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Advances - Week of April 11

The state budget landscape has changed dramatically since late January, when Gov. Charlie Baker proposed a $45.6 billion spending plan, and next week's proposed House budget is likely to reflect some of the shifting circumstances. In addition to state tax collections that have continued to trend much higher than forecasts and the presence of historic amounts of federal aid that were pending but not approved when Baker filed H 1 more than two months ago, Baker's assumptions about spending in the largest program in the budget, MassHealth, have also been upended by federal changes that will substantially push up total spending, and covered populations, under the health care safety net program.

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House Likely to Pass New Holyoke Home Bill Next Week

Legislative leaders on Friday outlined plans to advance a $400 million bill funding the construction of a new Holyoke Soldiers' Home but it's unclear if their timeline will be fast enough to quickly secure federal funding.

He's gotta wait 15 minutes, just like everybody else . . .  Gov. Charlie Baker waits in the observation area after receiving his first dose of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine at the Hynes Convention Center on Tuesday. [Matt Stone/Boston Herald/Pool]

Weekly Roundup - A Strained Partnership

For years, with both Democrats and Republicans in the corner office, the leadership of the Legislature has basically been able to do what it wants.

State House Takeout Podcast

Total consumer spending in Massachusetts in March was about 10 percent higher than in January 2020, but it remained 15 percent below that level for restaurants and hotels and 45 percent down for entertainment and recreation, according to data that Undersecretary of Business Growth Mark Fuller presented at a Friday committee hearing.

Tourism, Hospitality Sectors Appeal for More State Help

The tourism and hospitality sector has been decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic, facing sharp declines in business that will be slow to recover without additional state action, industry leaders told lawmakers on Friday.

Upgrades Will Wait Under Transportation Contract

One of the two regional transit agencies contracted by the Baker administration to manage transportation for thousands of low-income and disabled health service recipients told its vendors in February that it will be at least a year before they're required to comply with some required technology and vehicle upgrades touted in the new contract.

Only 23 “Green” Communities as Vaccinations Plod Along

The number of cities and towns that meet the Department of Public Health's criteria for the red high-risk category increased 40 percent from last week, has now climbed for four consecutive weeks and has more than doubled in two weeks.

Rep. John Barrett of North Adams (right) told Administration and Finance Secretary Michael Heffernan that lawmakers "almost feel like we're being left out of the process" of directing and spending federal aid. [Screenshot]

Flood of Fed Funds Fuels Tension Over Decisions, Information

House lawmakers made clear to the Baker administration Thursday that they want more information about how the discretionary portion of $71 billion in one-time aid that's already come to Massachusetts has been spent and want to have greater say around how another $40 billion in federal stimulus money that's on the way will be spent.

Enbridge Elaborates on Latest Gas Release at Weymouth Station

A Tuesday incident at the Weymouth compressor station vented more than 11,000 standard cubic feet of natural gas into the surrounding area, significantly less than the two emergency shutdowns last fall, an Enbridge spokesperson said Thursday.

Early College Investment Pitched to Narrow Equity Gap

Seven mayors, a host of K-12 and higher education officials, and business and community leaders wrote to state lawmakers Thursday, calling for them to boost funding for early college programs in next year's state budget.

Who’s On The Move? Check The Personnel File

... Eversource Energy named its next CEO ... Mayor Janey filled a Cabinet position focused on equity and inclusion in Boston ... the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education selected its first-ever membership director ... several State House aides are on the move ... Boston's Inspectional Services commissioner will step into a chief of operations role ...

Oversight Hearing on David Almond’s Death Set for May 4

The Legislature will convene an oversight hearing on May 4 to examine the death of a Fall River teenager and missteps at the Department of Children and Families leading up to the tragedy, lawmakers announced Thursday.

State Awaits Overdue Health Equity Recommendations

Health care disparities illuminated by the COVID-19 pandemic spurred lawmakers last year to launch a task force to come up with a series of recommendations to address inequities, but getting the work to completion has proven a big challenge.

New Toolkit Lays Out Substance Use Recovery Options

For many individuals with substance use disorders, finding accurate information about how or where to seek treatment poses an enormous challenge. A new online toolkit developed by Rize Massachusetts aims to eliminate those barriers.

Boston Mayor Kim Janey took questions from "Boston Public Radio" hosts and listeners during her inaugural "Ask The Acting Mayor" appearance on the GBH News show. [Screenshot]

Janey Sees Fed Aid as Path to Fare-Free Bus Rides

Free public transportation "would be great," according to Boston's acting mayor, who also said Thursday that she hopes state officials are looking at ways to use federal aid to make transit more equitable.

Senate Session Summary - Thursday, April 8

The Senate gaveled out for the weekend without taking any action on the child protection bill (H 88) that's been caught in a procedural dispute between the two branches.

House Session - Thursday, April 8

The House formally acknowledged the swearing-in of its newest member in brief session on Thursday and adjourned for the week without acting on Gov. Charlie Baker's amendments to a proposed COVID-19 emergency paid leave proposal. Rep. Jeffrey Turco, a Winthrop Democrat, took the oath of office Wednesday after topping a four-way Democratic primary and then the March 30 special election to fill the 19th Suffolk District seat last held by former Speaker Robert DeLeo.

Variants Contributing to Anxiety on Cape Cod

The springtime COVID-19 outbreak on Cape Cod "remains a deep and urgent worry" for officials in the region, particularly given the rising presence of more highly infectious variants across the country.

Dems to Insist on Keeping Muni Workers in COVID-19 Leave Program

Putting them at odds with Gov. Charlie Baker and a municipal trade group, House Speaker Ron Mariano and Senate President Karen Spilka intend to preserve eligibility for municipal employees in an emergency COVID-19 sick leave program that the Legislature is working to finalize and return to the governor's desk.

Muni Matters: Constitutional Edits | DLS Shakeup | Fill Your Pools, Framingham

Baker Swears Turco, the House’s Newest Democrat

The Governor's Council unanimously confirmed Gov. Charlie Baker's pick of attorney Kevin Smith as a Land Court justice Wednesday, and finalized the voters' pick of Jeffrey Rosario Turco as state representative for the Winthrop-Revere House seat.