After conversations, Baker encourages officials to testify on RMV

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BOSTON (SHNS) – Registry of Motor Vehicles employees who declined to appear Monday before a legislative oversight hearing are now being “encouraged” by the administration to cooperate when the hearing reconvenes next week.

Transportation Committee co-chairs Rep. William Straus and Sen. Joe Boncore plan to resume their hearing Tuesday as they look into the RMV’s failure to process thousands of out-of-state driving violation notices.

Gov. Charlie Baker said Thursday his administration has had “a lot of conversations” with legislative leaders over the past few days about the decision by witnesses whose testimony was requested by the committee to skip the hearing. Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack also said Monday that her testimony would be limited, citing an outside investigation being conducted by a consultant paid by the administration.

“We are certainly encouraging people to come and testify,” Baker said. Asked if he had ordered the employees to testify, Baker reiterated, “We’re encouraging people to testify.”

Among the witnesses sought were Erin Deveney, the former registrar who resigned days after a West Springfield man whose commercial license the RMV should have suspended allegedly killed seven motorcyclists in a New Hampshire crash.

Straus and Boncore also initially called the RMV’s Driver Control Unit Director Keith Constantino and Merit Rating Board Director Thomas Bowes to testify, and have since added MassDOT audit project manager Brie-Anne Dwyer to the witness list.

Boncore said Thursday afternoon that he was “optimistic that we’ll have compliance” at next week’s hearing, while Straus separately told the News Service that he was personally told by Pollack that the previous no-shows — including a representative from Fast Enterprises LLC, the vendor that developed the RMV’s record-keeping software and previously declined to participate in the hearing — will be in attendance.

“What their testimony will look like, of course, I can’t predict, but they will be there and available for questioning,” Straus said.

The committee chairs, who on Monday would not rule out seeking subpoenas, said they did not need to take extensive actions behind the scenes to prompt participation.

Speaker Robert DeLeo on Monday blasted RMV officials for not showing up, saying the Legislature’s oversight role “should not—and will not—be subjugated to that of an outside auditing firm.”

Straus and Boncore also stressed in a Wednesday letter to Pollack that the department should preserve all documents and data related to the record-keeping failures, warning that not doing so would violate state law.

“In the 10 or so years I’ve chaired the committee, and I had a term chairing the environment committee (before that), I have never felt the need before to put language like that in correspondence with any administration official,” Straus told the News Service.

MassDOT spokeswoman Jacquelyn Goddard previously said in a statement that the department “will continue to cooperate with the committee as fully as possible” and that invited witnesses are scheduled to testify.

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