Today | Proponents of the 16 initiative petition campaigns must submit at least 80,239 signatures to local election officials by Wednesday for certification if they wish to keep their proposals alive.
Today | Last day of formal sessions for the Legislature until Jan. 5, 2022.
11 a.m. | .House holds formal session. Representatives have been advised to be prepared to consider legislation enhancing the health care market review process, establishing congressional districts and establishing councilor districts, items on the session calendar, and papers from Senate.
11 a.m. | Senate holds formal session with the mental health care access bill unveiled by Senate leaders up for consideration.
12 p.m. | Gov. Charlie Baker opening remarks at the start of the Health Policy Commission’s health care cost trends hearing, followed by Attorney General Maura Healey.
Let the final day begin
It all comes down to today for the Legislature.
Wednesday marks the final day of formal legislating — where lawmakers can take up and vote any number of bills requiring a roll call vote — until the new year. That means there’s a not-so-short list of items that may or may not make the cut once the clock strikes midnight.
Here are a few items that we’re watching as legislators meet in formal sessions for the last time this year.
Top of Mind: It’s what everybody has been talking about for months — legislation spending the state’s share of American Rescue Plan Act dollars and surplus revenue from FY21. In total, the state has roughly $4.8 billion in remaining ARPA funds and $1.5 billion in unspent taxes and both branches propose spending around $3.8 billion on things like climate resiliency projects, environmental infrastructure, health care, economic recovery, and housing needs.
The Senate passed their bill last week and lawmakers from both branches were appointed on Monday to a six-member panel tasked with negotiating differences between the House and Senate versions. Without a deal surfacing last night, the Legislature is now up against the clock if they want to deliver a bill to Gov. Charlie Baker before Thanksgiving, or they risk moving into a period of informal sessions when just one lawmaker could block any bill.
On The Calendar: The House plans to take up a health care bill today that seeks to add oversight and restrictions on large health care providers looking to expand into new territory. Representatives had until 1 p.m. yesterday to file amendments to the bill, and as of publication, there were six amendments addressing a variety of sub-topics.
Down the hall in the Senate, the plan for the day includes consideration of a mental health care access bill that, among other things, seeks to address what senators have described as an emergency department boarding crisis in the state.
Both branches are also expected to take action on two bills establishing Congressional and Governor’s Councilor districts.
Odds and Ends: House lawmakers passed a bill yesterday afternoon that would require public schools and districts to teach the history of genocides. It’s very similar to a version the Senate passed last month, except the House version includes additional language concerning funding. Since both bills are not too far off from each other, lawmakers may be able to send a final version to Gov. Charlie Baker.
We also wonder if either branch will make a play at extending voting by mail and early voting provisions that are scheduled to expire in mid-December. Legislative leaders could always try to move forward with an extension of the rules during informal sessions later this year, but they would run the risk of facing opposition, as we described earlier.
Michelle Wu takes oath of office
It’s official. Boston made history Tuesday when Mayor Michelle Wu took the oath of office during a ceremony at City Hall. Boston Herald’s Sean Philip Cotter reports that Wu said her administrations will “tackle our biggest challenges by getting the small things right, and by getting City Hall out of City Hall and into our neighborhoods.”
Boston Globe’s Danny McDonald reports that Judge Myong J. Joun administered the oath of office just after noon in the City Council chamber. In attendance: Acting Mayor Kim Janey, U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley, Gov. Charlie Baker. and both of the state’s U.S. senators.
Mariano says yes to another term as House speaker
He wants to go for another term. House Speaker Ronald Mariano said he plans to run for another term as House speaker. State House News Service’s Sam Doran reports that Mariano said it “took me 30 years to get here, so why would I want to sit here and not do it?” while saying his “biggest problem” is spending billions in American Rescue Plan Act funds and surplus from fiscal 2021.
‘Cottage community:’ State unveils plan to house those displaced from Mass. and Cass
From tents to cottages. State officials plan to build a “cottage community” on the grounds of Shattuck Hospital in Jamaica Plain that could provide temporary housing to as many as 30 people displaced by the city of Boston’s push to clean up Mass. and Cass., the Globe’s Milton J. Valencia and Amy Sokolow and Sean Phillip Cotter of the Herald report. The 18-cottage village could be ready as soon as December and will offer a host of services meant to transition the homeless into more permanent housing.
New report criticizes House operations
This progressive group says the House centralizes power among its top ranking members and limits control among the rank-and-file. CommonWealth’s Shira Schoenberg writes that a report from Progressive Democrats of Massachusetts criticizes the branch and what it says is a lack of professionalism among legislators.
More from Schoenberg: “The report says a lack of professionalism in the House – where some lawmakers have only a single staffer and staff receive little training – compounds the problem. If lawmakers lack expertise, the report says, that limits their ability to get things done and opens the door for special interests to hold more sway with leadership, since lobbyists can contribute expertise.”
Wu’s announces key staffers ahead of swearing-in
Before Mayor Michelle Wu took the oath of office Tuesday afternoon, she announced a handful of new staff hires. Boston Globe’s Milton J. Valencia reports that Wu brought on Mike Firestone to serve as chief policy and strategic planning. Firestone currently serves as director for the Coalition to Protect Workers’ Rights, the group opposing a ballot question related to app-based workers’ benefits.
More from Valencia: “Wu has previously said that the picture of her complete administration will not fully come into focus until January, when she plans a more formal inauguration along with City Council members.”
Bill puts homemade silencers in its sights
Legislators on Beacon Hill are taking aim at components that could be used to build homemade silencers. Salem News’ Christian M. Wade reports that a pending bill from Rep. Paul Tucker was among dozens looking to address 3d printed weapons and restrict large capacity magazines.
Hold your breath: Judge again suspends use of breath tests machines
As one lawyer put it: “Here we go again.” The judge overseeing litigation challenging the accuracy of breath alcohol test devices ordered use of the machines by all Bay State cops to be suspended again pending a hearing about fresh complaints about them. Julie Manganis of the Salem News has the details.
Deadlocked: Framingham council race tied after recount
No winner. The Framingham city clerk declared a “failure to elect” in the race for the District 3 seat on the city council after a hand recount found the two candidates tied with 997 votes each. Zane Razzaq of the MetroWest Daily News reports a court challenge focused on three disputed ballots or a possible special election featuring the two candidates are among the possible resolutions.
No gas for dirt bikers
Dirt bike riders in Springfield will have to look for gas somewhere else after City Council approved a measure banning businesses from selling gasoline to them. MassLive’s Peter Goonan reports that the ordinance was approved 11-0 on Monday and Mayor Domenic Sarno signed the measure Tuesday.
More from Goonan: “Under the ordinance, gas station owners would receive a warning for a first-time violation of the ordinance, followed by a fine of $100 for each subsequent violation.”
Worth it: Charlton voters back tax break for massive Amazon facility
They’re rolling out a $12 million welcome mat. Charlton town meeting voters have overwhelmingly backed a 10-year tax increment financing plan for a proposed $300 million Amazon distribution center the e-commerce giant says will create 1,000 jobs and pump $65 million into the local economy over the next decade. Katherine Hamilton of the Worcester Business Journal reports construction could begin in a matter of months.
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