ADJOURNED 'til Monday at 11 a.m. (Informal)
ADJOURNED 'til Monday at 11 a.m. (Informal)

Baker Again Plans $200 Mil For Local Roads, Bridges

Gov. Charlie Baker again plans to propose $200 million in new local road and bridge repair funding.

Advances - Look At The Week Ahead

Gov. Charlie Baker in July signed a $47.6 billion annual state budget, put his name on a $4 billion COVID-19 relief bill in December, and on Wednesday launches the fiscal 2023 budget debate. It's the governor's final budget proposal and the first one he will issue under his new lame duck status. Baker on Tuesday night will deliver his last State of the State address, remarks that will also be consumed through the lens of the evolving race among candidates to succeed him. A new governor will be in place at this time next year, preparing their first budget and inheriting management of the spending bill Beacon Hill is about to assemble. Late Friday, House leaders signaled plans to circle back to voting law reforms that have expired, with a formal session set for Thursday to take up reform legislation (S 2554) that cleared the Senate 36-3 last October.

Mass. Jobless Rate Dips Under 4 Percent

The Massachusetts unemployment rate in December plunged beneath 4 percent and state officials on Friday said employers have added back 537,000 jobs since employment levels bottomed out in April 2020.

Undocumented Driver’s License Group Ramps Up Lobbying

Advocates for legislation that would enable undocumented immigrants in Massachusetts to access driver's licenses are turning to supporters from a variety of sectors to make their case as a bill-reporting deadline approaches.

Senate Session Summary - Thursday, Jan. 20

The Senate lauded its newest member on Thursday: Sen. Lydia Edwards of East Boston, who swore her oath of office in a well-attended ceremony in the Senate Chamber. Sens. Michael Brady and Walter Timilty also read a eulogy for former representative and senator Robert McCarthy of East Bridgewater, who died last Saturday. Before breaking for the weekend, the Senate enacted a liquor license bill for Westfield and an authorization for alternate members of the Tyngsborough Conservation Commission.

Change Coming at BCBS As Dreyfus Plans To Depart

Andrew Dreyfus will step down at the end of 2022 as president and CEO at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts.

CCC Chair Troubled By “Predatory Financing Deals”

The chairman of the Cannabis Control Commission raised concerns Thursday with what he said are "predatory financing deals" being offered to entrepreneurs and businesses from communities disproportionately harmed by the decades of marijuana prohibition and renewed the agency's call for the Legislature to make an alternate funding source available.

Suddenly Wide Open, AG’s Race May Draw Crowd

Attorney General Maura Healey's entrance Thursday into the gubernatorial field not only shakes up that race, but sets the stage for a wide-open contest to succeed her as the state's top law enforcement officer.

Small Biz Owners Fear Income Surtax Will Dent Nest Eggs

A handful of business owners from various sectors and from around Massachusetts came together Thursday to call attention to how the proposed surtax on income over $1 million would affect them and to push back against the notion of the proposal is something that would affect only the super-wealthy.

House Session Summary - Thursday, Jan. 20

The House capped off its work week by giving initial approval to legislation that would expand state law covering construction contracts to include language further defining payment protocols for police details assigned to public works projects.

FERC Chair: Problems, But No “Legal Basis” To Halt Weymouth Compressor

[Story Developing] A controversial natural gas facility in Weymouth will remain allowed to operate after federal regulators on Thursday declined to revoke its authorization, although one decision-maker voiced concerns about its environmental and public health impacts.

Mass General Brigham Backs Fee To Address Housing Crunch

Citing housing affordability hurdles that are compounding workforce challenges, one of the state's largest health care employers is getting behind a proposal to allow cities and towns in Massachusetts to put a new fee on housing transactions.

MBTA Plan Adjusts Reduced Fares, Transfer Costs

A pandemic-inspired MBTA commuter rail ticket option aimed at workers with hybrid schedules would become permanent under a new proposal that would also slash the price of a single-day unlimited bus and subway pass.

Uncaptioned image for story:Dean Campbell Not Seeking Reelection

Dean Campbell Not Seeking Reelection

After eight terms in the House, Rep. Linda Dean Campbell will not seek reelection this fall and instead plans to spend more time with her family, the Methuen Democrat announced Wednesday.

Sources: Healey Ready To Leap Into Guv’s Race

Attorney General Maura Healey, the state's top law enforcement official, is telling Democrats and allies that she has decided to run for governor, preparing to enter a 2022 field where she will instantly be the most well-known and well-financed candidate as she looks to regain the corner office for her party.

House Passes Bill To Address COVID Supply Struggle

All 159 members of the Massachusetts House voted Wednesday afternoon to pass a $55 million COVID-19 response bill, keeping it on track to clear the Senate and hit Gov. Charlie Baker's desk early next week.

House Session Summary - Wednesday, Jan. 19

The House on Wednesday approved a $55 million COVID-19 spending bill, with each of the body's now-159 members voting in favor. Former Majority Leader Claire Cronin, a Democrat from Easton, took her oath of office as U.S. ambassador to Ireland in the House chamber before the final vote on the bill. The new ambassador told her former colleagues that leaving the House was bittersweet, but that she did so with optimism and enthusiasm for the job ahead.

Rep. Robinson to Get Confirmation Hearing Feb. 3

Rep. Maria Robinson could be a step closer to leaving the Massachusetts House, now that a hearing has been scheduled on her nomination to join the Biden administration.

Education Justice Group Demands Comprehensive COVID Approach

An education advocacy group is calling on the state to provide and fund in-school COVID-19 vaccination clinics, masks for every school district that requests them, and a more coordinated school testing program, arguing the current pandemic approach leaves too much in the hands of individual schools and families.

Police Officer, Two Others Arrested In Insider Trading Case

Two men from Massachusetts, including a police officer, and a Rhode Island man were arrested Wednesday in connection with an alleged conspiracy to trade based on inside information.

Baker Will Again Seek $200 Mil For Roads, Bridges

Gov. Charlie Baker again plans to propose $200 million in new local road and bridge repair funding, a level that falls below what cities and towns have asserted is required to address needs. Municipal officials have consistently sought a $300 million annual allocation as well as a multi-year funding commitment, but have been unable to convince Baker or House and Senate Democrats to agree to their approach.

Attorney General Maura Healey talks with East Boston High School students in Maverick Square after announcing her gubernatorial campaign earlier Thursday. [Matt Murphy/SHNS]

Weekly Roundup - Musical Chairs

The names stretch out behind her, well-known in state political lore, like ghosts of elections past: Quinn, Harshbarger, Reilly, Coakley. They were all incumbent attorneys general who endeavored to become governor, only to fall short.

Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito told the Massachusetts Municipal Association's annual meeting that Gov. Charlie Baker in his fiscal 2023 budget bill will recommend increasing unrestricted local aid $31.5 million, or 2.7 percent over current levels. [Screenshot]

Polito Forecasts $31 Mil Increase In Unrestricted Aid

With state tax revenues continuing to blow past projections, municipal leaders said Friday they are disappointed in Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito's forecast that cities and towns would share a collective $31.5 million hike in the pot of unrestricted local aid they receive from Beacon Hill.

Federal regulators on Thursday declined to revoke authorization for operations at the Weymouth natural gas compressor station, pictured in a 2020 file photo, clearing the way for the controversial facility to continue its work to keep gas flowing northward to utilities in Maine and Canada. [Courtesy/Enbridge/File]

FERC Chair: Problems, But No “Legal Basis” To Halt Weymouth Compressor

A controversial natural gas facility in Weymouth can continue to operate after federal regulators on Thursday declined to revoke the project's authorization, dealing another blow to opponents who for years have fought against the pipeline linchpin.

Uncaptioned image for story:Rep. Ehrlich Departing For Regional FEMA Post

Rep. Ehrlich Departing For Regional FEMA Post

A day after a ceremony in the House Chamber to send former Rep. Claire Cronin off to her new job as U.S. ambassador to Ireland, another House Democrat announced Thursday that she too will join the Biden administration later this month.

Uncaptioned image for story:Former Foe Predicts Healey Will Break AG's Curse

Former Foe Predicts Healey Will Break AG’s Curse

Warren Tolman, the last Democrat to run against Attorney General Maura Healey, said Thursday that his one-time opponent "unequivocally" has his endorsement for governor.

Attorney General Maura Healey speaks to reporters in Maverick Square, East Boston on Thursday morning after announcing her candidacy for governor. [Matt Murphy/SHNS]

Healey Takes Record As AG Into Guv’s Race

A new chapter in the race for governor began Thursday with Attorney General Maura Healey launching her campaign under dark, wintry skies, entering a race in which she will instantly be considered the front-runner to succeed Gov. Charlie Baker and win back the corner office for Democrats.

Surrounded by top House Democrats and family members, former Rep. Claire Cronin swears her oath as U.S. ambassador to Ireland on the House rostrum on Wednesday afternoon. Attorney William Bonaccorso (left of Cronin) administers the oath. [Sam Doran/SHNS]

Bound for Dublin, Cronin Bids House Farewell

As she prepares to trade the Massachusetts House for the U.S. Embassy in Ireland, and suburban Easton for a grand mansion set on hundreds of acres in Dublin, former Rep. Claire Cronin took her oath of office inside the State House on Wednesday as the new U.S. ambassador to the Emerald Isle.

Testing Offensive Aims To Stabilize Early Education

Thousands of child care and early education centers will be able to tap into the state's supply of rapid COVID-19 antigen tests beginning at the end of January for use in a new test-and-stay program rolled out by Gov. Charlie Baker on Wednesday designed to allow classrooms to remain open.

Lottery: Mobile Prize Claim System a Win for Customers

Since it became widely available in September, players have used the Massachusetts Lottery app's mobile prize-claiming feature to collect more than $10 million in winnings remotely and the tool seems to be catching on.

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State House News Service