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Hometown: South Texas. most of my life I lived in Austin and Dallas
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Middle-aged white guy who believes in justice and equality for all. Math and computer analyst with additional 21st century jack-of-all-trades skills. I'm a stud, not a dud!

Journal Archives

Rhode Island finance committee delays anticipated vote on PawSox deal

Rhode Island's House of Representatives Finance Committee has pushed back a hotly anticipated vote on a stadium deal for the Pawtucket Red Sox, as the state attempts to prevent the team's potential move to Worcester.

The Finance Committee was scheduled to vote on the measure, which has the support of House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, on Thursday afternoon.

But when the committee convened an hour and a half after its planned start time, Rep. Marvin Abney said the bill was still being worked on and would not be considered until later tonight.

"We're still in the process of making sure we've got all the I's dotted and T's crossed on all of the bills that we're working on," said Abney, the committee chair.

Read more: https://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2018/06/pawsox_deal_rhode_island_finan.html

Democrats try to tie Governor Baker to President Trump's border plan

President Trump, reacting to virulent political pressure, yesterday changed his administration’s policy and will now allow illegal immigrant families to stay together in custody — even as Massachusetts Democrats fired up an effort to link Gov. Charlie Baker to the Republican president’s immigration policies.

“We’ve got a governor who every step of the way has been complicit with it,” said Jay Gonzalez, a Democratic candidate for governor, who called the previous policy of separating children from their parents in custody “cruel.”

Gonzalez spoke at a rally yesterday afternoon outside the State House, where hundreds of chanting, sign-carrying protesters from various advocacy groups gathered to speak out against Trump’s immigration policies, which have tightened enforcement, particularly along the border with Mexico.

Trump has made immigration a centerpiece of his agenda since the start of his presidential campaign. The issue has remained deeply controversial, coming to a head again over the last few days as images and audio emerged showing illegal immigrant children being held apart from their parents in cells near the border.

Read more: http://www.bostonherald.com/news/local_politics/2018/06/dems_try_to_tie_governor_baker_to_president_trump_s_border_plan

Minimum wage bargain reached

A grand bargain between political powerhouses over a slate of economic ballot questions passed the Legislature, sending to Gov. Charlie Baker a compromise that boosts minimum wages, enacts paid family and medical leave and enshrines a yearly sales tax holiday.

The bill, unveiled to lawmakers early yesterday hours before it passed the House 126-25, and the Senate 30-8, averts at least two popular ballot measures — a retailer-backed budget-busting $1.5 billion cut to the state’s sales tax and an initiative to institute paid family and medical leave pushed by a grassroots coalition.

The deal hikes the minimum wage in Massachusetts to $15 an hour over five years while phasing out the state’s time-and-a-half Sunday pay over that same period. It adds 12 weeks of paid family leave and 20 weeks of paid medical leave. It creates a permanent sales tax holiday starting next year.

“This legislation is an enormous win for working families,” said Raise Up Massachusetts spokesman Stephen Crawford, whose group dropped its family leave ballot measure in the deal.

Read more: http://www.bostonherald.com/business/business_markets/2018/06/minimum_wage_bargain_reached

21 questions answered about legal marijuana in Massachusetts

Massachusetts voters said “yes” to legal marijuana in November 2016. Now, a year-and-a-half later, one might reasonably wonder, Where’s the weed at? Short answer: It’s already all around you. Marijuana consumers and patients are your colleagues, relatives, friends, and neighbors. But we get it, you want to know when you can walk into a store and buy some without a medical recommendation. The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission has started processing completed applications from would-be marijuana businesses and the first stores should open sometime in July. You probably have some other questions, too. Let’s get you up to speed.

1. Where can I buy it?
At first, it’s likely that the only places selling cannabis will be a few of the existing medical dispensaries that obtain recreational licenses, too. That makes sense — they already have crops growing and stores set up. A few new retailers selling marijuana sourced from those medical cultivators might also pop up, but the difficulty of winning local permission remains a significant bottleneck for pot companies.

2. How much will marijuana cost? Is there a limit on how much I can buy?
Right now, an eighth of an ounce of cannabis flower goes for about $50 at a medical dispensary. Recreational demand will be higher, though, and it remains unclear how many suppliers will get licenses in the early going. So it’s possible prices will spike this summer if demand is high; in other states, prices have subsequently crashed as the industry matured and supply and competition increased. You’ll be allowed to buy up to an ounce at a time.

3. How high is the tax on marijuana?
Recreational marijuana will be subject to a total state tax of 17 percent. Communities can tack on a local tax rate of up to 3 percent, so let’s call it 20 percent in total. Marijuana sales to registered patients at medical dispensaries or hybrid recreational-medical stores will remain untaxed.

Read more: https://www.bostonglobe.com/magazine/2018/06/21/questions-answered-about-legal-marijuana-massachusetts/s82i7NCEQvHO9oYY7Hh4GO/story.html

A Massachusetts candidate tangles with radio hosts over whether President Trump is like Hitler

Democratic candidate for governor Jay Gonzalez’s campaign slogan is “Let’s Aim High!”

On Thursday, he may have aimed a little too, um, high, calling into WEEI’s Kirk & Callahan Show — hosted by Kirk Minihane and Gerry Callahan — and quickly sounding as if he regretted trying to tangle with the pugnacious hosts whose politics seem a long way from the Needham liberal.

After a discussion of Governor Charlie Baker’s reversal Monday, deciding not to send the Massachusetts National Guard to the Mexican border, the chat turned to other topics, including more historical matters.

“Do you think Trump is like Hitler?” Callahan asked Gonzalez in the 9 a.m. hour of the popular talk radio show.

Read more: https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/politics/2018/06/21/mass-candidate-was-asked-trump-like-hitler-here-what-happened-next/keR4cHRI5t2LfjUMmfBdgN/story.html

Capitalist Veto -- "millionaires' tax" referendum question blocked by a pro-business SJC

The Fair Share Amendment—better known as the “millionaires’ tax”—that would have gone before voters this November as a statewide referendum question was shot down this week by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC). So the effort to increase taxes on people making $1 million-plus a year and spend the resulting funds on social needs is over. For the moment.

Organized over the last three years by Raise Up Massachusetts, a major coalition of labor, community, and religious organizations, the initiative had the support of two-thirds of Bay State voters in recent polling and had a good shot at passing.

The campaign was spearheaded by the Commonwealth’s two largest unions, Service Employees International Union and Mass Teachers Association. And naturally, most Massachusetts rich people had no intention of letting anyone—let alone a bunch of union leaders, social workers, and priests—raise their taxes.

Flunkies and front groups were then unleashed. The Massachusetts High Technology Council put together a bloc of capitalist lobby groups—including the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, Associated Industries of Massachusetts, and the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership—and challenged the amendment’s constitutionality.

Read more: https://digboston.com/capitalist-veto/

Gov. Scott's vetoes give Democrats campaign fodder

Vermont Democrats have taken up Gov. Phil Scott’s budget vetoes as a cudgel to pound Republicans in this year’s elections and, not incidentally, to raise campaign cash.

Rep. Tom Stevens, D-Waterbury, wrote in a Tuesday email for the Democratic Party wrote, “I've been regularly shocked and disappointed at the DC Republican-style tactics taken by the Scott Administration since just about the moment when he took office. He's taken it to a new level this year, bringing us to the brink of a government shutdown as a campaign stunt.”

Jeff Bartley, former executive director of the Vermont Republican party, responded to Stevens on Twitter.

Jeffrey Bartley

Follow Follow @JeffreyBartley
Today Rep. Tom Stevens, via the @VTdems, sent out an e-mail crying foul over @GovPhilScott's long-stated position on taxes and the budget. This is the same guy who literally held a sign asking the Governor to raise taxes. You couldn't be any further from reality Mr. Stevens.

Christine Hallquist, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor, also sent out an email Tuesday in which she wrote that Scott “keeps trying to force the Legislature to pass a budget that would drain our public schools of resources and put Vermont’s budget in the red for years to come. No thank you. It’s partisan, it’s reckless, and it shows he’s not listening to Vermonters.”

Read more: https://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/story/news/2018/06/21/gov-scotts-vetoes-give-vermont-democrats-campaign-fodder/715880002/

Man guilty of investment fraud, sentenced to 48 months

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire authorities say a 77-year-old Maine man has been sentenced to 48 months in prison for operating a multi-million dollar investment fraud scheme.

William Bischoff defrauded more than two dozen clients of his financial advisory business from 2009 until 2017. He stole $5.6 million from the defrauded investors. He falsely promised to invest their money in real estate, legal settlements and a recycling business.

Bischoff hid the scheme by using money from some investors to pay off others.

The York, Maine resident pleaded guilty in March to wire fraud and failing to file federal tax returns. He was sentenced Wednesday.

Read more: http://www.caledonianrecord.com/news/state/man-guilty-of-investment-fraud-sentenced-to-months/article_7bdda761-3944-525b-8679-aa83a52b2e3f.html

Tax commissioner: Threat of shutdown exaggerated by Democrats, media

MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) The Scott administration says the threat of a state government shutdown has been exaggerated by Democrats and amplified by the media.

Republican Gov. Phil Scott has vetoed two state budget plans this year already and may veto a third. Scott and the Democratic-led Legislature disagree on property tax rates. If a budget isn't in place by July 1 state government will have to shut down.

Tax Commissioner Kaj Samsom, a key negotiator for the governor, sent a letter to Tax Department employees saying they shouldn't worry about a government shutdown happening. He says both sides want to avoid that.

"Nobody in the Statehouse or in the administration wants a shutdown. Truly. Everyone agrees it is not necessary and is a terrible thing. While the word 'shutdown' is thrown around a lot, nobody uttering that phrase really will let it happen, and they all recognize that fact," Samsom wrote.

Read more: http://www.wcax.com/content/news/Vt-Senate-poised-to-vote-on-3rd-budget-attempt-486153001.html

Stowe stockbroker sentenced to 2 years for wire fraud

RUTLAND, Vt. (WCAX) A stockbroker from Stowe will serve two years in prison for wire fraud.

The U.S. Attorney's Office says Daniel Burgess, 51, was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Rutland following a guilty plea.

Authorities say in 2011 Burgess -- through his company Tucker Financial Services -- sold stock for a Nevada woman and promised her 80 percent of the proceeds. Prosecutors say that should have been $495,000. But Burgess only paid the woman $246,000, keeping the rest for himself.

Among other things, authorities say he used the money to pay for a lavish European wedding and honeymoon.

Read more: http://www.wcax.com/content/news/Stowe-man-sentenced-to-2-years-for-wire-fraud-486147291.html
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