The Landscape

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh will host community activists and labor leaders at City Hall for a press conference this morning in opposition to proposed MBTA service cuts. Under the proposal, all ferry service, 25 bus routes, as well as weekend commuter rail service would be eliminated; weekday commuter rail service would end at 9 p.m. while daily trolley service would be reduced by 20 percent. In response to the public outcry, the MBTA’s fiscal control board’s planned vote on the service cuts has been delayed until December 14.

Public health experts and some Boston-area mayors are urging Governor Baker to impose further COVID restrictions as cases drastically increase. Gov. Baker will provide an update on the state’s COVID vaccine distribution plan this afternoon but as community spread increases, childcare providers across the state want access to on-site rapid result tests. Providers have been going to great lengths to secure coronavirus tests on their own since many centers reopened this past July.

Baker has until Friday to act on the police accountability bill. The bill passed by the House and Senate last week prohibits chokeholds and places restrictions on no-knock warrants. It includes a first-in-the-nation statewide moratorium on facial recognition and establishes a Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission (POST) charged with certifying and decertifying officers but stops short of limiting the controversial contractual provision of qualified immunity. The landmark legislation has been the subject of intense lobbying from police unions and social justice organizations.

Late Friday night, the Legislature sent a consensus FY21 budget to Baker that increases spending 6.5 percent above last year’s spending. The months delayed $46.2 billion bill makes investments in key areas to assist residents impacted by COVID-19 and withdraws $1.7 billion from the state’s rainy day fund. The conference committee budget include language that was adopted in both the House and Senate to expand abortion access and language affirming the right to abortion.

Conference committees remain in ongoing negotiations on significant health care, transportation and climate change legislation. With the legislature in a sprint to the end of session on December 31, this lame duck session is proving to be anything but.

The News