... Mass. opioid deaths hit new high in 2016 ...... Baker files $200 million Chapter 90 road bill, says he wants it passed in 45 days ...... Legalization supporter Sen. Pat Jehlen of Somerville to co-chair Committee on Marijuana ...... "A lot of folks eyes are on that," DeLeo says, referring to new Committee on Marijuana ...... Sen. Lewis to co-chair Labor Committee that will weigh $15 an hour minimum wage, non-compete bills ...... Carbon pricing backer Sen. Michael Barrett of Lexington named co-chair of Energy Committee ...... Forry, Lovely promoted to leadership posts that carry big boost in stipends ...... Worcester Sen. Chandler named Redistricting Committee chair as 2020 Census approaches ...... Baker's school aid increase is smallest since 1993, Newburyport mayor says ...... Source: House budget will not include increase in broad-based taxes ...... Locals urge Baker to file $300 mil local road repair bill, Polito says admin committed to $200 mil ...... Lepore chief of staff Ianno: "We've held the line on taxes" ...... Local government efficiency-regionalization grant winners will be announced by end of February, Polito says ...... Hull signing marked 262nd Community Compact, Lt. Gov. Polito says ...... Worcester to see 75 affordable units under bond deal executed by MassDevelopment ...... On voter fraud charge, Baker says "I don't know much about what goes on in New Hampshire" ...... Baker says he does not support same-day voter registration ...... Early voting was a "huge success," Baker says ...... ...
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House:
ADJOURNED 'til Tuesday at 11 a.m.
Senate:
ADJOURNED 'til Tuesday at 11 a.m.

LATEST ADVANCES - WEEK OF FEB. 19, 2017

It's an open secret that the Legislature keeps its workload light during school vacation week each February. That tendency holds true again this year. Newly assigned to leadership and committee posts, which this year come with freshly-minted pay bumps, lawmakers six weeks into the 2017-2018 session can finally go about the business of settling into permanent offices and starting to hear the more than 5,700 bills awaiting their attention. Read More

WEEKLY ROUNDUP - A FINE-TUNED MACHINE?

If March college basketball is one of the biggest drains on workplace productivity of the year, then Beacon Hill bracketology has the opposite effect. Read More

Sen. Patricia Jehlen and Rep. Mark Cusack were cho

Sen. Patricia Jehlen and Rep. Mark Cusack were chosen this week to lead the new Joint Committee on Marijuana Policy, which over the next few months will attempt to develop comprehensive legislation aimed at regulating the state's new legal marijuana industry. [Photo:SHNS]


BAKER SUPPORTS VETTING TO ANSWER "BIG QUESTION MARK" ABOUT RUSSIA

Gov. Charlie Baker is often loath to talk about controversies churning outside the state's borders, but on Thursday he waded into national and international waters, joining calls for investigation into the relationships between U.S. and Russian officials. Read More


FUELED BY FENTANYL, MASS. OPIOID DEATHS ROSE HIGHER IN 2016

The number of people dying from opioid overdoses in Massachusetts each year continues to climb, according to a new state report projecting an estimated increase of between 13 and 24 percent from 2015 to 2016. Read More


BAKER SEEKS $259 MIL TO REPLENISH UNDERFUNDED ACCOUNTS

Gov. Charlie Baker warned lawmakers last summer that they shouldn't override his budget vetoes because their annual budget failed to adequately fund some major spending needs. Lawmakers went ahead and speedily reversed $231 million in spending vetoes. And on Friday, Baker went back to the General Court with a bill outlining the damage associated with underfunded accounts: about $259 million. Read More


WILSON APPOINTED DIRECTOR OF STATE ETHICS COMMISSION

The State Ethics Commission has chosen its acting director, David Wilson, as permanent executive director. Read More


BAKER FUNDRAISING IN FLORIDA THIS WEEKEND

Gov. Charlie Baker will spend the weekend in Florida where the Republican plans to attend two fundraisers for his political campaign, according to a senior political adviser. Baker has not been known to do much fundraising out of state, and has over $4.7 million in his state campaign account as he prepares for what is widely expected to be a re-election effort in 2018. Read More


Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017

SENATORS EAGER TO ADVANCE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM CHANGES

State senators on Thursday laid out a multifaceted criminal justice reform agenda, pitching legislation that would eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenders, limit the use of cash bail and give police officers discretion to issue civil citations instead of criminal charges for certain misdemeanors. Read More

Sen. Ken Donnelly on Thursday highlighted bail ref

Sen. Ken Donnelly on Thursday highlighted bail reform as part of a criminal justice reform legislative agenda the Senate plans to undertake this session.[Photo: Antonio Caban/SHNS] | Hi-Res


NEW SENATE CHAIRS OFFER OUTLOOK ON POLICY ISSUES

Bringing in new revenues, spreading economic development through all corners of the state, and maintaining a dialogue with the business community are among the priorities new Senate committee chairs say they'll focus on this session. Senate President Stanley Rosenberg doled out his assignments Wednesday, shifting some lawmakers into different roles and staffing new committees that will deal with marijuana policy and export development. Read More


DEMOCRATS COMPLETE LEADERSHIP, COMMITTEE ASSIGNMENTS

Senate President Stanley Rosenberg on Wednesday assigned members to leadership and committee posts for the 2017-2018 session. On Thursday, House Speaker Robert DeLeo completed the majority party's assignment by doling out his appointments. Read More


BRAINTREE REP. CUSACK TO CO-CHAIR POT PANEL

[Coverage Developing] Brighton Rep. Michael Moran will fill an open spot on House Speaker Robert DeLeo's senior leadership team and Braintree Rep. Mark Cusack is DeLeo's pick to work on legislation altering the marijuana legalization ballot law. Read More


BAKER [File Photo: Antonio Caban/SHNS]

BAKER SEEKING $200 MILLION IN CHAPTER 90 ROAD $$$

For the third year in a row, Gov. Charlie Baker will seek $200 million for the local road and bridge repair program known as Chapter 90, despite calls from local officials for the administration and the Legislature to increase the funding. Read More


MBTA IN SEARCH OF 'TURNAROUND' EXECUTIVE

Wanted: A turnaround CEO for the MBTA. Read More


VIDEO | DeLEO TAPS BRAINTREE'S CUSACK TO VET MARIJUANA PROPOSALS

House Speaker Robert DeLeo's pick to work on legislation altering the marijuana legalization ballot law is fourth-term Braintree Rep. Mark Cusack, pairing the House Democrat with Sen. Patricia Jehlen as the tandem that will lead one of the most controversial and time sensitive efforts of the new session. Read More


LAWMAKERS WILL WAIT 'TIL MARCH TO START BUDGET HEARINGS

Lawmakers plan a later than usual start to annual state budget hearings. Read More


VIDEO | A WEEK AFTER FIGHT, GOVERNOR'S COUNCIL DEVOLVES TO "NEW LOW"

If Governor's Councilors slung mud at one another during an unhinged meeting last week, then on Wednesday they hurled bricks, with many councilors taking aim at Watertown Democrat Marilyn Devaney. Read More


BAKER TAPS BRAKES ON NEW CELL PHONE RESTRICTIONS ON DRIVERS

While acknowledging that he is not up to speed on the laws restricting cell phone use by drivers, Gov. Charlie Baker indicated Thursday he favors allowing people to continue chatting on hand-held phones while behind the wheel. Read More


PROVIDERS DESCRIBE STRUGGLE TO SERVE HOMELESS INDIVIDUALS

Massachusetts has reached a "tipping point" in the fight against homelessness, where the homeless individuals seeking shelter more frequently come through the door with complex addiction or mental health issues, service providers said Thursday. Read More

The Coalition for Homeless Individuals, made up of

The Coalition for Homeless Individuals, made up of homeless individuals and organizations that provide services to the homeless, on Thursday called on the Legislature to fund the homeless individuals assistance line item at $50 million to help them tackle complex challenges like addiction and mental health. [Photo: Antonio Caban/SHNS] | Hi-Res


FISCAL ALLIANCE TO HOST ARIZONA SENATOR

U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake is due on Boston Monday, Feb. 27 as the guest of the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance. Read More


BAKER WANTS MBTA CONTROL BOARD EXTENDED, SEARCH STARTING FOR NEW GM

Wanted: A turnaround CEO for a fixer-up transit agency. At a business breakfast Thursday, Gov. Charlie Baker said Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack will undertake a search to find a long-term general manager of the MBTA, something the agency has lacked for years. Read More


THINK TANK SEES RISKS FOR $11 BIL IN FEDERAL REVENUES

About a quarter of the state's nearly $40 billion annual budget is paid for by the federal government, according to a new report, which warns that some of those revenues may be at risk under a Republican president and GOP-controlled Congress. Read More


Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017

ROSENBERG: SENATOR ASSIGNMENTS WERE TOUGHER THAN REDISTRICTING

Senate President Stanley Rosenberg will retain the core of his senior leadership team as he begins his second term as the top Democrat in the Senate, doling out leadership and committee assignments on Wednesday that featured the elevation of several women and new faces in key energy, economic development and labor posts. Read More


VIDEO | COOL ON SANCTUARY STATE, DeLEO EYES LIMIT ON INMATE LABOR

The border wall that served as a symbol for Donald Trump's tough immigration stance during his successful presidential campaign has become a focus of Democrats in the Massachusetts House seeking to push back against the new administration. Read More

DeLEO [Video: Antonio Caban/SHNS]

DeLEO [Video: Antonio Caban/SHNS] | Video


VHAY CONFIRMED FOR LAND COURT JUDGESHIP

A lawyer who cut his teeth on a major scandal revolving around the National Security Council will spend the next phase of his career digging into land use after the Governor's Council approved him for a spot on the Land Court. Read More


REPORT RAISES FLAG OVER LEAD IN SCHOOL DRINKING WATER

Calling for stronger laws and more testing, public health advocates released a report Wednesday raising serious concerns about the presence of lead in the drinking water at Massachusetts public schools. Read More


HOUSE COMMITTEES AND LEADERSHIP TO BE ANNOUNCED THURSDAY

House Democrats will learn Thursday what committee assignments and leadership posts the speaker has in mind for them. Read More


GAMBLERS HAVE WAGERED $3.16 BILLION AT PLAINRIDGE

The state's slots parlor generated more than $12.1 million in revenue last month, with $5.95 million of it going to local aid or a horse racing fund, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission announced Wednesday. Read More


SOURCE: BROAD-BASED TAX HIKES NOT PART OF HOUSE BUDGET PLANS

House Speaker Robert DeLeo does not plan to include any increases sales or income taxes in the House's version of Gov. Charlie Baker's $40.5 billion budget, according to a House source. Read More


SENATE COMMITTEE ASSIGNMENTS SET FOR WEDNESDAY CAUCUS

Senators will learn Wednesday afternoon how the Senate president plans to deploy them for the remainder of 2017 and through 2018. Read More


TOP ETHICS WATCHDOG JOB ON DECK FOR THURSDAY

A state purchasing lawyer and a longtime ethics enforcer are both up for the top job at the State Ethics Commission, which is scheduled to take up the hiring decision on Thursday. Read More


BIZ GROUP BRIEFS SENATE DURING OPEN CAUCUS

As senators munched on slices of pizza in a room off the Senate Chamber, the Senate and a business advocacy group set out Wednesday to restart their relationship in the new legislative session. Read More


JEHLEN TAPPED FOR POT PANEL, LEWIS AND BARRETT GET KEY POSTS

A pro-legalization senator will lead the Senate's effort to make changes to the marijuana ballot law after Senate President Stanley tapped Somerville Sen. Patricia Jehlen to lead the new Committee on Marijuana Policy. Read More


CMS: LONG-TERM HEALTH SPENDING TO OUTPACE ECONOMIC GROWTH

Massachusetts officials looking to rein in health care costs got some sobering news Wednesday. Read More


MASS. OFFICIALS REFLECT ON KENNEDY IN ERA OF DIVISIVE POLITICS

An early celebration of John F. Kennedy's birthday on Wednesday offered top Beacon Hill officials a venue to criticize national politics and the federal government as they contrasted the Kennedy White House with the current administration. Without mentioning President Donald Trump by name, speakers alluded to his immigration policy and called on Massachusetts lawmakers to defend the values of freedom and democracy. Read More

House Speaker Robert DeLeo (left), Gov. Charlie Ba

House Speaker Robert DeLeo (left), Gov. Charlie Baker (center) and Senate President Stanley Rosenberg (right) on Wednesday listened to a recording of President John F. Kennedy's 1961 address to the Massachusetts Legislature at a ceremony honoring Kennedy's 100th birthday. [Photo: Antonio Caban/SHNS] | Hi-Res


EX-TEACHER AND FORMER BULGER AIDE UP FOR JUDGESHIPS

A former special education teacher who became a lawyer 17 years ago could become a juvenile court judge, and a former aide to William Bulger could become an adjudicator of workers compensation cases. Read More


LIFE SCIENCES INVESTMENTS PLANNED IN GLOUCESTER

A life science capital project in Gloucester is poised to receive funding from the state, and a visit from Gov. Charlie Baker. Read More


NEW CENTER FOCUSED ON LEARNING AMONG THE YOUNGEST

Seeking to broaden access to behavioral and emotional health services for infants, the Home for Little Wanderers has launched the Center for Early Childhood. Read More

Rep. Kimberly Ferguson spoke Wednesday morning at

Rep. Kimberly Ferguson spoke Wednesday morning at an event organized by the Center for Early Childhood at The Home for Little Wanderers in the Senate Reading room. [Photo: Antonio Caban/SHNS]


Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017

PANEL LEANING TOWARD REGULATION OF HEALTH CARE PRICES

Officials examining variations in prices charged by medical providers on Tuesday floated the idea of setting a minimum rate for hospitals at the bottom end of the price spectrum. The potential policy fix surfaced at a meeting of a 23-member commission that has until March 15 to release its report and recommendations.The panel is mulling over ideas as overall health costs consistently outpace economic growth rates. Read More

Lora Pellegrini, president and CEO of Massachusett

Lora Pellegrini, president and CEO of Massachusetts Association of Health Plans and member of a commission tasked with studying health care price variations, questioned a recommendation to give the Division of Insurance more authority over denying provider contracts at a meeting Tuesday. [Photo: Antonio Caban/SHNS] | Hi-Res


COWAN JOINING GE LEGAL TEAM

General Electric has snagged a bold-faced name in Boston to help lead its legal team. Read More


BUSINESS ROUNDTABLE TO PRESENT TO SENATE

Officials from the Massachusetts Business Roundtable will deliver a presentation to the full Senate during a joint caucus on Wednesday. Read More


BOND DEAL UNDERWRITES AFFORDABLE HOUSING EFFORTS IN WORCESTER

Eighty multi-family residential units at 13 properties in Worcester will be purchased and renovated with tax-exempt bonds announced Tuesday by a state agency. Read More


HOUSE, SENATE PLAN EARLY COMMEMORATION OF KENNEDY'S 100TH

House and Senate members will gather Wednesday for a joint session to commemorate the 100th birthday of John F. Kennedy, who was born in Brookline on May 29, 1917. Read More


LAW FIRM LAUNCHES MARIJUANA BLOG

As Massachusetts lawmakers prepare to dig in on marijuana policy, a Boston law firm has launched a blog that will delve into legal developments, municipal issues, regulatory and policy changes, corporate considerations and the expected appointment of members to the Cannabis Control Commission. Read More


SURVEY: IMMIGRANTS MAKING BIG CONTRIBUTIONS TO MASS. ECONOMY

Immigrants are receiving lots of support from elected officials in Massachusetts in the face of executive orders from President Donald Trump targeting refugees and undocumented individuals. A new survey reaffirms one of the reasons why. Read More


QUESTIONS REMAIN ABOUT COVERING COSTS OF JUDICIAL PAY RAISES

Whether the judicial branch can fund the salary increases awarded by lawmakers last week appears to be a somewhat open question. Read More


BAKER ENVIRONMENTAL FUNDING PLEDGE MAY RIDE ON HIS LAST BUDGET

Decrying budget cuts and staff reductions at environmental agencies, the Environmental League of Massachusetts on Tuesday renewed its call for greater environmental funding in order to maintain public health initiatives, outdoor recreation, wetland and river restoration, land preservation, and the state's tourism industry. Read More


VIDEO | MAYOR KNOCKS BAKER SCHOOL AID HIKE AS LOWEST SINCE 1993

Disappointed by Gov. Charlie Baker's latest recommendation for state aid to local schools, city and town officials impressed upon Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito on Tuesday that communities will continue to struggle with the level of funding supported by the administration for next year. Read More

Newburyport Mayor Donna Holaday (center) encourage

Newburyport Mayor Donna Holaday (center) encouraged the Baker administration to revisit funding formulas for Chapter 70 education aid after expressing concern over budget recommendations for the upcoming fiscal year at Tuesday's meeting of the Local Government Advisory Commission.[Photo: Antonio Caban/SHNS] | Video


SENATOR EXPECTS LEADERSHIP, CHAIRMANSHIP ANNOUNCEMENTS

There's no official word from Senate President Stanley Rosenberg but at least one of his colleagues is expecting the Amherst Democrat this week to dole out leadership and committee chairmanships, which this year come with fattened stipends. Read More


AIDES BRIEFED ON LEGAL AID SERVICES, OPTIONS

Legislative aides who often act as traffic cops directing constituents to programs and services around the state got a crash course Tuesday in how to help constituents who qualify for civil legal aid. Read More


SENATE ADDS ONE MORE LEADERSHIP POST, WITH A $35,000 STIPEND

One additional state senator will be able to take home an extra $35,000 in pay after the Senate on Monday voted during a lightly attended informal session to expand its already saturated leadership ranks. Read More

Senate Chamber [File Photo: Antonio Caban/SHNS]

Senate Chamber [File Photo: Antonio Caban/SHNS]


Read more in the Monthly Digest


 
 
State House News Service