Happening today:

10 a.m. | Gov. Maura Healey speaks at Autism Advocacy Day. | Great Hall, State House

10:30 a.m. | U.S. Sen. Ed Markey attends a training session on the use of naloxone and announces the reintroduction of legislation designed to expand access to testing for fentanyl and other substances. | Boston Health Care for the Homeless, 780 Albany St., Boston

1:30 | Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll and municipal leaders sign a "historic" CommonWealth Development Compact to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in real estate development projects. | Boston Society for Architecture, 2nd Floor Gallery, 290 Congress St.

2 p.m. | Gov. Maura Healey meets with Lt. Gov. Kil Driscoll and legislative leaders including House Speaker Ronald Mariano and Senate President Karen Spilka.| Speaker's Office, State House

Senate Democrats have remained coy on their plans to offer relief to taxpayers this budget cycle but will lift the veil this Tuesday when they reveal their budget for the fiscal year that begins on July 1. Senate President Karen Spilka has said she remains committed to “progressive” tax relief, but what about the non-progressive items?

Will the eye-popping drop in April revenue numbers, which came in $1.4 billion under benchmark make them blink? The Senate, perhaps a little more to the left than the House, will have to consider the capital gains and estate tax rate cuts approved by the House last month, along with increases in the dependent and child tax credit.

An interesting factoid about capital gains tax cuts: The Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center estimates that in 2019, more than 75 percent of the tax benefit for the lower rates went to taxpayers with income over $1 million. Those are the same residents Massachusetts has tagged with a new tax on income over $1 million, which rolled out this year.

Raise Up Massachusetts, the group behind the millionaire tax, said relief “should focus on making sustainable investments in affordability for working families.”

Healey this weekend defended the plan she told reporters makes Massachusetts more “competitive and affordable so that people will come here (and) stay here.”

Doug Howgate, president of the centrist Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, said lawmakers should stick with the current “well-rounded” relief package, including handouts for wealthier earners, which he said are still viable. He’s called capital gains and estate taxes outliers that cut the state’s competitiveness.

On the estate tax: Evan Horowitz at Tufts’ Center for State Policy Analysis told MASSterList that the “badly designed tax” is due for some updating. 

Currently, 11 states including Massachusetts tax levy taxes on the value of a decedent’s assets after debts have been paid. The Bay State shares the title of having the lowest threshold with Oregon.

The spending plan will show where Senate leaders President Spilka and Ways and Means Chairman Michael Rodrigues stand in the relief debate.

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Transfer tax is the new rent control: Fight to cut housing costs shifts on Beacon Hill

About a dozen cities and towns are asking Beacon Hill lawmakers for permission to impose a local transfer tax on real estate sales to raise revenue for affordable housing. Most would install fees varying from a half a percent and 2 percent on high-dollar real estate transactions, report Matt Stout and Emma Platoff for The Boston Globe. The move has long been opposed by real estate industry groups but is regaining momentum as a push for rent control faces a lukewarm reception in the state Legislature.

The Boston Globe

Masks off: Hospitals lifting COVID-19 mandate requiring universal masking 

Hospitals across the state will no longer require most people to wear masks once the state’s COVID-19 public health emergency expires on May 11, reports Morgan Rosseau for Boston.com. Boston Medical Center, Mass General Brigham, Tufts Medical Center, Beth Israel Lahey Health, and UMass Memorial Health will lift their mult-year mask mandates requiring every person on hospital premises to wear a mask regardless of vaccination status. Patients, staff, and visitors can still wear them if they wish. Patients with COVID-19 symptoms and close contacts will stay masked.

Boston.com | MassLive

Massachusetts business confidence plummeting, survey reveals

Massachusetts employer confidence has fallen from optimistic to neutral territory in the month of April which recorded the lowest level of confidence since December 2020, according to the Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) Business Confidence Index. A hike in interest rates and a slowdown in small-business loans are likely to blame, reported Meera Raman for The Boston Business Journal. The monthly survey collects information from more than 140 Bay State employers.

Boston Business Journal

Find your own ride: Marlboro bus drivers set to strike as other unions mull options

Students in Marlboro will have to find their own ride to school on Monday morning after Teamsters Local 170 announced late Sunday night that the 55 bus drivers who work local bus routes would strike, reported WCVB. Drivers in Westboro were also mulling a picket line as negotiations continued late into the night. Framingham narrowly avoided a strike with drivers, who will be on their usual routes on Monday.


A peek behind the iLottery curtain as Beacon Hill considers roll out

Other states offer a window into online lottery sales could look like in Massachusetts, reports Jennifer Smith for Commonwealth Magazine. Seven states currently allow an online lottery and it appears there isn’t too much variation in their offerings. As Beacon Hill mulls Massachusetts’ iLottery debut, Attorney General Maura Healey has warned of a need for “safeguards.

Commonwealth Magazine | The Boston Herald

End of the line: Lawmaker wants to take commuter rail off MBTA plate

The state’s commuter rail services should be under the purview of the Department of Transportation, a move one state lawmaker says would allow the troubled MBTA to focus on subway and bus service, reports Chris Van Buskirk for The Boston Herald. Rep. William Straus, a Bristol County Democrat, said it is “fanciful to think” that high-level decisions for the commuter rail are being made by top brass at the T.

The Boston Herald

Campbell joins other AGs in support of abortion pills

A group of Democratic attorneys general urging an appeals court to reverse a Texas federal judge’s decision to suspend the two-decades-old approval of an abortion pill now has the backing of Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Campbell, reports Christian Wade for The Eagle Tribune. An amicus brief defending the FDA approval of mifepristone argues “decades” of proof showing the drug is “safe and effective.”

The Eagle Tribune

A Black 9-year-old student was handcuffed in a Walpole classroom, lawyer says race a factor

A lawyer for the family of a Black 9-year-old student with special needs who was handcuffed by Walpole police while he was having a mental health crisis in his third-grade classroom, alleges race was a factor in the incident.

The Boston group Lawyers for Civil Rights said the school went against its own policy and the boy’s individualized education plan when, instead of helping the child, staff called a school resource officer. Policies placing police officers in schools have come into question in recent years as Massachusetts and the nation rethink the role of police.


Judge tosses $75 million suit after wheels fell off Hood Park deal with luggage company

Owners of Hood Park have only themselves to blame for the way a robotic-luggage company pulled out of a seven-year lease, a judge ruled last week, tossing their $75-million lawsuit, reported Universal Hub. Suffolk Superior Court Judge Kenneth Salinger in his ruling agreed with luggage company Piaggio Fast Forward that the would-be landlords essentially canceled a lease agreement by stalling on a verbal agreement to change one key condition in the proposed lease.

Universal Hub

Delta bounces unruly passenger by way of Boston

A Delta Air Lines flight between Detroit and Amsterdam was diverted to Boston due to an unruly passenger on board, the airline says. Delta Flight 134 diverted to Boston Logan International Airport just before 9 p.m. Friday where the plane was met by law enforcement and the passenger taken off the flight, the Washington Post reported. 

Delta did not describe the disruption caused by the passenger, but said such a diversion is standard procedure in similar circumstances.

Washington Post

AG: Time to ‘do away’ with electric supplier market costing customers millions 

Attorney General Andrea Campbell said it’s time to “do-away” with the electric supply market on the heels of a report released this week that found third-party energy suppliers cost residents hundreds more a year, reported Alison Kuznitz for State House News Service. Suppliers falsely purport to offer cheaper rates but legislation filed by Rep. Frank Moran and Sen. Brendan Crighton (H 3196 / S 2106) would crack down on the market that the report found has forced people to pay $525 million more on their electric bills over six years.

State House News Service

‘Pretty violent night’: 4 shot, 2 dead in Boston 

Boston’s police commissioner decried a “pretty violent night” for the city. Four people were shot, two fatally in at least three shootings on Sunday, reported Nick Stoico for The Boston Globe. The shootings are under investigation. No arrests were reported.

The Boston Globe

‘Swatted’: Watertown Twitch streamer targeted in online trend 

A police swat team recently descended on a Watertown home after getting a late-night call from a man who claimed he had just shot and killed his girlfriend, reported the Watertown News. But he hadn’t, and he wasn’t in Watertown. A woman in the house was in the middle of a live performance on Twitch at the time. The call was likely related to a growing trend known as “swatting” in the online gaming community where pranksters have made such allegations to tragic ends in attempts to unseat rivals. 

Watertown News | Universal Hub

Run like an antelope: Month-long escape ends for animal on the lam

Mary the one-horned antelope is headed home after her more than month-long escape from Lupa Zoo. The Eland antelope was captured on Sunday morning, according, Luis Fieldman reported for MassLive. The elusive antelope evaded capture after being spotted throughout Ludlow and Wilbraham.


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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.