Moore appointed Senate chair of joint Public Safety and Homeland Security panel

“Sen. Moore brings years of professional knowledge and experience in public safety to his new role,” Senate President Stanley Rosenberg said. “Throughout his time with the Environmental Police and in public service, Sen. Moore has demonstrated tireless commitment to important safety and security issues facing the Commonwealth.”

Editorial: Trump’s anti-transgender maneuver

After six months of skirmishes with the press, political foes, facts and protocol, President Trump sent out tweets last week that stood out from the pack.

“After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military,” the president wrote Wednesday morning. “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”


This surprise attack on transgender people serving in the military was disruptive, puzzling, petty and ill-informed — even by America’s new lowered standards for presidential forthrightness and clarity. The move also reversed a campaign promise to serve as a friend to the LGBTQ community.

Baker seeking federal waivers to address untenable healthcare costs

BOSTON — As it simultaneously pursues Medicaid reform proposals in the state Legislature, the Baker administration has taken the first steps toward seeking approval of healthcare policy changes from the Trump administration.

Gov. Charlie Baker has spent much of this year emphasizing his hope that the federal government, under Trump and a Republican-controlled Congress, will stick to the terms of a so-called healthcare waiver his administration wrapped up with the Obama administration just before Trump’s election.

Now Baker, through the Executive Office of Health and Human Services and the Health Connector Authority, is asking the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for additional “relief” from some provisions of Obamacare, also known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The Baker administration’s new “flexibility” requests would align MassHealth coverage for non-disabled adults with commercial plans, adopt tools intended to obtain lower prescription drug prices, and implement narrower networks in an attempt to influence enrollment decisions and control cost, among other things.

Editorial: On immigration, Republicans become party of big government

The Supreme Judicial Court ruled Monday that police officers do not have the authority to detain immigrants solely at the request of federal immigration officials.

“In the case of Commonwealth v. Sreynuon Lunn, the court concluded that ‘nothing in the statutes or common law of Massachusetts authorizes court officers to make a civil arrest in these circumstances,’ ” State House News Service reported.

The facts are straightforward: “After the sole pending criminal charge against him was dismissed, the petitioner, Sreynuon Lunn, was held by Massachusetts court officers in a holding cell at the Boston Municipal Court at the request of a Federal immigration officer, pursuant to a Federal civil immigration detainer,” the SJC decision states.

“Immigration detainers like the one used in this case, for the purpose of that process, are therefore strictly civil in nature,” the opinion continues. “The removal process is not a criminal prosecution. The detainers are not criminal detainers or criminal arrest warrants. They do not charge anyone with a crime, indicate that anyone has been charged with a crime, or ask that anyone be detained in order that he or she can be prosecuted for a crime.”

On Beacon Hill: Signed, sealed and delivered

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

BOSTON — A budget, a pot bill and a shuffle of House leadership. Teary goodbyes, promotions and demotions. Take a deep breath, it’s finally the weekend.

House Speaker Robert DeLeo opened the floodgates early last week when he announced he had chosen a successor to Brian Dempsey as Ways and Means chairman, though not necessarily a successor to DeLeo’s long-held speakership.

The call to the bullpen went to state Rep. Jeffrey Sánchez, a Jamaica Plain Democrat and the first Latino to hold the powerful position in the House. In time, and if history serves, Sánchez could one day become a contender for the throne, but for now he’s meeting staff and worrying about how to handle Gov. Charlie Baker’s budget vetoes — $320 million, to be exact.

Baker signed a $39.4 billion spending bill for fiscal 2018, striking $42 million in local earmarks and revising revenue projections downward by $749 million, below the mark  — 1.4 percent — legislators had agreed would be sufficient in light of sluggish growth over the past year.

Antonio Caban / State House News Service

Gov. Charlie Baker

Perhaps most significantly, Baker returned a $200 million assessment on employers — his idea in the first place — with a summer reading assignment for lawmakers. The governor said he wanted the assessment, which many prefer to call a tax, packaged with reforms to MassHealth eligibility that were laid aside by legislative budget negotiators. And he wants it in the next 60 days.

How to proceed now will likely be decided by a triumvirate of DeLeo, Sanchez and Rep. Peter Kocot, D-Northampton, and they’ve scheduled hearings on the issues this week.

House members arrived at the State House Monday prepared to ratify Sánchez’s appointment to lead the budget-writing committee, and most seemed supportive of the selection. But Sánchez’s elevation meant a line of dominoes would fall behind him, and for at least one representative, the news wasn’t good.

Kocot, the gentle giant from Western Mass., took over the Health Care Financing Committee from Sánchez and will work together with the new budget chief to respond to Baker’s budget amendment on MassHealth.

Caught in the dust cloud of rotating chairpersons and newly minted vice-chairpersons, Rep. Russell Holmes, D-Mattapan, the immediate past chairman of the Black and Latino Caucus and vice-chairperson of the Housing Committee, found himself without his post in leadership.

Holmes had the temerity to suggest that with Dempsey gone, more liberal factions of the House should have a conversation about who the heir-apparent to DeLeo should be, and even prepare for a speakership fight in 2019.

That apparently did not sit well in the speaker’s office, and few were buying DeLeo’s insistence that Holmes’s demotion had nothing to do with his comments, but rather teamwork and chemistry.

Rather than quiet Holmes, the speaker’s punitive action only seemed to embolden the legislator as the week wore on. “If they believe that, then call me because I have a bridge in Brooklyn that I want to sell them,” Holmes said, incredulous about DeLeo’s explanation.

While representatives contemplated their place in the new House depth chart, the six House and Senate negotiators working on a pot law compromise retreated to the private confines of the Members Lounge for the last time to sign a deal that will raise the tax on retail marijuana to 20 percent and create a new structure for regulation and local control over pot stores.

— Matt Murphy

ALSO ON THE AGENDA

  • Legal marijuana law awaits Baker signature
  • Chang-Diaz and Forry on pot, McGovern on #NoKidHungry, Healey on DACA
  • New Ways and Means chairperson pledges ‘thoughtful’ approach to MassHealth
  • Watch: DeLeo and Sánchez on historic chairmanship
  • Final tally: Tax revenues leave $431 million hole in fiscal 2017

Sun Spots with Hitch [Vol. 181]: Charlie Baker and sanctuary status

Even his detractors would have to admit, Charlie Baker has had a pretty decent run as governor of the Bay State.

The Republican’s ability to work with a deep blue Legislature has earned him accolades nationwide — just this week a poll found him to be America’s most popular governor.

More Hitch | What if … Worcester | Free to Read

Of course a good deal of his detractors belong to the GOP and they’re not so enthusiastic about Baker’s bipartisan attitude toward issues like health care and immigration.

Hitch explores the schism.

State Rep. Kate Campanale talks Trump, Dixon, guns and making things happen

Republican state Rep. Kate D. Campanale, who represents Worcester’s 17th District (encompassing all of Leicester and “all the way to the Dunkin’ Donuts on Main South”), met for an extended interview with Sun correspondent BJ Hill recently at the Leicester Senior Center. This is their third sit-down since her election in 2014.

Find out how she really feels about Moses Dixon, which of her colleagues she’d like to have a beer with, her thoughts on transgender rights, sanctuary cities, Rep. Brian Dempsey’s sudden House departure, and what it’s like being a Republican in Massachusetts in the era of Trump.

[Editor’s note: Lightly edited for clarity and brevity.]

BJH: In November 2016 you won your first re-election campaign. What was that like, going back into the community and again trying to win support after your first election in 2014?

KC: It was a different campaign since you’re running as an incumbent and you have a record to run on. You’re a little more known. Going door-knocking, people remembered me from the previous two years. And you’re able to talk a little bit more about things that you’ve accomplished versus things you want to do. I’d say it’s a little more comfortable campaigning.

What are three differences campaigning in Leicester versus campaigning in your area in Worcester?

Honestly, BJ, I wouldn’t say there are many differences. It’s still the same strategy as far as you’re going to someone’s door, you’re meeting them, you’re introducing yourself for the first or second time, and you’re talking about pretty much the same issues. And you know, every person has [unique] priorities, but in general, I would say that the campaigning part is the same. Maybe one difference would be I’m a little more known [in Leicester] because I grew up here. Other than that, the campaign strategy really is the same, you know, meeting people is the same, whether it’s an event here at the [Leicester] Senior Center or one at University Park. I kind of handle them the same way.

You mentioned priorities. What did you notice were different priorities between folks in Worcester and folks here in Leicester?

Sina-cism: Why healthcare reform will happen

Any healthcare reform requires that consumers have sufficient affordable options to induce them to participate voluntarily. There are many paths to that goal, but none of them will be reached so long as crossing the political aisle means committing political suicide.
Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

Upon passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2010, conventional wisdom suggested the law would extend medical coverage to many Americans without it, while failing to curb costs.

Seven years later, that prognosis appears to have been largely on target.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the percentage of Americans without healthcare insurance fell from 16 percent in 2010, to just 8.9 percent in the first half of 2016. On the other hand, many Americans were unable to retain the plans and doctors they had, and many have faced sharply higher premiums and deductibles.

And in some states and counties, insurers have withdrawn from participation in public insurance options, leaving some consumers with but a single choice.

In the wake of a Republican electoral victory last November, conventional wisdom suggested the GOP would move quickly to reform or entirely repeal Obamacare. But Republicans have struggled to do so, in part because parts of the law are popular, and in part because GOP senators remain deeply divided on what reform should look like.

But unless Americans are ready for a single-payer system, which I doubt, some kind of Obamacare reform is a near certainty.

Sun Spots with Hitch [Vol. 180]: When Dukakis, Bulger and Trump collide

Former Bay State governor and Democratic nominee for president Michael Dukakis has not been shy in his critiques of the Tweeter-in-Chief, Donald Trump.

In a recent Boston Herald column, Dukakis says his wife, Kitty, “sees all the signs” of a serious personality disorder in the president. Billy Bulger, another power broker from years past, knows a thing or two about dangerous personalities.

So, Hitch thought it wise to bring everyone together to get to the bottom of this.