Whereas, The deferred operation of this act would tend to defeat its purpose, which is to implement forthwith a program of reemployment assistance to employees terminated as a result of the restructuring of the utility industry and to make certain changes in law, each of which is immediately necessary or appropriate to effectuate important public purposes, therefore it is hereby declared to be an emergency law, necessary for the immediate preservation of the public convenience.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:
SECTION 1. To provide for supplementing certain items in the general
appropriation act for fiscal year 1999 and for certain other activities and
projects in said fiscal year, the sum set forth in section 2A is hereby
appropriated from the general fund for the several purposes and subject to the
conditions specified herein and subject to the provisions of law regulating the
disbursement of public funds for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1999.
NO SECTION 2.
Division of Employment and Training.
SECTION 3. Subsection (c) of section 38H of chapter 59 of the
General Laws, as appearing in section 115 of chapter 194 of the acts of 1998,
is hereby further amended by striking out the second sentence and inserting in
place thereof the following sentence:- Such payments in addition to taxes
shall be made in equal payments on or before July 31, October 31, January 31
and April 30 of each year by such electric company in the following
amounts: for fiscal years 1999, 2000 and 2001, in an amount which, when added
to the amount of taxes due for each year, equals the amount of tax payments
remitted to such host community in fiscal year 1998.
SECTION 4. Session 71I of chapter 151A of the General Laws, inserted by section 119 of chapter 164 of the acts of 1997, is hereby amended by striking out subsection (a) and inserting in place thereof the following subsection:- (a) An employee of a generation facility, an electric company or a gas company, each as defined in section 1 of chapter 164, who is terminated after July 1, 1997 through no fault of his own as a result of the restructuring of the electricity and gas industries in the commonwealth and who is otherwise eligible for unemployment benefits, shall receive reemployment assistance benefits, pursuant to section 71F, and health insurance benefits, pursuant to section 71G. The total amount of reemployment assistance benefits payable to any such eligible employee with respect to the employee's benefit year shall be 13 weeks and shall not otherwise be adjusted by the provisions of subsection (c) of said section 71F for the number of weeks of advance notification given to any such employee by the employer or the number of weeks of separation pay, or the equivalent thereof, received by the employee from the employer. No such employee shall be denied or be determined to be ineligible for any such benefits if the employer has provided notice of the cessation of employment. Such benefits shall be in addition to any benefits an employee may receive pursuant to the provisions of an agreement resulting from collective bargaining by the owners of an electric company or generation facility, who owned such facilities as of July 1, 1997, or a gas company and an organization representing such employee in the negotiations of any such agreement.
SECTION 5. Section 71I of chapter 151A of the General Laws is
SECTION 6. Section 29H of chapter 217 of the General Laws, inserted by section 221 of chapter 194 of the acts of 1998, is hereby repealed.
SECTION 7. Chapter 164 of the acts of 1997 is hereby amended by striking out section 340 and inserting in place thereof the following
Section 340. There is hereby established a special commission on the deregulation and convergence of industry which shall study the ramifications of past, present and future efforts to restructure the major regulated businesses and industries serving the commonwealth's consumers including, but not limited to, the electric utility industry, the telephone and telecommunications industry, including the Internet system, the gas industry, the transportation industry and the cable television industry. Said commission shall consist of: the co-chairs of the joint committee on government regulations, four additional members of the general court, including two members of the senate, one of whom shall be a member of the minority party to be appointed by the minority leader, two members of the house of representatives, one of whom shall be a member of the minority party to be appointed by the minority leader and those legislators among them shall elect the chairman of said special commission, the secretary of administration and finance or his designee, a commissioner of the department of telecommunications and energy to be appointed by its chair, the attorney general or his designee, the director of consumer affairs and business regulation, one representative from each of the five aforementioned major regulated industries who shall be appointed by the governor, one of whom shall be a consumer protection advocate, two of whom shall be members representing the interests of industry employees, one of whom shall be a representative of organized labor, and one of whom shall be a member of the Massachusetts Municipal Association to be nominated by the president of said association. Said commission shall study and make recommendations relative to the convergence of such industries in merged or joint projects or activities and the future regulatory role of the commonwealth over such industries including, but not limited to, requiring the department of telecommunications and energy to promulgate model rules and regulations governing the conduct, operation, and rate structure of merged regulated industries including, but not limited to, merged electric and cable television companies, merged electric and gas companies, and merged telephone and cable television companies, and the impact of such merged industries on consumers. Said commission shall issue an initial report to the joint committee on government regulations on or before July 1, 1999.
SECTION 8. Section 5 of this act shall take effect on December 31, 2005.SECTION 9. Sections 2A, 3, 4 and 6 of this act shall take effect as of July 1, 1998.
Approved January 15, 1999.