• On Monday, November 15th, House Speaker Ronald Mariano (D - 3rd Norfolk) announced he intends to campaign for another term in the House next November, then another term as speaker in January 2023. Speaker Mariano was first elected to the House in a 1991 special election, and this would be his 16th full term in the House. His predecessor, former House Speaker Robert DeLeowho was House speaker for a record-setting 12 years, resigned mid-term in October 2019, leaving office to take a job at Northeastern University and creating the opportunity for Mariano, his deputy, to become speaker.

 

  • On Wednesday, November 17th, the House and Senate went into their mid-session recess without finalizing a plan to spend close to $4 billion in federal COVID-19 relief funding and state surplus tax dollars. The American Rescue Plan Act had emerged as a major goal before the legislative break, with leaders in both branches having expressed their desire to put a bill on Governor Charlie Baker's desk before Thanksgiving. The Legislature entered a seven-week period of informal law making when there can be no roll calls and any one legislator can block a bill from advancing. House Ways and Means Chairman Aaron Michlewitz (D - 3rd Suffolk) said negotiations between the House and Senate will continue despite their inability to reach a deal. The Legislature's inability to get a deal by Wednesday presents the open question of whether the ARPA-surplus spending bills would carry over into the second year of the two-year session, or if the two branches would have to start over from scratch if they can't pass a bill in informal session. In 1995, the Legislature adopted a rules reform that allows all legislation unacted upon in the first year of the two-year session to automatically carry over into the second year, except for bills ‘making or supplementing an appropriation for a fiscal year submitted to or returned to the General Court by the Governor, under Article LXIII of the Amendments to the Constitution.’ Formal sessions are scheduled to resume on January 5, but there's uncertainty about whether the appropriations bills will die at the start of the new annual session or carry over intact.

 

  • On Wednesday, November 17th, the Boston Employment Commission approved a new policy to impose fines on developers who fail to provide the city demographic data on their workforce, under a longstanding city ordinance that requires builders to employ Boston residents, women and people of color. Currently, under the Boston Residents Jobs Policy, city-funded projects, and private construction jobs of 50,000 square feet or more must have a workforce that is at least 40% people of color, 12% women and 51% Boston residents. The new sanctions policy focuses on penalties for failing to report data and meet with city officials who are monitoring the workforce numbers and permits the city to create and distribute a list of companies that consistently fail to meet requirements, although it does not necessarily ban them from working on future projects. Punishable violations include starting work on a project before meeting with the employment commission; missing “corrective action” meetings designed to increase hiring of diverse workers; and failing to submit weekly payroll data or confirm that workers live in Boston.

 

  • On Thursday, November 18th, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu appointed Segun Idowu, president of the Black Economic Council of Massachusetts, to be her chief of economic development. He will step down from the council on December 31st and start his new post on January 3rd. Idowu was the cofounder of the Boston Police Camera Action Team, which called for equipping police with body cameras. He’s previously worked in City Hall and at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute, and in 2018 he ran for state representative in Hyde Park and emerged as a prominent local leader during his time on the Black Economic Council. During that time, he worked with ABC MA to oppose a project labor agreement for construction of the new Holyoke Soldiers' Home and to increase the diversity of the construction industry workforce.