Beacon Hill In 5


Beacon Hill In 5 is a weekly check-in at the Statehouse from New England Public Media. Get a quick look at the week ahead in politics and government in Massachusetts with Carrie Healy, NEPM's Morning Edition Host, and Matt Murphy with the State House News Service.

The Massachusetts State Police General Headquarters.
Jacqueline Tempera / MassLive /

As the deadline approaches for them to get vaccinated for COVID-19, some Massachusetts state troopers remain at odds with the governor. This week, the police union representing some 1,800 troopers will sit down at the bargaining table with the state.

The map of Massachusetts counties from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention indicates the entire state is now in the"red" zone, or experiencing high levels of community transmission of the coronavirus.
Screen Capture /

COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths are all on the upswing again in Massachusetts. The state continues to push vaccinations. In fact, in a recent radio interview, Gov. Charlie Baker seemed to leave the door open to the Commonwealth eventually using some sort of COVID-19 vaccination passport.

Springfield, Massachusetts, Mayor Domenic Sarno with city and health officials.
Don Treeger / The Republican /

After canceling a statewide mask rule last spring, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has said he wants these decisions made locally. One such local mandate took effect Monday in Springfield. 

In a file photo from January 2017, Governor Charlie Baker was joined by Chief Justice Roderick Ireland, and others in the signing of an act designating the Hampden County Superior Court as the Roderick L. Ireland Courthouse.
Alastair Pike / Office of Governor Charlie Baker /

Springfield's Roderick J. Ireland Courthouse, renamed just a few years ago for the first African American justice appointed to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, is on the minds of the city's legislative delegation. With the building falling into further disrepair, lawmakers want Governor Charlie Baker to step in and assist.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker visits a classroom in Gloucester in March 2021.
Nancy Lane / Boston Herald / Pool / State House News Service

Over the summer, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker's administration was urging residents to get vaccinated. Then came a vaccine mandate for state employees, and a message encouraging private businesses to do the same.

Vaccine administration in a file photo.
Caitlin O'Neil-McKeown / U.S. Air Force

Last week, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed an executive order mandating COVID-19 vaccination for some 42,000 state employees. The order says they must be vaccinated by mid-October or face consequences, which could include losing their job.

A photograph of the exterior of the Massachusetts State House taken on September 21, 2013.
Noah B Kaplan / Creative Commons /

Every 10 years, state lawmakers get a whole lot of data from the census bureau and use it to make big decisions about the power of individual communities. That time is now.

Empty classroom with chairs.
Creative Commons

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker faces pushback as the state's recent mask advisory falls well short of guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A street scene in Provincetown, Massachusetts.
MassLive /

A spike in COVID-19 cases on Cape Cod prompted some communities there to call for mask advisories. Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker says he's not planning another statewide return to masking — but in the past, he's put restrictions in place, and required residents to mask up.

A sign on a shop door in Concord, Massachusetts reads: "If fully vaccinated, masks not required YAY!"
Sharon Hahn Darlin / Creative Commons /

Officials across the country, including in some Massachusetts cities, are worried about upticks in COVID-19 cases. 

The Massachusetts Statehouse in Boston.
Jesse Costa / WBUR

Some states, like Connecticut and Vermont, have already decided how they'll spend their share of American Rescue Plan Act money. For Massachusetts, about $5 billion of it is still sitting in the state's piggy bank. 

The Senate Chamber at the Massachusetts Statehouse.
S M / Creative Commons

Massachusetts lawmakers have called it quits ahead of the holiday weekend without passing a full-year budget or election reforms.

Massachusetts lawmakers work on the budget in May 2019.
File photo / State House News Service

A new Massachusetts budget is due by Thursday, but if history is any guide, state lawmakers aren't stressing the deadline.

The Legislature is still working on the budget for the new fiscal year to prevent a state government shutdown. In the meantime, Governor Charlie Baker has filed an interim budget.

Massachusetts House Ways and Means' Aaron Michlewitz and Speaker Ron Mariano in a file photo from the release of the House budget on April 14, 2021.
State House News Service

Massachusetts lawmakers are 10 days from needing a state budget for the new fiscal year, but the big fight now is about billions in federal aid and who controls it. 

Sports betting in action.
Thomas Schlosser / Creative Commons

This week, a legislative committee will take another look at legalizing sports betting in Massachusetts.

The Massachusetts Statehouse in Boston.
William Zhang / Creative Commons

Transportation and education priorities in Massachusetts could get a step closer to reaping $2 billion a year with a vote this week.

A bicyclist wearing a face covering at a transit station in Maryland on June 8, 2020. Massachusetts will continue to require masks at transit stations after May 29, 2021.
Elvert Barnes / Creative Commons /

Not all masks are coming off on Saturday, May 29, the day Massachusetts is scheduled to lift pandemic restrictions on businesses as well as on mask wearing.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker.
Jessica Rinaldi / The Boston Globe / Pool / State House News Service

In most cases, people fully vaccinated for COVID-19 probably don't have to wear a mask, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But, at least for now, mask mandates remain in place in Massachusetts.

Barrington Stage Company artistic director Julianne Boyd (left) with Mark H. Dold during a rehearsal last year.
Courtesy Barrington Stage Company / WBUR

Monday marks another small move toward reopening in Massachusetts. Live theater is permitted indoors again — though social distancing is a must.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker.
Jessica Rinaldi / The Boston Globe / Pool / State House News Service

As the COVID-19 metrics continue to move in the right direction in Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker says he remains hopeful the state can achieve a full reopening by August 1.

Massachusetts state Rep. Aaron Michlewitz, at left, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, with House Speaker Ronald Mariano on April 14, 2021.
State House News Service

The smoky back room where political deals used to get made has been replaced by a Zoom meeting from a Massachusetts lawmaker's home office.

Teenagers observing social distancing and face covering protocols attend a rally on June 27, 2020 in Portage, Indiana, following the death of George Floyd, a Black man in Minnesota.
risingthermals / Creative Commons /

If you're age 16 or older in Massachusetts, you can now book an appointment to get the COVID-19 vaccine,  if you can find one.

A chart shows the shifting makeup of COVID-19 infections in Massachusetts between September 2020 and April 2021. The largest share of cases is among residents age 29 and younger.
Massachusetts DPH / State House News Service

Massachusetts lawmakers will soon learn more about the contagious COVID-19 variants known to reinfect those who previously had coronavirus.

Socially distanced classroom seating during a COVID-19 pandemic.
Akbarali / creative commons /

Many Massachusetts public elementary schools are now returning to full-time in-person learning. But with all the health protocols, that classroom experience won't be nearly the same as it was before the pandemic.

A sign, previously posted in the Florence section of Northampton, Massachusetts, reminding visitors to wear masks.
Sam Hudzik / NEPM

Some states are dropping their mask mandates, but Massachusetts residents must continue masking — and the latest COVID-19 numbers in the state are causing some concern.

Governor Charlie Baker addresses the media at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Brockton, Massachusetts, on March 17, 2021.
Alyssa Stone / The Enterprise of Brockton, Pool Photo

With more than a million Massachusetts residents now fully vaccinated, the state is shedding even more COVID-19 restrictions.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker stands in a classroom of elementary students.
Nancy Lane / State House News Service / Pool / Boston Herald

President Joe Biden wants states to open vaccine appointments to all adults beginning in May. Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has said that’s a great goal — but first, he said, the feds have a lot of work to do.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker visits to West Parish School in Gloucester, where students have been learning in person for more than 100 days.
Nancy Lane / Boston Herald / Pool / State House News Service

For months, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has been trying to get school districts to allow kids back for in-person learning. On Friday, a state board voted to give Education Commissioner Jeff Riley some more power to make that happen. 

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker in Salem, Massachusetts, on Thursday, February 25, 2021.
Pat Greenhouse / Boston Globe / Pool / State House News Service

Massachusetts officials say their COVID-19 vaccination efforts are gaining steam. And a major rollback of restrictions on some businesses begins this week.

Richard Bodo of Auburn, Massachusetts, receiving the COVID-19 vaccine at the Eastfield Mall in Springfield, Massachusetts, on February 1, 2021.
Alden Bourne / NEPM

Massachusetts residents who accompany someone 75 years or older to get the coronavirus vaccine can get one too, even if they aren't otherwise eligible. Governor Charlie Baker is standing by this companion plan, even as some lawmakers blast it.