With Congress failing to finish a pandemic relief package, state leaders who traditionally decamp from Beacon Hill each election year August remain on red alert for meaningful action on critical voter priorities. Six major bills remain in conference committee, including: police reform and accountability; transportation spending; information technology investments; economic development and housing production; health care reforms, and climate change and emissions reduction efforts. Other areas of focus in these State House extra innings will include closing out the 2020 budget and, hopefully, preparing a fiscal 2021 budget while considering new actions in response to the impacts of the pandemic.
Municipal leaders can brief breathe a sigh of relief now that an interim three-month budget and local aid agreement were reached last week. With a state budget shortfall predicted between $6 billion and $8 billion, local leaders were concerned about the impact on local aid and their ability to maintain vital municipal services including school department funding. As school superintendents and principals scramble to submit reopening plans to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (due a week from today), the will they or won’t they return to school continues to hang in the air like the late summer’s uncomfortable humidity.
There are just 29 days until the September 1st state primary and outside money is flowing into Democratic primaries across the state. Both Senator Ed Markey and Congressman Joe Kennedy have Super PAC’s buying up television airtime across the state. Powerful House Chairman of Ways & Means Richie Neal faces Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse, whose PAC spending has taken a negative and personal tone. EMILY’s List has spent a sizable amount on the Fourth District Congressional race to replace Kennedy, slamming two men for their poor records on reproductive rights while one of those men got his parents to make a five-figure donation to a super PAC to support him.
What happens on the campaign trail deeply impacts the government we have going forward so we’re keeping an eye on these and several critical State House races this fall.
Happenings on Beacon Hill & Beyond:
- Today: The Cannabis Control Commission holds a public hearing to collet input on the latest revisions of the regulations that govern marijuana in Massachusetts
- The Boston Chamber of Commerce is hosting a panel on reopening schools on Tuesday with Education Commissioner Jeff Riley and Boston Public Schools Superintendent Brenda Cassellius as panelists. Register here.
- Ed Markey & Congressman Joe Kennedy talk criminal justice Tuesday night during a virtual WGBH forum. RSVP required.
- Salem Congressman Seth Moulton and two Democratic challengers Jamie Belsito and Angus McQuilken will face off in a debate Wednesday for the Sixth Congressional district. The debate will stream Wednesday night on YouTube and Facebook.
ICYMI: SpaceX capsule and NASA crew make first space return splashdown in 45 years. Take that, 2020!