This Week on Beacon Hill

Jun 7, 2018

WCAI's Kathryn Eident talks with State House reporter Mike Deehan about the latest happenings on Beacon Hill. This week, they discuss the so-called "Red Flag Bill" and the state Democratic Convention results.

Eident: Joining us as he does most weeks live from Boston is WCAI State House reporter Mike Deehan. Morning Mike.

Deehan: Good morning.

Eident: Mike, let's first talk about something that's happening this afternoon: The Senate is moving to pass the so-called "Red Flag" bill that would allow a judge to seize legally-owned guns from a person who might show signs of mental instability or suicidal tendencies. This bill has quite a few amendments attached to it doesn't it.

Deehan: Yeah, that's really the question going into the Senate debate today is whether or not those amendments are going to be able to be attached to the bill. I think there are about 45 or 46 different amendments; many of them are from Republican lawmakers in the chamber. They, of course, are among a minority and they don't really make the rules for what can and can't go on to bills here.

But, whether or not a lot of those amendments-- which have a lot to do with mental health services regarding you know firearms licensees-- whether or not those amendments go up or down for votes is what remains to be seen. There's a chance that Democrats want this to be a clean bill--the same version that the House passed last week--meaning that it could become law much faster than if the Senate does amend it. If some of those Republican efforts can get attached to the bill, it may have to go to a conference committee to compromise between the House and Senate, and that could delay things --that can really slow things down.

Eident: Do you expect them to get through all of these amendments and make a choice on whether or not this will go forward, or will it have to go back to a committee today? Or do you think this could stretch out?

Deehan: I think definitely the Senate will pass something today. They're in session, and it doesn't usually take them more than a day to do things like that. But, whether or not Senate President Chandler allows some amendments to go through, we'll have to see.

Eident: All right. In other news, kind of looking back to last weekend, but an important day-- you were at the annual Democratic state convention where former Governor Deval Patrick's aide Jay Gonzales captured the delegates' endorsement to take on Governor Charlie Baker this fall. Boston city councilor Josh Zakim also gained enough victory for a victory over Secretary of State William Galvin. Were you surprised by these outcomes?

Deehan: Gonzalez definitely had a lead going into the convention. I think people were surprised by the margin in which Gonzalez beat Bob Massie, his opponent on the Democratic side, was 70 percent. Gonzalez ... as far as delegates support, he's definitely seen as the more establishment candidate and really the candidate with a lot more money and a lot more momentum right now going into that September primary date against Massie for governor. And, that's all before each one of them is selected as the nominee to go up against Baker.

Zakim really was the surprise of the day. There were some lower expectations earlier on that Zakim's challenge to Galvin, who has been secretary of state for over 20 years, that he would get in the 20s or 30 percent support--the kind of base his campaign is on. But he came out beating Galvin; he got 54 percent of the delegates, which really shows that voters-- at least the kind of hard core Democrats that went out to Worcester for the convention--they either want a change in that office and it's a vote against Galvin, or they really are impressed by Zakim's politicking and this campaign that's kind of pushing for more progressive voter registration and voter access rules.

Eident: Yeah, it's kind of an interesting race there that might not, at the outset, have seemed so interesting but because of this momentum that Zakim has, it could turn into something that we want to keep our eyes on. Another surprise--

Deehan: It's one of the more interesting things.

Eident: Yeah, absolutely. Another surprise from the convention was the Democrats'stance on Governor Baker. I mean he's a really popular Republican. We hear those polls where he's top governor in the nation. But of course, they want to remove him from office.

Deehan: Yeah. If there's any room where Baker isn't the most popular governor in the country, it was in that Democratic convention in Worcester. Again, these are kind of the hardest of the hard core Democratic activists. These are all local delegates who go and select who they want to endorse to be their candidates. But, even though that was the case, elected officials were really standoffish when talking about Baker. On the first night, Friday night, there were a few others-- [State Auditor] Suzanne Bump, even Attorney General Maura Healey, you know offered some lighter criticism of the Baker agenda and Baker's time in office. The main complaint amongst Democrats is that Baker lacks leadership vision.

They want a Democrat in office more similar to the way Deval Patrick was of putting forward kind of bold priorities and bold plans that a legislature would then kind of work through. Not Baker's style at all. But, the next day, there was barely any criticism of Baker--aside from those candidates, Massie and Gonzales, who really let the Baker administration have it on all sorts of different issues.

Eident: Well, it will be interesting to see how things go as we gear up. That is Mike Deehan, our State House reporter talking to us from Boston. Thanks so much Mike, as always.

Deehan: Always a pleasure.

*This transcript was edited lightly for grammar and clarity.