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.
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.
This recorganization bill is now H.68, an Act to reorganize the Department of Public Safety.