Happening Today

House and Senate Saturday session

House and Senate members are in session today and through the rest of the weekend as lawmakers plan to finish up session business by the end of Sunday.  

Both chambers convened into formal session at 11 a.m. today.

Conference committee reports were expected to be released today, but have been delayed in what appears to be tough negotiations between House and Senate members over major legislation.

Gun owners lobby

The Gun Owners’ Action League holds a lobby day to urge lawmakers to take action against Attorney General Maura Healey’s heightened enforcement of the state’s assault weapons ban.

Today’s Stories

House and Senate negotiators at loggerheads, release of conference committee reports delayed

Lawmakers were expecting a busy weekend on Beacon Hill, but it appears it will be particularly hectic on Sunday, after House and Senate negotiators failed to release by mid-Saturday afternoon major conference committee reports on energy, economic development, and municipal government reform bills, as well as bills regulating the ride-hailing industry and non-compete agreements, reports State House News Service. Negotiators for the two chambers, which often don’t see eye to eye on major issues, are apparently in tough talks over major bills – and some are beginning to wonder if some key bills will even face votes this weekend. The result of all the delays: Lawmakers will have little time to review bills, if and when they surface, for take-it-or-leave votes on Sunday.

During a recess in Saturday’s session, House Speaker Pro Tempore Patricia Haddad told SHNS that lawmakers are “working like crazy” to finish up conference-committee business. “It’s still our hope that we get all five done,” Haddad said, adding that she is personally focused on the energy diversification bill.

Shira Schoenberg of MassLive reports that House Speaker Robert DeLeo said yesterday he remained hopeful that compromises can be reached between House and Senate versions of some bills. “I think that both sides dig in very deeply until the end to try to see if the other one will give in on this point or that point,” he said.

But by mid-Saturday afternoon, DeLeo didn’t sound as hopeful. DeLeo told reporters that the committee negotiating a municipal finance reform package was close, if not finished, with a consensus bill. He said the House also planned to resume voting on overrides of Gov. Charlie Baker’s budget vetoes. But the status of the remaining bills, including a long-prioritized initiative to diversify the state’s energy mix with hydro and offshore wind power, were still in limbo, SHNS reports. “As far as I know there’s still discussion going on,” DeLeo said. “There are still proposals going back and forth which is good.” But he added about the four major bills still under negotiation: “Can I promise a yes or no? I can’t do that.”

Councilors back Walsh in Beacon Hill fight over liquor licenses

In an unusual rift with local legislators, twelve city councilors have joined Mayor Marty Walsh to push for full control over the city’s liquor licenses, petitioning a State House conference committee deliberating this weekend over economic development legislation, reports the Globe’s Jim O’Sullivan. The Senate version of the economic development legislation would include Boston in unfettering cities and towns from having to receive approval from Beacon Hill to add new liquor licenses, O’Sullivan writes. But several members of city’s State House delegation oppose an amendment that would allow Boston, specifically, to authorize its own liquor licenses. The disagreement is the latest battle in a long-running feud between Walsh and Brighton’s Rep. Michael J. Moran, a top deputy to House Speaker Robert DeLeo.

Boston Globe

Lipodystrophy and bullying bills on the move in the House

The House Ways and Means Committee has released a Senate-approved bill that would require Medicaid and insurers to cover treatment for HIV-associated lipodystrophy, deformations caused by early medications used to treat HIV, State House News Service reports. Partially breaking a logjam of bills before the committee, Ways and Means Committee members are also voting on a Senate-passed resolve (S 1984) creating a commission to study ways to prevent bullying of tenants in public and subsidized multi-family housing.

SHNS (pay wall)

Tarr seeks to strip Healey of gun sales authority

As if the legislature didn’t have enough on its plate heading into the weekend, Senate minority leader Bruce Tarr is seeking to bring before lawmakers a bill that would limit Attorney General Maura Healey’s authority in the gun-control arena in the wake of her recent crackdown on the sale of “copycat” assault weapons, a controversial move that has attracted both harsh criticism and high praise, reports Bob McGovern and Matt Stout of the Herald. Tarr’s bill has co-signers lined up and has been backed with another rally by gun owners rights groups outside the State House. In addition, the Herald also says sales of the weapons Healey has targeted remain strong a week after she announced her crackdown.

Boston Herald

House urged to pass ‘racial justice’ bills

Lawmakers and activists on Saturday called on the Massachusetts House to approve Senate-passed bills raising the monetary threshold for felony theft, facilitating the medical transfers of terminally ill prisoners, and allowing the expungement of juvenile misdemeanors, Michael Norton at SHNS reports. At a press conference, Suffolk County Sheriff Steven Tompkins said most of the prisoners he oversees are black or Latino, more than 40 percent suffer from a mental illness and 70 percent have experience with using drugs. “We have to look at racial justice,” Tompkins said.

SHNS (pay wall)

Governor quickly puts up roadblock to a ‘miles-driven’ tax

Gov. Charlie Baker wasted no time trying to shoot down a proposal by the state Senate late last week that would establish a test program for a tax based on how many miles motorists drive, Shira Schoenberg of MassLive reports. Baker’s spokesman reiterated the governor’s no-new-taxes mantra and called out the Senate for the timing of its proposal, slipped into a road-and-bridges bill, so late in the session. “The administration believes the waning hours of the legislative session is not the time to move forward with any new proposal to require the state to participate in such a federal program,” spokesman Billy Pittman said.

Some senators say the new approach may be needed to fund road and bridge maintenance going forward, as more efficient vehicles—and a growing number of electric-powered cars—will make the gas tax less effective. But the Citizens for Limited Taxation is blasting the Senate move and other calls to raise taxes for transportation. “We strongly urge legislators and the governor to reject this first step toward a new tax,” CLT said of the tax-by-miles test program. “We also adamantly oppose an amendment to the municipal government reform bill filed by Sen. Benjamin Downing (D-Pittsfield) which would give communities an option to levy a local tax to pay for local transportation costs.”


Business groups on high alert

The Massachusetts business sector was on alert on Saturday for several of the legislature’s key, last-minute agenda items that impact varying companies and industries, Dan Adams, Curt Woodward and Jon Chesto report in the Globe. Business interests are especially focused on what the House and Senate choose to do with disparate bills limiting noncompete agreements, reforms of age-old alcohol licensing rules, a wage-theft measure, regulation of Uber and similar ride-hailing services, an omnibus energy bill, and whether to slap a tax on rooms rented through Airbnb and other home-rental firms.

Boston Globe

Lyme Disease patients push back against Baker

Among those closely following the weekend legislative maneuverings are residents who suffer from Lyme disease, Elaine Thompson of the Telegram reports. Measures that would require insurers to cover long-term care for the ailment has already been vetoed twice by Gov. Baker, who has sent lawmakers a new compromise proposal. The original bill’s co-sponsors, Sen. Anne Gobi of Spencer and Rep. David Linksy of Natick, spent yesterday whipping votes, Thompson reports. “I’m hopeful,” Linsky said. “It will require a concerted effort on behalf of my colleagues to do this along with a number of other pressing issues before Sunday at midnight.” 

But the Massachusetts Medical Society yesterday declared its support for Baker’s alternative proposal for the treatment of patients with Lyme disease. “The Massachusetts Medical Society is firmly in support of the governor’s initiative to provide insurance coverage for the treatment of patients with Lyme disease,” said James Gessner, president of the society, said in a statement, reports State House News Service (pay wall). “Public health officials have determined that Lyme disease is endemic throughout the commonwealth, so much so that the state has the fourth highest incidence of Lyme disease in the nation. It is imperative that we provide comprehensive care for those affected, and the governor is attempting to do just that.” After the House convened on Saturday morning, Baker’s bill (H 4560) relative to the treatment of Lyme Disease was referred to the Committee on Financial Services. Seconds later, the chair considered no action taken on the matter.

The Telegram

Need more DNC?

We know: Physically you are back in Boston but your heart is still in Philadelphia right? Well, for those not yet ready to let go of the Philly DNC magic, Boston Magazine’s Spencer Buell has you covered, with a rundown of the top Bay State-related highlights of the Dems’ four-day run in Rocky’s hometown. All the spotlight moments are recalled, from the Massachusetts-heavy first night of the convention to Hillary Clinton’s surprising shoutout to New Bedford in her acceptance speech on Thursday.

Boston magazine


As lawmakers and lobbyists await the release of major conference committee reports, we suggest they – and any other readers, for that matter – amuse themselves with this ‘Clump’ image, i.e. a mashing together of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump photographs that’s making the rounds these days among voters who aren’t exactly thrilled with either presidential candidate. There are plenty of other photo-shopped Clump images.

Today’s Headlines


Lost revenue at MBTA parking lots referred to AG – Boston Magazine

Suffolk University fires back at ousted president – Boston Globe

Bar owner who admitted taking incentives won’t face penalty – Boston Globe

Gore daughter rejects deal on pipeline trespass charge – Boston Herald

South Station plan on approval track – Boston Herald

Quincy to Boston ferry service gets trial run starting Monday – Patriot Ledger

Major Boston nonprofits contribute $15 million less than asked by city – WGBH


Thorny business matters facing lawmakers in final weekend – Boston Globe

Mass. economy outpaces nation’s in second quarter – WBUR

The best Mass. moments of the DNC – Boston Magazine

Major bills still in flux on eve of weekend legislative sessions – MassLive

Gov. Charlie Baker opposes vehicle miles traveled tax proposal – MassLive

Tracing Clinton’s brief time in New Bedford – Boston Globe

Long-term Lyme Disease medicine coverage measure races the clock – Telegram & Gazette

Heart to Hub ridership good but missing targets for reliability – Telegram & Gazette

Cape family joins push for stricter OUI law – Cape Cod Times

First family to arrive on Vineyard on Aug. 6 – Cape Cod Times


A retired General spoke forcefully for Clinton. Now Trump is attacking him – Washington Post

Mitt Romney thinks Donald Trump could win the election – BuzzFeed News

Senate Dems: Cancel recess to deal with Zika – Politico

Russian spies said to hack system used in Clinton’s run – New York Times

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