... Baker files legislation to regulation transpo companies like Lyft, Uber and Sidecar ...... CHIA: about 10 percent of Mass. population suffers from substance use disorder (SUD) ...... Construction underway on $4.5 million skatepark in East Cambridge ...... Hearing on domestic workers' bill of rights regulations planned for May 8 ...... Beaton to meet with lawmakers May 7 to discuss electric rates in Massachusetts ...... Hearing planned for Thursday morning on attorney general's e-cigarette regulations ...... Immigrant group says budget amendment would exclude taxpayers from public housing ...... Baker will seek control board to oversee the MBTA for next three years ...... Medicaid consuming growing share of state revenues - 20.5 percent in 2013 ...... Suffolk poll gives Baker 74 percent favorable rating after first 100 days ...... Mass. voters narrowly oppose Boston Olympics bid, with 46 percent against and 43 percent in favor ...... Baker on MassDOT changes: "new team, new time" ...... House budget debate starts Monday, with nearly 1,100 amendments pending ...... Rutland DPW chief cited for conflict of interest law violation ...... Guv says 57 days off per year for MBTA workers was "surprise to everybody" ...
Latest Headlines:
House:
ADJOURNED 'til Monday at 10 a.m.
Senate:
ADJOURNED 'til Monday at 11 a.m.

ADVANCES - WEEK OF APRIL 26, 2015

As lawmakers begin vetting Gov. Charlie Baker's MBTA overhaul proposal, the House on Monday will dig into nearly 1,100 amendments proposed to the $38 billion House Ways and Means Committee fiscal 2016 budget. Long sessions are expected, starting at 10 a.m. Monday and beginning at that hour each day until the budget is approved. Read More


BAKER: MASS. STANDS FIRM ON ARMENIAN GENOCIDE

Armenian-Americans and Massachusetts pols gathered with common purpose outside the State House on Friday, calling on President Barack Obama, the Republic of Turkey and other world powers to recognize the Armenian genocide that began 100 years ago. Read More

Rep. David Muradian, a Grafton Republican, listene

Rep. David Muradian, a Grafton Republican, listened on a stage adorned with a flower wreath, as speakers discussed the Armenian genocide that began 100 years ago. [Photo: Andy Metzger/SHNS] | Hi-Res


WEEKLY ROUNDUP - UNICORNS AND RAINBOWS

The MBTA's winter of discontent proved a nightmare scenario for commuters who rely on public transit to work and play, but for Republican Gov. Charlie Baker it gelled perfectly with his "Mr. Fix It" persona. Baker has ridden the MBTA's failure of a winter all the way to 74 percent favorability and a 70 percent job performance approval, according to a new Suffolk Polling Center survey, putting the Republican on a pedestal from which he can likely only climb down. Read More


BAKER'S RIDE-FOR-HIRE LEGISLATION EYES STATEWIDE STANDARDS

Ride-for-hire companies would be required to vet their drivers and vehicles would need to carry at least $1 million in insurance coverage, under legislation Gov. Charlie Baker unveiled on Friday. The bill allows the state Department of Public Utilities to enforce the regulatory framework for "transportation network companies" (TNCs), such as Uber, Lyft and Sidecar. Read More


MASSGOP HIRES NEW COMMUNICATIONS CHIEF

The Massachusetts Republican Party's communications director Emmalee Kalmbach is moving back to Ohio to handle press relations for Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor. A New Hampshire native, Kalmbach moved to Massachusetts in November 2013 for a job with the MassGOP after working as communications director for Ohio Right to Life. Read More


DeLEO "NOT SET" ON MBTA CONTROL BOARD

While nothing in Gov. Charlie Baker's sweeping MBTA overhaul bill strikes him as undoable, House Speaker Robert DeLeo said Friday he's not sure how the governor's proposed control board will end up. Read More


STATE ED BOARDS TO MEET FOR PARCC TALK

State boards that oversee public schools and public higher education will convene for a joint meeting Tuesday to discuss an alternative student testing method. Read More


Thursday, Apr. 23, 2015

TOP OFFICIAL DEPARTS PENSION FUND MANAGER

With the departure of a high-ranking 15-year employee, the manager of the state's $62 billion pension fund announced Thursday it has promoted two more junior staffers and will conduct a search to replace him. Read More


TRANSPO CHIEF NOT ATTENDING RIDE-FOR-HIRE FORUM

Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack isn't attending a Thursday night discussion about the battle between the taxi industry and ride-for-hire services, her spokesman said. Read More


GOVERNORS RENEW COMMITMENT TO REGIONAL ENERGY SOLUTION

The six New England governors renewed their commitment to pursuing a regional solution to the energy supply "crisis" in the region on Thursday, but key elements of a joint solution, including who might pay for the infrastructure, remain in flux. The loose parameters of the agreement, announced after five governors and a top energy official from New Hampshire huddled for over two hours, call for each state to individually take steps to advance the region's goal of increasing natural gas capacity and bringing hydropower to New England from Canada. Read More


FORUM TO HIGHLIGHT RIDE-FOR-HIRE DEBATE

The bitter debate between ride-for-hire services and the taxi industry will be in the spotlight on Thursday night. Read More


MID-APRIL TAX COLLECTIONS UP AS STATE EYES $3 BILLION MONTH

Tax collections midway through April, usually the biggest month of the year for receipts, are up by $118 million over the same period in 2014. Read More


ANN ROMNEY IN BOSTON FOR MEDICAL FORUM NEXT WEEK

Former Massachusetts First Lady Ann Romney is slated to be among the headliners at a three-day forum next week in Boston focused on medical innovation and neurosciences. Read More


OLYMPICS OFFICIALS TO GATHER IN MALAYSIA

This summer Olympics officials in Malaysia will select the location of the 2022 Winter Olympics, the games that will directly precede the 2024 Summer Olympics, where Boston is one of the cities contending to be host city. Boston 2024, the non-profit pushing for the games, has "no current plans" to attend on behalf of Boston's bid, spokesman Dave Wedge told the News Service on Thursday. Read More


SMALL BIZ GROUP HOPING FOR MORE THAN "PHOTO OP" AT ENERGY FORUM

A leading small business group is glad that five New England governors are meeting in Hartford, Connecticut Thursday morning to work on energy policy issues, but hopeful that the gathering is not just a "photo op." Read More


BAKER PUTS IN A GOOD WORD FOR "STEALING"

Gov. Charlie Baker has given voice to his goal of selecting individuals who have some expertise in transportation to help him fix problems at the MBTA. Read More


RIFT EMERGES BETWEEN INDEPENDENT PARTY RUNNING MATES

Two running mates whose campaign produced a new political party last November parted ways right after the election. Having secured 3.3 percent of the vote through a largely self-financed campaign for governor, Evan Falchuk is continuing to pour money into his efforts to build a new political party and rally opposition against the bid for a Boston Olympics. Read More


LITTLE ACTION IN CHAMBERS AS LAWMAKERS SEE BUSY WEEK AHEAD

The House and Senate adjourned for the week on Thursday without addressing the differences between their respective versions of an early retirement incentive bill. Read More


ANTI-TOBACCO CROWD BACKS E-CIG REGS WHILE RETAILERS SEEK CHANGES

Proposed restrictions on free samples of e-cigarettes for adults would harm retailers ability help smokers quit, "vaping" advocates argued Thursday to the attorney general's office. Numerous e-cigarette specialty shop owners, supporters and anti-tobacco activists filled a hearing room to sound off on Attorney General Maura Healey's proposal to increase regulations on smoking alternatives. Read More


STATE REVIEWING CAPE COD'S WATER TREATMENT STRATEGY

Entering a new frontier of water regulation, Cape Cod towns could employ wood chips and oysters to squelch septic system runoff rather than the more traditional method of sewer pipes and wastewater treatment plants. Even though the alternative water treatment methods carry a reduced cost from the traditional means of handling sewage, the plan - which requires state and federal approval - would necessitate additional state assistance to Cape towns as well as local efforts to hike revenues, according to some state and local officials. Read More


REGION'S HIGH ENERGY DEMANDS DRAW NEW ENGLAND LEADERS TO HARTFORD

Volatility of energy prices and concerns about capacity to meet the region's energy demand brought leaders from all six New England states to Hartford on Thursday, where the early focus centered around access to natural gas and the ability to transmit renewable sources like wind and hydropower to consumers. The infrastructure to bring natural gas into New England has failed to keep pace with the rise of gas-fired power plants in the region, according to the operator of the region's energy grid. Read More

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy addresses the media

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy addresses the media with Gov. Charlie Baker (left) and other New England governor after a summit on regional energy issues. [Photo: Matt Murphy/SHNS] | Hi-Res


Wednesday, Apr. 22, 2015

LAWMAKERS RAISE QUESTIONS ABOUT KEY ASPECTS OF BAKER MBTA BILL

Leading House and Senate Democrats moved quickly on Wednesday to frame doubts around Gov. Charlie Baker's proposal to seize control of the MBTA and install a new control board to oversee that agency's finances and management for the next three years. While Baker focused on discussing ways his proposal would allow for better management practices at the beleaguered MBTA, the chairs of the Legislature's Transportation Committee questioned the need for a separate board, and transit activists zeroed in on sections of the bill they said would deprive both the MBTA and other parts of the state's transportation system from needed funding. Read More


REPORT: ONE IN TEN IN MASS. SUFFERS FROM SUBSTANCE USE DISORDER

About 10 percent of people in Massachusetts suffer from substance use disorder, but most who meet the criteria for such a diagnosis do not receive treatment and are susceptible to serious effects, according to a new report. Read More


BOSTON OLYMPICS GROUP ADDS STAR ATHLETES TO TEAM

As public opinion on a Boston Olympics bid remains divided, the organization behind the effort is bringing aboard prominent athletes to support their play for the 2024 Summer Games. The Boston 2024 Partnership's board of directors includes Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, former Boston Celtics stars Larry Bird and Joseph Henry "JoJo" White, former Olympian Michelle Kwan, and the 2014 Boston Marathon winner Meb Keflezighi, among others. Read More


BAKER FOCUSED ON MBTA FIXES BEFORE FARES

His proposed legislation to reform the MBTA would remove a cap on future fare increases, but Gov. Charlie Baker said on Wednesday his administration will look at transit system fixes first. The legislation establishes a five-member fiscal control board and removes the fare increase cap, but keeps existing discounts for students, seniors and individuals with disabilities. The legislation is largely based on the recommendations of a Baker-appointed task force that reviewed the finances and operations of the MBTA. Read More


BAKER WILL SEEK TO PUT MBTA UNDER OVERSIGHT OF NEW CONTROL BOARD

A control board would be put in charge of the MBTA's finances and management for the next three years, under legislation Gov. Charlie Baker plans to file Wednesday. The bill would also give the new panel the authority change the MBTA's fare structure as part of an effort to make the agency, which is supported by state revenues, more self-reliant. Read More


BAKER BILL ALLOWS REVIEW OF MBTA CONTRACTS, INCLUDING KEOLIS

The control board proposed by Gov. Charlie Baker would be able to review all MBTA contracts entered into before its existence, including the contract with the private firm operating the commuter rail system. The legislation released by Baker on Wednesday would allow the panel to review and amend any contract entered into by the MBTA, "as necessary, in accordance with their terms." Read More


GANTS PRAISES HOUSE BUDGET, SAYS MORE $$$ NEEDED

The House Committee on Ways and Means bulked up spending on the Trial Court by about $17 million over the governor's budget, though both spending proposals are still far short of what court administrators say they need. Read More


BAKER ADMIN PLANS TO USE PRIVATIZATION LAW FOR MENTAL HEALTH

The MBTA isn't the only place where state officials are looking to privatize government services. Democratic legislative leaders in the House last week proposed relaxing privatization laws at the transit authority, which appears in store for a major overhaul following this winter's service failures. Read More


BEATON, DPU OFFICIALS TO MEET WITH LAWMAKERS

The state's top energy official and utility industry regulators plan to meet with lawmakers May 7 to discuss electric rates in Massachusetts. Read More


COALITION TO RALLY AGAINST "ANTI-IMMIGRANT" HOUSING AMENDMENT

Lawmakers from Taunton, Norwell, Billerica, Woburn and West Newbury plan a push next week for a budget amendment putting new checks on public housing applicants, and their proposal is already drawing a backlash from immigrant advocates in Massachusetts. Read More


POLL: VOTERS LIKE BAKER SO FAR, STILL OPPOSE BOSTON OLYMPICS

After spending the winter managing state budget shortfalls and snow emergencies, Gov. Charlie Baker weathered his first 100 days in office remarkably well, according to new public polling that shows the governor riding sky-high approval ratings that make him the most popular politician in the state. Voters also narrowly oppose the concept of Boston hosting the 2024 summer Olympics, with 43 percent of those surveyed statewide supporting the bid and 46 percent against. That result was within the poll's margin of error. Read More


STUDY QUANTIFIES MEDICAID'S PULL ON STATE $$$

Medicaid spending in Massachusetts consumed more than 20 percent of state revenues in 2013, up from 15 percent in 2000, according to a study released Wednesday. Read More


DPW OFFICIAL CITED FOR CONFLICT LAW VIOLATION

The DPW chief in the town of Rutland has paid a $2,500 civil penalty in connection with a state conflict of interest law violation regarding the hiring of his son. Read More


BAKER TO UNVEIL MBTA REORGANIZATION LEGISLATION

Gov. Charlie Baker plans on Wednesday to release legislation focused on overhauling the embattled MBTA. Read More


AT JFK LIBRARY, BAKER TALKS MBTA, EDUCATION AND OLYMPICS

Sitting inside the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Gov. Charlie Baker ruled out following in the footsteps of the building's namesake. "No, I'm never running for president," Baker said, as he sat across from Boston Globe editor Brian McGrory in a Tuesday night interview about his first 100 days in the Corner Office. "I had enough trouble running for governor." Read More


Tuesday, Apr. 21, 2015

Former MassDOT Board Chairman John Jenkins

SIX MASSDOT BOARD MEMBERS AGREE TO RESIGN

All six members of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation board whose resignations were sought by Gov. Charlie Baker have agreed to step down, paving the way for Baker to remake the leadership team in charge of the embattled MBTA. Almost a week after Baker and Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack requested the resignations of the board members, all of whom were appointed by the governor's predecessor Deval Patrick, the officials on Tuesday complied either verbally or in writing. Pollack is the only person who will remain on the board. Read More


LEWIS: 'DEVIL'S IN THE DETAILS' OF MARIJUANA POLICY

The state senator tasked with researching the legalization of marijuana is still reviewing the draft of one ballot initiative released last week, but said he was heartened by its focus on preventing minors from obtaining the substance. "My view is that there is nothing more important, in considering any changes to marijuana laws, that we protect public health and public safety and that foremost among in that goal is ensuring teenagers and young people are not using marijuana," said Sen. Jason Lewis, a Winchester Democrat, who is heading up a one-man special committee on marijuana. Read More


JFK STATUE AVAILABLE FOR WIDER VIEWING

The John F. Kennedy statue outside the State House was open for wider public viewing on Tuesday. Access to the statue was restricted after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The statue is below the governor's executive suite, and funding in the fiscal 2015 budget provides for seasonal access. Read More

[Photo: Gintautas Dumcius/SHNS]

[Photo: Gintautas Dumcius/SHNS] | Hi-Res


BAKER INTERESTED IN ENERGY "COMBO PLATTER"

As he prepares to meet with other New England governors on Thursday in Hartford to discuss energy, Gov. Charlie Baker said he's interested in pursuing a "combo platter" of resources that will both reduce the state's carbon footprint, but also stabilize costs for consumers. Read More


HARTFORD ENERGY FORUM DETAILS ANNOUNCED

The governors of five New England states will meet in a private working meeting Thursday on regional energy issues but plan to brief the media afterwards at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford. Read More


HEALEY WILLING TO LOOK INTO EVERSOURCE CEO'S COMPENSATION

Attorney General Maura Healey on Tuesday called a utility company executive's compensation an "awful lot of money," and said she is willing to investigate to ensure consumers aren't affected. The Boston Globe reported in March that Tom May, the president and CEO of Eversource Energy, received a compensation package valued at roughly $9 million in 2014. Read More


HOUSE BUDGET BILL A CATCH-ALL FOR LAWMAKERS' PRIORITIES

With the legislative pipeline clogged, Massachusetts House members are targeting the $38 billion state budget with the hopes of moving their priorities to Gov. Charlie Baker's desk this summer. Lawmakers filed nearly 1,100 amendments to the House Ways and Means Committee's budget, which was released last Wednesday and will be debated beginning Monday, April 27. Read More


KERRY TO HOST JAPANESE P.M. IN BOSTON

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida will visit Boston Sunday as part of the pair's official visit to the United States. Secretary of State John Kerry will host Kishida and Abe in Boston, his hometown. Kerry will then travel to New York City Monday for a series of meetings involving U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and Japanese Foreign Ministry and Defense officials. Read More


LEGISLATURE TO MARK 50th ANNIVERSARY OF KING SPEECH

Marking 50 years since the civil rights hero Martin Luther King Jr. addressed the Massachusetts Legislature, the House and Senate will convene the first joint session of the year on April 27. The joint session will occur at 1 p.m. on the same day the House is preparing to begin its debate over a fiscal 2016 state budget. The actual anniversary of the speech is this Wednesday. Read More


MOHEGAN SUN PLANS RESORT CASINO IN SOUTH KOREA

Boxed around in the Massachusetts casino sweepstakes, Mohegan Sun is looking beyond the Northeast for its next foothold in the gambling market - way beyond. The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, which operates the Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut, announced plans Tuesday to partner with Mohegan Sun Pocono and Resorts Casino Hotel and Incheon International Airport Corporation to develop a hotel-casino resort as part of a "gateway entertainment city" in South Korea. Read More


REPS SEE SLOW-MOVING BUDGET AS LEGISLATIVE VELCRO

[Story Developing] With the legislative pipeline clogged, Massachusetts House members are targeting the $38 billion state budget with the hopes of moving their priorities to Gov. Charlie Baker's desk this summer. Read More


HOMICIDE SURVIVORS' GROUP TO MEET WITH DeLEO

House Speaker Robert DeLeo has reached out to a group to discuss state funding for witness protection efforts. Read More


BAKER STILL MARKING FIRST 100 DAYS

Gov. Charlie Baker continues to host media appearances centered around his first 100 days in office, which fell on Saturday. Baker plans a 10:30 a.m. appearance Monday on Boston Herald Radio, according to co-host Jaclyn Cashman, and is scheduled to talk about his first few months in office with Boston Globe Editor Brian McGrory at 6 p.m. at the JFK Library in Dorchester. Baker at 4:45 p.m. has a closed press meeting in his office with Kenyan Ambassador Njeru Githae.
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State House News Service