... Baker, legislative leaders agree to fiscal 2016 tax revenue estimate calling for 4.8 percent growth ...... Galvin issues Massachusetts crowdfunding exemption ...... Baker makes no commitment about local aid hikes during address to muni officials ...... Sean Cronin named senior deputy commissionr of local services ...... Golberg asks lawmakers to boost Lottery advertising budget ...... Lepore sees budget-balancing plan release early to middle of next week ...... Galvin sees retirement savings crisis on the horizon ...... Boston 2024 spills details on its summer Olympics bid ...... Spilka tapped by Rosenberg to lead Senate Ways and Means ...... Galvin working on final details of online voter registration ...
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House:
ADJOURNED Thursday 'til Monday at 11 a.m.
Senate:
ADJOURNED Thursday 'til Monday at 11 a.m.

ADVANCES - WEEK OF FEB. 1, 2015

January is passing on Beacon Hill without a whiff of solutions to a midyear budget deficit, with House members still awaiting committee assignments, and with plans from the Senate to hold open-ended hearings around the state with the goal of helping to formulate a public policy agenda. So much for hitting the ground running into the New England new year. Read More


PLAYOFF CRAB WINNINGS STILL EN ROUTE

With more foodstuffs on the line in the Super Bowl, the Baker administration is still awaiting delivery of their winnings from Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan for the New England Patriots victory over the Baltimore Ravens three weeks ago. Read More


WEEKLY ROUNDUP - SNOW MAS

The exercise of fiscal discipline delayed by a "big, powerful lady," Gov. Charlie Baker this week found himself knee deep in white rather than being able to deal with the red in the state budget he had hoped to tackle before February rolled around. While Baker and an army of state officials coped with Mother Nature and the first major storm on his watch, residents across the state hunkered down until blizzard Juno blew itself out of town. As the flakes were falling, Bob DeLeo was cozying up in the speaker's office, preparing for a longer stay than he anticipated, possibly. Read More


TWO COMPANIES SELECTED FOR OFFSHORE WIND LEASES

In a federal auction Thursday, two companies split a total of 354,409 acres off the coast of Massachusetts, which comprise the largest federal lease area for offshore wind energy. Two other plots farther southeast of Martha's Vineyard comprising 388,569 acres did not receive bids, according to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which will consult with the state about next steps for those areas. Read More


ATRIUS PART OF NATIONAL HEALTH CARE TASK FORCE

With 75 percent of its business already coming from "value-based" alternatives to the fee-for-service payment model, Atrius Health believes it has the experience to help guide policy recommendations as part of a new national group aimed at bettering health care. Read More


ROMNEY OPTS AGAINST THIRD RUN FOR PRESIDENT

Former Gov. Mitt Romney told supporters and donors on Friday morning in a conference call from New York that he would not mount a third campaign for the presidency, ending a brief public exploration of another bid that included a speech this week in Mississippi on poverty. Read More


AGREEMENT REACHED ON 4.8 PERCENT REVENUE GROWTH FORECAST

State tax collections are expected to grow 4.8 percent in fiscal year 2016, under an agreement announced Friday. Gov. Charlie Baker's top finance aide and the budget chiefs in the House and Senate said they anticipate revenues hitting $25.479 billion in the fiscal year that starts July 1. Capital gains taxes are expected to provide $1.387 billion to the overall revenue haul. Read More


DeLEO SPEECH SET FOR FEB. 11

House Speaker Robert DeLeo plans to address the full House on Feb. 11, an address in which he is expected to highlight priorities for the session that began on Jan. 7. An aide to DeLeo confirmed his plans for the address and said no information is available regarding DeLeo's plans to assign House Democrats to committees and leadership roles. Read More


INTERNATIONAL TRADE CHIEF OUT

The head of the state's Office of International Trade and Investment has resigned. According to a spokesman for Gov. Charlie Baker's Housing and Economic Development department, C. Richard Elam previously gave his two weeks notice and Friday was his last day. The spokesman called the move part of the transition between administrations. Read More


REPORT: MASS. POSTS THIRD STRAIGHT QUARTER OF STRONG GROWTH

The Massachusetts economy grew at a significantly stronger clip than the U.S. economy during the fourth quarter, marking three consecutive quarters of strong growth, according to data released on Friday by the UMass Donahue Institute. In its MassBenchmarks report, the institute said real gross domestic product (GDP) for Massachusetts grew at an annualized rate of 4.7 percent in the fourth quarter, compared to an annualized rate of growth of 2.6 percent for the U.S. GDP. Read More


REJECTED PARTNERS DEAL HAD DRAWN SIGNIFICANT SUPPORT

When a Superior Court judge on Thursday discarded a deal negotiated by former Attorney General Martha Coakley and Partners HealthCare, she deep-sixed an accord that had drawn significant support on Beacon Hill and within the health care sector. The accord, which Coakley originally filed with the court in June 2014, would have allowed Partners to acquire three hospitals, under an accompanying set of restrictions. The hospitals include South Shore Hospital and facilities owned by Hallmark Health in northeastern Massachusetts. Read More


MASS. GOP RE-ELECTS HUGHES AS PARTY CHAIR

After mixed results in the November elections, the Massachusetts Republican State Committee on Thursday night voted to re-elect Kirsten Hughes as its chair for a two-year term. In a statement, Hughes said she planned to work with Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito "to bring balance and fiscal responsibility to Beacon Hill" and to build party structures at the local level. Read More


Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015

SIX YEARS INTO DeLEO'S RUN, HOUSE STRIKES SPEAKER'S TERM LIMIT

The Massachusetts House voted Thursday to abolish term limits for the speaker, effectively enabling House Speaker Robert DeLeo to shed his lame-duck status and remain the top House Democrat on Beacon Hill beyond 2016 if he chooses. DeLeo, who pushed to implement term limits in 2009 when he rose to power in the wake of disgraced former Speaker Sal DiMasi's resignation, said Thursday his position over the past six years has "evolved" and he views steady leadership as important to the House's standing with the Senate and new governor. Read More


HEALEY MAKES DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CRISIS CENTER ONE OF FIRST STOPS

Attorney General Maura Healey visited a domestic violence crisis center Thursday, pledging to push for state funding for victims' programs and to work to implement a sweeping anti-domestic violence law passed by the Legislature last year. Healey told advocates, police officers and mayors at the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center that the crisis center was the first place she visited beyond Beacon Hill since she was sworn into office about a week ago. Read More

Attorney General Maura Healey listens as advocates

Attorney General Maura Healey listens as advocates at the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center in Amesbury describe the work they do to protect victims' of abuse. [Photo: Colleen Quinn/SHNS] | Hi-Res


FEDS SEIZED MORE THAN $19.5 MIL IN FAKE NFL MERCHANDISE

Three days before the Super Bowl in Arizona, federal authorities announced Thursday they have seized more than 326,000 phony sports memorabilia items and counterfeit items worth more than $19.5 million, with 52 arrests made so far as part of Operation Team Player. Read More


VIDEO | DeLEO: "I WOULDN'T SAY I'M GOING BACK ON MY WORD"

House Speaker Robert DeLeo said his position has "evolved" in the six years since he instituted term limits on the speakership in 2009, suggesting the push to now abolish the eight-year limit was about preserving a level of experience in the top post. "I wouldn't say I'm going back on my word as much as the fact that over six years, rightly or wrongly, I have learned and feel I have learned in terms of what the importance is of doing away with the term limits we have in the rules," DeLeo told reporters after a closed caucus where the rules change was discussed. Read More

House Speaker Robert DeLeo spoke to reporters afte

House Speaker Robert DeLeo spoke to reporters after a closed caucus. [Photo: Mike Deehan/SHNS] | Video


GOV. BAKER, GOP PARTY LEADER DIFFER ON SPEAKER'S TERM LIMIT

Republican Gov. Charlie Baker is staying out of the debate over abolishing the limit on the tenure of the Massachusetts House speaker, but the Massachusetts Republican Party's leader is not. The House on Thursday afternoon appears poised to strike a rule put in place by Speaker Robert DeLeo in 2009 that limits the speaker's tenure to eight years. Under that rule, the 2015-2016 session would be DeLeo's last as House speaker. Opponents of the rule say they are satisfied with DeLeo's leadership and want the House to retain its negotiating power in future dealings with the Senate and the governor. Read More


NEW RULES BAN IN-SESSION PHOTOS IN HOUSE CHAMBER

Lawmakers, staffers and guests would be banned from taking photographs and videos during sessions inside the Massachusetts House chamber under rules that are scheduled for a vote on Thursday afternoon. The proposed rules for the 2015-2016 legislative session also eliminate an eight-year term limit for the speaker of the House. House Democrats are set to meet in an 11 a.m. caucus to discuss the rules changes as well as the proposed joint rules with the Senate. Read More


HOUSE LEADER SEE DISADVANTAGE IF DeLEO VIEWED AS LAME DUCK

House Speaker Robert DeLeo came to power six years ago amidst a period of turbulence in the body he had served for 18 years. Elected by his peers after the sudden resignation of former Speaker Sal DiMasi, DeLeo assumed control of a House that had been roiled by ethics allegations against DiMasi, who is now serving time in a federal prison. DeLeo emerged after a bitter battle for succession with Rep. John Rogers, who remains a member of the House after losing speakership fights first against DiMasi and then against DeLeo, who was a top deputy on DiMasi's team. Read More


JUDGE REJECTS COAKLEY'S DEAL WITH PARTNERS

A Superior Court judge on Thursday rejected a proposed anti-trust settlement with Partners HealthCare governing its expansion in Massachusetts, days after new Attorney General Maura Healey voiced her concerns about the deal. The proposed settlement, which was negotiated by Healey's predecessor, Martha Coakley, would have allowed Partners, the state's largest health care provider system, to acquire three hospitals. Coakley defended the deal last year, saying it was an alternative to litigation and included meaningful cost controls. Read More


HOUSE REJECTS DEADLINE FOR LOCAL AID SIGNAL

House lawmakers on Thursday rejected, largely via party lines, Republican attempts to change internal House rules, including a call for a local aid resolution by March 15. Read More


BAKER: BUDGET FIX PLAN "TUESDAY AT THE LATEST"

Gov. Charlie Baker on Thursday again pushed back the release date for his plan to close a $765 million state budget deficit. Read More


BAKER: BLIZZARD COULD COST STATE UP TO $30 MIL

As he grapples with a $765 million midyear budget deficit, Gov. Charlie Baker says the state's snow and ice budget isn't looking as good as it did a week ago, thanks to this week's blizzard. Read More


GALVIN: BEWARE OF TAX SEASON PHONE SCAMS

State and federal officials on Thursday warned Massachusetts residents to beware of tax season scams being played out through telephone solicitations. Read More


INSURER REPORTS DISCOUNT FOR HEPATITIS C DRUG

Harvard Pilgrim Health Care has negotiated a discount with the maker of a new Hepatitis C drug that the health insurer says will lead to millions of dollars in savings for customer. Read More


PETERSON NAMED FISH AND GAME COMMISSIONER

Former Rep. George Peterson's colleagues on Beacon Hill barely had time to miss him before the Baker administration announced Thursday that the Grafton Republican was returning to state government as the commissioner of Department of Fish and Game. Read More


MASS. POSTED SECOND LOWEST GUN DEATH RATE AMONG STATES IN 2013

In 2013, Hawaii and Massachusetts had the lowest gun death rates in the United States, according to an analysis released Thursday by a national education group committed to stopping gun deaths and injuries. Read More


GETTING INTO THE WEEDS

Gov. Charlie Baker visited the town offices in Scituate Wednesday where local officials showed him photos of the destruction to homes and streets from this week's blizzard. Baker pledged assistance with bucket loaders that local officials said were needed to clear the streets of debris so that inspectors and utility crews could safely enter affected areas to determine whether power could be safely restored. Read More

[Photo: Michael Norton/SHNS]

[Photo: Michael Norton/SHNS] | Hi-Res


WALZ RESIGNS FROM PLANNED PARENTHOOD POST

Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts President Marty Walz, a former House lawmaker from Beacon Hill, has resigned effectively immediately, according to a memo obtained by the News Service. Read More


AFTER CLASH WITH REPORTERS, HOUSE DEMS CLOSE CAUCUS

Minutes after a court officer swore at reporters, House Democrats voted to close a caucus Thursday morning where they planned to discuss proposed rules, including one that eliminates the eight-year limit on the House speaker's tenure. Two reporters who showed up for the caucus, one of the first major House gatherings of the new year, were shown the door after Democrats voted to meet privately. Read More


BAKER STAYING OUT OF HOUSE DEBATE ON SPEAKER'S TERM LIMITS

With House Speaker Robert DeLeo set Thursday to push for elimination of the term limit on the post he holds, Gov. Charlie Baker is staying out of any debate about whether that is the proper course for the House. "I'm a big believer in letting the House and the Senate make their own decisions with respect to how they want to manage their affairs, and they'll make whatever they think makes sense for them," Baker told reporters during a press conference Thursday morning. Read More


HOUSE CAUCUS PUSHED BACK 'TIL 11:30 A.M.

House Democrats planned to meet in a caucus at 10 a.m. to discuss proposed new rules, but that gathering has been delayed for a second time until 11:30 a.m. after several House members notified the speaker's office they were "delayed in traffic due to lingering effects of the blizzard." The proposed rules have not been published yet on the House clerk's web page, which will likely also eventually feature amendments to those rules. An official in the clerk's office said the rules order will carry the number H 2015. Read More


Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015

BAKER, POLITO VISIT STORM-DAMAGED COASTAL TOWNS

Visiting coastal communities that took some of the hardest shots from this week's blizzard, Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito on Wednesday continued their hands-on approach to storm management and response, listening to local officials and pledging assistance. Baker briefly presided at a roundtable meeting at Scituate town offices, promising to send front loaders into a neighborhood there to clear debris so that utility crews can begin restoring power to homes, pending approval from local building and electrical inspectors. Read More


MARKEY, WARREN URGE REJECTION OF PHONE RULE CHANGES

U.S. Sens. Edward Markey and Elizabeth Warren are pushing federal regulators to reject proposals that could provide exemptions for businesses to use auto-dialers and reach consumers' mobile devices. In a letter Wednesday addressed to the chair of the Federal Elections Commission, Tom Wheeler, the Massachusetts Democrats said the proposals could "undermine" the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) of 1991, which sought to tamp down telemarketing, to set up a National Do Not Call Registry and to ban auto-dialing and pre-recorded calls, with some exceptions. Read More


DeLEO TO SEEK END TO SPEAKER'S TERM LIMIT

House Speaker Robert DeLeo will push his caucus on Thursday to approve new internal rules eliminating term limits on the speakership, allowing the Winthrop Democrat to remain in power beyond 2017, someone familiar with the speaker's plans said Wednesday. DeLeo will make his case to House Democrats for dropping the eight-year limit on serving as speaker during a private caucus Thursday morning before the House is slated to debate it rules for the upcoming session. Read More


MASS. RECOVERING FROM JUNO'S BLOW

As the blizzard called Juno rose up through Nova Scotia, Massachusetts roads were fully open Wednesday morning for the first time since Monday and Gov. Charlie Baker has urged residents to break back into their routines and "engage commerce" but it's still slow going for many. The Legislature is closed on Wednesday and Baker has instructed non-emergency state employees not to report to work. The MBTA, after being closed on Tuesday, is operating again but with delays. Read More


PARTNERS JOINS NATIONAL ALLIANCE FOCUSED ON CHANGING HEALTH CARE

Partners Healthcare, the Bay State's largest private sector employer, plans to substantially decrease its fee-for-service business and boost alternative payment models over the next five years as it announced plans Wednesday to join a national effort aimed at "improving outcomes and lowering costs" in health care. Currently about half of Partners' primary care business is under the fee-for-service model, and by 2020 the organization plans to reduce that figure to 25 percent with the other 75 percent in some form of "value-based" payment model. The primary care business does not include referrals or emergency room visits, according to Partners. Read More


POLITO MEETS MAN WHOSE MARSHFIELD HOME WAS DAMAGED

Visiting coastal communities that took hard shots from this week's blizzard, Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito on Wednesday continued their hands-on approach to storm management and response, listening to local officials and pledging assistance. Read More


BAKER SURVEYS DAMAGE AS REGION DIGS OUT FROM BLIZZARD

As people dug through snow drifts, Gov. Charlie Baker on Wednesday reflected on the "heated conversation" that preceded his decision to ban driving during the blizzard and urged the public to pitch in clearing sidewalks. "I do not want the travel ban to become the first lever that everybody pushes or pulls every time we have a snowstorm," Baker told reporters at a briefing Wednesday morning before heading to damaged areas on the South Shore and Nantucket. Baker said transportation and emergency management officials would agree that, "The travel ban was the source of heated conversation over the course of Sunday and the beginning of Monday." Read More


Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015

BAKER LIFTING TRAVEL BAN AT MIDNIGHT

A travel ban that began Monday will be lifted at midnight Tuesday for eastern Massachusetts and the Worcester area and the MBTA will attempt a slow return with regular service on Wednesday, state officials said late Tuesday, as a major winter storm appeared close to its end. Logan International Airport will also re-open at 6 a.m. Wednesday and ramp up flights by noon. Read More


MASS. HIGH COURT RULES JURY LISTS SHOULD BE PUBLIC

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court on Tuesday ordered trial courts to create lists of jurors that will be made available to the public "no later than the completion of the trial." In his opinion Justice Robert Cordy cited the 18th century Boston Massacre trial, where he said the jurors who acquitted the British soldiers were known to the public. Cordy referenced the ancient proceeding to bolster his point that the identities of jurors are open to the public "under long-standing Massachusetts law, practice, and tradition, even in high-profile and contentious cases." Read More


MASS. HIGH SCHOOL DROPOUT RATE AT THREE-DECADE LOW

The overall graduation rate of Massachusetts high schools continued to improve during the last school year and dropouts are at a three-decade low, though stark contrasts remain and not every district enjoyed success. Statewide, the four-year graduation rate for the class of 2014 was 86.1 percent, the eighth year of improvement in that metric, and the dropout rate for the 2013-2014 school year was 2 percent, the "lowest rate that we have seen in more than three decades," according to Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Mitchell Chester. Read More


DISAGREEMENT BREWING OVER EARNED SICK TIME

An effort to make business-friendly changes to the earned sick time law passed by voters in November has encountered opposition from the organization that led the push for the ballot law. Sen. Michael Rodrigues filed a bill that would rewrite the law set to go into effect July 1, and said he hopes to meet with the law's supporters and try to seek some middle ground. Read More


TRAVEL BAN LIFTED IN WESTERN MASS.

Gov. Charlie Baker lifted the travel ban for western counties of Massachusetts just after noon Tuesday, but declined to speculate on how long the ban might last for Worcester County and the eastern areas of the state. Baker said the travel ban would remain in effect on Interstate 90 in Berkshire, Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties while other roads there would be open, and he encouraged people to "use best judgment" when deciding whether to venture out. Read More


BAKER MID-STORM ASSESSMENT: "SO FAR, SO GOOD"

After forecasts of an historic blizzard, dawn broke across Massachusetts on Tuesday after what Gov. Charlie Baker called a "relatively incident-free night." "I mean, so far so good," Baker said at 7:20 a.m., wrapping up a 15-minute storm update from the state's emergency management bunker in Framingham. Read More

The waters off Cohasset and Hull were churning on

The waters off Cohasset and Hull were churning on Monday in the hours before a major snowstorm clobbered Massachusetts, bringing most work and activities to a halt. [Photo: Michael Norton/SHNS] | Hi-Res


Monday, Jan. 26, 2015

BUDGET, OPIATE PLANS DELAYED AS STORM BECOMES BAKER'S FOCUS

With a potentially historic blizzard churning toward Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker said the arriving storm has disrupted more than just plans to sleep in his own bed Monday night. Baker planned by the middle of this week to roll out a proposed solution to the state's $765 million, mid-year budget shortfall. While Baker told the News Service that might be still "doable by Friday," the governor indicated he would delay until next week an announcement on executive actions he will take to fight opiate addiction. Read More


AG HEALEY THREATENS LAWSUIT AGAINST PARTNERS

Attorney General Maura Healey on Monday publicly signaled her concerns with a proposed accord that would allow Partners HealthCare to acquire more hospitals, stating that she would go to court to block the South Shore Hospital portion of the merger if a judge rejects the deal. The state's agreement with Partners, meant to be an alternative to a lawsuit by the attorney general's office, was negotiated by Healey's predecessor and former boss, Martha Coakley. Read More


BAKER ORDERS TRAVEL BAN AS "TOP FIVE STORM" CLOSES IN

Preparing for what he described as a "top five" blizzard and his first as governor, Gov. Charlie Baker early Monday afternoon declared a state of emergency and announced plans to impose a statewide travel ban for all non-emergency vehicles starting at midnight. "We are anticipating an historic top five storm," Baker said during a news conference at the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency emergency bunker in Framingham, where the governor plans to be stationed for the bulk of the storm. Read More


ADVOCATES ANXIOUS TO SEE ELDER AFFAIRS SECRETARY NAMED

Advocates for elderly people are disappointed that the Baker administration has not yet named a secretary of elder affairs to oversee the department that handles issues older people face. AARP is "very concerned" an elder affairs secretary has not been named, said Michael Festa, state director for the Massachusetts arm of the national organization. Read More


TARR BILL REQUIRES LEGISLATIVE APPROVAL OF OLYMPICS BID

As Olympics backers seek to win over public opinion, legislation filed by Senate Republicans would require the House and Senate to approve a bid for the games before any state dollars are expended on them. Boston 2024, the non-profit seeking to bring the summer games to the area in a decade, claims the endeavor would be privately financed, though federal dollars could go toward security and taxpayer money would be spent on infrastructure upgrades that would benefit the games. Read More


BOSTON LAWMAKERS AIR CONCERNS AFTER MEETING WITH OLYMPIC FOES

Members of Boston's delegation to the State House met with opponents of the Olympics bid on Monday, and left the meeting saying valid concerns were raised about how the undertaking would be funded. Rep. Michael Moran, a Brighton Democrat, said the No Boston Olympics presentation on finances was "eye-opening." He said, "I would want honestly to hear more about the finances. The thing that concerns me the most is the finances." Read More


THOMAS RESIGNS AS UMASS CHAIR

Gov. Charlie Baker named a new chairman of the University of Massachusetts board of trustees on Monday, after Henry Thomas submitted his resignation as chair. The Baker administration announced that Victor Woolridge, appointed to the board by former Gov. Deval Patrick in 2009, will take over as chair. Thomas will continue to serve on the board. Read More


GOLDBERG RETAINING MANY TOP OFFICIALS AT MASS. TREASURY

Treasurer Deb Goldberg is retaining a number of her predecessor's staffers, including the executive director of the state employees' retirement system and the chair of the agency regulating alcohol. Nicola Favorito, who has served as executive director of the Massachusetts State Employees' Retirement System since 2003, will stay in that role and as deputy treasurer, Goldberg's office said Monday. Read More


HOUSE POSTPONES RULES DEBATE FOR JUNO

The House met briefly on Monday morning and leaders announced that the branch would postpone its rules debate, scheduled for Wednesday, until Thursday morning in anticipation of a major blizzard arriving in the state later in the day. Rep. Paul Donato said House Democrats would caucus together on Thursday at 10 a.m. with roll calls beginning at 11 a.m. "The speaker is very concerned about members and employees," Donato said, suggesting House Speaker Robert DeLeo did not want to gamble on lawmakers and staff commuting to Beacon Hill on Wednesday after Tuesday's forecast blizzard. Donato said he did not know when a draft of the proposed rules would be available for members and the public to review. Read More


JUNO JOLTS JANUARY SCHEDULE ON BEACON HILL

The approaching blizzard called Juno is poised to wipe out some activities at the State House this week as the focus temporarily turns away from public policy and toward public safety. Gov. Charlie Baker and his team have been planning to unveil his proposal to address a $765 million midyear budget deficit and House Democrats have a caucus planned for Tuesday ahead of Wednesday's scheduled rules debate. Read More



 
 
State House News Service