Happening Today

Pot possession is legal in Massachusetts

As a result of passage of Question 4 in November and yesterday’s official certification of the election results by the Governor’s Council, the possession and limited growth of marijuana is now legal in Massachusetts as of today.

Minneapolis health costs trip

Senate President Stanley Rosenberg leads a bipartisan group of senators on a fact-finding trip to Minneapolis as part of a broader effort to explore ways other states are responding to health-care cost increases. 

Gaming Commission meeting

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission meets to review a staff diversity report, a procurement/vendor diversity report, a Suffolk Downs capital funds request, quarterly local aid payments, a 12-month crime study from crime analyst Christopher Bruce and other issues, 101 Federal St., 12th floor, Boston 10 a.m.

Clean energy report

The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center announces the results of the 2016 Massachusetts Clean Energy Industry Report, Bunker Hill Community College, Health and Wellness Center – G Building, 250 New Rutherford Avenue, Charlestown, 10 a.m.

Evans on the air

On the first day of legalized marijuana in Massachusetts, Boston Police Commissioner William Evans will join Boston Public Radio for his monthly ‘Ask the Commissioner’ segment, WGBH-FM, 89.7, 12 p.m.

Farewell addresses

Departing lawmakers are scheduled to deliver farewell addresses during a House session, before the new Legislature is seated in January; twelve representatives will not be returning in the new year, House Chamber, 1 p.m.

Murphy’s swearing in

A swearing-in ceremony at the State House is planned for new Suffolk Register of Deeds Stephen Murphy, Grand Staircase, 3 p.m.


Billed on Facebook as a State House “Smoke-Up,” pro-marijuana groups have invited people to attend an open mic at the State House to celebrate legalization of marijuana in Massachusetts, State House steps, 3 p.m. to 4:20 p.m.

Media’s role in election cycle

Rep. Jay Kaufman moderates a discussion with former Boston Globe columnist Eileen McNamara and State House News Service managing partner Craig Sandler on the presidential election and the media’s role in it, Lexington Depot, 13 Depot Sq., Lexington, 7 p.m.

Today’s Stories

‘Get it on, smoke a bong’

As Adam Gaffin at Universal Hub notes, at the crack of midnight, you could indeed get it on and smoke a bong in Massachusetts, now that marijuana possession and limited growth of pot plants is officially legal in the Bay State, as of today. Not that there’s total pot freedom. WBUR has a good Q&A piece on what you can and can’t do under the new voter-approved law. The Globe has its own do’s-and-don’ts story. 

 Our trivial question of the day: Will they be playing Cypress Hill’s ‘Hits from the Bong’ (YouTube) at the ‘Smoke-Up’ celebration rally at the State House today? Our second not-so-trivial question of the day: What will cops do if they start lighting ‘em up at the ‘Smoke-Up’? There are so many unknowns moving forward. 

State government layoffs averted as 900 take buyout offers

Clearly, we were wrong, wrong, wrong to say the Baker administration’s previous silence on the buyout program indicated the cost-cutting effort was turning into a monumental flop. Turns out that 900 employees have taken the buyout, far more than expected, and the administration won’t be seeking government layoffs as a result. Which is very good news. SHNS’s Matt Murphy has all the details.

SHNS (pay wall)

Warren gets to burnish her foreign policy credentials

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has landed a coveted spot on the Senate Armed Services Committee, an assignment that’s important to: A.) The nation. B.) the state’s defense industry. C.) Warren’s own political ambitions, if she chooses one day to run for president, as the Globe’s Victoria McGrane reports. Western Massachusetts Politics and Insight’s Matt Szafranski has more on the significance of Warren’s assignment.

‘I took it too far’

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has taken down a controversial Facebook post that unfairly attacked a hedge fund manager who, it turns out, is that rare type of hedge fund manager who actually supports and admires Warren, writes the Globe’s Yvonne Abraham, who interviewed Warren following the senator’s shoot-from-the-hip social-media blast. “I think I took it too far,” said Warren, who called the friendly fire victim, Whitney Tilson, to apologize. “There are many things I agree with Whitney on, and I wish my tone had been less heated.”

Boston Globe

‘The shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later mentality’

No, civil liberties attorney Harvey Silverglate is not talking about Elizabeth Warren’s hair-trigger antics on Facebook and Twitter. He’s talking about the hair-trigger moralists at Babson College who, it’s now clear, wrongly denounced two students of going overboard in their pro-Trump celebrations following the election. Silverglate takes special aim at Babson president, and former lieutenant governor, Kerry Healey: “Before accepting the Babson presidency, Healey had a vibrant career in the real world. Her departure from positions of prominence and responsibility into the academic mosh pit is a misfortune sadly demonstrated by what she’s chosen to do there — wrongly impugn the reputations and jeopardize the careers of two young men she happens to disagree with.”

Boston Herald

Minnesota, here they come

Senate President Stan Rosenberg and other senators are headed to Minnesota today to learn more about how that  state, known for its excellent health-care services and institutions, is approaching the issue of cost containment. The Globe’s Priyanka Dayal McCluskey reports that Bay State lawmakers, not to mention health-care providers and insurers, can learn a thing or two from Minnesota: “Experts say Minnesota has been ahead of the curve in adopting payment models that are designed to reward quality of care over quantity of services provided, and addressing social issues, such as lack of housing, that contribute to poor health. And Minnesota is better than most states at controlling costs — an area where Massachusetts struggles.”

Boston Globe

After ditching Cape Wind, Eversource runs off with DONG Energy

CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl writes how Eversource Energy, which ultimately dumped Cape Wind at the loophole alter, has now entered a 50-50 partnership with Europe’s DONG Energy for a massive offshore wind project south of Martha’s Vineyard, assuming the partners get final approvals. With Eversource now on board, the partnership is calling itself Bay State Wind, which is hell of a lot better than calling it the DONG project.


Rep. Provost is no fan of Baker’s approach to funding the Green Line extension

Besides wishing for a “12-step program for those of us addicted to the dream of a functioning GLX,” Rep Denise Provost offers up six “simple steps towards building the GLX we need,” which doesn’t include forcing Somerville and other communities along the Green Line extension route to make “payment of ransoms” to fund the project, as the Baker administration is pushing.


Whitey’s pen pal

Ah, isn’t this nice. From Scott Croteau at MassLive: “The daughter of Ralph DeMasi, the 80-year-old man charged with murder in the 1991 killing of armored truck guard Edward Morlock, said her father was pen pals with reputed mobster James ‘Whitey’ Bulger. … ‘Whitey got in touch with my father, sent my dad a letter and I think they’ve shared some correspondences,’ she said. ‘I think they may be pen pals.’” We’re sure the family of Edward Morlock could give a you-know-what about how the duo’s rocky mobster relationship has blossomed into a pen-pal friendship.


Fed rate hike: ‘There’s no reason to panic’

Writing at the BBJ, Robert Rebelein, an associate professor of economics at Vassar College, says that business people freaking out over the Fed’s decision to finally raise interest rates should keep calm and carry on, since the Fed’s action was ultimately a vote of confidence in the economy.


Tight budget casts shadow on infrastructure talk

Speaking of interest rates, Massachusetts lawmakers are considering raising the limit on how much the state can borrow, hoping to raise cash needed for infrastructure projects before borrowing costs become more expensive with higher interest rates, Mike Deehan of WGBH reports. But some lawmakers are also worried about the impact that added borrowing will have on the state’s annual operating budget; just last week saw Gov. Baker made mid-year cuts as tax collections showed signs of weakness. 


City council spikes booze tax, bags bag ban

The Boston City Council was busy yesterday, and so was Adam Gaffin at Universal Hub: 1.) The council rejected a proposed 2 percent tax on alcohol in the city and 2.) The council, faced with opposition from Mayor Walsh, punted a votetill next year on a proposal to ban plastic grocery bags in the city.

Project Plum: The real players

It’s been nearly a year since General Electric announced it was moving its headquarters to Boston. In the Globe’s ‘Bostonians of the Year,’ some of the behind-the-scenes players of ‘Project Plum’ – the secret effort by city and state players to lure GE to Massachusetts – are finally getting the recoginition they deserve. They are, writes the Globe’s Shirley Leung, state economic development secretary Jay Ash, Boston economic development chief John Barros, the governor’s chief of staff Steve Kadish, and the mayor’s chief of staff Dan Koh.

Meanwhile, the Globe also recognizes State House lawmakers Patricia Jehlen and Ellen Story for their efforts in getting legislation passed to reduce gender pay discrimination.

Congrats to all for jobs well done.

State issues new rules for swim camps

As the region descends into artic-like weather, the Department of Public Health is looking ahead to this summer, finally issuing regulations meant to prevent drownings at day camps, four years after lawmakers approved legislation on the subject, Felice J. Freyer of the Globe reports. Christian’s Law, which was named after a four-year-old Sturbridge boy who drowned at a day camp, has been in effect since 2012. 

Boston Globe

Environmental Police tweak overtime rules

The Massachusetts Environmental Police have tweaked their overtime rules in the wake of a Channel 5 investigation that found officers racking up pay by splitting their regular shifts to work side details, Shira Schoenberg of MassLive reports. Although the EPOs can still take split shifts, which will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, such requests will no longer be approved to enable officers to perform details for other state agencies. 


Boston’s defense of cocaine tests have cost $1.5 million

The city of Boston has spent $1.57 million on legal fees since 2006 to defend the police department’s use of a hair test to detect cocaine use—a test that critics say discriminates against non-whites. Antonio Planas and O’Ryan Johnson of the Herald report that the tab—which the Herald compiled from documents released after a third party filed a records request—is likely to increase with a federal case brought by minority officers.

Boston Herald

Pot dogs to pasture?

We’ll end today’s MASSterList on the subject we started out with: Pot legalization. Turns out police dogs trained to sniff out marijuana may find themselves facing an early retirement now that the weed has been legalized in the Bay State, Neal Simpson of the Patriot ledger reports. Most K-9s are now trained to detect other drugs, but those that were trained to detect pot can’t unlearn that old trick. 

Patriot Ledger

Today’s Headlines


Boston’s first cat cafe receives approval from zoning board – MassLive

City spends $1.5 million to defend cop cocaine test – Boston Herald

City council votes down 2 percent tax on alcohol – Boston Herald


Dong, EverSource form Bay State wind – CommonWealth Magazine

Judge questions assignment of inexperienced assistant AG to handle Sonja Farak drug lab scandal fallout – MassLive

Environmental police curb overtime shifts after investigation – MassLive

As pot becomes legal, head shops drop the smoke screen – Boston Globe

State rules aim to prevent drownings at municipal day camps – Boston Globe

Mayor wants to study options for Fitchburg City Hall – Telegram & Gazette

In Ashland, records requests piling up – MetroWest Daily News

State investigating abuse complaints against Judge Rotenberg employees – Patriot Ledger

Police departments phase out dogs trained to detect pot odor – Patriot Ledger

Quincy planning official says downtown needs affordable housing – Patriot Ledger

Berkshire Eagle receives Commonwealth Award – Berkshire Eagle

Colleges predict no change on campus as marijuana becomes legal – WBUR

With budget tight, lawmakers consider how much infrastructure Mass. can afford – WGBH

Dracut officer alleges in lawsuit colleagues, informant involved in sex and drug parties – Lowell Sun


Yahoo says 1 billion user accounts were hacked – New York Times

Oil and gas industry will amass power in Trump’s Washington – Washington Post

Federal Reserve raises key interest rate in first move since 2015 – NPR

How to Contact MASSterList

Send tips to Matt Murphy: Editor@MASSterList.com. For advertising inquiries and job board postings, please contact Dylan Rossiter: Publisher@MASSterList.com or (857) 370-1156. Follow @MASSterList on Twitter.

Subscribe to MASSterList

Start your morning with MASSterList’s chronicle of news and informed analysis about politics, policy, media, and influence in Massachusetts. Plus, get an inside look at Beacon Hill’s hottest new job postings.