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The Massachusetts State House in Boston
Henry Epp / NEPR

It's budget week for the Massachusetts House. Representatives will consider about 1,200 amendments that were tacked on to the spending proposal for next year. The first measures up for debate will be tax and revenue proposals.

Reporter Matt Murphy of the State House News Service explained to us how this annual process works.

A timber rattlesnake in Berkshire County, Masachusetts.
Patrick Randall / Creative Commons

The proposal to create a protected habitat for timber rattlesnakes on an island in the Quabbin Reservoir is suspended, but still on the table. That's according to Joseph Larson, the chair of the Massachusetts Fisheries and Wildlife Board.

Larson said in a Thursday interview that the board's vote this week was based on a review committee's recommendation to instead examine all the rattlesnake populations from greater Boston to the Connecticut River Valley and the Berkshires.

"That's probably what we should have done in the first place," Larson said.

A syringe.
ZaldyImg / Creative Commons

There's legal uncertainty at this hour about whether Arkansas will be allowed to go ahead with a pair of executions Thursday night. Eight executions had been scheduled to begin on Monday -- and there have been conflicting court decisions since then.

While this has been playing out in court, a western Massachusetts folk singer has been playing a song he wrote called "Eight Men Dying."

Tom Neilson of Greenfield, Mass., is on tour now. He said he played a few gigs in Arkansas earlier this month.

Massachusetts U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren.
Dave Roback / The Republican

As she looks to her 2018 re-election campaign, Massachusetts U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren is touting her efforts on behalf of the western part of the state.

Warren is a regular these days on national TV and radio shows with most of her public appearances in Massachusetts in the eastern part of the state. Asked if she feels she's been in western Mass. enough, she did not directly answer the question.

Bill Galvin is the Massachusetts secretary of state.
Don Treeger / The Republican

Massachusetts uses private collection agencies to go after delinquent taxpayers. And the secretary of state said more needs to be done to make residents aware of the practice.

Millers River near Erving, Massachusetts
jkb / Creative Commons

Massachusetts is still in the process of recovering from a drought.  The next few weeks are a critical time for recharging ground water supplies.

Most of Massachusetts, except for Berkshire County, is under a drought advisory -- a step above normal conditions, with some limits on watering and irrigation.

And yet the state is in much better shape than last fall when most of Western Massachusetts was in a severe or even extreme drought.

The Massachusetts State House in Boston
Henry Epp / NEPR

Prosecutors in Massachusetts have to make some decisions by Tuesday. That's their deadline to decide whether to follow through with the thousands of cases that were tainted by the 2012 scandal at a state drug lab, where a chemist repeatedly falsified her analysis of evidence. Many of the cases could be thrown out.

We spoke to reporter Matt Murphy of the State House News Service. He said 24,000 convictions may have been compromised.

WGBY headquarters In downtown Springfield, Mass.
Alden Bourne / NEPR

At a recent FCC auction, the broadcast frequency for WGBY in Springfield sold for $57 million.

The station will move to a different channel. The license for the current frequency is owned by WGBH in Boston, and the money will go into its endowment, with annual disbursements to WGBY.

"We will probably increase local content, education services -- things that we've been doing for a long time, but things that we haven't been able to enhance and grow because of financial reasons," said Lynn Page, the station's acting general manager.

Cynthia Nixon as Emily Dickinson in "A Quiet Passion."
Music Box Films

The film "A Quiet Passion" opens in theaters Friday. It's a period piece about the life of poet Emily Dickinson, who lived in Amherst, Massachusetts. Parts of the movie were filmed outside her former home in town. The film is directed by Terence Davies, and stars Cynthia Nixon, best known for her role on "Sex and the City."

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy will not seek re-election. The two-term Democratic governor announced his decision at a news conference Thursday afternoon at the Capitol in Hartford.

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