The Honorable Linda Dean Campbell, House Chair
The Honorable Walter F. Timilty, Senate Chair
Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs
State House, Boston

Dear Chair Campbell, Chair Timilty, and Distinguished Members of the Committee,

On behalf of cities and towns of the Commonwealth, the Massachusetts Municipal Association is pleased to offer testimony on pieces of legislation before the committee for public hearing today.

The MMA strongly supports H. 3237, An Act relative to EMT certification of veterans and military medics. This bill would authorize the Department of Public Health to issue waivers to a veteran or military medic applying for EMT certification for completing “substantially equivalent” emergency training with the U.S. military. The bill would further require DPH to promulgate regulations establishing criteria for determining the extent to which the education and training requirements are substantially equivalent to certification requirements in the Commonwealth.

The MMA asks the committee to add a timeline to the bill, or require DPH to include a timeline in its regulations, allowing a waiver within a reasonable period of time after military discharge, but not so long as to impact knowledge and training for certification. The MMA also requests that the committee require the scope and practice of the training for veterans and military medics to be included in the analysis for determining whether it is substantially equivalent (e.g., materials used on ambulances, tools used by military medics versus civilian EMTs, etc.). Whereas there continues to be a shortage of paramedics in our cities and towns, the MMA supports this bill as a pathway to easing requirements by removing duplicative training.

The MMA strongly opposes H. 3243, An Act to protect the veterans hiring preference, because this bill would usurp municipalities’ ability to manage their workforce in a way that makes sense at the local level for individual cities and towns. Under the current law, municipalities may, through home rule petition, request an exemption from Chapter 31, the civil service law. That statute gives veterans preference on the list of eligible civil service positions, but cities and towns that are exempted from the statute do not have to provide the preference. Most municipalities that leave civil service, however, adopt a policy affording some type of preference in hiring for veterans on their own terms. This bill would – retroactively – take this ultimate hiring authority away from municipalities that have already opted out of Chapter 31 and make them subject again, despite the passage of special legislation through the home rule petition process, to the state through the secretary of veteran’s affairs for prior approval of hiring policies. And for all communities, H. 3243 would render the Home Rule Petition process moot and would inappropriately transfer hiring authority from local officials to a state agency. This state intrusion into an inherently local hiring process is unwarranted and unjustified.

In addition to comments on these two bills, the MMA also strongly opposes any bills that would add new unfunded liabilities, and pension payment obligations on municipalities without actuarial analysis of the cost impact on local retirement systems and taxpayers.

Thank you for your interest in this very important local government matter. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to have your office contact MMA Senior Legislative Analyst Lisa Adams at ladams@mma.org, or MMA Senior Legislative Analyst Brittney Franklin at bfranklin@mma.org at any time.

Sincerely,

Geoffrey C. Beckwith
Executive Director & CEO