STATE CAPITOL BRIEFS, AFTERNOON EDITION, THURSDAY, JAN. 30, 2014
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
PATRICK: TSARNAEV WILL DIE IN PRISON "ONE WAY OR ANOTHER"
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder on Thursday authorized the government to seek the death penalty in the case against accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Carmen Ortiz quickly released a statement supportive of Holder's decision and said "the trial team is prepared to move forward with the prosecution." A status conference in the case is set for Feb. 12. "While I understand the public interest in this matter, we have rules that limit the release of information and the scope of public statements," Ortiz said in a statement. "The process by which this decision was made is confidential, and I will not comment further about that process other than to say that it entailed a careful and detailed consideration of the particular facts and circumstances of this case." Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who voted against the death penalty while serving in the Legislature, told The Metro last week that he would support "whatever the ruling is." Walsh plans a 4:30 p.m. event in his City Hall office lobby to make a statement in response to the decision. Gov. Deval Patrick released his own statement shortly after the death penalty news broke. "One way or another, based on the evidence, Tsarnaev will die in prison," Patrick said.
HIGHER RMV FEES EYED TO GO ALONG WITH SUMMER FARE HIKES
Massachusetts drivers this summer could face higher fees for vehicle inspections or license renewals as part of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation's plan to close a projected $55 million budget gap for fiscal 2015. Despite an influx of $135 million in new revenue from last year's package of tax hikes to finance transportation. At a board meeting, MassDOT officials on Wednesday identified Registry of Motor Vehicle fees as "the only viable revenue source" to close the budget hole for fiscal 2015, perhaps by accelerating planned increases to fees not projected to increase until fiscal 2016. The registry fee hikes will come on top of 5 percent increases to MBTA fares and highway and bridge tolls, which were envisioned in the Legislature's long-term financing plan. While raising taxes, authors of the the law also called for MassDOT to collect $114 million from unspecified new revenue sources, about $47 million more than originally planned for in the administration's financing proposal. Some deferred toll revenues and gaming revenues are also not expected to materialize completely for fiscal 2015, increasing the budget gap to $55 million. MassDOT did not propose which fees to raise or by how much, and officials said more details would be presented in the coming weeks. The Registry collected $550 million in revenue in 2013, including $134 million in motor vehicle inspection fees. Registration fees, title certificates and driver's license fees are other top revenue generators at the RMV. MassDOT said the new revenue from the transportation financing bill will help fund operating and debt service costs, while also allowing the department to transition 60 percent of MassDOT personnel off the capital budget and onto the operating budget. The first 20 percent were moved in 2014 and final 20 percent are scheduled to be transitioned in fiscal 2016. - M. Murphy/SHNS
MURRAY AGAIN BACKING COAKLEY
In 2010, Senate President Therese Murray, in a post-mortem on Attorney General Martha Coakley's failed bid for the U.S. Senate, called Coakley an "excellent candidate" who was "badly handled" by her top advisors and overcome by Scott Brown's "brilliant media strategy." Four years later, Murray is again backing Coakley, this time in her bid for governor, describing her as a "fighter" in an endorsement announced on Wednesday. Murray, who was Coakley's honorary fundraising chair in 2010, noted her work with Coakley on issues like foreclosures, human trafficking, lowering health care costs and protecting women's reproductive rights. Murray pointed to her own status as the first female Senate president in Massachusetts and said she hoped Coakley would later this year "make history again" and become the first woman elected governor. Steve Grossman, the state treasurer and one of five Democrats vying for the party's nomination for governor, picked up the endorsement Wednesday of Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz. "Steve will use his progressive values and business experience to grow our economy and improve access to innovative technology," Narkewicz said in a statement. "We can trust Steve to tackle the tough issues, including strengthening our public schools and rebuilding our infrastructure." - M. Norton/SHNS
ORRALL TO VISIT JAPAN IN MARCH AS PART OF DELEGATION
Rep. Keiko Orrall (R-Lakeville) plans to visit Japan for a week in March on a trip sponsored by the Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Orrall wrote on her Facebook page this week that she had been chosen to participate as a member of the 2014 Japanese American Leadership Delegation, which she described a "a distinguished group of ten national leaders." Orrall wrote, "We will be meeting with the Royal Family, Prime Minister Abe, and business leaders to discuss and encourage US-Japan relationships." According to the U.S.-Japan Council, the delegation program began in 2000 and 163 delegates have participated. This year's delegation also includes Yoriko Kishimoto, the former mayor of Palo Alto, California; Brad Miyake, the acting city manager of Bellevue, Washington; and Judge Toko Serita, acting Supreme Court Justice in Queens County, New York. - M. Norton/SHNS