(Commonwealth of Massachusetts)

Happening today:

Gov. Maura Healey travels to Washington, D.C. this morning, with plans to return to Massachusetts Wednesday afternoon. Lt. Gov. Driscoll serves as acting governor while Healey is out of state.

7 a.m. | Voters head to the polls in Boston-area special primary elections to fill two House seats. The special general elections take place on May 30. Polls typically open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.

9:30 a.m. | Boston Mayor Michelle Wu attends the Chinatown Coffee Hour.....Chinatown Branch of the Boston Public Library, 2 Boylston Street, Boston

10:30 a.m. | Congressman Jim McGovern visits the Grafton Job Corps to meet students and instructors and hear about the job training programs for in-demand, high-paying careers. | 00 Pine St., North Grafton

11:00 a.m. | Congressman Richard Neal makes an announcement related to federal funding for Elms College, joined by the college's president, Harry Dumay. | Alumnae Library, Elms College, 291 Springfield St., Chicopee

More Massachusetts exceptionalism: The commonwealth has seen fewer competitive races in its Legislature than any other state in the nation for four elections running, according to Ballotpedia

The Bay State consistently ranks near the bottom in all three criteria for the site’s Competitiveness Index, which scores states based on “the percentage of open seats, incumbents facing primary opposition, and general elections with major party competition.” 

It’s what happens in a near monopoly.

“The fact that we so rarely have contested elections here in Massachusetts does a disservice to the democratic process,” said Jonathan Cohn of Progressive Massachusetts, noting Beacon Hill’s reputation for top-down management and back-room dealmaking. 

Under House Speaker Ronald Mariano’s leadership things appear to be getting even more opaque. A MASSterList review of House Journals found 286 recorded roll-call votes in the 2021-2022 session — about 60% of the 486 on average seen in the prior five legislative sessions led by his predecessor Robert DeLeo. Mariano declined to comment.

But with no contested seats, the power stays concentrated. Nearly two-thirds of lawmakers ran unopposed last November — either after beating out party challengers in the primary or because they faced no opponent whatsoever.

New MassGOP head Amy Carnevale said Monday on GBH her primary goal is reaching out to unenrolled voters — who make up 61% of the state’s electorate — to try to work on that message to try to attract more voters to a party she said was “off track” prior to her leadership. 

There are zero Republicans running in either of Tuesday’s special elections.

Biogen employee John Moran is the sole candidate and presumptive winner in the 9th Suffolk District to succeed former Rep. Jon Santiago, who left the House to become Veterans’ Services secretary in Gov. Maura Healey’s Cabinet. 

In the 10th Suffolk District to replace former Rep. Ed Coppinger, who resigned for a job at MassBio, three Democrats square off: Bill MacGregor of West Roxbury, Robert Patrick Orthman of Roslindale and Celia Segel of Jamaica Plain. 

State Democratic Party Chairman Steve Kerrigan told MASSterList he considers the Democratic stranglehold a signal of a “fantastic job” done by lawmakers.

Dems claim a trifecta in Massachusetts where they hold the governor’s office, 132 of 160 House seats and 37 of 40 Senate seats, plus all nine members of its congressional delegation.

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Taking the T? Consider packing your hard hat; woman struck by 200-pound object at Harvard Station

A woman was taken to a local hospital on Monday after a heavy piece of electrical equipment fell at the Harvard MBTA station, reports WHDH. Officials said she was struck by a 200-pound piece of equipment that fell on the station’s Red Line inbound platform. The equipment had been suspended from a pole within the station and hit a woman in her late 20s as it came down, reports said. It’s the latest incident in a string of T tragedies of late. 

This particular injury comes just weeks after a ceiling panel fell on a platform at Harvard station on March 1. Officials said the panel served to boost the aesthetics of the station and absorb noise, adding that it weighed between 20 and 25 pounds. The T later released video of the incident, showing the panel narrowly missing a rider walking on the platform.

Officials announced plans to remove similar panels after the incident in March, eventually removing nearly 200 panels from Harvard station. 

New MBTA General Manager Phillip Eng was on scene on Monday inspecting the aftermath of this latest incident at Harvard station on Monday.


Warning signs: 62F change could be ‘unconstitutional,’ say business groups 

The Massachusetts High Technology Council is sounding the alarm and mounting a legal challenge over the House budget plan to change the Chapter 62F tax rebate law from an income-based formula to a flat amount for each taxpayer. The business group has said it is “unconstitutional” because it’s “effectively taxing income at different rates for different taxpayers.”

The Boston Herald

Exodus: Massachusetts saw number of people leaving jump 21% in 2021

Outward migration of taxpayers and income skyrocketed by nearly 72% in 2021, according to newly released Census data, reports Christian Wade for the Eagle Tribune. Massachusetts’ net loss of adjusted gross income to other states grew from $2.5 billion in 2020 to $4.3 billion in 2021, according to the latest Internal Revenue Service data. More than 67% of the outward migration was to income tax-free Florida and New Hampshire, with a combined net loss of 12,700 residents leaving for those two states, according to the IRS.

The Eagle Tribune

Easthamption renews search for superintendent following ‘ladies’ controversy

Easthampton school officials laid out on Monday the first steps in finding a temporary leader of the district after School Committee members last week decided to pause the superintendent search that gained national attention over the past month after two finalists ended their candidacies in controversy. For now, officials will move forward in installing an interim superintendent in a much more condensed search with the goal of hiring a temporary leader for a year or two, reports Luis Fieldman for MassLive.


Lawmakers could award in-state tuition to undocumented students

Last year the state Legislature approved a new law giving immigrants without legal status the ability to apply for state-issued driver’s licenses. The bill had been kicking around Beacon Hill for nearly two decades, driven by a coalition of supporters who pressed hard for the legislation for humanitarian and practical public safety reasons, reports Jennifer Smith for Commonwealth Magazine. Now that momentum turns to undocumented immigrant students to pay in-state tuition at state colleges and universities.

Commonwealth Magazine

Boston tent takedowns at Mass & Cass not over

People living in tents at the intersection of Mass & Cass have resolved to come back as the city begins clearing tents from the area known for homeless encampments, reports Sean Cotter for the The Boston Globe.

The Boston Globe

‘Lifeline’: Cambridge to launch guaranteed income program

City officials and nonprofit leaders will kick off the latest guaranteed-income program in Cambridge on Tuesday, with plans to make direct $500 monthly payments to families who meet income guidelines. WBUR’s Zeninjor Enwemeka reports the city expects to see up to 2,000 recipients enrolled and that the program will last at least 18 months, though efforts are underway to make it permanent.


UMass says layoffs coming as it moves employees to private foundation

Over the opposition of unions and pushback from some lawmakers, UMass said Monday it would begin the process of transferring 82 jobs in its fundraising operations to the private UMass Amherst Foundation, Scott Merzbach of the Daily Hampshire Gazette reports. Next up will be layoff notices to current employees, who would no longer be represented by a union if they make the move to the foundation.

Daily Hampshire Gazette

Are regulators failing cannabis industry workers? 

Starting with the 2022 workplace-related death of Lorna McMurrey in a Holyoke pot-processing facility, Dusty Christensen takes a deep dive for The Nation into the issue of worker safety in the cannabis industry. The findings include local communities and regulators overwhelmed by the industry’s rapid growth and private company owners that are actively battling efforts to unionize workers.  

The Nation

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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.