Senate President Karen Spilka and Ways and Means Chairman Michael Rodrigues.

Happening today:

9:45 a.m. | Senate President Karen Spilka addresses business leaders at a government affairs forum hosted by the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. | City Winery, 80 Beverly St., Boston

10 a.m. | Auditor Diana DiZoglio addresses he Small Town Administrators of Mass. | Cyprian Keyes Golf Club, 284 E Temple St., Boylston

11 a.m. | State senators tackle their $590 million tax relief proposal in a formal session. | Senate Chamber

11:30 a.m. | Indigenous leaders and allies rally in support of bills including a ban on indigenous mascots at public schools, replacing Columbus Day with "Indigenous Peoples Day" in state law. | State House steps

Noon | Gov. Maura Healey will make a major criminal justice announcement. | Room 157

5:30 p.m. | Gov. Maura Healey is the keynote speaker at the Boston Bar Association's Law Day celebration. | Symphony Hall, 301 Massachusetts Ave., Boston

Hours before Senate Democrats bring their scaled-back version of tax relief to the chamber floor, Senate President Karen Spilka will come face-to-face with some of the bill’s biggest critics.

The Ashland Democrat is slated to speak at a Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce forum this morning where she’ll take questions from business leaders upset over the Senate relief package’s snub of a proposed cut to the state’s short-term capital gains tax rate that was pitched earlier this year by Gov. Maura Healey and approved by the House. It would drop rates from 12 percent to 5 percent.

For a legislative body and leader with a reputation for secrecy, the address to business leaders could be the closest thing to public debate that happens on Thursday.

The House passed its own $1.1 billion version of tax relief unaltered, unanimously and with little public debate back in April. But regardless of what passes the Senate, business leaders said they have no intention of backing down on demands they say are necessary to preserve and expand Massachusetts’s competitiveness.

Greater Boston Chamber President and CEO Jim Rooney ticked off a laundry list of pro-business tax policies and rebates where he hopes to see movement — including the short-term capital gains cut. 

The tax relief debate heads to conference committee after the Senate holds its vote. A final compromise bill will be hashed out behind closed doors by a group of six House and Senate members and business leaders plan to lobby lawmakers til the bitter end.

Rooney told MASSterList he will “continue to advocate for tax relief that ensures that employers – the Commonwealth’s job creators – see the state as a viable place to start and grow their business.”

Jon Hurst of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts said there’s “still enough time for a give-and-take and horse-trading… The final say certainly isn’t (Thursday),” Hurst said.

Elizabeth Mahoney of the Massachusetts High Technology Council wants to ask Spilka what her plans are to improve competitiveness for state businesses. “We’re concerned,” Mahoney said.

new analysis by Pioneer Institute senior fellow Eileen McAnneny said the Senate relief plan “does less to improve competitiveness” than proposals from the House and Gov. Maura Healey. She lists the Senate’s proposed $2 million exemption to the estate tax as the plan’s only competitive policy.

But not everyone’s convinced the capital gains cut would be a boon to Bay State businesses. An analysis by the Massachusetts Budget & Policy Center found the highest-income 1 percent of households would receive an estimated 77 percent of short-term capital gains cuts – an average of over $7,000 apiece and serve to widen racial wealth gaps. 

The Healey administration estimates the annual revenue loss from its short-term capital gains tax proposal at $117 million.

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Senate to pick November special election date to fill Gobi’s former seat

Senators during today’s formal session are expected to set the date for a special election to fill an open seat in the Worcester and Hampshire District one day after MassGOP Chairwoman Amy Carnevale accused Senate President Karen Spilka of continuing to “drag her feet” on the issue.

A general election to fill the vacancy left by Anne Gobi, a Spencer Democrat who earlier this month resigned to go to work for the Healey administration is expected to take place on Nov, 7, with a primary on Oct, 10, a Spilka spokesperson told MASSterList.

State GOP leaders are hopeful they can flip the central Massachusetts district and add a fourth senator to the Republican ranks. And they’re not in the mood to wait.

“As the Senate considers votes on critical issues such as housing, taxes and education, it is unfair that voters in 22 municipalities are being denied representation,” Carnevale said.

Gobi’s appointment was announced May 22, but she didn’t resign until June 4.

Rep. Peter Durant, a Spencer Republican, announced his bid to run for Gobi’s seat last week. Rep. Jonathan Zlotnik, a Gardner Democrat, is also in the running alongside former campaign manager Rebekah Etique.

The rent is too damn high: Boston is 3rd most expensive city to rent, new report finds

Renters need an annual income of at least $86,000 a year to reasonably afford a modest two-bedroom apartment in Massachusetts — the nation’s third most expensive state in which to live, writes Andrew Brinker for The Boston Globe. The National Low Income Housing Coalition’s annual “Out of Reach” report, put new numbers on the reality that Massachusetts is unaffordable for many renters.

The Boston Globe

Former Speaker David Bartley, champion of special education law dies at 88

Almost a half-century has passed since David Bartley served as House Speaker but his legacy as a champion of education access and the architect of the law ensuring disabled children receive a fair and appropriate education endures. Bartley died Tuesday at the age of 88, reports Sam Doran for State House News. He was remembered this week as a progressive lawmaker who professionalized the staffing structure of the House. He also led Holyoke Community College for almost three decades and served as Gov. Edward King’s budget chief.

State House News Service | MassLive

Healey convenes advisory council ahead of SCOTUS decision on affirmative action

The Healey administration has convened a new advisory council to help guide on the Supreme Court’s pending decision on affirmative action. The council met for the first time Wednesday afternoon in a meeting wasn’t open to the public, though most of the 42 members of the Advisory Council for the Advancement of Representation in Education — including college and university leaders, civil rights lawyers and advocates, and students — attended, a spokesperson for Education Secretary Patrick Tutwiler told the State House News Service.

State House News Service

Harvard Medical morgue manager, 4 others charged with stealing, selling body from school

A manager at the Harvard Medical School morgue, his wife and three other people have been indicted in connection with the theft and sale of human body parts after law enforcement uncovered a five-year scheme where they allegedly stole dissected portions of cadavers that were donated to the school from 2018 to early 2023 for educational or research purposes, GBH reports. The morgue manager sometimes took the body parts — which included heads, brains, skin and bones — back to his home where he sent remains to buyers through the mail, authorities allege.


Little Shop of Horrors: Salem ‘creepy dolls’ shop owner charged in body part theft scheme

A woman charged in connection with a body part theft scheme is a Salem woman who owns a shop that sells “creepy dolls,.” reports WBZ. Katrina MacLean’s Peabody shop, Kat’s Creepy Creations, was raided in March alongside her Salem home. Prosecutors said MacLean illegally bought two partially dissected heads for $600 from the former morgue manager at Harvard Medical School and sold the body parts for profit. 


Starbucks workers at central Mass. stores cracking down on LGBTQ Pride decorations amid rising hate

Baristas at about a dozen central Massachusetts tell the Globe’s Katie Johnston store managers are limiting display of Pride symbols, telling employees they could decorate their stores for one day — provided a parade or another community celebration was taking place — and only if it was approved by the regional director, according to the union organizing the coffee chain’s workers. Starbucks said there has been no change to company policy and encourages decorating. The company said it is investigating isolated incidents to ensure all stores follow this guidance.

The Boston Globe

Charlie Baker outlines new roadmap for NCAA as new president

Former Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker led out the roadmap for his tenure at the NCAA, where he pledged to usher in an era of transparency while at the NACDA convention in Orlando. Baker plans to meet with all 97 conferences within his first 100 as association president. He’s already sat down with 80, reports Sports Business Journal.

Sports Business Journal

Baker also said he agrees with the IRS’s assessment that donations to non-profit NIL collectives are not tax deductible, while he also emphasized that stricter NIL rules could be on the way.


RMV preparing for flood of immigrants without legal status when license access goes live next month

The state Registry of Motor Vehicles could be inundated by as many as 1,700 new applicants daily starting July 1, when immigrants without legal status become eligible to apply for Massachusetts driver’s licenses. Registrar Colleen Ogilvie told NBC10 Boston’s Mary Markos is still working to expand customer service staffing and hours and ramp up testing sites with less than two weeks to go before the Work and Family Mobility Act — a law 20 years in the making — goes live.

NBC Boston | State House News Service

Neo-Nazi leader found not guilty in assault outside drag queen story hour, Boston judge finds

The leader of a neo-Nazi group who was arrested last summer after an altercation outside a drag queen story hour in Jamaica Plain has been ordered a not guilty verdict, reports The Boston Globe. Christopher Hood, 24, a leader of the National Socialist Club 131 (NSC-131), was charged with public fighting, an offense formally known as affray, after he was involved in an altercation with a counter-protester representing the LGBTQ+ community, who was also arrested.

The Boston Globe

Feds say car manufacturers need not comply with Massachusetts right-to repair law

A Massachusetts law requiring automobile manufacturers to boost access to telematic vehicle data “conflicts with and therefore is preempted” by federal law, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said. State House News Service reports the federal government’s highway division effectively told manufacturers not to comply with the Bay State’s telematic data law, which has been embroiled in a legal battle since voters enacted it via ballot question in 2020. 


Healey to recommend 7 pardons — granting clemency earlier than most govs

Gov. Maura Healey is expected to recommend pardons for seven people on Thursday, taking her first clemency actions less than six months after taking office — a faster timeline than past governors who typically waited til the tail-end of their terms, reports Matt Stout for The Boston Globe. The Cambridge Democrat is planning a midday news conference at the State House to detail her recommendations.

The Boston Globe

Boston CIty Council budget cuts $31 million from police budget

The Boston City Council narrowly passed a $4.2 billion operating budget that cuts roughly $31 million from the police department, Gayla Cawley reports for The Boston Herald. The spending plan was approved Wednesday in a 7-5 vote now heads to the mayor’s desk.

The Boston Herald

Taunton mayor says daughter missing amid mental health struggles 

Taunton Mayor Shauna O’Connell said her 18-year-old daughter Riley is missing after leaving an Ohio facility where she was being treated for mental health issues. O’Connell, who asked for space to deal with the issue with her family, also postponed an event planned to mark the launch of her re-election campaign. 

Taunton Gazette

Dressed down: Union pushes back on dress code for Attleboro workers 

The union representing city workers in Attleboro has launched a formal grievance process against a new dress code put in place by Mayor Cathleen DeSimone that prohibits shorts among other changes, the Sun-Chronicle’s George Rhodes reports. One male worker–and former mayoral candidate–apparently wore a dress to work to protest the ban on short pants. 

The Sun Chronicle

Overdose prevention site is eyed for Cambridge, and Central Square could be best home – or worst

The Cambridge City Council is on the search for potential locations for an overdose protection site as the city joins neighboring Somerville and other communities looking to open spaces where intravenous drugs can be used under supervision. Cambridge Day’s Matt Rocha has the details.

Cambridge Day

Ludlow school board takes no action on proposed book policy 

The Ludlow School Committee has taken no action on a proposed policy that would have given the board final say over what books appear in the district’s school libraries, choosing instead to leave the decision to the superintendent. As MassLive’s Luis Feldman reports, the failure to pass the policy means the issue is likely settled until after the next local election.


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Erin Tiernan was a Editor and Author of MASSterList