ADVANCES - WEEK OF JULY 16, 2017
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, JULY 14, 2017.....The way things are shaping up Massachusetts will have a new state budget by Monday, Gov. Charlie Baker may be on the verge of getting an overdue marijuana bill, and House members may soon learn the identity of their next budget chief. The Senate is also gearing up to advance bills addressing sex and mental health education in public schools. And Congressman Joe Kennedy plans on Monday to insert himself more squarely in the battle over privatization at the MBTA. The policy heavy storylines are now also competing with a big political story that will take time to fully unfold. Rep. Robert DeLeo's inner circle is shrinking as the Winthrop Democrat leans into his ninth year as House speaker and amid a tumultuous budget cycle and relatively unproductive legislative session. After losing Garrett Bradley last year, another one of his trusted deputies, Ways and Means Chairman Brian Dempsey, is about to proceed through the legislator-lobbyist revolving door that so many House and Senate members have walked through before him.
It's a perfectly legal path that usually leads to personal enrichment and enables lawmakers to cash in on State House relationships and political and policy expertise built up over years. Instead of fighting for constituents, lawmakers who know the detours and dead ends of the legislative maze swap allegiances and represent special interest clients. Dempsey's stunning departure leaves DeLeo with a pivotal decision for one of his colleagues and perhaps for the future of the House. Now that Dempsey is exiting, there's no clear frontrunner to eventually succeed DeLeo, 67, who himself rose to power following a lengthy behind the scenes battle with Rep. John Rogers for the right to succeed Speaker Sal DiMasi.
The decision could come sooner rather than later. The speaker has called a caucus for Monday at noon, and it's entirely possible that a pick could be presented to House Democrats for approval.
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