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.
Beacon Hill showdown over forced treatment for addicts Gov. Charlie Baker plans to testify today at a legislative hearing in support of his latest anti-opioids legislation. But there was plenty of pre-hearing sparring yesterday over a provision that would let medical staff to lock up users for treatment, a measure supported by at least one police chief and opposed by the ACLU, reports the Herald’s Bob McGovern. Ex-Sen. Downing reflects on how there really is a life after Beacon Hill Former state Sen. Benjamin Downing sat down with the Berkshire Eagle’s Heather Bellow and reflected on his decade on Beacon
Hill as he begins his new life as an executive for a solar company. Downing cites legislative progress made on issues important to western Massachusetts, reflects on being a new parent and admits that his time in the sausage factory left him with a mixed outlook. “If my 10 years in office taught me anything it’s that change is frustrating, but there are many reasons to be hopeful.” Report: Beacon Hill compromise close on non-competes This is a huge deal within the business community, if a deal is indeed reached. From Jon Chesto at the Globe: “Negotiators on Beacon Hill say they’re closing in on a compromise to restrict the use of noncompete contracts, after a previous effort collapsed in the final hours of the Legislature’s last two-year session. Senator Jason Lewis and Representative Paul Brodeur, cochairmen of the Labor and Workforce Development Committee, said they are hopeful a version of the legislation will pass the House and Senate this year, ending a decade-long tussle over the issue.” MEMA: Bay State has more nuclear false-alarm safeguards than Hawaii Massachusetts Emergency Management director Kurt Schwartz says it’s unlikely a false nuclear-attack alert, like the one seen in Hawaii over the weekend, can happen here. Why? Because it takes a total of three people at the state-level to send out emergency alerts in Massachusetts, not one, as was apparently the case in Hawaii. Bob Shaffer at WBUR has the somewhat reassuring details. Net neutrality supporters sense potential victory in U.S. Senate U.S. Sen. Edward Markey today is expected to resume his attacks on Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who last month led efforts to gut the Obama administration’s net neutrality rules. The Washington Post is reporting that 50 senators have now endorsed a legislative measure to override the FCC ruling, leaving supporters just one Republican vote shy of the necessary votes to pass a Senate “resolution of disapproval.” Warren hauls in another $2.8M in campaign funds U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s campaign announced yesterday that she’s hauled in another $2.8 million in campaign funds, bringing her war chest total to a whopping $14.1 million, reports Chris Cassidy at the Herald. Needless to say, many, including the Herald’s Joe Battenfeld, are speculating just how much of that money will be used for her re-election bid this year – and how much might be used to push a possible 2020 presidential bid. Meanwhile, Warren backs Congressional efforts to protect states with legal marijuana How far these efforts will go in a Republican-controlled Congress is not clear. But Congress clearly needs to do something about the standoff between the Trump administration and states, like Massachusetts, with legal marijuana. Shira Schoenberg at MassLive reports U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is now throwing her support behind efforts by a bi-partisan group of lawmakers to protect states’ rights to legalize pot. Warning: Voters exercising their democratic rights may be a hazard to your schools Some Amherst parents are concerned about the flood of voters that make their way to the town’s schools on election days, saying the unfettered public access makes schools and students less safe, Scott Merzbach reports in the Hampshire Gazette. The police department is conducting an assessment of the security issues raised by the voting-day practice, a custom followed by scores of communities across the state. Good, boy: New leash and poopie pickup rules for wildlife-management areas We would have thought there were already strict leash rules in state wildlife-management areas, but apparently not. Mary Whitfill at the Patriot Ledger has the details of coming new rules, focusing on the impact at English Salt Marsh and Burrage Pond Wildlife Refuge in Halifax and Hanover.