News

Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo.
Dave Roback / The Republican

It's going to be a busy week on Beacon Hill as Massachusetts lawmakers try to find common ground on some tough topics. The state's fiscal year ends Friday and there's no budget agreement yet. Also, the legislature is aiming to get a recreational marijuana law on the governor's desk this week. But big differences remain between the House and Senate bills, both of which make changes to the voter-passed marijuana law.

The Rev. Tom Gerstenlauer of South Congregational Church in Springfield, explains the sanctuary decision, on June 16, 2017.
Patrick Johnson / The Republican

The building code commissioner for Springfield, Mass., has sent a warning letter to a church that plans to become a sanctuary for immigrants facing deportation.

Springfield's Union Station and the Union Station Parking Garage on March 23, 2017.
David Molnar / The Republican

Our panel of journalists looks at the big stories in the news.

What made The Short List this week?

We begin the 2017 summer fiction series with a heartfelt look at two world religious leaders.

The author is Roland Merullo from Williamsburg, Massachusetts, and his book is "The Delight of Being Ordinary: A Road Trip with the Pope and the Dalai Lama." 

Varieties of marijuana.
File photo / The Republican

NEPR News Now is a collection of recent features, interviews and commentaries.

One of the most exciting jazz discoveries I've experienced in recent years involved the Russian-born alto saxophonist Dmitry Baevsky and a restaurant in the tiny (pop. 1600) Massachusetts-Vermont border town of Colrain, Mass. While hosting Jazz à la Mode on a Thursday night in 2008, I got a call from a woman in Greenfield urging me to find coverage for the following night's show so that I could hear Baevsky at the Green Emporium.

The sign outside St. Joseph Central High School in Pittsfield.
Adam Frenier / NEPR

After holding classes 120 years, Berkshire County's lone Catholic high school, St. Joseph Central of Pittsfield, closed its doors last week.

The school's closure was announced last fall amid sagging enrollment. And as the process has begun to clean out the building, students and staff members have largely moved on.

A home setup for growing marijuana.
Zoboar / Creative Commons

The Massachusetts House of Representatives on Wednesday is debating a proposal to raise the tax on retail marijuana sales to 28 percent.

Lawmakers opposed to the increase said it could push buyers to the black market. However, a steep tax could also help stores that sell supplies for growing marijuana at home.

"People are not going to want to spend that kind of money when they can grow it themselves for cheaper," said Ian Back, who works at Here We Grow in Hadley.

State Representative Gailanne Cariddi died Saturday, June 17th. She  was in her 4th term representing northern Berkshire County , including North Adams and Williamstown
Massachusetts Legislature / malegislature.gov

Funeral plans are set for Thursday for Massachusetts state Representative Gailanne Cariddi . The 63- year-old North Adams Democrat died over the weekend. It's not year clear when a special election will be held to fill her seat.

It's up to House Speaker Robert DeLeo to set the special election date. His spokesperson declined comment.

A look at other special election timelines in Massachusetts shows the process could take three-to-four months once a date is chosen. This allows for gathering signatures and, if needed, a primary election.

The Rev. Tom Gerstenlauer of South Congregational Church in Springfield, explains the sanctuary decision, on June 16, 2017.
Patrick Johnson / The Republican

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno on Monday directed city departments to consider public safety and building code violations at South Congregational Church. That's after the church announced it intended to serve as a sanctuary for immigrants who are undocumented and face deportation.

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