I wasn’t planning a newsletter this morning. But there were a few developments at the State House yesterday, you may need to know.
Baker signs a bunch of bills
First, Gov. Charlie Baker signed a slew of major bills that do everything from modernize technology at the judiciary, improve mental health care, address long emergency room waits and tighten gun licensing laws.
He also signed the sports betting bill and (along with some vetoes and amendments) the $11.37 billion transportation infrastructure bond bill
The bond bill includes funds for highway repairs, rail maintenance, road paving, bridge maintenance, transportation planning, airport improvements, regional transit networks, and various transportation grant programs, also regulates e-bikes and promote electric vehicles, according to Schoenberg.
And it includes this huge local line item
Of local note, the transportation bond bill also includes $85 million to rebuild the MBTA commuter rail stations in Auburndale, West Newton and Newtonville.
The project would -- at long last -- add platforms to provide both inbound and outbound service -- a situation that has created unacceptable swaths of hours without two-way train service in Newton.
In addition, the improvements would include elevators and accessible pathways to each platform.
The $85 million covers half of the commuter rail project's cost. Our thanks to Baker, Sen. Cindy Creem, Rep. Kay Khan and Mayor Ruthanne Fuller, among others, for getting us this far.
The next step is for Congressman Jake Auchincloss (who has been advocating for this project going back to his days as a Newton City Councilor) to secure federal matching funds from the federal infrastructure bill for the other half.
Climate bill less certain, due to Baker's 'agita'
Today's the day we find out what the guv will do with the sweeping climate bill.
But as Bruce Mohl reports in CommonWealth, Baker may reject the climate bill for a second time, largely because of that provision that would allow Newton and nine other communities to ban the use of fossil fuels in new commercial and residential construction and substantial renovations.
“That part of the bill gives me agita,” Baker said.
“One of the big decisions we have to make is whether my concerns about that particular piece, which cuts at something I think anybody would agree is a very significant problem in Massachusetts, overwhelm the rest of the good the bill does.”
The legislation reportedly would not allow Newton or the other communities to impose fuel bans unless it met its 40Brequirements or rezoned to meet the state's new MBTA Communities Law. (Life science labs and medical facilities would be exempt in any case.)
But that may not go far enough for Baker, who has been valiantly struggling to get our suburban communities to do our fair share and build more housing.
“I’ve expressed deep concerns about what I view as the exclusionary zoning provisions with those 10 towns,” he added.
If you're reading this early
A reminder that our webinar "Dispelling Myths about Net Zero & Passive House Buildings" begins today at 9 a.m.
Do you want to serve on a nonprofit board, but aren’t sure where to start? Or are you a member of a corporate leadership team who wants to engage your employees in meaningful nonprofit volunteer opportunities? Learn about the Foundation for MetroWest’s upcomingBoard Matching Program here.
MassHire’s has launched a new business services webpage designed to assist with hiring and recruitment needs, including virtual job fairs and candidate matching, including the upcoming Aug. 25 Virtual Job Fair Now Open for Registration. Details
The Needham Harvest Fair -- presented by the chamber in conjunction with the Needham Farmers Market --is returning Sunday Oct. 2, from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. Due to construction on Town Common, the fair will be moving to a temporary location on Greene's Field.
The deadline to be considered to be an exhibitor is this Monday Aug. 15 at noon. All prospective exhibitors must complete this online application.
And a call for event proposals!
Are you (or do you know) an experienced presenter on a topic that would be valuable to the local business and nonprofit community?
Or, do you have a fantastic venue in Newton, Needham, Watertown or Wellesley you'd like to showcase as a networking event host? We always welcome suggestions and event proposals for consideration as we build our fall and winter calendar of webinars and events.