10 a.m. | Home Builders & Remodelers Association holds an in-person public legislative briefing and panel on research they commissioned which asserts that green building requirements. | Room 428
10 a.m. | House Speaker Ron Mariano's team convenes closed-door meeting with representatives to discuss a 140-page gun law reform bill crafted by Rep. Mike Day. | House Members' Lounge
10:30 a.m. | Gov. Maura Healey swears in new board members of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority. | Governor's Ceremonial Office
1 p.m. | Gov. Maura Healey Meets with the Massachusetts House Asian Caucus. | State House
Red-light cameras are closer to getting a green light in Massachusetts — on a trial basis at least — amid a dramatic rise in road deaths.
Beacon Hill has been hesitant to move forward on automated traffic enforcement in the past but as safe streets advocates reluctantly warm to the policy, state Sen. William Brownsberger said he’s hopeful his colleagues will take action.
Massachusetts saw a shocking 33 percent uptick in pedestrian deaths last year with at least 101 fatalities — a trend that was mirrored across much of the country, where federal data revealed a 40-year high nationwide.
When it comes to automated traffic enforcement, Stacy Thompson of Livable Streets says the state should “proceed with caution.”
Concerns over equity and punitive big-brother-style policing have derailed earlier attempts to allow the technology even as 24 other states and the District of Columbia have put the cameras to use to help enforce traffic laws. Connecticut became the latest to greenlight the policy. Five more allow for cameras but don’t actually use them. Remaining states ban traffic cameras altogether.
Brownsberger said his bill lays out a pilot program that attempts to mitigate harms uncovered in early programs by capping fines at $25, empowering cities and towns to have a say in where cameras are placed and requiring robust data collection that would advise a later statewide rollout, if needed.
“I think it’s been a good time for this technology for a long time,” he said, citing the deadly consequences of returning to roads after the pandemic has only made it more necessary.
MassDOT’s latest Strategic Highway Safety Plan puts speed management as the No. 1 critical concern to be tackled to curb fatalities and work to achieve the state’s vision of zero roadway deaths and recommends red light cameras as one potential solution.
Brownsberger said the purpose of red-light cameras is to send a message to drivers to slow down as the death toll ticks up. Speed is the biggest factor in determining health outcomes in pedestrian crashes with motor vehicles, he said. Infractions would be tied to license plates under his plan — similar to parking tickets — and wouldn’t impact drivers’ insurance, he said.
Thompson said Brownsberger’s bill “does a good job of balancing the reality that this is not a perfect technology” but she called on the state to do more to address a growing crisis on Massachusetts streets.
Thompson said the state is dragging its feet on identifying problem areas that could be targeted for road redesign to make them safer now — without any legislative action. But before that can happen, the state must publish an action plan. The last action plan, from 2018 is due for an update that appears likely to surpass the usual five-year cycle. A MassDOT spokeswoman told MASSterList to expect a revised report “within a year.”
It’s a timeline Thompson says is far too long.
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Keller @ Large
House Speaker Ronald Mariano has been caught off-guard one too many times in recent months, reports WBZ political analyst Jon Keller. It’s a position he says the Quincy Democrat needs to shake to make effective change.
Kennedys denounce RFK Jr. on ‘deplorable’ anti-semitic remarks
The latest Kennedy to launch a presidential campaign in Massachusetts no longer has his family name to stand on. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. drew strong criticism from several members of his own family on Monday for remarks he made suggesting COVID-19 was “ethnically targeted,” reports Tal Kopan for The Boston Globe. The pushback began over the weekend, when video surfaced of him claiming that the COVID virus is “ethnically targeted” to attack “certain races disproportionately” — namely, white and Black people — while “the people who are most immune are Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese.”
Top Dems at odds over big bills
Beacon Hill top Democrats are at odds as the summer recess approaches with big question marks still hovering over important pieces of legislation. Meanwhile, State House News Service reports Gov. Maura Healey, Senate President Karen Spilka and House Speaker Ron Mariano — have met in semi-regular “leadership meetings” just seven times since the new session started in January.
Tax cut bill needed to make Massachusetts competitive
Tax cuts are needed this year if lawmakers hope to keep the commonwealth competitive, Gov. Maura Healey said in Andover on Monday, reports Matthew Medsger of The Boston Herald. Healey pushed back on comments by House Speaker Ron Mariano over concern over the fate of a proposed cut to the short term capital gains tax rate.
Is Massachusetts’ largest office too big?
It’s a question some are proposing as the state’s child services office has come under fire. Under the purview of the state’s Executive Office of Health and Human Services, a Boston Globe report says it may be time for a shake-up.
Boston mayor vetos budget citing city, state law
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu vetoed the council budget on Monday, dismissing their change to her budget proposal as a “clear cut violation of the City Charter and state law,” reports the Boston Globe. In the one-page letter, Wu flatly rejected a council move to redirect about $585,000 from the city’s property management department to a pay bump for officers who provide security services at buildings such as City Hall.
Utilities agree to terminate power purchase agreement
The state ‘s largest utilities on Monday — including Avangrid — agreed to terminate a power purchase agreement they signed just last year, with the offshore wind developer agreeing to pay a total of $48 million, reports CommonWealth Magazine. The $48 million termination payment will be paid in three installments to the utilities.
Good news for those delayed by Sumner Tunnel closure
MassDOT is partnering with the MBTA and Boston Public Library to offer access to free digital newspapers, magazines, audiobooks, and e-books for the duration of the Sumner Tunnel closure. The free digital content will be offered at more than 50 subway, bus, ferry, and commuter rail locations with a goal of encouraging commuters to “take advantage of this free content to make the commute more enjoyable,” according to the mayor’s office.
Easthampton mayor won’t be recalled
Residents attempting to recall Easthampton Mayor Nicole LaChapelle for her role in the failed superintendent search this spring did not file their petition by last Thursday’s deadline, reports The Daily Hampshire Gazette, despite collecting over 400 signatures.
Citing Trump precedent, Teixeira seeks pre-trial release in docs case
Jack Teixeira, the Air National Guard member from Dighton who is accused of leaking military secrets online is asking a judge to reverse his earlier decision to keep the 21-year-old behind bars until his trial. Lawyers for Teixeira cited in part the recent decision of a judge in Florida to release former President Donald Trump on personal recognizance after his indictment and arraignment on similar charges.
In Hyannis visit, Warren says delegation scouring D.C. for Cape bridges $$
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren says she and other members of the Bay State’s federal delegation are pursuing two avenues for getting funding for the $4 billion plan to replace the Cape Cod Canal bridges and says the state has improved the quality of its pitch about the pressing need to replace the spans. Zane Razzaq of the Cape Cod Times has the details on the senator’s visit, which comes amid fresh chatter of a Democratic primary challenger stepping forward ahead of 2024.
Who needs Powerball? In Amherst, affordable housing is real lottery prize
More than 500 individuals and families entered an Amherst lottery to win the right to rent one of 28 sliding-scale affordable apartments in a new project slated to open this fall. The Daily Hampshire Gazette’s Scott Merzbach reports more than 400 of those who applied would qualify for the lowest-cost units and that more than half are currently considered unhoused.
No doubt this time: West Stockbridge revote has clear winner
No more drama. Voters in West Stockbridge re-elected Kathleen Keresey to the select board on Monday by a wide margin, ending weeks of uncertainty after the annual election and a subsequent recount ended in a tie. The Berkshire Eagle’s Heather Bellow reports Keresey landed 324 photos to 236 for challenger Jon Piasecki.
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