January 1, 2017

On Beacon Hill: Minimum wage, marijuana, and the Legislature gets paid

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Antonio Caban / State House News Service

Legal marijuana advocates protest at the State House as Gov. Baker signed a law delaying the implementation of retail sales.

From State House News Service

BOSTON — The minimum wage rises to $11 an hour and the new public records law takes effect today [Sunday, Jan. 1]. Lawmakers are gearing up for their first pay raise in years, a 4.2 percent bump. And the curtain closes on the 2015-2016 legislative session Tuesday, the day before 190th General Court’s opening act.

The newly sworn-in lawmakers are expected to immediately re-elect House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, D-Amherst, Wednesday. DeLeo is closing in on former House Speaker Thomas McGee’s record nine-and-a-half-year run as House leader from 1975 until 1985, the longest speakership under the state constitution.

The Winthrop Democrat took the reins of the House from former Speaker Salvatore DiMasi in January 2009, and will complete 10 years as House leader if he serves out his next two-year term as speaker. The all-time record, since the speaker’s office was established in 1644, dates to the Colonial era, when John Quincy held the gavel for 12 years.

Sam Doran (SHNS / file photo)

Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg and House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo

If past is prologue, Rosenberg will lay out policy priorities during remarks following his re-election to a second term as Senate president, and DeLeo will also make general remarks before delivering a full speech on his priorities later in January or early February.

State officials plan to release December revenue collection numbers by Thursday. If collections are strong enough, legislative leaders might follow through on their threat to restore funding for programs and services cut by Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker last month.

OFF THE TOP

  • MASS. LEGISLATURE AT ODDS WITH COUNTERPARTS: Democrats have firmly controlled the Massachusetts Legislature for decades, but are in the minority in that regard nationally. In their latest fundraising solicitation, Emily’s List noted Republicans will run both legislative chambers in 32 states and hold 33 governorships. Here, Democrats will maintain their 34-6 majority in the Senate and will hold a 125-35 advantage in the House after a net loss of one seat to the GOP. There are three new senators being seated next week and a dozen new representatives, mostly winners of open seats.
  • POCKET VETO COMES INTO PLAY: As is its custom, the Legislature has picked up the pace in the final weeks of the session, sending more bills to Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk. Bills sent this late in the session face the prospect of a pocket veto if the governor doesn’t sign those bills before the new session begins.
  • CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION: The 2015-2016 General Court holds its final Constitutional Convention Tuesday, although no activity is anticipated. The convention will be the forum for a major tax debate in 2017-2018 that will determine whether Massachusetts voters get an opportunity in November 2018 to decide the fate of a proposal to add a 4 percent surtax on annual household incomes above $1 million.

Andy Metzger / State House News Service

Ellen Brown of Marstons Mills and the Northeast Cannabis Institute holds about $50 worth of legal “blue dream” marijuana in front of the State House Dec. 15.

ALSO ON THE AGENDA

  • Baker OKs marijuana law delay; also first legislative raise in 8 years
  • Video: Legal pot advocates protest at State House
  • Looking ahead: Minimum wage turned up to $11; more accountability in public records
  • Relentless Healey campaign features shooting victim’s father


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