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July 26, 2023

Long-delayed transportation bill to come up for vote

Photo | Grant Welker Traffic on I-290 passing through Worcester

House Democrats plan to accept a compromise road and bridge maintenance funding bill Thursday after months at an impasse with their Senate counterparts, though the actual accord itself still hasn't emerged.

Lawmakers who have been negotiating the minor differences between House and Senate bills on Monday requested a conference committee jacket from the House clerk's office, a step that typically indicates they are on the verge of submitting a final agreement.

By the end of the day Tuesday, they had not yet returned the document with a compromise bill attached.

A spokesperson for House Speaker Ron Mariano said the chamber intends to vote on the soon-to-be-filed measure during a formal session on Thursday.

The House and Senate bills were nearly identical, authorizing $200 million for the Chapter 90 program that reimburses cities and towns for road and bridge maintenance and another $150 million in transportation-related infrastructure grants. The point of disagreement was where to direct $25 million of the grants, and it's still unclear how that matter was resolved.

Other major legislation, including long-promised tax relief and the annual state budget that was due July 1, remains tied up in private negotiations between House and Senate Democrats.

The House is scheduled to meet in an informal session Wednesday and Mariano's office on Tuesday told representatives to prepare for a formal session Thursday and then "potential" formal sessions on Friday and on Monday, July 31. In non-election years, Beacon Hill typically decelerates in August as lawmakers break for vacations. Formal sessions this year may run until Nov. 15.

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