Massachusetts Lawmakers Prepare To 'Put A Bow On It'

Dec 17, 2018

This week, Massachusetts is tying up loose ends. No, not gift wrapping: politics.

Carrie Healy, NEPR: What are some of the items state lawmakers want to tie up before the end of the year?

Matt Murphy, State House News Service: Lawmakers do have a few weeks to go before the new session starts, and they are taking a look at anything and everything that they could possibly get done.

One of the things we're watching closely is whether or not the Senate decides to act on something that the House has already done to kind of increase the pressure on National Grid to end a lockout of its gas workers.

Other things we're also watching: the governor has been holding out hope and pushing for his housing bill that seemed to kind of flounder in the late days of the session in July. There's also a few conference committee bills that haven't been completely pronounced dead, including one governing short-term rentals through sites like Airbnb.  The speaker said that conversations have been ongoing, but it's looking less and less likely as these days tick off the calendar and the holidays arrive,  that any of this could get done.

The Worcester Redevelopment Authority unanimously authorized a 10-year lease with the state on Friday to relocate the Cannabis Control Commission's headquarters to Union Station. Worcester: the headquarters of Tabletop Talk Pies, the future home of a minor league baseball team… and the future headquarters of the state's marijuana brain trust. Are they trying to send a message with this location?

I think they are. It's an interesting choice for them, and good for them. We've seen some agencies that are outside of the Boston area, like the Massachusetts Lottery, try to move back closer to the city, back closer to the seat of government here in Boston. They're shifting their headquarters from Braintree into the city.

We've seen government try to use office space like this to help revitalize neighborhoods in Boston, but it's been about branching outside of downtown into neighborhoods like Dorchester or Roxbury — not necessarily getting outside of this metro area, and moving to someplace like Worcester.

But this will bring jobs, and maybe people will be moving out there. They're not going to want to commute. There's obviously the risk, or downside, of not being close to the capital, where there will be meetings and things that they need to be here for. I think that's why the CCC is also looking for some temporary space that they could also have in the city if they need to do business here. But, you know, it's a good thing for Worcester, and I think it sends a strong message that they're not just Boston-focused.

The state's lottery director and interim head of the Gaming Commission have an interesting —and some might say totally obvious — message for parents about holiday gifts. Could you unpack that?

This this seems like an obvious warning, I guess. But the lottery is partnering with some of the compulsive gambling groups, and people concerned about the spread of compulsive gambling, and reminding people that scratch tickets, Powerball tickets, even casino chips that you might win on the floor are not really appropriate gifts for children this holiday season.

They're reminding people that they should think of something a little less gaming-focused to give their nieces and nephews or their kids under the tree this year. Hopefully everyone will heed that call. It seems like common sense, but sometimes these reminders can help, and go a long way.

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