LEGISLATURE takes its time on REOPENING, VOTE BY MAIL — New POLICING steering — MARKEY: No local weather, no deal

TAKING THEIR TIME — The state Legislature moves slowly by design. But lawmakers’ missed deadlines and sluggish moves toward reopening the State House are creating headaches on Beacon Hill and beyond.

The new fiscal year has dawned, unsurprisingly, without an annual budget. After letting some pandemic-era policies briefly lapse last month, lawmakers did so again yesterday by not extending expanded vote-by-mail at a time when municipalities across the state are gearing up for summer and fall elections.

“It’s very important that these voters have the same rights as people who voted earlier this year,” Secretary of State Bill Galvin said yesterday, urging lawmakers to speed up the process so local officials can get planning. Six communities are holding special or recall elections in July and August, according to Galvin’s office. Cities with open mayoral races like Boston, Lynn and Somerville have preliminary elections set for Sept. 14, with another batch including Lawrence and Holyoke slated for a week later.

The holdup isn’t a policy dispute but a logistical one between a state Senate proposal to temporarily extend broad-based vote-by-mail, and a state House plan to make it permanent — but only for biennial state primaries and elections, and the municipal elections that coincide with them.

Many local election clerks see expanded mail-in voting as a way to boost turnout in typically low-interest municipal elections, even if it’s a costly one.

“Most voters loved the ability to have the ballot in their home, do their research, and make an informed decision without the pressure of standing in a line or worrying if they were going to make it to the polls in time after work,” said acting Fairhaven Town Clerk Linda Fredette, who’s got a recall election to run later this month.

Legislative leaders are also taking their time when it comes to reopening the State House that’s been largely closed since last March.

Galvin nudged lawmakers to get moving when he said his office will start giving exterior tours of the building today. Hours later, state House Speaker Ronald Mariano and state Senate President Karen Spilka released a statement saying the Legislature is “developing a comprehensive and nuanced reopening plan” for the fall, but provided no details about a proposed “phased timeline.”

The longer the State House remains closed, the longer it affects the businesses surrounding it that were once bustling with lawmakers, aides, reporters and tourists. “It’s slow for us,” a 21st Amendment pub employee told me. “We need them to come back.”

GOOD MORNING, MASSACHUSETTS. The horrible heat is breaking. But as Sen. Ed Markey likes to say, “The planet is running a fever. There are no emergency rooms for planets.”

That’s why Markey keeps saying “no climate, no deal” when it comes to passing a bipartisan infrastructure deal without a reconciliation bill that “takes care of the climate crisis” and other issues like affordable housing.

“It’s to ensure that we keep a spotlight on this identification of climate as a crisis,” Markey told me.

It’s also, he said, to make good on the “IOU” young, progressive activists “have a right to expect that they can cash in” after helping hand Democrats control in Washington last fall (and after helping Markey fend off a primary challenge from then-Rep. Joe Kennedy III).

President Joe Biden said he wants to pass climate initiatives through the reconciliation bill, and Democratic leaders have vowed to bring one forward. But moderates and progressives are teed up to clash over its scope and price tag. And Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) warned the “two-track” plan could derail the bipartisan infrastructure deal.

“The bipartisan package is something that is important, but not sufficient,” Markey said. “We can’t afford not to do this.”

TODAY — Rep. Lori Trahan and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) join the United College Athlete Advocates for a virtual roundtable on expanding college athletes’ rights at 10 a.m. State Senate President Karen Spilka and advocates celebrate the start of the state’s paid family and medical leave program at an 11 a.m. press conference outside 1 Ashburton Place. Acting Boston Mayor Kim Janey helps kick off the 40th annual Harborfest at 11:30 a.m. Boston mayoral candidate John Barros hosts a meet-and-greet at Recreo Coffee and Roasterie in West Roxbury at 5:30 p.m. Boston mayoral candidate City Councilor Annissa Essaibi George visits 2Life Communities in Brighton for a meet-and-greet with residents.

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— “Massachusetts coronavirus vaccine rollout: More than 4.2 million fully vaxxed; 1 new virus death and 93 cases reported,” by Rick Sobey, Boston Herald: “More than 4.2 million people in Massachusetts are now fully vaccinated, state health officials said on Wednesday as they also reported one new COVID death and 93 virus cases.”

— “Massachusetts releases new policing guidance for deescalation and disengagement tactics, alternatives to use of force with children,” by Steph Solis, MassLive.com: “Police officers in Massachusetts should not only avoid using force when they encounter children, but encourage the child to ‘partner with the officer in keeping the peace’ using respectful, age appropriate language and behavior, according to guidance issued Wednesday by the state’s Peace Officer Standards and Training commission.”

— “Vets want PTSD added to medical pot conditions,” by Christian M. Wade, CNHI/Eagle-Tribune: “Iraq War veteran Steve Mandile was injured during a deployment and has struggled with chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder. He uses marijuana to treat his symptoms, unlike many vets with similar problems who struggle, he said, because the state doesn’t recognize PTSD and other chronic illnesses as medical conditions that qualify them to get a state-issued medical cannabis card. That would change under a proposal heard Tuesday by the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Cannabis Policy, which would add PTSD, cancer, opioid use disorder and other illnesses to the list of qualifying conditions.”

— “Massachusetts House overrides Baker’s veto of Holyoke Soldiers’ Home construction requirements,” by Amy Sokolow, Boston Herald: “In a 130-30 party line vote, state representatives overrode Gov. Charlie Baker’s veto of a project labor agreement for the construction of the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home.”

— “Chang-Díaz’s Gubernatorial Bid Opens A Crucial State Senate Seat For Boston’s Communities Of Color,” by Mike Deehan, GBH News: “A storied Boston political battleground at the heart of the city’s Black community will be up for grabs next year for the first time in 14 years as Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz steps down from the 2nd Suffolk Senate seat to run for governor.”

— “Lawmakers Surface Pandemic Response Bills After Emergency Ends,” by Katie Lannan, State House News Service (paywall): “Many of the bills were filed at an earlier point in the pandemic — before Massachusetts exited the COVID-19 state of emergency, vaccinations became widespread and case numbers began to decline — but are only just beginning to emerge at the midway point of the legislative session’s first year. Despite the changed dynamics, several lawmakers asked the committee to still advance their proposals as a way to ensure Massachusetts learns from the past year and a half and prepares for what may come next.”

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— “Massachusetts senior care company mandates COVID shots for workers – a first for state’s nursing homes,” by Kay Lazar, Boston Globe: “Citing rising concern about a rapidly spreading and more contagious strain of the novel coronavirus, a Massachusetts senior care company Wednesday announced it will mandate COVID-19 shots for all of its workers, becoming one of the first in the state to take such action. The decision by Legacy Lifecare comes as vaccination rates remain stubbornly low at many Massachusetts nursing homes and some other senior care facilities, placing thousands of frail residents at risk.”

— “State Making Series of Changes to COVID-19 Reporting,” by Colin A. Young, State House News Service (paywall): “The daily interactive dashboard that tallies cases, deaths, hospitalizations and more, and the daily vaccination report that DPH publishes will be published only Monday through Friday … As of Thursday, DPH is also getting rid of the green, yellow and red color-coding system it used to denote the relative risk of COVID-19 transmission in cities and towns, though it will continue to report municipal-level data weekly.”

— “Boston City Council passes $3.76B operating budget, $1.3B schools budget,” by Sean Philip Cotter, Boston Herald: “A big late allocation of federal dollars to sweeten the pot pushed the city’s operating budget over the hump, leading the council to pass the $3.76 billion package for the coming fiscal year. Ultimately — after a week-plus of hastily called meetings, declarations of opposition and unprecedented negotiation over a supplemental budget — the vote didn’t end up that close, passing by a 10-2 count. The $1.3 billion city schools budget, which had been in serious hot water as the exam schools issue remained outstanding, passed by the same count.”

— “Attempt to water down plan to bring more disadvantaged children into exam schools generates a backlash,” by James Vaznis, Bianca Vázquez Toness and Danny McDonald, Boston Globe: “A public backlash on Wednesday quickly engulfed new recommendations to change the admissions policy for Boston’s elite exam schools, over a last-minute political deal that could benefit more affluent families while threatening to undermine the goal of helping disadvantaged students. The eleventh -hour changes sparked sharp criticism from parents, students, mayoral candidates, and city councilors, and threatened to overshadow suggested changes to the entrance requirements that would give students from lower-income households a better footing to compete against wealthier peers.”

— “Boston Superintendent’s Contract Extended By Two Years Amid School Committee Controversies,” by Meg Woolhouse, GBH News: “The Boston School Committee has extended Superintendent Brenda Cassellius’ $311,000-a-year contract, calling her work proficient but not exceptional. The committee’s 4-1 vote Wednesday night took place despite calls from activists and some members of the public to delay a decision until the city elects a new mayor.”

— “Boston City Council rejects $850G for the Boston Regional Intelligence Center,” by Sean Philip Cotter, Boston Herald: “The city council rejected an $850,000 grant for the Boston Regional Intelligence Center, taking a pass on money earmarked from the state. … The BRIC is a sometimes-controversial entity that aims to fight crime, gangs and terrorism. Proponents say it’s key to fighting street violence, while opponents decry the gang database, saying it’s racially discriminatory.”

— “Education rises as a pivotal issue among likely voters in race for Boston mayor, poll finds,” by Meghan E. Irons, Boston Globe: “Bostonians who are likely to vote in the preliminary election this fall weighed in on whether to have a test-free admissions process for the city’s exam schools. They overwhelmingly disfavored an appointed Boston School Committee and seemed divided over whether the city should remove police from its school buildings.”

— “Mayoral forum puts the focus on Newmarket,” by Gintautas Dumcius, Dorchester Reporter: “The six major mayoral candidates on Tuesday laid out their plans for dealing with homelessness and economic development in the city’s Newmarket area, an industrial neighborhood that is also a hub for addiction and recovery services.”

— The state GOP is in disarray once more — this time over a deleted post on the party’s Facebook page that referenced a seemingly anti-transgender statement by a conservative Catholic cardinal.

The Massachusetts Republican Party Facebook page posted — and then deleted — a picture of Cardinal Robert Sarah, an African prelate considered among the more conservative figures in the Church’s leadership, saying “gender ideology is a Luciferian refusal to receive a sexual nature from God,” in an apparent reference to the devil.

Screen shots of the post were quickly circulated among members of the state committee and other Republicans, prompting outrage and dismay among some in a party already roiled by anti-gay remarks state committeewoman Deborah Martell recently made toward a congressional candidate.

“It’s not who we are. It doesn’t represent the views of the Massachusetts GOP. It’s outrageous,” state committeewoman Janet Leombruno told me.

Religion has become increasingly injected into the state GOP under Chair Jim Lyons, a conservative practicing Catholic, adding another fissure in a state party full of them. Lyons previously rejected calls to make Martell, “a woman of deep Catholic faith,” resign over her anti-gay remarks, saying he was upholding “freedom of speech and religious liberty.”

It’s unclear who within the state party sent and deleted the post, a screen shot of which was obtained by POLITICO, though a source said it was not party communications director Evan Lips. Lips did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Lyons did not respond either.

— “‘We have an obligation,’ Rep. Jim McGovern says on forming committee to investigate Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection,” Benjamin Kail, MassLive.com: “U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern on Wednesday accused Republican lawmakers of buckling under the pressure of a ‘disgraced and fallen’ former president, whose false claims that fraud cost him the White House helped fuel an unprecedented attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 that few Republicans want to investigate.”

— “Rep. Lori Trahan gets billions for sewage overflows added to infrastructure bill,” by Alana Melanson, Lowell Sun: “Key provisions from U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan’s Stop Sewage Overflows Act — bipartisan legislation she introduced earlier this year in collaboration with Illinois Republican U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood — have been included in the INVEST in America Act, a five-year, $715 billion surface transportation and water infrastructure bill that the House will take up this week.”

— WATCH: Reps. Jake Auchincloss and Seth Moulton talk Afghanistan withdrawal plans on GBH’s Greater Boston. Rep. Katherine Clark discusses the expanded child tax credit on NBC 10 Boston.

— “The MBTA’s governing board is coming to an end — and so is its mouthful of a name,” by Nik DeCosta-Klipa, Boston.com: “The MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board has accomplished a lot in its six years of existence. It helped the beleaguered transit agency emerge from the crippling winter of 2015. It reduced the T’s operating deficit. It oversaw a threefold increase in long-term capital investments to hopefully improve service. The list goes on. But one thing that the five-member board, which officially dissolves Wednesday, has failed to do is get the public to actually remember its clunky name.”

— “Lack of funding biggest hurdle to Bourne, Sagamore bridge replacements,” by Beth Treffeisen, Cape Cod Times: “At the first of several planned virtual public informational meetings Tuesday evening, MassDOT officials said that funding – and which kind – and when it will be available will determine how the project moves forward.”

— “Somerville man, former Seekonk man arrested in Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection,” by Jeremy C. Fox, Boston Globe: “Noah S. Bacon, 28, of Somerville, faces six charges, including knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, entering or remaining in the gallery of either house of Congress, and disorderly conduct in a Capitol building, the FBI said in a statement. Chase Kevin Allen, 25, formerly of Seekonk, who now lives in Reno, Nev., was arrested in Seekonk and is charged with destruction or injury to buildings or property in special maritime and territorial jurisdiction and an act of physical violence on grounds, according to the statement.”

— “3 pipeline protesters arrested after large sit-in at energy giant’s Waltham offices,” by Nik DeCosta-Klipa, Boston.com: “Three activists who refused to leave the Waltham offices of the pipeline company Enbridge were arrested by police Wednesday afternoon, ending a more than 27-hour occupation in protest of the multi-national energy giant behind the controversial Weymouth compressor station and other fossil fuel projects around the country.”

— “Great Barrington officer delayed sending an ambulance. A man recovering from COVID-19 died. His stepson wants answers,” by Heather Bellow, Berkshire Eagle: “A Housatonic man is pressing for answers about why a police officer waited more than 25 minutes to dispatch an ambulance to the aid of his stepfather, who was struggling to breathe from COVID-19- related respiratory distress and died soon after.”

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— “Striking nurses at St. Vincent make counteroffer that will ‘ensure the care and dignity our patients expect and deserve’,” by Cyrus Moulton, Worcester Telegram & Gazette: “The Massachusetts Nurses Association presented a counterproposal late Tuesday night in response to St. Vincent Hospital’s latest offer to resolve the strike that has been going on for nearly four months.”

— “Mayor accused of cutting line for vaccine,” Taylor Ann Bradford, Gloucester Daily Times: “Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken tried to get a COVID-19 vaccine for herself and others before becoming eligible through the state’s vaccine rollout plan, according to the city’s public health director.”

— “Jasiel Correia, fiancée getting married before his sentencing on corruption charges,” by Jo C. Goode, Herald News: “Convicted of corruption and investor fraud this spring and awaiting sentencing, former Fall River mayor Jasiel Correia II and his fiancée, restaurant owner Jenny Fernandes, will be getting married on Aug. 20.”

SPOTTED: Markey and Kennedy dining (separately) at Porto on Tuesday. Markey was there celebrating his wife’s birthday.

TRANSITIONS: Stacia Sheputa, digital media manager in acting Boston Mayor Kim Janey’s press office, joins the city’s Environment Department as director of communications and community engagement.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: to Tara Healey. Happy belated to Boston City Councilor Kenzie Bok, who celebrated Wednesday, and to Katrina Gaddis, Rep. Katherine Clark’s campaign manager, who celebrated Tuesday.

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