MASSACHUSETTS

Coverage of Massachusetts from New England Public Radio, NPR, and other NPR stations.

Gov. Charlie Baker, right, swears in Colonel Kerry Gilpin, left, with Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito.
Courtesy Office of Gov. Charlie Baker

We start this week by looking at the two criminal justice bills passed separately by both chambers of the Massachusetts legislature. 

Gov. Charlie Baker is riding high going into the 2018 election cycle. He remains the country’s most popular governor and leads his Democratic challengers by enormous margins.

But with a record of favoring tax cuts in the past, Baker faces complicated political questions from further down the ballot.

An aerial view of the Massachusetts State House in Boston in June, 2017.
AbhiSuryawanshi / Creative Commons

In a major step toward justice system overhauls, both branches of the Massachusetts state legislature have now approved bills that do away with mandatory minimum sentences for certain drug crimes, restrict the use of solitary confinement, allow for the expungement of juvenile records and strengthen laws against fentanyl trafficking. 

Massachusetts voters appear to want to significantly change the way the state’s tax burden is shared.

A new WBUR poll (topline resultscrosstabs) finds three proposed 2018 statewide ballot initiatives are enjoying overwhelming support from Massachusetts voters. The live telephone poll was conducted by the MassINC Polling Group for WBUR.

WBUR Poll Finds Warren And Baker Are Up Big Over Their Challengers

Nov 15, 2017

One’s a Democrat, the other a Republican. But both incumbents seem to be sitting pretty, at least at this early stage of their respective re-election campaigns.

One day after announcing that fewer Massachusetts residents have died from opioid overdoses this year than last, Gov. Charlie Baker delivered a slate of proposals to combat the epidemic, including reforms for prescribing and treatment, at a press conference Tuesday.

Marijuana plants.
Brett Levin flickr.com/photos/scubabrett22 / Creative Commons

Marijuana regulators in Massachusetts are trying to find a balance between getting pot stores open by next summer, and making sure all residents have a chance to get involved in the industry.

When juveniles are convicted of crimes in the state of Massachusetts, their criminal records may haunt them long past their punishments, with the potential to hurt job, housing and education prospects.

A provision in a proposed criminal justice reform bill, which the House begins debating Monday, would allow some of those records to be expunged after a period of time.

Jefferson Alvarez, a 22-year-old from Lawrence, hopes to one day seal and expunge a criminal record he obtained when he was a high school freshman.

Anne flickr.com/photos/ilike / Creative Commons

The Massachusetts Senate has already checked a criminal justice overhaul off its to-do list. Last week, the State House checked off a measure guaranteeing free birth control. But there's a lot left to do, with legislative deadlines looming.

An estimated 8,000 immigrants in Massachusetts are awaiting decisions that will determine their fate in the United States.

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