Happening Today

Senate session, State Police graduation, GIC hearings

Rennie Center for Education Research and Policy releases its fifth annual ‘Condition of Education in the Commonwealth’ report at an event, with former U.S. Education Secretary John King giving a keynote address, Omni Parker House rooftop ballroom, 60 School St., Boston, 8:30 a.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker, Attorney General Maura Healey and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito are among those attending the State Police 83rd Recruit Training Troop graduation, DCU Center, Worcester, 9:30 a.m.

— Treasurer Deborah Goldberg chairs a meeting of the State Retirement Board, One Winter St. – 8th floor, Boston, 10 a.m.

— Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matt Beaton and Massachusetts Clean Energy Center CEO Stephen Pike attend MassCEC’s board of directors meeting, 63 Franklin Street, Boston, 10 a.m.

— The Senate will meet in a formal session to take up two bills – one that repeals unused statutes dealing with abortion and another on car dealerships’ vehicle inspection stations, Gardner Auditorium, 11 a.m.

Jewish Alliance for Law & Social Action gathers to thank the members of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation who voted this week ‘to protect DREAMers,’ State House Cafeteria, 4th Floor, 12 p.m.

— After taking a controversial vote to restructure health plan offerings, the Group Insurance Commission holds more hearings on the issue today, one at the Charles Hurley Building, Minihan Hall, 19 Staniford St., 6th floor, Boston, 11:30 a.m., and anotherat Umass Lowell, O’Leary Library, Room 222, 61 Wilder St., Lowell, 5 p.m.

— Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph Gants speaks to hundreds of attorneys at an annual lobby day, with Boston Bar Association President Mark Smith and Massachusetts Bar Association President Christopher Sullivan also expected to speak, Great Hall, 11:30 a.m.

— Sen. Sal DiDomenico and Rep. Michael Moran will meet with constituents at the Brazilian Worker Center to talk about wage theft, 14 Harvard Ave., Allston, 6 p.m.

— Auditor Suzanne Bump will be the guest speaker at the Triton Regional School Committee forum on regional school funding, Triton Regional High School, 112 Elm St., Byfield, 6:30 p.m.

Today’s Stories

It’s back: Baker renews push for Medicaid reforms

In his proposed $40.9 billion budget for next fiscal year, Gov. Charlie Baker is once again pushing for changes to the state’s Medicaid program, specifically by moving 140,000 low-income residents into private health-insurance plans, as a way to reduce the state’s ever-escalating health-care costs, according to reports at the Boston Globe, the Boston Herald and MassLive.

A governor may propose, but it’s lawmakers who dispose, and preliminary reactions to Baker’s budget indicate Dem leaders are no more in favor of the Medicaid changes than they were last year. And so … Shira Schoenberg at MassLive has a great what’s-in-it piece on the governor’s budget, besides the governor’s Medicaid proposal, from education funding to projected marijuana revenues to tax credits for the poor. SHNS’s Katie Lannan at WGBH also has a good summary piece. Meanwhile, the Globe’s Evan Horowitz looks at why, if the state’s economy is running on all cylinders these days, the state isn’t running a budget surplus and the state’s rainy day fund isn’t overflowing with cash.

Report: Kerry floats 2020 run in Palestinian meeting

This trial balloon had to float all the way across the pond before it got to us. Former Secretary of State, Dem presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. John Kerry raised the possibility of challenging President Trump in the 2020 election during a meeting in London with a representative of the Palestinian Authority, John Bowden of The Hill reports, citing an Israeli media report. The report says Kerry, who of course was on the losing side of the 2004 presidential election, is ‘seriously considering’ jumping into the wide-open Democratic fray next time around. 

The Hill

Enough is enough: Patrick says Dems need to ‘focus less on what’s wrong with Trump’

Speaking of potential presidential candidates: In a NYT interview, former Gov. Deval Patrick, a Democrat often mentioned as a potential presidential candidate, doesn’t sound impressed with Senate Democrats’ role in the recent federal government shutdown and he says Dems need to be more pragmatic moving forward. As for building a party strategy around non-stop Trump bashing, Patrick said: “These are fearful and divisive times. President Trump is masterful stoking that fear and division. Still, we need to focus less on what’s wrong with Trump and the Republicans and more with what’s right with us.”

Fyi: Patrick dodged questions by the NYT’s Frank Bruni about a possible 2020 presidential run. Patrick was interviewed along with Democratic strategist Joe Trippi.


To make clear: Mitt won’t be the face of the resistance if he runs for Senate

Don’t expect former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney to run for the Senate in Utah on an anti-Trump platform, former Romney advisers tell the Globe’s Matt Viser. The ex-aides say Mitt more likely will alternate between criticism and praise of the president, on a case-by-case basis, sort of in the style of John McCain of Arizona and Lindsay Graham of South Carolina.

Boston Globe

UMass-Boston’s $200M Bayside bonanza?

UMass Boston has set in motion the process that could result in the sale or long-term lease of the former Bayside Expo Center property in Dorchester, hiring a commercial broker and soliciting bids from developers, Tim Logan of the Globe reports. And it could mean a substantial windfall for the cash-strapped school: Some say the 20-acre waterfront parcel could fetch as much as $200 million—more than 10 times what the university paid for it in 2010. 

Boston Globe

Baker criticizes ‘very poor’ GIC rollout as DeLeo questions why there was a rollout in the first place

This makes two bad rollouts of late – the new state vehicle inspection program and now the GIC health-plan changes. One more and we have a trend. Anyway, Gov. Charlie Baker yesterday criticized the Group Insurance Commission’s handling of new health-care plan changes for public employees, saying the roll out has been “very poor,” though he wouldn’t say if the GIC should rescind the changes, according to reports by the Globe’s Priyana Dayal McCluskey and SHNS’s Matt Murphy (pay wall). Meanwhile, House Speaker Robert DeLeo and other lawmakers are none too happy.

Porn and pranks: More State Trooper shenanigans

Gov. Charlie Baker, Attorney General Maura Healey and other officials might want to make discreet inquiries about this when they attend today’s State Police training graduation ceremony. From the Herald’s Matt Stout and Bob McGovern: “Investigators are probing allegations a state trooper brought in files of porn, while others pulled a prank with a fake Taser at the Massachusetts State Police Academy in the latest scandal to hit the embattled police force.”

Boston Herald

GE’s latest woe: SEC investigating firm’s $6 billion insurance charge

Bloomberg’s Richard Clough really smacks GE hard over the head on this one: “General Electric Co. is under investigation by U.S. regulators after taking a larger-than-expected charge in its finance division, dealing a new black eye to a company once enshrined as an icon of American business.” 


Busy, busy, busy: A city council with actual ideas?

They said they wouldn’t be mere doormats for the mayor and yesterday they showed every sign that they mean it. From Universal Hub’s headlines on Boston’s new crop of councilors: “Boston councilor would tax property flippers and other housing speculators”“Time to start charging for Boston parking permits, some councilors say”“Council to consider making School Committee an elected board again”“Council wants to drive the future of driverless cars in Boston.”

If at first you don’t succeed: Lelling tries again to clarify feds’ policy on pot

U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling, in a sit-down with reporters, yesterday said that, yes, of course, his office will be focused on fighting the opioid epidemic in Massachusetts, as Gov. Charlie Baker has urged the feds to do. But Lelling also made clear, as he has in the past, that: A.) Pot is illegal under federal law and B.) His office will go after those who violate federal laws, though pot violations may or may not be a top priority. We’re glad he cleared that up. Gintautas Dumcius at MassLive and SHNS’s Andy Metzger at CommonWealth magazine have more. 

Warren and other Mass. lawmakers demand administration back off anti-pot stance

As U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling yesterday tried to clarify his office’s stance on fed pot-law enforcement in Massachusetts, a bipartisan Congressional group, led by U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Colorado Rep. Jared Polis, was demanding that President Trump call off his Justice Department’s crackdown on pot in states where weed is now legal, reports the Globe’s Dan Adams. U.S. Sen. Edward Markey and Reps. Jim McGovern, Seth Moulton, Niki Tsongas and Michael Capuano were among those signing the letter to the administration.

Boston Globe

Weed-growing operation could net Andover cool $100 million

To hell with the Trump administration. This is why not all communities are just saying no to recreational pot: The town of Andover could get $5 million in annual payments from a group proposing a 1.1 million-square-foot pot cultivation and testing facility, or $100 million over the 20-year life of the agreement being proposed, Zoe Matthews reports in the Eagle-Tribune. 

Eagle Tribune

Unions and out-of-state groups funding three ballot initiatives

So much for the “grassroots” claims. Raise Up Massachusetts—the group supporting a trio of ballot questions in November, including the millionaires tax and a $15 statewide minimum wage—raised nearly $700,000 in 2017, much of it from unions and out-of-state contributors, Christian Wade reports at the Newburyport Daily News. The group’s largest single donor was the Service Employees International, which gave more than $137,000. 

Newburyport Daily News

Taxman awaits: Local college endowment returns bounce back

College and university endowment-fund returns rebounded last year after a sluggish 2016, reports the BBJ’s Max Stendahl. Locally, Tufts, MIT, Brandeis, Babson, Berklee and BU saw solid returns of 12 percent or more in 2017. One surprise: Harvard’s endowment, though the largest in the nation, saw a sluggish 8 percent return. Remember: Moving forward, the feds will start taxing some of these returns, as part of the recently passed tax overhaul bill. So colleges should enjoy the splurge while they can.


Harvard offers state $50M toward new Allston-Brighton transit upgrades

Speaking of Harvard, it’s endowment returns may have disappointed last year, but it still has more than $35 billion stashed away – and it wants to use $50 million of it for a new multi-modal transit facility and $8 million for an interim Worcester Line rail stop, reports Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine.


Lawrence mayor: Feds focusing on ‘imaginary bad guys’ in sanctuary-city crackdown

As the Trump administration ramps up pressure on sanctuary cities across the country, Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera is accusing the feds of “bullying” and “focusing on imaginary bad guys” by cracking down on cities that seek to protect immigrants, reports Chris Cassidy at the Herald. “There’s no rhyme or reason for it,” he said. The Associated Press at the Globe has more.

Boston Herald

Beaton: Massive burning of oil during cold snap was an economic and environmental ‘disaster’

Energy and Environment Secretary Matthew Beaton confirmed yesterday that power-plant owners had to burn massive amounts of dirty and high-priced oil during the recent cold snap, due to lack of natural gas. “Economically, this is a disaster for us in New England,” he said at Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change hearing. “Equally as important, environmentally the emissions and the profiles of what occurred in this timeframe is nothing but a disaster.” SHNS’s Colin Young has more.

SHNS (pay wall)

Now a former utility executive is bashing CLF

Speaking of energy, they’re really going at it over at CommonWealth magazine. First a union boss went after the Conservation Law Foundation. Then a CLF official shot back. Now a former utility executive at Nstar (aka Eversource), Carl Gustin, is taking shots at CLF for taking shots at the union boss and criticizing a hydroelectric project co-backed by Eversource, saying CLF was “once respected” but no more. He even suggests the environment group may be a jilted lover. It’s all over transmission lines, btw.


Massport board member wants to sink seaplane idea before takeoff

From Dan Atkinson at the Herald: “Residents of East and South Boston — including a Massport board member — are pushing back at the idea of seaplanes flying into Boston Harbor, predicting more noise, pollution and dangerous crowding of an increasingly busy seaport area. ‘We’re dredging the harbor to increase maritime use, renovating docks at Conley Terminal to accommodate more and bigger cruise ships — I really can’t envision seaplanes with the kind of activity we’re hoping for,” Massport board member John Nucci of East Boston told the Herald.”

State launches salary-negotiation workshops for women

From Zeninjor Enwemeka at WBUR: “Massachusetts officials are hoping to help working women get their due. In what officials say is the first statewide salary negotiation training program in the U.S., the new initiative — dubbed ‘Just Ask!’ — aims to offer techniques to help women negotiate better pay.” Says Treasurer Deb Goldberg: “We are going to give them the skills and the tools they need in order to negotiate their salaries so they do not experience a wage gap.”


Thank God: Super Bowl security in place to protect Tom Brady’s jersey

Why did it take TMZ Sports to tell us this? “There will be no Jerseygate 2 at Super Bowl LII — with law enforcement putting together special plans to watch Tom Brady’s jersey LIKE A HAWK in the wake of last year’s theft, TMZ Sports has learned.” TMZ scoop of the century via MassLive.


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

Commonwealth Corporation

Film Screenings: “Big Sacrifices, Big Dreams” – BC High School

Pioneer Institute

Legal Considerations for Blockchain Innovations and ICOs

MIT Enterprise Forum

ADL Breaking Barriers Speaker Series With Judy Shepard

The Anti-Defamation League

Today’s Headlines


Boston councilor would tax property flippers and other housing speculators – Universal Hub

Harvard ups financial commitment for West Station – Boston Globe


Puerto Ricans in Mass. refuge dumped by FEMA – Boston Herald

Toys R Us looks to close six Mass. stores – Boston Magazine

If new Lowell High has a pool, city might have to pay for whole thing – Lowell Sun

Springfield court gears up for region’s first federal terror trial – MassLive

Letter asks Baker to put County representative on long-range transportation panel – Berkshire Eagle


Trump open to path to citizenship for some ‘dreamers’ – Washington Post

Democratic mayors pull out of White House visit – Politico

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