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Baker Carves Up $16.5 Bil Transportation Bill With Vetoes

Fees on ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft will not increase in Massachusetts after Gov. Charlie Baker vetoed a new proposed fee structure while signing a $16.5 billion transportation bond bill on Friday. Baker gave his approval to almost all of the multi-year spending authorizations, but rejected several major transportation policy proposals that the Legislature packed into the wide-ranging bill.

Advances - Week of Jan. 17

Now infused with the threat of domestic terror attacks in addition to the continuing toll of COVID-19, the final days of President Trump's administration and the start of Joe Biden's turn as the nation's leader will dominate the week ahead. The Jan. 6 siege on the U.S. Capitol by pro-Trump insurgents has fueled concerns at the highest levels of law enforcement about the potential for additional violence by domestic terror groups in connection with Wednesday's inauguration.

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One bill that met with Gov. Charlie Baker's approval was "Laura's Law," which aims to improve access to hospital emergency rooms and was named for the late Laura Levis (pictured at right). Levis' husband Peter DeMarco (left) joined Baker at a bill-signing ceremony Friday afternoon. [Sam Doran/SHNS]

Weekly Roundup - Double Smog Dare

The risks were known, or should have been. The longer the Legislature waited to finalize its negotiations over major climate, jobs and infrastructure bills, the more power they relinquished to Gov. Charlie Baker. Discussions had been ongoing since the summer, and now all legislators could do was wait.

State House Takeout Podcast

Governor Signs Off on 14 Local Bills

Gov. Charlie Baker signed off on 14 more local bills on Thursday:

Uncaptioned image for story:Available Doses Not Keeping Up with Vaccination Plan

Available Doses Not Keeping Up with Vaccination Plan

Massachusetts would need more than 1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to fully inoculate everybody in the first phase of the Baker administration's three-tiered plan, Gov. Charlie Baker said Friday.

Gaming Revenues Still Trail Fall Levels After December Increase

The slots parlor and casinos in Massachusetts cumulatively generated $49.83 million in gaming revenue in December and will turn about $14.6 million of their earnings over to the state, the Gaming Commission said Friday.

Uncaptioned image for story:State Writing 3.5 Percent Tax Growth Into Spending Bills

State Writing 3.5 Percent Tax Growth Into Spending Bills

State budget writers have agreed to build fiscal 2022 spending plans on the assumption that state tax revenues will grow by 3.5 percent over upgraded projections for the current fiscal year, signaling that the damage done to the state's finances by the COVID-19 pandemic may not be as severe as once thought.

Clearing Starts as Hydro Project Gets Last Major Permit

A major hydropower transmission project that Massachusetts is relying on to diversify its energy mix has completed its major permitting and begun clearing activities in Maine to prepare for the installation of transmission lines that will carry power into New England from Quebec.

Who’s On The Move? Check The Personnel File

... There's a new chief investigator at the Massachusetts Gaming Commission ... new Sen. Adam Gomez has turned to an experienced hand on Beacon Hill to fill his chief of staff slot ... Howell Communications has brought on an experienced PR freelancer ... Sen. Jason Lewis has hired a lifelong Malden resident as his new constituent services director ... and Sen. Becca Rausch's new legislative aide is on track to graduate from Tufts University in May ...

Baker Signs $626 Million Economic Development Bill

Gov. Charlie Baker on Thursday signed legislation spreading $626 million around the economy over the next five years and making it easier to build new housing, an area where Massachusetts has lagged behind other states.

Baker Vetoes Omnibus Climate, Emissions Reduction Bill

Scuttling what looked to be a major session-ending accomplishment for the Legislature, Gov. Charlie Baker on Thursday vetoed ambitious climate legislation over his concerns that key pieces of the bill could stymie housing construction, and that the Legislature did nothing in the bill to help cities and town adapt to the effects of climate change.

Uncaptioned image for story:Cannabis Commission Reshaped to Start 2021

Cannabis Commission Reshaped to Start 2021

Freshly restocked with three new members, the Cannabis Control Commission is gearing up for a year that will include the implementation of recently-approved regulations that allow for home delivery of non-medical marijuana, continuing to press for legislation that Beacon Hill mostly ignored last session, and possibly even another round of regulatory revisions.

Two More Reps, One House Employee Test COVID Positive

Two House members who were in the State House last week tested positive for COVID-19, according to emails obtained by the News Service.

Report: TNC Fee Revenues Would Surge Under Bill Before Baker

The Legislature's proposal to jack up fees on ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft could more than triple annual revenue from those sources, even if the pandemic cuts their ridership to half of previous levels, the Metropolitan Area Planning Council estimated in a new report.

Coalition Appeals For Redistricting Committee Diversity

After social and racial justice issues emerged in 2020, legislative leaders have designs on taking equity into account in most of the bills they consider and in 2021 advocates hope that will extend to their decennial redistricting efforts.

Remote State of the State Set for Jan. 26

No applause breaks or festive crowds this year. Gov. Charlie Baker plans to give his annual State of the Commonwealth speech from the quiet social distance of his office.

Baker Likely to Sign Boston Election Home Rule Petition

Gov. Charlie Baker suggested Thursday that he would sign a home rule petition from the city of Boston to do away with a special election for mayor if Mayor Marty Walsh resigns before March 5.

Cape Steering Pension Savings to COVID-19 Efforts

Barnstable County will free up more than $1 million toward its fight against COVID-19 thanks to a new law Gov. Charlie Baker signed relieving the county from pension liability costs.

Franchisees Feel Unfairly Frozen Out of Recovery Program

When Gov. Charlie Baker announced a new $668 million small business recovery program in late December, gyms and fitness centers, along with restaurants and food trucks, were among the small businesses told they would be at the front of the line to qualify for relief. But the governor didn't mention the fine print.

Baker Sending 500 Guard Troops to DC

Massachusetts will be sending 500 National Guard troops to Washington, D.C. to assist with security for the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, which is being planned for next week in the wake of a violent assault on the Capitol.