9:45 a.m. | Gov. Charlie Baker, U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, Lt. Gov. Polito, U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark and others celebrate the opening of the Medford Branch of the Green Line Extension at the Medford/Tufts Station on College Avenue.
10 a.m. | Boston City Council Committee on Civil Rights and Immigrant Advancement holds a hearing to discuss restoring municipal voting rights to immigrants with legal status.
10 a.m. | Massachusetts Gaming Commission holds a hearing to allow members of the public to weigh in on the five applications for mobile sports betting licenses tethered to one of the state's casinos or slots parlor.
11 a.m. | House meets with farewell speeches from departing representatives planned.
12 p.m. | Senate meets with farewell speeches from departing senators planned.
12 p.m. | U.S. Sen. Ed Markey tours the Grousbeck Center at the Perkins School for the Blind and meets with Perkins students to discuss his new legislation, the Communications, Video, and Technology Accessibility (CVTA) Act.
12 p.m. | Treasurer Goldberg and her Office of Economic Empowerment hold a virtual briefing to discuss the Baby Bonds Task Force's report on establishing an at-birth publicly funded trust fund program for Massachusetts residents.
Special thanks to Craig and George for filling in for a few days last week. Hope you enjoyed their insight (and bickering). But I’m back, and so is the Legislature today with members gathering to hear some of their colleagues address their respective chambers for the final time before they leave office in the new year.
As it stands, there will be five new senators and 22 new representatives when the Legislature gavels into a new session in January.
All but one – Wrentham’s Marcus Vaughn – are Democrats.
Secretary of State William Galvin, himself a Democrat who is poised to begin his eighth term as the state’s top elections official, said Sunday that in both Massachusetts and other states around the country Republicans need to adapt to the changing voting landscape.
In Georgia, for instance, Galvin said U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock benefited in his runoff victory from strong voter turnout, which was aided by opportunities for voters to cast ballots early.
Early voting participation, particularly mail-in voting, has been lower among Republicans in Massachusetts than with Democrats. You can thank Trump for that. Some in the MassGOP are now pushing for the party to drop its opposition to mail-in voting and instead develop a strategy to use it to their advantage, as Democrats have.
“Republicans, whatever their resistance in the past, they have to overcome it if they’re going to compete,” Galvin told WCVB during his Sunday appearance on “On the Record.”
Despite the use of mail-in voting dropping off in the 2022 election from 2020, Galvin predicted it will only grow in popularity as the system becomes more refined and accepted. He also said he will renew his push in the new session for same-day voter registration, which would add another wrinkle to the process for parties and candidates to adjust to.
Thirty-seven percent of the ballots cast in November arrived by mail, while another 8 percent were cast early in-person.
“Most people here and around the country, I think, are choosing to be unaffiliated with any major party and vote, which reinforces the idea that people should have the right to vote any way they can,” Galvin said.
The Brighton Democrat also repeated his calls made last week for the Legislature to sequester funds raised through the voter-approved “millionaires tax” in a trust so that voters can see exactly how it gets spent on education and transportation. He also would like to see lawmakers create exemption from the new tax for senior, income-eligible residents on the value of a home sale.
He hasn’t even started his eighth term. But already the questions have started about the 72-year-old seeking an unprecedented ninth four-year term in 2026.
“I couldn’t answer that question,” Galvin said.
— Cape Cod politics changing red to blue
There are few parts of Massachusetts where Republicans can claim to have a solid foothold. Cape Cod is one of them. Or at least it has been. After a cycle during which Cape voters elected their first Democrat as district attorney and several legislative seats flipped blue, the Globe’s Matt Stout reports on the changing political tides in the region and what it means for a party in retreat.
— What’s next for Eric Lesser?
Sen. Eric Lesser will say goodbye to his Senate colleagues today after the Longmeadow Democrat gave up his seat to run unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor this year. What’s next for the former Obama White House aide is anyone’s guess. Could he join the Healey administration? Return to Washington? The Springfield Republican’s Jim Kinney reports that Lesser’s next chapter will more likely be written closer to home in western Massachusetts, which has been his focus in the state Senate for eight years.
— Gun laws not so tough when they’re not followed
Massachusetts lawmakers love to hold up their work against that of other states when it comes to gun control. Why can’t others, including the federal government, just follow our lead, they ask. But a new report from The Globe begs the question: What good are gun control laws if they’re not being followed. Sarah L. Ryley reports that more than half of the local police departments responsible for overseeing the vast majority of gun dealers in Massachusetts have failed to perform a single inspection since 2017, despite the reviews being required annually by law. Others don’t keep records, or have missed blatant violations later discovered by federal investigators.
— Rivera given extension at MassDevelopment as Healey moves in
MassDevelopment CEO Daniel Rivera – the former mayor of Lawrence who became tight with Gov. Charlie Baker – has been given a lengthy contract extension through June, 2026 to continue to lead the quasi-public development agency, reports CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl. Contracts don’t necessarily guarantee anything, though. While Rivera clearly enjoys the support of the board, the rules were changed during the Patrick administration that would allow a new governor like Healey to move Rivera along with a short severance agreement should she desire. Mohl reports that Healey’s camp didn’t respond to questions about the new contract.
— Clark keeping Massachusetts legacy of national leadership alive
Her ascent in Democratic politics has taken her from Beacon Hill where she started as a state representative from Melrose to Capitol Hill where she’s poised to become the second-highest ranking House Democrat in Washington. From a state steeped in political power, the Globe’s Tal Kopan chronicles how Clark managed to put her name up there with other household names like O’Neill and break down “one of the oldest old boys’ clubs.”
— Green Line extended: Trolleys on the tracks in Medford
The trolleys are rolling in Medford. The second spoke of the Green Line Extension opened this morning, and Gov. Charlie Baker and other state and federal officials will be on hand at the new Medford/Tufts Station later this morning to celebrate the final stage of the project. While the opening of the GLX for passenger service has been delayed several times, the completion of the project will undoubtedly be looked at as a success of the Baker administration after the project appeared doomed at several stages due to ballooning costs. The Herald’s Gayla Cawley has more on the occasion, while the Globe’s Daniel Kool was there as some of the first riders waited for their train to arrive.
— More legal trouble for Wampanoag leadership
More troubling news about Mashpee Wampanoag leadership. Just a month after the tribe’s former chairman Cedric Cromwell was sentenced for a conviction on bribery charges, the Mashpee Enterprise’s Mackenzie Ryan reports that Tribal Chairman Brian Weeden and Mashpee resident Phillip C. Hicks Jr. have been charged by Plymouth police in the early November theft of two bulrush mats and two black bear skin rugs from an exhibit at Plimoth Patuxet Museums. The items have since been returned, and Weedon previously denied any knowledge of the theft, Ryan reports.
— Early birds: Two already in the running for Pittsfield mayor
Why wait? Two Pittsfield pols tell the Berkshire Eagle’s Meg Britton-Mehlisch they’ll definitely be in the running to be the city’s next mayor in November of 2023. Current City Council President Peter Marchetti and former council VP John Krol both say they’ll be candidates, while incumbent Mayor Linda Tyer says she will announce her decision on whether to seek a third term “in the very near future.”
— Path cleared for first-ever rental housing project in Pelham
A Springfield nonprofit could begin work in the spring on what will be the first rental housing development in Pelham thanks to a combination of state and federal tax credits and local APRA funds that will pave the way for the $12 million, 34-unit project. Scott Merzbach of the Daily Hampshire Gazette has the details.
— Pot shops scramble for payment options after ATM crackdown
Some of the state’s cannabis dispensaries are being forced to go cash-only and promoting other payment options after a federal crackdown on a cashless ATM network that had enabled many to accept debit card payments at the register. Christian Wade of The Salem News reports the issue highlights the fact that marijuana remains illegal under federal law even as 21 states have taken steps to legalize it.
— Charter school hearing raises Old Sturbridge Village ties
Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty is among the city leaders urging state officials to reject a proposal to open a new charter school, saying it would create a $7 million budget shortfall just as the city’s schools start to see long-sought additional state funding hit the books. MassLive’s Kiernan Dunlop reports others who spoke out against the proposed Worcester Cultural Academy Charter School at a public hearing Friday questioned the school’s close affiliation with Old Sturbridge Village.
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