Happening Today:

9 a.m. | Congressman Seth Moulton convenes a housing forum for the Sixth Congressional District he represents, and will participate in a panel discussion on federal policy with Juana Matias of the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Ken Willis of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston. | Lynn City Hall, 3 City Hall Square, Lynn

11 a.m. | Congressman Jim McGovern joins the Spanish American Center to celebrate the arrival of a new food truck intended to bring hot meals to food deserts in North Central Worcester County. Congressman McGovern secured $110,000 in federal funding to purchase the vehicle. | Spanish American Center, 112 Spruce St, Leominster

10 a.m. | Sens. Markey and Warren and Rep. Pressley hold a press conference to kick off a 20-stop, nationwide bus tour to call for judicial reforms to the Supreme Court. | RSVP to press@justmajority.org for location details in Boston

1 p.m. | Gov. Maura Healey attends the Victim Rights Awards hosted by the Office for Victim Assistance, which recognizes individuals for their contributions to victim rights and services in Massachusetts.| Grand Staircase

House lawmakers are being prompted to take a page straight out of Ted Lasso’s playbook as they kick off an intense week of budget debate on Beacon Hill. 

The fictional college football coach from the popular Apple TV show named for the character thrown into the British soccer leagues with nothing but his team-building skills to lead his underdog team to victory is a message Rep. William “Smitty” Pignatelli says should “set the tone” for discussions that can sometimes turn ugly.

Representatives on Monday bring the chamber’s $56.2 billion budget plan for the next fiscal year to the floor. The spending plan holds the keys to the purse strings and tensions traditionally run high as lawmakers square up to push through pet projects and bring money home to their local districts.

The House budget aims to make big policy splashes in education, offering free college to some residents, funding free meals for public school students and putting to task $1 billion in new revenue raised through the just-passed millionaire tax. 

Cuts could come to taxpayers in an accompanying tax relief bill, but the spending plan still has to make its way through the Senate, where Senate President Karen Spilka has hinted at her own priorities for “progressive” tax relief.

Pignatelli, a Beacon Hill fixture for 21 years, is known for his penchant for pitching quirky amendments to the annual budget. 

Two years ago the Lenox Democrat offered a tongue-in-cheek addition suggesting training for legislators on how to mute their cell phones during online sessions as the State House remained closed due to ongoing Covid-19 precautions. 

He says the light-hearted legislation is his symbolic to attempt “set the tone” of mutual respect and decorum in what can become intense debates over spending priorities.

“In Massachusetts, we’ve always been leaders in our ability to work together in a bipartisan way and that’s especially true today with the fighting we’re seeing in other state legislatures,” Pignatelli said, including Tennessee lawmakers’ controversial expulsion of two Black Democrats earlier this month.

Debate is expected to stretch several days, House aides tell MASSterList — as is typical in the process.

The House’s proposal represents a 5.6% spending increase over this year’s budget and differs in several ways from the $55.5 billion version pitched by Gov. Maura Healey last month.

But the bottom line is expected to grow higher as the House takes up the 1,566 amendments. Most are what lawmakers call “parochial” — or earmarks for local projects to meet community needs. 

“We are all advocating to bring the bacon home to our elective districts,” Pignatelli said. “This is the beauty of the budget process. Speakers past and present have agreed no one knows their districts better than the people elected to represent them.”

Send tips to Erin Tiernan Editor@MASSterList.com. For advertising and general inquiries, contact Dylan RossiterPublisher@MASSterList.comClick here to post a job on the MASSterList Job Board. Follow @MASSterList on Twitter. Did someone send you this edition? Subscribe here!

No go: Blue Line closures start this week

The MBTA begins four straight evenings of closing Blue Line subway service at 8 p.m. today to provide workers with more time on the tracks for maintenance, officials said. The entirety of the Blue Line will close around 8 p.m. each night from Monday through Thursday then again from Monday, May 1 through Thursday, May 4. Shuttle buses will replace the service between Government Center and Wonderland but will not run to Bowdoin. During that time, crews plan to replace nearly 2,000 feet of rail and more than 450 ties as well as tamp more than 3,000 feet of track, which MBTA General Manager Phil Eng estimates will allow the T to reduce the share of the Blue Line subject to slow zones from 44% currently to 28% by the end of May, according to officials.

House lawmakers load budget bill with local earmarks

Downtowns, schools, food pantries and nonprofits are among the myriad interests angling for a piece of the state’s $56 billion budget. State lawmakers have loaded the spending package for next fiscal year with requests for money for local projects and programs and changes in public policy ahead a debate on the bill in the House of Representatives next week.

The Eagle Tribune

Top MBTA managers living states away

As the MBTA faces a growing safety crisis and a crisis of confidence in its service with ongoing slow zones and crashes appearing to pile up, many of the T managers charged to fix the beleaguered transit agency live far from the troubled system they’re trying to rescue and some are rarely seen in person by their employees, a Globe review has found.

The Boston Globe

Faulty lead testing systems still in use

Public health officials will continue using lead testing systems that have been linked to two recalls and a federal indictment against former executives who allegedly concealed flaws in the testing kits for years, reports Christian Wade for The Salem News.

The Salem News

Black student organizations blast swatting incident at Harvard dorm 

Forty-five Black student groups and supporting campus organizations issued a letter this week condemning Harvard’s response to a swatting incident at a dorm earlier this month, and calling on the school administration to take a series of actions to address their concerns.

WCVB | The Boston Herald

Bay State cities and towns frustrated over flag-raising requests

Massachusetts cities and towns are confronting a complicated legal and political system still — one year after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it was unconstitutional for the City of Boston to deny a Christian group’s flag-raising request, select boards and city councils across Massachusetts are navigating the legal and political thicket left in the decision’s wake, reports Matt Stout for The Boston Globe.

The Boston Globe

Western Mass. lawmakers double down on drag show prohibition

Despite initially approving it, a small town in Central Massachusetts is looking to block a drag show from taking place as part of an LGBTQ Pride celebration in June. The chairman’s of that Select Board is doubling down on the decision, citing the town’s prohibition on “adult entertainment,” despite civil rights violation concerns from the ACLU of Massachusetts.


Deluged: Easthampton overwhelmed with records requests amid controversial super search 

Easthampton is scrambling to upgrade its systems in response to a flood of public records requests that have poured into City Hall ever since the school committee’s search for a new superintendent made national headlines when one potential candidate said the job was offered to him and then withdrawn after he used the word “ladies” in an email. The Daily Hampshire Gazette’s Emily Thurlow has the details.

The Daily Hampshire Gazette

Bristol County Inmates riot amid new suicide prevention measures 

Bristol County Sheriff Paul Heroux said rioting inmates at the House of Correction in North Dartmouth caused as much as $200,000 worth of damage during an hours-long disturbance over the weekend apparently sparked by changes Heroux is making to prevent inmate suicides. As many as 200 officers were involved in quelling the uprising, which Heroux said resulted in one minor injury to an inmate.

New Bedford Light | The Boston Globe | The Boston Herald

Lawyers for wrongfully imprisoned man seek to garnish wages of 2 Worcester cops

Attorneys representing the local man recently awarded an $8 million judgment after a jury found he was improperly jailed for 16 years because of police misconduct want a judge to allow them to garnish the wages of the officers involved. The Telegram’s Brad Petrishen reports the city itself has said it may be legally blocked from paying the judgment.

The Telegram & Gazette

Stockbridge takes more time to debate zoning favoring year-round residents 

Voters in Stockbridge won’t be taking up a proposal to alter the zoning bylaw to allow only year-round residents to build accessory units on their property at this year’s town meeting after all, but the Berkshire Eagle’s Clarence Fanto reports the heated debate over what kind of community Stockbridge wants to be in the future continues. 

The Berkshire Eagle

Subscribe to MASSterList

Start your morning with MASSterList’s chronicle of news and informed analysis about politics, policy, media, and influence in Massachusetts. Plus, get an inside look at Beacon Hill’s hottest new job postings.

Avatar photo

MASSterList editor Erin Tiernan is an award-winning reporter who brings a decade's worth of experience covering state and local politics from the halls of the State House to city streets. Her work can be found in The Boston Herald, The Patriot Ledger, MassLive and Wicked Local. She was the New England Newspaper and Press Association's 2019 Reporter of the Year.