Health Connector, Advanced manufacturing, Cannabis Control meeting
— Sen. Bruce Tarr of Gloucester holds his annual toy drive across the North Shore, in partnership with radio station 104.9 WBOQ-FM, with Gov. Charlie Baker scheduled to join the first stop in Lynn early this morning.
— Massachusetts Health Connector Board meets with Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders attending, One Ashburton Pl. – 21st floor, Boston, 9 a.m.
— The Financial Services Committee will solicit testimony on 25 bills, many of which deal with pharmacies and medical malpractice, Room 222, 10 a.m.
— Gov. Charlie Baker joins Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Rosalin Acosta and Secretary of Education Jim Peyser to announce a new pilot program with local vocational high schools for adults interested in pursuing training in advanced manufacturing, Southeastern Regional Vocational Technical High School, 250 Foundry St, South Easton, 10:30 a.m.
— The Cannabis Control Commission meets to continue policy discussions and debate on draft pot-industry regulations, Minihan Meeting Room, Hurley Building, 19 Staniford St., Boston, 10:30 a.m.
— Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito attends the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association‘s Annual Luncheon and 2018 Installation of Officers, Southbridge Hotel and Conference Center 14 Mechanic St, Southbridge, 11: 30 a.m.
— Gov. Charlie Baker gives remarks at the Metro South Chamber of Commerce for a luncheon networking event sponsored by Cambridge Savings Bank, 770 Crescent St., Brockton, 12 p.m.
— Attorney General Maura Healey will speak at the 2018 installation ceremony for the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, Southbridge Hotel & Conference Center, 14 Mechanic St., Southbridge, 12 p.m.
— Auditor Suzanne Bump rings the bell at a Salvation Army holiday red kettle, in front of Macy’s, 450 Washington St., Downtown Crossing, 12 p.m.
— Rep. Kay Khan, Kelly Turley of the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, and John Gintell of the Cambridge LBGTQ+ Commission discuss issues related to youth who are out-of-home, experiencing homelessness, or in foster care, at a meeting of the Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth, Department of Public Health, Public Health Council Room, 250 Washington St., Boston, 6 p.m.
— The State House Press Association throws its annual holiday party, Press Gallery, State House Room 456, 6 p.m.
What a coincidence: Republicans reach tax compromise day after Moore defeat
From the NYT: “The day after suffering a political blow in the Alabama special Senate election, congressional Republicans sped forward with the most sweeping tax rewrite in decades, announcing an agreement on a final bill that would cut taxes for businesses and individuals and signal the party’s first major legislative achievement since assuming political control this year.”
U.S. Rep. Richard Neal of Massachusetts is asking Republicans to wait on a vote until Doug Jones, the Democrat who defeated GOP candidate Roy Moore in Alabama, can be sworn in as senator, reports Shannon Youngat MassLive. But not even moderate Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine is buying that argument. Speaking of Collins, the Globe, in an editorial, is once again pressuring Collins to oppose the tax bill, but it looks like she’s on board with the compromise. The Herald’s Kimberly Atkins says Republicans are taking a big political risk by rushing a tax plan that “few Americans want through Congress as quickly as possible.”
Report: Docs didn’t take the state’s hint on opioid prescriptions
Maybe the letter was too subtle? From Felice Fryer at the Globe: “It seemed like a good idea. Last March, the state Department of Public Health sent a confidential letter to every health care provider who prescribes opioids and other controlled substances, showing how each practitioner’s prescribing practices compared with those of his or her peers. But an article in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine concludes that the letter probably didn’t work. In the 12 weeks after it was sent, an analysis of prescribing by 284 primary care physicians found no change from the previous 12 weeks.”
Lynch defends Baker, takes swipe at Setti
Yet another high-profile Democrat has kind words for Republican Gov. Charlie Baker and won’t rule out voting for him. From the Herald’s Brian Dowling: “Bay State Congressman Stephen Lynch said he’d ‘consider voting for’ Gov. Charlie Baker in 2018 and criticized attacks trying to link the governor to failed GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore through Baker’s fundraising for the Republican National Committee. ‘Charlie Baker is a good and decent man,’ Lynch said, addressing arguments from Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Setti Warren. ‘To tie him to a pedophile, come on, come on. That’s the worst of politics right there.’”
Retiring Kaufman’s seat drawing lots of attention
Lexington Selectwoman Michelle Ciccolo and Board of Elementary and Secondary Education member Mary Ann Stewart have already filed as candidates to succeed state Rep. Jay Kaufman, who’s not running for re-election next year, and local newspaper publisher Jim Shaw and retired police detective Joe Lahiff may not be that far behind. SHNS’s Sam Doran has the details.
Galvin sounds alarm on Bitcoin bubble
At more than $16,000 per digital coin, one might reasonably conclude there’s indeed a bubble. From the BBJ’s Greg Ryan and Kelly O’Brien: “Massachusetts’ top securities watchdog, Secretary of State William Galvin warned investors on Wednesday to stay away from Bitcoin and said that his office is keeping an eye on so-called initial coin offerings. Galvin’s office issued a statement that sought to lay out the dangers of Bitcoin, calling the cryptocurrency a speculative bubble that is likely to burst. The statement warned consumers that the virtual wallets that store Bitcoin are not as secure as bank accounts and that the value of the currency can fluctuate quickly and enormously.”
Real healthy: Pot home deliveries and yoga-studio toking?
The Cannabis Control Commission has been plugging away this week to pass new pot regulations by the end of the calendar year – and the Globe’s Dan Adams has a good summary of the panel’s preliminary votes this week to allow “marijuana ‘bars’ or cafes where cannabis products can be consumed on site, to permit home delivery of pot, and to regulate the sale and use of the drug at other businesses such as restaurants, yoga studios, movie theaters, and massage parlors that receive state licenses.”
We may be wrong, but all of this sure looks like pot may end up being less regulated than alcohol, in terms of where it can be legally consumed. Can yoga studios and massage parlors now serve Sangrias?
Report: Bay State ranks low on anti-smoking efforts, despite high tobacco tax
Doesn’t some of the state’s cigarette-tax revenue go to transportation? Just wondering. From SHNS’s Michael Norton and Katie Lannan at the Greenville Recorder: “At $3.51 per pack, the cigarette tax in Massachusetts is considered high, but a new report places the Bay State among the states spending the least to prevent kids from smoking and to help smokers stop. … Massachusetts ranked 35 in protecting kids from tobacco as measured by funding for anti-smoking programs, the report (by anti-smoking group) said.” Btw, the answer to the opening question is: Yes.
Are Patrick’s presidential hopes hurt by brother-in-law’s arrest on assault charges?
It’s certainly embarrassing: On the same day former Gov. Deval Patrick was in Alabama campaigning against accused sexual predator Roy Moore, his brother-in-law was getting arrested in Massachusetts on assault to rape and other charges, as reported by WCVB. This morning, the Herald is quoting experts saying Patrick’s brother-in-law, Bernard Sigh, could become a political liability to Patrick if he runs for president in 2020. Fair enough. But the story goes further, prominently quoting an attorney as saying Sigh could become “Deval Patrick’s Willie Horton.” OK, we’re now entering ridiculous political-analogy territory. The Herald’s Howie Carr is jumping all over this story, needless to say.
Worcester looks to expand revitalization plan to potential ballpark area
Just in case, right? The Worcester Redevelopment Authority is mulling an expansion of its Downtown Urban Revitalization Plan to include land that could be part of a potential ballpark and related developments should the Pawtucket Red Sox decide to move to the city, Nick Kotsopolous of the Telegram reports. Including the property in the plan would make it eligible for taking via eminent domain, though the city emphasizes such a move would be a last resort.
AG wins extension on halt of museum’s art sale
Those Rockwells aren’t going anywhere just yet. A justice on the state’s appeals court has extended an injunction on the planned auction of art from the Berkshire Museum collection until January 29, giving investigators from Attorney General Maura Healey’s office more time to look into the circumstances around the planned sale, Larry Parnass reports in the Berkshire Eagle.
Herald union rattles its wood sword over pension and severance pay matters
How much legal leverage it has, now that the Boston Herald has declared bankruptcy, is not clear. Still, a major union representing Herald employees is vowing to aggressively push a bankruptcy judge on pension, severance and vacation pay matters, reports the Globe’s Kathleen Conti and Jon Chesto.
After resigning over Troopergate, State Police brass to collect $300,000 in unused sick and vacation time
The average private-sector worker can only dream of such perks. From CBS Boston: “The retirement of two of the top state police leaders will end up costing taxpayers nearly $300,000 for unused vacation and sick time, WBZ-TV’s I-Team has learned. Col. Richard McKeon and Deputy Superintendent Francis Hughes retired abruptly last month after two troopers sued the State Police. … McKeon will get a check for $161,688.26, while Hughes will be paid $130,368.84, according to state records.”
Baker: Double active-duty pay for National Guard to $200 a day
Now these guys deserve the extra pay. From Shira Schoenberg at MassLive: “Gov. Charlie Baker filed legislation Wednesday that would increase the minimum pay for National Guard soldiers and airmen from $100 to $200 a day when they are on state active duty. That would give Massachusetts National Guard soldiers the highest pay in the nation, with a particular benefit to those of more junior rank.” SHNS’s Andy Metzger (pay wall) reports the proposal would cost the state an extra $250,000.
The Grinch who stole the Senate Christmas
The fallout from Stan Rosenberg’s temporary resignation as Senate president continues. From SHNS’s Katie Lannan at the Telegram: “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in the state Senate president’s office, but there will be no holiday party this year for senators and staff. Acting Senate President Harriette Chandler ‘made the determination that a holiday party would not be appropriate’ this year after speaking with other members of Senate leadership, Chandler spokesman Kevin Connor told the News Service.” But the office has indeed been decorated and the suite will be open for traditional holiday viewings this month.
‘Female Force: Elizabeth Warren #2’
The first Elizabeth Warren comic book, “Female Force: Elizabeth Warren,” published by TidalWave Comics, must have been a blockbuster, for TidalWave is now coming out with a sequel, “Female Force: Elizabeth Warren #2,” chronicling the early days of Warren’s 2012 U.S. Senate campaign and her rise to power, the AP reports at the Washington Post. Think Marvel might pick up the movie rights?
Shocking: Donors to Boston Tea Party Museum are actually protesting something
The Boston Tea Party Museum is asking Americans to send it loose tea leaves to toss into Boston’s waters this weekend as part of its annual re-enactment of the famous pre-Revolution protest – and 30 percent of donors say their contributions represent protests to today’s politics, reports the Associated Press at WBUR. Another shocking factoid: London’s East India Company, whose tea was the target of the original 1773 protest, has also donated tea for this weekend’s re-enactment.
Will legal precedent trip up millionaire’s tax?
We missed this column yesterday by the Globe’s Jeff Jacoby, who makes a convincing case that the “millionaire’s tax” ballot initiative doesn’t pass constitutional muster, particularly Article 48 of the state constitution, and that, if the Supreme Judicial Court sticks to legal precedent, probably won’t get on next year’s statewide ballot. Of course, the SJC’s members are the one who have to be convinced, not Jacoby’s Globe readers.
Tilting at windmills
GateHouse Media rolled out the results of a six-month investigation into the disruption that large-scale wind farms cause in communities across the country. Splashed across the front pages of most GateHouse papers across the state—though not yet the chain’s newest acquisition, the Boston Herald—the story argues that “wind developers representing some of the world’s biggest energy companies divide communities and disrupt the lives of residents forced to live in the shadow of their industrial wind farms.”
Documentary on Boston Marathon going global
A feature-length documentary on the history of the Boston Marathon, directed by Jon Dunham and narrated by Matt Damon, is being released in 96 countries, as well as being made available on Amazon, iTunes and Google Play, according to Lionsgate, as the AP reports at WGBH. The film “Boston” touches on the 2013 terrorist bombings, but the attack isn’t the main focus of the film. Here’s the “Boston” web site.
The Possible Project’s Winter Marketplace
A Conversation with Mayor Warren about the Opioid Epidemic
Author Talk and Book Signing with Michael Holley
Help Us Stop Propaganda Teaching at Newton High
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