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Beacon Hill Roll Call: April 1 to April 5, 2024
04-12-2024 11:04 AM

By BOB KATZEN

Beacon Hill Roll Call records local representatives’ votes on roll calls from the week of April 1 to April 5. There were no roll calls in the Senate last week.$375 million for roads and bridges (H 4529)The House, 155-0, approved and sent to the Senate...

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Greenfield board, state lawmakers look to preserve creative economy
04-09-2024 2:34 PM

By TANISHA BHAT

GREENFIELD — The city’s Cultural Council is looking to eventually expand and start a side-by-side nonprofit that would help raise money for local artists and events in addition to the annual funding received from the state.“When it comes to the...


Legislative Coffee attendees push for housing, road funding
04-08-2024 12:04 PM

By AALIANNA MARIETTA

GREENFIELD — Women from across Franklin County voiced their concerns on affordable housing, the PILOT program, climate action, road repairs and more to their local legislators on Saturday. Rep. Natalie Blais, Rep. Susannah Whipps and Sen. Jo Comerford...


Beacon Hill Roll Call: March 25 to March 29, 2024
04-05-2024 11:58 AM

By BOB KATZEN

Beacon Hill Roll Call records local senators’ votes on roll calls from the week of March 25 to March 29. There were no roll calls in the House last week.Debt collection practices (S 2713) The Senate, 39-0, approved and sent to the House a bill that...


State rules governing to-go drinks, outdoor dining expire as politicians figure out next steps
04-02-2024 12:14 PM

By CHRIS LISINSKI

BOSTON — This week’s dismal weather forecast might actually have a silver lining for some restaurateurs.After nearly four years with a streamlined system in place to permit outdoor dining and permission to sell takeout alcoholic drinks, both practices...


Farming challenges aired at state hearing
03-29-2024 5:18 PM

By SCOTT MERZBACH

AMHERST — Climate change’s impact on farming, as well as emerging areas like urban agriculture, soil health and pollinators, are a focus for the University of Massachusetts Extension Agriculture Program, which continues to help farmers adapt and...


Gun law negotiators close House-Senate talks
03-28-2024 5:26 PM

By SAM DRYSDALE

BOSTON — Lawmakers tasked with negotiating details of a major firearms bill left their work open to the public last week — a move that broke from opaque traditions on Beacon Hill. A week later, those negotiators moved to close their meetings to the...


Greenfield shelter leaders ponder impacts of potential funding infusion, stay limit
03-12-2024 5:40 PM

By ANTHONY CAMMALLERI

GREENFIELD — Less than a week after the House voted to pass a spending bill allocating $245 million to the state’s emergency shelters and impose a stay limit, Greenfield shelter operators are unsure how the legislation could impact their residents.The...


Ending legacy admissions, providing menstrual products in all state buildings among many bills to emerge from Higher Education Committee
03-05-2024 1:03 PM

By XINYI YANG

BOSTON — Area lawmakers’ proposals to require menstrual products to be available for no cost in all state buildings, establish special dorms for students in recovery, and consolidate overlapping higher education financial aid programs all cleared a...


At state budget hearing at GCC, school officials share unique challenges faced by rural districts
03-01-2024 5:05 PM

By CHRIS LARABEE

GREENFIELD — At the Joint Committee on Ways and Means’ fiscal year 2025 state budget hearing on Friday, the focus was on statewide education and local aid. At the regional level, though, legislators, school officials and community members from up and...


Senate plans another sex education reform vote next week
02-22-2024 3:48 PM

By SAM DRYSDALE

Senators next week will vote again on a bill to update the state’s sex education guidelines, something the chamber has already approved four times without getting buy-in from the House.The Senate Committee on Ways and Means polled the so-called...


GCC nursing students talk single-payer health care, workplace safety concerns with legislators
02-12-2024 6:36 PM

By DOMENIC POLI

GREENFIELD — Four women representing western Massachusetts in the state Legislature visited Greenfield Community College on Monday for a panel discussion about health care with second-year nursing students.State Sen. Jo Comerford was joined by state...


PFAS, slew of other agriculture-related bills on the move on Beacon Hill
02-01-2024 3:33 PM

By SCOTT MERZBACH

NORTHAMPTON — Prohibiting PFAS from consumer products sold in Massachusetts remains an objective for Sen. Jo Comerford, who sees a recently advanced legislative bill to protect soil and farms from such contamination as an important first step to...


Bill targets underenrollment disparities in AP courses
01-31-2024 4:53 PM

By ALISON KUZNITZ

BOSTON — Aiming to strengthen participation in advanced classes among Black and Latino high school students, lawmakers sought to build momentum Tuesday for a framework that would streamline how public colleges accept AP credits.Redrafted legislation...


With police support, Senate to debate gun bill next week
01-27-2024 10:56 AM

By CHRIS LISINSKI

BOSTON — Senate Democrats rolled out a wide-ranging gun reform bill Thursday, targeting a vote in one week on a police-endorsed measure that is likely to generate considerable opposition among firearm owners.After months of closed-door talks between...


As solar array and battery storage debate heats up, Whately backs municipal zoning bill
01-19-2024 2:04 PM

By CHRIS LARABEE

WHATELY — Joining several neighboring communities in the Pioneer Valley, Whately’s Selectboard has signaled its support to write a letter to the Legislature advocating for legislation that could allow municipalities more control over solar energy...


Mass Senate pushes for free community college, with price tag of $170 million annually
01-14-2024 10:00 AM

By SAM DRYSDALE

BOSTON — Senate President Karen Spilka advises to “keep your eyes peeled” for free community college funding in the Senate’s version of the fiscal year 2025 budget.Making community college free for every Massachusetts resident could cost the state...


Slew of farm bills advancing on Beacon Hill
01-03-2024 1:04 PM

By SCOTT MERZBACH

A permanent disaster relief fund to assist farmers devastated by acts of nature, and providing farmers more flexibility for using their properties once they are protected in the Agricultural Preservation Restriction program, are among the bills the...


House approves paid time off for Election Day voting
12-17-2023 2:02 PM

By ALISON KUZNITZ

BOSTON — Seeking to remove more barriers to voting, the House approved legislation last week allowing employees to take paid time off on Election Day to cast their ballots in person.Without discussion, lawmakers passed the bill (H 4217) during an...


Lawmakers hear testimony on push to prohibit size discrimination
12-13-2023 10:04 AM

By STELLA TANNENBAUM

BOSTON — Massachusetts would become the second state in the nation to ban discrimination based on body size under a proposal aired at a recent hearing of the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee.During a seven-hour hearing in which over 230 people...


Bill seeks to relax forest management practices
11-30-2023 6:28 PM

By BELLA LEVAVI

BOSTON — Multiple Franklin County and North Quabbin residents testified Wednesday in favor of a bill that aims to change forest management and conservation efforts in the state. H.4150, “An act relative to forest protection” filed by state Rep....

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