9:30 a.m. | Grab a cup of coffee with Boston Mayor Michelle Wu at the West Roxbury Coffee Hour. | Billings Field, 369 Lagrange Street, West Roxbury
10 a.m. | Mass Speaks coalition holds a legislative briefing on bills from Reps. Adrian Madaro and Carlos González and Sen. Sal DiDomenico (H 3084 / S 1990) that seek to ensure state agencies provide linguistically diverse services and materials. | Room 222
10:30 a.m. | Supporters of bills looking to cut down on the use of plastic take to the State House steps ahead of a 1 p.m. hearing before the Joint Committee on the Environment and Natural Resources. | State House steps
11 a.m. | Senate Democrats caucus the day before they are set to take up a roughly $590 million tax relief bill. | Senate President's Office
1 p.m. | The Criminal Justice Reform Caucus hosts a legislative briefing on bills related to CORI records and so-called "clean slate" record sealing. | House Members' Lounge
2:45 p.m. | Boston Mayor Michelle Wu promotes a Boston Housing Authority resident closing on a home through a city program. | Thumbprint Realty, 472a Washington Street, Dorchester
Activists are taking the controversial fight to legalize the “right to die” to Beacon Hill.
A group pushing for the legalization of medication-assisted death will lobby at the State House for the first time today. Legislative leaders have shown no support for the controversial proposal that has support from nearly three-quarters of Massachusetts voters, a Beacon Research poll revealed last month.
The End of Life Options MA Coalition — which includes members of American Atheists, the ACLU of Massachusetts, Death with Dignity, and Ron Haffman, the founder of Compassionate Cares ALS — convene at 11 a.m. at the State House in Nurses Hall.
A pair of bills filed by Reps. James O’Day and Edward Philips and Sen. Joanne Comerford would allow terminally ill adults with six months or less to live the option to be given life-ending medication and protect physicians who administer it.
A legislative change is needed if Massachusetts is to join the ranks of Oregon, Washington, Montana, Vermont, California, Colorado, Washington D.C., Hawaii, New Jersey, Maine, and New Mexico — where medical aid in dying is legal. The state’s high court last year ruled doctors prescribing a lethal dose of medication to mentally competent, dying patients are not protected by the state constitution.
Supporters of medically assisted death say the policy gives terminally ill patients dignity on their deathbeds by giving them options. The bill before the state Legislature attempts to protect against coercion by requiring two qualified clinicians, a mental health professional, and two independent witnesses to sign off on each case.
But even as support for such measures has spread among states — with laws now on the books in 11 jurisdictions — a bill has failed to gain traction on Beacon Hill even as public perception has shifted.
Voters narrowly rejected a ballot question in 2012 that would have allowed doctors to administer medicine to end the life of a willing, mentally capable adult diagnosed with a terminal illness and six months or less to live.
Democratic leaders have not mentioned the policy as a priority this session, but momentum could be building with a Democrat sitting in the corner office.
Gov. Maura Healey’s office has said she “supports legislative action to allow medical aid in dying, provided it includes sufficient safeguards for both patients and providers.”
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Abortion battle goes digital in Massachusetts with bill to ban sale of location data
Data privacy is the next battleground in the abortion fight and Massachusetts lawmakers are looking to lead once again.
States that ban abortion or gender-affirming care can purchase personal cellphone location data and use it to identify and potentially prosecute people who travel to the Bay State to terminate pregnancies.
Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts, said the onus is on the state to protect private data. And Massachusetts voters appear to agree.
A new ACLU/Beacon Research poll released today found 92 percent support passing a law to prohibit the sale of personal location data. By a 3-to-1 margin, voters also believe the state — not individuals — has a responsibility to protect the privacy of people’s location information.
A pair of bills filed by state Rep. Kate Lipper-Garabedian and state Sen. Cynthia Creem known as the “Location Shield Act” (H.357/S.148) aim to do just that.
“If people don’t feel safe to come here because their information can be tracked and they can be prosecuted, then it’s sort of just right on paper rather than in reality,” Lipper-Garabedian told MASSterList.
In the crosshairs: Cities and towns stuck in local-aid limbo
Massachusetts municipalities might have to wait weeks more to find out how much state aid they’ll receive in the next fiscal year as state lawmakers hash out next year’s spending — leaving big holes in budgets for cities and towns and potentially leaving local property tax adjustments in limbo. Part of the House-Senate conference committee negotiations is unrestricted general government aid. The Senate pitched $1.27 billion, Gov. Maura Healey proposed about $1.255 billion, and the House budget would allocate $1.25 billion.
Chinese company delivered ‘unacceptable,’ unfinished Orange Line cars
Problems persist with the Chinese contractor awarded an $870 billion contract by the state for the delivery of 152 new Orange Line cars and 252 Red Line cars, reports The Boston Herald’s Gayla Cawley. Emails from MBTA officials reveal CRRC submitted unfinished cars for final inspection and delivery in a condition described as “unacceptable” — the latest in a string of issues. Delivery of the Orange Line cars is more than a year behind schedule and there appears to be no end in sight to delays as manufacturing and other problems have plagued process.
Looking down the track: Lawmakers want to start process on future commuter rail contract with 3 years to go
Two state lawmakers are looking down the track and urging Gov. Maura Healey to get moving on the process of selecting the next operator of the state’s commuter rail system, reports Bruce Mohl for Commonwealth Magazine. The current contract with Keolis has another three years to run, but a Monday letter from the House and Senate chairs of the Legislature’s Transportation Committee said the next contract will require years of work as it will empower the next operator to deal with important transportation, climate change, and housing challenges.
Business leaders pressure Senate to expand tax relief ahead of debate
State Senators are slated to debate a $590 million tax relief proposal tomorrow and business leaders are asking for more. The bill includes a range of permanent tax cuts aimed at making the state more affordable, but skips over plans to slash the short-term capital gains tax from 12 percent to 5 percent as proposed by Gov. Maura Healey and approved by the House, reports Christian Wade for The Eagle Tribune. The legislation includes expanded tax credits for child care, affordable housing, renters and seniors and attempts an overhaul of the state’s “death tax.”
Mandated reporting guidelines could see shakeup
A pair of bills on Beacon Hill that are backed by doctors, the state-appointed child advocate, and others would end the longstanding mandate compelling medical professionals to automatically report a mother to DCF for suspected child neglect because a baby is born exposed to an “addictive drug,” reports Matt Stout for The Boston Globe. The goal of the shakeup is to make health care accessible amid a still-raging opioid crisis that had led pregnant women to shy away from care.
State’s new ‘Green Bank’ will focus on sustainable upgrades for affordable housing
In a step toward meeting the state’s 2050 greenhouse gas emission reduction commitments, Gov. Maura Healey announced a “green bank” fund that she hopes will attract private investment and federal money to pay for building retrofits and new construction of decarbonized buildings in Massachusetts, reports Colin A. Young for State House News Service. The Massachusetts Community Climate Bank starts out with $50 million from the Department of Environmental Protection and will be run out of MassHousing, making Massachusetts the first state to establish a green bank within its housing finance agency and to make affordable housing the focus of its strategy.
Back on display: State House photo exhibit highlights resilience of people with disabilities
A photography exhibit that highlights the resiliency of people with intellectual disabilities, developmental disabilities, and autism, is back on display at the State House after a four-year hiatus, reports James Foster for The Republican. “This is Me: Portraits of Pathlight” will be up for viewing on the fourth floor of the Massachusetts State House through June 16. Local photographers captured people with disabilities with the goal of showcasing each person’s individuality.
Boston school staffer assaulted by student while breaking up fight
A staff member at Dorchester’s Henderson Upper School was taken to the hospital after an alleged assault by a student. It reportedly happened when the staffer tried to break up a fight between students, reports Russ Reed for WCVB. In a message to the school community administrators said multiple students witnessed another student physically assault a staff member Tuesday morning.
Most Haverhill pot shops withholding impact fees
Three of the four recreational cannabis dispensaries in Haverhill are behind on local impact fee payments required by their host community agreements–and the only shop that is up to date is the one awaiting the outcome of a suit against the city claiming the fees are unnecessary. The Eagle-Tribune’s Mike LaBella reports the shop owners say they are waiting for new guidance from the Cannabis Control Commission before turning over fees due in 2022.
Former Worcester superintendent will lead Easthampton schools amid turmoil
The Easthampton School Committee has tapped former Worcester superintendent Maureen Binienda to lead the district on a temporary basis as it looks to recover from recent controversies. The committee unanimously agreed to hire Binienda on a temporary basis as it continues the search for a permanent leader, a process that went off the rails when a candidate said his job offer was withdrawn because he used the word “ladies” in an email.
Pittsfield resident suing to force EPA to address noise pollution
Pittsfield resident and retired prosecutor Jeanne Kempthorne has joined with a Concord nonprofit to file a federal lawsuit seeking to force the Environmental Protection Agency to create noise control standards, a task the plaintiffs say is part of the agency’s original mission, Heather Bellow of the Berkshire Eagle reports.
Steamship Authority cuts scheduled runs because of staffing shortage
Staffing shortages have forced the state’s Steamship Authority to cancel some scheduled ferry trips to and from Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket and the agency says it may have to continue to do so as the summer season heats up. The Cape Cod Times’ Denise Coffey reports the agency is warning service could be crimped for as long as three more months as a new team of deck officers completes training and certification.
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