New York State In-depth

Baker looms large over last-week agenda- POLITICO

CONSIDERING IT SORTED — Top lawmakers think they’ve figured out a way to get language expanding access to later-in-pregnancy abortions past Gov. Charlie Baker.

House and Senate negotiators agreed to allow abortions after 24 weeks of pregnancy in cases of “lethal” fetal anomaly or “grave fetal diagnosis that indicates the fetus is incompatible with sustained life outside of the uterus without extraordinary medical interventions.” That’s a change from current law, which says if “the fetus is incompatible with sustained life outside the uterus.” It’s being put forward in both chambers over House language that would have allowed the procedure in cases of the “severe” fetal anomaly.

The changes clarify language in the state’s ROE Act in a way that key Senate Democrats are confident will be acceptable to Baker, who vetoed the 2020 bill in part over expanding the “availability of later term abortions.”

Plus, 2022 is a far different landscape than 2020. Roe v. Wade no longer stands. Baker was one of the first governors in the nation to issue an executive order protecting patients and providers in the wake of last month’s Supreme Court decision. He’s also not running for reelection, which means the self-described “pro-choice” Republican doesn’t have to toe his party line on abortion to win a primary.

“The overturning of Roe has certainly changed the conversation for many of us in elected office, so I’m hopeful that [Baker] will see it the same way,” House Ways and Means Chair Aaron Michlewitz told Playbook.

While Baker has highlighted provisions in the bill that align with his executive order, he’s been reluctant to share his latest views on later-in-pregnancy abortions. And legislators have given him the upper hand by waiting until the last week of formal sessions to move their compromise bill, when the governor’s 10-day review window extends past July 31 and lawmakers have little recourse to override any vetoes.

Lawmakers on the Judiciary Committee also dealt Baker a major blow by shelving his thrice-filed bill to reform the state’s criminal dangerousness law, prompting the governor to gather survivors for an emotional roundtable at the State House on Monday in which he vowed to fight on through other still-uncertain legislative means.

But Baker said he’s not interested in retribution. “I really don’t believe that at the end of the day we get the very best of what we’re supposed to get out of this process by acting with anger or frustration,” Baker told reporters after the roundtable, adding: “It’s my hope that [the abortion bill] can be something we can support.”

GOOD TUESDAY MORNING, MASSACHUSETTS. Andrea Campbell is out with her first television ad of the attorney general race, a 30-second spot that relies on her name recognition from last year’s Boston mayoral race to skip over her backstory — save for an appearance by her eldest son — and go straight into what she’d do in office.

“No one is above the law,” Campbell says. “And that means exposing big oil companies and price gougers that jack up prices, taking on those who defraud the overtime system or misuse taxpayer dollars and cracking down on corporations that pollute our communities.”

Campbell’s ad will air over the next two weeks as part of a $750,000 buy, her campaign said. It comes days after Shannon Liss-Riordan began airing her second TV ad and a few weeks before Quentin Palfrey is set to go on air ahead of the September Democratic primary.

TODAY — Baker signs the CROWN Act at 2 p.m. in room 360. Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito announces affordable housing awards at 9:30 a.m. in Falmouth, chairs a Seaport Economic Council Meeting at noon in Chatham and makes a dredging award announcement at 2:30 p.m. in Chatham. Boston Mayor Michelle Wu signs an executive order on child care at 11 a.m. at City Hall and welcomes Big Papi to the Seaport at 1 p.m. Sen. Ed Markey and colleagues detail efforts to pass their Right to Contraception Act at 12:15 p.m.

Tips? Scoops? Think I should hold Playbook office hours at the State House this week before sessions end? Email me: [email protected].

— ON THE MOVE: The House plans to take up the chambers’ compromise abortion bill today and send it on to the Senate, which will also meet in formal session today. Abortion-rights groups and activists lauded the accord, which would also make emergency contraceptives available in vending machines and require medication abortion to be available at public colleges and universities.

“June 29 we passed this bill [in the House],” House Ways and Means Chair Aaron Michlewitz told Playbook. “And now, less than a month later, to get a bill on the governor’s desk I think shows you how immediate and important this is.”

— “Massachusetts sports betting bill still has a shot at moving forward, Senate President Karen Spilka indicates,” by Alison Kuznitz, MassLive: “Senate President Karen Spilka on Monday once again expressed optimism that House and Senate negotiators could reconcile differences in their bills. Her comments came days after House Speaker Ron Mariano separately lamented that the chambers were ‘far apart’ on disputed provisions — most notably, permitting wagering on collegiate sports.”

Executives from the state’s three major casinos — Encore Boston Harbor, MGM Springfield and Plainridge Park — are warning lawmakers that failing to legalize sports betting means more money and more workers lost to other states, according to a letter they sent Monday that was obtained by Playbook.

— “Baker not giving up on dangerousness bill, despite study order,” by Shira Schoenberg, CommonWealth Magazine: “The woman, who survived domestic violence, said she risked her safety, allowed herself to be vulnerable, and emotionally relived her abuse to advocate on behalf of Gov. Charlie Baker’s bill expanding the use of dangerousness hearings, which the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee sent to study, effectively killing it for this session. ‘I now wonder if they listened to any of us,’ said the woman. … But lawmakers and advocacy groups who opposed the bill said killing the legislation was the right thing to do. They said Baker’s carefully scripted public relations tour in support of the bill made it seem as if the legislation was crafted solely to protect abused women, when in fact it represented a far larger expansion of judicial powers to incarcerate offenders deemed dangerous, along with other changes to the judicial process.”

Schoenberg reports that nine members of the Judiciary Committee voted to send Baker’s bill to study, three didn’t take a position and four — Democratic state Sens. Cindy Creem and John Velis, Democratic state Rep. Colleen Garry and Republican state Rep. Alyson Sullivan — voted to keep the bill alive. Baker said he hoped to find another way to pass the legislation in the waning days of formal sessions, potentially as an amendment to another bill.

— “As deadline looms, Baker hopes ‘important’ cannabis legislation reaches his desk,” by Dan Adams, Boston Globe: “Governor Charlie Baker is calling for Massachusetts lawmakers to vote on a sweeping marijuana business reform bill that would reshape the multi-billion-dollar industry. … One potential sticking point is how much of the state’s 10.75 percent excise tax on recreational marijuana sales will be used to fund loans and grants for so-called ‘equity applicants’ — essentially, local startups with founders from communities hit hard by drug arrests — trying to break into the industry.”

— CALL TO ACTION: Rep. Ayanna Pressley led eight of her Bay State colleagues in a letter calling on federal HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra to increase monkeypox vaccine distribution, ensure equitable access to it and engage state and local officials in a public health awareness campaign to help stop the spread as Massachusetts records the nation’s eighth-highest case count. Joining her were Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, Assistant House Speaker Katherine Clark and Reps. Jim McGovern, Lori Trahan, Jake Auchincloss, Stephen Lynch and Bill Keating.

— Related: “The monkeypox vaccine is available in Framingham,” by Abby Patkin, MetroWest Daily News: “JRI Health’s state-backed monkeypox vaccination site opened on Monday, even as demand for doses initially outstripped the Framingham site’s supply ahead of time.”

— “SJC ruling backs Boston in long-running legal fight with Quincy over rebuilding Long Island Bridge,” by Danny McDonald and John R. Ellement, Boston Globe: “In the latest chapter in a protracted legal clash that could have ramifications for the local response to the still-raging opioid epidemic, the state’s highest court Monday ruled that state approval for Boston’s Long Island Bridge reconstruction plan trumps a rejection by the Quincy Conservation Commission. … Monday’s decision marked a win for Boston in the spat that pitted the city against its southern neighbor, but the broader fight is far from over. Boston still needs approval of multiple permits to construct the span. And Quincy on Monday vowed to continue to oppose Boston’s plans.”

— “Wu signs pandemic package, vetoes Baker’s Dorchester Fieldhouse amendment,” by Gintautas Dumcius, Dorchester Reporter: “Mayor Michelle Wu last week signed a pandemic aid package, funded through money from the federal government, while vetoing the portion that would have sent $5 million to a planned youth facility on Columbia Point.”

— “Wu calls for ‘large-scale’ safety upgrades to the T,” by Amanda Beland and Tiziana Dearing, WBUR: “Saying ‘we can no longer tolerate tinkering around the edges,’ Boston Mayor Michelle Wu called for major upgrades to the MBTA system, even if that means shutting down large portions of the system to do so.”

— FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Suffolk County sheriff Steve Tompkins has been endorsed for reelection by state Auditor Suzanne Bump and Treasurer Deb Goldberg, per his campaign.

— State Rep. Josh Cutler, the House Labor Committee chair, is endorsing Andrea Campbell for attorney general when she visits Duxbury today to meet with small business owners and talk with local oyster farmers about concerns with nuclear power plant water discharge, Cutler told Playbook. State Rep. Kathy LaNatra and Plymouth County Treasurer Tom O’Brien are co-hosting Campbell’s visit along with state Rep. Joan Meschino.

— NEW UNION ENDORSEMENTS ABOUND: The Massachusetts Building Trades Unions is endorsing Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll for lieutenant governor; the council endorsed Shannon Liss-Riordan for attorney general yesterday.

— Boston Firefighters Local 718, IBEW Local 104, Sheetmetal Workers Local 17 and SEIU NAGE have endorsed Suffolk District Attorney Kevin Hayden for a full term.

— The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 98 has endorsed Sydney Levin-Epstein for Hampden, Hampshire and Worcester state senator.

— Boston Carmen’s Union Local 589 has endorsed Christopher Worrell for 5th Suffolk District state representative.

— “Elugardo rolls out additional endorsements: Support picked up from Rep. Holmes and Arroyos,” by Gintautas Dumcius, Dorchester Reporter.

— “Lesser endorsed by Congressman Neal in bid for lieutenant governor,” by Paul Tuthill, WAMC.

— “Amid gubernatorial bid, Mass. AG Healey endorses Harrington’s re-election bid for Berkshire DA,” by Josh Landes, WAMC.

— “In the race for Suffolk DA, Ricardo Arroyo doubles down on progressive reform as a path to victory,” by Danny McDonald, Boston Globe: “At the start of his legal career, when he was deciding what kind of lawyer to be, [Boston City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo] vowed not ‘to stand on the side of the folks doing the oppression’ and elected to be a public defender. … But his three-plus years as a public defender also showed him how crucial a district attorney can be, how their policies can directly affect people’s lives, their ability to secure a job, housing, even student loans, he said.”

— “An MBTA train unintentionally rolled out onto the Red Line Monday morning, causing delays of up to 30 minutes for commuters,” by Chris Van Buskirk, MassLive: “An MBTA train unintentionally rolled out of a rail yard and onto the Red Line at Braintree station early Monday morning, a spokesperson confirmed to MassLive, causing delays for morning commuters amid increased scrutiny on the transit agency.”

— “AG Maura Healey faces federal lawsuit over petition to overturn licenses for illegal immigrants,” by Joe Dwinell, Boston Herald: “MassGOP is taking state Attorney General Maura Healey to federal court for being ‘suspiciously silent’ on the harassment of signature collectors looking to overturn the law granting illegal immigrants driver’s licenses. The suit states that volunteers trying to place a referendum question on the November ballot have been ‘harassed, intimidated, and prevented’ from collecting signatures on more than a dozen occasions.”

— “White supremacist leader arraigned, warned against ‘escalating’ behavior,” by Grace Zokovitch, Boston Herald: “Christopher Hood was arraigned in West Roxbury Municipal Court Monday morning, following a clash between his white supremacist group and counterprotesters over the weekend during a drag queen book reading in Jamaica Plain. … Because of their lack of criminal history, according to the Suffolk District Attorney’s Office, charges were dropped against both counterprotesters.”

— “Gas prices in Massachusetts again drop 11 cents for third straight week: ‘We could get down to $4 in a month’,” by Rick Sobey, Boston Herald: “Massachusetts’ average gas price on Monday was down 11 cents from last week, now averaging $4.52 per gallon. It’s the third straight week that regular gas prices have dropped 11 cents week over week, as prices have come significantly down from the record-high average of $5.04 a gallon in mid-June.”

— “State’s jobless rate drops to 3.7% in June,” by Christian M. Wade, Salem News: “The state’s unemployment rate dropped to 3.7% in June as employers added 3,400 more jobs, according to newly released figures.”

— “Heat islands create health risks in some New Bedford neighborhoods,” by Colin Hogan, New Bedford Light: “In one North End neighborhood near Acushnet Avenue, the average afternoon surface temperatures on roads, sidewalks, and roofs can surpass 100 degrees during the summer months. That’s as much as 10 degrees hotter than in neighborhoods near Buttonwood Park in New Bedford’s leafier West End. … New Bedford does not currently operate any community cooling centers and is still in the early stages of developing strategies for dealing with excessive heat, according to city officials.”

HAPPY BIRTHDAY — to Tamara Small and Hadley Holmes. 

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