Happening Today

Fighting sexual assault and domestic violence

Attorney General Maura Healey speaks at the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center’s Annual White Ribbon Breakfast about the office’s priority to address sexual assault and domestic violence, Ipswich Country Club, 148 Country Club Way, Ipswich, 8:30 a.m.

Criminal record discussion

MassINC, Boston Federal Reserve’s New England Public Policy Center and the Massachusetts Bar Association hold a breakfast forum on the impact of criminal record information reform on employment and recidivism rates, with panelists including Sen. William Brownsberger, John Adams Courthouse – Great Hall, Pemberton Square, Boston, 9 a.m.

Marathon banner

Mayor Martin Walsh joins representatives from John Hancock and Boston Athletic Association to unveil the 2017 John Hancock Marathon Banner, Marathon Sports, 671 Boylston Street, Boston, 10 a.m.

Gonzalez on the radio

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Gonzalez is a scheduled guest on Boston Herald Radio, Boston Herald Radio, 10 a.m.

Board of Higher Ed

Board of Higher Education meets to hear a presentation about learning outcomes assessments, Salem State University, Central Campus, Marsh Hall, Room 210 (second floor), 352 Lafayette St., Salem, 10 a.m.

Ways and Means hearing

House and Senate Ways and Means committees hold a hearing on Gov. Charlie Baker’s fiscal 2018 budget proposal focusing on the Office of Health and Human Services, Medicaid, the departments of public health, mental health, developmental services and other health agencies, Reggie Lewis Center, 1350 Tremont St., Boston, 10 a.m.

Task force on integrity

Members of the State Ethics Commission attend a hearing of the Legislature’s Task Force on Integrity in State and Local Government as the task force nears the end of its review of state ethics laws, Room A-1, 11 a.m.

Roads and bridges hearing

The annual local road and bridge repair bill will be before the House Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets for its second public hearing, Room B-2, 11 a.m.

Anti-gas pipelines

Environmental activists from Massachusetts Power Forward unveil a list of more than 450 Massachusetts businesses that want Gov. Baker to stop supporting gas pipelines, Holiday Brook Farm, Dalton, 11:15 a.m.

Orange Line cars

Gov. Baker, Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack, Acting MBTA General Manager Brian Shortsleeve and MBTA Chief Operating Officer Jeff Gonneville tour the new MBTA Orange Line cars, Wellington Yard, 37 Revere Beach Parkway, Medford, 12 p.m.

Firefighter wake

A wake will be held for Watertown firefighter Joseph Toscano at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 211 N. Main St., Randolph, 4 p.m.

Today’s Stories

Baker backtracks on cutting weekend commuter rail

From the Globe’s Nicole Dungca: “Governor Charlie Baker said Monday his administration has shelved a proposal to eliminate all weekend commuter rail service, an abrupt shift that follows an outcry from riders and political leaders. ‘Our administration is exploring alternatives to last week’s MBTA budget proposals to make weekend commuter rail more efficient and will not pursue proposals to eliminate weekend service altogether,’ Baker said. ” 

What else can you say? It’s a full retreat by the Baker administration. It was a lazy, poorly thought out plan at a time when people are demanding improved T services, not reduced T services. Next challenge for the T: Where to find nearly $1 billion to eventually replace aging Green Line trolley cars, not to be confused with the ongoing $1 billion push to replace the aging Orange and Red line cars, the Herald’s Dan Atkinson reports.

NRC gives Pilgrim green light

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission says despite a rash of problems found during an intensive safety review, Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station is safe enough to continue operating until its planned shutdown date in 2019, David Abel of the Globe reports. “They are clearly a plant with problems, but they are making strides to improvement and are currently safe to operate,” said Donald E. Jackson, who oversees reactor safety for the NRC and led the investigation. The NRC’s report is to be unveiled Tuesday at a meeting in Plymouth. 

Boston Globe

Pot tax could raise up to $100 million — and Goldberg wants a 10 percent commission

The State House battle over regulating and taxing pot officially commenced yesterday, as the Legislature’s new marijuana committee heard a wide range of opinions, complaints, estimates and pleas on how to oversee the nascent weed industry in Massachusetts, according to multiple media reports. The Globe’s Joshua Miller reports that state revenue officials say a tax on pot could raise up to $100 million, but Treasurer Deb Goldberg says she’ll need about $10 million to properly regulate the new industry. But, wait, it’s far from clear whether lawmakers even want Goldberg overseeing marijuana regulations, as a “tug of war” has broken out over future pot oversight, reports the Herald’s Marie Szaniszlo. The BBJ’s Jessica Bartlett and MassLive’s Gintautas Dumcius have more on projected tax revenues and other issues aired at yesterday’s hearing.

In all, the legislative panel is now considering 44 marijuana-related bills, ranging from “minor tweaks to an outright repeal of the voter-approved law,” Steve Brown at WBUR reports.

City and town officials demand the power to outlaw pot shops

Yet another issue raised at yesterday’s Marijuana Committee hearing, via SHNS’s Colin Young at Wicked Local: “Cities and towns are urging lawmakers to let them restrict or prohibit commercial marijuana sales within their borders by a vote of the municipal legislative body, rather than a community-wide referendum as is called for under the law. ‘The new law … makes it impossible for selectmen, mayors, councils or Town Meetings to make this decision,’ the Massachusetts Municipal Association wrote in a letter to the Legislature’s Committee on Marijuana Policy.”

Wicked Local

DiCara: Sorry, pot lobbyists, it’s now ‘Grown-Up’s Hour’

Lawrence S. DiCara, a partner at Nixon Peabody and a former president of the Boston City Council, says there’s plenty of precedent for lawmakers tinkering with referendum initiatives after they’ve been passed, no matter what marijuana-industry officials claim. “Now that democracy has worked its magic in Massachusetts with the legalization of recreational use of marijuana, I suggest it is time for the Grown-Up’s Hour when it comes to the details of the new law,” he writes at CommonWealth magazine.


Republican Baker urges Democrats to fight Republican health-care plan

As they say, politics makes strange bedfellows. From the AP’s Steve LeBlanc, whose wire story is going national (this one at the Charlotte Observer): “Gov. Charlie Baker is urging the state’s congressional delegation to fight a Republican-backed health care bill that he said could undermine Massachusetts’ efforts to maintain its highest-in-the-nation rate of insured residents. The Republican governor is including his concerns in a letter he’s planning to send to the all-Democratic delegation Tuesday. Baker also will outline potential federal revenue losses for Massachusetts if the bill becomes law.”

Charlotte Observer

Study: Trumpcare could mean higher subsidies in Bay State

Many Massachusetts communities would see more health care subsidies under the Republican plan making its way through Congress than they do under the Affordable Care Act, Jessica Bartlett of the Boston Business Journal reports, citing analysis conducted by WalletHub. However, the tax credit differences do not take into account the expected cuts to Medicaid, which state officials says would hit neediest residents the hardest. That’s a pretty big caveat.


Immigration debate casualty: Worcester refugees center lays off 20 people

Worcester’s Ascentria Care Alliance, which helps foreign refugees and immigrants resettle here, is laying off 20 employees, blaming the ongoing debate and high tensions in Washington over immigration and travel issues, reports Walter Bird Jr. at Worcester Magazine.

Worcester Magazine

It’s not looking good for summer H-2B workers in New England

Speaking of refugees and immigrant issues, Fred Bever at WBUR has more on how summer resort communities across New England are getting nervous about filling jobs this summer with temporary foreign workers – and how many Americans, left and right, are no fans of the H-2B season visa program.


Report: CORI reforms have not helped ex-offenders find jobs – just the opposite

Despite reforms of the state’s Criminal Offender Record Information system, the employment rate of ex-offenders has actually declined compared with those without criminal records, according to a new study by Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, reports Katie Johnston at the Globe. Specifically, the “ban the box” change – in which job applicants no longer have to check off whether they have a criminal record – has “not resulted in the policy outcome anticipated,” the study says.

What a surprise: Restricting information doesn’t work. Who would have thought?

Boston Globe

Gonzalez’s welcome vows on gubernatorial transparency

Speaking of access to public information, the Herald’s Jaclyn Cashman isn’t sure how seriously she should take Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Gonzalez’s vow to run a less secretive and more open Corner Office. But the promises of more gubernatorial transparency are nevertheless welcome and better than what we have now, she concludes.

Boston Herald

Weld to media: Stop taking Trump’s wiggly nightcrawler bait

Former Gov. William Weld, also the former Libertarian vice presidential candidate, thinks the media is hanging too much on President Trump’s every tweet, writes the Herald’s Olivia Vanni. “One of the rules in politics is don’t go for the bait,” Weld says. “When someone drags a wiggly nightcrawler in front of you, don’t snap at it every time.”

Boston Herald

Warren road show hits Springfield

Matt Szafranski at Western Massachusetts Politics and Insight has a round-up of Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s stop yesterday in Springfield, where she denounced President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee and his proposed budget cuts to education programs, community block grants and NIH research. “I’m sorry, don’t you understand it’s not just poor people who get cancer, it’s rich people, too?” she said of the NIH cuts.


O’Neill: Massachusetts gives, gives, gives to Washington – and now it’s going to get even less back

Thomas P. O’Neill III, chief executive at O’Neill and Associates and the former lieutenant governor, says Massachusetts cities and towns are about to take it on the chin due to President Trump’s budget cuts, even though the state consistently gives more than it gets from Washington in terms of tax dollars. “Under this budget we give and give and give – as always – but now there is no return,” he writes at CommonWealth magazine. “The people of Massachusetts cannot afford to accept it.”


Our poor are better off than their poor

This probably won’t last long if President Trump gets his budget-cut requests. From the Globe’s Evan Horowitz: “While Massachusetts is unquestionably riven by divides, low-income and minority residents are doing vastly better than their peers around the country. When it comes to boosting pay for low-wage workers, providing educational opportunities for all, even guaranteeing affordable housing — Massachusetts is already outperforming most of the nation.”

Boston Globe

Don’t forget Rev. Monan’s contribution to court reforms

Margaret Marshall, former chief justice of the Supreme Judicial Court and Robert J. Cordy, a retired associate justice, remember the late Rev. Donald Monan not only for his achievements at Boston College but also for his court-reforms work on what became known as the ‘Monan Commission.’ “His leadership helped change the path of the Massachusetts judiciary at a critical time in its 300-year history,” the two write at the Herald.

Boston Herald

James Comey: A very strange Patriots hater

FBI director James Comey intervened in the November election in a strange way. He’s now using a strange New England Patriots analogy to explain the Russians’ intervention in the November election, which he described yesterday as being more about the Russians hating Hillary Clinton than liking Donald Trump. As reported by Spencer Buell at Boston Magazine, Comey said: “I think it’s two closely related sides of the same coin. To put it in a homely metaphor, I hate the New England Patriots and no matter who they play, I’d like them to lose. And so I’m at the same time rooting against the Patriots and hoping their opponent beats them because there’s only two teams on the field.”

What the …? From the Globe’s Joan Vennochi: “Who did more to hurt Hillary Clinton’s quest to become president and help Donald Trump’s — Vladimir Putin or FBI director James Comey?” Good question. 

Boston Magazine

Hampshire College student faces charges over ‘culturally appropriated’ hair-braid fight

A 20-year-old Hampshire College student is pleading not guilty to charges that she attacked a visiting basketball player over her “culturally appropriated” hair braids, reports Emily Cutts at the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

At MassLive.com, Lucas Ropek provides some important context: “Defined loosely, (‘culturally appropriated’) refers to the adoption of a culturally specific item by someone not directly involved in that culture. In 2015, students at the private liberal arts school Oberlin College protested the school’s cafeteria’s ‘cultural appropriation’ of Vietnamese cuisine after the school used the ‘wrong ingredients’ to cook a banh mi sandwich.”


Harvard shakes up law-school landscape by accepting GRE tests

And now Harvard Law School, the “gold standard” of law schools, is now accepting a generic graduate school exam for law school applicants, as opposed to the LSAT, in a move that could lead to a ‘larger and more diverse group of lawyers entering the field,” writes Michael Levenson at the Globe.

Boston Globe

Distracted driving gets state attention

A surge in traffic fatalities is undoubtedly tied to distracted driving, which the state is tackling with a two-pronged approach focusing on awareness and enforcement, Jeff Larason, director of the state’s Highway Safety Division tells Dusty Christensen at the Hampshire Gazette. Grants are helping local departments enforce the state’s ban on texting while driving while a new awareness campaign is set to launch in April. 


Will Feds deliver opioid help as promised?

Despite promises made on the campaign trail by candidates on both sides of the aisle, senators from Massachusetts and New Hampshire may have trouble bringing home federal funds to fight the opioid crisis, David S. Bernstein reports at WGBH. While President Trump has repeatedly decried the toll opioids have taken on the region, lawmakers say repealing Obamacare and cutting Medicaid will actually set back efforts to curb opioid abuse. 


Not bad: Break the rules, win $250,000

There’s always a catch. Natasha Mascarenhas at BostInno reports that MIT has begun accepting applications for its new “Disobedience Award” that will fork over $250,000 to any person or group “ethically pushing boundaries” (so far, so good), breaking rules “across a variety of disciplines” (our specialty), taking personal risks (not sure about that one), all “in order to affect positive change for greater society” (the catch we warned you about).


Today’s Headlines


Things could get ruff at DCR dog park meeting in Hyde Park – Universal Hub

City Year says Trump cuts would devastate programs – Boston Globe

Officials say Green Line in need of state, federal money – Boston Herald


Quincy Center developer changes apartments to condos, citing apartment glut – Patriot Ledger

As traffic deaths rise, state steps up campaign against distracted driving – Hampshire Gazette

Amherst select board backs sanctuary initiative – Hampshire Gazette

Nine Mass. residents make Forbes billionaires list – Boston Business Journal

Mercantile Center replacing long-dead Worcester Galleria – Worcester Business Journal

NRC expected to reveal findings on Pilgrim at Tuesday meeting – Brockton Enterprise

BCC, New Bedford schools get life sciences boost – Standard-Times

Ex-offenders still having trouble getting jobs – Boston Globe

Bill Weld: Media taking bait on Trump tweets, ever time – Boston Herald

Charlie Baker rejects rail cuts – Boston Herald

Former councilor Jason Ferreira pulls papers to run for mayor in Holyoke – MassLive

Billboard zoning, marijuana freeze on Auburn town meeting agenda – Telegram & Gazette


FBI’s Russia probe knocks White House on its heels – Politico

Trump is dealt his hardest truth: That he was wrong – Washington Post

Rex Tillerson will visit Russia but skip NATO meeting next month – Washington Post

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