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Special Edition: This Week in Massachusetts November 9, 2022

Posted on November 9, 2022

Question 1: Question 1 which sought to impose a four percentage-point surtax on income over $ 1million remains too close to call. As of 8:15am the Yes was leading 51.8% to 48.2% with 82.64% of votes recorded. AIM will provide updated information on Question 1 results once the race is called.  

Boston Globe: Millionaires tax’ vote remains too close to call Wednesday morning  

After nearly a decade of political maneuvering, Massachusetts voters on Tuesday got the opportunity to decide whether to impose an income tax surcharge on the state’s wealthiest residents to help pay for education and transportation. 

And by Wednesday morning the result was still too close to call. 

While most of the state’s elections were determined early and decisively Tuesday night, the vote on the “millionaires tax,” formally Question 1 on the ballot, was razor-close. By 6 AM the “Yes on 1″ side held a modest lead, but enough votes were still outstanding — mainly in western Massachusetts, suburban towns outside Boston, and the cities of Brockton and Fall River — that the race remains too close to call. 

State Constitutional Officers– The Massachusetts Democratic Party had a clean sweep of all 5 constitutional offices.  

Govenor’s Race- Maura Healey and Kim Driscol (D) defeated Geoff Diehl and Leah Allen (R).  Healey leads her opponent 63.2% to 35.2%.  

Attorney General– Andrea Cambell (D) defeated James McMahon (R). Cambell leads her opponent 62% to 37%.  

State Auditor-Dianna Dizoglio (D) defeated Anthoy Amore (R) in one of the night’s most competitive races. Dianna Dizoglio leads her opponent 54.7% to 38.2%.   

State Treasurer- Incumbent Deb Goldberg (D) was unopposed and will be reelected.  

Secretary of State- Incumbent Bill Galvin (D) defeated Rayla Campbell (R).  

Question 2- Dental Insurance Ratio Mandate 

A proposal to enact a medical loss ratio of 83% for dental insurance plans was adopted and the regulations will go into place on January 1, 2024.  

Question 3 – Regulating the Sale of retail liquor licenses and the sale of alcoholic beverages 

A proposal to change the number of licenses per establishment granted incrementally from no more than 12 in 2023 to no more than 18 by 2031 and prohibit in-store automated and self-checkout sales of alcohol was too close to call. The No vote leads 55% to 45% with 82.34% of the results recorded. If the results hold the proposal will be defeated, and there will be no change to the state’s alcohol laws.  

Question 4 –Driver’s License of Undocumented Individuals  

A proposal to overturn a law allowing undocumented individuals access to state driver’s licenses will likely be rejected. As of 8:15 the Yes side leads 53.4% to 46.6% with 81.3% of the votes recorded. If the results hold undocumented individuals living in Massachusetts may obtain documentation from the DVM. 

State Legislative Totals 

In Massachusetts the Democrats maintained super majority control in both the State House of Representatives and the State Senate. As of 8:15 the Democrats picked up two seats in the House, however the Republicans may offset those gains by winning uncalled races.  

The House: If the results hold the State House of Representatives should be roughly 132 Democrats to 28 Republicans.  

The Senate: If results hold the State Senate will be 37 Democrats to 3 Republicans 

Down Ballot Races of Note  

The majority of the state legislature’s incumbents were reelected without opposition or by wide margins. However, there were a few races of note: 

Dooley v. Rausch- In one of the most competitive state Senate races incumbent Becca Rausch (D) defeated state Rep Shawn Dooley to win the Norfolk, Worcester and Middlesex district.  

Moran v. MacRae – As of 8:15 Sue Moran (D) leads Kari MacRae (R) 56.1% to 43.9% in the Plymouth and Barnstable district.  

National Results  

US House –Nationally, Republicans will likely take control of the U.S House of Representatives. However, the election was not the “red wave” many pundits expected, and Republicans will govern of the House by narrower margins than expected. Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is assumed to be elected the Speaker of the House in January. The final totals and margin of victory may not be determined for weeks as results from California and other states will slowly roll in.  

US Senate –The US Senate is too close to call. Key races in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and Wisconsin are all undetermined. Either party, if they win will likely control only a narrow 51-49 majority.  

Boston Globe: It was a long night in American politics. Here is where the midterms stand on Wednesday morning.  

What a night. There were races where a winner was declared moments after the polls closed. And more competitive ones that were called in the middle of the night. Then, of course, there are contests that won’t be decided for days. 

Bleary-eyed Americans waking up to the results of the 2022 midterm election are trying to make sense of it all. So far what we know is that neither party had a blow-out night and that it may be days before we can say for sure which way the balance of power in Congress tips. But there’s a lot more nuance to the Election Day that was and a few takeaways to consider. Let’s walk through what we know and what we don’t as of Wednesday morning. 

If one were to put the results on a bumper sticker what would it say? 

Republican ripple. For all of the talk about a “red wave” of sweeping GOP wins, even in Democratic-leaning areas, that simply didn’t happen, even as Republicans did see some minor gains nationwide. 

The results in New England are a perfect example. Republicans hoped to flip as many as four House seats currently held by Democrats in Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. Of those, they might take just one, the Connecticut seat, but that race remains too close to call. Elsewhere in the country, Republicans did pick up a seat or two that will be helpful in the bigger picture. 

So at the moment, it looks like a bad election for Republicans? 

Republicans expected to wake up this morning knowing for sure that the US House would be in Republican hands and touting at least a few upsets in deep-blue districts. That didn’t happen. But the House control still looks likely to flip their way. While we are waiting for the last batches of House race votes to be tallied across the country, it appears more likely than not that Republicans will take control the lower chamber. That alone is a major victory and would significantly change the Biden presidency. Republicans could also end up controlling the Senate as well, even if by the narrowest margin possible. We may not know that for days. 

What races haven’t been called that actually matter and what votes are we waiting to see? 

There are over 60 House races that haven’t been called. In the current tally, Republicans just need to win 18 of them to grab the majority and make Kevin McCarthy the next House Speaker. The Senate is another matter altogether. There are four races we are still waiting on that will decide the Senate: Arizona, Nevada, Wisconsin, and Georgia. (The Alaska Senate race also hasn’t been called but their elections allow four candidates on the November ballot and the top-two vote-getters at the moment are Republican.) 


Boston Globe: Cost of building in Boston Keeps going up. That’s making real estate more expensive, too 

A dumpster fire of a supply chain. A frozen construction lending market. Extreme price escalations for materials. 

For construction projects of all types and sizes across Greater Boston, it’s much more expensive to build now than in years past. And that, in turn, is making it much more expensive to buy or rent a home, a storefront, or a drug lab, as residential and commercial developers alike grapple with costly shipping and production delays. 

The rapid rise in federal interest rates and a shaky global economy have spooked many lenders, making construction loans harder to find. And supply chain disruptions, still lingering from the COVID-19 pandemic, have tacked on months to a project’s finish time — be it a single-family house or a skyscraper. 

Costs have gotten so high, and lead times so unpredictable, that some homebuilders are scaling back projects or calling them off altogether — a tough reality for a housing market experts say desperately needs more supply. And commercial developers — particularly those in the city of Boston examining a plethora of policy changes that would add to a project’s bottom line — are facing the same dilemma. 

In normal times, it would take homebuilder Jeff Brem six to seven months to build a house. These days, it takes nine months to a year. 


Commonwealth Magazine: Healey says tax relief a priority on ‘day one’  

WHEN LEGISLATIVE LEADERS this week pushed discussions of tax breaks from this year into next, one reason they gave was so the discussion “will be informed by the views of a newly elected Legislature and governor.” 

Republican Gov. Charlie Baker and the Democratic-led Legislature had agreed in concept (with some differences in details) to increase tax breaks for families with children, renters, seniors, and low-income households and to adjust the estate tax so it kicks in at a higher level. Baker wanted to lower the short-term capital gains tax, but lawmakers disagreed. All those tax breaks were left out of the economic development bill lawmakers voted on Thursday, although residents are benefiting from $3 billion in rebates being sent out as part of the 62F tax refund law, which was triggered by high state revenues. 

Republican gubernatorial candidate Geoff Diehl has said he’s all in for lowering taxes. He’s pledged not to raise taxes and has campaigned on an anti-tax platform. 

But what will tax policy look like if Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey, who is leading in all the polls, is elected?  Healey said Thursday that she supports tax relief and “it will absolutely be priority day one to work with the Legislature on those reforms.” 


State House News: State to Wind Energy Developers: Commit or Back off  

Commonwealth Wind and Mayflower Wind each have until the middle of this week to tell the Department of Public Utilities whether they will move forward with their latest offshore wind projects under the contract terms they have already agreed to or ask state regulators to no longer consider those essential agreements. 

In a decision issued late Friday, the DPU took issue with the argument from Avangrid Renewables that its 1,200 megawatt Commonwealth Wind project is “no longer viable and would not be able to move forward” without changes to the contracts between the developer and Bay State utility companies, changes that would likely delay the wind farm’s launch date and make its power more expensive. Mayflower Wind, the other developer tapped last year to help Massachusetts plug into offshore wind power, supported the Commonwealth Wind’s request for a month-long pause in the review of the projects’ power purchase agreements (PPAs). The utilities buying the power said they don’t plan to renegotiate. 

The DPU on Friday denied the request in an order that suggests the Baker administration, which has made offshore wind a major part of its energy and climate policy portfolio, is none too pleased with the way that Commonwealth Wind seemingly sprung on the state its claim that it is no longer a viable project late in the contract proceedings. The Friday order gave the developers three business days to say whether they will live up to the contracts they agreed to or back away from them. 

“[R]esidents and businesses that financially support these contracts deserve certainty whether the Projects, if approved by the Department, will deliver consistent with the PPAs Commonwealth Wind and Mayflower Wind executed after a competitive solicitation,” the DPU order signed by Chairman Matt Nelson said, referring to electric ratepayers. “Accordingly, Commonwealth Wind and Mayflower Wind must now decide whether they intend to move forward with their contractual obligations under the PPAs or file a request to dismiss the proceedings.” 

Massachusetts is relying on offshore wind power generation to be a major contributor to its decarbonization goals over the next three decades, not to mention billions of dollars in projected savings for electricity customers. But there have been challenges and setbacks nearly every step of the way, the latest of which threatens the largest single project in the state’s pipeline. 


Boston Globe: Eight-hour waiting times. Patients leaving before being seen. Mass. Hospital emergency departments are beyond the brink  

The emergency department at Massachusetts General Hospital was so backed up one Friday night last month that Janet Cook waited for nearly eight hours in a wheelchair in a crowded hallway before an inpatient bed opened up. That was after the 69-year-old Norfolk resident had writhed in pain for almost two hours before receiving medication. 

“The halls were lined with patients on stretchers and the nurses would say to you, ‘We are sorry, we have no beds,’” said Cook, who was diagnosed with a bowel obstruction. “The lady across from me had a broken vertebrae in her neck, and there were people calling out for help. It was like a war zone.” 

Cook’s recent experience at Mass General is hardly an isolated one. While hospital emergency departments across Massachusetts have weathered surges of sick patients throughout the pandemic and in years past, doctors say what they’re seeing now is unprecedented. Staffing shortages are at a peak — an estimated 19,000 positions are unfilled, according to a report released earlier this week from the Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association — and ERs are continuing to see a flood of desperately sick patients who delayed care during the pandemic. An early start to flu and respiratory virus season, and a steady stream of COVID-19 hospitalizations, has further strained the system. 

Not only have wait times for patients increased, but doctors are citing an even more alarming statistic: a rising tide of ER patients who give up and leave before ever seeing a doctor. A recent national study found that the rate at which people are leaving hospital waiting rooms before getting care nearly doubled from 1 to about 2 percent between 2017 and the end of 2021, putting themselves at risk for even more severe illness. 

To better understand the toll that overcrowded ERs are having on patients, the Globe asked readers to share their recent experiences. Some spoke of waiting for hours in pain. One recently retired physician suffered a stroke in September and had to wait 20 hours in the emergency department before a bed opened up. She spent much of the time on a gurney, just feet from a row of patients with antibiotic-resistant infections.