9 a.m. | Massport Board of Directors meet.
10 a.m. | Cannabis Control Commission holds business meeting, which is likely to be the group’s final regular meeting of 2021.
10 a.m. | Mass. Gaming Commission meets to hear updates on casino operations, quarterly reports from MGM Springfield and Plainridge Park Casino, and a report on the status of 2022 horse racing applications.
11:30 a.m. | Westnet Inc. alongside Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers, Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts, Boston Housing Authority, and COVID-19 Clergy of Boston donate two million masks through Greater Boston to help “residents who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 remain safe over the holiday season,” an advisory said.
1:30 p.m. | Special Commission Relative to the Seal and Motto of the Commonwealth meets.
5 p.m. | Bureau of Ocean Energy Management hosts the third of three virtual public meetings to allow stakeholders to learn more about the Mayflower Wind offshore wind energy project, ask questions and provide oral testimony to help shape the agency’s environmental review of the project.
What the Legislature did and didn’t do last night
What did the Legislature accomplish on their last day of formal sessions for the year? Here’s a short list of the interesting and important items:
Deal or No Deal?: In this instance the House and Senate couldn’t finalize negotiations on a multi-billion dollar spending plan using American Rescue Plan Act funds and surplus revenue from fiscal 2021. Any proposal that emerges at this point will have to move through an informal session where any lawmaker can object to and stop proceedings. We’re pretty sure Democratic leadership in both branches are probably wincing at that fact. But it’s an option to try if they don’t want to wait until next year.
Looking at Maps: So maybe lawmakers couldn’t reach a deal on ARPA spending but they did manage to send Congressional and Governor’s Council district maps to Gov. Charlie Baker. The Legislature resisted calls to unite New Bedford and Fall River into one district and instead chose to split the two cities between the 9th Congressional District and Fourth Congressional District, respectively.
Calendar Check: Both branches gaveled into the day with plans to take up legislation related to health care. The Senate ended up passing a bill dealing with mental health care access while the House passed a health care regulations bill.
No Extension: Lawmakers also opted against taking up an sort of extension for voting by mail and early voting provisions that are slated to expire in mid-December. If the branches want to keep the measures around, representatives and Senators will now need to push forward any extension through informal sessions.
Staying Remote: Senators can stay snug in their warm houses over the winter after the branch voted to extend pandemic-era emergency rules that allow remote voting through March 31, 2022. State House News Service’s Chris Lisinski reports that Sen. Joan Lovely said the extension offers lawmakers flexibility as COVID-19 continues to pose risk.
State House Closed: 612 days
Gubernatorial Election: 355 days
Wu’s first full day in the office starts with interesting moves
It was Mayor Michelle Wu’s first full day as mayor yesterday and she made several moves only hours into her tenure. Boston Globe’s Taylor Dolven reports that Wu requested $8 million in federal funds from Boston City Council to eliminate fares on three MBTA bus lines for two years. The lines: bus routes 23, 28, and 29.
The newly minted mayor also said Boston will pause tent removals at Mass and Cass as a judge weighs a request from ACLU for a preliminary injunction against the city. Boston Herald’s Sean Philip Cotter reports that the lawsuit focuses on an executive order from former Acting Mayor Kim Janey.
Wu also took a moment early Wednesday morning to meet with Gov. Charlie Baker where the two discussed everything from public transit to the situation at Mass and Cass, reports MassLive’s Alison Kuznitz and State House News Service’s Chris Van Buskirk.
Business group likely to challenge millionaires tax language
The millionaires tax ballot question may have an Incoming court challenge. Boston Business Journal’s Greg Ryan reports that the Massachusetts high Technology Council said it is likely to launch a challenge against the proposal’s ballot language. The group argues that the language should make clear that passing the measure does not necessarily equal an increase in spending on schools and transportation.
More from Ryan: “The MHTC contended in the letter that the proposal does not require lawmakers to use millionaires-tax revenue to increase spending in those two areas, since they can reduce spending on education and transportation from other revenue sources, and replace it with revenue raised by the millionaires tax.”
Walsh yet to make a permanent home in D.C.
Nine months after his confirmation, U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh has yet to make a permanent home in Washington, D.C., Politico reports in its West Wing Playbook. Walsh hangs his hat at a local Hilton when in D.C. and spends the rest of his time back here in the Hub or on the road. Politico says the arrangement is “raising eyebrows” inside the White House, where it’s widely accepted the former mayor and state representative aspires to hold public office again.
Influx of cash prompts questions on spending
There’s a lot of money coming to Massachusetts and the state can expect to receive about $8.5 billion for transportation. Boston Globe’s Taylor Dolven reports that transportation agencies here in the state are still working through the federal infrastructure law President Biden signed into law this week in an effort to decide where to spend the money.
More from Dolven: “General Manager of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Steve Poftak and Secretary of Transportation Jamey Tesler said at an MBTA board meeting Wednesday that they will have a more detailed analysis of how the money will be spent at the next board meeting in December.”
Prison guards fired for not complying with vax mandate
In this case, no vax meant no job. A group of state prison guards who did not comply with Gov. Charlie Baker’s vaccine mandate were fired this week. MassLive’s Alison Kuznitz reports that officers who didn’t get a shot were first placed on an unpaid five-day suspension, followed by a unpaid 10-day suspension before fired.
Slammed: Healey issues stark warning on Mass. General expansion plans
Attorney General Maura Healey is waving red flags about Mass General Brigham’s plans to a multi-year expansion into the suburbs, which Healey says will drive up health care costs across the Commonwealth, Jessica Bartlett of the Boston Business Journal reports. Healey is urging the Health Policy Commission to consider information her office uncovered before it makes a final ruling on the expansion plan.
Home for the holidays: Correia asks judge to delay prison term
He’s got domestic responsibilities. Former Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia is asking a federal judge to postpone the start of his six-year prison sentence for a month, a delay that would allow him to help his wife’s family operate their restaurant and function hall, Dan Medeiros of the Herald-News reports. Correia is currently supposed to turn himself in on Dec. 3, though he has also asked the judge to allow him to remain free until his appeals are exhausted.
Cambridge, Somerville in line for reimbursement
Don’t worry about the money. Officials at the MBTA voted to reimburse Somerville and Cambridge the $75 million the two cities committed to the Green Line Extension project. State House News Service’s Chris Lisinski reports that the T plans to cancel $30 million in scheduled payments, return $17 million in unused funds, and repay $28 million that had already been spent.
CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl has more quick details from Wednesday meeting including updates on a vaccine mandate for the MBTA, commuter rail, and employee shortages.
Not so fast: Amesbury maps five-year plan to retire ‘Indian’ mascot
The Amesbury School Committee voted unanimously to phase out the high school’s “fighting Indian” mascot but it’s going to take a while. Jim Sullivan of the Eagle-Tribune reports it could take as long as five years to raise the funds to replace everything that bears the images of the sunsetting mascot.
Traveling to Philly from Worcester? Not so great news
There’s a flight change at Worcester Regional Airport and we hope you weren’t planning on traveling to Philadelphia anytime soon from the heart of the commonwealth. Telegram & Gazette’s Cyrus Moulton reports that American Airlines is switching the destination of flights leaving Worcester Regional from Philadelphia to New York’s JFK international Airport. The change takes effect in January.
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