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On Wednesday, September 1st, Attorney General Maura Healey certified 17 out of 30 ballot proposals filed in August to continue on the path to securing a spot on the 2022 ballot.  Of the 17 proposals certified, 16 were initiative petitions including, but not limited to, proposals relative to alcohol reforms, requirements for presentation of identification to vote, and the employment of app-based drivers.  The seventeenth proposal is a constitutional amendment providing for no-excuse absentee voting.
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Those seeking to amend Massachusetts law or the Massachusetts Constitution through the state’s unique ballot initiative process had until Wednesday, August 4, 2021 to file their proposals with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office. By the time the deadline was reached, 30 proposals were filed.
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Congress has passed another coronavirus relief package, the American Rescue Plan (ARP), which allocates significant funding to states to address shortfalls experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of these dollars are specifically allocated – in other words, they are already earmarked for funding particular, specific public sectors like transportation or for private uses like the hard hit restaurant and hospitality industry.
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Since the Democrats reclaimed control of the House of Representatives in 2018, barrels of ink have been spilled on the topic of “congressionally-directed spending”. Better known as earmarks, this funding mechanism allows Members of Congress to send money directly to projects identified in their districts, largely bypassing the federal bureaucracy and its protracted grant application process. For more than a decade, the Congress has banned the practice of including congressionally-directed funding in spending bills. Now, Democrats in control of both chambers and the White House are poised to bring earmarks back. On March 17th, House Republicans voted to reverse the GOP Conference’s ten year-old ban on congressionally directed spending, paving the way for Members from both parties to make requests in upcoming spending and infrastructure bills.
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Only a handful of states have sought to tax digital advertising, and the path forward is murky at best due to practical considerations, federal preemption and constitutional questions. However, there are at least 4 bills filed for the 2021-2022 legislative session in Massachusetts that would implement a tax on a company that advertises on a digital platform.
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Last week, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions voted 18-4 to advance Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s nomination for labor secretary. The bipartisan approval signals a non-controversial confirmation vote of the full Senate. When that occurs, Secretary-designate Walsh will take over a department that is front and center in the nascent Biden administration. Executing White House priorities including the federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic, addressing the climate crisis, and reversing certain Trump era actions, will soon be Walsh’s responsibility. His experience in Massachusetts politics gives a sense of how Walsh will approach his new post.
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During his annual State of the Commonwealth address, Governor Charlie Baker highlighted the heroic work of frontline workers and first responders throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, while reminding the Commonwealth that though we are close, we are not out of the dark quite yet. Gov. Baker’s FY2022 (“H1”) budget recommendations support that perspective and indicates the state is still feeling the economic impacts of the pandemic.
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COVID-19 Government Relations

May 27, 2020| Blog

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As the coronavirus pandemic spreads across the nation, your team at ML Strategies continues to monitor legislative and regulatory updates at the federal and state level.  Each week, ML Strategies will provide weekly updates from Massachusetts and Washington, DC to keep you informed and aware of relief opportunities and guidance for your businesses and companies.
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With less than a year to go until the end of formal sessions on July 31, 2020, Massachusetts legislators are back in action this month to begin tackling a robust policy agenda. We are poised to see action on both new and pending legislation this fall on a number of priority policy areas.
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Robert DeLeo, Speaker of the Mass. House of Representatives, and Mass. Senate President Karen Spilka announce committee chairs for the 2019-2020 legislative session.

Arizona 1115 Medicaid Waiver Update

January 22, 2019| Blog

In 2014, Arizona expanded Medicaid to the new adult group. Following the expansion, Arizona submitted, and CMS approved, an 1115 waiver extension to create the Choice, Accountability, Responsibility, Engagement (CARE) program.

ML Strategies 2018 Outlook: Education

December 5, 2018| Advisory

ML Strategies 2018 Election Preview

September 11, 2018| Advisory

Conventional wisdom holds that 2018 will be a wave election year for Democrats. When one party controls both chambers of Congress and the White House, it is typical that the opposition party makes gains in the midterm elections. Beginning with 1994, at least one chamber of Congress has flipped in each midterm election, save 1998. So far, 2018 seems to fit the trend. Democrats have performed well in several recent special elections, even in deep red districts, and the generic congressional ballot currently has Democrats up. Still, Republicans have several structural advantages that Democrats lack. House districts across the country are drawn in a way that benefits Republicans, giving them a disproportionate share of “safe” seats, and Democrats are tasked with defending 26 seats in the Senate compared to the Republican 9. That being said, the most likely scenario two months from Election Day is that Democrats will take the House. The Senate remains a coin flip.

On June 20, Massachusetts lawmakers approved legislation aimed at preventing several high profile ballot questions from appearing before voters in November.
To date, 34 states (including D.C.) have adopted Medicaid expansion. Of the remaining 17 states, some are considering expanding Medicaid.
On Wednesday, April 11, the House Ways and Means Committee proposed a $40.991 billion budget for FY2019 that represents an increase of $1.24 billion, or 3.1 percent, above FY2018 spending levels. The budget proposes $83 million more in spending than Governor Charlie Baker recommended in the FY2019 budget he filed in January.
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