Ride-sharing showdown looms

The Massachusetts Senate is slated to unveil its ride-sharing bill this week, which should provide a hint of how contentious the negotiations between the two branches will be as the legislative session comes to an end at the end of next month.

The House bill, which was approved in early March, didn’t please anyone. The taxi industry thought it went too easy on ride-sharing companies, while Uber and Lyft thought it contained too much red tape. The two companies also bridled at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center and Logan Airport being declared off-limits to them for five years.

A Boston Globe editorial on Sunday called on the Senate to fix a House bill that it described as “a mishmash of backward thinking that would restrict consumer choice, needlessly duplicate existing requirements, and undercut the state’s reputation as a leader in innovation.”

If the Senate and House end up at odds on ride-sharing, it could be a long July. Two other major priorities – energy legislation and the state budget – are up in the air. Sen. Ben Downing of Pittsfield has already warned that the Senate’s energy bill is going to be “more comprehensive” than the “too narrow” House version, which focused exclusively on offshore wind and hydroelectricity. He said he thinks the House and Senate can resolve their differences on energy before the end of the session, but it won’t be easy. “It will be tight and it will take time,” he said.

The two branches are also far apart on the budget. House Speaker Robert DeLeo last week pointedly criticized the Senate for larding up its version of the budget with policy riders. He said the Senate bill has 300 riders, compared to just 100 in the House budget. “My idea would be that those are best left to committee and should be addressed at committee and not in the budget,” he said.

Budget negotiations are further complicated by sliding revenue numbers, which means House and Senate officials will have to find common ground on a host of issues with less money to split between them.

There are lots of other bills pending between the two branches (the Globe editorial board gives its wish list here). Some, like the transgender rights bill, should pass, but tension between DeLeo and Senate President Stan Rosenberg could lead to delays. With leaders squabbling, the final month of the legislative session could get interesting.

–BRUCE MOHL

 

BEACON HILL

The Senate is pushing for a change in the eligibility criteria for state-funded emergency shelter for homeless families, decrying the current standard, which requires that families spend at least one night in place “unfit for human habitation” before being eligible.The Baker administration — and some advocates for the homeless — say the change is well-meaning but misguided. (Boston Globe)

Lyme disease sufferers push for insurance coverage of long-term antibiotic treatment. (Gloucester Times)

An economic development bill, including $600 million in capital spending, is making its way through on Beacon Hill. (Boston Globe)

Legislation on Beacon Hill would require gas companies to move more aggressively to plug leaks in their network, which are responsible for a good share of the state’s heat-trapping gasses and which cost ratepayers millions of dollars every year. (Boston Globe)

A Herald editorial pans the idea of a third bridge over the Cape Cod Canal.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Adrian Walker writes that the IndyCar race, in theory, might have been a fun for stodgy Boston, but with the failed enterprise having “descended into a morass of finger-pointing, subpoenas, and missing money….it’s fair to say someone didn’t ask enough questions before the mayor lent his prestige to this.” (Boston Globe)

The Brockton superior police officers union has filed a grievance over a proposal by Mayor Bill Carpenter to create a community relations position they say is in violation of the collective bargaining agreement that spells out those same responsibilities. (The Enterprise)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

US Rep. Katherine Clark carves out a legislative niche on online abuse. (Telegram & Gazette)

National Review columnist Kevin Williamson says US Rep. Seth Moulton “dishonored” the Marines when he tweeted out and allowed pictures of him in uniform carrying a rifle to be used for anti-gun promotion.

ELECTIONS

The Washington Post examines Donald Trump’s plummeting poll numbers, which are taking him to a place no candidate has been in the last three election cycles.

Trump says the US should look seriously at racial profiling in the wake of the Orlando massacre. (Time)

If Trump’s rhetoric has a familiar feel to it, it should: One of Trump’s longtime confidants and mentors was the late Roy Cohn, legal icon and counsel to red-baiting Sen. Joe McCarthy. (New York Times)

Ralph Nader is not running for president, but he has some strong ideas about issues that should be at the center of the race and aren’t. (Boston Globe)

Despite electing the first black US senator in modern times and the second black governor in the country, Massachusetts lags in diversity in both its all-white congressional delegation and predominantly white Legislature. (Associated Press)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The IRS has few tools in its arsenal to regulate nonprofits, according to a new report released by the agency. (Chronicle of Philanthropy)

EDUCATION

David Weinstein, a first-grade teacher in Brookline, is retiring early because he feels he is spending too much time collecting data on his students and not enough time teaching. (WBUR)

A Sun editorial calls for a State House investigation of a private company that rehabbed a building using state and federal tax credits and then sold it to UMass Lowell, which converted it into dormitory space. The losers in the deal were the 400 tenants in the building and Lowell, which lost $321,000 in tax revenue.

Some colleges are launchingsober dorms” for students with substance abuse problems. (Governing)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Massachusetts has the highest incidence of breast cancer of any state, according to a new study by the Susan G. Komen organization. (Herald News)

Eye surgeons are lobbying against a bill on Beacon Hill that would allow optometrists to treat glaucoma and other eye diseases. (GateHouse News service)

Birth control by app is a growing but under-the-radar phenomenon among women who want to get prescription contraceptives without a doctor’s visit. (New York Times)

Rising fear of the Zika virus is leading to a proliferation of unproven products to ward off the virus and the mosquitoes that carry it. (STAT)

TRANSPORTATION

There have been nearly 900 accidents in Quincy involving pedestrians since 2002, including at least 23 fatalities, according to a Patriot Ledger analysis, which sent five reporters and a photographer out to watch the city’s intersections and see how bad it is. The answer: It’s bad.

A Gloucester Times editorial slams the union representing workers who repair MBTA fare gates for its “caveman politics.”

Eagle-Tribune columnist Taylor Armerding is freaked out about apps that let your insurance company gather data about how you drive.

New Hampshire State Police pull over a Methuen 22-year-old driving 128 miles per hour on I-93. (Eagle-Tribune)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Point and counterpoint on the Northern Pass transmission line from Quebec to southern New Hampshire. (CommonWealth)

The Stockbridge Bowl Association nears its $3.9 million fundraising goal to dredge the town’s lake and remove invasive plants. (Berkshire Eagle)

The gypsy moth outbreak around the state is the worst of the leaf-eating insects in more than 30 years. (Standard-Times)