... Budget watch elevated as House schedules formal session for Monday afternoon ...... Vineyard Wind says project challenged unless it gets key fed determination by end of August ...... With transit system struggling, MBTA Board returns on Monday after long layoff ...... DeLeo wants another interim budget, but Baker says that's a "last resort" ...... Harness racing, simulcast wagering sites at risk without extension of gaming laws due to expire July 31 ...... Budget impasse causes UMass to postpone decision on fall tuition and fee rates ...... ACLU sues MassDOT, alleges agency failed to respond to its face surveillance public records requests ...... Baker returns Janus bill with amendment designed to protect employee cellphone numbers ...... Transportation emission reductions will be focus of workshops July 18, July 23, July 25 ...
Latest Headlines:
House:
ADJOURNED 'til Monday at 11 a.m. (formal)
Senate:
ADJOURNED 'til Monday at 11 a.m. (no calendar)

LATEST WEEKLY ROUNDUP - THE HEAT IS ON

The mercury is rising, optimism is growing and lawmakers now have a buckeye on their back after Ohio beat them to a two-year budget accord that Gov. Mike DeWine inked his name to on Thursday. Read More

After near-empty sessions and long recesses over the last three weeks while budget negotiators blew past their July 1 deadline, the Legislature plans to meet Monday with a final budget accord finally on the horizon. [Photo: Sam Doran/SHNS] | Hi-Res

ADVANCES - WEEK OF JULY 21, 2019

It's earnings season across America and while state government doesn't post a quarterly report, the state is swimming in surplus revenues, encountering turbulence within its governance structure, and facing taxpayers who are being left to wonder why Beacon Hill leaders can't pull the trigger on key decisions. Read More


BAKER BILL TOUGHENS RULES FOR COMMERCIAL DRIVERS

Gov. Charlie Baker unveiled legislation Friday aimed at strengthening safety restrictions on commercial driver's licenses, measures pitched as a response to an ongoing scandal at the Registry of Motor Vehicles set off by a deadly crash. Read More


BUDGET WATCH ELEVATED AS HOUSE SCHEDULES FORMAL SESSION

Signaling that a deal could be close on the now 19-day overdue state budget, the House on Friday afternoon scheduled a formal session for Monday, with recorded roll call votes set to begin at 1 p.m. Read More


MARKEY: TRUMP "RACE-BAITING" AS PART OF REELECTION STRATEGY

U.S. Sen. Ed Markey on Friday condemned U.S policies at the country's southern border as well as President Donald Trump's attacks on Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley. Read More


HOUSE SESSION - FRIDAY, JULY 19, 2019

Signaling that a deal could be close on the now 19-day overdue state budget, the House on Friday afternoon scheduled a formal session for Monday, with recorded roll call votes set to begin at 1 p.m. Read More


SANDWICH REP. RANDY HUNT NOT SEEKING REELECTION

Rep. Randy Hunt, a Sandwich Republican who has served in the Massachusetts House since 2011, will not seek reelection next year, he announced in the Cape Cod Times. Read More

Rep. Randy Hunt of Sandwich. [Photo: Sam Doran/SHN

Rep. Randy Hunt of Sandwich. [Photo: Sam Doran/SHNS/File] | Hi-Res


MBTA RELEASES DERAILMENT VIDEO AFTER PUBLIC INFO REQUEST

The MBTA released video Friday of a June 11 Red Line derailment that officials say will continue to cause delays through most of the summer, the same day T officials said service on a stretch of track will return to normal two weeks earlier than expected. Read More

Video showing the June 11 Red Line derailment at J

Video showing the June 11 Red Line derailment at JFK/UMass Station was released by the MBTA on Friday afternoon. [MBTA] | Hi-Res


BAKER ADMIN OFFICIALS TO TESTIFY MONDAY ON RMV PROBLEMS

Seven witnesses, including top Baker administration transportation officials and the leader of an outside audit team, have been asked to testify Monday morning about failures at the Registry of Motor Vehicles to process out-of-state driver violation notices. Read More

Sen. Joseph Boncore and Rep. William Straus, co-ch

Sen. Joseph Boncore and Rep. William Straus, co-chairmen of the Transportation Committee, questioned Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack at a March hearing on the governor's road safety bill. [Photo: Sam Doran/SHNS/File 2019] | Hi-Res


Thursday, July 18, 2019

RIDER DISSATISFACTION WITH T DOESN'T SURPRISE GOVERNOR

Gov. Charlie Baker said Thursday he is "not surprised at all" that the MBTA's monthly rider poll shows its lowest approval rating since the feature was launched more than three years ago, but reiterated support for his transportation secretary amid ongoing frustration with the T and a controversy at the Registry of Motor Vehicles. Read More


NEW YORK PICKS BIDDERS FOR MAJOR OFFSHORE WIND PROJECTS

Staking its claim as a regional leader in the unfolding U.S. offshore wind energy derby, New York made a splash Thursday by picking two bidders to deliver 1,700 megawatts of power in an effort to reduce carbon emissions and help build a growing industry. Read More


ENCORE IN COMPLIANCE WITH ITS BLACKJACK ODDS, AGENTS SAY

An initial investigation into the claims of a lawsuit alleging Encore Boston Harbor is duping customers by paying out at less favorable odds for blackjack wins found that the Everett casino is not violating any Gaming Commission rules or regulations, a commission official said Thursday. Read More


ACTIVISTS TRY TO KEEP UP PRESSURE ON EDUCATION BILL

With just six weeks until the start of a new school year, public education advocates and students are still waiting for a new funding formula bill to emerge from a legislative committee. Read More


TURCO LETTER AFFIRMS ADMIN'S SUPPORT FOR TRANSGENDER SOLDIERS

The Baker administration affirmed the right of transgender people to serve in the Massachusetts National Guard and said this week it would support transgender residents of Massachusetts seeking waivers from President Donald Trump's policy banning them from joining the military. Read More

Public Safety Secretary Thomas Turco. [Photo: Sam

Public Safety Secretary Thomas Turco. [Photo: Sam Doran/SHNS/File 2018] | Hi-Res


BOSTON MAYOR, MBTA CHIEF PLANNING SITDOWN NEXT WEEK

[Story Developing] A day after he sent a letter to state transportation officials slamming the MBTA as "not currently a functional service" for much of the city, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said he plans to meet with the T's general manager to discuss potential improvements. Read More


NERO'S CASE CITED IN APPEAL FOR POLICE DOG TREATMENT LAW

Over the sound of police dogs panting, Denise Gannon asked lawmakers to look at two pictures. Read More

Denise and Patrick Gannon displayed a photo of the

Denise and Patrick Gannon displayed a photo of their son, the late Sgt. Sean Gannon, and his K9 partner Nero as they asked lawmakers to support a bill that would allow emergency personnel to treat police dogs. [Photo: Katie Lannan/SHNS] | Hi-Res


ENCORE "IN COMPLIANCE" ON BLACKJACK, AGENTS SAY

[Story Developing] State gaming agents have "preliminarily found Encore to be in compliance" with the Gaming Commission's rules and regulations for the card game blackjack, a commission investigator said Thursday. Read More


CCC TAPS SIX GROUPS TO BOOST SOCIAL EQUITY EFFORTS

As it continues to build out the nation's first statewide cannabis social equity program, the Cannabis Control Commission on Wednesday selected six organizations to provide technical and financial assistance to prospective business owners from communities disproportionately harmed by past drug laws. Read More


OFFSHORE WIND PROJECT AT RISK DUE TO FEDERAL DELAYS

The commercial-scale offshore wind project planned for the waters 15 miles south of Martha's Vineyard is at risk if officials can't get a key determination from the federal government by the end of August. Read More


SENATE SESSION - THURSDAY, JULY 18, 2019

The Senate gaveled out for a long weekend Thursday as Beacon Hill waits with bated breath for a budget deal, 18 days into the new fiscal year. Fifteen minutes after the House scheduled a rare Friday session, the Senate clocked out until Monday morning. Read More


HOUSE SESSION - THURSDAY, JULY 18, 2019

Bills granting a liquor license to an artisan cheese and specialty food shop in Hudson and modifying the Sherwood Forest Road Maintenance District in the town of Becket passed the House during a recess-filled six-hour session. As lawmakers continue to wait for the nearly $43 billion state budget to emerge from a six-member conference committee, the House plans to hold another informal session Friday morning. - Katie Lannan Read More


WINDOW GUARD REQUIREMENT PITCHED TO PREVENT CHILD FALLS

Zella-Ray Martin was two years, two months and two days old when she fell to her death out of the window of her mother's Fitchburg apartment last October. Read More

Rep. Colleen Garry filed a bill to require window

Rep. Colleen Garry filed a bill to require window guards in the homes of young children after 2-year-old Zella-Ray Martin fell to her death out of an apartment window. The Martin family joined Garry on Thursday to testify for the bill. [Photo: Katie Lannan/SHNS] | Hi-Res


BAKER "MORE OPTIMISTIC" ABOUT BUDGET COMPROMISE

With the state budget stalemate between Democratic leaders now spilling into the second half of July, Gov. Charlie Baker met privately with House Speaker Robert DeLeo in his office on Thursday morning and said he spoke with other legislators throughout the day, leaving him "more optimistic" that a compromise could be near. Read More


HEALTH CARE WORKERS SAY WORKPLACE VIOLENCE DEMANDS RESPONSE

Registered nurse Susan Landers was choked unconscious in April by a patient, sustaining a concussion when she hit the floor afterwards. Read More


NEW YORK PICKS BIDDERS FOR MAJOR OFFSHORE WIND PROJECTS

[Story Developing] New York made a splash in the unfolding U.S. offshore wind energy derby Thursday, picking two bidders to deliver 1,700 megawatts of power in an effort to reduce carbon emissions and help build a growing industry. Read More


FIX-IT SITE VISITS REFLECT DEMAND FOR MANUFACTURER INFO, PARTS

Frustrated Massachusetts residents are turning to the internet in big numbers for advice on how to fix cellphones, laptops, vehicles and their computers, according to a new report, which recommends that product manufacturers be more transparent by making parts and service information available to consumers. Read More


CHILD MARRIAGE, CARE BILLS ON SENATE AGENDA

The Senate is preparing to take up bills, possibly as soon as next week, dealing with provider network directories, optometric care, and ending child marriage in Massachusetts. Read More


NEARLY 1,600 RENTAL UNITS EYED WITH $120 MIL IN GOVERNMENT AID

About $80 million in government funding and $40 million in tax credits will preserve and produce nearly 1,600 housing rental units in Massachusetts, under a round of awards announced Thursday by Gov. Charlie Baker. Read More


BAKER AMONG FOUR GOP GUVS WITH MOST POPULAR TAGS

Gov. Charlie Baker remained the country's most popular governor in the latest Morning Consult quarterly rankings released Thursday, enjoying 59-point net approval during a survey period that largely took place before a string of breakdowns on the MBTA and a scandal at the Registry of Motor Vehicles. Read More

Gov. Charlie Baker celebrated his second term win

Gov. Charlie Baker celebrated his second term win on Election Night 2018. [Photo: Sam Doran/SHNS/File] | Hi-Res


Wednesday, July 17, 2019

WALSH

BOSTON MAYOR FIGHTING FOR LOW-INCOME TENANTS FACING EVICTION

Boston Mayor Martin Walsh returned to Beacon Hill on Tuesday to testify before one of his former committees on a bill that would direct the state to provide low-income tenants who are facing eviction with a court-appointed attorney for the eviction proceedings. Read More


STRIKING ISLAND BUS DRIVERS TO VISIT STATE HOUSE

Striking bus drivers from the Vineyard Transit Authority plan to rally outside the State House on Thursday to publicize concerns about bus safety and wage stagnation, and to call for a state audit of the island transit authority's finances. Read More


BOSTON MAYOR QUESTIONS FUNCTIONALITY OF MBTA

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh called Wednesday for the MBTA to invest about $9 million in running Red Line and commuter rail trains more frequently, slamming the system — wracked with ongoing delays after a derailment last month — as "not currently a functional service" for much of the city. Read More


POWER PROBLEM WRECKS MORNING COMMUTE ON BLUE LINE

While the MBTA works through the summer to get its Red Line back to normal service levels following a derailment last month, the battered public transit system's Blue Line left commuters looking for another way to get to work when it partially shut down Wednesday morning. Read More

An MBTA shuttle bus pulled up in front of Governme

An MBTA shuttle bus pulled up in front of Government Center Station on Wednesday morning amid a partial Blue Line shutdown. [Photo: Sam Doran/SHNS] | Hi-Res


RANKED CHOICE PITCHED AS INCLUSIVE ELECTION REFORM

Activists met at the State House to celebrate progress on ranked choice voting efforts and highlight bills that would allow municipalities to enact the voting reform at the local level, and legalize the process statewide. "We're all here in this shared effort to ensure that every vote in Massachusetts has a greater voice when they go to the polls," said Mac D'Alessandro, state director for Voter Choice Massachusetts, which organized the event. Read More


BAKER, VINEYARD WIND MUM ON FEDS' PROJECT GUIDANCE

The federal government has offered new "guidance" on the Vineyard Wind offshore wind project, Gov. Charlie Baker said Tuesday, but neither the governor's team nor project officials will talk about it. Read More


HIGHER ED BOARD SETS HEARINGS ON COLLEGE CLOSURE REGS

The Board of Higher Education plans a series of early August hearings on proposed regulations involving the identification and monitoring of private colleges and universities at risk of closure. Read More


MALONE CONFIRMED FOR FITCHBURG DISTRICT COURT JUDGESHIP

A Fitchburg District Court judicial nominee and a member of the Parole Board were confirmed to their seats Wednesday by unanimous votes of the Governor's Council. The council approved Charlene Bonner, a forensic psychologist and addictive disorder specialist, for a new term on the Parole Board she has served on since 2011. Read More


AUTHORITY RAISING $300 MIL FOR SCHOOL PROJECTS

State officials are going to the bond market Wednesday to begin raising $300 million for school construction projects. Read More


CONSUMER GROUPS FLAG PROBLEMS WITH CAR SALES BILL

Consumer groups are urging lawmakers to reject a bill they say would allow Massachusetts car dealers to sell used vehicles with unrepaired safety recall defects. Read More


SENATE SESSION - WEDNESDAY, JULY 17, 2019

The Senate continue its light July workload, as Democrats continue extended talks on the state budget and a distracted driving bill. Legislative leaders appear content to keep a limited agenda while waiting for those bills to emerge from conference committees. At a session that most senators skipped, the Senate recognized guests, sent a bill to committee, then agreed to return for another informal session Thursday. - Chris Lisinski Read More


BEE-KILLING PESTICIDES TARGETED IN PETITION SIGNED BY 20,000

With bee colonies in distress, grassroots support appears to be growing for legislative intervention. Read More


CAUCUS BACKS PRESSLEY, DENOUNCES TRUMP TWEETS

The Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus is standing in support of U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley and the three other Democratic congresswomen of color whom President Donald Trump has targeted in recent tweets. Read More


Tuesday, July 16, 2019

FEDS SHARE "FAIR AMOUNT OF GUIDANCE" WITH STATE, VINEYARD WIND

Days after the Trump administration injected a level of uncertainty into the Vineyard Wind project planned off of Martha's Vineyard, Gov. Charlie Baker said the federal government has given his administration and the company a "fair amount of guidance" about the decision to delay a key permit. Read More


TOBACCO, VAPING PRODUCTS TARGETED WITH FLAVOR BAN

As more and more young people begin to use e-cigarettes and other vapor products with nicotine, often initially tempted by an appealing flavor, students and lawmakers made their push Tuesday for Massachusetts to ban the sale of almost all flavored tobacco and tobacco products, including mentholated cigarettes and some of the most popular vape products. Read More

Sen. John Keenan and an aide picked up side-by-sid

Sen. John Keenan and an aide picked up side-by-side comparisons of vintage cigarette ads and modern e-cig marketing materials. [Photo: Sam Doran/SHNS] | Hi-Res


NEW MASS. BUDGET TIMELINE IS NEXT WEEK, "HOPEFULLY"

It's only Tuesday and hopes are already fading for a deal this week on the overdue state budget. Breaking a two-week pattern, the House adjourned Tuesday morning without plans to meet on Wednesday. Since July 1, the budget's due date, both branches have been holding near-daily sessions while they await a report from the six lawmakers charged in early June with coming up with the final fiscal 2020 spending plan. Read More


ED FUNDING BILL TIMELINE NOW "THE NEAR FUTURE"

The fiscal year 2020 budget is not the only long-expected Beacon Hill legislation running late: after initially suggesting a K-12 education funding bill would be released in June, Education Committee co-chair Sen. Jason Lewis said Tuesday that he now expects the work to be completed "in the near future." Read More


BROAD SUPPORT FOR WELFARE CASH ASSISTANCE INCREASE

Activists, physicians and social workers urged lawmakers Tuesday to expand a state welfare program helping low-income parents, arguing existing cash grants are insufficient to meet growing costs and leave many children stuck in poverty. Read More

Rep. Marjorie Decker (left), who filed legislation

Rep. Marjorie Decker (left), who filed legislation with Sen. Sal DiDomenico (right) to increase the cash benefits low-income parents can receive, said the existing funding leaves many people "drowning" under growing costs. [Photo: Chris Lisinski/SHNS] | Hi-Res


SENATE SESSION – TUESDAY, JULY 16, 2019

The legislative pace has slowed as House and Senate Democrats continue to struggle to complete work on the annual state budget. The Senate met for less than five minutes on Tuesday to deal with local issues and a bill to allow state employees to donate their sick, personal or vacation time to an ill colleague. Read More


CCC EXTENDS BOSTON LEASE AT NEARLY $27,000 A MONTH

The Cannabis Control Commission has re-upped the lease for its temporary digs in the Financial District, but expects to move into its Boston satellite office next month and get settled into its new Worcester headquarters by the end of 2019. Read More


GOVS. BAKER, LAMONT, RAIMONDO HUDDLE OVER REGIONAL ISSUES

Gov. Charlie Baker came looking to check in on a regional initiative to wring carbon emissions from the transportation sector. Read More

Gov. Charlie Baker met with neighboring state exec

Gov. Charlie Baker met with neighboring state executives Ned Lamont of Connecticut (center) and Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island (right) on Tuesday at Eastern Connecticut State University. [Photo: Matt Murphy/SHNS] | Hi-Res


MASS. SCHOOLS LACKING IN CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTION

Fire chiefs renewed warnings Tuesday that students across the state face risks of carbon monoxide poisoning because of a gap in regulations that effectively allows many older school buildings not to install detectors. Read More

Monson Fire Chief Laurent McDonald, Douglas Fire C

Monson Fire Chief Laurent McDonald, Douglas Fire Chief Kent Vinson, and Fire Chiefs Association of Massachusetts government affairs director Bill Scoble testified Tuesday in support of legislation to require all schools in the state to install carbon-monoxide detectors. [Photo: Chris Lisinski/SHNS] | Hi-Res


GOVS. BAKER, LAMONT, RAIMONDO GATHER IN CONNECTICUT

Gov. Charlie Baker came looking to check in on a regional initiative to wring carbon emissions from the transportation sector. Read More


HOUSE SESSION - TUESDAY, JULY 16, 2019

The House dealt with a pack of municipal bills and sick leave banks on Tuesday, before adjourning until later this week - without any immediate plans to take up a deal from fiscal 2020 budget negotiators, who are now on Day 47 of private meetings. Read More


VAPING FIGHT PITS STUDENTS AGAINST STORE OWNERS

[Story Developing] High school and college students who say the use of nicotine vapor products has become a widespread aspect of student life will urge lawmakers Tuesday to impose an outright ban on flavored tobacco and vape products. Read More


NAHANT BRINGS DOVER AMENDMENT APPEAL TO LEGISLATURE

Bonded by opposition to a Northeastern University project, Nahant residents packed a State House auditorium Tuesday and asked lawmakers to essentially lift a 69-year-old law that can enable religious or education non-profits to bypass local environmental regulations. Read More


HOUSE LEADER NOW EYES BUDGET DEAL NEXT WEEK

It's only Tuesday, and hopes are already fading for a deal this week on the overdue state budget. Read More


CARBON MONOXIDE DEATHS, AUTO INDUSTRY TARGETED IN NEW BILL

Auto manufacturers, dealers, and rental companies in Massachusetts would be required to ensure that vehicles with keyless ignitions are equipped with auto-stop technology under new legislation aimed at preventing carbon monoxide deaths. Read More


FOSTER NOMINATED FOR SOMERVILLE COURT POST

Kimberly Foster, an attorney with public and private sector experience, will serve as clerk magistrate of the Somerville District Court if her nomination is confirmed by the Governor's Council. Read More


Read more in the Monthly Digest


 
 
State House News Service