Legislative leaders this week could send to high stakes negotiating committees bills allowing more charter schools in Massachusetts, reducing gun violence and imposing new disclosure rules on super PACs while raising campaign contribution limits. With less than three weeks left for formal sessions, there’s a wide gulf between the House and Senate as far as their approach to allowing more charters, with the Senate planning to debate its plan (S 2262) on Wednesday and amendments to that bill due Monday. The House has already approved gun, charters, and super PAC bills and Senate President Therese Murray said Thursday she expects the Senate to consider all three next week. The Senate plans formal sessions Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The House has scheduled a formal session on Wednesday to take up local housing authority reforms (H 4211). The bill sets performance benchmarks and calls for annual independent audits and training for authority board members and executive directors. The legislation keys off a more far-reaching plan Gov. Deval Patrick offered after a Chelsea Housing Authority scandal in which its former executive director was found to be rigging the inspection process and concealing a $360,000 salary.
With the signings by Gov. Patrick of laws regulating compounding pharmacies and instituting welfare system reforms, Beacon Hill leaders have cleared off their to-do list leftover priorities from the 2013 session. Thursday’s Senate passage of a $1.7 billion environmental bond means that bill can be referred to a House-Senate conference. The branches this week also sent to conference bills making long-term investments in technology, affording parole options to juvenile murderers, and promoting economic development and job creation. Conferences are also still in place to reconcile bills addressing domestic violence, financing the expansion of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, and implementing systems to increase the recycling of products containing mercury.
Friday’s signing of a fiscal 2015 budget does not mean the end of debate over near-term spending priorities. House Speaker Robert DeLeo and House Ways and Means Chairman Brian Dempsey now get to decide which of Gov. Deval Patrick’s budget vetoes to try to override and which of his budget amendments to bring to the floor for consideration. The governor handed down his veto message on Friday, cutting $16 million in spending and asking the Legislature to hand him the power to make unilateral budget cuts, although administration officials says nothing in particular was driving that request.
For Henry Epp’s conversation with Matt Murphy about the week ahead on Beacon Hill, click the audio player above.