SJC convenes in Greenville, Health care costs, Contraceptives access, Baker at opioids forum
— Today is the deadline for candidates to file nomination papers with Secretary of State William Galvin’s office in the race to succeed former Sen. Jennifer Flanagan.
— The second and final day of Health Policy Commission‘s annual health care cost trends hearing opens with remarks from Attorney General Maura Healey and House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Suffolk University Law School, 120 Tremont St., Boston, 9 a.m.
— The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court holds a special sitting in western Massachusetts and hears four cases from Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire counties, Franklin County Justice Center, 43 Hope St., Greenfield, 9:30 a.m.
— Advocates hold a press conference to urge support for a contraception access bill to be heard today by the Financial Services Committee, Room 222, 9:30 a.m.
— Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security accepts testimony on about 20 bills related to corrections, Hearing Room B-2, 10 a.m.
— Less than a year after the defeat of a ballot question that would have raised the state’s cap on charter schools, lawmakers on the Education Committee will return to the divisive issue as they take up bills dealing with charters and school choice, Room 428, 10 a.m.
— The Joint Committee on Financial Services hears testimony on nearly two-dozen bills dealing with coverage mandates, including Sen. Harriette Chandler and Rep. Patricia Haddad’s ‘Contraceptive ACCESS bill,’ Gardner Auditorium, 10:30 a.m.
— Senate President Stanley Rosenberg is interviewed on ‘Boston Public Radio,’ WGBH-FM 89.7, 11 a.m.
— Attorney General Maura Healey speaks at Gas Leak Allies’ ‘Common Goals, Uncommon Partners Summit’ about seeking solutions to reduce methane emissions, Wong Auditorium, MIT Sloan School, Cambridge, 12 p.m.
— The Cannabis Control Commission meets to continue crafting its mission statement and to discuss the process it will follow as it seeks to hire a director of communications, Massachusetts Gaming Commission offices, 101 Federal St., 12th Floor, Boston, 10:30 a.m.
— Gov. Charlie Baker visits Lawrence High School to help kickoff the school’s new Early College program, Lawrence High School, 70-71 N Parish Road, Lawrence, 11 a.m.
— 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.
— The Committee on Labor and Workforce Development will solicit testimony on wages, tips and overtime, Room B-2, 1 p.m.
— The 25-member Cannabis Advisory Board meets for the first time as part of a joint meeting with the Cannabis Control Commission, One Ashburton Place, 21st Floor, Boston, 1 p.m.
— The Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure will hear testimony on a number of bills, including a proposal by Rep. Shawn Dooley to create a commission to investigate giving municipalities the authority to increase the number of liquor licenses available, Room A-1, 1 p.m.
— The Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture holds a hearing on legislation dealing with ivory and rhino horn trade, and bee health, Room B-1, 1 p.m.
— The Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy will hold a hearing on bills concerning solar energy and net-metering, Room A-2, 1 p.m.
— Gov. Charlie Baker participates in a forum hosted by Harvard Medical School to discuss the state of the opioid crisis, Joseph B. Martin Conference Center at Harvard Medical School, 77 Avenue Louis Pasteur, Boston, 1:15 p.m.
— Treasurer Deborah Goldberg and Gov. Charlie Baker have their monthly meeting, Room 360, 4 p.m.
— Jay Gonzalez and Setti Warren, two of the three Democrats running for governor in 2018, attend a Dighton Democratic Town Committee forum, Dighton Middle School, 1250 Somerset Ave., Dighton, 7 p.m.
— Attorney General Maura Healey is a scheduled guest on ‘Greater Boston,’ WGBH-TV Ch. 2, 7 p.m.
‘As if on script …’: The post-Vegas gun control debate that will go nowhere
Thank goodness for the Globe’s Annie Linskey, who cuts to the chase by stating the obvious: There will be no comprehensive gun control legislation passed on Capitol Hill in the wake of the horrific Las Vegas mass shooting. As she notes, Republicans, ‘as if on script,’ signaled yesterday they are not going to pass any major new gun control laws. It doesn’t matter how much Democrats and others, as if on their own script, protest and demand action and threaten not to partake in moments of silence etc. But that’s exactly what Democrats were doing yesterday, particularly Democrats from blue-state Massachusetts, where U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren demanded action now on gun control (Boston Magazine), U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton threatened not to observe a moment of silence (WCVB), U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III blamed Republicans for inaction (Boston Herald), and lawmakers across New England denounced the shooting (WBUR).
We’re not being cynical here. Nor is Linskey. It’s just reality: Congressional Republicans, who are in the majority in both chambers, are not going to budge on this issue – and the only way to get action on this issue is to change the partisan make-up of Congress over time, not holding immediate gun-control protests and sit-ins and anti-moment-of-silence moments. It’s going to be hard work. And that’s just the way it is.
But here’s one thing Dems can focus on: A mounted automatic AK-47 rifle
Though Democrats shouldn’t get their hopes up high about passing comprehensive gun-control laws after the Las Vegas shooting, here’s one narrow area that needs attention and, possibly, action: The shooter may well have used a mounted automatic AK-47-like rifle to kill and wound many on Sunday, reports the Washington Post. It sure sounded like automatic gunfire on the videos – and how the shooter may have gotten, and/or modified, an auotmatic weapon (or weapons) is important to determine. They’re supposed to be outlawed, or most of them are supposed to be outlawed.
Michael Cohen’s firsthand view of the Vegas carnage: ‘It was like a war zone’
As it was, the Globe’s Michael A. Cohen was apparently in Vegas over the weekend and he provides an account of his surreal trip down the strip as victims streamed past him in the opposite direction. “It was like a war zone,” he recounts.
A twofer: MIT’s Rainer Weiss awarded Nobel Prize in Physics
A day after two Brandeis University professors were awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has awarded half of this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics to Rainer Weiss, a professor emiritus at MIT, for his work on gravitational waves, the BBJ’s Don Seiffert reports. A big congrats to Weiss and MIT.
Meanwhile, Brandeis celebrates its own Nobel laureates
They’re the pride of Brandeis University — and of Massachusetts and America. As Don Seiffert at the BBJ reported, Michael Rosbash, a professor of biology at Brandeis, and Jeffrey C. Hall, professor emeritus of biology at Brandeis, were named two of three recipients of the Nobel Prize in Medicine on Monday. At Brandeis, news of the Nobel prize, the first ever awarded to a Brandeis faculty member, set off celebrations, with staff members popping bottles of champagne and hundreds of students and faculty members gathering to toast their now famous colleagues, reports Deirdre Fernandes at the Globe and Laura Gardner at BrandeisNow.
Insurers agree to compromise bill to provide free birth control
This is big and it will play out later today at a legislative hearing on Beacon Hill. From the Globe’s Stephanie Ebbert: “Massachusetts health insurers and reproductive rights advocates have negotiated a compromise bill that would protect free birth control coverage even if the Trump administration strikes that requirement from federal law, as expected. The Massachusetts Association of Health Plans, a coalition of 17 insurance providers, previously opposed the measure, saying it was broader — and more expensive — than necessary to ensure contraceptive access. But the organization has now signed on to compromise language, and officials intend to testify in favor of the bill at a legislative hearing Tuesday.”
Sisk bows out of Braintree race
Never mind. Matthew Sisk, the former Department of Conservation and Recreation manager who was a late entry into Braintree’s town council campaign, now says he won’t be running for a District 6 seat after all, citing time commitments, Fred Hanson of the Patriot Ledger reports. The withdrawal of Sisk—who resigned from DCR after using the emergency lights on a state vehicle to bypass traffic—leaves no candidates on the ballot for the seat.
Facebook comments earn Brockton man demotion at VA
Stephen Pina can add his supervisory role at the Veterans Administration to the lengthy list of fallouts from his racially tinged Facebook comments about NFL anthem protests. Marc Larocque of the Enterprise reports that the agency plans to demote Pina and remove him from his management position overseeing more than 150 workers at a VA facility in Rhode Island. Pina, who also resigned from a seat on the city’s Recreation Commission and quit his role as a football coach, has a chance to appeal the demotion before it becomes final.
We’re wondering if, or when, a First-Amendment lawsuit might be filed.
And yet another one: Sterling EMT suspended for calling Pats players ‘porch monkeys’
The NFL national-anthem controversy has taken its toll on yet another public employee posting a racist rant on social media, this time a Sterling paramedic who allegedly called Pats players “porch monkeys” for kneeling last month during the anthem, reports Scott Croteau at MassLive. Sterling’s fire chief suspended the paramedic, Linda Kimball, after receiving complaints about her Facebook post.
Senate Democrats to borrow a few ideas from governor on health-care cost controls
They never said they disliked all of Gov. Charlie Baker’s proposals to curb health-care costs, specifically some of his ideas on curbing Medicaid spending. They merely said they needed more time to study them. And now, it seems, they’ll be borrowing some, though not all, of Baker’s ideas, reports Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth. “We can’t afford 6.4 percent increases overall in the MassHealth program,” said Rosenberg. “Spending on MassHealth is crowding out spending and investments in others parts of the budget.” Shira Schoenberg has more on Rosenberg’s plans, details of which will be unveiled next month.
Meanwhile, Baker frets about more health care crises to come
The latest Republican attempt to gut ObamaCare, and slash Medicaid funds to Massachusetts, may have failed. But now Gov. Charlie Baker is worried about something else that Congress might do: Nothing, as it relates to the broken Affordable Care Act and federal subsidies to states, reports the BBJ’s Jessica Bartlett.
Return to sender: Confederate memorial on Georges Island to be removed
It’s now boarded up. And it will soon be hauled away, stored and, possibly, returned to the original donor. That’s the Baker administration’s plan for the state’s only Confederate memorial now on Georges Island. The Globe’s Cristela Guerra has the details on the fate of the granite headstone, which commemorates Confederate soldiers who died while imprisoned on the island and which was donated by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1963. Here’s hoping a more suitable marker is placed on the site. Simply wiping out a piece of history, and not acknowledging those who perished on the island, would, in its own way, be equally inappropriate.
The horror: ‘Walmart Weed’ and ‘Pabst Blue Ribbon’ pot
We happen to like Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. But then we’re not cannabis connoisseurs who appreciate the finer points of craft marijuana – and the pot equivalent of PBRs just won’t cut it with regular pot users, Peter Bernard, president of the Massachusetts Grower Advocacy Council, told the Cannabis Control Commission yesterday, reports Gintautas Dumcius at MassLive. Bernard wants a diverse group of commercial pot growers in Massachusetts, not just out-of-state ‘Walmart of Weed’ types producing PBR-like pot.
Five plead guilty to identity-theft ring at RMV
They were getting anywhere from $300 to $2,700 a pop for selling sensitive information to undocumented immigrants wanting to create new identities – and now the five of them, four of whom worked as clerks at the Haymarket Registry of Motor Vehicles office, have pled guilty to taking part in an identity theft scheme, reports Gintautas Dumcius at MassLive.
Rough ride for debut of new vehicle inspection program
Speaking of the RMV: The Registry of Motor Vehicles said a new vehicle inspection program aimed at cutting down on fraud was “running smoothly” on its first day of operation, but Ryan Kath at WBZ-TV reports 20 out of 30 stations contacted reported at least some problems with the new system. Some station owners were forced to turn away customers seeking stickers, losing revenue in the process, and one Revere station said the new technology it received—at a cost of $8,000—is still sitting in bubble wrap.
So what is this Russian-Facebook thing all about?
The Globe’s Hiawatha Bray has a really good, down-to-earth column on why the Facebook-Russian controversy is important to Americans, or should be important to Americans, and how Russia, via Facebook and other social-media sites, has deliberately tried to foment political divisions in the US with its fake news, ads and other posts. The posts are aimed at both right-wing and left-wing viewers, cynically touching on sensitive subjects of concern to both groups, Bray writes.
Fyi: Harvard’s Niall Ferguson at the Globe argues that the evidence shows the Russians were more interested in simply widening political divisions in the U.S. than getting Donald Trump elected. We think they actually were one in the same, but we’re quibbling.
Feds: SJC ruling is hampering efforts to identify illegal immigrants in jails
From the Herald’s Hillary Chabot: “Federal immigration officials confirmed that prisons and jails across the Bay State are housing illegal immigrants posing as legal citizens — but said they are concerned a recent Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling may handicap their efforts to identify and deport people in custody.” Hillary has more.
Acting highway chief Jonathan Gulliver is now the permanent chief
Jonathan Gulliver, who’s been serving as acting highway administrator since former chief Tom Tinlin went on medical leave last May, has officially been named permanent administrator, Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack announced yesterday, as reported by the Associated Press at WBUR. Gulliver, a Lancaster native, has previously served as the MassDOT District 3 highway director responsible for the state highway and bridge system covering 77 municipalities in central Massachusetts. A big congrats to Gulliver.
GE’s Immelt retires as chairman three months early
Jeffrey, we hardly knew ye! From Kelly O’Brien at the BBJ: “Former General Electric Co. CEO Jeffrey Immelt has retired as chairman of the company’s board three months earlier than expected. A press release announcing the move — which was effective as of Monday — did not acknowledge the accelerated timeline, but said that the decision was made ‘in light of Mr. Immelt’s determination that the CEO transition has proceeded smoothly and that John L. Flannery… was ready to succeed Mr. Immelt as Chairman of the Board.’” Flannery succeeded Immelt as CEO earlier this year.
Mazen kicks off bid for Third District seat
It’s official: Cambridge City Councilor Nadeem Mazen, who previously mulled running against U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano, has thrown his hat into the ring in the Third Congressional race to fill the seat to be vacated by retiring U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas, reports Amy Saltzman at Wicked Local.
Gonzalez gets key endorsement from former Patrick ally
From the Globe’s Jim O’Sullivan: “Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Gonzalez has picked up the endorsement from an activist legendary in party circles for her canvassing prowess. Kate Donaghue, a state committee member from Westborough who was a key volunteer for Gonzalez’s old boss, former governor Deval Patrick, called Gonzalez ‘exactly the right candidate we need to take on’ Governor Charlie Baker next year.”
Legislative Breakfast – Secretary Jay Ash
Gonson Daytime Lecture Series: Fall 2017
Navigating Market-Based Environmental Regulation: Lessons from the U.S. Acid Rain Program
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