• On Monday, December 13th, Governor Baker signed the $4 billion federal aid and surplus disbursement bill that deploys $2.55 billion in American Rescue Plan Act money and $1.45 billion in fiscal 2021 surplus state tax revenue, while preserving a little more than $2.3 billion in federal ARPA funds for future use. Governor Baker vetoed a policy section that required a large commission be consulted before premium pay could be awarded to frontline employees who worked during the COVID-19 state of emergency and returned another similar outside section with proposed amendments. The spending itself is mostly concentrated on health care ($964 million), housing ($624 million), infrastructure ($414 million), education ($389 million) and economic development ($267 million), as well as on specific workforce issues ($500 million allotments for both premium pay awards and the state's unemployment insurance system). If the Legislature is to override Baker, it will take two-thirds votes in both the House and Senate. And because the Legislature is in the midst of its seven-week winter break from formal sessions, any override vote would have to take place in the new year.

 

  • On Tuesday, December 14th, the East Boston Democrat and city councilor Lydia Edwards declared victory in a special primary election for state Senate, against Revere School Committee member Anthony D'Ambrosio. Edwards faces no opponent in the January 11th special election and is poised next month to fill the First Suffolk and Middlesex District seat that former Senator Joe Boncore of Winthrop gave up when he joined the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council. Before serving on the city council, Edwards worked as a public interest attorney with Greater Boston Legal Services. 

 

  • On Monday, December 13th, Gubernatorial hopeful Ben Downing announced new endorsements from 22 current and former elected officials and candidates, netting support from the chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee and four Berkshire County representatives. Senator Michael Rodrigues and Representatives Tricia Farley-BouvierSmitty PignatelliPaul Mark and John Barrett are all backing Downing, who served 10 years in the Senate as a Pittsfield Democrat and now lives in East Boston. Rodrigues is the first senator to officially endorse his former colleague Downing, and four other members of the 40-seat Senate have lined up behind Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz (D - Second Suffolk) in her bid to become the Democratic nominee for governor.