Daily Archives: March 30, 2011

Spring Thaw On Beacon Hill

Published March 30, 2011

The beautiful Beacon Hill dome (JackieASutherland/Flickr)

The beautiful Beacon Hill dome (JackieASutherland/Flickr)

Yesterday the MetroWest Daily News published an editorial criticizing the slow pace of action on Beacon Hill — a phenomenon the paper says is all-too-common.

The Legislature is off to its usual somnambulant start…

… There have been few public hearings and even fewer significant votes…

The editorial argues that months into the session, the Legislature could have achieved tangible progress on the number of pressing issues, like: reforms to the patronage-ridden Probation Department; municipal health care reform; and budget decisions on local aid levels.

Veteran legislators excuse these months of apparent inaction by saying there are seasons in every legislative session. This is the time when legislation is germinating, in the dark, below the surface.

It’s true that many State House leaders have outlined their positions and preferences on a number of issues (which branch should oversee that Probation Department, for one). But the Daily News — like so many political watchers — is impatient at the pace of actual legislative sausage-making.

It seems, though, that a relative thaw is underway:

  • Yesterday, two legislators filed a bill to replace the state’s existing Children in Need of Services system.
  • Today the Judiciary Committee holds a hearing on the various bills revamping Probation.
  • Also today the House takes up a $325 million supplemental spending plan. (Update: It passed).
  • And somewhat related, elsewhere in the building the Governor’s Council today confirmed four nominees to the Parole Board, replacing those who resigned amid controversy in January.

Ironically, $50 million of the supplemental spending plan covers snow removal after this brutal winter. I think the Daily News would argue that Beacon Hill is just now digging itself out.

(Of course, we may see more snow Friday.)

Wednesday Morning: Nuclear Regulators Keep Faith

Published March 30, 2011

Firefighters have rescued a veteran MBTA worker after he fell down a 30-foot shaft at the Charles/MGH Red Line T stop this morning. Expect delays on the line, as the T is busing commuters from Kendall Square to Broadway.


Federal nuclear regulators will visit the State House today in an effort to reassure Gov. Deval Patrick and other legislators that the region’s nuclear power plants are safe. Just yesterday, Mass. Rep. Ed Markey filed legislation in Washington proposing a moratorium on all new nuclear reactor licenses and license extensions.

New rankings say that Nantucket County is the healthiest of the state’s 14 counties. Not surpisingly, Hampden County is the state’s least healthy, according to the study. As WBUR’s Carey Goldberg writes, “what’s most fascinating about these new stats is the ever-growing awareness that non-health factors — income, education — are striking determinants of our health.”

For-profit health care is expanding in Massachusetts, as community hospitals in Taunton and Lowell expect to join the Steward Health Care System soon.

Many college students make sure to include all of the important food groups in their diet: pizza, Chinese, ice cream and tons of cereal. Of course, that’s not the healthiest way to live. One group of Tufts students found that shopping and eating together allowed them to be healthier and happier.

From Massachusetts to Oregon to Texas, states are searching for ways to cut costs and balance the books. The soaring costs of prisons have prompted prison reforms in many other states and Massachusetts may be watching them as an example.

What we’re following: We’ll continue to report on the shakeup at the state Probation Department, the health of the state and the workings of the Governor’s Council. Radio Boston will look at the state’s plan to increase high school Math education.