Baker speaks at Girls Inc. luncheon
Gov. Charlie Baker speaks at the 28th annual celebration luncheon for Girls Inc. of Lynn, DoubleTree by Hilton North Shore, 50 Ferncroft Road, Danvers, 12:45 p.m.
Rally to raise the minimum wage
Workers, advocates and supporters of the ‘Fight for 15’ campaign hold a rally to call for a hike in the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour, State House, 3:30 p.m.
Road repair bill signing
Gov. Baker will sign a $200 million bill allocating funds for local road and bridge repairs, Room 360, 3:30 p.m.
Clinton and Sanders debate
Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders hold a final debate before the New York primary, CNN, 9 p.m.
Time for Baker to admit it: His transgender-bill stall isn’t working
Gov. Charlie Baker got booed and heckled off the stage last night at a LGBT event after he refused to say whether he’d sign a bill to prevent discrimination against transgender people, reports the Globe’s Travis Andersen. The Herald’s O’Ryan Johnson and Brian Dowling also report how the governor walked off the stage mid-speech and left the hotel ballroom as protesters shouted “Sign the bill!” Both papers carried the story on their front pages this morning.
Here’s a thought or two: What was the governor thinking? Seriously, what was he thinking? Did he really go to a LGBT event and try to talk about the opioid crisis and MBTA, as reported? After he was disinvited last week to a major gay-and-lesbian business event over his refusal to take a stand on the transgender bill? After a slew of local business leaders this week came out in favor of the legislation? After weeks of recent debates nationwide on this very issue? Did he really think he could drone on about other issues last night at an LGBT event?
No wonder one person referred to Baker’s performance last night as “one of the most politically tone-deaf speeches I’ve ever heard.” It wasn’t just tone-deaf. It also revealed that his fence-sitting strategy on this issue isn’t working. Baker was openly elected as governor as a conservative on fiscal matters and more liberal on social issues. He should get this social issue – which the vast majority of Massachusetts residents really don’t care about either way – behind him or it’s going to be an unnecessarily long (and loud) spring for him on Beacon Hill.
Time running short for legislative priorities
Here are some legislative issues that Gov. Baker can and should focus on once, or if, he gets the transgender-rights issue behind him: A comprehensive energy bill and his economic development initiative. They’re among the small number of bills that will be able to gain legislative attention now that budget season has begun its annual squeeze play on Beacon Hill time, Bruce Mohl of CommonWealth magazine reports.
Anti-marijuana campaign launches
Gov. Baker, Mayor Marty Walsh and House Speaker Robert DeLeo will announce the formation of a campaign to block a ballot question aimed at legalizing recreational marijuana, Joshua Miller of the Globe reports. The creation of the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts almost certainly ensures a bitter and expensive battle as the question is placed before voters in November.
House produces leaner budget – but with some changes
Compared to Gov. Baker’s proposed fiscal 2017 budget with a 3.5 percent increase in spending, the House leadership yesterday unveiled a new budget blueprint with spending rising by only 3.3 percent, reports Matt Murphy of State House News Service (pay wall). The leaner budget doesn’t include any general tax hikes.
From the Globe’s Joshua Miller and David Scharfenberg: “House leaders unveiled a $39.5 billion budget proposal Wednesday that would direct new money to cities and towns, modestly boost the pay of low-wage nursing home and early-education workers, and kill a controversial proposal by Governor Charlie Baker to cut welfare payments for the disabled.”
From the Herald’s Matt Stout: “House leaders have axed several of Gov. Charlie Baker’s policy pushes from their annual budget proposal — including overhauls to charter school funding and welfare spending — providing the notable departures as debate begins on the $39.5 billion spending plan.
And, sorry, Meredith Warren, lawmakers aren’t going to adopt a zero-based budgeting process now or possibly ever. They should. But they won’t.
Lawmaker envisions higher-speed rail between Springfield and Boston
There’s not a chance in you-know-where it’s going to happen anytime soon. But Sen. Eric Lesser said he’d like to see trains hurtling one day between Springfield and Boston in only 90 minutes. It’s not exactly high-speed rail. More like higher-speed rail. Still, he says it would provide more bang for the buck than the multibillion-dollar Green Line extension in Somerville and Medford, reports MassLive’s Dan Glaun.
But as Glaun notes: “It is a plan that has its challenges. It would require hundreds of millions in investment, an overhaul of the freight rail lines that currently connect Springfield and Worcester and the support of a legislature that has not historically proved enthusiastic about major infrastructure expansions west of I-495.”
In a bid for help, addicts are increasingly shooting up on MGH property
It’s a sad sign of the times when desperate drug addicts are literally tying bathroom emergency pull cords to their bodies so that alarms go off if they collapse from overdoses after shooting up on Massachusetts General Hospital property. But that’s exactly what’s happening, reports the Herald’s Lindsay Kalter. From the Herald: “Drug abusers are shooting up in bathrooms, walkways and parking garages at Massachusetts General Hospital in an alarming new tactic they hope will save them from lethal overdoses, the Herald has learned. The phenomenon is just the latest sign of an epidemic that’s driving MGH to ramp up its overdose-fighting efforts, including equipping the hospital’s security guards with the powerful opiate antidote Narcan.”
T sick leave crackdown showing results
A promised crackdown on abuse of sick leave at the MBTA has cut the agency’s overtime budget in half and helped reduce the number of canceled bus trips, Erin Smith of the Herald reports. The T shaved $10 million in overtime costs over the first three months of the calendar year compared to a year ago, with T workers taking 10,000 fewer sick days.
Quincy tells GateHouse no thanks on marketing plan
The city of Quincy has told the GateHouse newspaper chain it is no longer in the running to win a marketing contract, Jack Sullivan of CommonWealth Magazine reports. The city has decided that granting the contract to the publisher of the Patriot Ledger and other area newspapers would create at least an appearance of a conflict of interest.
Marathon to bring in nearly $200 million in spending
A report commissioned by the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau estimates Monday’s 120th running of the Boston Marathon will generate $189 million in economic impact for the state, Sam Bonacci of the Worcester Business Journal reports. The bottom line includes $28 million in charity donations and more than $100 million in spending by the 30,000 runners and their guests.
New Bedford ball club wants beer sales
The New Bedford Bay Sox has embarked on a multi-step process to seek permission to sell beer and wine at its home field, saying it would boost attendance and help the team attract better players, Kathleen McKiernan of the Standard-Times reports. The city’s school committee voted to transfer part of the field to the city, which now must decide whether to grant a license to the team, which plays in the New England Collegiate Baseball league.
Tsongas files a made-in-USA bill that could help New Balance
U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas filed a bill Wednesday that would require the Department of Defense to honor the Berry Amendment and supply soldiers with footwear made in the United States, Rick Sobey of the Lowell Sun reports. New Balance, which operates a plant in Tsongas’ district, has been among the companies recently making noise about the Pentagon’s use of a loophole to enable soldiers to buy non-U.S.-made shoes. The company has accused the Obama administration of reneging on a promise to give it a shot at such military contracts in exchange for New Balance staying quiet about a proposed trade deal with Pacific Rim countries.
UMass students arrested after fossil-fuel divestment sit-in
From MassLive’s Diana Lederman: “Nineteen University of Massachusetts students agreed to be arrested Wednesday night, capping the third day of the Whitmore Administration Building sit-in by students demanding the university divest from fossil fuels. More than 230 students occupied Whitmore halls before campus officials ordered them to leave just ahead of the building’s scheduled 6 p.m. closing.” They “agreed” to be arrested?
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