6:30 a.m. | Teamsters General President Sean O'Brien helps kicks off a national campaign in South Boston to highlight the working conditions, including a lack of air conditioning, of UPS workers are they negotiate a contract for 2023.
2 p.m. | Chris Doughty and Kate Campanale, Republican candidates for governor and lieutenant governor, hold a press conference in Riverfront Park in Springfield to announce their plan for western Mass.
6:30 p.m. | Andrea Campbell, Quentin Palfrey and Shannon Liss-Riordan, the three Democratic candidates for attorney general, meet for a debate hosted by GBH News and moderated by Jim Braude. The event will stream live on YouTube and air at 7 p.m. on GBH 2.
Happy and groggy Monday morning. First, RIP Bill Russell, an NBA legend, 11-time champion and civil rights icon. He was 88.
Now to Beacon Hill, where as of 7:30 a.m. the House and Senate were still in session, blowing past a midnight deadline to wrap formal legislative activity for the two-year session. The Globe’s Matt Stout and Samantha J. Gross sum up some of the chaotic action on Beacon Hill, where the dynamics were changing by the moment.
Lawmakers were scrambling to find compromise and complete work on legislation that’s been in development for months, if not years. And on many issues they did.
Over the weekend and into this morning, the House and Senate were able to finalize bills to grow and tighten oversight of the cannabis industry, improve access to mental health, invest in transportation and climate resiliency, and update the state’s gun licensing laws in response to the Supreme Court. Lawmakers also responded to his amendments and sent back to Gov. Charlie Baker a major climate and clean energy bill intended to spur further wind energy production and help reduce carbon emissions.
And in the bleary morning hours they even struck a deal to legalize sports betting, settling one of the main sticking points by agreeing to legalize betting on professional and college sports, with one notable exception – no wagering on college teams from Massachusetts unless they are playing in a collegiate tournament such as March Madness.
Shockingly, however, a multi-billion dollar economic development bill that contained $1 billion in tax cuts, including $500 million for rebates, was left on the cutting room floor. Senate Ways and Means Chairman Michael Rodrigues said shortly after 5 a.m. that there remained too much uncertainty over how much the state can afford after Gov. Baker late last week dropped a bombshell on negotiations when he explained how state tax revenues are expected to trigger an obscure 1987 revenue cap law that will require the state to send as much as $3 billion back to taxpayers.
SHNS’s Colin A. Young reports that Speaker Ron Mariano said taxpayers should expect relief under the tax cap law, but the rest of the plan, including permanent tax code changes to the estate tax and other credits for low-income earners, parents and renters, may have to wait until the fall.
It’s not necessarily the end of the road for the economic development spending bill. Business still can get done during informal sessions for the rest of year, but support will have to be unanimous.
ON TO CAMPAIGN SEASON: The three Democrats vying to be the state’s next attorney general are set to debate tonight on GBH, and former Obama administration lawyer Quentin Palfrey is providing some kindling for the fire.
Palfrey, who has made campaign finance issues a centerpiece of his campaign, is accusing his opponent Andrea Campbell of “red boxing,” a practice by which candidates skirt the rules preventing campaigns from coordinating with super PACs by indirectly providing those outside groups with the raw materials and messaging they need to produce consistent advertising.
“This is a red box. What’s happening now is she’s calling for help. She’s telling them how to do it,” Palfrey told MASSterList, pointing to a “media resources” page on Campbell’s website where she provides a short statement on her campaign and links to video and photos.
Palfrey is calling on OCPF or the Legislature to crack down on “red boxing” by making clear that it’s illegal. It’s part of a broader democracy protection and election integrity platform Palfrey plans to release that calls for things like same-day voter registration, full funding by the Legislature of public campaign financing, and increased scrutiny of public corruption, with a focus on the State Police.
Palfrey also says he will “use the office’s bully pulpit” to call on Beacon Hill lawmakers to take more recorded roll call votes, repeal exemptions that shield the Legislature from public records laws and make use of technology to make government meetings more accessible by recording and posting them online and maintaining a central database.
“It’s one of the most important challenges facing our country today, protecting and preserving our democracy,” Palfrey said.
Campbell’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment, but she has repeatedly dismissed Palfrey’s concern about super PAC spending in the race. Though she declined to sign a “People’s Pledge” to disavow outside spending in the race, the Better Boston super PAC that supported her mayoral campaign has said it does not intend to get involved and the Environmental League of Massachusetts Action Fund has spent roughly $11,500 on her behalf.
Palfrey said it would not take much for a new entity to jump into the race at any time.
“I have to game plan as if that’s going to happen,” he said.
— Infrastructure bill arrives on time with $$$ for MBTA, East-West rail
An $11.3 billion borrowing bill that would pump money into transportation infrastructure and help pay for a major new climate bill landed on Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk on the final night of formal sessions. The compromise legislation included $400 million to help the MBTA address its ongoing safety issues and $275 million to further the East-West rail project to connect Boston and Worcester with western Massachusetts cities like Springfield and Pittsfield by passenger rail. MassLive’s Chris Van Buskirk has more details.
— Legislature moves closer to Baker on climate bill
Speaking of climate investments, the Legislature sent a major new climate and clean energy initiative back to Gov. Charlie Baker Sunday in hopes that they compromised enough to earn his signature. SHNS’s Colin A. Young reports that the House and Senate agreed to a Baker amendment to completely eliminate the price cap on offshore wind contracting, which was seen by the governor as an impediment to competition. But the Legislature again said no to the Republican’s request to use $750 million in remaining American Rescue Plan Act funds for investments in climate infrastructure.
— Pols and press unwelcome at biker’s rally
Jeffrey Sossa Paquette, the Republican challenging U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern in the state’s 2nd Congressional District, was forced to cancel a planned campaign appearance on Sunday after the group hosting the event told him he wasn’t welcome. The Daily Hampshire Gazette’s Dusty Christensen reports Bikers Against Child Abuse said their rally was off-limits to press and politicians alike, even those who are making human trafficking part of their campaigns.
— Senate staffers say they’ll continue fight to unionize
State senate staffers say they will continue their push to form a union after hearing directly from Senate President Karen Spilka on Friday that state law makes formal recognition of their organizing efforts impossible, GBH’s Tori Bedford and Katie Lannan reports. Some staffers say lawmakers should update the laws as needed to clear the way for the union.
— Swampscott ask public for help with ARPA spending
Swampscott residents are the latest to have a say in how their community will spend about $4 million in remaining American Rescue Plan Act funds, the Item’s Charlie McKenna reports. A survey will ask residents to choose from more than a dozen potential spending targets.
— “Dangerousness” debate divides House and Senate Dems
Gov. Charlie Baker made a last ditch effort to advance his pre-trial detention bill last weekend by attaching a more narrow version to a budget provision that would have made phone call free for all prisoners. Now it’s possible no one will get what they want. The House rejected Baker’s amendment, but SHNS’s Chris Lisinski reports that when it got to the Senate there was an appetite for some of the governor’s reforms. But with the session coming to an end and no time left for the branches to agree on a path forward, the odds of anything making its way back to Baker got slim.
— Commissioner Cox’s learning experience in Ann Arbor
With hopes for reforming the Boston Police Department now on the shoulders of new Police Commissioner Michael Cox, the Globe’s Ivy Scott reports on Cox’s experience in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he was hired for similar reasons but faced resistance to change.
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