Senate launches busy week
In the first of three formal sessions planned for the week, the Senate is expected to consider at least three animal-related bills and solid waste reduction legislation today. Meanwhile, the deadline for amendments to the Senate energy bill, which is expected to be debated on Thursday, is at noon today.
Taxi lobby day
Sen. Sal DiDomenico and Scott Solombrino, chief executive of the Dav El Chauffeured Transportation Network, are scheduled to speak at a rally organized by the Independent Taxi Operators’ Association to push for support of amendments to the Senate’s version of the ride-for-hire bill, which is scheduled for a Wednesday debate, Gardner Auditorium, 12 p.m.
Goldberg to honor former Treasurer Robert Crane
Treasurer Deborah Goldberg will hold a dedication ceremony naming the West Side Conference Room on the 12th floor at One Ashburton Place in honor of former Treasurer Robert Crane, who is expected to attend, Room 227, 12:30 p.m.
Falmouth campaign kickoff
Gov. Charlie Baker is listed as a special guest at a campaign kickoff event for Falmouth Republican Rep. David Vieira, according to the State Republican Party calendar. The Coonamessett Inn, 311 Gifford Street, Falmouth, 5 p.m.
The Budget: The outlook keeps getting worse
The state’s budget outlook for next fiscal year has changed from bad to worse. The Baker administration yesterday acknowledged that the revenue shortfall for next fiscal year, which starts on Friday, could actually be as high as $1 billion, or roughly $200 million more than estimated only a few weeks ago. The main culprit: a volatile stock market that’s ravaging the state’s capital gains revenues, despite a strong local economy, reports State House News Service’s Matt Murphy at Wicked Local.
Despite rumblings from liberal lawmakers about the need for more revenue, there’s no sign Baker and the majority of legislators will go for tax increases or major fee hikes to plug expected budget gaps. So lawmakers, who have already passed a temporary $5.3 billion budget, will be quite busy next month drawing up spending-cut lists and arguing over spending priorities in a budget with very little wiggle room.
Our humble hunch: The estimated shortfall high of $1 billion may well be low, based on market and economic turmoil tied to Britain’s Brexit vote and a fragile world economy in general. There are also very tentative signs of an economic slowdown in the US, based on last month’s disappointing jobs numbers. We’ll know more about the US economy next week, when federal officials are scheduled to release jobs data for June. Needless to say, we hope we’re wrong about the budget and economy.
South Coast project hurtles off the cost rails
Yet another MBTA rail expansion project has skidded off the price rails. State transportation officials yesterday revealed that the proposed South Coast commuter train extension to Fall River and New Bedford could cost $1 billion more than estimated and take five years longer to build than expected, reports CommonWealth magazine’s Bruce Mohl. The new price estimate comes as the state is still trying to figure out how to pay for a $1 billion cost overrun for the proposed Greenline extension.
The state does have a less-expensive alternative to the current South Coast plan: Using the existing Middleboro/Lakeville line to connect to points farther south, but that plan has its drawbacks and the state is making no commitments to it, Mohl reports.
Massport first to sue IndyCar
The Massachusetts Port Authority has filed a lawsuit seeking to force the organizers of the canceled IndyCar race to remove hundreds of concrete barriers from the South Boston waterfront, Joe Battenfeld of the Herald reports. IndyCar Boston had signed a deal with MassPort to store the barriers, which were specially built to line the race course but stopped paying the $14,000-a-month rent in April. Attorney General Maura Healey is also weighing a possible lawsuit to try to recoup money would-be race-goers spent on tickets that have yet to be refunded.
Callie Crossley to Liz Warren: Just say no
Though Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren were gushing over each other at a joint campaign event yesterday in Cincinnati, as reported by the Globe’s Annie Linskey, WGBH’s Callie Crossley had a message for Warren: “Say it’s a no, Senator Warren. Say no to the number two spot on Hillary Clinton’s presidential ticket. Say no to those pundits and powerful voices salivating at the prospect of a Clinton/Warren team facing off against Donald Trump and whoever he picks. I know this is heady stuff, but for the health of your party and for your political career, you’ve got to say no.”
The reasons cited by Crossley: Two left-leaning East Coast women on the ticket would make it harder to attract moderate voters in swing states and the Midwest; many men can’t handle one woman on the ticket, let alone two; Clinton and Warren are not ideologically in sync; and Warren’s voice would be muzzled in a Clinton White House.
Note: For entirely different reasons, the business community, particularly the financial services sector, is also against Warren being on the ticket, the Globe’s Victoria McGrane reports.
Report: Bridgewater State Hospital blew it and needs new overseers
In a scathing report, the Disability Law Center, a federally funded watchdog group, said that the suicide of a mental health patient at Bridgewater State Hospital could have and should have been avoided and that Gov. Charlie Baker should transfer oversight of the institution from the Department of Correction to the Department of Mental Health, reports the Globe’s Michael Rezendes and Jan Ransom. Baker said the administration is indeed reviewing future options for Bridgewater State and will make recommendations over the next six months.
Hingham Rep. Garrett Bradley to step down
Hingham state Rep. Garrett Bradley, a member of House Speaker Robert DeLeo’s leadership team, will resign from the legislature at the end of next month to take a more senior role at his Boston law firm, Thornton Law Firm, according to report at Wicked Local. A member of the House since 2001, Bradley is Second Assistant House Majority Leader.
Future of Boston’s July 4th fireworks gala up in the air
Since 1974, David Mugar has donated 40,000 hours and about $20 million to make Boston’s famous Fourth of July gala – complete with the Boston Pops playing the “1812 Overture” as fireworks boom in the night sky – the nation’s premiere patriotic event of the summer. But now that the 77-year old Mugar is retiring, he can’t find a sponsor for the event starting next year, the Globe’s Eric Moscowitz reports. Is there no one out there who can help? C’mon, let’s get this done somehow, Boston. This ain’t the Summer Olympics or IndyCar. This defines Boston.
David Martin, long-time Democratic consultant, RIP
He was a friend, colleague and political consultant to so many in the Boston area, from Michael Dukakis to John Kerry to Senate President Stan Rosenberg and House Speaker Robert DeLeo. Over the weekend, David Martin, 52, lost his battle against cancer. His death prompted an outpouring of sorrow, condolences and fond memories yesterday, State House New Service’s Matt Murphy reports at CommonWealth magazine. “I think he thought of me as a work in progress,” quipped U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch, one of the more conservative Democrats in the state’s Congressional delegation, many of whom Martin either helped or befriended over the years. “Just a genuinely good, hard-working, smart professional,” Rosenberg said of Martin. Martin, of Dedham, leaves behind his wife, Gemma, and three daughters, Allison, Emily, and Vivian.
Senate focuses on animal welfare
The state Senate is poised today to take up several bills relating to animal welfare, including one that would ban the sale of puppies and kittens less than eight weeks old, Gintautus Dumicius of MassLive reports. A separate bill would authorize emergency personnel to enter a car if they believe a pet inside is in danger and would lay out $150 fines for pet owners who endanger animals by leaving them in hot vehicles.
The fight to save honey bees
Switching from puppies and kittens to honey bees, some lawmakers are pushing for limits on pesticides as a way to save the dwindling population of bees here and elsewhere, reports Shira Schoenberg at MassLive. Specifically, Sen. Jamie Eldridge, D-Acton, a member of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture, has joined the call for a ban on neonicotinoid insecticides. “It’s really destroying a lot of the honey bee colonies across the country and here in Massachusetts,” he said. But experts say the link between neonicotinoids and bee deaths is far from certain. “You can read 100 different studies and get 100 different answers, so the science is still kind of all over the place,” said Taryn Lascola, director of the crop and pest services division at the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources.
No mercy: Brockton’s Tent City gets bulldozed under
Taking bulldozers to a homeless encampment would be almost inconceivable in some Bay State communities, the social angst and guilt being too great. But not in Brockton. The city’s department of public works yesterday deployed multiple front-end loaders and backhoes to wipe away several encampments and makeshift homes where dozen of homeless people were living on a 31-tract of land known as Tent City, the Enterprise’s Benjamin Paul reports at Wicked Local. The bulldozing — which dwellers were forewarned about last week — was prompted by recent fires, fights and drug overdoses at the site. “The activity on this property has had a growing negative impact on both residents and businesses in the area alike,” said Brockton Mayor Bill Carpenter.
Taunton neighbors vow to keep fighting First Light
A group of Taunton neighbors fighting to stop the Mashpee Wampanoag’s First Light casino say they will continue to fight on, despite losing their deep-pocketed financial backer and the fact that construction is ongoing, Sean Murphy of the Globe reports. The group lost the support of developer Neil Bluhm when the state’s gaming commission denied a casino license to the Brockton project he backed, forcing the neighbors to rely on small-scale fundraising, such as a recent yard sale that raised $1,000.
Ipswich launches its own ‘angel’ program
The town of Ipswich has become the latest community to launch its own treatment-diversion program for opioid addicts, Taylor Rapalyea reports in the Salem News. Known as HOPE—for heroin opioid prevention effort—will grant amnesty to addicts who show up at the police department seeking help and pair them with one of two dozen volunteers to guide them through the process of finding treatment. Ipswich has seen 11 overdose deaths since 2012, more than most North Shore communities of its size.
Quincy council backs downtown redevelopment
The Quincy City Council voted yesterday to back an ambitious downtown redevelopment plan put forward by Mayor Thomas Koch, a first step toward spending $128 million in public funds on infrastructure improvements and partnering with private developers, Patrick Ronan of the Patriot Ledger reports. The vote essentially makes the city the master developer for the project, after Koch cut ties with a private developer that couldn’t secure financing for its $1.6-billion plan.
Meet SpotMini, the robotic canine and YouTube wonder
Check out the YouTube video of Google-owned Boston Dynamics’ latest robot, SpotMini, the canine-like wonder that can do chores around the house, like loading the dishwasher. Incredibly, the YouTube video has already attracted nearly 3.5 million viewers, despite the video being up only five days. SpotMini via the BBJ.
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