Window Into The State House

Window into the State House provides our readers a synopsis of important issues of interest, past and current, that are being proposed, debated or acted upon by the Massachusetts Legislature. Many issues that are not related to local city government services are acted upon and have a direct impact on daily life. They are tax policy, transportation infrastructure, judicial appointments, social services and health, as well as higher education. We will excerpt reports from the gavel-to-gavel coverage of House and Senate sessions by news sources focused on this important aspect of our lives. These sources include a look ahead at the coming week in state government and summaries and analyses of the past week, re-caps of a range of state government activity, as well as links to other news.

Is Walsh beefing up for higher office?

Mayor Marty Walsh is bringing in all sorts of former Clinton and Obama campaign officials to help win re-election this year. But is it a case of overkill against a not-so-mighty mayoral foe (i.e. Tito Jackson) or is Walsh actually setting his sights on post-election higher offices? The Globe’s Meghan Irons explores all the who, why and when possibilities.

Of course, all politics is local, no matter how many big-shot staffers you have on your campaign committee, so Walsh is going to have to take quite seriously the mother of a shot child who’s accusing Walsh of being a “liar,” as the Herald is reporting today.

Cambridge’s vote heard round the world
Whether you consider it serious, symbolic or silly, it’s still amazing how much attention the Cambridge City Council’s Trump-impeachment vote is getting, from Washington’s The Hill to the UK’s Independent. Of course, there’s loads of local attention too at WCVB and NECN and elsewhere.
Amid sanctuary uproar, SJC to hear ICE case
As some Bay State cities dig in to do battle with federal agencies over immigration policies, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court will hear arguments today in a case that could decide whether local authorities can detain someone at the request of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, Milton Valencia reports in the Globe.
Cage match: Hodgson, Curtatone to square off over immigration
Speaking of sanctuary-city uproars: Sure, Barney Frank and other notables will be there. But the real attraction at a UMass Law School symposium on Thursday will be Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson, in one corner, and Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone, in another corner, and they’ll be discussing immigration. Hodgson has called for Curtatone’s arrest over his handling of sanctuary-city matters, while Curtatone has called Hodgson a “jack-booted thug,” as reported by SHNS’s Katie Lannan at the Herald News. It should be an intellectually stimulating symposium.
Supporters fear Motley is taking the fall for others
From the Globe’s Laura Krantz: “At UMass Boston, where officials are grappling with overdue construction projects, declining enrollment, and a looming $30 million deficit, there is frustration — particularly among black faculty — that chancellor J. Keith Motley is receiving too much blame for the campus’s problems.”

Motley obviously deserves some, if not most, of the blame. He was in charge. Period. But as Joan Vennochi has asked: “What did Marty Meehan know about the fiscal crisis at UMass Boston, when did he know it and — as president of the entire University of Massachusetts system — what did he do about it?” In other words, the overseers were supposed to oversee. Period.

Arroyo: I shall return
Suspended Suffolk County Register of Probate Felix Arroyo, still maintaining that his court office is stuffed with racist saboteurs, is vowing to return to his job and knock heads, the Herald’s Jack Encarnacao reports. “I have a message to those who have participated in these acts of racism, sexism and sabotage,” Arroyo said. “Everyone must be held accountable for their actions, and when I return I will do all in my power to ensure you are held accountable for yours.”
Bump finds $193M in ‘improper or questionable’ MassHealth payments
From the BBJ’s Jessica Bartlett: “The state has been double-paying for behavioral health services for MassHealth members, resulting in $193 million in improper or questionable payments to providers throughout the state. The findings come from Auditor Suzanne Bump’s office, which issued a report on Monday calling for the state medical insurance program to change its billings and claims process to prevent any future improper payments and recoup money improperly given out.” MassHealth officials are vehemently disputing Bump’s conclusions, according to published reports.


State agriculture commissioner: I need money to regulate pot pesticides
Speaking of pot: Everywhere you turn, it seems someone needs money or new legislation to deal with legalized marijuana. The latest example: Agriculture Commissioner John Lebeaux, who says he needs money to regulate the use of pesticides by those growing pot, reports Shira Schoenberg at MassLive. “I think my folks would need some help to adequately manage this process,” Lebeaux told the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Marijuana Policy. “I can’t in good conscience say we could just absorb it and continue to do all the things we do.”

Meanwhile, Secretary of State William Galvin’s office says lawmakers need to make the process for cities and towns to opt out of hosting marijuana businesses easier to follow, reports SHNS’s Colin Young at the Recorder.

Amherst College embraces its inner Mammoth
It took more than a year, but Amherst College has chosen its first official sports mascot: The Mammoths. Alban Murtishi of MassLive reports the nickname was chosen through an online vote and a multi-step process that began with the school distancing itself from its namesake and unofficial mascot—Lord Jeffery Amherst—after students protested his involvement with settlers’ efforts to use smallpox against American Indian tribes. Why mammoths? The liberal arts college has displayed a full mammoth skeleton on campus since the 1920s.
Diehl awaits sign from donor heaven before challenging Warren
State Rep. Geoff Diehl, a conservative Republican and big Donald Trump fan, is setting up a federal fundraising account as a way to gauge how much support he might receive if he ultimately decides to challenge U.S Sen. Elizabeth Warren next year, reports the Herald’s Matt Stout. Diehl want to make clear: It’s merely an “exploratory” move, not a definitive move, toward an official candidacy.
Warren to give commencement address at UMass-Amherst
Speaking of Elizabeth Warren, the state’s senior senator will give the keynote address at the undergraduate commencement ceremony at the University of Massachusetts Amherst on Friday, May 12 at McGuirk Alumni Stadium. The ceremony begins at 4:30 p.m., UMass-Amherst announced yesterday.
Baker to honor Cellucci with new leadership award
From the Globe’s Frank Phillips: “Governor Charlie Baker, who looked to Paul Cellucci as a mentor, will now honor the late former governor by creating a state public service award in his name.”