Happening Today

Budget hearing in Fall River

Legislative budget writers on the Ways and Means Committee visit Fall River to hear from health and human services agencies about the fiscal 2018 budget outlook, Matthew J. Kuss Middle School, 52 Globe Mills Ave, Fall River, 10 a.m.

Legislative reception

Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council and the Arc of Massachusetts hold their 39th legislative reception, with Sen. Jason Lewis and Rep. James O’Day being recognized as legislators of the year and with Gov. Charlie Baker, Senate President Stan Rosenberg, Majority Leader Ron Mariano and Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders expected to attend, Great Hall, 11 a.m.

Warren at New England Council

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren delivers remarks at a New England Council Congressional Roundtable Luncheon, the Seaport Hotel, Lighthouse Room, One Seaport Boulevard, Boston, 12 p.m.

Walsh and Project Place

Mayor Marty Walsh offers remarks at an announcement being made in partnership with Project Place, 1145 Washington St., Boston, 12:30 p.m.

‘Woodstove change-out’

Massachusetts Clean Energy Center CEO Stephen Pike and Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Martin Suuberg announce details of the 2017 Woodstove Change-Out program, Enchanted Fireside, 728 West Boylston Street, Worcester, 1:30 p.m.

Billerica high school groundbreaking

Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, chair of the Massachusetts School Building Authority, and Building Authority executive director Jack McCarthy attend the Billerica Memorial High School groundbreaking ceremony, 35 River Street, Billerica, 3 p.m.

Marijuana committee

The Joint Committee on Marijuana Policy convenes its second public hearing, this one to hear input from residents of western Massachusetts, West Springfield High School, 425 Piper Road, West Springfield, 4 p.m.

Addiction recovery forum

Massachusetts Organization for Addiction Recovery holds a public policy forum with speakers including Rep. Liz Malia, Sen. John Keenan, Allison Bauer, the director of the bureau of substance abuse services at the Department of Public Health, and Boston Public Health Commission director Monica Valdes Lupi, Huvos Auditorium at Faulkner Hospital, 1153 Centre St., Jamaica Plain, 5 p.m.

Crosby on the air

Massachusetts Gaming Commission chair Stephen Crosby is a scheduled guest on ‘Greater Boston,’ WGBH-TV Ch. 2, 7 p.m.

Today’s Stories

Another sales-tax referendum?

From Michael Norton at SHNS: “There may be a major tax cut competing with the significant tax increase that’s already being prepared for the 2018 ballot in Massachusetts. Retailers have conducted polling and are encouraged by results suggesting Massachusetts residents are receptive to reducing the state sales tax, which was raised to 6.25 percent from 5 percent during a 2009 push led by House Speaker Robert DeLeo. ‘At this point all options are open,’ Retailers Association of Massachusetts President Jon Hurst told the News Service.”

If you recall, voters rejected a statewide referendum in 2010 that would have slashed the sales tax to 3 percent, but retailers think a less draconian measure might pass muster with voters in 2018.

SHNS (pay wall)

As Sen. McGee prepares to run for mayor in Lynn …

Sen. Thomas McGee plans to enter the race for mayor of Lynn, Thomas Grillo of the Lynn Item reports. McGee, who has served in the senate since 2002 and previously represented part of the city as a state representative, confirmed to Grillo that he plans to pull papers Monday to challenge incumbent Judith Flanagan Kelly. 

Lynn Item

… Rep. Heroux throws his hat in mayoral ring in Attleboro

Meanwhile, state Rep. Paul Heroux announced over the weekend that he will seek the mayor’s office in Attleboro, setting up a four-way race that includes the 14-year incumbent, Jim Hand reports in the Sun-Chronicle. Heroux has represented the 2nd Bristol district for five years and gave no indication he would resign his seat at any point in the election process, which starts with a preliminary vote in September.

Sun Chronicle

Ew, icky and gross: Fishing opioid needles from Merrimack River

File this under ‘ew,’ ‘icky’ and ‘gross’: An environmental group that last year pulled 1,000 used hypodermic needles from the Merrimack River is asking for enhanced financial support from the communities along the river, Mike LaBella of the Eagle-Tribune reports. The Clean River Project last year deployed five booms to filter debris and this year wants to install as many as 25 of the floating barriers to retrieve dangerous medical waste the group believes is directly tied to the region’s opioid crisis. 


The Marijuana Industrial Support Services Complex

From a Swiss provider of cigarette-tax stamp services to contractors lusting to build new marijuana greenhouses, dozens of industries are gearing up to get a piece of the action once the state allows the retail sale and commercial growth of pot to proceed in Massachusetts, reports the Globe’s Joshua Miller.

Boston Globe

Here comes online gambling (not to be confused with online Lottery)

The Globe’s Sean Murphy reports on very tentative, very preliminary talk by some state officials about allowing heavily regulated and taxed online gambling in Massachusetts, a move that would make the commonwealth one of only four states to permit online gambling. But any such move is expected to meet fierce opposition from anti-gambling activists and the three already licensed casinos in the state, Murphy reports.

Boston Globe

‘We’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future’

Who ever thought a major Republican figure would mutter such words? But House Speaker Paul Ryan did mutter those words after last Friday’s spectacular GOP failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act – and there’s a lot of people in Massachusetts mighty happy about that failure, from Gov. Charlie Baker, who described the bill’s defeat as “good news,” to the Massachusetts Medical Society, reports Martha Bebinger at WBUR. She has a good round-up of local reactions.


McGovern’s great Snidely Whiplash reference

The Quote of the Day, and perhaps Quote of the Week, goes to U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern on the elimination of a minimum-benefits clause in the failed Republican health-care plan, via the NYT (scroll down): “It’s so cartoonishly malicious that I can picture someone twirling their mustache as they drafted it in their secret Capitol lair last night.” 

Who knew McGovern was a fellow fan of Dudley Do-Right, the archenemy of the mustache-twirling evil-doer of all mustache-twirling evil-doers, Snidely Whiplash? Or at least we assume he was referring to Snidely.


Warren: Republicans still ‘hell-bent’ on killing ObamaCare

Though Republicans couldn’t muster the votes on Friday to gut the Affordable Care Act, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is warning that the GOP is still “hell-bent” on killing off ObamaCare and will try “again and again” to dismantle the health-care program, reports Jim Haddadin at Wicked Local.

Wicked Local

Scammers pose as troopers on hoax calls

A series of recent calls allegedly from police telling people they had a warrant out for their arrest were and are flat-out hoaxes, according to State Police, who are warning the public not to fall for the blatant scams, reports Scott Croteau at MassLIve. “The phone number shows up on the caller identification as the South Boston barracks,” Croteau writes. “When people answered the call, they were told to wait to speak to an officer regarding a complaint or warrant issued against them. An ‘officer’ then got on the phone and told the call recipients that they could meet police at a local shopping center and resolve the matter by paying police.”


Sanctuary city blowback

Some municipal officials are pushing back against activists calling for sanctuary-city designations in their communities, saying such declarations are “meaningless, divisive and a threat to critical federal funds,” writes the Herald’s Hillary Chabot. “I am not going to allow the right and the left to have a fistfight in downtown Melrose over something that operationally means nothing,” said Melrose Mayor Rob Dolan, a Democrat, about sanctuary city status in his city.

Separately, hundreds of activists are planning to protest in Boston today the detention of two Vermont immigration advocates “who have won the support of the state’s congressional delegation and thousands who have signed petitions on their behalf,” reports the Globe’s Milton Valencia.

Black and Latino lawmakers present their Beacon Hill goals

After the Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus held a constituent listening tour in Springfield, Roxbury and Lawrence, a consensus agenda has emerged around four main issues: economic development, criminal justice, public health and housing, reports Shira Schoenberg at MassLive.


‘Let’s Dismantle the Massachusetts House of Representatives’

Boston Magazine’s David Bernstein really doesn’t like House Speaker Robert DeLeo, so much so, he’s advocating  the elimination of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. “I’m serious. It’s not a panacea, but switching to a single chamber—a unicameral legislature, instead of the current bicameral arrangement—would be a major positive reform of the legislative process, improving efficiency, transparency, and responsiveness to the public.”

Boston Magazine

Regulators poised to boost oversight of long-term care insurance – with no rate caps

The Globe’s Deirdre Fernades reports that regulators are getting close to adopting new rules that would increase oversight of skyrocketing long-term care insurance rates in Massachusetts, but the new regs don’t include rate caps, something Attorney General Maura Healey and others support.

Boston Globe

First of many? T hires private firm to drive T buses

The MBTA may have signed a contract with the Carmen’s Union mandating a set number of hours in which members must be used to drive T buses. But the contract allows the agency to hire private firms to operate T buses for additional lines above and beyond the stipulated amount – and that’s exactly what the MBTA is now doing in Winthrop, reports the Herald’s Matt Stout, noting it could be the first of many such contracts.

Boston Herald

Putting Boston on the map (in an appropriately Boston-centric way)

Andy Woodruff at Bostonography sweeps aside the debate over the Boston Public School Department’s decision to replace the traditional Mercator world map with the Peters projection world map, saying both flat maps are distorted and wrong. Instead, he presents an alternative map. “(As) everyone knows, the only accurate world maps are those that correctly show Boston at the center of it all, right?” Andy’s post via Universal Hub, where there’s a lively cartography debate under way.


Pro-Trump rally turns tense and testy over weekend

From the Herald: “Mayor Martin J. Walsh is calling on demonstrators to keep the peace after dueling rallies for and against President Trump turned ugly yesterday, when a group of self-proclaimed communists confronted pro-Trump marchers and set off a series of expletive-laced exchanges through a line of police officers.”

Boston Herald

Legislators push for increase in school dropout rate from 16 to 18

State lawmakers are once again pushing to raise the school dropout age from 16 to 18 – and once again critics warn it will end up costing schools district more money, reports the Herald’s Kathleen McKiernan. 

Boston Herald

Ellison to UMass Dems: Now is the time …

Fresh off being named the deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison brought an urgent message to progressives at UMass Amherst over the weekend, telling an audience of 1,000 that Democrats have no time to waste if they want to score election wins in 2018 and 2020. “We’ve got to organize right here, right now,” Ellison said, reports Morgan Hughes at the Hampshire Gazette.


Tito Jackson’s campaign is hungry

Mayoral candidate Tito Jackson seems to be spending an inordinate slice of his relatively modest campaign war chest on meals, Spencer Buell of Boston Magazine reports, citing campaign finance reports. Jackson, who most recently reported having $91,000 in his campaign coffers, has dropped $12,000 in the past two years on dining, outpacing fellow city councilors and the bevy of mayoral candidates who ran in 2013. Jackson says his expenses reflect both his style as a politician—favoring face-to-face meetings—and the size of the mountain he has to climb. “I use my resources wisely,” he said. 

Boston Magazine

Judge: No, journalists don’t have the right to secretly record conversations

A federal judge has ruled that journalists don’t have a right to secretly record conversations in Massachusetts, even in the name of undercover journalism, and that the state’s anti-wiretapping law doesn’t violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments, the Herald’s Bob McGovern reports. The decision is a setback for the conservative Project Veritas, which is known for its hidden-camera stings and which had argued the state’s anti-recording law was unconstitutional.

Boston Herald

Today’s Headlines


Tito Jackson’s campaign sure is spending a lot of dough on eating out – Boston Magazine

New Boston Latin headmaster talks goals, plans for student body – WGBH

Preparing for a shrinking Boston – CommonWealth Magazine


Townsend selectman seeks injunction to block recall vote – Lowell Sun

Calls for sanctuary city tags hit blowback – Boston Herald

Cancer activists push bill to hike legal age to buy tobacco – Cape Cod Times

Heroux joins Attleboro mayoral race – Sun-Chronicle

Let’s dismantle the Mass. House of Representatives – Boston Magazine

St. Patrick’s Day breakfast is no cheap affair – Boston Herald

Central Mass. farmers seek pruning of immigration rules to allow workers into U.S. – Telegram & Gazette

River of needles: Group seeks support as number of syringes in Merrimack soars – Eagle-Tribune

UMass paying above-average salaries to execs – Eagle-Tribune

Berkshire Eagle survey finds 8.1 percent of drivers using cell phones at three intersections – Berkshire Eagle


Republican quits House Freedom Caucus – The Hill

In need of win, Trump and GOP pivot to tax reform – New York Times

Trump taps Kushner to overhaul government using business ideas – Washington Post

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