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Advances - Week of July 5, 2020

Beacon Hill lawmakers have finalized a bill expanding voting access during this year's elections and are working toward agreements on a major information technology spending bill and outlays to address COVID-19 response efforts.

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The night sky was illuminated over the Charles River during the 2017 Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular. The Pops have moved their 2020 Fourth of July celebration online. [Photo: Sam Doran/SHNS/File 2017]

The Roundup - Independent, But Not (Virus) Free

The Fourth of July will not be quite the same this year, with the Boston Pops pushed off the Hatch Shell stage and online like many other aspects of pandemic life.

Senate Session Summary - Thursday, July 2, 2020

In the midst of amending and passing a COVID-19 spending bill and an information technology borrowing bill, each totaling more than $1 billion, the Senate on Thursday unanimously sent to Gov. Charlie Baker's desk legislation expanding mail-in and early voting for the fall 2020 elections and a $200 million Chapter 90 bill financing local road and bridge projects. Baker quickly set his pen to parchment and signed the transportation bill, which also extends the MBTA's governing board until 2021, into law shortly after 6 p.m.

Columbia Gas to Pay $56 Mil State Penalty

Columbia Gas, the company that pleaded guilty in connection with the 2018 natural gas disaster in the Merrimack Valley, has agreed to pay $56 million and transfer its business in Massachusetts to Eversource by the time the cold weather returns.

House Session Summary - Thursday, July 2, 2020

There wouldn't be a need to flock to the polls on Sept. 1 or Nov. 3 under a mail-in and early voting bill the Legislature sent Thursday to Gov. Charlie Baker. Instead, residents of the state could take advantage of early voting periods and mail-in ballots, or go to the polls on election day if they wish.

Former Speaker Sal DiMasi was back at the State House on Dec. 4, 2018, two years after his compassionate release from federal prison, to hear farewell speeches from departing House members. [Photo: Sam Doran/SHNS/File]

Judge Clears Way for DiMasi to Lobby on Beacon Hill

Former House Speaker Sal DiMasi was cleared on Thursday to register as a lobbyist by a Superior Court judge who overturned Secretary of State William Galvin's decision to reject DiMasi's application based on his past convictions on federal corruption and extortion charges.

Gov. Charlie Baker announced Thursday that Massachusetts will move into the third phase of reopening on Monday. [Chris Van Buskirk/SHNS]

Mass. Barrels Ahead With Next Phase of Reopening

Massachusetts will move into the third phase of its gradual plan to revive public activity in most of the state on Monday, allowing gyms, museums, movie theaters and more to resume some operations even as COVID cases surge in other parts of the country.

Voting Bill Appears Headed to Baker’s Desk

The Massachusetts Senate voted unanimously for an early and mail-in voting bill compromise Thursday and appeared to be making quick work of a bill addressing more than $1 billion in federally reimbursable spending tied to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Uncaptioned image for story:Casinos Cleared to Reopen in Phase 3

Casinos Cleared to Reopen in Phase 3

The state's slots parlor and two resort casinos, shuttered since March 15, were cleared Thursday to reopen as soon as Monday, though officials said it is unlikely that gambling will resume right away.

Eviction Moratorium Backers See Short Window for Passage

With the clock ticking for potential legislative action to extend housing relief measures, sponsors of a new bill aimed at preserving a mandatory pause on housing removals highlighted support and strategies on Thursday.

U.S. Jobs Rebound, Unemployment Down to 11.1 Percent

American employers returned 4.8 million jobs in June, as economies reopened from coronavirus closings, but two straight months of record gains have brought back only about a third of the positions lost during the pandemic.

Uncaptioned image for story:Travel Guidance Syncs With Cape Visitor Profile

Travel Guidance Syncs With Cape Visitor Profile

Updated travel guidance in Massachusetts bodes well for business this summer on Cape Cod, where officials are observing pent-up demand for getaways.

Uncaptioned image for story:Markey, Kennedy Each Raised $1.9 Mil During Pandemic

Markey, Kennedy Each Raised $1.9 Mil During Pandemic

With just two months until voters go to the polls to decide the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, U.S. Sen. Edward Markey and his rival U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III have almost identically sized bank accounts after similar fundraising quarters that were interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nursing Home Ballot Question Derails Amidst Pandemic

Massachusetts voters are on track to decide this November whether to embrace ranked-choice voting and expand access to automobile digital repair data, but a proposal to increase funding for nursing homes, which were at the center of the COVID-19 crisis, will not appear on the ballot.

Interim Holyoke Home Superintendent “Extraordinary,” Guv Says

Gov. Charlie Baker on Wednesday pointed to the interim superintendent of the Holyoke Soldiers' Home to explain why legislation he filed diverges from reforms an independent investigator recommended.

Kerry Urges State to Step Up in Climate Fight

The ongoing effort to keep up the pressure to pass climate policy legislation into law this session got a high-profile boost Wednesday when former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called into a Senate committee hearing to lend his voice to the cause.

Study Finds Race, Income Discrimination in Housing

Discriminating against people of color or anyone who relies on a voucher to pay their rent is illegal in Massachusetts, but new research suggests the practice is pervasive in the Greater Boston real estate market.

[Photo: Nic Czarnecki/Boston Herald/Pool]

Baker: Virus Looking for “Possibilities and Opportunities”

After state public health officials on Tuesday reported no new deaths for the day from COVID-19 for the first time since March, Gov. Charlie Baker on Wednesday cautioned against declaring victory against the coronavirus.

Flood Leaves Future For Norwood Hospital Docs In Question

With patients now entirely evacuated from Norwood Hospital after a flood and the facility shut down, Gov. Charlie Baker said that attention has turned to its clinical staff.

Uncaptioned image for story:Commissioner: Fed Aid Won't Solve Child Care System Woes

Commissioner: Fed Aid Won’t Solve Child Care System Woes

Emergency federal funding will fall short of covering major financial gaps in the Massachusetts child care sector, prompting an industry group to warn state lawmakers that they will need to triage limited resources with a wave of closures on the horizon.