House and Senate in session, T privatization hearing and more …
— After House Democrats caucus, the full House plans to meet in formal session to further consider Gov. Baker’s vetoes and amendments to the fiscal 2018 budget, House Chamber, with roll calls starting at 1 p.m.
— After Senate Democrats caucus, the full Senate meets in formal session with possible consideration of bills targeting abuse of handicapped parking placards and the extension of occupational safety and health standards to all public sector workers in Massachusetts, Gardner Auditorium, 1 p.m.
— Senate Committee on Post Audit and Oversight holds a hearing to explore potential privatization of three MBTA bus maintenance facilities in Lynn, Quincy and Boston’s Arborway, Room 222, 3 p.m.
— Boston Globe editor Brian McGrory is the special guest at a Pioneer Institute luncheon for its members, Sullivan & Worcester One Post Office Square, 21st Floor, Boston, 12 p.m.
— Massachusetts Health Connector Board of Directors meets with Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders chairing, One Ashburton Pl. – 21st floor, Boston, 9 a.m.
— Treasurer Deborah Goldberg speaks at the Financial Planning Association of Massachusetts‘ Financial Education Session co-hosted by Rep. Paul McMurtry’s office, Great Hall, 11:45 a.m.
— Senate President Stanley Rosenberg speaks at an event hosted by the Massachusetts Bar Association, 20 West St., Boston, 5:30 p.m.
— Boston Lawyer Chapter of the American Constitution Society presents Attorney General Maura Healey with their Chief Justice Margaret Marshall Leadership Award, Great Hall, John Adams Courthouse, Pemberton Square, Boston, 6 p.m.
— Gov. Charlie Baker is the featured speaker at the Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce‘s annual dinner, DiBurro’s, 887 Boston Rd., Haverhill, 6:30 p.m.
The battle is joined: Business groups file challenge to millionaire’s tax
They said they would do it – and now they’ve done it. From the BBJ’s Greg Ryan: “Leaders of five Massachusetts business advocacy groups are asking the state’s highest court to prevent the so-called ‘millionaires tax’ proposal from going before voters, arguing that it sets aside tax revenue in a way that is unconstitutional.” Gintautas Dumcius at MassLive.com and SHNS’s Michael Norton at the Sentinel & Enterprise have much more, including the reactions of proponents of the tax and breakdowns of the legal arguments involved.
The Vegas shooting aftermath …
The Boston Globe, via the Associated Press, takes a look at the victims, all 59 of them, including some from this area, who were killed in the Sunday mass shooting in Las Vegas. It’s a very impressive, albeit sad, effort to remember those who perished. While you’re at it, check out the Globe’s online front page, where we counted more than 15 stories, columns and other reports about the carnage in Las Vegas. How bad is the carnage? Attorney General Maura Healey is now referring to the mass-shooting as part of a ‘public health crisis,’ as SHNS’s Katie Lannan reports at the Recorder.
As for the ensuing post-shooting gun-control debate, we’ll merely point you to this Herald editorial about how Congressional Republicans, at best, might delay an NRA-backed bill that would make it easier to buy and own a firearm silencer, allow gun owners to carry concealed weapons across state lines and prevent certain types of ammunition from being designated as “armor-piercing.” Concludes the Herald: “The bill is ‘not scheduled right now. I don’t know when it will be scheduled,’ House Speaker Paul Ryan said yesterday. If that day ever does come, it will be a sure sign the GOP is ready to commit political suicide.”
A narrow opening for Dems on gun control: ‘Bump stocks’
In the wake of Sunday’s mass-shooting tragedy in Las Vegas, investigators now believe that the man who unleashed hundreds of rounds of gunfire on a crowd of concertgoers had accessories that could have allowed his semi-automatic rifles to “fire rapidly and continuously, as if they were fully automatic weapons,” the AP is reporting at the Patriot Ledger. They’re called “bump stocks” – and they’re legal.
Check out this YouTube video, sent by a MassterList reader, of a bump-stock equipped AK 47 in action (note the description of the modified firearm as a “real fun toy,” as if that justifies its existence). Firearms are effectively rendered automatic weapons with the attached device – and we have no idea why this has been allowed.
Republicans backing away from plan to eliminate state and local tax deductions
Massachusetts recently dodged a public policy bullet when Republicans recently failed to gut ObamaCare and slash Medicaid funding. Now it appears Massachusetts may dodge another public policy bullet if, as it now looks, Republicans back off plans to eliminate state and local tax deductions that currently benefit mostly high-tax blue states like Massachusetts. The NYT has the details.
Explaining gravitational waves – and why a Nobel effort couldn’t be replicated today
In an op-ed in the New York Times, David Kaiser, a professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, explains why his MIT colleague, Rainer Weiss, was named a co-winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics yesterday and how his and others’ research entailed decades of painstaking work. Sadly, Kaiser concludes: “The project exemplifies a long-term vision among scientists and policy makers that is almost unimaginable today, as distant as those colliding black holes. … It is difficult to imagine a project like LIGO getting a green light if proposed today.”
The Globe’s Eric Moskowitz reports that newly minted Nobel Prize winners at MIT and Brandeis were also stressing the “key role that federal funding played in their breakthrough scientific research” and how they’re “worried that public taxpayer support for such experimentation is drying up.”
‘Six things Trump probably shouldn’t have said about Puerto Rico while in Puerto Rico’
It’s one of the Globe’s top stories this morning – and for good reason: It skewers President Trump merely by quoting him while in Puerto Rico yesterday. The story once again proves that laughter, even as you slap your forehead, is indeed the best medicine for just about any malady. … The Globe’s Nestor Ramos? He’s not amused at all by one thing the president said. He explains why.
New Puerto Rico fund has already raised $800K
This should bring a smile to your face: The new Massachusetts United for Puerto Rico Fund, launched only last Friday by Gov. Charlie Baker and Mayor Marty Walsh, has already raised $800,000 of its stated goal of $1 million, reports Cristela Guerra at the Globe. They should now double the goal. They’ll probably get it.
Tito Jackson and polls: Standing alone, so alone
They’ve all abandoned him. His former city council colleagues, the unions, the ward committeemen, even some of his closest allies. No word on his dog, though … The Globe’s Meghan Irons has the details on Tito Jackson’s very lonely campaign for mayor. So why are Tito’s friends shunning him? Maybe it has to do with the polls, like this latest poll from WBUR showing Mayor Marty Walsh ahead of Jackson 60 to 24 percent, as reported by Anthony Brooks at ‘BUR.
Liz Warren to Wells Fargo CEO: ‘You should be fired’
There she goes again, pulling punches and avoiding a fight, merely calling the Wells Fargo CEO “incompetent” and telling him, “You should be fired.” The Washington Post has more on U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s white-gloves-and-party-manners treatment of Wells Fargo chief Timothy J. Sloan at yesterday’s Senate Banking Committee hearing.
Forget taking on Elizabeth Warren. Rick Green now wants Tsongas’s seat
Rick Green, the wealthy Pepperell businessman and head of the conservative Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, had previously been eyeing a race against that liberal of all liberals, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren. But then the Third Congressional seat opened up, with U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas announcing her retirement, and yesterday the Republican Green made it official: He’s running for a House seat, not Warren’s seat. SHNS’s Matt Murphy has the details.
Kingston prepared to spend $3M of his own money on Senate bid
No wonder Republican Rick Green has opted to run for the House, rather than the Senate. From Matt Stout at the Herald: “Republican businessman John Kingston has funneled $3 million of his own cash into his potential U.S. Senate bid, underscoring the financial heft he’s wielded at the onset of the GOP race to take on Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren next fall.”
Traitors: Western Mass. development council favors Amazon HQ in … Connecticut?
The Amazon-sweepstakes saga took an odd turn this week, with the Economic Development Council of Western Massachusetts issuing a letter supporting a bid by nearby Enfield, Connecticut to be selected as the second national headquarters of Amazon, reports Peter Goonan at MassLive. “There are no state boundaries for our region’s workforce, company supply chains and students,” Rick Sullivan, president and CEO of the council, wrote in a letter supporting Enfield.
Told to shut up and escorted from a meeting, selectman vows political revenge in Billerica
Norman Rockwell never painted a town-meeting scene like this one: Billerica Selectman George Simolaris was escorted from Town Meeting on Tuesday night and says he’ll take the case he was trying to make against spending $130,000 on town playing fields directly to voters, Rick Sobey of the Lowell Sun reports. After the funding passed, Simolaris tried to get moderator John McKenna to call for a reconsideration but was told he was out of order and to “shut up and sit down.” Shortly afterwards, a police officer was called to walk the selectman out of the auditorium.
Is Conley softening his stance on minimum mandatory drug sentences?
In a piece on the Senate’s far-reaching criminal-justice reform bill, CommonWealth’s Michael Jonas lets Sen. William Brownsberger explain the philosophical underpinnings of the ambitious package (basically, that the justice system has developed giant legal tentacles that won’t let go of even minor offenders). But a “surprising voice of support for parts of the bill,” as Jonas notes, is Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley, who appears to be bending on his past opposition to mandatory minimum sentences for some drug offenses. “Conley’s stance is likely to affect the tenor of the debate over reform measures, even more so if reflects a wider rethinking of mandatory minimum sentences among the state’s district attorneys, who have almost universally opposed eliminating them,” Jonas writes.
DeLeo and Rosenberg present united front on containing health-care costs
From Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine: “House Speaker Robert DeLeo signaled on Tuesday that he and Senate President Stanley Rosenberg are on the same page when it comes to passing health care reform legislation. Rosenberg told the Health Policy Commission on Monday that spending on MassHealth was rising way too fast and crowding out other funding needs. DeLeo told the commission on Tuesday that the pace of MassHealth spending was ‘unsustainable.’” The Senate is shooting to pass legislation before Thanksgiving, while DeLeo said he hopes the House can report out a bill next year.
Not bad: BMC, Tufts snare $1B contract to manage MassHealth care
Speaking of health-care costs, this is a whopper of a contract to have snared. From SHNS’s Michael Norton at the BBJ: “Boston Medical Center Health Plan and Tufts Health Public Plans have signed state contracts with a combined value of $1 billion per year to manage care for between 150,000 and 200,000 MassHealth members, the state announced Tuesday. … The members are in MassHealth’s managed care organization program and the two MCO organizations will manage primary, behavioral, pharmacy and specialty care for the enrollees.”
A brewery at the old Globe headquarters?
Nordblom Co. plans to redevelop the old Boston Globe headquarters on Morrissey Boulevard into office and high-tech lab space, as well as food and beverage space — potentially with a brewery and beer garden, the BBJ’s Catherine Carlock reports. Globe editors and reporters would have loved that amenity, but they’re not there anymore, alas. Btw: Nordblom’s preliminary plan doesn’t include housing.
Amid concerns about anti-Israel bias in text books, Newton mayoral candidates pledge online transparency
From the Jewish News Service: “The two candidates running for mayor in the Boston suburb of Newton, Mass., the site of a years-long controversy regarding bias on Israel in curriculum materials, are pledging to put high school textbooks online for public viewing. Newton City Council members Ruthanne Schwartz Fuller and Scott F. Lennon are running for mayor to replace Setti Warren, who is not seeking a third term.” In Newton, the major automatically sits on the city’s nine-member school committee.
In New Bedford, it’s a mayor versus a cop
Voters in New Bedford have set the field for November’s city election and the top race will pit incumbent Mayor Jon Mitchell against first-time candidate and city police officer Charles Perry Jr. Mitchell, who is seeking a fourth straight two-year term, took home the most votes in the preliminary, with 2,707, while Perry was close behind at 2,376, Michael Bonner of the Standard-Times reports. Mitchell Garner finished a distant third with just over 200 votes.
Ed chief’s charter donations strike a nerve in Southbridge
Members of the Southbridge school committee blasted Education Commission Chairman Paul Sagan for his recently disclosed donations to the group trying to lift the state’s cap on charter schools and his decision to allow a charter to open in nearby Sturbridge, Brian Lee of the Telegram reports.
Judge upholds state’s ban on pay-to-play beer distribution
From the Globe’s Dan Adams: “A Massachusetts judge on Monday upheld the state’s ban on so-called pay-to-play payments in the beer industry, rejecting the arguments of a craft beer distributor that had challenged the rule after getting slapped with a record fine for compensating bars to put its products on tap.”
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