10:00 | Gov. Healey Attends Groundhog Day event | Mass Audubon's Drumlin Farm, 208 South Great Rd, Lincoln
10:00 | Mass. Department of Transportation Board of Directors meets virtually. The meeting will be the first featuring new Transportation Secretary Gina Fiandaca | Agenda and Access Info
11:00 | House and Senate hold informal sessions | State House
12:30 | Healey rides the Red Line with LG Driscoll, Transportation Secretary Gina Fiandaca, Undersecretary Tibbits-Nutt, and Interim MBTA General Manager Jeff Gonneville | Park Street Station, Boston
1:00 | Healey tours the MBTA Operations Control Center with LG Driscoll, Secretary Gina Fiandaca, Undersecretary Tibbits-Nutt, and Interim MBTA General Manager Jeff Gonneville. | 45 High St. Boston
1:40| Healey holds media availability with LG Driscoll, Secretary Gina Fiandaca, and Undersecretary Tibbits-Nutt | MBTA Operations Control Center, 45 High St. Boston
Bill filing: something of a racket.
We’re heavy into the season when consultants and lobbyists are pitching stories to reporters and posting on social about the exciting news that proposal x is in play, having been filed by the consultant’s client or client organization. Part of a bill-info service or a lobbyist’s stock in trade is assuring customers they won’t miss progress on vital legislation as it advances through the process.
The thing is though, as a practical matter, almost nothing does advance, and truth to tell, the hired guns know it. Of the 2,000-plus pieces of legislation filed last session (2,298 at the deadline and plenty more subsequently), maybe a few dozen of serious import made it into the law books, and most never got anywhere near the governor’s desk.
Nevertheless, interesting bill ideas are fabulous fodder for press conferences and news stories, and press conferences and news stories are what we’re getting now. Don’t misunderstand, this isn’t a terrible thing — the ideas and issues floated in the legislation are often urgently provocative or conscience-activating, and they spark discussions worth having. But are they news? Yes and no.
There’s another stratum to this — the genre of bills that have to do with the required gauges of wire in construction, or the rules of practices for dental technicians – measures that provide billable hours for lobbyists, either pro or con, and have almost no other function or impact. Lobbyists have in the past been rumored to file bills so they can get paid to block them.
There was a fine story today on the front page of the Globe, however you define “front page” in 2023, about a bill that would allow prisoners to get time off their sentences by donating organs. Anyone who’s been in the State House a while knows the odds of this measure passing are maybe the same as Tom Brady coming out of re-retirement (and really, you never know). Yet there it is — fodder. And we will not be so hypocritical as to assert we’re not happy to munch away.
Speaker Skeptical: Mariano questioning way forward for tax credits
Speaking to a bill that’s way more than a publicity ploy, Speaker Ron Mariano emerged from a Democratic caucus to give a somewhat grumpy assessment of the prospects for a tax-relief package of the type he was ready to pass before the former governor, in Mariano’s view, blindsided legislative leaders with a $3 billion tax-rebate program. That was last summer, and Mariano said things have changed since he enthused about the program of relief for seniors, working families, renters and people liable for the estate tax. Mariano made clear such a package may well be forthcoming, but also that it’s quite a way off, and that factors such as inflation, interest rates, workplace uncertainty and other dynamics have decelerated the momentum of the measure. Gov. Healey has committed to press for the tax cuts, but will not say which specific package she favors.
No place to go but up: Republicans consider the future with a new boss…
In the wake of Tuesday’s vote to move on from the embattled Jim Lyons, media outlets talked over what’s next for the state Republican party, and whether it will really be that much different.
… as one of their own departs the House chamber
Now-former Rep. Lenny Mirra waited Wednesday till the roll call was begun on the report officially seating the Democrat who defeated him by one vote, Kristin Kassner. One suspects he’ll be back, on the ballot anyway. The vote came during a House-keeping session, you might call it, as representatives approved their rules for the current two-year session.
Absence of malice: advocates willing to give Reidy a chance as he stays on
Calls for reform and change abounded in the late teens around criminal justice reform, with the landmark 2018 legislation marking the turning point. AG Healey was a measured reformer, and she’s staying true to her philosophy by retaining Charlie Baker’s public safety secretary, Terrrence Reidy. Commonwealth Magazine’s Michael Jonas looks at the community’s tempered response.
A favorable wind
Massachusetts is willing to pay 40 percent of the cost of two new clean-energy projects in northern Maine — a price proportionate to what the Baker administration estimated the state would gain from the projects. “These critical projects will deliver clean, reliable, and affordable energy to Massachusetts and cut costs for our residents and businesses,” Environment Affairs secretary Rebecca Tepper said in response. The Kennebec link is here because there’s a journalistic maxim that says if you have a chance to feature a story with the byline “Tux Turkel,” you take it. As of now there is, anyway.
Open/Shut: Woburn strike continues …
Still no classes in Woburn as the teachers’ strike reaches day four–despite a fresh judge’s order that slaps a $40,000 fine on the union each day the walkout continues, the Globe’s Nick Stoico reports.
… and Nantucket shutdown ends
Schools in Nantucket were closed again Wednesday as the system grappled to get through a ransomware attack. However, they’ll reopen today, according to Jason Graziadel of the Nantucket Current.
Immigrants: They Get the Doctoring Done
This space is going to replicate in coming months and years with the story of state leaders battling a workforce-shortage crisis in health care that’s affecting everyone. The Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition is proposing that foreign-trained doctors in the state become eligible for one-year emergency licenses without having to receive a complete U.S. certification. The News Service reports.
Draft Kings cuts jobs
The state’s being hit with a wave of layoffs sweeping across the high-tech, digital space, but this announcement landed strangely the day after sports betting came to Massachusetts: Draft Kings is reducing its Massachusetts workforce by 140 jobs.
Healey allowing people inside South Station for shelter
A week after Globe columnist Shirley Leung hit T management hard with a look at homeless people being forced out of public space at South Station and into the cold, Gov. Healey said the station will be available going forward, and during the deadly cold expected this weekend. Her comments came on “Boston Public Radio” Monday, but were making news yesterday on Channel 25 and some other outlets.
Walsh a candidate to lead NHL players’ union
U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh is among the top candidates being considered to lead the National Hockey League Players’ Association, according to a host of media reports. The Herald’s Sean Phillip Cotter reports the union is meeting this week to tap a new executive director – a job currently based in Toronto. The move would not only mark a return to Walsh’s roots as a union leader but make him the second high-profile Bay State pol to exit electoral politics for a job in the sports world after former Gov. Charlie Baker made his way to the helm of the NCAA.
Framingham mayor says fixing issues with local hospital his top priority
Framingham Mayor Charlie Sisitsky focused much of his State of the City address on how he plans to address ongoing issues the city has with MetroWest Medical Center and its parent company, Tenet Healthcare. Tenet recently closed a cancer treatment center at the hospital and staffing shortages in the emergency room have led to ambulance diversions and the mayor says additional complaints continue to pour into City Hall.
New Bedford defends work with tax debt firm as lawmakers promise change
SouthCoast lawmakers say they’ll push to change the laws so that investors cannot steal home equity by buying up tax debt and New Bedford officials are defending their decision to work with a private debt collector in the wake of a New Bedford Light investigation into the damage wrought by dozens of local foreclosures.
We were saddened to learn of the passing of Chris Condon, a longtime Director of Political Action and Legislation at SEIU and our part-time sales colleague for many years, a man highly esteemed and beloved. More on Chris tomorrow.
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