The Massachusetts House debated the state’s energy future in public on Wednesday (the session was even streamed live over the internet), but the real negotiations took place in private out of the public eye.
The bill authorized the state’s utilities to hold procurements for large amounts of offshore wind and hydroelectricity from Canada, possibly in conjunction with other forms of clean energy. The bill is likely to drive up the cost of electricity but help the state meet greenhouse gas emission targets and possibly spur the development of an offshore wind industry in Massachusetts.
The issues raised by the bill are momentous and controversial, and neither the Baker administration nor Senate leaders are fully on board. But it seemed like just another day at the office for House members who seem content to follow the leader and deliver the sort of “consensus” agreement that House Speaker Robert DeLeo strives for.
Over the course of seven hours, nearly all of the 61 amendments filed in connection with the bill were mysteriously withdrawn with no explanation. One of those amendments, filed by Rep. Frank Smizik of Brookline, the chair of the House Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change, would have removed controversial restrictions written into the bill preventing Cape Wind from competing for the offshore wind procurements.
Another amendment, filed by Rep. James Lyons of Andover, would have barred the state’s electric utilities from charging their customers new fees to help finance the construction of natural gas pipeline infrastructure. That’s an issue that close to 100 reps indicated they supported in a letter to House leaders, yet the amendment garnered no support and was ruled out of order because nothing in the bill dealt with natural gas.
“It was my understanding, and maybe I’m corrected, Mr. Speaker, that this was an omnibus energy bill,” quipped Lyons, a Republican.
Rep. Patricia Haddad of Somerset, the third-ranking member in House leadership and the architect of the offshore wind initiative, said people thought she was “delusional” and told her she was “crazy” and “a nut” for pushing offshore wind. But, like many of her colleagues, she praised DeLeo for listening to her arguments and giving them serious consideration. “You said, ‘Haddad, just don’t embarrass me,’” Haddad quoted the speaker as saying.
Haddad and other House members pressed hard for a unanimous vote on the bill, and every member in the chamber but Lyons complied. The vote was 154-1.
Gov. Charlie Baker is reportedly set to appoint Essex Superior Court Judge David Lowy to the Supreme Judicial Court. Lowy has close ties to Baker and former Republican leaders. (Boston Globe)
A Globe editorial supports a Senate budget amendment that would allow for a new category of health care provider — dental hygiene practitioners — who could perform routine procedures like standard fillings as part of an effort to make lower-cost care available to low-income residents with limited access to dental care.
Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia pledged during his campaign to take a 25 percent pay cut so the city could buy a new police cruiser but he says he will restore that salary in the next fiscal year because it is a “fulfilled commitment” even though a new vehicle was never purchased. (Herald News)
A Berkshire Eagle editorial urges Pittsfield officials not to embrace a residency requirement for the members of boards and commissions.
Several Brockton city councilor say lax code enforcement has led to numerous eyesores in the city’s neighborhoods but Mayor Bill Carpenter says the councilors are “badly misinformed.” (The Enterprise)
Complaints from neighbors prompt the owner of an about-to-open vape shop to pick up and move elsewhere. (Berkshire Eagle)
Southborough residents urged selectmen to kill a Chapter 40B project proposed off Route 9 because they said the increased traffic would create heightened safety concerns. (MetroWest Daily News)
Steve Wynn says Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone’s legal challenge to his Everett casino is not delaying the project’s timeline. (CommonWealth) But the 34-month construction schedule means the casino will not open until May 2019. (Masslive)
Rep. Seth Moulton is not afraid to rock the boat — even when it’s ferrying Democrats. (Boston Globe)
San Francisco residents approve a $12 annual parcel tax to help restore wetlands and preserve the Bay. (Governing)
Word that Elizabeth Warren will — at some still undetermined point in the fairly near future — endorse Hillary Clinton is getting a fair amount of attention. (Boston Globe) Was there really some thinking she might at this point back Bernie? Martin O’Malley, anyone?
US Reps. Stephen Lynch and William Keating will both face Republican opposition in November. William Burke, owner of Quincy-based Burke Oil, is taking on Lynch. Mark Alliegro of Falmouth and Thomas O’Malley from Marshfield are running in a GOP primary for the nod against Keating. (Patriot Ledger) No Democratic or Republican challengers are stepping up to face US Rep. Seth Moulton. (Gloucester Times)
Donald Trump will be in Boston on Monday for a big-dollar fundraiser. (Boston Globe)
New data from the 2012 election indicate there were more older, white voters than initially believed, opening a path, albeit a narrow one, for Trump to succeed without picking up much minority support. (New York Times)
The Supreme Judicial Court hears appeals on the marijuana ballot question. (CommonWealth)
WBUR’s Anthony Brooks asks an interesting question: How can the Boston economy be booming even as income inequality expands.
William “Mo” Cowan is elevated to CEO of ML Strategies, the lobbying arm of the law firm Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky and Popeo. (Cambridge Chronicle)
Two former workers at a New Bedford scallop processing plant have filed a labor complaint claiming they were unjustly fired for reporting incidents of sexual harassment. The two women are also part of a class action suit against a temp agency over allegations of being paid below minimum wage. (Standard-Times)
About one-quarter the tower-formerly-known-as-the-Hancock-building is vacant. (Boston Globe)
A new report says the state needs to ratchet up its production of college degree-holders and close achievement gaps that leave black and Latino students behind in order to meet the needs of the state’s knowledge-based economy. (CommonWealth)
University of Massachusetts president Marty Meehan says cuts are coming to all the system’s campuses in light of a $22 million budget gap. (Boston Herald)
The trustees of the Lowell Community Public Charter School pick an interim leader as tensions persist over the popular leader who was forced to resign. (The Sun)
The Framingham Teachers Association voted “no confidence” in the schools superintendent after what union leaders said was the “last straw” of Stacy Scott working 11 months after his state license lapsed without renewing it. (MetroWest Daily News)
Seth Mnookin tells the gripping story of how his past history of heroin addiction never seemed to register with the medical personnel who cared for him — and prescribed opioids for pain relief — when he suffered debilitating kidney stones and complications following surgery for them. (STAT)
A “senior boom” has spurred the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority to come up with increased transportation options to meet the needs of the aging population when they can no longer drive themselves. (Cape Cod Times)
New Bedford officials, ordered by the EPA to clean up a polluted residential site, are moving the toxic fill to another contaminated site where an artificial turf soccer field is being planned. (Standard-Times)
An increase in the deer population has led to more crashes on Route 24 and other suburban highways. (The Enterprise)
Chicopee adopts the goal of reducing its trash by 30 percent in four years. (Masslive)
A 17-year-old student at Jeremiah Burke High School was killed and two other students and a 67-year-old woman were wounded in a shooting near the Dorchester school yesterday afternoon. (Boston Globe) Taking stock of the barrage of broad daylight gunfire, Peter Gelzinis writes, “Boston is not Chicago, thank God. But there are still way too many guns on our streets, and too many kids looking to settle scores that no one, except those who’ll grieve for the dead, will remember.” (Boston Herald)
Attorney General Maura Healey said Worcester Polytechnic Institute should “fire those lawyers” who accused a rape victim of being responsible for the crime. (Greater Boston)
Paul Hebert, a Gloucester fisherman featured on the reality television show Wicked Tuna, was put on probation and ordered to repay more than $53,000 in restitution for admitting to fraudulently collecting disability payments. (Associated Press)
A fake IRS agent swindles a fragile Haverhill woman out of $5,500. (Eagle-Tribune)
Telegram & Gazette columnist Dianne Williamson says she doesn’t feel a need to always give the other side when it comes to Donald Trump because he is the “most dangerous, authoritarian, and unhinged demagogue to ever seek the nation’s highest office…. And his candidacy is so toxic that I can no longer pretend to show respect for anyone who still supports him.”
Dan Kennedy offers up five things publishers can learn from what Jeff Bezos is doing with the Washington Post. (Nieman Journalism Lab)