Tufts Medical and nurses meet, Holocaust Memorial rededication and more …
Lawmakers hold a number of committee hearings today to review bills. See committee schedule below in a separate post. ... Gov. Charlie Baker gives welcoming remarks at the Association of Government Accountants 2017 Professional Development Training Conference, Hynes Convention Center - Hall D, 8:45 a.m. ... Massachusetts Nurses Association and Tufts Medical Center officials return to the bargaining table in an attempt to avert a strike on Wednesday, 99 Summer St., 10 a.m. ... Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts, will be on ‘Boston Public Radio’ for her monthly segment, WGBH-FM, 89.7, 11:30 a.m. ... House Speaker Robert DeLeo attends Hong Kong Day, Great Hall, 11:30 a.m. ... Mothers Out Front plans a ‘Mothers Stand’ rally against a proposed natural gas compressor station in North Weymouth, outside State House, 12 p.m. ... Gov. Charlie Baker and Boston Mayor Martin Walsh join Holocaust survivors and others for rededication ceremony of the repaired New England Holocaust Memorial, Congress Street, 1:15 p.m. ... Attorney General Maura Healey is scheduled to testify at 2 p.m. in support of legislation to increase the penalties for corporate manslaughter, Room A-1, 1 p.m. ... Boston Mayor Marty Walsh joins city officials to release the final version of Imagine Boston 2030, Upham's Corner, 555 Columbia Road, Dorchester, 3 p.m. ... Senate President Stanley Rosenberg attends a Senate Presidents Forum. Newport, Rhode Island.
Donald Trump Jr.’s non-collusion collusion with Russian operatives – and, yes, that’s a fair word to use – is going to dominate political news for a while now, it looks like. The NYT has the latest development in JuniorGate. The Globe’s James Pindell: “Trump supporters are right to say that the meeting provides no concrete evidence of collusion. But it certainly proves that it was on the minds of Trump’s top advisers.” The Globe’s Michael Cohen on Junior: “He is now admitting that top Trump campaign officials met with Russian officials who had close connections to the Kremlin for the purpose of colluding. Period. That’s as close to a smoking gun as we’ve seen to date.”
Think the Globe is just being the Globe with such musings? From the Herald’s editorial board: “It’s hard to tell whether the president’s son — apart from being duplicitous — is naïve, stupid, corrupt or all of the above.” Finally, from the Herald’s Peter Gelzinis: “What’s heartening about this Trump family weekend is that the machinations of Donald Sr., and most especially Donald Jr., will eventually come under the microscope of Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller. Unless, of course, Donald Sr. doesn’t fire Mueller first.”
Target: Moderate Republican governors
Though Gov. Baker isn’t named in this Washington Post story, it looks like he’ll be one of the moderate Republican governors at this week’s National Governors Association meeting in Providence who will be getting all sorts of attention from pro- and anti-Senate health-care bill lobbyists.
From SHNS’s Matt Murphy at CommonWealth magazine: “Gov. Charlie Baker said Monday he has not yet decided whether he will sign off on $200 million in new employer fees he has linked to MassHealth reforms that the Legislature laid aside Friday as part of their budget deal. ... ‘We're going to keep talking,’ Baker said Monday. ‘I haven't heard the Legislature say they're opposed to (reforms).’” We find it hard to believe the governor would veto the assessment fee and punch a $200 million hole in the budget. But you never know.
Wake us when it’s over: Marijuana talks drag on at State House
State Sen. William Brownsberger, a Belmont Democrat, says that a conference committee trying to hammer out a compromise on marijuana regulations is "working hard" but adds it would be "dangerous" to make any predictions about the outcome of ongoing talks, reports the Associated Press at the Herald.
Marlboro mayor on pot: ‘Just put the rules in place and then we can deal with it’
The MetroWest Daily News has a story that’s mostly about pro-marijuana advocates bellyaching about proposed changes to the voter-approved Question 4. But Marlboro Mayor Arthur Vigeant is probably speaking for many local officials when he urges lawmakers to just produce a compromise pot bill: “I understand it’s kind of a third-rail issue, but just put the rules in place and then we can deal with it.”
Western Mass. lawmakers say they want answers on why funding for a feasibility study of high-speed rail service linking Boston and Springfield went missing during closed-door budget negotiations, Jack Suntrup of the Hampshire Gazette reports. “We have to get to the bottom of why we’re having problems getting this study done,” said Senate President Stan Rosenberg of Amherst. Someone should steer investigators toward WMPI's Matt Szafranski's post that practically has blinking neon lights pointing at Peter Pan.
Is Baker going ‘wishy washy’ over sanctuary-state status?
It was an awkward moment: As a new Latino advisory panel was sworn in Monday, Gov. Baker was basically asked: Hey, how about that sanctuary state legislation? Baker’s response: While he’s opposed to it, he’ll keep an open mind about it. As they say, damage done. The story headline at the Greenfield Recorder: ‘While opposed, Baker says mind open on safe communities act.’ The Herald’s headline: ‘Charlie Baker hit as ‘wishy washy’ on immigration.’ The GOP’s hard-core conservative base is not going to forget this one no matter how much the governor’s office tries to spin it away.
Legislative committees are busy, busy, busy today
Once again, we’re putting listings of all of the day’s State House committee hearings in a separate post here, rather than in our Happening Today section above, largely for readers’ convenience. Here goes:
-- Joint Committee on Export Development will review two bills, 10 a.m., Hearing Room B-2
-- Mental Health and Substance Abuse Committee will review a dozen bills concerning mental health and substance abuse treatment, 10 a.m., Hearing Room B-2.
-- Joint Education Committee will hear testimony on more than 30 bills dealing with special education and special education finance, 10 a.m., Room A-2.
-- Financial Services Committee will hear about two dozen bills related to automotive insurance, 10:30 a.m., Hearing Room A-1.
-- Health Care Financing Committee takes up 19 bills related to pharmacies and prescription drugs, oral health and disease management, including a Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry bill dealing with prescription drug pricing transparency and a Rep. David Nangle bill that seeks to improve health care cost transparency, 11 a.m., Room B-1.
-- Joint Committee on Public Health will review about 21 bills dealing with women's health and other issues, 1 p.m., Hearing Room A-2.
-- Joint Committee on Revenue will review bills pertaining to the personal income tax, 1 p.m., Hearing Room B-2.
-- Judiciary Committee will review bills related to ‘crimes legislation,’ including Gov. Charlie Baker's bill dealing with assaults on police officers, 1 p.m., Room A-1
Alan Sisitsky, former Bill Bulger nemesis in Senate, passes away
Former state Sen. Alan Sisitsky, a Springfield Democrat who often clashed with then Senate president Bill Bulger when the two served together decades ago, has passed away at the age of 75, reports SHNS’s Andy Metzger at Masslive. A sampling of Sisitsky’s biting criticism of Bulger et gang: "The internal structure of the Massachusetts Legislature is so hierarchical, so authoritarian, that election to the General Court merely constitutes admission to a private club with full membership privileges afforded only to the most supine, the most groveling of initiates, to the minions who happily endorse the political epigram 'to get ahead, go along.'"
Baker faces mounting political pressure over natural-gas compressor
All politics is local, as they say, and Gov. Charlie Baker is re-learning that axiom big time when it comes to the proposed natural gas compressor on the South Shore, where a bi-partisan coalition has formed in opposition to the project, reports the Globe's Jim O’Sullivan. The governor is still maintaining that there’s little he and the state can do. Which reminds us of another political axiom: In politics, perception is reality.
Amazon plans to hire additional 900 in Boston, employing more than GE
The normally secretive Amazon.com Inc. is not only confirming it’s leasing space in Boston’s Fort Point Channel area, it’s now saying it plans to hire 900 additional people in the area, on top of the 1,000-plus it already employs here, reports Catherine Carlock and Kelly O’Brien at the BBJ. Amazon’s future Fort Point neighbor, General Electric, plans to employ 800 people here, for comparison purposes.
Washington Post: Fed probe of wife of Bernie Sanders getting more serious
This controversy has been mostly relegated to the fringe media so far, though an Associated Press story did delve into it a few weeks ago. But now the Washington Post is weighing in with a big piece on what appears to be a deepening federal probe of the role of the wife of Bernie Sanders in the demise of Burlington College after she, as president, arranged a disastrous loan for the college. The probe is apparently focusing on possible bank fraud by Jane Sanders – not Bernie Sanders, the Post story stresses. The Sanders insist the investigation is politically motivated.
‘Thank You, Massachusetts, For Protecting Our Voter Privacy’ (and not behaving like North Korea)
WGBH’s Callie Crossley is thanking Massachusetts, and other states, for refusing to go along with a requests for voter information from a Presidential commission looking into the integrity of the nation’s election system. She explains, and defends, the North Korean reference.
From Aimee Ortiz at the Globe: “Massachusetts has joined 14 other states, and the District of Columbia, in signaling support for Hawaii’s renewed challenge to President Donald Trump’s travel ban. On Monday, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey filed an amicus brief urging the courts to narrow the scope of the travel restrictions.”
Setti and Newton dragged into curriculum dispute – again
The years-long dispute over whether Newton high-school text materials are biased against Israel, and favorable towards Palestinians, is back in the news again at the Jewish News Service, with Newton mayor and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Setti Warren, an official member of the school committee, ducking questions about the latest flare-up.
Supporters hoping free community college bill not DOA
It’s likely to go nowhere in the current budget climate, but supporters of a bill to offer free community college tuition in Massachusetts hope lawmakers will at least request additional study on the proposal, according to a report at the Telegram.