Happening Today

Informal session

The House and Senate meet in informal sessions today on Beacon Hill, 11 a.m.

Baker in Fall River

Gov. Charlie Baker visits the Bristol County Children’s Advocacy Center with Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia, Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson, Bristol County District Attorney Tom Quinn, Sen. Michael Rodrigues and Reps. Carole Fiola and Alan Silvia, 58 Arch St., Fall River, 3 p.m.

First Night public safety

Boston Mayor Martin Walsh joins Police Commissioner William Evans, Fire Commissioner Joseph Finn, Emergency Medical Services Chief James Hooley and representatives from Conventures to discuss First Night public safety, Eagle Room, 5th Floor, City Hall, Boston, 10:30 a.m.

New Year for the elderly

Mayor Walsh joins members of Boston’s Elderly Commission to celebrate the New Year with senior residents from around Boston, Seaport World Trade Center, 200 Seaport Boulevard, Boston, 11:30 a.m.

Anti-foreclosure clinic

Massachusetts Alliance Against Predatory Lending holds another clinic to provide information to people whose homes have been foreclosed or who are facing foreclosure, Lynn Public Library, 5 North Common St., Lynn, 5 p.m.

Today’s Stories

What a rush

In the end, the actual bill itself is less controversial than how the bill was passed. We’re talking about, of course, lawmakers’ rush yesterday to pass legislation that delays the opening of marijuana retail shops for six months in Massachusetts, from January to July 2018, giving lawmakers time to review and pass more comprehensive pot regulations in the state. The problem: With no prior notice or public review, the bill was passed by only a handful of lawmakers who attended yesterday’s “informal” session on Beacon Hill. Gov. Charlie Baker, who opposed the Question 4 initiative that legalized marijuana in Massachusetts, called the legislative action “perfectly appropriate,” reports the Globe. Meanwhile, the Herald, in an editorial, is downplaying the rush job. (“Oh, fret not, potheads: If Baker signs the bill cops won’t be dragging you off to the clink for being in possession of a few joints anytime soon.”)

But it’s possible to actually agree with the thrust of the bill – and we happen to think the delay is reasonable – while disagreeing with how the bill was passed. It has something to do with the end not justifying the means, etc., etc.

How could they do it?

The Globe’s Matt Rocheleau has a parliamentary primer on how only a handful of state lawmakers, with no prior notice or public review, can pass a major law in the middle of a slow holiday week, such as what happened yesterday on Beacon Hill with the marijuana retail bill. “The move, which took less than an hour, was extraordinary, but technically allowed,” writes Rocheleau.

Boston Globe

Rosenberg defends the rush to delay

Senate President Stan Rosenberg isn’t apologizing for the Legislature’s rush to delay the opening of marijuana retail shops in Massachusetts, but he is going out of his way to explain why leaders acted so fast to modify the Question 4 initiative overwhelmingly approved by voters, reports Gintautas Dumcius at MassLive. “We’re going to support their will, what we’re doing is working on the details,” said Rosenberg. “For example, most of us who’ve looked at this don’t have a clue whether there’s enough money from that tax rate to actually pay for setting up the agency, for doing the licensing, for doing the enforcement and there also have to be considerations for public safety and for public health.”

MassLive (video)

Rats: EPA’s bureaucratic rules allow rats to live for another day

By most accounts, the city of Boston’s anti-rat program – which uses dry ice, of all things, to exterminate the disease-ridden alley critters – has been so successful that other cities are now copying the program. But the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has temporarily halted the pioneering rat-control effort, saying the city hasn’t filled out the proper forms. Oh, they’ll say it’s much more complicated than that, but that’s what it comes down to: the city hasn’t filled out the proper forms. NECN’s Elsia Rodriguez has all the details (and video). NECN piece via the Globe.

NECN (video)

Partners chief among those who powwow with Trump

Dr. David Torchiana, chief executive of Partners HealthCare, the state’s largest health care system, was among those who met yesterday with President-elect Donald Trump in Palm Beach, Fla., to discuss the nation’s health-care system, amid Republican calls to repeal ObamaCare, reports the Globe’s Priyanka Dayal McCluskey. It couldn’t have been a very effective “brainstorming” session, for Torchiana and other top health-care chiefs have warned that eliminating ObamaCare could lead to tens of millions of people losing their health-care coverage.

Boston Globe

Kerry’s ‘tough love’ message to Israel not so beloved

Indira A.R. Lakshmanan writes at the Globe that Secretary of State John Kerry’s parting shot at Israel over its West Bank settlement policies may have been poorly timed, but it was still a “tough love message” that was a “vigorous, rational defense of US policy to Israel.” But not everyone appreciated the former Massachusetts senator’s remarks, such as the Herald’s editorial board and the Anti-Defamation League.

Shunned to the back seat

From SHNS’s Katie Lannan at the Telegram: “Children under the age of 13 would be banned from riding in the front seat of cars in most situations under a bill that’s on the move in the Senate late in the 2015-2016.” The bill is a Senate Rules Committee redraft of legislation filed in January 2015 by the late Sen. Thomas Kennedy of Brockton. The legislation does not apply to vehicles without a back seat, such as pickup trucks.

The Telegram

Personal care attendants take on more duties with less oversight

Shira Schoenberg at MassLive takes a look at the growing use of personal care attendants – not to be confused with home health care aides – and how they’re not subjected to the same types of training and scrutiny as other at-home health-related workers in Massachusetts.


Lowell school administrators want extra pay for longer walk to work

Lowell school administrators who belong to a 200-member union are demanding an extra hour of pay per week because the city changed their parking-garage assignments, forcing them to make a daily 15-minute round-trip walk to and from work, rather than their previous five-minute round-trip walk to and from work, reports Christopher Scott at the Lowell Sun. Our reaction: Sigh.

Lowell Sun

Brockton chief frets over impact of smaller overtime grant

A smaller state grant to fund public safety overtime costs could have “devastating” effects for Brockton, according to the city’s police chief. Anna Burgess of the Enterprise reports that this year’s state grant was only $100,000, down from $350,000 last year. And that decrease is in addition to a funding cut previously approved by the City Council over the mayor’s objection, Burgess notes. 


Public records overseer resigns

Just days before an update to the state’s public records law is due to take effect, Supervisor of Public Records Shawn Williams has abruptly resigned, Matt Stout of the Herald reports. Williams left to take a position outside state government and will be replaced by Rebecca Murray, an attorney currently working in the secretary of state’s elections division. 

Boston Herald

Coming to a town near you: Robotic supermarkets

Armed with millions of dollars from investors, Takeoff Technologies, a Boston-area startup founded by three Harvard Business School alums, says it plans to open five mini-warehouses next year that would allow shoppers to pull up to sites in cars to pick up pre-ordered groceries collected and bagged by robots, reports Dylan Martin at BostInno. The venture, which involves three retail partners, will require only a tenth of a traditional supermarket workforce and a much smaller real estate footprint, the backers say.


Logan milestone: 36 million passengers

MassPort officials yesterday marked the busiest year in the history of Logan International Airport, as traffic hit 36 million passengers for the first time, Megan Woolhouse of the Globe reports. Passenger traffic was up for the seventh straight year, largely due to increased international flights and greater capacity. 

Boston Globe

New dorm means more revenue at Salem State

A newly opened 350-room dormitory helped drive a 6 percent increase in revenue at Salem State University, Greg Ryan of the Boston Business Journal reports. Overall, the public college saw revenue cross the $100 million threshold in its most recent fiscal year, which coincided with the opening of Viking Hall. 


Battle looms over online lottery

Sen. Jennifer Flanagan — the sponsor of an online lottery bill that failed to pass both chambers this past year — says the issue will definitely be coming back in the upcoming legislative session. But Rick Sobey of the Lowell Sun reports that opponents are also bracing for a heated debate, arguing there are less risky ways for the state to boost local aid funded by Lottery revenues.

Lowell Sun

The mystery of the demolished Coolidge home

Questions, questions, questions. Why was the Concord home once occupied by relatives of former President and Massachusetts Governor Calvin Coolidge allowed to fall into such disrepair? Was it out of spite by the current owner toward the town or neighbors? Why did the town have to tear it down and not the owner? No one really knows. But one thing is clear: The dilapidated home has indeed finally been torn down, reports Henry Schwan at Wicked Local.

Wicked Local

Filling portfolio gaps, filling news holes

The Hill has a rehash of now two-week-old media speculation that U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren joined the Senate Armed Services Committee as a way to fill “portfolio gaps” in her resume as she prepares for a possible run for president in 2020. The story also fills a yawning news hole gap during a traditionally slow holiday week.

The Hill

Today’s Headlines


Feds won’t let Boston continue killing rats with dry ice – Boston Globe

Bars must boot holiday revelers at 2:30 am – Boston Herald


Postpartum depression commission named after Amherst Rep. Ellen Story – MassLive

Eversource reports spending $940 million on Mass. power grid in 2016 – MassLive

Logan hits a record 36 million passengers this year – Boston Globe

Falmouth selectmen: Housing project too big – Cape Cod Times

In Massachusetts, repeating history, hoping for redemption – WBUR

Pembroke Hospital cuts psychiatric beds after staffing criticism – WGBH

New dorm helps drive Salem State revenue increase – Boston Business Journal

Brockton chief: cut to state staffing grant means less cops – Brockton Enterprise

Push is on for online lottery sales – Lowell Sun


With new monuments in Nevada, Utah, Obama adds to his environmental legacy – Washington Post

Kerry rebukes Israel, calling settlements a threat to peace – New York Times

What’s really bugging Trump about Obama – Politico

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