DeLeo vs. Rosenberg

The battle for control of the legislative process on Beacon Hill took an interesting turn on Tuesday, when House Speaker Robert DeLeo dismissed a Senate rules proposal as “ill-advised, disruptive, and …detrimental to the public interest.”

For weeks, DeLeo’s top lieutenant, House Majority Leader Ron Mariano, has been hammering Senate President Stanley Rosenberg for violating legislative decorum by pitching the Senate’s proposal in press interviews and on Twitter. Mariano insists the rules discussion should be confined to the six-member legislative conference committee trying to find common ground between the two branches. He has warned Rosenberg that his public posturing could have broader repercussions.

On Tuesday, DeLeo did some public posturing of his own, launching a broadside at the Senate proposal in an op-ed in the Boston Globe. The Speaker made clear he’s not going to give an inch. “The Senate’s proposal is an impolitic and manufactured reaction to a non-existent problem and is a significant distraction at a time when the Commonwealth is at a critical juncture,” he wrote.

The increasingly contentious fight between the House and Senate is focused on how bills move forward on Beacon Hill. Currently, joint legislative committees, made up of members of both branches, hold hearings on bills and then vote to move them forward or kill them. The joint committees have House and Senate chairmen, but House members typically outnumber Senate members by an 11-6 margin. So House members tend to control which bills get reported out of committee.

The Senate proposal would allow House and Senate members, with a majority vote of just the members of their branch, to report a bill out of committee to the branch from which it originated. Any bill reported out of committee to the House or Senate would still need the approval of the other branch of the Legislature, so the proposal doesn’t tilt the formal balance of power on Beacon Hill. The Globe editorialized in support of the Senate rules proposal.

DeLeo said the current legislative process is working well and there’s no need to tinker with it. As evidence, he points to a bill that would have expanded the reach of the state’s bottle deposit law to most noncarbonated beverage containers. The bill died in committee, so its backers took the issue directly to voters last year in a ballot question that was overwhelmingly defeated.

“Clearly, the joint committee and the people were on the same page in terms of their concerns,” DeLeo wrote. “If committee members, whether senators or representatives, can’t convince a majority of their colleagues to support their bill, they should take a hard look at the policy they are promoting rather than blaming the process.”

DeLeo’s reasoning appears sound, but it ignores the reality of life on Beacon Hill. While Rosenberg appears to be trying to decentralize power in the Senate, DeLeo has consolidated power in the House. What the Speaker wants, he usually gets. On the bill expanding the reach of the bottle deposit law, for example, the no-news-taxes DeLeo labeled it a tax, signaling to House members that it should not pass. The bill died in committee. What’s more, had the bill been allowed to go the Senate and received approval there, nothing would have forced DeLeo and his House minions to sign off on it.

The two branches are now on a collision course, one that could leave a lot of wreckage in its wake. DeLeo warned the Senate against pursuing a so-called nuclear option, where the Senate would abandon the joint legislative committees and establish its own panels to review and approve bills. The Speaker said the result would be a “muddled mess” that “will only serve to make Beacon Hill look more like Capitol Hill in terms of gridlock and paralysis.”




Deval Patrick, who repeatedly said he was eager to make money after leaving the governor’s office, now looks poised to do just that, signing on with Bain Capital, the venture capital firm founded by his predecessor in office, Mitt Romney. Patrick will be managing director of a new “social impact” line of work at Bain aimed at producing profits and social good. (Boston Globe)

Officials from New England Studios in Devens warn that Gov. Charlie Baker’s proposal to do away with the film tax credit would eliminate the jobs of about 7,000 people. (LowellSun)


Worcester religious leaders speak out against “increasing levels of hate speech” against people of color. (Telegram & Gazette) T&G columnist Dianne Williamson asks the religious leaders for specifics, but gets none. “I’m not sure how you address an issue without addressing the issue,” Williamson says.

Boston’s police and fire departments lag considerably behind other city agencies when it comes to the diversity of their workforce. (Boston Globe)

The Saugus Historical Commission authorizes the developer of the old Hilltop Steakhouse property on Route 1 to tear down the restaurant and build a mixed-use project. The developer has indicated the famous neon cactus sign that beckoned visitors to the restaurant may be retained. (Item)

Braintree residents are protesting late fees they are being charged on excise tax bills they say they never received. (Patriot Ledger)


No date has been set yet for a citywide vote on a New Bedford casino but the City Council passed a resolution unanimously in favor of a casino as a show of unified support to the state Gaming Commission. (Standard-Times) A Globe editorial says the state gambling commission should hold back and not issue a third casino license if it’s not convinced a gambling spot in New Bedford or Brockton would be viable.

Matthew Beaton, the state environment secretary, threw Wynn Resorts a curve when he put the brakes on its acquisition of an MBTA-owned parcel of land for its planned Everett casino. The Baker administration is now laying out a plan to allow the process to move forward by putting the land into escrow while the necessary environmental review is completed. (Boston Globe)


Four employees of the Department of Defense security contractor Blackwater Worldwide were sentenced to lengthy prison terms for the killing of 14 Iraqi civilians, with one guard getting life and the other three sentenced to 30 years. (U.S. News & World Report)

Indiana hires a public relations firm to repair its reputation. (Time)


Veronica Turner calls Boston the nation’s third most inequitable city. (CommonWealth)

Service Employees International Union 1199 sees an opportunity for big gains in its ranks in merger talks between Boston Medical Center and Tufts Medical Center. (Boston Globe)


A school committee member in Tewksbury resigns to pursue various complaints and legal action against the town in connection with the release of information about special ed students and their parents, including details that could lead to the identification of individual students. (Lowell Sun)

State education leaders warn about the economic impacts of declining numbers of high school graduates. (Berkshire Eagle)


Paul Levy is willing to abandon his clarion call for evidenced-based health care management when it comes to his annual checkup. (Not Running a Hospital)

John McDonough analyzes the Congressional Medicare deal. (CommonWealth)


The Montachusett Regional Transit Authority is hiking bus fares by 25 cents, but first it will hold a series of meetings with the public to take input. (Lowell Sun)

Ari Ofsevit says Larry DiCara is wrong about banning MBTA buses from downtown Boston streets. (CommonWealth)


British Columbia officials say a carbon tax is working, and Sen. Michael Barrett of Lexington says a carbon fee can work in Massachusetts. (CommonWealth)

With the apparent demise of Cape Wind, the New Bedford Marine Terminal is in danger of becoming a white elephant. (Boston Herald)

For a second straight day yesterday, Harvard students blocked the entrance to the campus building housing President Drew Faust‘s office to pressure the university to divest its holdings in fossil fuel companies. (Boston Globe) This morning, the protest expanded to include students outside a second building housing another administrative office. (The Harvard Crimson)

The Department of Public Utilities dispenses with a regulation that required electricity companies to adjust consumers’ bills when they switch electricity suppliers. (MassLive)


A woman is suing the State Police in connection with the fatal shooting of her mentally-ill brother who was agitated and aggressive — but unarmed — during a 2013 encounter in Quincy. (Boston Globe)

After two-and-a-half months of proceedings, fatigue is setting in over the Aaron Hernandez murder trial, says the Globe. But we won’t soon be done with the one-time Patriots player. He also is facing charges in connection with a Boston double murder, a case that legal eagles tell the Boston Herald is stronger than the one for which he now awaits a verdict.

Plymouth District Attorney Timothy Cruz has dropped murder charges in a trial in which racist emails from prosecutors in his office surfaced as evidence. (The Enterprise)

Prospects don’t look good for an increase in state funding for witness protection efforts. Meanwhile, Boston state Rep. Russell Holmes is urging the city’s school leaders to encourage teachers to report information they may overhear from students about crimes. (Boston Herald)

In the latest questionable fatal police shooting, a reserve officer in the Tulsa, Oklahoma, sheriff’s department killed a suspect when he fired his handgun that he mistakenly thought was a Taser. (New York Times)


Vox’s Ezra Klein and Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight get into a row over aggregation ethics.

HarperCollins has reached an agreement to have Amazon publish and sell its books online.