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Senate Session Summary - Thursday, July 29

The Senate on Thursday rejected most of Gov. Charlie Baker's vetoes and amendments to the fiscal 2022 budget, in the process ensuring that a voter-approved tax deduction for charitable donations will not take effect until at least 2023. Like their colleagues in the House did a day earlier, senators overrode all 12 of Baker's line-item spending vetoes and both of his outside section policy vetoes. - Chris Lisinski

Diehl: Leave Decisions on Mask-Wearing Up to The People

As Gov. Charlie Baker takes his time to review the Biden administration's new guidance on masks, his potential opponent for the Republican nomination for governor in 2022 said Baker should reject calls for a return to state-mandated mask wearing.

House Session Summary - Thursday, July 29

Individual schools with 50 percent or more or school districts with 60 percent or more economically disadvantaged students would be required to enroll in a federal program that provides free breakfast and lunch to students under legislation the House passed Thursday afternoon. The legislation (H 3999) uses the federal Community Eligibility Provision, which is billed as a "non-pricing meal service option for schools and school districts in low-income areas," according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. - Chris Van Buskirk

Who’s On The Move?

... A newly created public benefit company with big plans for a Watertown biomanufacturing facility has announced its CEO ... Hemenway & Barnes has snagged a former Mass. Senate counsel to work as co-chair of its government and election law practice ... a former Boston-area reporter has joined the public affairs unit at Suffolk University ... Mass Insight Education & Research recently elected a new board chair ... and MassBudget has a new director of development and finance ...

Transportation Emissions Pact Opponents Predict Fuel Shortages by 2025

Opponents of the regional effort to wring carbon emission reductions from cars, trucks and other forms of transportation predicted Thursday that Massachusetts residents could face fuel shortages as soon as 2025 unless the state can dramatically scale up the transition to electric vehicles.

“No Serious Issues” After Baker Treated by Dermatologist

Gov. Charlie Baker recently received "routine" dermatological treatment, his office said Thursday after the governor appeared at several public events this week with bandages, dark blotches or scabs dotting his visage.

Grubhub Sued by AG Over Delivery Fees Charged During COVID

Attorney General Maura Healey sued the food delivery platform Grubhub on Thursday, arguing that the company dealt restaurants a financial blow by violating a fee-cap in place during the COVID-19 state of emergency.

Senate Completes Override To Delay Charitable Tax Break

A tax deduction for charitable donations that Massachusetts voters approved in 2000 will not go into effect until at least 2023 after the Senate voted Thursday to override Gov. Charlie Baker's veto and postpone the tax break's implementation.

Janey “Leaning Toward” Requiring Boston Workers Get Vaccinated

Acting Boston Mayor Kim Janey is "leaning toward" mandating COVID-19 vaccines for the city's 18,000-person workforce, she said Thursday as she detailed a "marked increase" in viral activity in the city and stressed the importance of vaccination.

Treasurer, Auditor Mandating Employee COVID-19 Vaccines

Treasurer Deborah Goldberg and Auditor Suzanne Bump both announced Thursday that their employees will be required to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or submit to weekly testing for the coronavirus when they return to their offices in the coming months.

Feeney Leads Letter Urging Bonus Pay For Essential Workers

A group of 27 lawmakers is urging the leaders of two committees exploring how the state should spend over $4.8 billion in federal COVID-19 aid to investigate how to use those resources to fund retroactive premium pay for essential workers.

House Session Summary - Wednesday, July 28

The House on Wednesday worked its way through Gov. Charlie Baker's fiscal 2022 budget vetoes and several of his amendments, overriding all 12 line-item vetoes and two vetoes of outside policy sections -- a study of the pandemic's impacts on children's behavioral health and a one-year delay in a charitable giving tax deduction that voters approved in 2000. - Katie Lannan

House Overrides Baker on Charitable Giving Tax Deduction

Twenty-one years after voters approved a tax deduction for charitable donations, the House on Wednesday voted to override Gov. Charlie Baker's veto and postpone for another year the tax break that non-profits said would help encourage residents to support an industry hurting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cash Cushion Eyed To Test Fare-Free Bus Rides

With the state's coffers awash in unspent funds and the pandemic reshaping commuting patterns, a group of lawmakers and transportation advocates argued Wednesday that the time is right for Massachusetts to reimagine fares on its public transit systems.

Baker Team Plans to Discuss Supp Budget Wednesday Night

With the clock running down on him, Gov. Charlie Baker plans to meet with others in his administration Wednesday night to discuss what action he should take on a $261.6 million fiscal 2021 supplemental budget.

Baker Taking Time To Process CDC Mask Guidance

Gov. Charlie Baker said Wednesday he is not considering reimposing travel restrictions on residents or visitors amid the latest rise in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations and said he will "have more to say shortly" about federal masking guidance issued on Tuesday once his administration has a chance to review it more thoroughly.

Cape, Islands Feel Squeeze From Higher Housing Costs

High housing costs and low inventory are plaguing communities around Massachusetts, but on Cape Cod and the islands the crisis is "existential" for residents who want to continue to call the region home year-round, according to state Sen. Julian Cyr. "If we don't fundamentally change what we're doing, we're not going to have year-round communities," Cyr told the Joint the Committee on Housing Wednesday.

Council Rejects Baker’s Pick For Parole Board

The Governor's Council on Wednesday rejected Gov. Charlie Baker's latest nominee for the Parole Board, Sherquita HoSang of Springfield, with members questioning her preparations and qualifications. Councilors voted 5-3 against confirming HoSang to a four-year term, with Councilors Joseph Ferreira, Terrence Kennedy and Mary Hurley voting in favor of the nominee and the five other councilors opposed.

Uncaptioned image for story: Baker Signs Off on Mail-In Voting Restoration

Baker Signs Off on Mail-In Voting Restoration

Gov. Charlie Baker signed a $261.1 million fiscal 2021 supplemental budget bill Thursday that revives mail-in and expanded in-person early voting through Dec. 15 and establishes a new MBTA board of directors.

Uncaptioned image for story:Casino Blames Poker's Absence on Dealer Shortage

Casino Blames Poker’s Absence on Dealer Shortage

If Encore Boston Harbor was to reintroduce poker right now, as some of its guests have demanded, it would require the casino to close other table games because it cannot find enough people to hire as dealers, an executive told the Gaming Commission on Thursday.

Darrell Washington (center) is named as the state's first VaxMillions winner Thursday at an announcement with Gov. Charlie Baker, Lottery Director Michael Sweeney (rear), and Treasurer Deborah Goldberg (right). [Sam Doran/SHNS]

'Oh my God, this is real': First VaxMillions Winners Revealed

One of the first things Darrell Washington did when the state contacted him with news he'd won the first $1 million prize in the VaxMillions giveaway was to turn to Google.

TCI Opponents Say Program Will Cause Fuel Shortages

[Story Developing] Opponents of the regional effort to wring carbon emission reductions from cars, trucks and other forms of transportation predicted Thursday that Massachusetts residents could face fuel shortages as soon as 2025 unless the state can dramatically scale up the transition to electric vehicles.

Baker Nominates Two For District, Boston Courts

Gov. Charlie Baker tapped a District Court clerk-magistrate and a supervisor in the Middlesex County District Attorney's office for judgeships on Wednesday, teeing up two more nominations that will go before the Governor's Council in the coming weeks.

State Gaming Regulators Postpone Return to In-Person Work

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is planning to delay its return to working out of its Boston offices until "at least sometime in October" amid concerns about the Delta variant and the risks of office settings, Executive Director Karen Wells said Thursday morning.

House Leaders Aiming To Keep Charitable Giving Tax Break On Hold

[Coverage Developing] House leaders plan to pursue an override of Gov. Charlie Baker's veto that would allow a charitable giving tax deduction to take effect more than 20 years after it was approved by voters.

Bill Gives Veterans More Runway To Buy Pension Credits

A pair of harbormasters and Coast Guard veterans on Wednesday asked lawmakers to approve a bill they said would make things easier on veterans adjusting to civilian life and new government careers. Massachusetts allows veterans working public jobs to purchase up to four years of credit toward their pension for their military service, as long as they do so no more than 180 days after they are notified they are eligible for the benefit.

Energy Overseers: Time to Stop Harm to Electric Consumers

Attorney General Maura Healey and the Baker administration teamed up Wednesday to call for the end of the competitive market for residential electricity consumers as it currently exists, and the chairs of a key legislative committee suggested they agree.

Tax Break for Donations Knocked as Misguided, Ineffective

The House meets Wednesday afternoon with Gov. Charlie Baker's amendments and vetoes to the fiscal 2022 budget pending as the debate over whether to allow a tax deduction for donations to charities has picked up in intensity.

Vaccine Equity Coalition Wants More Thorough Reporting

Public health experts, civil rights advocates and elected officials urged the Baker administration on Wednesday to resume reporting COVID-19 hospitalizations broken down by demographic, warning that the data remains an urgent part of the state's response as the Delta variant fuels an increase in cases.

Baker Signs One-Year Extension of Simulcast, Racing Laws

Simulcast centers in Massachusetts that take bets on out-of-state races may continue operations for another year and the state's horse racing laws have also been extended under a bill (H 3976) signed by Gov. Charlie Baker on Tuesday.

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Latest COVID-19 Figures in Mass.

Data as of 5 p.m. Monday.
New Confirmed Cases1,243
Total Confirmed Cases669,647
Total Deaths18,053
Full Vaccinations4,332,329

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State House News Service