GOVERNMENT & POLITICS

Gennady Gudkov, a retired KGB colonel, peered at me across his dark, vaulted office in an old Moscow manor house.

"I'm going to tell you something that I've never told anyone before," he said. "About 10 years ago, Russia had the opportunity to seriously influence election results in France."

mintchipdesigns / Creative Commons

First up in our news roundup this week: We get the thoughts of our panel about this week's mayoral elections across western Massachusetts, and we ask them how long they think mayors should serve. Voters in Westfield said at the ballot box it should only be for two years at a time, but many other places have switched to four-year terms. 

Congressman RIchie Neal speaks during a meeting of the House Ways and Means Committee, on Nov. 9, 2017.
Screen-shot / C-SPAN

By a party-line vote, the House Ways and Means Committee Thursday passed a Republican tax overhaul, sending it to the full House.

Updated at 4:20 p.m. ET

The Senate Finance Committee unveiled its version of a sweeping overhaul of the federal tax code on Thursday, as the House Ways and Means Committee was preparing to pass its own bill. The differing proposals forecast clashes between the two chambers that will make it difficult for Congress to enact the legislation by the end of the year as promised.

The two bills share a name, The Tax Cut and Jobs Act, but diverge on tax policy that affects both the business and individual sides of the tax code.

Tuesday's election not only brought Democratic wins in high-profile gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey, but it also saw historic victories for women, minority and LGBTQ candidates in down-ballot races nationwide.

Updated at 6:50 a.m. ET

It was a good night for Democrats in some of the nation's largest cities.

New York's Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio, a forceful critic of President Trump, easily won a second term. And Democrats also won several major cities and closely watched races, including those in Boston, Charlotte, N.C., and Seattle.

With all of the precincts counted, de Blasio had 66 percent of the vote to 28 percent for his main rival, Republican Nicole Malliotakis.

John Barrett (left) poses for a photo with a supporter after winning a special election for state representative.
Adam Frenier / NEPR

John Barrett is officially back in politics. The former long-time Democratic mayor of North Adams beat Republican Christine Canning to win a special election for state representative in northern Berkshire County.

Now that the Connecticut legislature has taken control over its own television network, some advocates of government transparency are questioning the move.

Were the GOP tax bill to pass as is, taxpayers and their spouses would get a $300 credit per year, as would families for nonchild dependents — for five years.

And it would allow businesses to immediately deduct the costs of business investments from their taxable income, a practice called "full expensing" — likewise, for five years.

And then it would end the estate tax, starting in six years.

The polling place at Falcetti Towers in Holyoke, Mass., saw light turnout on Sept. 26, 2017, for a preliminary election for mayor.
Sam Hudzik / NEPR

Voters in some Massachusetts communities will go to the polls Tuesday to elect local government and school officials. In the four westernmost counties, five cities have contested mayoral elections.

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