Lawmakers converge on Boston
A national legislative conference is flooding the city with 6,000 lawmakers from across the nation to swap stories and swing by social events at Fenway Park and TD Garden.
The National Conference of State Legislatures’ legislative summit kicked off yesterday at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center with an all-star Bay State welcome session from Gov. Charlie Baker, former Gov. William F. Weld, House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo and Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg.
The meeting of minds brings Beacon Hill lawmakers back to the city this week to hear sessions that ring like a hit list of the state’s last year of political controversies.
Issues raised in “Legislator Compensation Decisions: Do Commissions Help” would have been a boon to Massachusetts lawmakers from the outset of the year.
After getting an across-the-board pay bump at the beginning to 2017, lawmakers pushed forward on a plan to boost stipends for leadership and travel expenses to the tune of $18 million. Baker vetoed the raises, but the Democratic-led Legislature overrode.
Lawmakers sat through “Budget Challenges in Medicaid” days after they said, ‘No thanks’ to controversial reforms from the governor that moved 140,000 from MassHealth to private plans on the state Health Connector. Lawmakers signed onto other fixes from the governor that raised $200 million through health care fees from employers but left a massive hole in the budget.
Baker said last week he’d sign the fees into law, knowing more needs to be done and the Legislature would be ready to tackle the needed $150 million in the fall.
The “Financial Services for Marijuana” session comes on the heels of Baker signing changes to the ballot approved pot law and seating members to a cannabis control commission that will shape how the law works in the state.
Today, the conference of state legislatures runs through sessions on balancing the federal budget, stacking up effective state legislatures, and learning from Massachusetts success with schools.
Republican pollster Frank Luntz and presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin deliver addresses Tuesday and Wednesday. Other speakers throughout the conference include Baltimore Mayor Catherine E. Pugh, diplomat and lawyer John Bolton, Democratic National Committee deputy chairman Keith Ellison, and Boston police Deputy Superintendent Colm Lydon.
Other sessions focus on driverless cars, the opioid crisis, marijuana across the country, drones, bail reform and police community relations. Lawmakers will be treated to tours of the TD Garden and Fenway Park.