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BOSTON (AP) — The new year brings a resumption of formal sessions on Beacon Hill after about as tumultuous a “recess” that the Legislature has ever seen.

Sen. Stan Rosenberg stepped aside as president of the Senate after The Boston Globe reported that several men — some with business before the Legislature — had accused Rosenberg’s husband, Bryon Hefner of sexual misconduct.

The Senate interrupted its post-Thanksgiving recess to approve a probe into whether Rosenberg himself violated any Senate rules. The Amherst Democrat said his husband, whom he said would enter treatment for alcohol dependency, exerted no influence over Senate affairs.

The controversy, amid other political intrigue, threatens to overshadow other critical tasks facing lawmakers and Republican Gov. Charlie Baker.

Some key Statehouse story lines to watch in 2018:


There’s no timetable on the ethics probe of Rosenberg, which is being led by attorneys from a prominent Boston law firm.

“Getting to the truth of this matter is our highest priority,” said Anthony Fuller, a former federal prosecutor, in a statement. “Hogan Lovells is committed to conducting a full, fair and independent investigation and we encourage any witnesses and potential victims to contact us as soon as possible.”

The company established a toll-free number and email address for anyone wishing to provide information to investigators, confidentially if necessary.

The investigators’ findings will be reported to the Senate Ethics Committee which will decide on any appropriate discipline.



Jockeying for the powerful position of Senate president has already begun and is likely to intensify as the legislative session grinds on in the coming months.

So far, three Democrats have publicly declared their intentions to seek the presidency should it become vacant: Sen. Eileen Donoghue, of Lowell, Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry, of Boston and Sen. Karen Spilka, of Ashland. A fourth, Sen. Sal DiDomenico, of Everett, has also signaled interest and the field could grow.

“This is only the beginning,” acting Senate President Harriette Chandler recently said on WCVB-TV. “I believe that before we’re through, we’ll see more than the four that have already thrown their hats in the ring.”

The 80-year-old Chandler, a Worcester Democrat, has ruled out holding the job on a permanent basis.

While many on Beacon Hill see little chance of Rosenberg returning as Senate leader, others aren’t ruling it out. They note that Rosenberg is liked and respected by his colleagues, and has yet to be accused of any wrongdoing.



Sexual harassment allegations have roiled the House as well.

Democratic House Speaker Robert DeLeo ordered a review of current policies and procedures after The Boston Globe reported on several unnamed women who said they were harassed at the Statehouse, including a female lobbyist said a legislator strongly implied to her that he would vote for a bill in exchange for sex.

No lawmakers were named and the House said it had paid no financial settlements for sexual harassment in recent years.

DeLeo asked former state Attorney General Martha Coakley to assist in that review, with recommendations due by March.



Baker and top Democrats have frequently extolled the virtues of bipartisanship these past three years. But 2018 is an election year so that chumminess could diminish a bit.

Three lesser-known Democrats are vying for their party’s nomination to challenge Baker, who plans to seek a second term. The governor has maintained consistently strong poll ratings and holds a dominant fundraising advantage over his challengers.

One Democratic strategy will likely be to tie Baker in whatever way possible to President Donald Trump and other national Republicans unpopular in Massachusetts. Baker has been a frequent critic of Trump.

Another Statehouse race getting early attention is secretary of state. Incumbent Democrat William Galvin faces his first serious primary challenge in some time from Boston City Councilor Josh Zakim. Galvin has held the office since 1995.



State leaders must soon get to work on producing a $40 billion or so budget for the fiscal year starting July 1.

Baker and legislators are hoping to avoid a fourth straight year in which budgets that appeared to be balanced when signed turned out not to be, necessitating spending cuts. The good news: The state’s economy remains sound and tax collections have been on target in recent months.

One lawmaker thrust into the spotlight is Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez, who will be writing his first budget as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. The Boston Democrat was named to the powerful post last year after long-time chairman Brian Dempsey resigned to join a lobbying firm.



With all the political intrigue swirling on Beacon Hill, it’s easy to overlook the hundreds of bills pending before lawmakers in the second year of the two-year session. Legislative leaders are promising not to be distracted from key policy decisions.

Included among the unfinished business is a sweeping criminal justice overhaul that cleared the House and Senate but needs to be reconciled before final passage, and a Senate-passed bill that seeks major changes in the state’s health care system.