44 reps disclose health care conflicts

Filings indicate vote on municipal plan would affect ‘immediate family’

More than a quarter of the 160 members of the Massachusetts House disclosed last week that their votes on municipal health care legislation, hotly debated by unions, mayors and selectmen, would directly affect their “immediate family,” including spouses, siblings, children, and in some cases themselves.

In filings with the House clerk, 35 Democrats and eight Republicans indicated that a relative – or in one case, a personal business interest – could be affected by any proposal that would affect the way cities and towns provide health care for their workers.

The proposal, ripped vehemently by unions as overturning of collective bargaining rights, and backed by House leaders, municipal officials and business groups who said it would help cities and towns protect investments in education and public safety, passed the House 111-42 on Tuesday.

The disclosures, most of which were filed an hour before House members were asked to vote, were not predictive of which side of the debate members fell on. Roughly in sync with the overall vote, 31 members who filed disclosures supported the plan, and 13 voted to reject it.

Six freshmen were among those who filed disclosures.

One good government advocate said she views the level of disclosure and the fact that those who issued disclosures voted on both sides as “a good sign.”

Pam Wilmot, executive director of Common Cause Massachusetts, said that because many lawmakers end up in the House after careers in municipal government, she was not surprised that many House members count family members who work for cities and towns.

On the night of the vote, which came shortly after 11 p.m., Rep. Garrett Bradley, a member of Speaker Robert DeLeo’s leadership team, urged his colleagues from the House rostrum to disclose any family members that could be affected by their vote on municipal health insurance. As he made his announcement, members began streaming to the front of the chamber to obtain a form letter detailing their disclosure.

Only two members detailed specifically which of their relatives would be affected: Rep. Geoff Diehl (R-Whitman) noted his brother-in-law and sister-in-law might see an impact, and Rep. David Linsky (D-Natick) noted that his brother was the subject of his disclosure.

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Several members of Speaker Robert DeLeo’s leadership team filed disclosures as well: Rep. Kathi-Anne Reinstein (D-Revere), who opposed the proposal, and Reps. Bradley, Ronald Mariano (D-Quincy) and Paul Donato (D-Medford) and Charles Murphy (D-Burlington), who supported it.

Rep. John Rogers (D-Norwood), DeLeo’s erstwhile rival for the speakership, filed a disclosure as well. Rogers voted with the speaker in support of the clampdown on collective bargaining.

Rep. Thomas Conroy (D-Wayland), who also works as a risk management consultant, disclosed that any legislation affecting health insurance could affect the work he does for Marsh & McLennan Company.