Beacon Hill goes at a snail’s pace

We have a well-paid, full-time, Democrat-controlled Legislature in Massachusetts and yet we’re the only state in the nation without a budget in place. We’re also slow-dancing toward retail marijuana sales just a couple months short of two years after voters approved legalization.

The snail pace on Beacon Hill is a reflection of ideological differences. There may be only one political party in control of the Legislature, but that party is itself splintered into different factions. Depending on the issue, those factions battle for their point of view and those battles tend to take a long time to play out.

The long marijuana delay came about because most of the pols on Beacon Hill were opposed to legalization. When it came time to implement what voters approved with a ballot question, lawmakers felt no pressure to hurry as they spent months working out their differences on tax rates and local controls. Those local controls have now become the chief impediment to implementing legal recreational sales.

The current budget impasse is much harder to explain, largely because the deliberations are taking place in private. After Monday’s Big Three meeting, however, it became clear that the House and Senate negotiators who are trying to resolve differences between their spending plans are split over unspecified policy changes attached to those plans.

House Speaker Robert DeLeo suggested the negotiators deal with the budget and the policy matters separately. “One of the ideas which I had expressed today was the fact I’m looking possibly to dividing the budget, if you will, in terms of taking the so-called budget end of it, the policy end of it, dividing the two and trying to get the budget component of it done. I’m of the opinion that we owe it to our constituents. It’s getting later and later. It’s imperative that we do a budget and we do a budget immediately,” DeLeo told reporters.

Sounds reasonable, except that his approach is also a very effective way of deep-sixing a bunch of Senate proposals that the more conservative DeLeo would probably like to see disappear. What better way than to put deliberations on the proposals off until some day in the future, a day that may or may not ever arrive.

Senate President Harriette Chandler sounded more optimistic that the negotiators could resolve their differences, or perhaps she was just saying the Senate wasn’t ready to cave yet. “I personally feel once we get started and get some movement I think we can probably get through more than just the revenue piece,” she said.

So there you have it. Washington may be paralyzed by the ideological divide between the Republican and Democratic parties, but Beacon Hill faces a similar divide, albeit one confined to a narrower political spectrum. The lawmakers may be mostly Democrats on Beacon Hill, but they’re not all the same type of Democrats.



Lawmakers are considering a $2 fee on rental cars to pay for police training, but a similar type of assessment on insurers to pay for firefighter training raises some concerns about the practice of using private funds to pay for public services. The tab for firefighter training has been escalating rapidly and lawmakers have started to view the pot of private money as a slush fund for any municipal expense with a connection to firefighting. (CommonWealth)

There’s no need to fix a sex offender law that isn’t broken, say Anthony Benedetti of the Committee for Public Counsel Services and Laurie Guidry of the Massachusetts Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers. (Boston Globe)

An economic development bill up for consideration in the House on Tuesday includes $100 million for an overhaul of the Massport cruise ship terminal. (Boston Globe) It may also include language paving the way for a sales tax holiday in August, which seems to be in the works. (Gloucester Times)


As Methuen seeks state financial help to deal with education and police funding shoftfalls, officials are divided over how much state oversight is appropriate. (Eagle-Tribune)

Jimmy Pereira, who ran and lost in the Brockton mayoral contest last fall, said he came across a shooting victim on a sidewalk and rushed him to the hospital in his aunt’s car without calling police. The victim was later transported by helicopter to Boston Medical Center for treatment. (The Enterprise)

A Fall River city councilor says there is support among his colleagues to pass an ordinance fining landlords if their tenants do not comply with the city’s controversial pay-as-you-throw program. (Herald News)


All 12 boys on a Thai soccer team and their coach have been rescued from the flooded cave they were trapped in for 18 days (CNN)

In a prime time announcement, President Trump nominated Appeals Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh, a conservative Republican who once made the case to impeach then-President Clinton, to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court. (New York Times) Maine Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican, is being pressured to block Kavanaugh’s appointment because he is perceived as less receptive to abortion. However, Collins almost always backs the judicial appointments of Republican presidents. (Boston Globe) Karen and Robbie Silverman of Newton explain their decision to get a late-term abortion. “Not every parent in this situation would have made the same choice. But every parent should be able to choose for themselves,” the Silvermans said. (Boston Globe)

Is it possible that Sen. Elizabeth Warren is becoming more bipartisan? (CommonWealth)

A Lowell Sun editorial says all the pols calling for the elimination of Immigration and Customs Enforcement are delusional. A federal judge in California has ruled immigrant families cannot be detained in long-term housing. (New York Times)

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is the latest but most high-profile member of Prime Minister Theresa May’s government to quit over divisions around Brexit. (U.S. News & World Report)


A ballot question on nurse staffing levels will be Question 1 on the November ballot. (Boston Globe)

A Boston Herald editorial labels the Boston City Council’s call for extending voting rights to non-citizens “repugnant” and ties it to the salary increase councilors just received.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Robert Massie calls for major investments in transportation and says the approach of “Baby Steps Baker” is too incremental. (Telegram & Gazette)


Attorney General Maura Healey agreed to a $2.3 million settlement with Granite City Electric of Quincy for allegations of overbilling scores of state agencies for supplies through a five-year contract the company had with the Executive Office of Administration and Finance. (Patriot Ledger)

Attorneys general in 10 states, including Massachusetts, are investigating reported “no poach” agreements among fast-food chains that prevent workers from changing job and locks them into low wages. (New York Times)

An error in the new tax law that failed to include four words is causing many restaurant owners to put off renovations because they have to deduct the investments over 39 years rather than get an immediate return because of the goof. (Wall Street Journal)

More businesses in the nation’s capital are going cashless and District of Columbia officials are moving to force them to accept cash. (Washington Post) The story mentions an unenforced 1978 Massachusetts law requiring businesses to accept cash, which CommonWealth wrote a story about several years ago.


The Colonial Theatre in Boston is reopening Tuesday after a major refurbishing. (WBUR)

A Provincetown businessman who planned to oust the Art House, which has been the site for Broadway-quality shows and the Provincetown International Film Festival, to make way for an expanded microbrewery has admitted he “made a mistake” and will now develop a state-of-the-art arts venue alongside his pub. (Cape Cod Times)


Barry Brown, the former president of Mount Ida College in Newton, blames the school’s shutdown on a sudden change of heart by would-be merger partner Lasell College. (Boston Globe)


President Trump said Pfizer should be ashamed of raising prices for no reason. (Stat)


The evacuation plans for communities around Seabrook nuclear power plant in New Hampshire are coming under heightened scrutiny and criticism for what opponents say is an unworkable scheme for a high-volume tourist area in the summer. (Wicked Local)


The West Springfield City Council passed an override of the mayor’s veto and implemented a ban on retail marijuana sales. (MassLive)

Mashpee selectmen voted to hire a lobbyist in Washington to push a measure that would codify the land-in-trust decision for the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, allowing them to build their casino in Taunton. (Cape Cod Times)


A federal judge tossed out a lawsuit brought by two State Police troopers who said they were ordered to modify the arrest report of a judge’s daughter. (MassLive)

The US Solicitor General’s office is still probing whether to allow federal prosecutors to appeal the dismissal of extortion charges in connection with the Boston Calling music festival against two aides to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. (Boston Herald)

Amy Zuckerman of Shutesbury was arrested and held without bail for sending a threatening email to a reporter for the weekly Walpole Times. (Metrowest Daily News)

Inmates from the Bristol County House of Correction will hand rake and clean a residents-only beach in Dartmouth twice a week for the remainder of the summer after a request for help by town officials to Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson. (Standard-Times)


CommonWealth magazine is going all-digital and the quarterly print magazine that came out on Tuesday will be its last. (CommonWealth) For all of the stories in the latest issue, click here.

Two senior Boston Globe editors — Ellen Clegg, who oversees the editorial page, and Joe Sullivan, the long-time sports editor — are retiring. (Boston Business Journal)


John Aylmer, a former state senator who later had a rocky tenure as president of Massachusetts Maritime Academy, died in his Centerville home over the weekend. He was 84. (Cape Cod Times)