... Drivers see average savins of $530 on gas over first six months of 2015 ...... Rosenberg demands action after consultant report knocks DCF fair hearings process ...... After quiet start to session, lawmakers fail to produce on-time budget ...... Walsh plans Friday presser on Fourth of July safety issues ...... House passes bill changing Newton Board of Aldermen to Newton City Council ...... Assessment on biz workers' comp premiums lowers to 5.75 percent, from 5.8 percent ...
Latest Headlines:
House:
ADJOURNED 'til Monday at 11 a.m.
Senate:
ADJOURNED 'til Monday at 11 a.m.

LATEST ADVANCES - WEEK OF JULY 5, 2015

After their leaders outlined ambitious plans in January, Massachusetts lawmakers completed the first six months of the 2015-2016 session with one signature achievement - they passed a version of Gov. Charlie Baker's bill to balance the state budget they passed at this time a year ago. Read More

PLAINRIDGE REVENUES OFF TO FAST START

Plainridge Park Casino is expected to generate about $200 million in gross gaming revenues in its first full year of operation and got a running start toward that benchmark by hauling in $6.15 million during its first full week of operations. If Plainridge kept that pace, it would work out to about $320 million in annual gross gaming revenues. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission reported the revenues Wednesday, noting Plainridge pays a 49 percent tax on gross gaming revenues. That's more than $3 million in taxes on its first-week revenues. Read More


GUV FAVORS DWIRA ANTHEM RENDITION, BUT "NOTHING WRONG" WITH HENDRIX

The Star-Spangled Banner is a year-round ceremonial staple, but the national anthem of the United States of America is inescapable on the Fourth of July. Given that his schedule often places him in ceremonial situations, perhaps no person in Massachusetts hears the anthem more frequently than Gov. Charlie Baker. Read More


WEEKLY ROUNDUP - DEMOCRACY IN INACTION

The state budget is late. No, government will not be coming to a screeching halt. Republicans in the Legislature are not howling at Democrats for playing roulette with constituent services. And, yes, a deal is expected sooner rather than later. Read More


Thursday, Jul. 2, 2015

Gov. Baker talks to the News Service about ongoing budget negotiations and park readiness. [Photo: Antonio Caban/SHNS]

VIDEO | BAKER FEELING "VERY POSITIVE" ABOUT BUDGET ACCORD NEXT WEEK

As the Fourth of July holiday lured lawmakers away from Beacon Hill with a state budget still unresolved, Gov. Charlie Baker said Thursday he's feeling "very positive" about seeing a deal reached next week and House Speaker Robert DeLeo said constituents are getting the democracy they deserve. The House and Senate adjourned Thursday until Monday and action on the budget, if an agreement is reached, is not expected until next Wednesday at the earliest. Read More


EXPERTS: MASS. ECONOMY EXPANDING AT BEST RATE SINCE LATE 1990s

Massachusetts is experiencing its strongest economic expansion since the late 1990s, but growth remains concentrated in the Greater Boston region and inadequate housing production is causing home prices to rise and exacerbating longstanding cost-of-living challenges, according to area economists. Read More


BAKER BUDGET TEAM CUTS HEARING SHORT, UPSETTING LAWMAKERS

Gov. Charlie Baker's budget chief butted heads with members of the House Bonding Committee on Thursday over the administration's capital borrowing plan before the hearing ended abruptly, leaving some lawmakers feeling slighted. Administration and Finance Secretary Kristen Lepore and Assistant Secretary for Capital Finance Jennifer Sullivan testified for an hour before the House panel before the pair had to leave for another meeting. Read More


Roderick Ireland

COURTHOUSE IN HIS NATIVE SPRINGFIELD MAY BE NAMED FOR IRELAND

Springfield native Roderick Ireland, the first African-American justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, would have a courthouse in that city named for him under legislation recently filed on Beacon Hill. Read More


FORMER SECRET SERVICE OFFICIAL NAMED MASS. HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISOR

A veteran U.S. Secret Service official who was assigned to the presidential protective division and the agency's headquarters was named this week as the Baker administration's undersecretary for homeland security. Patrick McMurray spent 25 years in the U.S. Secret Service before working for two years as managing director of executive protection at JP Morgan & Chase in New York. Recently, he was vice president at Caesar's Entertainment in Las Vegas where he also focused on security. Read More


TRUST NETS $9.75 MIL ON $15 MIL WINNING LOTTERY TICKET

A Hanover trust that claimed the third $15 million grand prize on a $30 Massachusetts Lottery instant ticket chose the cash option and will receive a one-time payment of $9.75 million, after taxes. Read More


VIDEO | POLS, PUBLIC READ DOUGLASS SPEECH ON BOSTON COMMON

Legislators, reenactors, and members of the public gathered on Boston Common Thursday to read a Fourth of July-themed Frederick Douglass speech in advance of the holiday weekend. Read More

Reading of Fourth of July-themed Fredrick Douglass

Reading of Fourth of July-themed Fredrick Douglass speech [Sam Doran/SHNS] | Video


VIDEO | HILL CLEARS OUT, DeLEO CLAIMS BUDGET "PROGRESSING"

While this year's state budget is late, Massachusetts lawmakers appear fully engrossed in affairs away from Beacon Hill as the Fourth of July weekend looms. Skeleton crews were on hand in the House and Senate Thursday morning for sessions that each lasted less than 10 minutes. Read More

Speaker Robert DeLeo told reporters Thursday after

Speaker Robert DeLeo told reporters Thursday afternoon that "things are progressing" with budget negotiations. [Photo: Sam Doran/SHNS] | Hi-Res


Wednesday, Jul. 1, 2015

TIMETABLE KEEPS BUDGET VOTE OFF HOUSE AGENDA 'TIL AT LEAST WEDNESDAY

If a deal is reached, the earliest that a budget accord will emerge for a vote in the Massachusetts House is next Wednesday, according to the latest timetable outlined by House leaders. Read More


ADS WILL URGE CAPE WIND'S DEFEAT "ONCE AND FOR ALL"

Opponents of the Cape Wind energy project are launching a radio ad campaign this summer that will tout setbacks for the project in recent months and call for the termination of a lease "to defeat the project once and for all." Read More


DRIVERS SEE GAS EXPENSES FALL BY AN AVERAGE OF $530

Americans over the first six months of 2015 saved about $65 billion on gas expenses, compared to the same period in 2014, according to a new report from AAA Northeast. AAA estimates the plunge in gas prices in recent months saved households about $530, on average. Read More


BAKER CHANGES TUNE ON TIMING OF OLYMPIC VOTE

Gov. Charlie Baker back in March articulated a clear preference and rationale for a November 2016 vote on an Olympics ballot question, but now says he does not have a firm opinion on when the vote should occur. Read More


NEWTON CITY COUNCIL BILL CLEARS HOUSE

The Massachusetts House on Wednesday passed legislation changing the name of the Newton Board of Aldermen to the gender-neutral Newton City Council. Read More


Labor Secretary Ron Walker

ASSESSMENT ON BIZ WORKERS' COMP PREMIUMS NUDGED DOWNWARD

Employers will pay about $600,000 less this year in workers' compensation assessments to the state after the Baker administration announced its plan to slightly lower the rate for the fiscal year that started Wednesday. Read More


HEALEY REPORT KNOCKS SEPARATE SYSTEMS FOR MEDICAL, BEHAVIORAL HEALTH CARE

At a time when policymakers are trying to break down barriers to behavioral health services, patients in Massachusetts must deal with separate systems for medical services and mental health and substance abuse treatment, according to a new report. Read More


LIBRARIAN REFLECTS ON CHANGES IN FINAL CHAPTER OF HER CAREER

After 32 years of public service, reference librarian Pam Schofield of the state library has come to The End. Schofield, who's taking the Baker administration's early-retirement incentives, may have helped more people, and seen more changes, than anyone else in the State House. Reflecting on her years at the library on her final day, she contrasted the week's major Supreme Court announcements to the way it was decades ago. Read More

Though she's managed 32 years of change, Pam Schof

Though she's managed 32 years of change, Pam Schofield still prefers the original technology. [Photo: Craig Sandler/SHNS] | Hi-Res


VIDEO | DISPUTED CLEAN WATER RULE CELEBRATED IN BOSTON

A day after nine attorneys general filed a lawsuit seeking to strike down "unlawful" new federal rules, the Obama administration's top regional environmental official joined activists on the Boston waterfront to celebrate regulations that they say will deliver needed protections to half the streams in Massachusetts. Read More

[Photo: Antonio Caban/SHNS]

[Photo: Antonio Caban/SHNS] | Hi-Res


SENATORS SEEK QUICK ACTION ON "DISCONCERTING" DCF REPORT

After an independent group called for reforms to the way the Department of Children and Families handles appeals, Senate President Stanley Rosenberg on Wednesday called the report "very disconcerting" and committed to working with the administration to resolve the highlighted issues. Read More


STATE BUDGET DEAL "CLOSE," HOUSE LEADER SAYS NO VOTE THIS WEEK

The new fiscal year dawned Wednesday morning without a new state budget in place and it appears an accord won't be ratified before the Fourth of July holiday weekend. Asked about the outlook for a budget agreement this week, Second Assistant Majority Leader Paul Donato of Medford told the News Service, "Probably not. They're still working." Read More


BRANCHES WAITING ON BUDGET ACCORD

The House and Senate are set at 11 a.m. to hold their first sessions of fiscal 2016, which is opening with talks over an annual budget hung up in conference committee. Branch leaders have indicated some progress in recent talks between House and Senate budget negotiators and there's some hope that an accord will be filed on Wednesday for potential consideration on Thursday, before the Fourth of July holiday weekend. It's possible that the branches will hold their sessions open Wednesday until legislative leaders have a clear read on whether a budget bill will be ready. Read More


Tuesday, Jun. 30, 2015

UNITED AGAINST DOMINICAN DEPORTATIONS, PROTESTERS DIVIDED ON BOYCOTT

Two prominent Haitian community leaders on Tuesday called on residents to consider boycotting travel to the Dominican Republican as they denounced what they described as a humanitarian crisis spurred by that island nation's new deportation policy targeting migrant people of Haitian descent. Read More

Former Rep. Marie St. Fleur joined Sen. Linda Dorc

Former Rep. Marie St. Fleur joined Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry on the State House steps Tuesday afternoon to call for a travel boycott to the Dominican Republic. [Photo: Sam Doran/SHNS] | Photo Gallery


NORTH SHORE MEDICAL SERVICES TO CHANGE UNDER RESTRUCTURING

Inpatient services at North Shore Medical Center's Union Hospital campus in Lynn will be consolidated at Salem Hospital over the next three years under a restructuring plan announced Tuesday by NSMC and Partners HealthCare. Read More


MASS. LOTTERY OFFICIALS HAVE PLAINRIDGE ON THEIR MIND

Treasurer Deborah Goldberg and the Massachusetts Lottery team she oversees appear to be taking the new casino industry pretty seriously. And for good reason. There are 200 Lottery agents located within a 15-minute drive of Plainridge Park Casino, which threw open its doors with great fanfare last week. The agents account for about $122.7 million in Lottery sales over a 52-week period, according to the agency, helping to boost statewide sales that eventually lead to cash aid to cities and towns. Read More


RECORD SALES HAVE MASS. LOTTERY ON TRACK TO HIT $935 MIL IN PROFITS

Treasurer Deb Goldberg earlier this year downgraded the state Lottery's profit estimate and as the fiscal year closes, the agency is on track to meet that revised target on the strength of record sales. Read More


STATE BUDGET VOTE THURSDAY AT THE EARLIEST

As budget negotiations continue on Beacon Hill, this much became clear on Tuesday morning: the first day of the fiscal year will pass without a finalized budget on Gov. Charlie Baker's desk. The House met briefly Tuesday morning, but adjourned until Wednesday when leaders have scheduled another informal session. The Senate also plans to meet informally on Wednesday. Read More


[Photo: UMass Lowell]

MEEHAN SET TO LAUNCH RUN AS UMASS PRESIDENT

University of Massachusetts President Martin Meehan will begin his new job Wednesday by hosting a public talk with UMass-Boston students and discussing his plans for the university system and issues facing those involved in higher education. Read More


OBAMACARE PROGRAM FORCING $$$ SHIFT AMONG MASS. INSURERS

Health insurers say new payments they face in connection with the Affordable Care Act could drive up premiums on individuals and small businesses and punish companies that are focusing on more efficient health care operations. Read More


BAKER NOMINATES KAFKER FOR APPEALS COURT CHIEF

Gov. Charlie Baker made his first judicial nomination on Tuesday afternoon, nominating a former colleague from the Weld administration to be elevated to chief justice of the Massachusetts Appeals Court. Associate Appeals Court Justice Scott Kafker, if confirmed by the eight-member Governor's Council, would succeed retiring Appeals Court Chief Justice Phillip Rapoza, whose last day on the bench is Tuesday. Read More


REPORT FAULTS DCF HEARING PROCESS, CASE BACKLOG

The ability of families to appeal decisions made by the Department of Children and Families related to everything from the termination of services to a confirmed case of neglect is hurt by a lack of timeliness and internal rules that "cannot lead to consistently fair outcomes," according to a new report. Read More


[Photo: Craig Sandler/SHNS]

EARLY RETIREMENT DAY

Longtime State House maintenance worker Gabriel Gonçalves holds his congratulatory Senate proclamation; he recieved a steady stream of well wishers in Nurses Hall and concluded 30 years of state service on Tuesday's de facto "Early Retirement Day," the final day of the fiscal year. Read More


VIDEO | MASS. WORKERS CELEBRATE NEW SICK TIME BENEFITS

After a successful fight at the polls and contentious negotiations period, new earned sick time regulations will go into effect in Massachusetts on Wednesday, extending benefits to more than a million workers across the Commonwealth. "From construction workers at the airport to people who just push wheelchairs to people who clean the airport, everyone needs paid sick time. Period. There's no questions," Johnathan Cornier of Jamaica Plain said during a celebration rally Tuesday morning at the Irish Famine Memorial. Read More

Jonathan Cornier, airport worker, speaks at earned

Jonathan Cornier, airport worker, speaks at earned sick time rally Tuesday [Photo: Antonio Caban/SHNS] | Video


Read more in the Monthly Digest


 
 
State House News Service