Happening Today

Economic outlook conference

New England Economic Partnership holds a regional economic outlook conference featuring Harvard University professor of government Jeffry Frieden, Moody’s Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi and local economists, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Connolly Center, 600 Atlantic Ave., 8:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Dimock groundbreaking

Gov. Charlie Baker joins Mayor Marty Walsh, Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders, Reps. Jeffrey Sanchez and Liz Malia, Sen. Linda Forry and Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson for the groundbreaking of the Dimock Center’s Dr. Lucy Sewall Center for Acute Treatment Services, 55 Dimock St, Roxbury, 9:15 a.m.

Special needs oversight hearing

The Joint Education Committee plans an oversight hearing on finance and management of Chapter 766 special needs schools, Room A-2, 10 a.m.

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Occupational safety bills

Massachusetts AFL-CIO President Steven Tolman and other labor leaders will join the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health to highlight the “healthy workplace legislative agenda,” Great Hall, 10:15 a.m.

Online gaming-fantasy sports commission

The Special Commission on Online Gaming, Fantasy Sports Gaming and Daily Fantasy Sports holds its second meeting, Room 222, 11 a.m.

Ethics task force

The Legislature’s Task Force on Integrity in State and Local Government holds a public hearing, Room A-1, 11 a.m.

Provider pricing commission

The Special Commission to Review Variation in Prices Among Providers holds a public listening session, Room B-1, 11 a.m.

Mental health and substance abuse ‘toolkit’

Sen. Jennifer Flanagan hosts a press conference to coincide with the release of the Women in Government National Task Force on Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders’ policy toolkit, Room 428, 1 p.m.

Domestic violence prevention

Casa Myrna, a Boston-based domestic violence prevention organization, hosts its 3rd annual Policy Maker Forum, featuring Mayor Marty Walsh, local legislators and community leaders, Ashburton Cafe, One Ashburton Place, Boston, 2 p.m.

State of the City address

Mayor Martin Walsh gives his ‘State of the City’ address, an event that will attract scores of elected officials, including Gov. Baker, Symphony Hall, 301 Massachusetts Ave., 7 p.m.

Democrats’ strategy session

U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III leads a party briefing as Democrats strategize for the year ahead and the 2018 elections, Newton South High School Cafeteria, 140 Brandeis Road, Newton, 7 p.m.

Today’s Stories

Baker plans price caps, employer penalties to control health costs

Here’s a big story from SHNS’s Matt Murphy: “Companies that do not offer their employees health insurance would pay a $2,000 annual assessment per full-time worker to the state under a plan Gov. Charlie Baker plans to offer later this month to blunt the impact of escalating, enrollment-driven costs in the state’s Medicaid program, the State House News Service has learned. The proposal – the bulk of which is expected to be filed within the governor’s budget due on Jan 25 – would also impose growth caps on the rates health providers can charge for medical services in an effort to control the cost of care in the commercial market and make it more affordable for employers.”

The reaction of business groups, from Associated Industries of Massachusetts to the Massachusetts Medical Society, should be interesting: A program designed to help employers will cost employers. The employer assessment alone would raise about $300 million.

SHNS (paywall)

Call to arms at MLK gathering

Yesterday morning’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day event at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center was less a celebration of King’s life than a call to arms to oppose Donald Trump, reports the Globe’s Joshua Miller. “The audience, which included many prominent African-American leaders, cheered at liberal entreaties to ready for political battle,” Miller writes. As noted previously, the anti-Trump mobilization continues unabated.

Boston Globe

Sure, six-figure salaries jump, but the state’s overall payroll falls

The Herald’s lead on the story is how the number of state employees making $100,000 or more has jumped over the past year. But the real story is that that the state’s overall payroll plunged about $40 million, to $6.86 billion, and the number of workers overall dipped by several hundred to 126,330, as the Herald’s Matt Stout writes. That’s the smallest number of state employees in years – and that’s what is significant, not the outdated $100K number.

Boston Herald

Motley: Adults were home during football-party stabbing

UMass Boston chancellor Keith Motley says adults were at his Stoughton home, supervising younger adults who included his children, during a football party that somehow led to a stabbing of a 20-year-old man outside his house, according to reports at the Boston Herald and WCVB-TV. “As a parent, it is extremely disconcerting to be out of the country and learn that there has been an emergency situation at your home,” said Motley, who was in Jamaica at the time. The victim is recovering and doing better, but still in serious condition, according to reports.

Warren jumps into the Lewis-Trump fray

Here’s a surprise: Elizabeth Warren has jumped into the middle of a controversy to express her opinion. In this case, Warren is rightly defending civil rights icon John Lewis against Donald Trump’s recent thin-skinned response to Lewis’s criticism, as reported at Boston magazine. “The president-elect stepped over a line when he attacked John Lewis as a man who is all talk and no action,” Warren said. “John Lewis is a man who literally put his life on the line to make this a better country, a fairer country, a country that is more open. Donald Trump hasn’t put his life on the line for anyone except Donald Trump.”

Boston Magazine

Clark getting positive cocoon reviews for boycotting Trump’s inauguration

Somehow we don’t think she’d be getting the same response if she lived outside New England. Still, U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark said she’s received an “overwhelmingly positive” response to her decision to boycott Donald Trump’s inauguration later this week, reports Todd Wallack at the Globe.

Boston Globe

Diehl: Warren and other Dems ‘need to come to grips with’ Trump presidency

Appearing on Keller at Large over the weekend, state Rep. Geoff Diehl, Donald Trump’s unofficial point man in Massachusetts, says Bay State Dems have to snap out of it concerning Donald Trump. “States like Massachusetts, including our senior senator, need to come to grips with, he is going to be leading the country for four years, best to start working with him to make sure that we are taken care of,” said Diehl.

CBS Boston

Setti Warren: How about listening more and tweeting less?

Two things about a MassLive op-ed by Setti Warren, the mayor of Newton and probable Democratic gubernatorial candidate: 1.) It appeared in MassLive (i.e. nice western Massachusetts exposure for a potential statewide candidate from Newton). 2.) It’s actually not a bad op-ed, focusing on how Setti recently gathered together pro- and anti-Trump folks at a local restaurant just so they could talk, listen and learn that the others aren’t pointy-ear demons. “The evening exceeded my highest expectations,” Warren writes.

MassLive

Abortion rights groups: Clean up state laws before you-know-who acts

Abortion-rights advocates are pressing lawmakers to clean up state laws to clarify a woman’s right to choose to end a pregnancy, saying laws lingering on the books could complicate the legal landscape locally if a Trump presidency brings change to national laws, Mike Deehan of WGBH reports. 

WGBH

‘It’s getting hard to be a proud Yankee without stepping in it’

And here’s more Trump, Trump, Trump: BostInno’s Galen Moore surveys all the New England-related places he’s now supposed to boycott, either because they’ve supported or opposed Donald Trump – L.L. Bean, Simon & Schuster (both John Irving and Stephen King’s publisher), Legal Seafoods, retailers carrying Trump-branded products (Wayfair, RueLaLa, TJ Maxx) – and concludes: “It’s getting hard to be a proud Yankee without stepping in it, politically.”

BostInno

Pioneer Institute: Can we have a real audit, please?

Rejecting the findings of a consultant’s report paid for by the T retirement fund, the Pioneer Institute is calling for an outside, independent audit of the pension system’s murky finances, reports Beth Healy at the Globe. “FTI Consulting dismissed or ignored a number of legitimate red flags,’’ said Pioneer research director and former state inspector general Greg Sullivan.

Boston Globe

Bristol and Plymouth sheriffs’ immigrant plan could serve as national ‘model’

An anti-illegal immigrant program being adopted by the Republican sheriffs in Bristol and Plymouth counties, as first reported by the Standard-Times and noted in yesterday’s MassterList, could end up being adopted across the country, reports Jack Encarnacao at the Herald. Encarnacao has more details on the proposed screening of inmates to determine their immigration status. Very strange (and/or ironic): Massachusetts, among the bluest of blue states, possibly pioneering a program loathed by the political establishment in Massachusetts.

Boston Herald

Most dangerous cities include Barnstable?

From MassLive’s Alban Murtishi: “An annual ranking of the country’s most dangerous cities features five towns from Massachusetts this year: Barnstable, Holyoke, Springfield, Chelsea and Fall River.” The report was compiled by Neighborhood Scout, a Worcester-based company that compiles crime statistics. As Murtishi notes, the FBI views such lists with extreme skepticism. And the Cape Cod Times reports on how the influx of tourists each summer skews Barnstable’s stats. All of which makes you wonder about Holyoke, Springfield, Chelsea and Fall River’s rankings. They’re hard-scrabble cities, sure. But the most dangerous?

MassLive

Taser tracking drives up State Police use of force numbers

State Police used force nearly twice as often in 2016 compared to the year prior, but a significant portion of the increase stems from changes in how the agency tracks Taser use, Nestor Ramos of the Globe reports. A total of 402 uses of force were logged last year, up 93 percent from 2015—but 100 of the logged incidents were moments when troopers issued warnings they were about to use their Tasers, even though the less-than-lethal weapons weren’t actually used. 

Boston Globe

Diaz blasts leadership for inaction on criminal-justice reform

State Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz blasted Gov. Charlie Baker and legislative leaders for taking too long to address mandatory minimum sentences and other aspects of criminal justice reform, using MLK Day as a platform to call for swifter action on an issue legislators have been kicking down the road since at least 2012, Gintautas Dumcius of MassLive reports. Baker defended the state’s approach to criminal justice, noting Massachusetts has one of the country’s lowest rates of incarceration.

MassLive

Sen. Hinds ready to tackle ‘tale of two states’ challenge

As he takes office representing Berkshire County and a large swath of the westernmost part of Massachusetts, state Sen. Adam Hinds says he will focus on closing the gap between his constituents and Beacon Hill, Patricia LeBoeuf reports in the Berkshire Eagle. Hinds plans to build on work already underway to improve broadband access and other basic infrastructure in his district, which includes counties experiencing population declines. “The distance between workers and Boston has gotten too big,” he said. “This is where the rubber meets the road.” 

Berkshire Eagle

Worcester’s Union Station is actually a drag on two budgets

The city of Worcester continues to subsidize the operation of Union Station seven years after a $32 million renovation that many hoped would be a springboard to additional economic activity in the city’s downtown, Nick Kotsopolous of the Telegram reports. And because the historic train station is owned by the Worcester Redevelopment Authority, the red ink is actually staining the balance sheet of both the city—to the tune of $650,000 this year— and the independent agency. 

Telegram

Today’s Headlines

Metro

3 Massachusetts universities share in federal labor grant – WBUR

State overrules Boston ban on sale of liquor in tiny bottles at local packie – Universal Hub

Chancellor: Adults at home when stabbing occurred – Boston Herald

Massachusetts

Tasers drive jump in State Police use of force – Boston Globe

MBTA retirement fund needs independent review, group says – Boston Globe

Sheriffs-ICE model possible deport screening model – Boston Herald

Mass. state Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz chides Beacon Hill leaders for waiting to pass sentencing reform – MassLive

Financial future of Union Station puts Worcester at a loss – Telegram & Gazette

Neal to attend inauguration out of respect for office – Berkshire Eagle

A tale of 2 states: Sen. Hinds discusses plans to make Beacon Hill work for Western Mass. – Berkshire Eagle

Amherst may seek more clarity in plastic bag ban – Hampshire Gazette

Amazon now employing 1,800 in Fall River, may be looking to add more – Taunton Gazette

Alcohol provides template for pot regulation – CommonWealth Magazine

With Trump imminent, pro-choice forces want to make Mass. safe for abortion – WGBH

Nation

Trump’s forays into Russia go back three decades – New York Times

Trump national security spokeswoman foregoes post amid plagiarism charge – Washington Post

Republicans face headwinds from Trump voters on corporate tax cut – Politico

Trump’s Inauguration: Governor Baker Will Go; Congresswoman Clarke Will Not. Here’s Why They Are Both Right – WGBH

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