Boston voting petitions, Governor’s Council, and more
10 a.m. | Boston City Council Committee on Government Operation holds hearing on two home rule petitions that would revive pandemic-era voting measures for the 2021 municipal election season.
12 p.m. | Governor’s Council interviews Boston and Providence attorney Michael Sherry, the governor’s latest pick for the Industrial Accidents Board.
1 p.m. | Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee holds a virtual hearing on 17 bills addressing trades-related professional licensure matters.
2 p.m. | Senate President Karen Spilka joins Sens. John Velis and Michael Rush and Veterans’ Services Secretary Cheryl Lussier Poppe for a tour of the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke
6 p.m. | Joint Committee on Redistricting holds public hearing to hear from residents of the 3rd Congressional District about local and community interests in the redistricting process.
For the most comprehensive list of calendar items, check out State House News Service’s Daily Advances (pay wall – free trial subscriptions available).
Done the Diehl Way
What would Geoff Diehl have done differently if he were governor for the past six and a half years?
The former state representative told MassterList he would have never supported the multi-state Transportation Climate Initiative, would have opened schools sooner during the pandemic, would prioritize the use of excess tax revenue to replenish the state’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, and would have ended enhanced unemployment benefits rather than wait until they expire in October.
“There’s still small businesses that are trying to get employees to come in and work and they’re unable to find those laborers because people would rather get paid higher by the government to do nothing at home than go in and work,” the Whitman Republican said. “We really need to get people, I think, back off the couch and back into the workforce. I think it’s going to make them feel better, it’s certainly going to help our small businesses, and it will help the economy in the long run.”
Diehl is running to replace Gov. Charlie Baker as the next Republican governor of Massachusetts. He announced his plans at an Independence Day “Freedom Festival” hosted by the Western MA GOP Patriots.
In an interview with MassterList and the State House News Service, Diehl knocked the Baker administration’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and pitched himself as a candidate who wants to focus on small businesses recovery and on being a counterweight to the Democratic supermajority in the Legislature.
“I’ve served in the legislature, I know the challenges that are faced there. And I think I can give some help to those candidates as far as making sure they run good campaigns,” he said. “I’d love to make sure that when we win in 2022, we bring as many fellow Republicans into the Legislature to try to rebalance what is a super majority of Democrats in both the House and Senate chambers.”
Diehl knocked the enforcement of “somewhat ambiguous rules” during the COVID-19 state of emergency, saying that created difficulties for small businesses. The Baker administration instituted the emergency and rules in an attempt to curb the spread of a highly contagious virus.
“While private businesses basically had to shut down, and employees were either furloughed or laid off, there wasn’t anybody in state government who lost their job or took a pay hit during that time, and it was full steam with all government employees,” Diehl said. “I think that was a pretty bad message right off the bat.”
And what happens if Baker decides to run for a third term or Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito attempts a bid for the top office? The prospect of running against a highly popular governor doesn’t faze him.
“My decision really doesn’t depend on whether or not Gov. Baker or Lt. Gov. Polito run,” he said. “It’s a decision I’m making independently of them. So, that’s where I’m focused.”
House Dems say no to term limits for speaker
House Democrats fended off attempts to reinstate term limits for the top post in the chamber and to provide additional time to look over bills before taking votes as they adopted an internal rules package Wednesday, reports State House News Service’s Chris Lisinski and Sam Doran.
More from the pair: “After a lengthy debate that ended with the rejection of almost all proposed changes offered through floor amendments, the House voted 129-29 to adopt the rules which, starting Oct. 1, will govern the chamber’s operations and internal policies for the 2021-2022 session.”
Local Haitian community shocked and worried after assassination of president
Reacting to the news of the assassination of Haiti’s president, Boston’s Haitian population expressed shock and worry over a nation that is still recovering from natural disasters and is dealing with political turmoil, reports Tiana Woodard and Julia Carlin at the Boston Globe.
More from the Globe duo: “Boston has the third-largest Haitian population in the United States, after New York and Miami. Tweets of concern for the citizens’ safety flooded in overnight from members of the region’s Haitian community.”
More ‘Rise of the Moors’ members arraigned
Two more “Rise of the Moors” members charged in connection with an armed standoff in Wakefield over the weekend were arraigned Wednesday at Malden District Court, reports Boston Herald’s Amy Sokolow.
1984: Boston’s scraps camera plan
George Orwell would be proud. Boston’s Acting Mayor Kim Janey pulled the plug on a plan to link up more than 1,000 cameras in nine Greater Boston communities, reports Boston Globe’s Danny McDonald, who adds that the city released a request for proposal in early April with a deadline for the selection of a vendor in early June.
More from McDonald: “Under the plan, cameras would be linked in a wireless network that would be capable of sharing video and video control in Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, Chelsea, Everett, Quincy, Revere, Somerville, and Winthrop.”
It’s on: Fall River council president to challenge mayor
Fall River City Council President Cliff Ponte formally announced he would challenge Mayor Paul Coogan, with whom he has often clashed over official business, Jo C. Goode of the Herald-News reports. Ponte, who led the city in an interim role after former Mayor Jasiel Correia was indicted and removed, touted his role as a “voice of reason” during the city’s tumultuous times.
Reversing course on Walden Pond
After banning open water swimming at Walden Pond six days ago, State House News Service’s Chris Lisinski reports that the Baker administration plans to allow the practice once again.
Just in case: Still on the sidelines, would-be candidates stash cash
For now, most of the money is still on the sidelines. The three biggest campaign war chests connected to the state’s next gubernatorial election belong to candidates that have yet to declare their intentions, Steve LeBlanc of the Associated Press reports, via the Salem News. Gov. Baker, Lt Gov. Karyn Polito, and Attorney General Maura Healey have a combined $5.5 million sitting in campaign accounts.
Report: Sub-par access to high-speed internet in Massachusetts
Of the schoolchildren and adults who worked from home over the course of the pandemic in Massachusetts, many had less than average access to high-speed internet, particularly in the state’s low-income counties, reports Ledyard King and Mike Stucka for USA Today published via the Telegram & Gazette.
More from Kind and Stucka: “In about half of Massachusetts’s counties — 8 of 14 — measured by a Federal Communications Commission study, broadband access is available to at least 98 percent of residents. Yet in about half of the state measured by Microsoft — 8 of 14 counties — no more than 63 percent of households actually have high-speed access, a USA TODAY analysis shows.”
Keep ‘em whole: Community leaders fret about impact of redistricting
Don’t divide us. Community leaders are urging lawmakers getting ready to redraw the state’s Congressional and State House districts to avoid splitting cities and towns, saying it causes confusion for voters, Christian Wade of the Salem News reports.
Federal funds: Act VI
The debate continues. Gov. Charlie Baker continued his push to spend federal aid dollars on homeownership programs, with a specific focus on communities of color, reports State House News Service’s Matt Murphy. The pitch came at a press conference promoting ight and weekend programming for youth.
More from Murphy: “The discussion among speakers quickly pivoted, however, to the simmering debate over how to allocate billions in federal stimulus dollars.”
Settled: Lawsuits over 2017 ferry crash comes to a close
It took four years — and an undisclosed amount of cash — but all lawsuits filed against the Woods Hole, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority in connection with the 2017 crash of the high-speed ferry Iyanough have been dismissed now that all parties involved have agreed to settlements that include non-disclosure agreements. Jessica Hill of the Cape Cod Times has the details.
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