BOSTON (CBS/AP) — The August recess is over for Massachusetts legislators and lawmakers have a long list of issues on the docket when they get back to work.

The Democratic-controlled Legislature will be looking into curtailing Medicaid cost increases, criminal justice reform, and immigration bills.

Representatives and senators on Beacon Hill have been chided for producing relatively few major bills so far in the first year of their biennial session. They began the session by approving, over Republican Gov. Charlie Baker’s veto, an $18 million pay raise bill for themselves, other elected state officials and judges.

statehouse Massachusetts Lawmakers May Tackle Tough Issues In Fall Session

Massachusetts Statehouse. (WBZ-TV)

Lawmakers finally agreed on a $40 billion state budget for the July 1 fiscal year. Both houses were also able to put together a compromise on the voter passed recreational marijuana law.

One of the biggest issues the legislature will face is medicaid costs.

The ball is back in the Legislature’s court when it comes to finding ways to trim Medicaid spending that consumes about 40 percent of the entire state budget.

Baker at first vetoed, but later agreed to sign a new $200 million health care assessment on Massachusetts employers only after receiving assurances from lawmakers that they would consider proposed changes to MassHealth, the state’s Medicaid program.

But the Democratic-controlled Legislature might well take a different approach than Baker.

Critics of the governor’s plan say it could result in thousands of low-income families paying more for health coverage with fewer benefits.

Other items that will be on the agenda will be immigration, which may prove contentious because several Republican lawmakers authored a separate bill that would give police more power to enforce federal immigration law.

That bill is called the “Safe Communities Act” and it has the support of several Democrats. That bill would also impose sharp limits on cooperation between local police and federal immigration officers.

The legislature will also be talking about criminal justice, the AirBnB, and issues regarding “distracted driving.”

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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