Beacon Hill game of chess

Beacon Hill’s top three political leaders, accustomed to working out most disagreements behind closed doors, are playing an interesting public game of chess with the state budget and a transportation funding bill.

Gov. Deval Patrick last week sent the transportation funding bill back to the Legislature with an amendment that would automatically raise the gas tax in 2017 if the tolls on the western section of the Massachusetts Turnpike come down as planned. Patrick says he is concerned that a funding bill promising $800 million in revenue could come up $135 million short if the tolls do come down.

Senate President Therese Murray and House Speaker Robert DeLeo say they plan to push for a vote rejecting Patrick’s amendment next week. “I don’t see a real boatload of support for either a gas tax or a toll hike,” DeLeo said. “The amendment in its present form is unacceptable, so I don’t know what we could do besides straight reject it.”

Patrick has hinted he is pressuring lawmakers to support his approach, but his legislative lobbying machine is pretty rusty. Patrick, DeLeo, and Murray are accustomed to hashing out their differences at weekly leadership meetings, so the governor and his staff have little experience in independently building support for their initiatives in the Legislature. The governor tried to exert outside public pressure on the Legislature last year to support a $1.2 billion tax plan, but that campaign gained little traction on Beacon Hill.

Patrick’s biggest problem may be that he is a lame duck. As Peter Lucas writes in the Lowell Sun, the governor has marginalized himself on Beacon Hill. “Patrick, who never showed much enthusiasm or skill in dealing with the Legislature — let alone showing the leadership much respect — in the 61/2 years he has been governor, now finds himself demanding that legislators vote for higher taxes while he has one foot out the door.”

                                                                                                                                                                                          BRUCE MOHL

BEACON HILL

The tech services tax contained in the revenue bill sitting on Gov. Deval Patrick’s desk is stirring questions, the Gloucester Times reports.

Governing analyzes how Massachusetts is using green bonds to raise money for environmental projects.

In the wake of Framingham’s fungal meningitis outbreak, the Legislature’s Committee on Public Health will propose a bill to tighten pharmaceutical industry regulations.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Freetown selectmen are defending their decision not to release a private investigator’s report into allegations of impropriety and unethical business dealings by the town’s building inspector, who has decided to retire in August after taking vacation time in July.

Roof repairs to Peabody’s city hall are expected to cost $1.3 million, the Salem News reports.

Milford casino foes say the Foxwoods proposal for their community keeps changing, making any definitive analysis difficult the Telegram & Gazette reports.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

In a truly defining moment of “bad optics,” Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed stringent restrictions on abortion access into law while he was surrounded by six white men and no women from elected office anywhere in the room. Meanwhile, Texas state Sen. Wendy White, whose filibuster of an abortion bill made her a sensation among the left, says she will not engage in another filibuster for the refiled bill which the legislature will take up this week.

ELECTIONS

Seth Moulton, a Marblehead Democrat, says he plans to challenge US Rep. John Tierney next year because he’s so frustrated with Congress, the Salem News reports.

State Sen. William Brownsberger plans to run a maverick-style campaign for Congress, WBUR reports.

Gov. Rick Perry of Texas says he doesn’t plan to run for reelection next year, the Texas Tribune reports.

Boston City Councilor Charles Yancey is hedging his bets, gathering enough signatures to run for both mayor and reelection for his own seat this fall, though he could face as many as three challengers for his district post. If he wins both, he will have to choose.

State Treasurer Steven Grossman takes the lead in fundraising over his likely Democratic gubernatorial rivals, reports the Boston Herald.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The parent company of Shaw’s and Star supermarkets will close six stores — four in Massachusetts and two in Rhode Island — by Aug. 3. Shaw’s, meanwhile, was fined $8,000 for violating the state’s item pricing laws for failing to individually price a majority of items on display over the holiday weekend.

EDUCATION

The Boston Globe argues that the Boston public schools need a long-range facilities plan to deal with overcrowding in elementary schools and the empty seats in high schools.

New guidelines from the Obama administration in the wake of the Newtown massacre on dealing with emergencies in schools have some safety experts worried over the recommendation that school staff fight back against an intruder in situations if they see no other choice. Meanwhile, insurance carriers are threatening to sharply raise premiums or deny coverage entirely for school districts that authorize employees to carry guns, the New York Times reports.

Education advocates are hoping Congress can find a compromise for at least a one-year extension to rollback the doubling of student loan rates while lawmakers work on a long-term fix.

TRANSPORTATION

Many cities are considering doing away with their parking requirements for new buildings located near mass transit stops, the Wall Street Journal reports.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Bret Stephens, writing in the Wall Street Journal, says the oil train disaster in Quebec has lessons for environmentalists who believe in moral absolutisms.

The battle over Fairhaven’s two turbines has strained longtime relationships among friends and neighbors, residents say.

MEDIA

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

A judge ruled in favor of a motion by the Patriot Ledger and Taunton Gazette to unseal the search warrants in the murder case against former Patriot Aaron Hernandez.

Oregon Public Broadcasting partners with news outlets across the state to develop a statewide news report, the Nieman Journalism Lab reports.