Window Into The State House

It’s back: Lawmakers to propose rent control legislation   From the Globe’s Tim Logan: “A battle is brewing on Beacon Hill over a longstanding contentious issue in housing: rent control. A group of House lawmakers is getting ready to file a bill that would allow cities and towns in Massachusetts to impose rent control — which voters in 1994 banned statewide — and a variety of other measures to protect renters from eviction and steep hikes in their monthly payments.”  
  The Mueller Report, Part II: Democrats try to regroup   Republican Gov. Charlie Baker has joined Democrats in calling for the full release of the Mueller report in Washington, as Shira Schoenberg reports at MassLive. Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and other Dems say they don’t trust Attorney General William Barr’s assessment that President Trump didn’t obstruct justice during the probe into the now discredited notion that Trump et gang colluded with the Russians during the 2016 presidential election, reports Peter Bailey-Wells at the Globe. Still, Democrats seemed to be in overall strategic retreat and disarray yesterday, following Sunday’s release of the summary of the Mueller report. A sample headline from the Washington Post: “Democrats largely give up on impeachment in wake of Mueller report.” And there’s this from the Globe: “Democrats will play a risky game if they aggressively pursue investigations.”  The Herald’s Hillary Chabot writes that “deflated Democrats on Capitol Hill are scrambling to find new avenues of attack while demanding unfettered access” to full Mueller report. The Globe’s Joan Vennochi writes that it’s now clear Trump won’t be impeached and that means only one thing: He can only be beat on election day.  
  Lawmakers scrap plan for caucus ‘slush fund’ but …   Shira Schoenberg at MassLive and the Globe’s Matt Stout report that Beacon Hill leaders have nixed plans to create a central fund to pay for the expenses of legislative caucuses at the State House, a move critics said would effectively create a “slush fund” for lawmakers. But legislative caucuses may still be allowed to raise funds on their own under a new House rule.  
   Rollins and ICE go at it over ‘lookout’ memo Rollins and ICE go at it over ‘lookout’ memo  Rollins and ICE go at it over ‘lookout’ memo Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins and ICE agents yesterday were going at it after Rollins warned her staff in a memo to be on the lookout for ICE agents lurking around courthouses to arrest illegal immigrants. Rollins, who asked staffers to immediately notify her of the presence of ICE agents, went so far as to say she would now factor “into all charging and sentencing decisions the potential of immigration consequences.” The Herald’s Joe Dwinell and the Globe’s Danny McDonald have more.  
  Meanwhile, T plans to spend $25M on some spring cleaning   From Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine: “The MBTA, concerned that efforts to improve service have not been visible to most of its riders, is launching a $25 million spring cleaning at several of the transit authority’s busiest stations and following that up this summer with the launch of a $65 million initiative to overhaul a number of stations.”  Btw: The T is also trying to spruce up its image, as reported by Steve Annear at the Globe: “The MBTA is hiring for two social media jobs — and one pays $120,000.”
  Stop monkeying around: PETA sues UMass for release of primate-testing videos   People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is suing UMass Amherst to force the release of videos depicting experiments on monkeys, which the university has yet to release despite a May 2018 order to do so from the state’s supervisor of public records. The campus has argued it is entitled to invoke exemptions from public records laws — including to protect trade secrets — to keep the videos from coming out, Greta Jochem reports at the Daily Hampshire Gazette.  
  Warren behind even South Bend mayor in Iowa?   OK, once again, our standard disclaimer: It’s early in the election cycle. Still, a new poll by Emerson College Polling shows U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is still at the back of the pack of Dem presidential candidates in Iowa, behind even South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who seems to be the Democratic darling of the week, not to be confused with last week’s Democratic darling of the week, Beto O’Rourke. But Warren does do well in head-to-head matchups with President Trump. Shannon Young at MassLive has the details.  
  New York moves closer to becoming first city in nation to implement congestion pricing   Considering all the debate about traffic congestion in Massachusetts, this is interesting, via the NYT: “After years of hesitation, New York is poised to become the first city in the United States to introduce congestion pricing, which would put new electronic tolls in place for drivers entering the busiest stretches of Manhattan.” Before Bay State officials rush to prove their progressive bona fides by implementing congestion pricing here, note how NY is taking a different approach compared to what’s being discussed here, i.e. many of those already paying tolls to get into the central business district of Manhattan would be exempt from congestion pricing. The goal is to charge those currently not paying. It’s something to think about next time some local advocates talk, yet again, of exclusively socking it to Pike and Tobin motorists who already pay tolls.  
  Market Basket: There are no ghosts in Victorian garb floating through our stores   Over the weekend, CBS Boston reported that several shoppers on social media claimed they saw a ghost of a young woman, wearing traditional Victorian garb, roaming the aisles of a Market Basket in Wilmington. Yesterday, a Market Basket spokeswoman pronounced, as reported by the Globe: There are no ghosts in our stores “as far as we know,” though “if there’s anything to it, she’s probably attracted to our Victorian-era prices.” We’d love to know how Market Basket determined there was no paranormal activity in its stores. Btw: Did you know there are more than 90 paranormal societies in Massachusetts? We had no idea.  
    So why does Martha’s Vineyard have a plaque commemorating Confederate soldiers?       Spencer Buell at Boston Magazine takes a look at how Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard ended up with a Confederate plaque at the bottom of a statue of a Union soldier. It dates all the way back to the 1920s when Union veterans of the Civil War decided it was time to let bygones be bygones. He explains.        
  Virtual schools, literal costs   Christian Wade at the Newburyport Daily News has a good story on the growing popularity of the state’s two “virtual schools” that allow K-12 students to take online classes taught by state-certified instructors. The only problem: It’s costing school districts a lot of money.  
  Former Hadley selectman fined $5K for pressuring private club to reinstate him as member   We guess the membership meant a lot to him. From Jim Russell at MassLive: “The State Ethics Commission has fined former selectman Donald Pipczynski $5,000 for using his position on the board to push the Young Men’s Club of Hadley to reinstate his membership after it was revoked. The commission approved a disposition agreement with Pipczynski on March 21, according to a statement published Monday on the commission’s website.”  
  Busted: Selectman candidate voted in two towns in 2016 election   State election officials have asked the attorney general to look into claims that Sturbridge business owner now seeking a seat on that town’s board of selectmen cast votes in two communities in the 2016 presidential election, Craig Semon at the Telegram reports. Town clerks say records show Jayesh Patel voted in both Sturbridge and Shrewsbury in 2016 and may have voted in multiple local elections in 2014.