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STATE CAPITOL BRIEFS

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

MASSDOT BOARD CHAIR RESIGNS

Story Developing. Massachusetts Department of Transportation board chairman John Jenkins, who appeared to strike a defiant tone last week in the face of recommendations that the MBTA be put under the oversight of a control board, resigned on Tuesday. Jenkins delivered his letter of resignation to Gov. Charlie Baker’s team on Tuesday morning, according to a senior aide to the governor, after Baker requested the resignations of all six board members appointed by his predecessor Deval Patrick. Baker is expected to file legislation, possibly as soon as this week, calling for the MBTA to be put under the authority of a fiscal and management control board for three to five years, a recommendation made by a task force assembled by Baker to review the transit agency after its dismal winter performance. Jenkins last week, responding to the task force report, said, “The Legislature created us, and the Legislature will have to eliminate us. So that report means nothing until the Legislature acts.” A spokesman for the T on Tuesday morning declined to confirm Jenkins’s resignation or provide any information about other members of the board who have acquiesced to Baker’s request for their resignations. – Matt Murphy/SHNS

REPS SEE SLOW-MOVING BUDGET AS LEGISLATIVE VELCRO

Story Developing. With the legislative pipeline clogged, Massachusetts House members are targeting the $38 billion state budget with the hopes of moving their priorities to Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk this summer. Lawmakers filed nearly 1,100 amendments to the House Ways and Means Committee’s budget, which was released last Wednesday and will be debated beginning Monday, April 27. Rep. Steve Howitt has a couple of amendments that allow for refilling of growlers of beer. Rep. William Straus and many other lawmakers want to make the new headlight law a non-surchargeable offense. Rep. Jim Lyons has a rider to investigate probation department hiring. And Rep. Kay Khan has offered a proposal dealing with compliance with the anti-shackling law. Lawmakers have had few opportunities to debate their priorities this year. House and Senate leaders are hung up on a prolonged debate over internal rules and there have been few formal sessions – nine of the 12 laws approved since the 2015-2016 session began in January establish special sick leave banks for state employees. If past is prologue, most of the nearly 1,100 amendments filed before Friday’s deadline will be discarded during backroom talks among House members, with those favored by top members of House Speaker Robert DeLeo’s team being tacked onto the spending bill and becoming eligible for conference talks later in the budget cycle with the Senate. – Michael Norton, Andy Metzger/SHNS

LEGISLATURE TO MARK ANNIVERSARY OF KING SPEECH

Story Developing. Marking 50 years since the civil rights hero Martin Luther King Jr. addressed the Massachusetts Legislature, the House and Senate will convene the first joint session of the year on April 27. The joint session will occur at 1 p.m. on the same day the House budget debate is scheduled to begin. The Black and Latino Legislative Caucus organized the event with Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, according to a flyer. – Andy Metzger/SHNS

BAKER INTERESTED IN ENERGY “COMBO PLATTER”

As he prepares to meet with other New England governors on Thursday in Hartford to discuss energy, Gov. Charlie Baker said he’s interested in pursuing a “combo platter” of resources that will both reduce the state’s carbon footprint, but also stabilize costs for consumers. The energy mix should include additional natural gas from Pennsylvania and hydro power from Canada, the governor said during an appearance Tuesday morning on Boston Herald Radio. “I am a combo platter guy. I’m willing to pursue almost anything as long as I believe it helps reduce our carbon footprint and it improves our competitive position,” he said. Baker said the lack of previous planning to boost capacity to access natural gas from other states and bring hydro power from Quebec resulted “price spikes” for consumers in the New England in this winter as a result of having to purchase oil and coal power on the spot market to meet demand. “Not only were you paying a lot more for your energy than you probably should have been paying, you were paying for what were would all describe as dirtier sources of energy that the traditional ones that we had been talking about and hadn’t done the work on,” he said. Baker on Thursday will participate in a forum on regional energy in Hartford followed by a private meeting with the governors of Maine, Vermont, Rhode Island and Connecticut. “We’re all part of the same grid. There’s a New England grid that we all operate on…,” Baker said. “We will be talking about pipelines. We will be talking about hydro. We will be talking about increasing supply and increasing distribution.” – Matt Murphy/SHNS

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