Happening Today

Raising the minimum age for tobacco purchases

The Senate convenes to address a number of bills, including legislation that would raise the minimum age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21, Senate Chamber, 11 a.m.

The governor’s busy schedule

Gov. Charlie Baker has a busy day: At 10 a.m., he’ll make remarks at the MASSBUYS Expo (Gillette Stadium, Foxborough); at 11:30 a.m. he attends the groundbreaking ceremony for an Alnylam Pharmaceuticals manufacturing facility (20 Commerce Way, Norton); at 1:15 p.m. he tours a Keolis worksite in Ashland (Ashland MBTA Station, Pleasant Street, Ashland); and at 7 p.m. he speak at Youth Villages’ Spring Celebration, a fundraiser for the non-profit’s YVLifeSet program (Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel, Boston) .

Retirement board

Treasurer Deb Goldberg chairs a Massachusetts State Retirement Board meeting, One Winter St., 8th floor, Boston, 10 a.m.

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Southeast casino review, Day 3

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission holds the third and final day of presentations as it nears a decision on a possible southeastern casino license, Shaw’s Conference Center, 1 Feinberg Way, Brockton, 10 a.m.

Today’s Stories

One of Rosenberg’s role models is … Billy Bulger?

While touting his more open “shared leadership” style of governing, Senate President Stan Rosenberg mentions that one of his leadership role models is none other than Bill Bulger, the former Senate president who many people remember running the Senate with an iron fist. Not true, says Rosenberg. Well, not always true. In a report by WGBH’s Mike Deehan, here’s Rosenberg’s take on Bulger as Senate leader: “I was here during Bill Bulger and you know, anybody who really knows how Bill Bulger ran the Senate knows that he relied on the committee chairs. Not that he didn’t, when he had an opinion, express it and have some capacity to be influential, but most of the bills that came to the floor and got to the governor’s desk got there because of the committee chair, the member who sponsored the bill and their ability to round up the votes.” 

Have some capacity to be influential. Just pointing out the phrase.

WGBH

Walsh brings in the big PR guns

To handle the growing fallout from the feds’ probe into alleged union strong-arm tactics, Mayor Marty Walsh is turning to a familiar ally, advisor and all-purpose PR fixer: Larry Rasky, the Democratic consultant who’s already doing work for the city’s controversial Boston Grand Prix event, reports the Herald’s Joe Battenfeld.

A Walsh spokesperson said the mayor believes there’s no conflict between hiring Rasky Baerlein for the fed probe while it’s also handling the Boston Grand Prix event. Rasky Baerlein will be paid through the Walsh campaign.

Somewhat curiously, Larry Rasky says he and Walsh began talking “several weeks ago” about his firm doing some work for Walsh on the federal probe. Keep in mind “several weeks ago” was before the Globe’s blockbuster story this past Sunday on the existence of the grand jury investigation and how the feds had caught Walsh, a former union boss before becoming mayor, on wiretaps saying a developer could face permitting problems if the firm didn’t use union laborers.

Meanwhile, Walsh is continuing to say he’s done nothing wrong. “I never bullied anybody, any developer,” he told Herald Radio yesterday. “That’s just not my style, anyone who knows me knows that’s not my style.”

Boston Herald

Presidential election roundup: ‘It just keep getting weirder’

The big political news yesterday was Republican Ted Cruz’s Hail Mary strategy of picking former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina as his running mate. Here are some local less-than-impressed reactions to Cruz’s move, as well as other presidential-election tidbits:

Herald editorial on the Fiorina choice: “And now from the ‘it just keeps getting weirder’ desk comes Ted Cruz’s big announcement that, in the increasingly unlikely event that he were to secure the Republican presidential nomination, he has settled on a running mate. Cruz appears to have entered the delusional phase of this campaign.”

Herald’s Adriana Cohen: “Clearly with Hillary Clinton playing the ‘woman card’ people get why Cruz would turn to Fiorina. But that strategy has failed before. Think John McCain and Sarah Palin in 2008 or Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro in 1984.”

Globe’s Joan Vennochi on Trump playing the ‘man card’: “His base thrills to the ‘Crooked Hillary’ name-calling. But he needs more than his base to win the White House. He’s counting on the man card because, in American politics, it usually works.”

Globe’s Tracy Jan on Cruz’s Harvard Law ties: “It was 2007 and Cruz was the solicitor general of Texas. He returned to his alma mater in a suit and cowboy boots to participate in a moot-court session sponsored by the law school’s Federalist Society, an intellectual touchstone and source of ideological support for conservative students and Harvard Law alumni such as Cruz.” Note: The society’s members adoringly even threw Cruz a barbecue when he came home to Harvard.

House unanimously passes $39.56B state budget

The House finished up its somewhat grueling (and tedious) “Budget Week” yesterday, unanimously approving a $39.56 billion budget that’s only $10 million over what Gov. Charlie Baker proposed earlier this year. Though the House approved $86 million in add-ons during the week, it was still $4.7 million less than what lawmakers added last year to the Ways and Means budget blueprint, reports the State House News Service’s Michael P. Norton, Andy Metzger and Colin A. Young.

SHNS (pay wall)

Longmeadow, NRA lock horns over proposed gun restrictions

The National Rifle Association has the town of Longmeadow in its political crosshairs over proposals to slap guns restrictions on residents, including a town ban on assault rifles. In an editorial, The Republican fires back: “The National Rifle Association has a right to campaign against proposed bylaws that will tighten gun controls in Longmeadow. The town has a right to ignore the single-issue, deep-pocketed and politically charged national lobbying organization and take reasonable measures as it sees fit. The word ‘reasonable’ sticks in the craw of NRA members, some of whom haven’t seen a gun control law yet that they’d consider reasonable.”

The Republican

Higher Ed board weighs payout changes

In the wake of headline-grabbing benefits payouts to departing public college leaders, Higher Education Commissioner Carlos E. Santiago is proposing changes to the way the state calculates benefit payouts that could significantly curtail golden parachutes, reports Craig Douglas of the Boston Business Journal. Among the recommended reforms presented to the state’s Board of Higher Education were closing loopholes that allowed some employees to accrue unlimited amounts of unused sick and vacation time and lowering the amounts of vacation time awarded to higher-ed employees.

BBJ

City council ignores the experts, drops speed limit to 20 mph

The actually went ahead and did it, as reported by Universal Hub’s Adam Gaffin: “The City Council today unanimously approved a proposal to reduce the default city speed limit on most roads to 20 m.p.h. and 15 m.p.h. in school zones. The measure, which councilors said should make Boston a safer city for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians, now goes to the mayor. If he approves, it then goes to the state legislature for action.”

Universal Hub

Crosby not a fan of Brockton casino proposal

Massachusetts Gaming Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby laid his cards on the table Wednesday, coming out strongly against Rush Street Gaming’s proposal to build a casino at the Brockton Fairgrounds, George Brennan of the Cape Cod Times reports. Crosby said the proposal seeks to create a “convenience casino” instead of the world-class resorts the state’s gaming law envisions, and did little to connect to the city’s history or culture. “In this respect it is a great disappointment,” he said. The MGC could vote as soon as today on the license application. 

Cape Cod Times

Transportation Secretary promises customer focus

State Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack says the Baker administration wants to put a customer-first approach in place for all things transportation, including the performance of the Registry of Motor Vehicles, the MBTA and the state’s highways, Gintautas Dumcius of MassLive reports. “[E]ven our drivers are our customers. And I fear sometimes we don’t think about them that way.”

MassLive

Hudson feasting on fruits of its downtown labor

The city of Hudson has seen a 25 percent increase in meals tax revenue in the past four years as its downtown enjoys a renaissance, Brad Avery of the MetroWest Daily News reports. Investments in downtown infrastructure are credited with helping attract more diners and more businesses to the downtown strip.

MetroWest Daily News

Walsh on board with surcharge plan

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh is now “all in” on a proposal for the city to adopt the Community Preservation Act, which would slap a 1 percent surcharge on property tax bills to fund affordable housing and other initiatives, Isaiah Thompson of WGBH reports. The city council must first approve the proposal, which would then go before voters in November.

WGBH

Rosenberg on Rattlesnake Island: ‘This isn’t settled by any means’

Senate President Stan Rosenberg isn’t happy with how state wildlife experts arrived at the decision to start a colony of rattlesnakes on an island in the Quabbin Reservoir, reports MassLive’s Gintautas Dumcius. “All of a sudden there was an announcement: ‘We’re going to put rattlesnakes in your neighborhood,’” said Rosenberg on Boston Herald Radio. “And that’s how the people in the Quabbin area heard it… All they had was their first emotional reaction. And now that’s where their mindset is.” Rosenberg added: “This isn’t settled by any means.”

Please note Rosenberg’s emphasis on the process, not the actual idea.

MassLive

New Bedford plans tax lien auction

The city of New Bedford plans to auction off hundreds of tax liens to private companies to help raise cash and boost compliance, Mike Lawrence of the Standard-Times reports. Currently, 436 taxpayers owe the city $5.5 million in back taxes and the city plans to bundle those liens together for an auction in mid-May.

Standard-Times

Mmmm. Canned wine. From Allston.

Ah, nothing like a cold can of wine on a hot summer day. BostInno’s Alex Weaver has all the details: “Latitude Beverage Company out of Allston, a distributor also responsible for producing 90+ Cellars, Iron Side Cellars and Magic Door Vineyards wines, just popped the top on Lila Wines, offering what they’re calling the first and only canned versions of popular wine varietals Provence Rosé, Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and Italian Pinot Grigio.”

Did he say Marlborough? Our Marlborough? No, the other Marlborough.

BostInno

Today’s Headlines

Metro

Builder alleges Walsh involved in union request – Boston Herald

City Council approves move to name Boston’s Latin Quarter – Boston.com

BRA member accused of threatening man with baseball bat – Boston Magazine

Greater Boston construction employment continues hot streak – Boston Business Journal

Cruz picks Fiorina as running mate – Boston Globe

Massachusetts

City seeking to recover millions in property tax debt by selling liens to private firm – Standard-Times

Weymouth mayor considers $47 million offer to stop compressor station fight – Patriot Ledger

State police again ordered to explain why records should be secret – Patriot Ledger

Recovery High School principal takes stand against legalizing marijuana – Salem News

Hudson’s downtown revival means big revenue from local meals tax – MetroWest Daily News

State Department of higher education proposes changes to benefit payouts – Telegram & Gazette

For Charlie Baker’s transportation chief Stephanie Pollack, it’s about focusing on customers – MassLive

Worcester plans to test schools’ water for lead this summer – Telegram & Gazette

Gaming commission chair blasts Brockton casino design – Boston Globe

State times to assure sober homes live up to their name – Boston Globe

Nation

Trump, laying out foreign policy, promises coherence – Boston Globe

Elizabeth Warren to lead Bridgewater State’s morning commencement – Brockton Enterprise

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