Despite broad support, funding for Mass. emergency shelters has not been passed
Massachusetts legislators failed to pass that nearly $3 billion supplemental budget bill that would provide emergency shelter, funding and funds for collectively bargained state employee raises. So, at about the end of the formal session, Senate President Karen Spilka told reporters that now it's not unusual for lawmakers to do budgets in informal sessions. Chris Lisinski of the State House News Service explains the process lawmakers must follow, now that now that the Legislature is on its holiday recess.
Chris Lisinski, State House News Service: So, the first thing we should know is they have to get this done by the time they return to formal sessions in January. Legislative rules, the rule number is 12 B for anyone who wants to go read it themselves, says that everything carries over to the second year of the session, except for budget bills. Since this is a budget bill, if they don't reach an agreement, it would die come January and everybody would have to start the process over from square one.
Unfinished Business of the Session.
12B. Any matter pending before the General Court at the end of the first annual session and any special session held in the same year shall carry over into the second annual session of the same General Court in the same legislative status as it was at the conclusion of the first annual session or any special session held during that year; provided, however, that any measure making or supplementing an appropriation for a fiscal year submitted to or returned to the General Court by the Governor, under Article LXIII of the Amendments to the Constitution, in the first annual session or in a special session held during that year shall cease to exist upon the termination of the first annual session. [Adopted June 12. 1995.]
That being said, Democrats are still hopeful that they'll be able to find an agreement that they couldn't find during formal sessions in this upcoming seven-week holiday stretch. They will continue to talk behind closed doors and try and get on the same page. Once they do have a deal, they need to make sure that everybody is on board with it because a single lawmaker can stall any bill’s passage during informal session. Republicans in both chambers opposed this [bill], so Mariano and Spilka are going to need to get not just their own members, but every single member of the GOP caucus on board here.
Carrie Healy, NEPM: And we should note that some NEPM employees could benefit from raises in that budget.
Democratic leaders in the state House have resisted attempts by Auditor Diana DiZoglio to audit the body, arguing that she doesn't have the authority under state law, that the information is already available for public review or that it's already audited, of course, by other entities. So, Chris, was it at all surprising that the Massachusetts Democratic Party members who met remotely last week are backing DiZoglio in a vote to push the audit in the Legislature?
I certainly think it was. It caught me off guard to see the official state party apparatus siding with the first term auditor, who has to put it kindly, ruffled a lot of feathers with Democratic powerbrokers over the course of her career instead of with those very powerbrokers.
You know, I don't know how much of a material impact the support from the party is actually going to make here. At this point, it looks like all of the eggs are in the ballot question basket, or virtually all of the eggs are in the ballot question basket. So maybe party support could help get that before voters next year. But you know, again, it definitely did come as a surprise, at least to me.
And finally, Chris, it doesn't seem like that long ago, but apparently it was five years ago today that Massachusetts allowed its first recreational marijuana sale. And this anniversary comes at a time of upheaval at the body that regulates the cannabis industry. What's the status of the Cannabis Control Commission?
The chair of the commission, Shannon O'Brien, is still on paid leave. She was placed on paid leave by Treasurer Goldberg over alleged complaints about behavior raised by some employees and one unnamed commissioner that still has not been resolved. The executive director of the commission, Sean Collins, is on his way out the door. He plans to resign on Dec. 4. So, this is a commission without a permanent chair and without an executive director needing to find a way forward to really stabilize itself and bring in some concrete leadership.