They’re coming around the track… Sunday marked one month to go ’til the Nov. 15 deadline for lawmakers to conduct major business in 2023. (That’s when they gavel into a holiday break that stretches from pre-Thanksgiving to post-New Year’s.) What’s on deck?
The House plans to vote Wednesday on one of its leaders’ priorities: gun law reform. Then it’ll be the Senate’s turn with firearms, but Senate President Karen Spilka had a long-range forecast for a gun bill on WBUR-FM this month. She predicted it will “definitely” land on Gov. Maura Healey’s desk “before the session is over,” meaning before the end of next July.
There had been talk about moving a bill this year to reform oversight and management at long-term care facilities, another of House Speaker Ron Mariano’s priorities. The Elder Affairs Committee released just such a bill in June, but it’s sat since then in Health Care Financing, which hasn’t advanced a single bill this term.
What really needs to get done this fall is a mini-budget to close the books on last fiscal year, which ended nearly four months ago.
One sticking point in this year’s closeout budget seems to be the $250 million figure that Healey proposed pouring into the emergency shelter system. With the state now up to nearly 7,500 families in the system as of last Thursday, Mariano was on WCVB-TV’s “On The Record” over the weekend saying $250 million could be just a drop in the bucket. “It may not even get us to the end of this month,” he said.
The closeout is a catchall of loose ends, and this year, 82 collective bargaining agreements — that’s right, 82 — for various groups of government employees have been caught up in the slow-footed budgeting process. Some of those contracts have been in the mix since July, when the House and Senate dropped them from a supplemental spending bill. Healey’s closeout proposes a $247 million reserve to cover the agreements.
Among those affected are two bargaining units of SEIU Local 509, which plans to stage a “Rally for Raises & Respect” this Thursday on the State House steps. In an email to its members, who include human service workers, 509 President David Foley said a contract was ratified on May 10 — “but the legislature has still not authorized our raises.”
“As the cost of living increases and our caseloads grow, our raises should not continue to be put on hold,” he wrote.
Harvard may not be quite as rich following wobbly terror response
The mixed signals Harvard leaders sent after Hamas terrorists slaughtered Israelis and almost three dozen student groups quickly blamed the attacks on the Jewish state seems to be costing the university. Shipping magnate Itan Ofer and his wife, Batia, cited the administration’s handling of the situation in yanking their substantial financial support of the university’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. — Boston Globe
Harvard demonstration draws more than 1,000 to support Gaza residents, defend anti-Israel statement
More than 1,000 people, including Harvard students, demonstrated at the university Saturday to support Gaza residents and defend widely criticized comments from pro-Palestinian groups that pinned responsibility for the attacks solely on Israel. “We need to condemn and reject the anti-Palestinian racism, doxxing, and harassment Harvard students are facing,” one organizer reportedly told the paper. The reference to “doxing” likely was in response to a group’s hiring last week of a truck with electronic signs that drove around Harvard showing the faces and names of campus activists whose groups had signed the offending letter. — Harvard Crimson
Nastiest of immigration opposition hits governor at home
About two dozen activists rallying under the cry that New England is for New Englanders and everyone else should leave took their fight to Gov. Maura Healey’s home in Arlington on Saturday. According to media reports, state police showed up in droves and no arrests were made. Healey has complained about lack of federal assistance with a surge of immigrants but some critics have argued the state should be less welcoming and should overturn its so-called right-to-shelter law. — WBZ
Speaker Mariano sees no end in sight to migrant crisis
House Speaker Ron Mariano was succinct in expressing his concern about the state’s migrant crisis in an appearance on WCVB-TV’s “On the Record” yesterday. “We have people coming in daily, different times of the day, from different regions, entering our state from different locations,” the Quincy Democrat said. “We’re trying to get them all organized and we have no idea how many we’re going to get, when they’re coming, and what they need to survive here.” The State House News Service’s Michael Norton has more from the interview. — State House News Service
Report: Cannabis Commission isn’t losing its short-term concentration
Despite considerable hubbub around the clash between state Treasurer Deborah Goldberg and the Cannabis Control Commission chair she suspended, Shannon O’Brien, the organization continues to do its work, WGBH reported. The radio station interviewed Acting Chair Ava Callender Concepcion to discuss the commission and its mission amid the turmoil. — WGBH
Das convicted on 2018 campaign finance violations
Abhijit “Beej” Das, a North Andover Democrat who ran for Congress in 2018, will be sentenced in January after being convicted Friday of violating federal election financing rules by seeking personal loans from friends and associates in order to inflate his fundraising numbers during his bid for the state’s Third Congressional District. — MassLive
Methuen police says calls to motel housing migrants stretching resources
Police have been called to the former Days Inn in Methuen nearly 400 times since the state began housing migrant families there nearly a year ago and officials say the volume of calls is taxing their ability to respond. — Eagle-Tribune
Almost perfect? Group gives Mass. high grade for 2020 redistricting
Crushed it. Common Cause has awarded the Bay State an A- grade in its Community Redistricting Report Card, praising lawmakers for being transparent and inclusive–and avoiding partisan gerrymandering–in their redrawing of Congressional districts following the 2020 census. — Salem News
American Airlines adds Hyannis routes in long-awaited win for Cape Cod
American Airlines said Friday it will offer daily flights from New York and Washington to Cape Cod Gateway Airport, a major win for the Hyannis landing strip that took five years to land and could help reverse a long-term decline in passenger traffic. — Cape Cod Times
Beverly challenger claims foul play as past tax liens come to light
Beverly mayoral candidate Jamie Zarella has had 15 tax liens placed on his business and personal property since the 1990s—debts he cleared from the books shortly after launching his campaign to unseat Mayor Mike Cahill. Zarella accused the Cahill campaign of ‘planting’ the story, but offered no evidence to back up that claim. — Salem News
Boston’s new member of MBTA board is big on buses
Mary Skelton Roberts really, really likes buses, WGBH reports. Boston’s new representative on the MBTA Board of Directors is quoted as having said: “We cannot be economically competitive without thinking about how we are doing buses…I’m a huge advocate of bus rapid transit. We have seen it work successfully all over the world.” She also is quoted as having said something that might send shudders through some state legislators and financial watchdogs: “”Rather than thinking about what it’s going to cost, is what is it going to save us in terms of climate, in terms of moving people around?” —WGBH