Happening Today

House and Senate in session

The House and Senate hold their likely final meetings of the 2015-2016 session; the Constitutional Convention also resumes although no action is expected today, 11 a.m.

Rose on the air

Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts, will be on ‘Boston Public Radio’ for her monthly segment, WGBH-FM, 89.7, 12 p.m.

Former Judge Gertner on the air

Retired federal judge Nancy Gertner appears on ‘Radio Boston’ to discuss issues facing Massachusetts courts in 2017 and an upcoming Supreme Judicial Court hearing dealing with sobriety testing for marijuana, WBUR-FM, 90.9, 3 p.m.

Baker, Goldberg to meet

Gov. Charlie Baker and Treasurer Deb Goldberg hold their monthly meeting, Treasurer’s Office, Room 227, 4 p.m.

Coakley on ‘Greater Boston’

Former Attorney General Martha Coakley, now a partner at Foley Hoag, is a scheduled guest on ‘Greater Boston’ along with former America Online developer Steven Johnson to discuss the case of Johnson’s missing brother, who was found dead more than two decades ago in Australia, WGBH-TV, Channel 2, 7 p.m.

Today’s Stories

Eleven issues to watch on Beacon Hill in 2017-2018

With the next two-year session starting soon on Beacon Hill, the folks at State House News Service have put together a terrific preview of what to expect in 2017-2018. We’ll save the analysis and details for them to explain, but here’s the SHNS list of items to watch for, via WWLP: criminal justice reform, health care, energy, institutional rivalries, ethics reform, full-time budgeting, income inequality, pot politics, taxes, education funding/reform, and online gambling and lottery woes. 


Doctors group eyes the once taboo ‘physician-assisted suicide’

Though still deeply divided on the emotional issue, the Massachusetts Medical Society has voted to endorse and fund a survey of its members’ attitudes towards physician-assisted suicide, a possible sign the group could relent on its longstanding opposition, Patricia Wen of the Globe reports. 

Boston Globe

Pulling future pot shops out of banking limbo

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a member of the Senate Banking Committee, is hoping to make it easier for future pot-shop owners to get above-board bank loans and other credit services for their ventures, rather than relying solely on cash for capital and transactions, reports the AP’s Steve LeBlanc at NBC Boston. Whether you agree with marijuana legalization or not, Warren’s push makes perfect sense from a public policy and free-market standpoint. “You make sure that people are really paying their taxes. You know that the money is not being diverted to some kind of criminal enterprise,” Warren said. “And it’s just a plain old safety issue. You don’t want people walking in with guns and masks and saying, ‘Give me all your cash.’” 

NBC Boston

Nurses may get authority to prescribe medical marijuana

On a separate marijuana front: Public hearings will be held today in Boston and on Thursday in Holyoke for proposed revisions to the state’s medical marijuana program. The big proposed change: Granting nurse practitioners the authority to OK medical marijuana use, writes the Herald’s Lindsay Kalter, who has all the details.

Boston Herald

Globe to prosecutors: Hey, hurry up with those City Hall corruption cases

To avoid any October surprises like the one pulled by the FBI on Hillary Clinton, the Globe’s editorial board is calling on fed prosecutors to quickly resolve the ongoing probe of labor practices in Boston. The federal investigation has “raised nagging questions about Mayor Marty Walsh and City Hall — questions that should also be answered as quickly as possible. Well before Walsh faces reelection, voters deserve a resolution to the long-running inquiry.” We know of at least one person – Tito Jackson – who might disagree.

Boston Globe

Ten projects that could transform downtown Worcester

MassLive has a slide-show of the ten projects that Worcester hopes will transform its downtown area. We’re not sure if demolishing the Notre Dame Church will improve the downtown. But some of the other projects look promising. One pessimistic note: We’re always a little wary of big urban renewal projects by good-intentioned governments. Think West End and Scollay Square in Boston. The city of Quincy has also embarked on a major downtown revitalization effort. We’ll see how both fare in coming years.


Cape pol known for open meeting crusades seeks open meeting exemption

Ron Beaty, who will be sworn in today as a Cape Cod Commissioner and who is widely known in Cape political circles for his crusades against violations of the state’s Open Meeting Law, has sought an exemption that would allow him to discuss commission business outside of meetings, Geoff Spillane of the Cape Cod Times reports. Beaty asked the Attorney General’s office for a waiver from the law, saying it put “excessive restrictions” on his ability to communicate with another commissioner who is also a personal friend. The request was denied. 

Cape Cod Times

Preventing teen suicides

As educators grapple with a spike in student suicides and attempted suicides, a panel’s new report may help administrators and others by spelling out how to identify and assist troubled teens, reports the Herald’s Kathleen McKiernan. “The Safe and Supportive Schools Commission — a 19-member panel of education and mental health leaders — has been drafting proposed steps for schools to take to improve access to behavioral health services and increase teacher training,” writes McKiernan.

Boston Herald

Punishing saving: Medicaid targets elders who stash away funds for extra medical care

They’ll never openly admit they’re indirectly raiding private saving accounts in order to reduce the state’s own costs, but that’s exactly what they’re doing. From Deirdre Fernandez at the Globe: “Hundreds of disabled seniors in Massachusetts may soon face a daunting choice if they want services under the state’s Medicaid program: Ditch the trusts they set up to pay for extras, such as dental work and a home health aide, or risk losing public benefits.” The main public benefit, of course, is long-term nursing home care. 

Boston Globe

Do you live in a bubble? Take the quiz

Perhaps because of our post yesterday on this Boston Globe article about Democrats debating whether to court white working-class voters, a MASSterList reader sends in this “bubble quiz” put together by PBS correspondent Paul Solman, based on researcher Charles Murray’s contention that there are ways to measure how out of touch people are with average white working-class Americans. Based on the results from Solman’s test, Murray revisits the issue again in a piece at the American Enterprise Institute.

Note: One MASSterList author took the PBS quiz and this was the conclusion/description of the test taker based on the final score: “A first-generation upper-middle-class person with middle-class parents.” It was right on target. Kind of spooky. Take the test. See how out of touch you are (or aren’t).

PBS (bubble quiz)

‘Democrats Have a Religion Problem’

Besides having a working-class problem, Democrats may have a religion problem on their hands too, writes the Atlantic’s Emma Green, who interviews Michael Wear, former director of President Obama’s 2012 faith-outreach efforts and a theologically conservative evangelical Christian. We’re not quite sure how Democrats could ever square their support for abortion and LGBT rights with the views of conservative Christians. But Wear argues Dems could at least show more respect toward and knowledge of religious people. Perhaps Mark Zuckerberg, now a self-described former atheist, can teach them a thing or two about this subject, as reported at HuffingtonPost.

The Atlantic

Rallying the Bay State to oppose Trump

Writing at CommonWealth magazine, Carol Rose, the executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts, calls on Massachusetts residents and the Legislature to mobilize against the incoming Trump administration: “Our Commonwealth is replete with ordinary people prepared to do extraordinary things to ensure that Massachusetts remains a free state, and America remains a free nation. It is in our collective power to use this historical moment to move forward, and to emerge a stronger and more just nation.”


State Police Air Wing finds its suspect, leads to driver’s fifth OUI arrest

The State Police finally got their man, thanks to the agency’s Air Wing that found a man huddling 30 feet in the woods, near the car he had bolted from after an accident in Wareham, Wicked Local reports. The driver was later arrested on his fifth (yes, fifth) OUI. Check out the State’s police’s aerial footage of the search and identification of the suspect.

YouTube (State Police)

Some signs opioid-targeted efforts are working

Despite still-climbing numbers of opioid-related deaths, there are signs that legislative steps taken in 2016 are beginning to take hold, James Mattone reports in the Hampshire Gazette. An example: an online tool that enables prescribers of the drugs to check if a patient is receiving opioids from other sources has seen its use double in recent months and many school districts have launched opioid-related educational programs. Meanwhile, the Globe’s Felice Fryer reports that doctors nationwide are starting to prescribe fewer opioids .

Hampshire Gazette

Sexual-assault reports spike at local colleges

Wicked Local has a story and graphics on recently released data showing an increase in the number of reports of sexual assaults at local colleges, both public and private. The story focuses on Bridgewater State University and Stonehill College, but it’s accompanied by a list with other schools as well, from Boston College to UMass Amherst. Click on the chart for school-by-school stats. FYI: Experts believe the spike in reporting is largely due to better outreach and campus awareness about sexual assaults.

Wicked Local

Self-driving cars hit Boston streets

Cambridge-based nuTonomy has the green light to begin testing self-driving cars in Boston today, but it’s unlikely you’ll encounter any of the vehicles during your commute. The tests will begin on less-traveled roads within the Raymond L. Flynn Marine Park in South Boston—during good weather—and are part of a year-long test of the new technology, WBUR reports.  


Springfield council president aims to improve police relations

Orlando Ramos, who was elected president of the Springfield City Council on Monday, says his main priority for the coming year will be improving strained relations between the city’s police department and residents, Peter Goonan of MassLive reports. Ramos also works as district director for state Sen. James Welch.


Today’s Headlines


MIT proposes a transportation revolution: on-demand carpooling – Boston Globe

Buckle Up Boston: Testing of self-driving cars begins Tuesday – WBUR

Schools face surge in suicide attempts – Boston Herald


MassHealth may force seniors to make a difficult choice – Boston Globe

Bay State eyes expanding rules on prescribing pot – Boston Herald

Curt Schilling: Trump support shutting me out in Hall bid – Boston Herald

New Springfield City Council President Orlando Ramos seeks to improve police-community relations – MassLive

MassBay joins tuition-free program – MetroWest Daily News

Full SJC to take up case of attempted ‘suicide by cop’ – Salem News

More victims reporting sexual assaults at local colleges – Patriot Ledger

County Commissioner-elect Ron Beaty takes shots – Cape Cod Times

Tennessee Gas sets Nov. 1 target for Otis State Forest pipeline – Berkshire Eagle

New laws show signs of helping slow opioid epidemic – Hampshire Gazette

A Massachusetts Freedom Agenda – CommonWealth Magazine

Sheriff, Greater Lowell police work to break the cycle of incarceration – Lowell Sun


House Republicans gut their own oversight – Politico

Obamacare unlikely to die a swift death – Washington Post

Obama to make his presidential farewell address in Chicago – NPR

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