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Senate Session Summary - Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019

The Senate gaveled in and out of an informal session Thursday just 10 hours after adjourning its marathon final formal session of 2019. The Senate advanced a bill validating the town of Sharon's election and Town Meeting. There was no news on the fiscal year 2019 closeout budget that branch leaders failed to resolve Wednesday night, and hundreds of millions of dollars in spending, the official choice of a state primary date, and potential business tax code changes will remain unresolved until at least next week. The Senate meets again on Monday at 11 a.m. - Chris Lisinski


Anbaric Files Application for Offshore Transmission Network

The company that is turning the site of a former coal-burning power plant in Somerset into a green energy center has filed a federal application to develop a single transmission network that could deliver power from offshore wind farms to Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut.


Massachusetts Poised to Lead States With Flavored Tobacco Ban

The sale of all flavored vaping and tobacco products, including mint and menthol, would be banned in Massachusetts, and e-cigarettes would be newly taxed, under a bill the House and Senate sent Gov. Charlie Baker early Thursday morning in an last-minute burst of lawmaking activity.


The SHNS Podcast

Education, Flavor Ban, Hands-Free Bills Sent to Baker

Massachusetts lawmakers wrapped up work Wednesday on bills calling for long-term K-12 education investments, requiring motorists to use only hands-free technology while driving, and banning flavored tobacco products.


House Session Summary - Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019

In a session that extended almost 14 hours, the House took its final votes on a $1.5 billion school finance overhaul, a ban on handheld cellphone use while driving, children's health legislation and a campaign finance reform bill. Lawmakers in the House and Senate did not wrap up their work on the overdue fiscal 2019 closeout budget, despite some signs of progress during the day including the appointment of a conference committee.


Senate Session Summary - Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019

After roughly five hours of debate, the Senate approved a ban Wednesday night on flavored tobacco products that includes menthol and imposes a 75 percent excise tax on e-cigarettes. Senators then agreed with the House as the calendar turned to Thursday on a compromise version so it could go to Gov. Charlie Baker. The branches could not agree, however, on a spending bill closing the books on the fiscal year that ended June 30.


Mass. Senate Votes to Ban Single-Use Plastic Bags

The Massachusetts Senate approved a statewide ban on retail businesses offering single-use plastic bags, but the bill advanced Wednesday night with more dissent than usual from the Democratic ranks due to the way the bill surfaced.


Kirsten Hughes, who gave up her chairmanship of the state Republican Party in January, was interviewed by the Governor's Council on Wednesday for a lifetime position as clerk magistrate of Stoughton District Court. [Photo: Chris Van Buskirk/SHNS]

Clerk Magistrate Nominee Hughes Appears Before Council

Former MassGOP chair and Quincy City Councilor Kirsten Hughes fielded questions Wednesday from the Governor's Council as they initiated her clerk magistrate nomination process.


ACLU: Driving Bill's Data Won't Give Police 'Complete Picture'

The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts renewed its criticism of a distracted driving compromise bill Wednesday as it landed on the governor's desk, warning that it does not expand data collection requirements far enough beyond state law.


Charter Group Praises School Funding Reform as 'Giant Step'

Massachusetts charter schools have joined the chorus praising the $1.5 billion school finance overhaul lawmakers sent to Gov. Charlie Baker's desk on Wednesday.


The close-out budget from last fiscal year, which was due Oct. 31, was shuttled between the chambers and clerk's offices Wednesday night as action resumed and a procedural hangup appeared to be settled. [Photo: Sam Doran/SHNS]

Procedural Hurdle Cleared on Closeout Supplemental Budget

There's movement on the mysterious supplemental budget, but not resolution yet.


State Plans to Change Major Highway Exit Numbers

Massachusetts is embarking on a multi-year effort to put new numbers on major highway exits, a change that Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver says will help motorists with calculating driving distances and put Massachusetts in compliance with a federal mandate.


Plymouth Senator Plans to Resign Nov. 29

Sen. Viriato deMacedo bid farewell to his colleagues in the Senate on Wednesday. But he's got at least another week on the payroll.


Bill Pledging Ed Funding Increase Unanimously Approved

Both the House and Senate unanimously adopted a landmark compromise Wednesday overhauling the state's public education funding formula with plans for a $1.5 billion infusion of new dollars over the next seven years.


Consumers Buying Marijuana at $1 Mil Per Day Pace

In the first year of legal sales in Massachusetts, cannabis consumers bought an average of more than $1 million worth of marijuana products each day.


Distracted Driving Bill on Gov. Baker's Desk

A signature from Gov. Charlie Baker is all that remains required before drivers will be told to put down their cellphones or any other electronic devices while behind the wheel.


Senate Begins Debate on Tobacco Flavor Ban Bill

The Senate just after 4 p.m. began debating whether to ban flavored nicotine products and tax vaping devices, and House Speaker Robert DeLeo said it would be his "desire" to get a vaping bill to Gov. Charlie Baker's desk by the end of the day.


Rep. John Lawn, House chairman of Election Laws, said the compromise campaign finance bill won't change the process for selecting a chief regulator: "It was more important to get this bill done." [Photo: Sam Doran/SHNS]

Senate Prevails in Dispute Over OCPF Director Appointment

The House dropped its push to remove political party chairs from the process of appointing the state's top campaign finance regulator, agreeing to an amendment that rewrites a political funding reporting bill without language opposed by Republicans and unpopular in the Senate.


Senate Republicans, who sit in an arrangement dubbed "Minority Crescent" by their leader Sen. Bruce Tarr, bid farewell to two members Wednesday and prepared for their caucus to shrink by a third. [Photo: Sam Doran/SHNS]

Departures Leave Big Dent in Senate GOP Caucus

The Senate Republican caucus prepared on Wednesday to shrink by a third, as two of its six members said their goodbyes before moving on to other jobs.


House Speaker DeLeo on the fiscal 2019 close-out budget, which was due by Oct. 31: "It's important that we get it done at some point today." [Photo: Sam Doran/SHNS]

DeLeo Hopeful About Budget Bill Resolution Wednesday

House and Senate leaders have cut deals in the past several days over education funding, campaign finance reform, a cellphone ban for drivers and children's health. But an agreement over one, major, time-sensitive spending bill remains elusive.