Happening today:

8:30 a.m. | MASSterList and State House News Service dig into possible solutions to health problems in the Massachusetts health care system with a legislative panel and keynote speaker Undersecretary for Health Dr. Kiame Mahaniah. | MCLE New England – 10 Winter Place, Boston (Downtown Crossing)

10 a.m. | Gov. Maura Healey attends the LEGO Discovery Center ribbon cutting. | 98 Assembly Row, Somerville

11:30 a.m. | Gov. Maura Healey speaks at the National Military Appreciation Month Reception with Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll, Secretary Jon Santiago and others. | Governor's Ceremonial Office

11:45 a.m. | Boston Mayor Michelle Wu and Boston Public Schools Superintendent Mary Skipper celebrate a new Boston Arts Academy building. | Boston Arts Academy, 174 Ipswich St., Boston

3 p.m. | Encore Boston Harbor workers rally with unions calling for a "5-Star Contract" for casino workers. | Outside Encore Boston Harbor, 1 Broadway, Everett

Budget watchdogs bent on shining a little light on a budget process that’s conducted largely out of public view on Beacon Hill are bringing Bay Staters a debate recap in real-time as the Senate digs in this week.

Senators added $29.1 million in spending on Tuesday as they began to wade through 1,049 proposed amendments after introducing a $55.8 billion spending bill on Monday, according to a breakdown by the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation.

“Like in the House, the focus of the first full day of Senate debate was local projects, with more than 200 earmarks adopted contributing to $29.1 million in total spending added,” MTF President Douglas Howgate said.

*Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation

But those votes — taken largely in lock-step — happened with little open discussion, as has become the norm on Beacon Hill. It’s a practice that has drawn frequent criticism from open government advocates. 

Hundreds of amendments were yea’d or nay’d in massive bundles passed via voice votes. Hidden among nixed local earmarks on Tuesday, the Senate quietly shot down a proposal to authorize an online lottery and an attempt to make payroll data public from the state’s quasi-public agencies.

Paul Craney of the right-leaning Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance has said it’s a practice that can’t even be called debate and leaves voters in the dark. He pointed to a bundled amendment passed with no discussion last month in the House that would dole out a 25 percent raise to governor’s councilors, upping their annual salaries from $36,025 to $45,025. 

Senators still have 542 amendments to consider as the process continues to unfold this week

The House added roughly $120 million in spending during debate before unanimously passing a $56.2 billion budget.

Already the two chambers have a major sticking point to hash out in conference committee — another closed-door process — the question of bringing state lottery sales online. House members unanimously passed the proposal last month as a core funding mechanism to help stabilize strapped early child-care providers. Senators rejected an amendment within the first hour of debate.

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Red flags: People are fleeing Massachusetts and report shows writing on the wall

More than 110,000 people left Massachusetts between April 2020 and July 2022, according to a new report that points to red flags including congestion, cost of living including housing, transportation reliability, workforce shortages, and talent outflow, reports Chris Van Buskirk for The Boston Herald. The state recently posted its highest outmigration numbers in 30 years, according to the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation report.

The Boston Herald | State House News Service

State eyes student cell phone ban, urges districts to crack down 

State officials are encouraging districts to restrict or ban students’ cellphone use in schools, hinting a statewide mandate could come sometime in the future, reports Sam Drysdale for State House News Service. Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley said the department will “likely” create a matching grant program of up to $1 million for districts that pilot a cellphone restriction policy.

State House News Service | NBC Boston

Maura Healey makes Russia’s banned people list 

Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey is persona non grata in Russia. The country included the Democrat in its just-released list of 500 Americans who are no longer welcome to enter that country, reports The Boston Globe. She’s among several other New Englanders now banned.

The Boston Globe

Shark attacks grab headlines, but experts say beachgoers shouldn’t be too worried

Sensational stories of shark attacks have left some beachgoers scared to brave ocean waters, but scientists and researchers who study sharks say it’s safe to swim, reports Patrick Whittle for WBUR. Typically there are around 70 to 80 unprovoked shark bites annually, worldwide. But not only are shark bites rare, but they’ve also been especially rare recently. There were only 57 unprovoked bites last year, and just five of those were fatal.


Native remains have expiration date on museum shelves 

Proposed changes to 30-year-old regulations requiring museums to return lost or stolen Native remains to their communities could speed up what critics say has been a slow process. Nancy Eve Cohen of NEPM reports that the remains of about 350 Native people, many who were dug up from their graves in New England, are still on museum shelves.


MassGOP’s new leader has big task at hand

A week into the job, the state Republican Party’s newly minted chairwoman was confronted with a six-figure bill related the gubernatorial election. That was on top of the hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt, four lawsuits and campaign finance probes she knew the party was facing. A two-reporter team at The Boston Globe report party Chairwoman Amy Carnevale has her work cut out for her as a probe from the Federal Elections Commission looms.

The Boston Globe

More Massachusetts kids rely on early special education supports, report finds

More kids under age 3 in Massachusetts receive early support services in comparison to other states, according to a new report about early childhood special education services from a national research institute. About 10 percent of kids in the Bay State from birth to age three received supports in the 2020-2021 school year, compared with the national average of 3%, according to a new study out Wednesday from the National Institute for Early Education Research.


Sober home operator indicted in massive fraud scheme

Two men behind a chain of Boston-area sober homes using the name “A Vision From God” have been arrested and indicted on 37 fraud-related charges. Daniel Cleggett, 37, of Kingston, and Nicholas Espinosa, 37, of Randolph, were arrested Tuesday morning, according to federal court records, in connection with an indictment charging them each with 21 counts of wire fraud, six counts of money laundering, two counts of wire fraud conspiracy, one count of mortgage fraud conspiracy, and one count of making false statements to a mortgage-lending business.

The Boston Globe

Rare opportunity: GOP seeks chance to gain ground in Gobi’s vacant senate seat 

The state Republican party is expressing optimism about picking up a fourth seat in the state senate thanks to the upcoming vacancy that will be created by Gov. Maura Healey’s decision to tap state Sen. Anne Gobi to become her rural affairs chief. The Herald’s Chris Van Buskirk lays out the reasons for the GOP’s hopes for grabbing the Hampshire and Worcester seat in an upcoming special election.

The Boston Herald

Sounding the alarm: Keating warns Cape residents will feel impact of debt default 

U.S. Rep. Bill Keating is warning that his district, which includes Cape Cod and the islands, will immediately experience dramatic fallout if the nation’s debt limit isn’t raised before a fast-approaching deadline. Keating notes that his district is demographically one of the oldest outside of the state of Florida and that seniors depending on monthly Social Security checks and those close to retirement with 401K savings will be the first to suffer.

The Cape Cod Times

Separately, Scott Stafford of the Berkshire Eagle explores what a national default could mean for Berkshire County and finds additional areas of concern, including skyrocketing interest rates that could exacerbate the existing housing crisis. 

The Berkshire Eagle

Nantucket voters raise their own taxes to fund affordable housing

Nantucket voters have narrowly approved a permanent tax override that will generate $6.5 million every year for the island’s Affordable Housing Trust. The intensely debated initiative passed by just over 100 votes and represents a win for housing advocates on the island, who have long pushed for a permanent funding source. 

Nantucket Current

Beverly mayoral race now has three candidates  

The owner of a local auto body shop is the latest to launch a campaign for Beverly mayor. Jamie Zarella, who has never sought public office before, says he was motivated to join incumbent Mayor Mike Cahill and challenger Philip Venezia in the race because of frustrations with the conditions of local roads and the state-ordered closure of a key bridge that officials have said could take a dozen years to fix. 

The Salem News

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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.