June 4, 2017

On Beacon Hill: What does it all mean?

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Sam Doran / State House News Service

For Gov. Charlie Baker, the time is now to start getting creative in addressing the state's prohibitive healthcare costs.

Recap and analysis of the week in local, state and federal government
from State House News Service

BOSTON — Words can inspire, they can sting and they can leave one scratching their head.

The words spoken last week — and still to be uttered — from Boston to Washington, D.C., did that and more as gubernatorial candidates geared up for a weekend of Baker-Trump bashing, the president excoriated an historic international climate pact, the feds busted a major fentanyl trafficking ring in Lawrence and Democrats sniped each other over ideological purity.

But as Trump might say (or Tweet): “Covfefe.”

More than 5,000 Democrats descended on downtown Worcester starting Friday night for the party’s off-year platform convention, where the three declared candidates for governor had their chance to address the party faithful.

Former state budget chief Jay Gonzalez, Newton Mayor Setti Warren and environmentalist Bob Massie were all looking to send activists home feeling energized about their campaign and chances to topple Gov. Charlie Baker in 2018.

Gonzalez got a jump on the convention by releasing a criminal-justice platform that calls for eliminating all non-murder-related mandatory minimum sentences, while Warren stood up for a party platform that pushes Democrats far to the left of what the actual power brokers at the State House appear willing to accept at the moment.

A fourth man — former state Sen. Dan Wolf — has not made up his mind on 2018 yet, but at a Somerville Democratic City Committee meeting last week, he called out House Speaker Robert DeLeo, D-Winthrop, as one of the party leaders “tone deaf” to a grassroots agenda that includes single-payer healthcare.

“If they seem tone deaf to the platform then people should run against them,” Wolf said.

DeLeo, whose views on tax increases are always evolving but is on the more conservative end of the Democratic spectrum, has not made life easier for himself with the progressive set with his refusal to commit at this point to the future Democratic nominee for governor.

Sam Doran (SHNS / file photo)

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

Unlike Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, D-Amherst, who is all aboard the beat-Baker train in 2018 and was set to speak at the convention, DeLeo skipped the Worcester festivities, and it may be for the best, at least for him. The reason for his absence went unexplained Friday by staff after the party told State House News Service earlier in the week that he would be among the party elders at the convention.

The same night Wolf challenged DeLeo’s big “D” bonafides, U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, the dean of the Bay State delegation, was in Boston giving a public interview to Josh Miller of the Boston Globe in which he lamented the “pure party” approach to candidate recruitment.

Massie, who has made a career out of environmental activism, also got a ready-made applause line last week when President Trump announced that he would pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement, warning that the deal, unbalanced in his estimation, would disproportionately hurt American jobs.

— Matt Murphy

ALSO ON THE AGENDA

  • Baker enters Mass. into governors’ climate alliance [+video]
  • McGovern on Trump’s Paris call, Chandler on ‘Casey at the Bat’
  • Hernandez ruling prompts move to uphold convictions
  • Baker measure would elevate tech, security chief to cabinet position
  • State labor secretary resigns

THE BIG DEAL

In wake of Trump Paris accord reversal, Baker adds Mass. to governors’ climate alliance

By Michael P. Norton and Matt Murphy

Govs. Charlie Baker and Phil Scott, two of the four Republican governors in New England, announced late Friday afternoon that they would join a coalition of states committed to fulfilling the tenets of the Paris Climate Agreement despite President Donald Trump’s decision last week to withdraw from the international pact.

Baker had said he was disappointed in Trump’s decision and committed to promoting clean energy and reduced carbon emissions in Massachusetts, but demurred when asked earlier in the day about joining the coalition.

Antonio Caban / State House News Service

Gov. Charlie Baker

Over the course of the day, Baker’s office said the governor was able to connect with Vermont’s Scott and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, one of the founding members of the U.S. Climate Alliance.

“As the Commonwealth reiterates its commitment to exceed the emission reduction targets of the Paris Climate Agreement, today we join the U.S. Climate Alliance to expand on our efforts while partnering with other states to combat climate change,” Baker said in a statement Friday afternoon. “After speaking with Govs. Cuomo and Scott, our administration looks forward to continued, bipartisan collaboration with other states to protect the environment, grow the economy and deliver a brighter future to the next generation.”

Baker and Scott wrote to Energy Secretary Rick Perry last month urging the Trump administration to remain in the pact, and Perry was reportedly one of the officials who advised the president not to withdraw.

The governors of California, New York and Washington, all Democrats, launched the coalition Thursday after President Trump said he was withdrawing the United States from the international accord.

“The Paris Climate Accord is simply the latest example of Washington entering into an agreement that disadvantages the United States to the exclusive benefit of other countries, leaving American workers — who I love — and taxpayers to absorb the cost in terms of lost jobs, lower wages, shuttered factories, and vastly diminished economic production,” the president said at a Rose Garden announcement.

Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy also announced Friday his state would join the climate alliance.

[Story continues after video.]

VIDEO OF THE WEEK

Baker talks about what’s next following Trump’s Paris power play

California Gov. Jerry Brown Jr. said the United States Climate Alliance will bring together states committed to upholding the Paris Climate Agreement and “taking aggressive action on climate change.”

“The President has already said climate change is a hoax, which is the exact opposite of virtually all scientific and worldwide opinion,” Brown said in a statement. “I don’t believe fighting reality is a good strategy — not for America, not for anybody. If the president is going to be AWOL in this profoundly important human endeavor, then California and other states will step up.”

State Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton told State House News Service before the announcement that he and others were considering joining the multistate coalition, and he hopes the United States can reach some sort of new climate agreement.

Drought Management Task Force members -- co-chair and Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs' assistant director of water policy, Vandana Rao, left; Energy and Environmental Secretary Matthew Beaton, center; and Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Martin Suuberg -- met Thursday and received an update on drought conditions from various state and federal agencies.

Antonio Caban / State House News Service

Matthew Beaton, center

“It is important for the United States to lead on this issue, and I’m hopeful some modifications can be worked out as we heard the president say [Thursday],” Beaton said. Asked about the president’s claims that the climate agreement disadvantaged the nation, Beaton said the president appeared to be taking a “short-term perspective.”

“It misses the mark on the long view, on the long game, and that’s really what we need to be focused on. That’s what we’re focused on here in Massachusetts,” Beaton said.

Baker said withdrawal from the Paris accord is the wrong step.

“I was disappointed by it,” Baker said. “I don’t think it’s the right thing for the country. I don’t think it’s the right thing for the world. And I do believe that there’s a lot of momentum on those issues.”

[Andy Metzger contributed reporting]

A LITTLE BIRDIE

McGovern on Trump’s Paris Agreement decision

Chandler leads reading of ‘Casey at the Bat’

NOTED

Hernandez suicide moves Boston rep to back bill upholding convictions

After a judge vacated the murder conviction against Aaron Hernandez following the former New England Patriots player’s prison suicide, Rep. Evandro Carvalho said he watched the victim’s mother experience a sense of hopelessness and loss of faith in the justice system.

Carvalho, a Dorchester Democrat, filed a bill last week that would end the practice known as abatement ab initio — wherein a conviction is wiped out if the defendant dies before exhausting the appeals process — in cases when the defendant dies by suicide. Carvalho said he hopes it will ensure “no family will ever need to go through the trauma” experienced by the mother of murder victim Odin Lloyd.

Lloyd, a semi-professional football player, was killed in June 2013, and Hernandez was found guilty of his murder nearly two years later.

Carvalho said in a statement that Lloyd’s mother, Ursula Ward, “stood strong throughout the process as a spokesman for her family and justice” and then “had to relive her son’s death” after Hernandez’s April 19 suicide.

Carvalho said after meeting with Ward, his constituent, he felt “a responsibility to help however I could.”

Carvalho’s bill has not yet been referred to a legislative committee.

The issue has come before Beacon Hill before. In 1997, after the suicide of John Salvi, who was convicted of murdering two women at Brookline reproductive clinics, the Senate passed a law that would prevent courts from erasing the convictions of people who die before their appeals are heard.

— Katie Lannan

IN THE NEWS

Technology, cybersecurity would rise to cabinet level under Baker initiative

Citing security, privacy and economic considerations, Gov. Baker is proposing the creation of a new secretariat in his administration to oversee information technology services and security.

Under legislation Baker’s office announced Thursday, the existing Massachusetts Office of Information Technology (MassIT) would be re-established as the Executive Office of Technology Services and Security, led by a new secretary of technology.

“The pace of technology innovation is accelerating, led by many of the world-class IT and cybersecurity organizations that call Massachusetts home,” Baker said in a statement. “To better serve our constituents and secure their information, we are pleased to file legislation elevating the mission of MassIT and streamlining the digital platforms and services state government provides.”

The bill marks the second time in the past two years Baker has sought to elevate the status of the technology office.

In March 2016, Baker established a new MassIT executive director post, reporting directly to him. Mark Nunnelly, formerly the state commissioner of revenue and Baker’s special advisor for technology and innovation competitiveness, began serving in the role on April 4, 2016.

A Baker spokesman on Thursday did not answer when asked if the administration had Nunnelly in mind to serve as the new Cabinet secretary for technology, and said Nunnelly was not available for an interview.

Nunnelly said in a press release that the proposed secretariat will make state government more secure and efficient through “an enterprise approach to our technology architecture and procurement.”

The last time a new Cabinet secretariat was established was in 2008, when Gov. Deval Patrick created the Executive Office of Education.

— Katie Lannan

State labor secretary resigns, bank executive tapped as replacement

Massachusetts Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Ron Walker is resigning from the Baker administration and will be replaced by Rosalin Acosta, who most recently served as managing director at Enterprise Bank.

Gov. Baker and Walker announced the move Friday at a press conference, where Baker said the departing secretary is “the consummate gentleman, the consummate team player” and “completely unafraid of innovation.”

Baker said there “were a lot of tears” Thursday when Walker disclosed to staff that he was leaving. He said Walker would return to the private sector.

Acosta will take over the role on July 1, Baker said.

Baker has kept his Cabinet together since taking office. Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash flirted with the idea of leaving, but opted to stay on. Walker is the first Cabinet official to leave Baker’s team.

— Katie Lannan

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