Governor unveils budget, House session, Transportation bills
— Treasurer Deborah Goldberg and American Association of University Women CEO Kimberly Churches announce the Statewide Salary Negotiation Expansion, Room 227, 10 a.m.
— Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matt Beaton and others will testify before the Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change about progress towards the Global Warming Solutions Act’s emissions reduction goals, Room B-1, 10 a.m.
— The Transportation Committee will hear more than 50 bills in a morning session, the first of two back-to-back hearings today, Room A-1, 10 a.m.
— Senate Democrats meet in a closed-door caucus, Senate President’s Office, 11 a.m.
— The House meets in a formal session to take up a $1.7 billion long-term housing bill, House Chamber, 11 a.m.
— Mothers Against Drunk Driving plans to release its annual report ranking state drunk driving laws, State House, outside House chamber, 11 a.m.
— Speaker Robert DeLeo hosts the annual Massachusetts veterans agents legislative luncheon, with Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Auditor Suzanne Bump, Attorney General Maura Healey and Treasurer Deborah Goldberg expected to speak, Grand Staircase, 11 a.m.
— The Governor’s Council interviews Thomasina Johnson, nominee for a judgeship on the Suffolk County Juvenile Court, 10 a.m.; takes likely votes on Steven Power, nominee for a judgeship on the Westborough District Court, and Janice Howe, nominee to the Superior Court, 12 p.m.; and interviews Paul Sushchyk, nominee for the Probate and Family Court, 1 p.m.
— The Transportation Committee will hear a couple dozen bills in an afternoon session dealing with drunk driving, automated license plate readers, and accessibility, Room A-1, 1 p.m.
— Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and Secretary of Administration and Finance Michael Heffernan release details of the governor’s proposed fiscal year 2019 budget, Room 157, 2:30 p.m.
— Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus holds its annual meeting at Suffolk University School of Law, 120 Tremont St., Boston, 5:30 p.m.
— Auditor Suzanne Bump is the keynote speaker at the quarterly meeting of the Utility Contractors’ Association of New England, Sheraton Four Points Hotel, 1125 Boston-Providence Turnpike, Norwood, 7 p.m.
— MassGOP chairman Kirsten Hughes and Stephen Crawford of Crawford Strategies review Governor Baker’s state of the commonwealth address on ‘Greater Boston,’ WGBH-TV, 7 p.m.
Governor touts accomplishments, pushes initiatives … and distances himself from Trump
Sure, he pushed new initiatives and programs dealing with mental health treatment, funding for college scholarships, tax breaks for low-income families, clean energy procurement, housing, opioid recovery and other items, as WGBH’s Mike Deehan and SHNS’s Matt Murphy at WBUR report. But Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, in his State of the Commonwealth address last night, was also notably silent on hot-button national issues like immigration and the recent federal tax overhaul – and he never made mention of the colossal political elephant in the room, i.e. Donald Trump. Hey, it’s an election year. They Globe’s Joshua Miller and Michael Levenson and the Herald’s Matt Stout have more on the political angle and Baker’s push for non-Washington-like bipartisanship. Via MassLive, here’s the text of the governor’s address.
So why is the commonwealth known as the ‘commonwealth’?
With Gov. Baker’s State of the Commonwealth address now out of the way, the Globe’s Martin Finucane answers the burning question: So why is the commonwealth called the “commonwealth”? Turns out John Adams thought “state” had too much of monarchical ring to it. Interesting. You learn something new every day.
Shutdown deal also included funds for CHIP program
As Gov. Baker prepares to unveil his proposed fiscal 2019 budget today, he’ll have one less funding headache to worry about this year. Besides suspension of a medical-device tax that so many Massachusetts companies despise, the recent deal to end the federal government shutdown also includes a six-year extension of funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, something Baker and others have pushed hard for in recent months. SHNS’s Michael Norton has the details.
As insurers brace for job cuts, Healey blasts GIC’s health-plan changes
The Group Insurance Commission’s controversial decision to cut back on insurance options for public employees is getting messier and uglier by the day. Two Massachusetts health insurers, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and Tufts Health Plan, are bracing for deep revenue cuts and possible layoffs due to GIC’s decision to drop the insurers from its health-plan offerings, reports the Globe’s Priyanka Dayal McCluskey. Meanwhile, Attorney General Maura Healey says GIC has “seriously mishandled” the situation and should reconsider its decision, reports Gintautas Dumcius at MassLive. House Majority Leader Ron Mariano is demanding that GIC provide lawmakers with a detailed explanation about why it made the changes, reports SHNS’s Matt Murphy at the Berkshire Eagle.
State trooper suspended in no-show investigation
The Globe’s Travis Andersen has the latest in the State Police no-show investigation, not to be confused with TrooperGate: “A State Police trooper has been suspended without pay since April amid the agency’s internal probe of possible payments for unworked shifts, authorities confirmed Tuesday. Trooper Eric Chin was placed on administrative leave April 13, State Police spokesman David Procopio said in an e-mail. On Monday, State Police announced that the agency had ‘launched an investigation into payroll discrepancies uncovered during an ongoing internal audit’ and said the probe will be run ‘in consultation with’ Attorney General Maura Healey’s office.”
Former Lowell mayor eyes run against Goldberg
Former Lowell Mayor Patrick Murphy says he is exploring a possible run for state treasurer, Aaron Curtis of the Lowell Sun reports. If he runs, Murphy—who at 29 became Lowell’s youngest mayor in 2012—would challenge incumbent Deborah Goldberg in the Democratic primary, running on a progressive platform, his campaign manager (and twin brother) tells the newspaper.
In Lawrence, a true power couple in the making
Keith Eddings of the Eagle-Tribune tracks the political ambitions of City Councilor Pavel Payano and state Rep. Juana Matias, a “boyfriend-girlfriend duo” with big plans. Payano is eyeing a possible run for the state Senate while Matias is among the Democrats hoping to represent the Third Congressional District in the U.S. House.
Controversial Dr. Seuss mural replaced with Horton the Elephant and Yertle the Turtle
Unless Horton the Elephant and Yertle the Turtle are deemed controversial by someone, it appears the Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum has successfully defused a controversy over what some considered a bigoted portrayal of a Chinese man in a mural at the museum, reports Ray Kelly at MassLive and Sean Teehan at WBUR. Even Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno, who was critical of those seeking to remove the original mural, seems OK with the replacement artwork that depicts Horton, Yertle and a grinning Lorax at the top of a Truffula tree.
In an editorial, the Springfield Republican praised the museum for taking the “high road in the dispute” and making the simple change.
‘Has Beacon Hill already botched the Rosenberg investigation?’
In an editorial, the Globe never really answers the question it poses in the headline and first sentence of its editorial: “Has Beacon Hill already botched the Stan Rosenberg investigation?” But the paper makes it pretty clear that it doesn’t have much faith in the current Senate probe of the former Senate president and that senators should weigh future findings by the AG’s office and FBI before deciding Rosenberg’s fate.
CLF denies financial ties to transmission-line project
A day after IBEW boss Brian Murphy accused the Conservation Law Foundation of not disclosing its ties to a transmission-line project, Greg Cunningham, vice president at CLF, shot back at CommonWealth magazine that Murphy was wrong, wrong, wrong. “The bottom line is this: CLF has never had any financial relationship with TDI – the developers of the New England Clean Power Link transmission project – and would receive zero financial gain from the project or its proposed benefits package.”
Taking it to the next level: State and city officials start talks with Amazon
State and local officials began discussions yesterday with Amazon about the e-commerce giant’s plans for a new second headquarters, perhaps in Boston, as part of early preparations for a final regional bid for the coveted HQ2 prize, report the Globe’s Tim Logan and the Herald’s Dan Atkinson, who also reports a seaplane company is eyeing Boston Harbor service that could help the city fulfill its bid transportation promises.
Under legal pressure, Amazon rats out vendors
Speaking of Amazon, we’ll take its vendors’ money and the Amazon H2Q, thank you. From Greg Ryan at the BBJ: “Amazon.com Inc. has told third-party vendors whose products are stored in Amazon’s warehouse and distribution facilities in Massachusetts that it plans to identify them to state tax collectors, months after a court in Boston ordered the tech giant to hand over the information. … Amazon’s compliance with the court order is a milestone in states’ fights to collect more tax revenue from vendors that sell through Amazon.”
Esplanade Association bans Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Sylvester Stallone, eagles (even bald eagles)
It had to be done. Michael Nichols, executive director of the Esplanade Association, has issued a list of banned products, people and species on the Esplanade park system until the New England Patriots bring home another Super Bowl trophy next month. Universal Hub’s Adam Gaffin has the details.
Gotta love ‘em: Those lovably obnoxious, surly, cynical New Englanders
Speaking of New England, know what Joe Keohane misses most about the region? New Englanders! Seriously. From Joe at Boston Magazine: “They are stubborn, opinionated, aggressive, curt, contrary, distrustful, judgmental, irritable, and totally hilarious. (And warm and loyal, if you’re willing to put in the work, though you can probably get a law degree in less time.) They view bluntness as an act of mercy and politeness as pointless nicety. Their interest in you is to be earned, not assumed.”
Bill would slap a 15 percent tax on DraftKings and other fantasy sports companies
From the Associated Press at MassLive: “Massachusetts lawmakers are considering taxing daily fantasy sports operators like Boston’s DraftKings. State Sen. Eileen Donoghue has introduced legislation making the online games permanently legal and subject to a 15 percent tax. The Lowell Democrat’s proposal would also charge the state Gaming Commission that oversees casinos and horse racing with regulating the industry.”
Group pushes for criminal charges in bicyclist death – and pro-bike laws in general
From Marie Szaniszlo at the Herald: “An advocacy group for bicyclists is calling for criminal charges against the driver of the tractor-trailer that struck and killed a Swiss doctor two years ago, in a plea to help convince city motorists to once and for all make room for defenseless cyclists. MassBike showed chilling footage yesterday, compiled from traffic and surveillance cameras, of the 16 seconds leading up to and including the Aug. 7, 2015, crash that killed Dr. Anita Kurmann as she cycled from Cambridge to Boston.”
Cannabis Commission may move out of Boston
After moving into its temporary digs in downtown Boston, the Cannabis Control Commission is now looking for a permanent place to call home and, yes, it’s looking in downtown Boston and city neighborhoods. But it’s also looking at at the suburbs, north, south and west, as well as Worcester, reports SHNS’s Colin Young at the Telegram.
State’s top 1 percent to get $3 billion from tax overhaul
The proposed millionaire’s tax just got a major boost. From the BBJ’s Don Seiffert on a new MassBudget report: “A new analysis suggests that the top 1 percent of income-earners in the state will get the vast majority of the benefits of the new federal tax cuts even despite new limits on deductions of state and local taxes. … The federal tax cuts will reduce the taxes paid by that population by more than $2.96 billion in 2019, the first year the cuts are fully in effect.”
Kadish to steer governor’s new transportation commission
From SHNS’s Colin Young at CommonWealth magazine: “With an eye on on the state’s transportation needs through the next two decades, Gov. Charlie Baker on Tuesday created a special commission to try to understand how transportation options and demand could change by 2040 and how the state can be ready to adapt to those changes.The Commission on the Future of Transportation in the Commonwealth was created executive order by and Baker appointed its 18 members, with his former chief of staff, Steve Kadish, chairing the group.”
The Controversy That Won’t Leave: Dudley still dealing with fallout up from Islamic cemetery dustup
The Islamic Society of Greater Worcester may have long ago moved on from its efforts to locate a cemetery in Dudley, but officials in that town aren’t quite done picking at the scab left behind, reports Debbie LaPlaca at the Telegram reports. One selectman is now accusing the town counsel of knowingly giving false information to the board last fall about procedural steps as the cemetery case was being settled.
Cambridge makes first payment of $5M toward GLX project
Speaking of transportation, from Adam Sennott at Wicked Local: “The city (of Cambridge) made its first financial contribution to the Green Line Extension Project this week. The City Council approved an $5 million appropriation toward the project Monday night. Cambridge agree to fund about $25 of the project, though DivcoWest, which is developing the NorthPoint Project near Lechmere, has agreed to pay about $12.5 million of the city’s totally contribution, according to City Manager Louis DePasquale.” We’re not quite sure what the DivcoWest contribution actually means.
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