ADVANCES - WEEK OF MARCH 26, 2017
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, MARCH 24, 2017.....Beacon Hill heads next week into the second quarter of 2017 seeming fully distracted by President Donald Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress. Lawmakers are operating with both eyes on Washington and it's showing. There's little in the way of a shared legislative agenda among the Democrats who control the House and Senate and Gov. Charlie Baker. While there is some interest in criminal justice system reforms and overhauling the marijuana legalization ballot law, legislators have not traveled far down those paths. The preoccupation with Washington appears to be warranted, given the state's growing reliance on federal revenues to balance its budget and signals from the new powers in Washington that the purse strings may be tightened significantly. Gov. Baker late Thursday night indicated he believed the GOP bill to replace Obamacare "should not pass" and he got his wish Friday afternoon when the fractured leadership of his Republican Party in Washington pulled their proposed American Health Care Act. But there's work to do in the Massachusetts Legislature. State law calls for cities and towns to be notified by March 1 of expected local road and bridge repair funds, but non-controversial legislation to deliver those funds hasn't made it out of committees yet. House Speaker Robert DeLeo has advised representatives that it will be ready for a vote on Wednesday. Budget hearings are wrapping up next week but House leaders have not yet agreed on a timetable to release their rewrite of Gov. Charlie Baker's $40.5 billion budget or agreed on when they will debate it.
-- MONDAY: Lawmakers travel to Fall River for a budget hearing on health and human services spending and to Springfield for a hearing on marijuana policy; there's no leadership meeting as Speaker DeLeo is catching some MLB spring training in Florida;
-- TUESDAY: State senators tour western Massachusetts to continue their conversations with residents and business owners; the Board of Education considers the Lawrence public schools, revisions to English and math curriculum frameworks, and the Next-Generation MCAS; current and former lawmakers hold a "women who lead" panel at the State House.
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