Ballot petition deadline, Pearl Harbor burial and more
Today is the deadline for those hoping to get a question on the next statewide election ballot to file initiative petitions with the Attorney General's Office. ... Gov. Charlie Baker has ordered national and state flags to half-staff today in honor of Navy Yeoman 3rd Class Edmund Ryan, a Wilbraham native and sailor who was killed in the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. His remains were recently identified and will be interred today. ... A day after formally launching his U.S. Senate campaign, Whitman Republican Rep. Geoff Diehl visits Hyannis, Fall River, New Bedford, Worcester and Attleboro today. ... Treasurer Deborah Goldberg attends the Pension Reserves Investment Management Board Real Estate and Timberland Committee meeting, 84 State St., Boston, 9:30 a.m. ... Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders attends an ‘Aging in Massachusetts’ listening session held by the Governor's Council, Elder Services of Berkshire County, 877 South St. - Ste. 4e, Pittsfield, 10 a.m. ... Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ashspeaks at the ribbon cutting of Nitto Denko Avecia Inc.'s new biotech facility, 155 Fortune Blvd., Milford, 10 a.m. ... Massachusetts Gaming Commission chairman Steve Crosby is a guest on ‘Boston Public Radio,’ WGBH-FM 89.7, 1:30 p.m. ...Treasurer Deborah Goldberg chairs a meeting of the Massachusetts Clean Water Trust Board, Treasurer's Office, Room 227, 1:30 p.m. .... U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano is an in-studio guest on "NightSide with Dan Rea," WBZ NewsRadio 1030, 8 p.m.
Baker backs off showdown, agrees to $200M assessment without Medicaid reforms (for now)
Gov. Charlie Baker will sign a bill that slaps a $200 million tax on employers to help pay for Medicaid – without his much sought-after reforms of the mammoth Medicaid program that’s gobbling up an ever increasing portion of the overall state budget, reports the Globe’s Michael Levenson and SHNS’s Matt Murphy (pay wall). In effect, the Republican Baker, who had hoped to link the new fees with reforms, is putting his faith in the Democratic-controlled Legislature’s pledge to work with the governor on future Medicaid reforms, as Murphy puts it. It’s a big gamble by the governor, who’s risking the wrath of business groups and conservatives by signing the $200 million assessment without reforms. We’ll find out this fall if this is a Lucy With The Football moment for Baker.
They’re going for it: Retailers to file for sales-tax cut ballot question
Angered by the Legislature’s failure to approve a sales-tax holiday this year, the Retailers Association of Massachusetts is carrying through on its threat to file for a sales-tax cut question on the 2018 ballot, reports the Globe’s Jon Chesto and SHNS’s Michael Norton at the BBJ. Right now, the group has four versions of the initiative at the ready – cutting the tax to either 4.5 percent or 5 percent and with or without a mandatory two-day sales tax holiday each year – and will make a decision later about which one to go with in 2018.
The big question for retailers is whether to go for a cut to a 4.5 percent or 5 percent rate level. In 2010, voters rejected a sales-tax cut to 3 percent, with many believing the measure went too far. What’s too far this time?
Meanwhile, nurses push for referendum on minimum staffing levels
More on the ballot-question front, with today’s filing deadline for ballot initiatives, via SHNS’s Andy Metzger at the Greenfield Recorder: “Minimum nurse staffing levels would be initiated in operating rooms, maternity wards and outpatient units under a proposed ballot question that the Massachusetts Nurses Association says would affect every hospital in the state.”
Could Diehl’s pro-Trump campaign galvanize Dems and harm Baker?
As expected, state Rep. Geoff Diehl yesterday announced his candidacy for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate, reports the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald. His populist quest for the “people’s seat” prompts WGBH’s Peter Kadzis to wonder if Diehl may be a “destabilizer” candidate who, if he gets to the general election, might rev up liberal Dems with his unapologetic pro-Trump agenda. That’s the last thing moderate Republican Gov. Charlie Baker needs, as Peter notes.
The Herald’s Joe Battenfeld thinks Baker’s main worry should be disgruntled pro-Trump voters sitting out next year’s gubernatorial race.
The Herald’s Howie Carr is not buying into the notion that others are urging former Gov. Deval Patrick to run for president. “Pols are always being ‘urged’ to run — usually by the guy staring back at them in the mirror every morning.” The Globe’s Rob DeCola and the Herald’s Chris Cassidy have more on all the Patrick speculation – speculation Patrick isn’t denying.
The Curse of the Massachusetts Presidential Candidate
Michael Dukakis, John Kerry, Mitt Romney. All three of them Bay State pols who failed to close the general-election deal after winning their respective party’s presidential nomination. Like widgets, the state is now churning out three more potential presidential candidates – Elizabeth Warren, Seth Moulton and Deval Patrick, all three Democrats – and The Republican newspaper says enough is enough: “Trump won 30 states, and most of them are repelled by the thought of liberal Massachusetts Democrats telling them how America should think, act and be governed. ... A Democratic Party ticket with a Massachusetts flavor would do a favor to Trump.”
Report: Dems quietly making legislative inroads across the country
Democrats may have suffered some devastating Congressional losses of late. But Alex Roarty at McClatchy reports Dems are doing rather well this year in legislative races in Trump districts across the country, including recent legislative contests in New Hampshire.
Thirty years later, jurors summoned to explain murder conviction
This is pretty amazing – especially if it turns out the conviction was indeed tainted by blatant racism. From Jenifer McKim at the Globe: “More than 30 years after a Plymouth County jury found 19-year-old Darrell Jones guilty of a Brockton murder, three jurors appeared in court Tuesday to answer allegations that the conviction may have been tainted by racism. The highly unusual hearing marked what appears to be the first time a Massachusetts jury had been summoned back to court.”
Who’s to blame for Anthony Scaramucci? Scott Brown, step forward
After Anthony Scaramucci was appointed President Trump’s communications director last month, former U.S. Senator and current New Zealand ambassador Scott Brown bragged he was the one who introduced the Mooch to the Donald. After Scaramucci’s inglorious sacking ten days later, Brown is declining comment. The Globe’s Danny McDonald has the details.
Baker weighs into immigration debate by filing detention bill
Reacting to a recent Supreme Judicial Court ruling, Gov. Charlie Baker yesterday filed legislation that would allow state and local law enforcement officials to detain some illegal immigrants based on requests from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, saying his bill is aimed at “violent and dangerous criminals,” reports Shannon Dooling at WBUR. The head of the state’s ACLU is calling the proposal a “pretend security measure.”
This doesn’t exactly cast charter schools in the best light. From the Globe’s James Vaznis: “The median pay package for the top leaders of the 16 charter schools in Boston was $170,000 last year, making most of them among the highest-paid public school officials in Boston, according to a Globe review of payroll data.”
A problem you didn’t know was a problem: Manufacturing jobs going unfilled in Massachusetts
Here’s a problem most people don’t realize is a problem, largely due to the false media and political narrative that America’s manufacturing sector has been completely hollowed out: Many precision manufacturing jobs are going unfilled in western Massachusetts and elsewhere because employers simply can’t find enough workers. U.S. Rep. Richard Neal says more needs to be done to connect people with these jobs, reports Shannon Young at MassLive.
Lawmakers’ push for ivory-sale ban boosted by court case
State Sen. Jason Lewis and Rep. Lori Ehrlich say a federal case in Boston involving an alleged illegal trafficker of elephant ivory and rhinoceros horns has given a welcome boost to their own legislative push to ban most ivory sales in Massachusetts, reports William Dowd at Wicked Local.
Galvin’s shadow still looms over Winthrop Square tower project
Gov. Charlie Baker last week may have signed the new “shadow law” that apparently clears the way for Millennium Partners to build its controversial Winthrop Square tower. But Secretary of State Bill Galvin, who has criticized the project and the entire development process, says the debate over whether the planned tower casts too big a shadow is far from over. Isaiah Thompson at WGBH has the details.
With Gov. Baker’s signature on the revamped legal marijuana law still drying, several communities are moving to put all-out bans or temporary moratoriums on pot shops in place. Braintree Mayor Joseph Sullivan said he’ll submit a ban on weed shops to the city council next week, reports Fred Hanson at the Patriot Ledger. Holyoke’s council put a temporary ban in place to give the city time to write new laws, reports Mike Pleasance at MassLive. And Gloucester voters will likely see a ballot question in November, reports Ray Lamont at the Gloucester Times.
Healey taps former Sheriff Cabral for pot board
Speaking of legalized pot: Attorney General Maura Healey has picked former Suffolk County Sheriff and state Public Safety Secretary Andrea Cabral as one of her picks for the new state pot advisory board, the Herald is reporting.
Western Mass. unloads on Eversource’s ‘obscenely greedy’ rate request
State lawmakers, local officials and fixed-income residents called on the Department of Public Utilities to reject a proposed Eversource electricity rate increase that would disproportionately impact the western part of the state, Larry Parnass of the Berkshire Eagle reports. Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer called the request “obscenely greedy.”
Maybe Gov. Baker can find them a temporary home in a motel? The Department of Motor Vehicles is restarting its search for yet a new North Shore storefront, more than a year after it last operated a branch in the area, Paul Leighton of the Salem News reports. The agency will issue a request for proposals for a third time after the latest site it picked was caught up in a foreclosure proceeding.