With help from Kelly Garrity
FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: HOUSE MOVES TO TWEAK TAX-CAP LAW — Top House lawmakers believe they have a way to make tax refunds under Chapter 62F more equitable. They just have to convince everyone else.
Legislators are proposing changes to how the rebates are distributed as part of the larger tax-relief package the House will roll out later today and bring up for a vote on Thursday.
Instead of writing an income-based tax refund — which means sending bigger checks to those who paid more in taxes — House lawmakers want every rebate check to be for the same amount.
“We feel this is a more equitable way of distributing any excess revenue,” House Ways and Means Chair Aaron Michlewitz told Playbook. “We feel there should be a fairness component in this equation and those in need would be the ones who would benefit the most from a 62F trigger.”
House Speaker Ron Mariano has been teasing the possibility the House would try to tinker with 62F after soaring revenues last year triggered nearly $3 billion in givebacks to taxpayers and upended lawmakers’ plans for further tax relief.
The new proposal is also leadership’s response to progressive lawmakers who have been calling to change a system they argue disproportionately benefits wealthy residents. Lawmakers pushed legislation last session to cap the refunds and redistribute the excess to lower-income earners as inflation pinched people’s wallets. Now fearful that money from the so-called millionaires tax could again trigger the tax-cap law, they’ve filed bills this session that would keep those revenues out of the 62F equation or kill the law entirely.
Gov. Maura Healey has also proposed leaving surtax revenues out of the calculations that feed into 62F. Michlewitz said the House intends to do the same in its budget proposal, which is set to be released on Wednesday.
But the House’s broader tax-relief package wasn’t pre-negotiated, Michlewitz said, setting up potential disagreement over 62F among Democrats who will soon head to the bargaining table over their spending plans.
GOOD TUESDAY MORNING, MASSACHUSETTS. Here’s the billion-dollar question: Could Chapter 62F be triggered again this year? Michlewitz said it’s a possibility.
TODAY — Healey and Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll address the New England Council at 8:30 a.m. at the Seaport Hotel and speak at the Adams Presidential Center kickoff event at 6 p.m. in Quincy. Healey and Boston Mayor Michelle Wu attend Mel King’s funeral service at 11:30 a.m. at Union United Methodist Church in Boston. Driscoll meets with the Local Government Advisory Commission at 1 p.m. at the State House.
‘WE’RE GOING TO TAKE YOU ON’ — Ten months ago, top Democrats and abortion-rights advocates gathered on the State House steps to decry the fall of Roe v. Wade and to pledge to protect access to reproductive care in Massachusetts.
They returned on Monday with a similar message, driven by another court ruling seeking to curtail abortion access by jeopardizing approval of a drug used in medication abortions.
But this time they had the governor standing by their side.
Charlie Baker had a complicated relationship with abortion-rights advocates that doesn’t need a full rehashing. Still, the self-proclaimed “pro-choice” Republican governor moved quickly after the Dobbs decision to issue an executive order shoring up protections for patients and providers. And he signed the bill expanding abortion access that lawmakers sent to his desk later that summer.
Now Healey is keeping Massachusetts at the forefront of the abortion-rights fight by stockpiling mifepristone and signing an executive order clarifying that the drug and medication abortions are covered by last year’s shield law.
And she’s doing it with the type of passion she’s rarely publicly exhibited since the hard-charging attorney general became a candidate for governor.
“If you come here to mess with our rights and our freedoms, we’re going to take you on,” Healey declared Monday outside the State House. “What this judge did is a sham. … At the end of the day we are not going to let handpicked, extremist judges who are looking to just simply exercise and further a political agenda undermine centuries of appropriate rulemaking in this country.”
Having Democratic women in the executive suite at another crucial juncture for reproductive rights was a change not lost on the assembled advocates, which included Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Reps. Ayanna Pressley and Lori Trahan, Attorney General Andrea Campbell, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, state Senate President Karen Spilka and House Speaker Ron Mariano.
“Damn, it is good to have leadership in the corner office,” Pressley said. “Damn, it is good to have a governor who says abortion with her whole chest and understands what is at stake — unprecedented leadership to meet an unprecedented moment.”
— FAST FACTS: At Healey’s request, UMass spent $675,000 purchasing roughly 15,000 doses of mifepristone, which are expected to arrive this week. Healey said it’s enough supply of the drug, one of two used together to cause an abortion, to last for more than a year. The state will reimburse UMass for the purchase. Healey also pledged $1 million out of the Department of Public Health budget to help state-contracted providers pay for the drug.
— UNKNOWNS: Details are still being worked out on how doses will be distributed. And there were no clear answers from the governor or attorney general on Monday as to how the state would handle the drug losing its FDA approval.
— THE LONG GAME: Warren, who’s running for reelection next year, said “Roe will be on the ballot in 2024” as it was in 2022. “I ask you to get mad, and to stay mad, and to channel your anger into making real change,” she said. Mariano echoed those sentiments, saying: “We just can’t continue to elect these people.”
— THE VIEW FROM THE OTHER SIDE: Abortion opponents criticized Healey’s moves, telling the Boston Globe the governor had ordered “not 15,000 ‘doses’, but 15,000 deaths.”
— ALSO OF NOTE: Campbell has joined other attorneys general in signing onto an amicus brief calling to halt enforcement of the Texas court ruling that would stay FDA approval of mifepristone.
— FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Boston Ward 5 Democrats Chair Sharon Durkan is jumping into the special election to fill the District 8 City Council seat being vacated by Kenzie Bok. Durkan has worked in finance roles on several campaigns, including for Mayor Michelle Wu and Sen. Ed Markey. Bok resigns on April 28 to take over as Boston Housing Authority administrator.
— NEW MAYOR’S RACE ALERT: Melrose Mayor Paul Brodeur said Monday he won’t seek reelection. Brodeur, a former state representative, was first elected mayor in 2019. More from Patch’s Annie Jonas.
— FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Former state Rep. Ed Coppinger is endorsing Bill MacGregor to succeed him in the 10th Suffolk seat, saying he’s “ready to hit the ground running.” Coppinger resigned earlier this year to lead government affairs for MassBio.
— The Massachusetts Teachers Association and state Reps. Russell Holmes, Ruth Balser and Christine Barber have endorsed Celia Segel for 10th Suffolk state representative. The MTA represents more than 600 members in the district.
— “Boston civil rights icon Mel King honored at City Hall, Methodist church as part of homegoing celebration,” by Danny McDonald, John R. Ellement and Nick Stoico, Boston Globe: “Civil rights icon Mel King, who died last month at the age of 94, was memorialized by Boston leaders Monday as a monumental visionary who transformed his hometown through his advocacy for racial equity and fairness.”
— “Phillip Eng takes over MBTA as general manager after a chaotic year of failures,” by Chris Van Buskirk, MassLive: “Phillip Eng, the former head of the Long Island Rail Road, started as general manager of the MBTA Monday morning, taking over a troubled transit agency with a pledge to restore service, fix aging tracks and speed up trains. … Eng, who the Healey administration has pitched as a seasoned transit official with experience turning around distressed agencies, said officials are going to talk about issues at the MBTA ‘openly.’”
— “Rep To Baker: Bring Tip-Off Classic Back To Mass.,” by Michael P. Norton, State House News Service (paywall): “A state rep from western Massachusetts is calling on former Gov. Charlie Baker to exercise his power as NCAA president and bring the organization’s Tip-Off Classic back to Springfield.”
— “Warren, AOC press top Silicon Valley Bank depositors about any cushy treatment they received,” by Chelsey Cox, CNBC.
— EYES EMOJI: “Sununu’s brother registers to lobby,” by Caitlin Oprysko, POLITICO: “The brother of New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu has registered to lobby at the federal level for the first time in more than a decade, as Sununu takes steps to potentially jump into the Republican presidential primary.”
— “Easthampton School Committee blasted by ‘disgusted’ residents for canceling superintendent candidate over ‘ladies’ email,” by Rick Sobey, Boston Herald: “The Easthampton School Committee was eviscerated by ‘disgusted’ residents Monday evening for canceling the superintendent candidate who lost his job offer after he used the term ‘ladies’ in an email to the committee chair. The School Committee, which had voted behind closed doors to rescind the offer for superintendent candidate Vito Perrone, voted 5-2 on Monday to not re-enter negotiations with Perrone. The committee voted instead to offer the job to Erica Faginski-Stark.”
— “Mass. hospitals turn to controversial labor practices to stretch beleaguered staff,” by Jessica Bartlett, Boston Globe: “With staffing shortages plaguing every part of the health care system, nurses say some hospitals have turned to controversial methods to stretch their existing personnel, from mandating on-call shifts to increasing the number of days nurses must work. According to reports filed with the Department of Public Health, several hospitals have turned to mandatory overtime, which requires nurses to stay beyond their scheduled shift. The practice is prohibited under state law except in cases of emergency.”
— “25 years after Good Friday agreement, Boston leaders say it is a model for peace,” by Alexi Cohan, GBH News: “Twenty-five years after the Good Friday agreement brought an end to decades of violence between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland, Boston leaders say it serves as a model for peace and bringing people together during times of conflict.”
— “As population ages, new efforts to boost long-term care insurance are surfacing,” by Robert Weisman, Boston Globe.
— “Mass. employers are less optimistic about the economy,” by Zeninjor Enwemeka, WBUR.
TRANSITIONS — Jacqueline Manning is now deputy communications director/press secretary for the Executive Office of Veterans’ Services.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY — to Ethel Kennedy, former Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson, WEEI’s Meghan Ottolini, Henry Gass, Matt Tannenbaum, Ted Dooley, Kevin Gilnack, Todd Domke, David Wofford and Darlene Murray.
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