The #MeToo movement has empowered women to take back the narrative on harassment and discrimination. It also could give them real power in making laws and policy.
A record number of women are running for office around the country this year. Nevada and Arizona are on the verge of becoming the first state legislatures in the country to be female-majority and many observers say at least seven other legislatures could have a power flip due to women candidates.
State offices are seeing the biggest surge in female candidates, which many say is a result of gridlock in Washington, with states having to pick up the slack in passing laws. It also serves as a proving ground for higher office.
“Who serves in state government matters,” Pennsylvania state Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky told U.S. News & World Report. Her district abuts that of a Republican representative who has been accused of sexual harassment by two women, but GOP leadership has taken no action to force him out. “The male-dominated legislature we’ve got right now isn’t going to (address) the issues that matter to women. It’s shocking. I have an MBA. I ran an organization that helped business coalitions before I ran for office. And the Pennsylvania House is the most misogynistic environment I’ve ever been in.”
Female representation in the Massachusetts congressional delegation has never been higher with women holding 27 percent of the offices, including one of the two Senate seats. That, though, comes at a time when the number of seats in the House has been reduced to just nine, with US Reps. Katherine Clark and Niki Tsongas holding two of the seats and Tsongas set to step down.
Part of the fuel for candidacies around the country is the money and endorsement from EMILY’s List, but the pro-abortion rights group is not wading into any races here at this time. That includes staying on the sidelines in the primary race between US Rep. Michael Capuano and Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley, who has been recognized previously by the political action committee as a “Rising Star.”
But while the gender wave flows across the country, Massachusetts is still treading water, neither the best nor the worst when it comes to females in elected offices. Women hold four of the six constitutional offices in the state but, as everyone knows, there has never been an elected female governor.
State Sen. Karen Spilka is set to become the third female Senate president out of the last four after more than 220 years of male dominance, but she’ll oversee a chamber that is only about 25 percent women. In fact, women hit a high-water mark of 12 of the Senate’s 40 seats in 2001 but have never gone over that or dropped below 11 since.
The House has roughly the same make-up, though female Republican representatives have seen their ranks drop from a high of 13 in 1996 to single digits at the turn of the millennium and hover between seven and nine the past half-dozen years. Democratic women have stayed steady as well.
Overall, the Legislature has stayed on par with the national average of 25 percent female representation and that doesn’t appear to be changing come the fall. What may change is the national rate, which would put the state behind the curve.
Do Attorney General Maura Healey and Gov. Charlie Baker have some sort of political truce? Even when they are on different sides of an issue — in this case what to do about the deceptive sales practices of electricity sellers — the two pols from different parties are playing unusually nice. (CommonWealth) Meanwhile, Jennifer Bosco of the National Consumer Law Center says it’s time to hit the off switch on electricity sellers. (CommonWealth)
Baker says he will work toward filing a bill calling for the death penalty for those convicted of killing police officers one day after a Herald columnist slammed him for showing little interest in making good on his talk of support for such a change. (Boston Herald)
The Supreme Judicial Court heard arguments on whether the state’s ban on housing homeless families in hotels can sometimes violate the Americans with Disabilities Act. (Gloucester Times) The court also heard arguments that Attorney General Maura Healey’s office should be fined for failing to disclose evidence of misconduct by state chemist Sonja Farak. (WBUR)
Despite the national attention now centering on sexual misconduct, efforts to move ahead with sex ed legislation on Beacon Hill continue to stall. (Boston Globe)
A Globe editorial agrees with critics, including Quincy leaders, who have said Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s plan to rebuild Long Island Bridge at a cost of nearly $100 million is half-baked and needs far more vetting before moving forward.
The Worcester City Council approved a non-binding motion to put off any demolition of the Notre Dame des Canadiens Church for at least three months. (Telegram & Gazette)
Lowell Sun columnist Peter Lucas looks back at the slave trade background of Fenway Park’s new Jersey Street. He also takes a shot at Red Sox (and Boston Globe) owner John Henry, saying: “Tom Yawkey, through his charitable foundation, has done more for the minority community in Greater Boston dead than John Henry has done alive.” Colman Herman made a similar point in CommonWealth, noting the farther back you look in any person’s background the more problems turn up.
Quincy has increased its health department budget to deal with a boom in the rat population and is exploring such methods as putting dry ice down burrows for the gas to kill the rodents and spreading rat birth control drugs that would eliminate their ability to multiply. (Patriot Ledger)
A New Bedford city councilor has proposed expanding use of the controversial “spiked” medians around the city to reduce panhandling. Officials recently repaved a median at a busy intersection by placing cobblestones on edge in an angled position making it difficult to walk or stand on them. (Standard-Times)
President Trump announces that the US will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, breaking with European allies and setting off uncertainty about the stability of the Middle East. (Boston Globe) Indira Lakshmanan calls the move “delusional and dangerous.” (Boston Globe) Glen Johnson, a former aide to John Kerry, who negotiated the deal as secretary of state, says Trump’s action “reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of the diplomacy leading to the agreement.” (Boston Globe) A Herald editorial takes a very different view, calling the decision to scrap the deal “a good step.” Herald columnist Adriana Cohen also applauds the move, saying “Mullahs took Obama and Kerry for a ride, and there’s a new sheriff in town.” The decision will result in Seattle-based Boeing and Airbus, which is headquartered in France but buys airplane parts in the US, losing $39 billion in contracts with Iran to supply new planes. (Washington Post)
A shell company used by Trump lawyer Michael Cohen to pay a porn actress to keep quiet about her alleged affair with the then-reality TV star received $500,000 from a company tied to a Russian oligarch. (New York Times)
Some think the downfall of New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman could boost the national profile of our attorney general, Maura Healey, who has been, along with her one-time New York counterpart, leading the legal charge of state officials against Trump administration policies. (Boston Herald)
There is a stark divide in income between residents in the affluent communities of the Third Congressional District and struggling cities like Lawrence and Lowell. (Boston Herald)
Voters at Hanover’s Town Meeting rejected a proposal to change the town clerk from an elected post to an appointed one. (Patriot Ledger)
Sloppy handwriting by a Bridgewater precinct captain on a vote tally sheet resulted in the wrong write-in candidate initially being declared a winner in Saturday’s election for a seat on the Board of Library Trustees. (The Enterprise)
The Massachusetts House has given initial approval to a bill that would ban robocalls to cellphones. Good luck with that. (State House News Service, subscription required)
The state’s new marijuana law is aiming to give an economic boost to communities hit hardest by the “war on drugs” through a licensing preference for firms led by minorities, those with past marijuana convictions, or residents of low-income communities with high arrest rates for drug offenses. (Boston Globe)
Hull Town Meeting voters approved a plan to turn parts of busy Nantasket Avenue along the three-mile beach into a two-way street to make it more inviting for developers. (Patriot Ledger)
Merrie Najimy, a veteran Concord kindergarten teacher, was elected president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association. She is closely aligned with outgoing president Barbara Madeloni and her election drew criticism from education policy leaders who decried Madeloni’s views and pitched-battle style. (Boston Herald)
Fourteen Arlington High School students are facing disciplinary action in connection with defacing their schools with swastikas and anti-gay graffiti. (Boston Globe)
East Bridgewater Junior/Senior High School math teacher Jamil Siddiqui was named Massachusetts Teacher of the Year. (Boston Herald)
A ballot proposal to combine two elementary schools into one in Ipswich failed to win the necessary two-thirds support at town meeting. (Salem News)
A possible merger of Partners HealthCare System and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care faces a long and rocky road, say health care experts. (Boston Globe)
State Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack toured Pittsfield Municipal Airport, which is undergoing runway renovations and is expecting strong growth. (Berkshire Eagle)
Shirley Leung compiles five ideas to ease traffic problems in Boston’s Seaport District. (Boston Globe)
Great Barrington banned small, single-use plastic bottles. (Berkshire Eagle)
The state pot board was red-faced over the green light given to 10 license applicants who should have been denied. (CommonWealth)
Voters at Harwich Town Meeting overwhelmingly approved a ban on recreational marijuana sales, cultivation, and manufacturing. (Cape Cod Times)PASSINGS
Family and friends praise Paul McManus, a Boston Municipal Court judge who died on Sunday of cancer at age 59, for his compassion and championing of justice for all. (Boston Globe)