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  • Acts
  • 2011
  • Chapter 171 AN ACT MAKING APPROPRIATIONS FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 2012 TO PROVIDE FOR SUPPLEMENTING CERTAIN EXISTING APPROPRIATIONS AND FOR CERTAIN OTHER ACTIVITIES AND PROJECTS.

Whereas, The deferred operation of this act would tend to defeat its purposes, which are forthwith to make supplemental appropriations for fiscal year 2012 and to make certain changes in law, 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 and other appropriation acts for fiscal year 2012, the sums set forth in section 2 are hereby appropriated from the General Fund unless specifically designated otherwise in this act or in those appropriation acts, for the several purposes and subject to the conditions specified in this act or in those appropriation acts, and subject to the laws regulating the disbursement of public funds for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2012. These sums shall be in addition to any amounts previously appropriated and made available for the purposes of those items.

SECTION 2.

EXECUTIVE OFFICE
Executive Office

0411-1000............................................................ $700,000
0610-2000............................................................ $700,000

TREASURER & RECEIVER GENERAL
Office of the Treasurer and Receiver General

0612-0105............................................................ $200,000

EXECUTIVE OFFICE FOR ADMINISTRATION AND FINANCE
Bureau of State Office Buildings

1102-3307............................................................ $800,000

EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
Department of Veterans’ Services

1410-0010............................................................ $308,000

SECTION 2A. To provide for certain unanticipated obligations of the commonwealth, to provide for alterations of purpose for current appropriations, and to meet certain requirements of law, the sums set forth in this section are hereby appropriated from the General Fund unless specifically designated otherwise in this section, for the several purposes and subject to the conditions specified in this section, and subject to the laws regulating the disbursement of public funds for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2012. These sums shall be in addition to any amounts previously appropriated and made available for the purposes of those items.

EXECUTIVE OFFICE FOR ADMINISTRATION AND FINANCE
Office of the Secretary of Administration and Finance

1599-1709.. For a reserve for costs incurred in response to tropical storm Irene; provided, that the comptroller shall transfer funds made available in this item to other departments for this purpose upon the written request of the secretary of administration and finance; and provided further, that expenditures from this item shall be offset by federal reimbursements to the extent available................ $10,000,000

SECTION 3. Chapter 132 of the acts of 2009 is hereby amended by striking out section 11 and inserting in place thereof the following section:-

Section 11. Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, a resident of the commonwealth who is sent overseas as a member of the United States Armed Forces and is eligible to receive benefits under clauses (1) and (2) of section 16 of chapter 130 of the acts of 2005 may receive such benefits; provided, however, that an eligible resident shall receive the full bonus allowed by said clause (1) of said section 16 of said chapter 130 upon return after his first deployment to the Afghanistan or Iraq area as those areas are described by proper federal authority, and shall receive the full bonus allowed under clause (2) of said section 16 of said chapter 130 after his first deployment within the continental limits of the United States or outside the continental limits of the United States other than in the Afghanistan or Iraq areas. He shall thereafter receive 50 per cent of the bonus defined in either clause (1) or (2) of said section 16 of said chapter 130 after each subsequent return from deployment to the areas defined under each section, provided that appropriated funding is available and the state treasurer certifies that the relevant account has sufficient funds to maintain such an initiative.

SECTION 3A. Item 0521-0000 of section 2 of chapter 68 of the acts of 2011, is hereby amended by inserting after the word “education” the following words:- ; provided further, $57,884 shall be made available for reimbursements to municipalities for costs associated with the special primary and the special election to fill the house of representatives' seat for the twelfth Bristol district; provided further, that the state secretary shall only reimburse the municipalities for costs that have previously been certified by the division of local mandates within the office of the state auditor.

SECTION 3B. Said item 0521-0000 of said section 2 of said chapter 68 is hereby further amended by striking out the figure “$4,900,000”, and inserting in place thereof the following figure:- $4,957,887.

SECTION 3C. Item 1102-3307 of section 2 of said chapter 68 is hereby amended by adding the following words:- ; and provided further, that no funds shall be transferred from this item.

NO SECTION 4.

SECTION 5. Item 1410-0010 of said section 2 of said chapter 68 is hereby amended by adding the following words:- ; and provided further, that the secretary may transfer not more than $75,000 from this item to item 1410-0012.

SECTION 6. Said section 2 of said chapter 68 is hereby further amended by striking out item 7004-0101 and inserting in place thereof the following item:-
7004-0101.. For certain expenses of the emergency assistance program pursuant to section 30 of chapter 23B of the General Laws as follows: (i) contracted family shelters; (ii) congregate emergency housing programs; provided, however, that eligibility shall be limited to families with incomes at or below 115 per cent of the 2009 or later-issued higher federal poverty level; provided further, that any family whose income exceeds 115 per cent of the federal poverty level while the family is receiving assistance funded by this item shall not become ineligible for assistance due to exceeding the income limit for a period of 6 months from the date that the 115 per cent level was exceeded; provided further, that preventative services shall be administered by the department of housing and community development and shall be provided on a first-come, first-serve basis; provided further, that the department shall include landlord and tenant mediation, legal assistance to prevent eviction, and housing search stabilization services; provided further, that amounts for the aforementioned services shall not impair the department’s ability to sign adequate shelter contracts; provided further, that those families that shall be eligible for assistance through a temporary emergency family shelter shall include: (a) families that are at risk of domestic abuse in their current housing situations; (b) families that, through no fault of their own, are homeless due to fire or natural disaster; and (c) those families with a head of household 21 years or younger which shall be served through a young families congregate housing program; provided further, that eligibility guidelines for assistance under this item in effect on June 30, 2011 shall remain in effect for fiscal year 2012; provided further, that such facilities shall not be subject to licensing requirements of the executive office of health and human services; provided further, that a family, who receives emergency housing assistance due to domestic abuse shall be connected to the appropriate social service agency; provided further, that families may receive temporary assistance from this item to compensate for timing placement issues with item 7004-0108; provided further, that temporary assistance under this item shall be terminated upon the offer of available housing or housing assistance necessary to maintain housing under item 7004-0108; provided further, that a family may not decline an offer for available housing or housing assistance necessary to maintain housing if the offer adequately accommodates the size and disabilities of the family and the new housing placement shall not result in a job loss for the client; provided further, that any family that declines an adequate offer of available housing or housing assistance necessary to maintain housing shall become ineligible for assistance from this item; provided further, that any family receiving benefits pursuant to section 30 of chapter 23B of the General Laws as of June 30, 2011 shall not become ineligible for temporary emergency family shelter benefits if any such family in which the head of household is more than 21 years of age shall transfer to the short-term housing transition program, as such assistance becomes available, and any such family in which the head of household is not more than 21 years of age shall transfer to a young families congregate housing facility, as such facilities become available; provided further, that the department shall establish reasonable requirements for such families to escrow a portion of their income; provided further, that the escrowed funds shall be exempt from otherwise applicable asset limits; provided further, that the family may withdraw the amount placed in escrow upon transition to permanent housing or losing eligibility for shelter services; provided further, that benefits under this item shall be provided only to residents who are citizens of the United States or aliens lawfully admitted for permanent residence or otherwise permanently residing under color of the law in the United States; provided further, that the department shall take all steps necessary to enforce regulations to prevent abuse of the emergency assistance program, including a wage match agreement with the department of revenue; provided further, that no emergency assistance expenditures shall be paid from this item unless explicitly authorized; provided further, that an eligible household that is approved for shelter placement shall be placed in a shelter as close as possible to the household’s home community unless a household requests otherwise; provided further, that if the closest available placement is not within 20 miles of the household’s home community, the household shall be transferred to an appropriate shelter within 20 miles of its home community at the earliest possible date unless the household requests otherwise; provided further, that eligibility for shelter by an otherwise eligible family shall not be impaired by prior receipt of any non-shelter benefit; provided further, that the department shall make every effort to ensure that children receiving services from this item shall continue attending school in the community in which they lived prior to receiving services funded from this item; provided further, that if a family with a child under the age of 3 is placed in a hotel or motel, the department shall ensure that the hotel or motel provides a crib for each such child that meets all state and federal safety codes; provided further, that notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, the department shall immediately provide shelter for up to 30 days to families who appear to be ineligible for such shelter based on statements provided by the family and any other information in the possession of the department, but who need additional time to obtain any third-party verifications reasonably required by the department; provided further, that shelter benefits received under the preceding proviso shall not render a family ineligible under any regulation providing that family who previously received shelter is ineligible for shelter benefits for a period of 12 months; provided further, that families receiving such shelter benefits who are found to be ineligible for continuing shelter benefits shall be eligible for aid pending a timely appeal pursuant to chapter 23B of the General Laws; provided further, that the department shall not impose unreasonable requirements for third-party verification and shall accept verifications from a family whenever reasonable; provided further, that the department shall use its best efforts to ensure that a family placed by the emergency assistance program shall be provided with access to refrigeration and basic cooking facilities; provided further, that the department shall provide to the house and senate committees on ways and means a report of the most recently available weekly data on the number of applications for services provided for in this item and in item 7004-0108; provided further, that the report shall include, but not be limited to, caseload data, including applications, admissions and the distribution of benefits from this item and item 7004-0108; provided further, that the weekly report shall be provided to the house and senate committees on ways and means in an electronic format on the Monday immediately following the close of the week for which the report is provided; provided further, that notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, 60 days before promulgating or amending any regulation or policy affecting eligibility, benefits or administration of this program, the department shall file with the house and senate committees on ways and means and the clerks of the senate and house of representatives a report setting forth justification for any such change including, but not limited to, any determination by the secretary of housing and economic development that available appropriations from the program will be insufficient to meet projected expenses; provided further, that any amounts appropriated in this item may be transferred to item 7004-0108 upon the approval of the secretary of administration and finance; provided further, that the department shall notify the chairs of house and senate committees on ways and means of any transfer within 15 days; provided further, that any transfer of funds shall not leave this item in a projected deficit; provided further, that all of this item shall be subject to appropriation and, in the event of a deficiency, nothing in this item shall give rise to or shall be construed as giving rise to any enforceable right or entitlement to services in excess of the amounts appropriated in this item; provided however, that notwithstanding the preceding proviso, in the event of a projected deficiency the department shall continue to meet its obligation to provide 60 days advance notice of any changes to eligibility, benefits, policy or administration of the program; provided further, that the department shall submit quarterly reports to the house and senate committees on ways and means, detailing the number of families transitioned from shelter benefits to affordable, subsidized or otherwise assisted housing through this program; provided further, that the report shall include the average, minimum and maximum costs per family of such assistance, the number of families served who required further assistance at a later date, the type of assistance later required and provided and the current housing stability of each family who received transitional housing or short-term housing assistance within the prior 12 months; provided further, that no funds shall be expended for personnel or administrative costs; provided further, that no funds shall be expended for costs associated with the homeless management information system; provided further, that the department shall notify local school departments of the placement of a family in its district within 5 days of placement; and provided further, that nothing in this item shall preclude the use of hotels and motels to ensure that eligible families have access to assistance under this item..................................................... $118,797,200

SECTION 7. Said section 2 of said chapter 68 is hereby further amended by striking out item 7004-0108 and inserting in place thereof the following item:-

7004-0108.. For a program of short-term housing assistance for: (i) families eligible for temporary emergency shelter under section 30 of chapter 23B of the General Laws; (ii) families eligible for temporary emergency shelter under said section 30 of said chapter 23B, but for the fact that they are imminently at risk of becoming homeless; and (iii) families in which the head of household is not more than 21 years of age at the time of application for assistance and who have exited a young families congregate shelter funded under item 7004-0101; provided, that rental assistance through this item shall be limited to families who, as of October 28, 2011, are: (a) receiving rental assistance through this item, including those who have been approved for such assistance but have not yet entered into an agreement for tenancy; (b) families in temporary accommodations pursuant to items 7004-0101 and 7004-0108 awaiting housing placement; (c) families transitioning from other time-restricted rental assistance programs; and (d) families receiving shelter benefits under item 7004-0101; provided further, that the assistance provided under this item shall include housing stabilization and economic self-sufficiency case management services for each family receiving benefits hereunder; provided further, that the assistance may include, but shall not be limited to: payments of rent and utility arrears; a portion of the household’s monthly rent, first month’s rent, last month’s rent, security deposit, utility charges, extraordinary medical bills, so long as such assistance will maintain housing for the family, and shall include immediate temporary housing arrangements for families without alternative feasible housing; provided further, that assistance towards a portion of the household’s monthly rent shall be an eligible use of funds hereunder only in the event that the monthly rent for the housing does not exceed 80 per cent of the fair market rent for such housing, as determined in accordance with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development; provided further, that the department shall allow for a higher monthly rent in the event that a household already housed, that is transitioning to this program from another time-limited assistance program, would be displaced due to the restriction on fair market rent; provided further, that the department may exceed 80 per cent of the fair market rent if the department determines that such placement is cost-effective and meets the short-term housing needs of eligible families in a timely manner; provided further, that eligible families shall pay not more than 35 per cent of household income towards rent and utilities; provided further, that a family’s eligibility for assistance under this item shall not exceed a period of 36 successive months from the date the family first receives assistance under this item, not including time spent in temporary accommodations; provided further, that a family that is terminated from the program because it has received 36 successive months of assistance shall not be eligible to receive assistance under this item for 12 months from the last date it received assistance through this program; provided further, that for the initial 12-month period for which the family receives assistance under this item, payments shall not exceed: (1) $4,000; or (2) if assistance is used for a portion of the household’s monthly rent and utility costs, the difference between 35 per cent of the household income and the monthly cost of rent and utilities for such housing; provided further, that the administering agency may make payments toward temporary accommodations for a family prior to the family securing a rental housing unit with assistance under this item; provided further, that such assistance shall be reduced by: (1) 5 per cent for each of the next 12-month periods for which the family receives assistance under this item, or (2) such lesser amount as maintains the eligible family’s contribution towards rent and utilities at not more than 35 per cent of household income; provided further, that the continued eligibility of the family shall be determined on an annual basis; provided further, that a family shall not be deemed ineligible as a result of any single violation of a self-sufficiency plan; provided further, that a family that exceeds the income eligibility criteria pursuant to said section 30 of said chapter 23B shall be eligible for continued assistance under this item so long as it meets the requirements of its housing stabilization plan and does not exceed 50 per cent of the area median income; provided further, that benefits under this item shall be provided only to residents who are citizens of the United States or aliens lawfully admitted for permanent residence or otherwise permanently residing under color of law in the United States; provided further, that the department shall take all steps necessary to enforce regulations to prevent abuse in the short-term housing transition program, including a wage match agreement with the department of revenue; provided further, that a family that did not make a good faith effort to secure an apartment or did not make a good faith effort to follow a housing stabilization plan during the term of the assistance shall be ineligible for benefits pursuant to said section 30 of said chapter 23B and short-term housing transition benefits for a period of not more than 24 months from the later of the date upon which the family exits a temporary emergency family shelter or the date upon which a monthly rental assistance payment is made to or on behalf of the family or 12 months for a family that received assistance only for rent arrears, utility charges or extraordinary medical bills; provided further, that no family with a head of household who is over 60 years of age or who is disabled and who is in compliance with the requirements of a housing stabilization plan that accommodates disabilities shall be denied short-term housing assistance; provided further, that any such family with a head of household who is over 60 years of age or who is disabled shall not have engaged in, or be engaged in, any activity that threatens the health, safety or security of the family, other program participants or program staff; provided further, that families receiving benefits under this program who are found not to be eligible for continuing benefits shall be eligible for aid pending a timely appeal pursuant to said chapter 23B; provided further, that families who are denied assistance under this item may appeal pursuant to said chapter 23B, including paragraph (F) of section 30, and regulations adopted to implement said chapter 23B; provided further, that the department, as a condition of continued eligibility for assistance pursuant to this program, may require disclosure of social security numbers by all members of a family in the short-term housing transition program for use in verification of income with other agencies, departments and executive offices; provided further, that any family in which a member of the family shall fail to provide a social security number for use in verifying the family's income and eligibility shall no longer be eligible to receive benefits from the short-term housing transition program; provided further, that the department shall administer the short-term housing transition program through the following agencies unless administering agencies are otherwise procured by the department: the Berkshire Housing Development Corporation, the Central Massachusetts Housing Alliance, Inc., the Community Teamwork, Inc., the Housing Assistance Corporation, the Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority, HAP, Inc., the Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership, Inc., the Lynn Housing Authority and Neighborhood Development, the South Middlesex Opportunity Council, Inc., the South Shore Housing Development Corporation and RCAP Solutions, Inc; provided further, that the department shall reallocate financing based on performance-based statistics from underperforming service providers to above average service providers in order to move as many families from hotels, motels and shelters into more sustainable housing; provided further, that the department shall use funds provided for this program for stabilization workers to focus efforts on housing retention and link households to supports, including job training, education, job search and childcare opportunities available and may enter into agreements with other public and private agencies for the provision of such services, and that a stabilization worker shall be assigned to each household; provided further, that all of this item shall be subject to appropriation and, in the event of a deficiency, nothing in this item shall give rise to or shall be construed as giving rise to any enforceable right or entitlement to services in excess of the amounts appropriated in this item; provided further, that the department shall promulgate regulations for the short-term housing transition program; provided further, that funds from this item shall be expended to directly reduce the usage of shelters, including hotels and motels, by the emergency assistance program; provided further, that funds shall be used to transition families served by the program to more rapidly move them into temporary or permanent sustainable housing; provided further, that the department shall submit biannual reports to the house and senate committees on ways and means, which shall include the number of families served, the type of assistance given, the number of families assisted through this program, the average, minimum and maximum costs per family of such assistance and the current housing stability of each family who received assistance within the prior 12 months and shall include the status of the implementation of this program and any obstacles encountered; provided further, that as of October 1, 2011, the department shall report on a quarterly basis to the chairs of the joint committee on housing and the joint committee on children, families and persons with disabilities, the number of families, from each local department office, who are ineligible for further assistance by operation of the 24-month and 12-month restrictions in this item; and provided further, that notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, 60 days before promulgating or amending any regulations or policies affecting eligibility, benefits or administration of this program, the department shall file with the house and senate committees on ways and means and the clerks of the senate and house of representatives a report setting forth justification for such changes including, but not limited to, a determination by the secretary of housing and economic development that available appropriations from the program will be insufficient to meet projected expenses $56,761,732

SECTION 8. Said chapter 68 is hereby further amended by striking out section 161 and inserting in place thereof the following section:-

Section 161. (a) Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, the secretary of health and human services, with the written approval of the secretary of administration and finance, may authorize transfers of surplus of not more than $74,542,514 from item 4000-0700 to item 4000-1420 for the purpose of reducing any deficiency in these items; provided, however, that any such transfers shall be made not later than August 31, 2012.

(b) Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, MassHealth’s standards for reimbursement of nursing home leave of absence days shall be those in effect on July 1, 2011.

SECTION 8A. (a) Notwithstanding section 28 of chapter 53 of the General Laws, or any other general or special law to the contrary, the state primary for the calendar year 2012 shall be held on Thursday, September 6.

(b) For the purposes of determining the day and time for performing any act prescribed by any general or special law applicable to the state primary for calendar year 2012, such state primary shall be deemed to be held on the day provided in subsection (a).

SECTION 9. The undersecretary of housing and community development and the secretary of administration and finance, or their designees, shall, in cooperation with the chairs of the house and senate committees on ways and means, or their designees, develop not later than December 9, 2011, legislative and budgetary recommendations necessary to ensure the continued and sustainable operation of the state’s emergency assistance and short-term housing assistance programs.

NO SECTION 10.

NO SECTION 11.

NO SECTION 12.

SECTION 13. Section 8 shall take effect as of July 1, 2011.

Approved, November 11, 2011.