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Reorganization Plan Took Effect March 27: : BBRS to Division of Professional Licensure

Type:  Featured News  
 
State Creates New Office of Public Safety and Inspections in the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development's Division of Professional Licensure
 
The Department of Public Safety no longer exists under the Executive Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security. As of March 27, 2017, the BBRS, the Elevator Board and the MAAB all fall under the jurisdiction of the new Office of Public Safety and Inspections housed within the Division of Professional Licensure within the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development. The Board of Boiler Rules will move to the Department of Fire Service.
 
Governor Charlie Baker's plan to eliminate the Department of Public Safety and move its functions has now taken effect as of March 27, 2017. Governor Baker's proposal (H.68, an Act to reorganize the Department of Public Safety.) eliminates the department and establishes a new Office of Public Safety and Inspections housed within the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development's Division of Professional Licensure. The Department of Public Safety previously fell under the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security. The Department of Fire Services will assume the department's fire-related functions and the new office will take over all other responsibilities.
 
The Department of Public Safety was a regulatory, licensing and inspection agency tasked with oversight of the state's elevator inspections, amusement ride inspections, construction-related permitting, the sanctioning of boxing and mixed martial arts events, and more.
 
The Governor filed his plan under Article 87 of the state Constitution on January 25, 2017. Under that article, executive branch reorganizations require a legislative hearing within 30 days of being filed, a committee vote within 10 days of the hearing, and must receive an up-or-down vote from the Legislature, without amendment, within 60 days or the action takes effect.
The Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight held a hearing on the plan on February 22. Building inspectors at the hearing raised concerns that the reorganization would not benefit public safety. The committee recommended passage of the plan, concluding that it "will improve customer service without jeopardizing any of the current safety and inspection responsibilities of the Commonwealth." Licensing requirements and duties to inspect will not change as a result of the reorganization. The only noticeable change will be the agency under which the jurisdiction for licensing and inspection will fall.
 
On Monday, March 27, with the 60-day deadline for legislative consideration and a vote having passed, the House laid the governor's bill aside with Rep. Paul Donato declaring "the matter is now moot."
 
At the February 2017 hearing, Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash said consolidation would "reduce the burden on construction and trades because the licensing and oversight of most of these trade professions will fall under the jurisdiction of just one agency," as is the case in most other states.
 
Background:
On January 25, 2017 Governor Baker filed his version of the proposed FY2018 operating budget for $40.5B, along with legislation eliminating the Department of Public Safety and creating a new office to take over some of its functions.
  • The reorganization plan establishes an Office of Public Safety and Inspections to be housed within the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development's Division of Professional Licensure. The Department of Fire Services would assume the department's fire-related functions and the new office would take responsibility for all other responsibilities. 
  • The current Department of Public Safety falls under the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security. Under Baker's plan the fire services department would remain under that secretariat while the Department of Public Safety's other functions would shift to the housing and economic development secretariat.
  • Governor Baker filed his plan under the authority of Article 87 of the state Constitution. Under this article, executive branch reorganizations require a legislative hearing within 30 days of filing, and must receive an up-or-down vote from the Legislature, without amendment, within 60 days or the action takes effect.
  • The Department of Public Safety is a regulatory, licensing and inspection agency tasked with oversight of the state's elevator inspections, amusement ride inspections, construction-related permitting, the sanctioning of boxing and mixed martial arts events, and more.
  • The reorganization "will enable the Commonwealth to consolidate licensing functions currently split across several secretariats, thereby increasing efficiencies, eliminating redundancies, and improving customer service by creating one-stop shopping for the vast majority of license approvals," Baker wrote in a letter that accompanied his bill. "It should also save the Commonwealth approximately $800,000 in FY2018."
  • Baker's bill would also make technical changes to the laws governing the department, and would "change the distribution of agencies under the undersecretaries within the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security to more closely align with their areas of expertise," Baker wrote.
  • The Department of Public Safety has been without a permanent leader since Oct. 31, when former commissioner Matt Carlin resigned less than 18 months after taking the job.
  • The House referred the governor's bill (HD 3749, which is now H.68) to the Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight.  The public hearing on the bill is expected to be on Wednesday, February 22 from 11-1 in Room B1.
 
 
 

 

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