Akamai groundbreaking, Italian ambassador at State House, new T buses
Lawmakers will be busy today with ten scheduled legislative hearings at the State House. See separate post below. … Gov. Charlie Baker participates in the Akamai Global Headquarters groundbreaking ceremony, 145 Broadway, Cambridge, 10 a.m. … Board of Higher Education holds a meeting of its executive committee, One Ashburton Place, Room 1401, 10 a.m. … Senate President Stanley Rosenberg is interviewed on WGBH’s ‘Boston Public Radio,’ WGBH-FM 89.7, 11 a.m. … Rep. David Linsky holds a gun violence prevention lobby day in advance of a Judiciary Committee hearing that will feature three firearms-related bills, Nurses Hall, 11 a.m. … Boston Mayor Martin Walsh offers remarks at the Boston Women’s Workforce Council data collection training event, Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, 265 Franklin St., Boston, 11:00 a.m. … Treasurer Deborah Goldberg will speak at the Women in Finance fellowship program, 1 Ashburton Place, 12th Floor, Crane Conference Room, Boston, 12 p.m. … Armando Varricchio, the Italian ambassador to the United States, will visit the State House where he will attend the inaugural event of the Italian-American Legislative Caucus, Grand Staircase, 1 p.m. … Department of Transportation chief Stephanie Pollack and MBTA Interim General Manager Steve Poftak celebrate the arrival of 345 new MBTA buses, 20 Foundry St., South Boston, 1:15 p.m. … Gov. Charlie Baker plans to meet at the State House with the Mandela Fellows participating in the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders at Bridgewater State University, Great Hall of Flags, 2 p.m. … Gov. Baker holds monthly meeting with Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, Room 227, 3 p.m.
Compromise pot bill already in trouble?
Lawmakers yesterday unveiled a compromise marijuana regulations bill that split the House-Senate difference on taxing retail pot – the new tax would be set as high as 20 percent – and on regulating legalized weed at the state and local levels. But is the new compromise, arriving two weeks past a self-imposed legislative deadline, already in potential legal trouble? The Globe’s Joshua Miller reports that one provision — which deals with how cities and towns can ban local pot shops — may “raise state constitutional issues and trigger a challenge in court.” He also writes that, according to outside lawyers, lawmakers may be “venturing onto shaky legal ground by basing the new policy on town-by-town results of a statewide referendum.”
The House and Senate hope to send the pot bill to Gov. Charlie Baker by the end of this week. There are lots of other stories on the compromise package, including a look at the proposed tax structure by the BBJ’s Jessica Bartlett and overview pieces by MassLive’s Gintautas Dumcius, the Herald’s Dan Atkinson and AP’s Bob Salsberg at Wicked Local.
After vetoing $320M from budget, Baker urges lawmakers to tackle Medicaid reforms
The normally non-combative Charlie Baker appeared a little combative yesterday after the Republican governor vetoed $320 million from the $40 billion state budget sent to him by lawmakers, revised revenue estimates downward by $749 million and urged lawmakers to tackle his proposed Medicaid reforms by mid-September – or face additional spending cuts, according to reports at the Boston Globe and State House News Service (pay wall). “I fully expect that they’re going to deal with this,” Baker said. The Medicaid reforms, which were left out of the budget by legislators, were originally tied to a $200 million employer health-care tax that lawmakers did approve.
Interesting budget tidbits: 4 a.m. liquor hours for casinos and T pension transfer
Gov. Baker yesterday signed, amended or rejected a number of policy riders within the state budget, two of which caught our attention, via the Globe: “Baker approved language, sought by the casino industry, to extend alcohol service at the gambling palaces until 4 a.m., two hours past what is permitted at the latest-serving restaurants and bars. Baker’s budget message also includes authorization for the state to transfer control of the MBTA employees pension fund into the state’s general pension program, a measure lawmakers have rejected previously.”
One less headache: U.S. Senate health-care bill collapses
As Gov. Baker and lawmakers haggle over Medicaid and other state budget matters, here’s something they won’t have to worry about for the time being: Deep cuts in federal Medicaid funding. The NYT is reporting that two more Republican senators declared last night that they would oppose the controversial Senate Republican bill to repeal ObamaCare, “killing, for now, a seven-year-old promise to overturn President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement.”
Mayor Walsh would bid all over again for the Summer Olympics?
What? In an interview with Boston Magazine’s Chris Sweeney, Mayor Marty Walsh, while dishing some of the blame for the city’s Summer Olympic fiasco on former Gov. Deval Patrick and the late Mayor Thomas, said he’d nevertheless “go for it again,” i.e. bid for the Olympics. We know it’s sometimes important for pols not to admit mistakes, especially in election years. But … Scroll down for the Olympics part.
It wasn’t all about promotions yesterday at the State House
Beacon Hill was all abuzz yesterday about House Speaker Robert DeLeo’s surprise appointment of Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez as the new chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. But there was also a key demotion yesterday: Rep, Russell E. Holmes, who recently criticized DeLeo’s leadership, got bounced from his leadership post. Retaliation? Holmes thinks so. DeLeo denies it. The Herald’s Dan Atkinson, the Globe’s Claire Parker and SHNS’s Mike Norton and Matt Murphy at the Valley Dispatch (Patriot Ledger) have the details.
Rep. Chan becomes House’s first Asian-American chairman (we think)
The House leadership re-shuffle caused by Rep. Brian Dempsey’s pending departure may have entailed a demotion for Rep. Russell Holmes, but it led to a promotion for Rep. Tackey Chan, who will take over as co-chair of the Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure. He’s now the House’s first Asian-American to chair a committee. Or does that distinction belong to Rep. Paul Schmid? SHNS’s Andy Metzger at the Patriot Ledger explains.
Kennedy sides with union against Baker’s T privatization efforts
MBTA workers – along with U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III – rallied yesterday against privatization of T jobs being pushed by the transit agency’s governing board controlled by the Baker administration, as reported by Banjamin Paulin at the Patriot Ledger. Politically, we’re not sure what to make of this move by Kennedy.
SJC: Employers can’t fire workers who test positive for pot used for medical purposes
The law is the law – and the Supreme Judicial Court yesterday said state law clearly states that employers can’t discriminate against workers who test positive for THC if it’s proven they’re using marijuana for medical purposes. Universal Hub’s Adam Gaffin has more, including a rather lively debate in the comments section.
After remaining silent on gas compressor, Baker says the state ‘need not and will not’ remain silent
Amid mounting political opposition to a proposed natural gas compressor station along the banks of the Fore River in North Weymouth, Gov. Charlie Baker, who has previously said there wasn’t much state officials could do about the planned facility, is now saying the state “need not and will not remain silent” on the project, according to a letter he wrote to Mayor Robert Hedlund last week, reports the Patriot Ledger. SHNS’s Michael Norton at the BBJ has more on the administration’s request for a formal public health assessment and a more thorough airing of public safety concerns.
Legislative hearings in overdrive today
We’ve put today’s busy schedule of legislative hearings at the State House in this one post for easier reading and reference. Here goes:
— The Education Committee will hear a number of bills concerning health, including Sen. Cynthia Creem’s proposal requiring school districts to implement an allergy management and prevention plan, 10 a.m., Room 428.
— The Financial Services Committee will hear several bills on health insurance mandates, 10:30 a.m., Room A-1.
— Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies holds a hearing on bills dealing with innovation, tourism and other key sectors, 10:30 a.m., Room A-2.
— Joint Committee on Revenue reviews about three dozen bills largely concerning sales and excise taxes, 11 a.m., Hearing Room B-2.
— Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery holds a hearing on eight bills, including a bill that deals with the classification of ‘the street drug known as Molly,’ 11 a.m., Room B-1.
— The Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery holds a public hearing on public safety, 11 a.m., Room B-1.
— The Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight will solicit testimony on legislation aimed at prohibiting discrimination in state contracts, 11 a.m., Gardner Auditorium.
— Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development hears testimony on 15 unemployment insurance bills, including Gov. Baker’s bill to modernize the state’s administration of unemployment insurance, 1 p.m., Room B-2.
— Joint Committee on the Judiciary hears testimony on dozens of bills under the broad category of ‘crimes legislation,’ including bills to allow Massachusetts consumers to purchase and use gun suppressors under certain circumstances, 1 p.m., Hearing Room A-1.
— The Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee revisits the issue of regulating the secondary metals trade, 1 p.m., Room B-1
Lawrence’s Lantigua: ‘The people got careless … I’m a person of the people’
The Herald’s Jessica Heslam takes of a look at the James Michael Curley of Lawrence politics, Willie Lantigua, the former mayor who’s running to win back his old job that he says was lost four years ago because “people got careless and so thousands did not come out to vote.” He later pronounced: “I’m a person of the people.”
Long-stalled Pike development back on track
From Adam Vaccaro and Tim Logan at the Globe: “The long-delayed Fenway Center development over the Massachusetts Turnpike is now closer than ever to launching construction, thanks to a plan to do the easy part first. The board of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation Monday voted to let developer John Rosenthal build two apartment buildings alongside the Turnpike near Fenway Park, before building a costly deck over the Pike itself for a 27-story tower.”
Putting pressure on Mass. Dems to support single-payer health
BlueMassGroup has a post identifying six of the state’s nine U.S. House members who haven’t signed on as co-sponsors of a House bill calling for a single-payer health system – and it singles out Rep. Joseph Kennedy III for special constituent attention.
UMass approves 3 percent tuition hike amid concerns it won’t be enough
As expected, the UMass Board of Trustees yesterday OK’d a 3 percent hike in tuition fees for next year, but some people are sounding the alarm that the increase isn’t nearly enough to cover mounting university expenses, including growing debt-servicing costs and building depreciation problems, reports Alban Murtishi at MassLive.
Lowell developer pulls doomed dorm bid before vote
A plan to build a private dormitory to house nearly 500 students not far from the UMass Lowell campus was withdrawn by the developers before the city’s planning board could vote—and presumably vote against it, Aaron Curtis of the Lowell Sun reports.
Boston to plaster anti-Islamophobia posters around the city
Borrowing the idea from San Francisco and Paris, the city of Boston plans to post 50 signs around the city to combat Islamophobia, according to reports at the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald. The posters, titled “What to do if you are witnessing Islamophobic harassment,” were designed by French artist Maeril.
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