Massachusetts State House

Happening today:

5:30 a.m. | Boston Mayor Michelle Wu and BPS Superintendent Mary Skipper greet bus drivers to mark the first day back to school. | Readville Bus Yard, 75 Industrial Drive, Hyde Park

12:30 p.m. | Gov. Maura Healey announces the first round of Mass. Farm Resiliency Fund checks to be distributed to farms impacted by flooding this summer. | Hollis Hills Farm, 340 Marshall Road, Fitchburg

1 p.m. | Joint Committee on the Judiciary holds a hybrid public hearing on bills related to civil actions including one that would authorize so-called assisted outpatient treatment. | 10 Park Plaza, 2nd floor board room, Boston

3 p.m. | House members attend a closed-door briefing with Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll and other Executive Branch officials about the state's Emergency Assistance shelter program. | House Members' Lounge

Some Bay State communities are starting to pull back the welcome mat for homeless families after a surge in need for emergency shelter space has left resources — and local patience — spread thin amid an ongoing rise in demand. 

With the number of families currently in need of emergency shelter still growing and overwhelming community resources, a simmering debate over the state’s 40-year-old right-to-shelter mandate has taken on a distinctly partisan edge. The number of families seeking emergency shelter has spiked more than 80 percent over last year, largely driven by an influx of migrants awaiting asylum hearings. More than 70 Bay State cities and towns have found themselves unwitting — and underprepared — hosts of a growing number of families that continue to strap state and local resources and eat up millions in taxpayer dollars.

Officials in Yarmouth yesterday were the latest to push back on state plans to house up to 100 migrant families at a town motel when they announced a “temporary” pause on a state plan. The pause comes after motel employees and locals protested the program they claimed gives migrant families priority for housing over Massachusetts and U.S. residents.

Similar pushback has popped up from Sutton — where the town manager criticized the state’s late notice to accommodate 100 people from migrant families, to Bourne — where a crowd of residents swarmed a local meeting with concerns over strain on the town’s budget and schools, to Saugus where officials worry about the surge of school-age children and the safety of families.

State lawmakers say it’s part of a growing domino effect of communities pushing back on the state’s use of their resources to house migrants. Local advocacy agencies have been spread so thin that Gov. Maura Healey has activated 250 National Guard troops to help staff shelter spaces. 

Spencer Rep. Peter Durant, a Republican who is running for a vacant state Senate seat, has targeted the state’s right-to-shelter law in legislation he filed that would restrict shelter help and resources to legal U.S. citizens.

“Once illegal immigrants know that our state will no longer be taking over hotels to house and supplying them with EBT cards, they will no longer make Massachusetts their destination of choice,” Durant said in a statement.

Over the weekend, Senate President Karen Spilka, a Democrat, said on WCVB that right-to-shelter isn’t Massachusetts’ “biggest problem” when it comes to housing, focusing on production.

Today, the Healey administration will address local officials’ concerns in a closed-door meeting with House lawmakers and Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll, the administration confirmed.

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Senate President Spilka teases more relief to come for families this fall

Democratic lawmakers are in the midst of debating a $581 million tax relief package that centers on delivering more relief to strapped Bay State families in the form of an expanded child tax credit and other breaks. During a weekend appearance on WCVB, Senate President Karen Spilka promised even more relief to come on one of Massachusetts families’ largest expenses: child care. Yesterday, she doubled down on that promise on social media.

Big slate of ballot questions still on path to next year’s ballot, court challeges likely

Ballot questions on rent control, ranked-choice voting and other controversial policy proposals can advance on the path to making it on next year’s ballot, Attorney General Andrew Campbell decided yesterday. For the News Service, Colin A. Young reports 34 proposals (in some cases representing multiple proposed versions of a potential question) were certified, seven were not certified and one was withdrawn by its sponsor, according to Campbell’s office.

State House News Service | The Boston Herald

Massachusetts could lose out on federal funds if state doesn’t cough up $800 million more

The Bay State is at risk of losing out on an unprecedented pot of federal dollars if officials don’t find at least $800 million more in matching funds, reports the Globe’s Matt Stout. To compete for the federal cash to help finance its own wish list of infrastructure projects and other priorities, a new watchdog report warns the state will need to ante up more money. The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation estimates potential grant contributions could total at least $2.7 billion if Massachusetts wants to meet the requirements laid out by programs funded under a wave of pandemic-era federal laws.

The Boston Globe

Turns out many offshore wind contracts blowing jobs overseas

Offshore wind is here and under construction off of the Massachusetts coast, but trade groups are concerned too many jobs are going to overseas workers. The crew aboard a slate gray military-esque ship that can be seen patrolling the waters off of Cape Cod and the islands is looking to change that, reports Jennette Barnes for Cape and Islands NPR. The crew is looking for foreign vessels building or doing other work to support offshore wind farms. The ship, dubbed the Jones Act Enforcer, is funded by a trade group that says not enough offshore energy jobs are going to Americans.


Bay State’s first-ever environmental justice undersecretary engaging with communities 

The Healey administration’s Undersecretary María Belén Power is elevating environmental justice and equity across Massachusetts energy policy, public lands and environmental policy. Power is the first of her kind to serve the state, Carrie Healy reports for New England Public Media. 


Massachusetts sees jump in out-of-state patients seeking abortions since Supreme Court ruling

Abortion travel is a growing trend in Massachusetts, where lawmakers have worked to expand reproductive rights in the lead-up to and in the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs ruling that struck down national precedent ensuring the right to abortion across the nation, reports the Herald’s Rick Sobey. Brigham and Women’s Hospital researchers on Wednesday reported an estimated 37% increase in the number of out-of-state residents seeking abortion care in the Bay State.

The Boston Herald | Boston Business Journal

Governors including Maura Healey focus on ways to ‘Disagree better’ at annual meet

Gov. Maura Healey is planning to travel to her native New Hampshire where she’ll participate in a National Governors Association event meant to teach heads of state like herself how to disagree better in today’s hyperpartisan political world, reports the New Service’s Colin A. Young. The event — aptly — dubbed “Disagree Better” will “model a more positive and optimistic way of working through our problems,” according to the organization.

State House News Service

Michelle Wu pushes back on rumors of Harvard job offer

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu put the kibosh on speculation that she is considering leaving office for a job at Harvard University, reports the Herald’s Gayla Cawley. Wu yesterday told reporters that she has not talked to Harvard top brass about taking a job there, but wouldn’t totally stomp rumors that the elite college she once attended is wooing her. The Herald also gave credence to another rumor speculating the mayor is considering not finishing out her first term.

The Boston Herald

Boston mayor, superintendent go door-to-door to get chronically absent back in school

The school bell rings for the return of classes today with Boston Public Schools resuming for the fall session. But some families heard a bell a day earlier in the form of an unexpected knock on their door Wednesday from Boston Mayor Michelle Wu and School Superintendent Mary Skipper and over 50 volunteers who contacted residents in Roxbury to encourage kids to come to school this year, reports WBUR. The effort was part of an annual event to curb chronic absenteeism — defined as when students miss at least 18 days of school in an academic year. 


Upcoming preliminary to slice 20-candidate race in half in Springfield

Springfield’s preliminary election is almost here and candidates for the five at-large City Council seats face a big challenge: standing out, reports Western Mass Politics. Preliminaries to slim the at-large field down to 10 are not new. Yet, two Council retirements and a competitive mayoral race have yielded a historic 20 candidates for the Sept. 12 at-large preliminary.

Western Mass Politics

MFA investigating whether Turkish pieces on display came from looting

Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts is investigating how it came to possess two ancient bronze pieces in its collection in order to determine if they are part of a trove of stunning ancient Roman statuary looted from Turkey in the 1960s.The inquiry launched after GBH News inquired about the two pieces in the days after the Worcester Art Museum turned over a Roman bust — estimated to be worth $5 million — to be repatriated to Turkey.


Launched: New Northampton squad operating as alternative to police

Northampton’s Division of Community Care began its work this week, marking a major milestone for the city’s years-old efforts to develop alternative policing techniques. MassLive’s Juliet Schulman-Hall reports the city becomes the first in the state to have a team of civilians respond to non-emergency police calls.


Quincy appeals DEP approval of Long Island bridge plan

Quincy has formally appealed the Department of Environmental Protection’s approval of Boston’s plan to rebuild the bridge to Long Island, arguing more up front testing of the bridge’s foundations should be done and again urging the state to consider a ferry service instead.

The Patriot Ledger

Early call: Easthampton’s LaChapelle won’t seek reelection in 2025

Someone’s already one election ahead. Easthampton Mayor Nicole LaChapelle says she won’t seek re-election when her current term ends in 2025. LaChapelle, first elected in 2017, said she wants to make way for fresh leadership and ideas.

The Daily Hampshire Gazette

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Erin Tiernan was a Editor and Author of MASSterList