Cannabis Commission, college tuition rates, State of the Commonwealth Address
— Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Board of Higher Education hold a joint meeting to discuss early college efforts and educator preparation, Bridgewater State University, Rondileau Campus Center, 19 Park Ave., Bridgewater, 9 a.m.
— Our Climate, a youth-led organization, plans to fan out to legislative offices during a lobby day at the State House to push legislators to support carbon pricing, State House, 10 a.m.
— The Housing Committee holds a public hearing with an agenda that includes bills addressing so-called expiring use units, U.S. flag displays by condo owners, rent and security deposits, and notice of gas or electric utility shutoffs, Room B-2, 10 a.m.
— The Cannabis Control Commission is scheduled to meets to discuss the process by which the commission will look for permanent office space, consider the possibility of adding registration of lab agents to the CCC’s draft regulations and make appointments to a citizens advisory panel, Gaming Commission offices, 12th floor, 101 Federal St., Boston, 10:30 a.m.
— Treasurer Deborah Goldberg chairs a meeting of the State Lottery Commission, Crane Conference Room, One Ashburton Pl. – 12th floor, Boston, 10:30 a.m.
— The Revenue Committee holds a hearing on the impact of federal tax reform on Massachusetts, Gardner Auditorium, 11 a.m.
— Board of Higher Education meets with an agenda that includes approval of tuition rates for community colleges and state universities. Agenda, Bridgewater State University, Rondileau Campus Center, 19 Park Ave., Bridgewater, 11:15 a.m.
— Board of Elementary and Secondary Education meets to hear updates on students from Puerto Rico and on the ongoing commissioner search, Bridgewater State University, Rondileau Campus Center, 19 Park Ave., Bridgewater, 11:15 a.m.
— The Public Service Committee holds a public hearing on bills addressing sick leave benefits, Room A-2, 11:30 a.m.
— Attorney General Maura Healey is a guest on ‘Boston Public Radio,’ WGBH-FM 89.7, 12:30 p.m.
— The Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy meets to review bills dealing with protection of personal information, nuclear safety and solar net metering projects, Room B-1, 1 p.m.
— The Special Legislative Commission on Behavioral Health Promotion and Upstream Prevention convenes a public meeting featuring presentations from Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative, the Department of Public Health, the Department of Mental Health and MassHealth, 50 Milk Street, 8th Floor, Boston, 2 p.m.
— House Democrats plan a caucus at which they will likely discuss a planned vote on a $1.7 billion long-term housing bond bill, A-1 & A-2, 2 p.m.
— Gov. Charlie Baker gives his fourth State of the Commonwealth address, House Chamber, 7 p.m.
— U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch is a guest on ‘NightSide with Dan Rea,’ WBZ NewsRadio 1030, 8 p.m.
Democrats throw in towel, shutdown ends, Guy Fawkes discredited
From Liz Goodwin at the Globe: “Senate Democrats relented to heavy pressure and joined Republicans in ending a three-day federal shutdown Monday, winning little more than a promise from Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell to conduct an immigration debate in coming weeks. The retreat, after Republicans launched a weekend barrage accusing Democrats of putting the concerns of undocumented immigrants ahead of US troops and federal employees, ended the divisive episode as furloughs and agency closures began to take effect on the shutdown’s first business day.”
U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey voted against the compromise bill in the Senate, as WBUR reports, while U.S. Reps. Stephen Lynch and William Keating voted for it in the House late yesterday.
OK, enough with the tedious bill mechanics and votes. Who’s to blame? Who politically won and lost? The consensus, as reported by the Washington Post and the New York Times, is that Democrats caved to save their political skins – and progressives, who pushed Democrats to the shutdown brink, are now furious. Michael Cohen at the Globe argues that the shutdown was largely the fault of Republicans but “Democrats were never completely faultless.” The NYT’s Paul Krugman is also ripping into Republicans and President Trump, saying they can’t be trusted. But David Brooks at the NYT says the showdown was an unmitigated disaster for Democrats, who took the “Guy Fawkes option” and paid the price for thinking a shutdown would actually accomplish much.
One benefit of the shutdown: Medical-device tax suspended
At least some folks in Cambridge are happy with the shutdown results. From Don Seiffert: “The bill to reopen the federal government expected to be signed into law (last night) by President Trump also contains a big gift for hundreds of Massachusetts companies: another two-year delay of the medical device tax. The suspension of the tax means that the 2.3 percent tax on sales of medical devices, part of the Affordable Care Act, won’t take effect until 2020.”
Walsh eyes opioid suit against pharmaceutical giants
The opioid crisis won’t be solved by lawsuits, but pols obviously believe someone has to pay for it, literally. From Dan Atkinson at the Herald: “Mayor Martin J. Walsh is putting pharmaceutical companies “on notice” and is looking to join cities and towns across the country in a massive lawsuit that could recoup the costs of dealing with the opioid epidemic that has killed thousands across the Bay State.”
Baker expresses ‘concerns’ about Rosenberg probe, but Chandler stands by Senate inquiry
From Joshua Miller at the Globe: “Governor Charlie Baker has ‘concerns’ about the state Senate’s ethics investigation into the conduct of former Senate president Stanley C. Rosenberg, he said Monday. Baker said he is worried by reports that people who wish to tell their story are skittish about doing so because they fear their identities will be revealed. … ‘I was concerned by the story I read over the weekend that basically said that many people who would otherwise wish to be interviewed don’t want to come forward because they don’t believe that the investigation is going to protect their anonymity.’”
The weekend story he refers to is apparently by the Globe’s Yvonne Abraham, who confirmed a prior story by WGBH’s Mike Deehan, who reported how witnesses are reluctant to step forward in the case. But Acting Senate President Harriette Chandler is expressing confidence in the process, saying confidentiality is not an issue, reports SHNS’s Katie Lannan at CommonWealth magazine and Mike Deehan at WGBH. The Herald’s Joe Battenfeld says it’s time to stick a fork in the Senate investigation and just let law enforcement officials handle the matter.
Baker expected to hit familiar themes in address tonight
Speaking of the governor, Charlie Baker gives his State of the Commonwealth address tonight – and a lot of election-year crowing is expected, reports the Globe’s Joshua Miller. The Herald’s Matt Stout notes the governor will be pushing some transportation and climate-change initiatives as well engaging in election-year crowing. SHNS’s Matt Murphy (pay wall) reports the governor, as he has in the past, will be emphasizing his bi-partisan approach to government.
Keating draws primary challenger
U.S. Rep. William Keating, already facing a Republican foe in November, is now facing a challenge from within his own party, Geoff Spillane of the Cape Cod Times reports. Bill Cimbrello, who ran as an independent in the 2012 senate race, says he’ll try to unseat Keating in the state’s 9th congressional district and will run on a progressive platform that includes calling for single-payer health care and tuition-free public universities.
Music to Worcester’s ears: R.I. Speaker says PawSox deal ‘dead’
The speaker of Rhode Island’s House of Representatives says a plan to finance a new stadium for the Pawtucket Red Sox is ‘dead’ on arrival in his chamber, clearing the way for a possible team move to Worcester, Noah Bombard reports at MassLive. In a radio interview, Speaker Nichols Mattiello seemed to leave little wiggle room for further negotiations on what is now a package of $38 million in public funds for the $83 million project.
Ghost shifts: State Police investigating troopers who got paid for details they didn’t work
It’s not quite ‘ghost jobs.’ More like ‘ghost shifts.’ From Kim Ring at the Telegram: “Massachusetts state troopers who patrol the Massachusetts Turnpike were paid for shifts they did not work, state police said Monday. An ongoing internal audit uncovered discrepancies in payroll and sparked a new investigation that will include the attorney general’s office, a news release from state police indicated. The scandal is the latest to hit the state police after some of the top brass resigned late last year following a scandal involving a judge’s daughter.”
No joke: SNL pokes fun at Boston’s Amazon HQ2 bid
We were steeling ourselves for more anti-Boston hate tied, ultimately, to our victorious and noble New England Patriots. But Saturday Night Live over the weekend also took light-hearted shots at Atlanta, Newark and Miami, in addition to Boston, in a skit about Amazon HQ2 pitches. So our Pats paranoia was misplaced. Fyi: The skit wasn’t funny at all. A complete SNL dud. The BBJ has the video proof.
Again? MBTA revisiting late-night service
We’ve lost track of how many times some sort of late-night service has been tried at the T. Anyway, from Mike Deehan at WGBH: “The MBTA plans to start offering late-night bus service in July. An official request for vendors to make offers to run the service is on file with the state. The document says the MBTA is looking for a company to provide service along a fixed bus route from Mattapan Square, through downtown Boston, East Boston and Revere.”
The Herald’s Matt Stout and Marie Szaniszlo and WBUR’s Lisa Creamer have more on the revived late-night bus service.
Councilors think mayor’s proposed Airbnb regulations don’t not far enough
From Jack Sullivan at CommonWealth magazine: “Some Boston city councilors said Mayor Marty Walsh’s proposed ordinance to rein in the burgeoning short-term rental industry is a good start but still lets investors buy up too much affordable housing stock and displace thousands of families in a tight market. City Councilor Michelle Wu on Monday called the Walsh proposal to regulate the so-called home-sharing industry a starting point but said she will seek to eliminate the investor-level tier.”
Union boss: CLF has a serious hypocrisy and transparency problem when it comes to transmission lines
Brian Murphy, business manager for IBEW Local 104, takes the gloves off over the Conservation Law Foundation’s opposition to the proposed Northern Pass transmission-line project, saying the environmental group is not telling the public about its promotion of another “nearly identical” hydroelectric project and is “contractually obligated to stay silent about the TDI project and not get involved in anything that might be considered counter to the TDI project.” We assume CLF will be responding shortly to this broadside.
Meanwhile, the Globe’s David Abel takes a look at the objections by the indigenous people of Quebec to Massachusetts and others buying surplus hydroelectric power from the region. Which is a legitimate concern in an historical context. But in a more pragmatic context: Has anyone ever talked to the non-indigenous people of Quebec? They love their hydropower. It’s clean, plentiful and cheap – and there’s NO WAY those existing damns are ever going to be torn down.
Local installers say Trump solar tariffs bad for industry
Speaking of energy, it looks like more shade for the state’s solar industry. Craig Lemoult at WGBH reports that tariffs President Trump has slapped on foreign-made solar panels will drive up costs and could slow growth in the industry. The move was cheered by companies that work with domestic-made panels but blasted by U.S. Sen. Ed Markey as a give-away to the fossil fuel industry.
Why the double standard for Elizabeth Warren?
The Globe’s Joan Vennochi is furious that Trump gets away with the most outlandish things on a daily basis – while U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is still haunted by her Native-American ancestry claims dating back years ago. She has a point. But here’s another point: Whoever said politics are rational and fair? George Bush never fought in Vietnam. John Kerry did. So who got the grief for fighting in Vietnam? John Kerry.
GIC taking heavy flak over health-plan changes
The Globe’s Priyanka Dayal McCluskey has an update on a very unpopular decision by the state’s Group Insurance Commission: “Labor unions that represent Massachusetts public employees are fuming over a stunning decision by a state commission to limit their health plan options and are lashing out against the move, which affects hundreds of thousands of people and shakes up the local insurance industry. Under the changes, which take effect in July, commercial plans from the popular insurers Tufts Health Plan, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, and Fallon Health no longer will be available.”
Opioid crisis side effect: A river of needles … and calls for a cleanup
They’ve had it. From Meghan Ottolini at the Herald: “Fifteen cities and towns along the Merrimack River are calling in professionals to help clean up a plague of hypodermic needles washing up on the waterway’s banks, beaches and boat ramps. ‘We have a major epidemic going on with this crisis,’ said Newburyport Mayor Donna Holaday. ‘If people are throwing needles into the river, we need to find a way to stop them from washing up on our beaches.”
For real: RMV to start issuing ‘REAL IDs’
From SHNS’s Andy Metzger: “The state Registry of Motor Vehicles will begin issuing drivers’ licenses and state IDs that comply with a 2005 federal security law on Monday, March 26, Registrar Erin Deveney said Monday. That gives Bay Staters about two and a half years to obtain licenses that comply with the REAL ID Act before those types of documents become a requirement for domestic air travel.”
Weld takes shots at public unions, calls millionaire’s tax unconstitutional
In a Herald op-ed, former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld is warning that “public employee unions are back” and taking “another swing at a graduated income tax” via the proposed millionaire’s tax, which he says is “clearly unconstitutional.”
Warning: ‘Secret shopper’ may be lurking in future pot stores
From Gintautas Dumcius at MassLive: “A ‘secret shopper’ could pose as a customer and purchase marijuana products from retail pot shops to make sure the products are safe and being sold to adults over the age of 21, under rules that state regulators are considering. The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission has proposed regulations that include a ‘secret shopper program,’ which would allow the person who is not the right age to go in and attempt to purchase marijuana. The products could also be tested for accurate potency.”
Property taxes in many towns and cities are falling this year
The BBJ has a slideshow of cities and towns with the highest 2018 property taxes in Massachusetts. It also has a search-by-town feature. But what caught our attention is how the median commercial rate has fallen by 5 cents and the property rate by 50 cents across the state this year, a function, we assume, of rising property valuations in general. The BBJ’s Don Seiffert has more.
House advances $1.7B housing bill
From SHNS’s Colin Young: “The Massachusetts House cleared the way Monday morning for the $1.7 billion housing bonding bill that’s slated to be brought to the floor Wednesday, giving it initial approval after moving it without objection from the Ways and Means Committee. … Along with other authorizations for affordable housing, the bill includes $600 million for the modernization of public housing, $400 million for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, and $45 million for the development of facilities for early education and out-of-school programs.”
Quincy councilors eye gender identify protections
Some members of the Quincy City Council want to ban discrimination based on gender identity, a move that would afford local residents a chance to have their complaints about discrimination in housing, employment or education heard by the city’s Human Rights Commission, Sean Phillip Cotter reports in the Patriot Ledger.
Film Screenings: “Big Sacrifices, Big Dreams” – Fontbonne Academy
Economic Update: Critical Questions for 2018 – “It’s not the answer that enlightens, but the question.”
North Shore Technology Council
New Realities for Philanthropists in the Trump Era
Facilitators: Alyssa Wright & Sarah DeLuca
Condition of Education in the Commonwealth
The Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy
The Annual Massachusetts State of Solar
The Climate Action Business Association
Facing the Future of Care: Innovations in recruitment and retention of home care workers
After years of promises, Boston vocational school still struggles – WGBH
Walsh eyes city housing restrictions – Boston Herald
Tribes in Quebec hold breath over Mass. decision – Boston Globe
Springfield city council punts decision on recreational marijuana – MassLive
Salem councilors back tax on short-term rentals – Salem News
Koh moves into Andover campaign HQ – Eagle-Tribune
Vermont governor signs marijuana legalization bill – The Hill
Alleged payment to porn star was illegal donation to Trump campaign, watchdog says – Politico
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