll of the opioid epidemic, it is imperative the formulary reflects the safest choices. If two drugs are chemically the same, it makes sense to take a hard look at the one that is harder to abuse.” Eric Sheehan, interim director of the Bureau of Health Care Safety and Quality at the Department of Public Health, will chair the panel. The other commission members are Daniel Alford, Douglas Brandoff, Cheryl Campbell, Ray Campbell III, Daniel Barry Carr, Stephen Feldman, Ken Freedman, Virginia Lemay, Joanne Doyle Petrongolo, Cindy Steinberg, Jeffrey Supko, Theoharis Theoharides, and Tammy Thomas. The location and time of Thursday’s meeting was not announced. – Michael Norton/SHNS

Critics and supporters of the ridesharing industry will have to wait until September for a public hearing on bills to regulate Uber, Lyft and other services, but the controversy that such services has generated will play out at the local level Tuesday in Braintree. Uber riders and partners plan to gather outside town hall at 1:30 p.m. before a licensing board hearing to protest “problematic and potentially discriminatory language” in a proposed ordinance that opponents believe will limit the ability of ridesharing companies to operate in the town, according to Rasky Baerlein, which is representing Uber. Members of the Legislature’s Financial Services Committee plan a public hearing at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 15 at the State House on ridesharing regulation bills, including a proposal requiring Uber and Lyft drivers to be fingerprinted and comply with other insurance and license plate requirements. Gov. Charlie Baker has also filed a bill (H 3351) to subject “transportation network companies” (TNC) to be regulated by the Department of Public Utilities. In his filing letter, Baker said such companies are providing a valuable service and allowing hundreds of people to work part-time, but said steps should be taken to ensure the safety of passengers, including requiring TNC drivers to be at least 21 years old, subjecting them to comprehensive background checks, and requiring them to carry adequate insurance. Braintree Mayor Joe Sullivan is scheduled Tuesday to be sworn in as a member of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation Board. – Michael Norton/SHNS

Copyright 2015 State House News Service

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