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Will mass shooting in Maine have implications for gun laws in Massachusetts?

Massachusetts House Speaker Ron Mariano answers reporters' questions, flanked by Rep. Mike Day (left) and Rep. Aaron Michlewitz (right).
Sam Doran
State House News Service
Massachusetts House Speaker Ron Mariano answers reporters' questions, flanked by Rep. Mike Day (left) and Rep. Aaron Michlewitz (right).

The tragic murders in Maine come as Massachusetts lawmakers were considering changes to this state's gun laws. In recent weeks there have been some contentious debates between gun owners and Massachusetts House Democrats. The House ended up passing its legislation. Senate leaders have said they're drafting their own policy. Chris Lisinksi of the State House News Service says lawmakers are not signaling that the incident has accelerated that Senate gun legislation.

Chris Lisinski, State House News Service: You know, the differences between Massachusetts and Maine are always going to emerge as a part of this, simply because Massachusetts has some of the strongest gun laws in the nation. And these proposals would further strengthen those gun laws, however, it doesn't appear that the tragic shooting up in Lewiston is actually going to change the timeline down here in the Bay State in any significant way.

Senate Democrats have said that they aren't planning to roll out their proposal until about January, according to Politico. Senate President Spilka told Politico that it's a really complex issue. It's important, but she thinks it's more important to get it right rather than try and force it through in the next 2 or 3 weeks, just in response to the latest tragedy. So, we're expecting winter for the Senate to make public its proposal. And then another long, months-long negotiation process between House and Senate Democrats over what exactly they're going to try and send to Governor Healey.

Carrie Healy, NEPM: Earlier last week, Governor Maura Healey was promoting her housing bond bill. It aims to spur much needed housing production and comes with a more than $4 billion price tag. The governor wants it moved with urgency, and the legislature has now had it for more than a week now. So, what's its status and what are lawmakers signaling?

Its status is the same as it was the day she filed it, which is sitting waiting review in the Legislature. We have no real indication when exactly this is going to come up. You know, it's certainly possible that it emerges by November 15th, which is the final date for formal sessions in 2023. I'd say at this point, it appears far more likely that the Legislature is not going to take up this housing bond bill until sometime in 2024. You know, the House is going to get a chance to effectively redraft this bill, shape it into whatever version they want. The Senate will do the same thing, and then there will be again, another long private negotiation process on a final compromise package.

There are a bunch of mayoral elections next week in Massachusetts, including seven contested ones in the western counties. But, you know, a couple of new polls are looking ahead to 2024, and some questions we may see on the ballot. So, what did we learn?

We learned that a lot of the most high-profile ballot questions out there in the ether already have pretty strong bases of support among Massachusetts residents. This includes provisions to bring back local option rent control, to expand additional tax credits and rebates for electric vehicles, and to remove the requirement that high school students need to pass the MCAS exams to get their diploma.

That being said, a massive grain of salt here, these questions still are not guaranteed a spot on the ballot. There's a lot more work that needs to happen to get them to that point, and these poll numbers are probably going to shift significantly once each side of every issue starts pumping money into trying to sway voters in either direction. So, take this as just a very early snapshot of where things stand, and they.

You know, fall is just flying by. This week, the calendar flips to November, and that means that lawmakers are coming up on another extended break. So, have House and Senate leaders said what their branches are going to take up and pass before Nov. 15, or what they're going to put off until 2024?

We know a couple of things. So, as we mentioned earlier, the Senate appears poised to put its gun bill off until 2024. But we do know in the next few weeks, a pair of health care proposals are going to be on the move, one in each chamber.

The Senate is going to bring forward its latest attempt to rein in prescription drug costs. This is something the Senate has approved twice in the past two sessions, that never came up for a House vote. They're hoping the third time will be the charm.

Over in the House, speaker Ron Mariano has said he's hoping for a vote in the next few weeks on an omnibus long term care reform bill, much of which was inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic and the really just intense devastation we saw that virus wreak on long term care facilities, nursing homes, the like. So those two should be should be emerging in either chamber before Nov. 15… as far as we can tell.

Carrie Healy hosts the local broadcast of "Morning Edition" at NEPM. She also hosts the station’s weekly government and politics segment “Beacon Hill In 5” for broadcast radio and podcast syndication.

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