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Talking Points

Workforce development plan signed

Governor Charlie Baker on Monday signed his administration’s updated economic development plan.
Governor Charlie Baker on Monday signed his administration’s updated economic development plan.Steven Senne/Associated Press/File 2019/Associated Press

Economic development

Baker pushes workforce development plan

Governor Charlie Baker on Monday signed his administration’s updated economic development plan. State law requires the administration to create a new economic development plan and for the governor to sign it within the first year of a new administration. The updated plan, called “Partnerships for Growth,” is based on feedback that a state council received and is intended to train a skilled workforce, support business competitiveness, create local economic growth, and address a shortage of affordable housing that the administration dubs a crisis. Administration officials identified issues that recur throughout the plan. They include simplifying interactions with state government, mitigating the effect of climate change, providing equitable opportunities statewide, enhancing infrastructure, and using programs to better reflect the unique characteristics of the state’s regions. The plan calls for steps to build on the growth in life sciences, advanced manufacturing, defense, and health care sectors and “aims to leverage emerging sectors like artificial intelligence and robotics.” — STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

Taxes

Mid-December revenue down 4.4 percent

Tax collections during the first half of December are off by 4.4 percent, or $42 million, compared to the same period in December 2018, with most of the change attributable to a drop in income withholding payments, according to state data. Revenue Commissioner Christopher Harding notified lawmakers of the mid-month results on Dec. 18, pointing out in a letter that sales and use tax receipts were up 4.5 percent compared to the same period in December 2018 and corporate and business taxes are up $28 million, or 16.1 percent over the same period. Tax collections in Massachusetts have posted consecutive years of big gains, leaving budget surpluses and enabling the state to bolster its savings. Tax receipts over the first five months of fiscal 2020 were up 5.4 percent over the same period in fiscal 2019, and $271 million above the benchmarks used for state budgeting purposes. — STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

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Cable TV

A-la-carte cable law blocked, for now

A new Maine law requiring cable companies to provide television programming on a channel-by-channel basis is on hold due to the actions of a federal judge. Cable companies sued to stop the law, which would be the first of its kind in the country. US District Court Judge Nancy Torreson has ruled the companies are likely to prevail, the Portland Press Herald reported. The cable companies have said the state’s law hurts their First Amendment rights because it interferes with their editorial control about programming choices. They also believe it violates federal rules that regulate them. Torreson said she was more swayed by the First Amendment claim. The case is expected to head to trial in August. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

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E-cigarettes

AG sues over sale of flavored tobacco

The Massachusetts attorney general announced Monday she has sued eight online retailers of e-cigarettes that she alleges violated the state’s new ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products. “These companies are in flagrant violation of our new state law that was put in place to protect young people from the serious harms caused by vaping,” Attorney General Maura Healey said in a statement. All the companies are based outside of the state. They all violated state laws by selling flavored tobacco products to Massachusetts consumers and failing to protect against delivery of the products to minors, Healey said. The complaint also seeks a preliminary injunction to prevent the sale of the products while the lawsuit is pending. A hearing is scheduled for Jan. 7. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

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