House audit panel plans Lyme report


The House Post Audit Committee, the panel charged with overseeing the performance of state government, will not probe the controversy surrounding the state Probation Department, committee chairman Rep. David Linsky said last week, noting that the Judiciary Committee had already been charged with legislation pertaining to the embattled agency.

“I am always very careful not to duplicate the work of other committees that are out there,” Mr. Linsky said at the committee’s first hearing.

Mr. Linsky, chairing the committee for a second term, said he intends to research Lyme disease across Massachusetts. “This is something I feel very strongly about,” said the Natick Democrat, whose 17-year-old son suffers from the disease. “Lyme disease is a public health crisis. I am interested in looking at what is government’s role and what can government do.”

At the committee meeting, members adopted a set of rules to govern their work for the session. The committee and its Senate counterpart are the only legislative committees with subpoena power, although they rarely exercise it.

“This committee is different than any other committee you will sit on,” Mr. Linsky said. “We have wide-ranging ability to do almost anything.” He continued, “I see it as a tool for members of the House. If a member of the House has an issue they would like us to look at, that is what we do.”

Mr. Linsky said one of his goals for this session is to make the work and research of the committee “more open and transparent” with reports and research disseminated publicly.

Linsky’s staff is preparing a report on Lyme disease in Massachusetts and the Department of Public Health’s response. Linsky said the report would be ready within weeks.

Other members of the House Post Audit Committee include Rep. Benjamin Swan (D-Springfield), the vice chair; and Reps. Harriet Stanley (D-West Newbury); Bruce Ayers (D-Quincy); David Torrisi (D-North Andover); Thomas Stanley (D-Waltham); Stephen Smith (D-Everett); Jennifer Benson (D-Lunenburg); Jonathan Hecht (D-Watertown); Sheila Harrington (R-Groton); and Kevin Kuros (R-Uxbridge).