Baker, Rosenberg go nuclear

There’s a new credo on Beacon Hill, apparently: If things aren’t going your way, blow it up.

In the Legislature, Senate President Stanley Rosenberg appears to be following through on invoking the “nuclear option” he has been threatening to use unless the House becomes more accommodating in releasing Senate bills from the joint committees, where House members outnumber senators by a nearly 2-1 margin. Accommodation ended up in the commode when House Speaker Robert DeLeo penned an op-ed in the Boston Globe declaring things were working fine just the way they are, so why change?

That appeared to be the final straw for Rosenberg and his colleagues, who voted 39-0, Republicans included, to draw up a plan for their own standing committees to handle Senate bills. But all the action does is draw a line in the sand and send a message to the House that it is a bicameral legislature, not a unilateral body.

It still means bills cannot pass unless both chambers pass them. But DeLeo and his members are going to learn that goes both ways. While they can gum up the works for the Senate, the obverse is true as well. If DeLeo holds Senate bills hostage, you can bet House-led measures will die on the vine as well. And then what do we have? Congress.

But it’s not quite as radical as it appears. Even though the joint committee system is centuries old, Massachusetts is just one of three states that work through that set-up, with most legislatures mimicking Congress with separate committees for each chamber and then conference committees to work out differences.

Down the hall, though, Gov. Charlie Baker also wants to blow up things. He doesn’t like the way the MBTA is running so he wants to take a wrecking ball to it and start all over. Baker has asked every member of the T’s board of directors, except his Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack, to resign. Baker sent his letters in the wake of a scathing report by a special committee looking at the MBTA’s woes this winter. Among the committee’s recommendations was a mass resignation of the board.

A spokeswoman for Baker says, “We anticipate most of the members will honor the governor’s request.” Pollack envisions a new board in place by the next meeting in May.

But the chairman of the board says don’t hold your breath. “The Legislature created us, and the Legislature will have to eliminate us,” John Jenkins declared.

Right. They’ll get right on that.




The House unveiled a $38 billion spending plan for the coming budget year. It includes a five-year exemption for the MBTA from the anti-privatization Pacheco Law. (CommonWealth) Rep. Jim Miceli of Wilmington made a cause out of opposing cuts in the Tewksbury Hospital budget proposed by Baker, and it paid off with full funding restored in the House Ways and Means plan. (Lowell Sun) The House budget also restores $4 million in funding for regional tourism councils. (Gloucester Times)

A Boston Herald editorial praises House budget makers for not dipping into the rainy day fund, the first time that hasn’t happened since 2007. Yet the House and Baker are guilty of swiping money headed for the rainy day fund before it gets there. (CommonWealth)

Attorney General Maura Healey, speaking to the North Shore Chamber of Commerce in Salem, focuses on the opioid crisis and her concerns about the closing of Spaulding Hospital by Partners HealthCare. Of Partners, she says: “It’s a nonprofit with a charitable mission. It’s important to keep that in mind.”

State officials say a heroin crisis is fueling a hepatitis C crisis as drug users share needles. (Telegram & Gazette) Hepatitis C is highly contagious, but can be cured with incredibly expensive new wonder drugs. CommonWealth recently reported on Sovaldi, one of those wonder drugs.


A new WBUR/MassINC Polling Group survey finds an uptick in support for Boston hosting the 2024 Olympics.


This is interesting: Time releases its list of the 100 most influential people in the world, each one introduced by someone else. Jack Nicholson writes about Saturday Night Live’s Lorne Michaels; Rand Paul introduces Charles and David KochMartha Stewart touts Kim Kardashian; Barack Obama plugs Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi; and Hillary Clinton gives a shoutout to Elizabeth Warren.

The Obama administration threatens to withhold $1.3 billion in hospital funding from Florida if the state doesn’t expand its Medicaid program. (Governing)


New York Mayor Bill de Blasio seeks to lead a nationwide shift to the left. (Governing)

An important division of the Clinton Foundation dealing with health care issues operates quietly from a nondescript South Boston building — and its dealings and donors provide “ammunition to critics who question the degree to which political and financial influence tend to go hand in hand in the world of Clinton charities,” writes the Globe‘s Annie Linskey.

Gov. Charlie Baker says that he has no plans to immerse himself in the 2016 presidential campaign. (Republican/MassLive)


Sen. Elizabeth Warren says banks should be limited to “boring banking”  and prevented from putting customers money at risk in investments if they want access to federal insurance for deposits. (U.S. News & World Report)

The new ownership group running the Red Sox triple-A affiliate unveiled plans for an $85 million riverfront stadium in Providence, which would be the new home for the team, which has long been based in nearby Pawtucket.

iRobot has provoked the National Radio Astronomy Observatory over radio frequencies for its new robotic lawnmower. The FCC has stepped in.

Starbucks is coming to Lynn. (Item)

Gisele Bundchen retires from the runway after 20 years. (Time)


In an editorial, the Salem News raises concerns about the way the Salem State University Assistance Corp. operates.

The growing incidence of extreme behavior problems among young children in the early elementary grades prompts concern and action from superintendents and teachers across the state. (CommonWealth)


Paul Levy picks up on a “Notice of Material Change” filing by Steward Health Care System that the for-profit medical chain is severing its ties with Children’s Hospital Boston and entering a deal with Partners HealthCare to provide pediatric and newborn care. (Not Running a Hospital)

Universal screening for postpartum depression, one of the most common complications of pregnancy and childbirth, is proving to be a tough sell on Beacon Hill. (CommonWealth)

How the 2012 April heat wave helped Boston Marathon planners  prepare for the 2013 bombing. (Boston Business Journal)


Just because it’s not winter…  The commute from the south was all bollixed up this morning when a box truck crashed on the Southeast Expressway, backing up traffic on both sides and halting Red Line and commuter rail service when the cab of the truck was left dangling off an overpass over rail tracks. And for good measure, a woman went into labor in the gridlock. (Patriot Ledger)

Commuter headaches continue as track repairs begin on the Haverhill to Reading line.(Eagle-Tribune)

A Braintree municipal commission has ordered Uber and Lyft to stop operating their ride-sharing businesses there until they register with the town. (Boston Herald)


Harvard and MIT have dealt very differently with calls to divest their endowment holdings in fossil fuel companies. (Boston Globe)

The first legal battle begins with hearings on challenges to President Obama‘s authority to issue executive orders to reduce greenhouse gases. (New York Times)


Aaron Hernandez was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole after a jury found the former NFL player guilty of murdering Odin Lloyd. Peter Gelzinis says the deliberative seriousness with which the jury handed its duty was a testament to our judicial system. (Boston Herald) Hernandez still faces murder charges in connection with the 2012 shooting death of two men in Boston. (Boston Globe)

Four Worcester protesters are charged with disturbing the peace by blocking traffic on Martin Luther King Day. Police had offered to drop charges if the protesters agreed to not hold future protests, but the offer was rejected. (Telegram & Gazette) Somerville MayorJoseph Curtatone says such protests should be tolerated. (CommonWealth)

With the Plymouth District Attorney‘s office reeling from a series of lawsuits and decisions to drop murder trials, one of the office’s top prosecutors at the center of the maelstrom has gone on sick leave. (The Enterprise)

Officer Friendly or not? Why African Americans fear the police. (Bay State Banner)

Well, it’s not like he had a job: The Attorney General’s office has indicted a Weymouth man on charges of unemployment fraud, saying he collected unemployment benefits while in jail. (Patriot Ledger)


Sports radio shock jock John Dennis says he’s heading off the air and checking into rehab for an alcohol problem. (Boston Herald)

Politico is launching what it calls morning playbooks in Massachusetts and a handful of other states. (Politico)

NBC has changed its version of the 2012 kidnapping of foreign correspondent Richard Engel, now saying it was likely Sunni militants and not Syrian government forces who were involved after a New York Times story questioned details of the account.