ADJOURNED at 9:08 p.m. Thursday to meet Monday at 11 a.m. in an informal session
ADJOURNED 'til Monday at 11 a.m. (No Calendar)

MBTA Outlines Far-Reaching $500 Mil Spending Plan

Buoyed by an injection of federal relief funds during the pandemic, the MBTA will redirect half a billion dollars toward major safety investments, electric bus infrastructure, workforce retention efforts and matching grant programs.

Casino Consultant Cites Tens of Thousands of Impaired Driving Trips

The introduction of casinos to Massachusetts has led to tens of thousands of impaired driving incidents here each year, but the increase is generally in line with what would be expected from having three new venues serving alcohol to thousands of people every day, a crime analyst told the Gaming Commission on Thursday.

Baker Heading To NGA, With Storm On His Mind

Gov. Charlie Baker is traveling to Washington, D.C. Thursday evening to attend a National Governors Association meeting there over the weekend, and a spokesperson said he plans to come back to Massachusetts before the upcoming snowstorm if necessary.

House Passes On Bid For Court Opinion On Mail-In Voting

[Coverage Developing] The House on Thursday afternoon rejected a proposal to ask the state's highest court to review the constitutionality of the mail-in voting reform proposal at the center of the bill before the body. The House also batted down a call for fines and possible jail time for voter fraud.

Help Line, Trust Fund Among Baker Behavioral Health Ideas

A day after filing a $45.8 billion state budget that proposes a behavioral health help line, Gov. Charlie Baker said there also needs to be "systemic" action to boost access to mental health services and support other key types of care.

T’s First New Stop In Eight Years To Open In March

The start of service is on the horizon for the most significant expansion of the MBTA's core system in decades, but riders will need to continue their wait to learn when they'll be able to ride the Green Line all the way into Medford.

Baker Reacts As Budd’s Name Surfaces In SCOTUS Talk

President Joe Biden plans to nominate a Black woman to fill an impending vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court, and Gov. Charlie Baker said Thursday he has not heard any indication that the Bay State's top justice is in the mix.

Mass. On “Back Side” Of Latest COVID Surge, Guv Says

After peaking at a record level in early January, the statewide average for newly confirmed COVID-19 cases has dropped by more than two-thirds, a turnaround that prompted Gov. Charlie Baker on Thursday to say the state has reached "the back side of the omicron surge."

Body Camera Pilot To Launch At Shirley Prison

Corrections officers at the maximum-security Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center will begin to wear body cameras this summer as part of a two-phase pilot program that state officials announced Thursday.

Experts: Mass. Economic Growth To Continue Well Into 2022

Economic growth in Massachusetts accelerated from the third to the fourth quarter of 2021, with real gross domestic product increasing at an 8.2 percent annualized rate, and the growth is expected to continue at slower rates over the first half of 2022, local economists reported on Thursday afternoon.

Senate Session Summary - Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022

The Senate approved an order Thursday allowing members to sign on to certain bills without the approval of the original sponsor.

Senate Session Summary - Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022

The Senate unanimously passed a $75 million supplemental budget bill Wednesday aimed at providing expanded testing options and masks to a number of sectors, including public school districts, congregate care facilities and homeless shelters.

Goldberg Makes It Official, Will Seek Third Term

Treasurer Deb Goldberg identified support for women in the workforce and financial literacy as two top priorities as the Democrat on Wednesday announced plans to seek a third term in 2022, becoming the last statewide elected official to make their plans known.

Registration Reform Left Out Of House Voting Bill

House lawmakers on Thursday will debate legislation that would permanently expand early voting opportunities and make voting-by-mail a standard option in future elections, but Democratic leaders left out of the bill a popular reform that would allow voters to register and vote on the same day.

Dooley, Durant Quickly Get Behind Doughty’s Candidacy

The Republican primary for governor got going in earnest Wednesday after businessman Chris Doughty announced his candidacy and peeled off at least one legislative supporter from former Rep. Geoff Diehl, who in turn said his new GOP primary opponent is not sufficiently Republican.

'Varsity Blues' Prosecutor Nominated for Superior Judgeship

Gov. Charlie Baker tapped a lead federal prosecutor in the Operation Varsity Blues college admissions trials for a Superior Court judgeship Wednesday.

Council Approves Two for District Court Bench

The Governor's Council minted two new District Court judges Wednesday -- one of them a deputy counsel in the court's administrative office, the other a Probation Department lawyer.

House Session Summary - Wednesday, Jan. 26

Gearing up for a debate over voting access and election reforms, the House on Wednesday advanced a redrafted version of the VOTES Act that would make permanent popular COVID-19 pandemic reforms such as voting-by-mail, but stops short of making Massachusetts one of 20 other states that allow voters to register and cast their ballots in person on the same day. The bill (H 4359) is slated to hit the floor for debate on Thursday when lawmakers are expected to offer amendments, including ones that would add same-day registration to the legislation.

Attorney General Maura Healey walks into Gov. Charlie Baker's final State of the Commonwealth address Tuesday night at the Hynes Convention Center. [Chris Van Buskirk/SHNS]

Potential Successors Give Baker Speech Mixed Reviews

Democrat gubernatorial candidate Sonia Chang-Diaz contended that Bay Staters "deserve more" than the message Gov. Charlie Baker broadcast Tuesday in his final State of the Commonwealth address, while the race's other hopefuls struck a less critical or even outright complimentary tone.

House Approves Permanent Extension Of Voting Reforms

The state's mostly successful experiment with voting-by-mail during the COVID-19 pandemic would become a permanent option for voters in future elections, but House lawmakers on Thursday passed a major voting access bill that omitted voter registration rule changes sought by advocates and the Senate.

Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Kimberly Budd was among the speakers Thursday at the Equal Justice Coalition's "Talk to the Hill" program, the 23rd annual advocacy event in support of increased civil legal aid funding. [Screenshot]

Top Judge Ties Legal Aid to COVID Medical Aid

The amount of money that Massachusetts appropriates for civil legal aid has more than doubled over the past six years, and advocates are asking lawmakers to ensure it keeps growing to make the services available to more people who need a lawyer but can't afford one.

Uncaptioned image for story:Surtax Opponents Take Summary Case To SJC

Surtax Opponents Take Summary Case To SJC

The campaign over the proposed Constitutional amendment to add a surtax on household income over $1 million took a step into the courtroom Thursday as opponents filed suit to influence how the proposal will be summarized for voters.

Clerks, Pressley Weigh in Ahead of House Voting Debate

The town clerks who would be required to implement same-day voter registration if approved by the Legislature have called the change "nearly impossible" to manage as the House prepares to debate a wide-ranging voter access bill on Thursday amid growing pressure to reverse Democratic leaders' decision to leave the reform out of its bill.

Committee Advancing Marijuana Cafe, Host Agreement Bill

The Joint Committee on Cannabis Policy is polling its members on legislation that appears to address the persistent issues with host community agreements and social equity in the new cannabis industry, and that would pave the way for social consumption sites in Massachusetts.

MBTA Seeing Ridership Lift Following Omicron Dip

The omicron variant created substantial ridership and workforce headaches at the MBTA, but as the spread of new COVID-19 infections slows from an aggressive peak in early January, the public transit agency's outlook is improving.

Muni Matters: Lower Your Bill | Select Board Business | Docs Take Flight | Safe Speeds

  • Galvin Reminds Homeowners of Property Tax Abatements
  • Select Board Association to Meet Thursday
  • Missing Minutes Mystery Sparks Talk in North Adams
  • MassDOT Changing Its Approach to Speed Limits

Thomas Koonce, who has been incarcerated for three decades for first-degree murder, answers questions Wednesday from the Governor's Council, which is considering his bid for a commutation to become eligible for parole. He is joined by his attorney Timothy Foley (right). [Sam Doran/SHNS]

Koonce Commutation Scrutinized, Applauded At Hearing

Facing the prospect of a commutation that would make him eligible for parole after three decades behind bars, convicted murderer Thomas Koonce said Wednesday that he takes "full responsibility" for shooting and killing a New Bedford man in 1987.

Uncaptioned image for story:Senate Bulks Up COVID Bill To $75 Mil

Senate Bulks Up COVID Bill To $75 Mil

The Massachusetts Senate debated and unanimously passed the state's latest COVID-19 response bill Wednesday, embracing the same focus on testing and masks as the House did in its version of the legislation but boosting the bottom line by more than 35 percent to $75 million in spending.

Gov. Charlie Baker discusses his final annual budget proposal Wednesday at a news conference inside the State House library. [Sam Doran/SHNS]

Baker Tax Cuts Would Span Income Brackets

Gov. Charlie Baker, in his eighth and final annual budget, is seeking to pair a modest increase in state spending with $693 million in tax policy changes he said are aimed at providing relief to people who need it and ensuring the state's competitive position in the remote work era.

Worcester Sen. Harriette Chandler, pictured at a 2020 legislative hearing, announced Wednesday she will not seek reelection, capping off a career in public service to New England's second-largest city that has spanned more than three decades. [Sam Doran/SHNS/File]

Worcester Sen. Chandler Not Seeking Reelection

Senate President Emerita Harriette Chandler, the Worcester Democrat who senators relied on as a steady hand on the institutional rudder amid some of the Senate's darkest days in 2017 and 2018, will not seek reelection this year after more than three decades of public service, she announced Wednesday morning.

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State House News Service