Happening Today

New Medicaid program, Gaming Commission, Senate session

— A long-planned major restructuring of the MassHealth program takes effect today, when 17 accountable care organizations will become financially accountable for the cost and coverage of 850,000 people enrolled in the state Medicaid program.

— Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Attorney General Maura Healey, Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders, Department of Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel and others hold a press conference launching the 11th Annual Massachusetts White Ribbon Day Campaign, Nurses’ Hall, 10 a.m.

— Auditor Suzanne Bump attends the National State Auditors Association’s emerging issues meeting, Dallas, Texas, 9:30 a.m.

Gaming Commission meets with an agenda that includes MGM Springfield opening update, sports betting white paper, Plainridge Park Casino quarterly report, and two-year public safety impact report, 101 Federal Street, 12th floor, Boston, 10 a.m.

Senate meets in formal session to consider bills addressing personal information security, promotion of Massachusetts-made products, University of Massachusetts building insurance, and the closure of State Police barracks, Gardner Auditorium, 11 a.m.

— Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Secretary of Education Jim Peyser and officials from the Department of Education participate in a statewide conference of the Trustees of Massachusetts Public Higher Education, DoubleTree Hotel, 5400 Computer Drive, Westborough, 2 p.m.

— Newton Democratic City Committee hosts lieutenant governor candidates Quentin Palfrey and Jimmy Tingle and secretary of state candidate Josh Zakim, all three of whom will address voters, Women’s Workshop, 72 Columbus St., Newton Highlands, 7 p.m.

For more calendar listings, check out State House News Service’s Daily Advances (pay wall) and MassterList’s Beacon Hill Town Square below.

Today’s Stories

West Station back on track? Thank Matt Beaton

There seems to a tussle within the Baker administration, between the Department of Transportation and Energy and Environmental Affairs secretary Matt Beaton, over when to open the proposed West Station in Allston – and Beaton’s speed-it-up preference seems to be winning. The Globe’s Jon Chesto has more.

Boston Globe

Political climate change: Joe Kennedy draws a primary challenger

Even a Kennedy? In an election cycle in which the security of incumbency seems like a foreign idea, U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III is the latest Dem to draw a progressive primary challenger, Jim Hand reports in the Sun Chronicle. Gary Rucinski, a software project manager from Newton, says he is running in the Democratic primary because Kennedy hasn’t done enough to fight climate change.

Sun Chronicle

Commission: Convicted drug traffickers would be barred from legal trafficking in pot

This is an odd twist in the decades-long war on drugs. From SHNS’s Colin Young at WCVB: “People with a prior conviction for trafficking in drugs other than marijuana will be barred from working in jobs that include access to the plant in the newly-legal marijuana industry, a decision made after about an hour of tense between state pot regulators. The Cannabis Control Commission split 3-2 on Wednesday afternoon over whether to automatically disqualify people with trafficking convictions from working with marijuana.”


Failing grade: Student-loan debts rising for those attending public colleges

If accurate, this is a damning report: Student-loan debt for graduates of the state’s public colleges and universities has risen faster than in any other state in the country except Delaware and graduates’ average borrowing is just 7 percent less than the debt held by those graduating from private colleges in Massachusetts, according to a new study from the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, reports the Globe’s Deirdre Fernandes. Meanwhile, Don Seiffert at the Boston Business Journal notes the higher debt load could become a drag on the state’s economy.  Three things jump to our mind on all of this: Lack of state funding, administrative bloat, and excessive empire building.

Boston Globe

Bourne selectman charged with slamming woman’s head against a floor, threatening to kill her

A first-term Bourne selectman who had plans to run for re-election this year is instead being held without bail after pleading not guilty to assaulting a woman after allegedly slamming her head against a floor and threatening her with a baseball bat, reports Ethan Genter at the Cape Cod Times. Michael Blanton, 49, was charged with assault and battery on a household/family member, assault with a dangerous weapon, intimidation of a witness, threatening to commit a crime, and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, Genter writes.

Cape Cod Times

Healey eyes yanking Wynn casino license – and its name

From Jordan Graham at the Herald: “Attorney General Maura Healey is questioning whether Wynn Resorts should be allowed to keep its Boston-area casino license in the wake of new rape and sexual harassment allegations against gaming mogul Steve Wynn. At a minimum, Healey and Gov. Charlie Baker said yesterday, state gaming officials should demand the $2.4 billion casino now under construction in Everett not use the Wynn name. The gambling palace — set to open its doors in June 2019 — is called Wynn Boston Harbor.”

Boston Herald

Meanwhile, Yawkey Way gives way to Jersey Street

The Red Sox have made it official, filing with the city a request to change the name of Yawkey Way to its former name, Jersey Street, fulfilling team owner John Henry’s vow to distance the Sox from past owner Tom Yawkey’s alleged racial ways. We say “alleged” because the folks at the nonprofit Yawkey Foundation are furious about the renaming and deny the late owner was a racist, reports Jessica Heslam at the Herald. There’s no “alleged” from the Globe’s Adrian Walker, who says it’s about time a Boston institution distanced itself from Yawkey.

Baker and Dick’s Sporting Goods take on assault weapons, perhaps a little late

Gov. Charlie Baker appeared to modify his stance on assault weapons, compared to what he was saying a few years ago, and is now calling on Congress to follow the Bay State’s lead in banning military-like weapons, reports SHNS’s Andy Metzger at the Herald News. As Metzger – and Dem gubernatorial candidate Setti Warren – note, Baker wasn’t all that supportive of assault weapon bans in 2014. Baker now says he’s seen enough data to convince him the state’s ban is working. 

Meanwhile, Dick’s Sporting Goods announced yesterday that it’s ending sales of all assault-style rifles in its stores, as the NYT reports, and local gun-rights advocates, including the head of the Massachusetts affiliate of the National Rifle Association, are furious at the giant sports retailer, reports the Globe’s Brian MacQuarrie.

Meanwhile, students stage walk-outs in support of gun control

In the wake of last month’s mass school shooting in Florida, students across the state are increasingly holding school walk-outs in support of new gun-control measures. Deborah Allard at Wicked Local covers a walk-out in Somerset, Katie Bowler at Wicked Local reports on action taken by students in Somerville, Luke Vrotsos at the Harvard Crimson covers a protest by Harvard Medical School students in the Longwood area, and the Berkshire Eagle has coverage of a student protest in Pittsfield.

Bucking the trend: Oxford police chief supports arming school teachers

Oxford Police Chief Anthony Saad said he favors arming teachers in schools, if they’re well trained, to prevent mass shootings like the one earlier this month in Florida. “All these events, the majority of the times, when the police are responding, we’re just cleaning up the mess,” he said at a town meeting earlier this week. “To have some force in the school to prevent it, should it happen, I think is paramount.” Two selectmen at the same meeting couldn’t have disagreed more. Craig Semon at the Worcester Telegram has more.


Rep. Miceli collapses at Dem caucus, rushed to hospital

From SHNS at the Lowell Sun: “Wilmington state Rep. James Miceli collapsed and was transported by ambulance to a hospital from the Omni Parker House on Wednesday morning where House Democrats were attending a political caucus, according to two House lawmakers. Miceli, 82, has represented Wilmington and Tewksbury on since 1977. House Democrats were gathering just off Beacon Hill Wednesday morning for a political strategy meeting when Miceli collapsed in a doorway, according to Rep. Alan Silvia, who was present at the caucus.” Miceli is reportedly stable and now with relatives.

Lowell Sun

Chandler reshuffles the Senate leadership deck, promoting Creem, DiDomenico and others

Here’s Senate President Harriette Chandler’s new leadership team, ratified yesterday by senators, via SHNS’s Matt Murphy and Michael Norton at the Salem News: Sen. Cynthia Creem, promoted to majority leader; Sen. Sal DiDomenico, one of several senators interested in becoming president in 2019, elevated to assistant majority leader; Sen. Joan Lovely, bumped up to vice chair of Senate Ways and Means; Sen. Jason Lewis, promoted to assistant whip. Who’s missing from this list? Former Senate president Stan Rosenberg. No big surprise there.

Salem News

Boston police reject surging number of ICE detention requests

This local-fed immigration showdown is going to come to a head sooner or later. From Dan Atkinson at the Herald: “Federal officials asked Boston police to detain 68 suspected illegal immigrants last year, a 353 percent increase over 2016 that has an advocacy group seething — but the feds are blasting the city for not honoring any of the detainment requests and letting numerous ‘criminal aliens out on bail.”

Meanwhile, Rick Sobey at the Lowell Sun reports that Rep. Dave Nangle, a Democrat, plans to file an amendment to a controversial immigration bill that would allow law enforcement officials to hold individuals on ICE detainers for more than six hours.

Boston Herald

Medicaid changes coming today – with more than a little confusion expected

It’s ACO Day in Massachusetts. From Priyanka Dayal McCluskey: “More than 800,000 Massachusetts Medicaid recipients enter a new era Thursday with the rollout of sweeping changes that are designed to improve care and save money — but that could cause initial confusion and disruption. State officials are trying to more tightly control where patients on the Medicaid program, called MassHealth, receive their care. They have assigned patients to one of several different accountable care organizations — or networks of doctors and hospitals that will work to manage patients’ care.”

Boston Globe

Just in: Robert Kraft is not the father of Ricki Noel Lander’s baby

Hold the cyber newsletter presses. From the Globe’s Mark Shanahan: “Patriots owner Robert Kraft is not the father of his on-again, off-again girlfriend’s baby, who was born in the fall of 2017, a spokesperson for the team said early Thursday morning. Speculation that the 76-year-old team owner could be the father began after a New York Post story revealed on Wednesday that Ricki Noel Lander gave birth to a baby at some point in 2017.” OK, now back to all things political …

Boston Globe

Eversource refuses to give up, asks N.H. to reconsider its Northern Pass rejection

Even though Eversource is throwing lots of money at the problem, this is probably going nowhere. From Michael Cousineau at the Manchester Union Leader: “In a bid to revive the $1.6 billion Northern Pass power project, Eversource pledged Wednesday to spend $75 million addressing issues raised by state officials who rejected it Feb. 1. The utility also offered up to $300 million in energy cost saving benefits for low income families and businesses. ‘We’re trying to present a constructive solution’ to issues identified by the Site Evaluation Committee, Eversource President Bill Quinlan told reporters.”  

Eversource has until the end of the month to secure a deal – or it’s the Baker administration’s backup Maine-hydro plan. CommonWealth magazine’s Bruce Mohl has more.

Union Leader

Harvard names civil rights icon John Lewis as its commencement speaker

U.S. Representative and civil rights leader John R. Lewis has been named Harvard University’s commencement speaker at this spring’s graduation ceremonies, reports Lucy Wang at the Harvard Crimson. Lewis, 78, a Democrat who has represented his Georgia district for more than 30 years, is an icon of the civil rights movement, among other things helping to organize the famous March on Washington in 1963 and the march across Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala. in 1965. Fyi: Lewis was also the commencement speaker this past May at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams.

Harvard Crimson

Harbinger of things to come? Dems keep winning legislative races

Democrats earlier this week flipped two more legislative seats in New Hampshire and Connecticut, continuing Dems’ national roll of winning legislative races across the country and suggesting it may be a harbinger of things to come during this year’s mid-term elections, reports the Globe’s James Pindell. 

Boston Globe

Comcast, you’ve been warned: Quincy explores creation of its own Internet network

Fed up with a lack of Internet-provider competition in Quincy, a city councilor has proposed looking at creating a municipal Internet network – and the mayor thinks it’s a “great idea,” a mayoral spokesman says, reports Sean Phillip Cotter at Wicked Local. “Right now there’s only one option. That’s it,” Councilor Ian Cain said of Comcast Xfinity, now the sole provider of cable and Internet service in Quincy.

Patriot Ledger

Upgrades boost performance on Framingham-Worcester commuter rail

Call it money well-spent. The CEO of Keolis says upgrades made to the Framingham-Worcester commuter rail line have dramatically improved on-time performance for a line that had been among the worst-performing in the MBTA system, Jeff Malachowski reports in the MetroWest Daily News. 

Worcester Daily News

Judge: City Hall extortion trial will go forward

U.S. District Judge Leo T. Sorokin A judge yesterday denied a motion to dismiss the fed case against two City Hall officials accused of pressuring music festival organizers to hire union workers, saying a trial must go forward, reports Maria Cramer at the Globe and Marie Szaniszlo at the Herald. The defendants had hoped the judge would toss the case based on a recent court ruling that appeared to make it harder to prosecute union-related extortion cases, as Cramer notes.

Providence horning in on Boston’s gritty-movie franchise

Filming begins later this month in Rhode Island on ‘The Vault,’ a film about small-time criminals who robbed a fur storage vault in Providence that was actually the private “bank” of the New England mob boss Raymond Patriarca, reports Ray Kelly at MassLive. The story says Patriarca was from Boston, but he really ruled from Providence, though he was indeed born in Worcester and his crime family had a sort of Boston affiliate office, so to speak.


Leaders in the Law

Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, Rhode Island Lawyers Weekly and New England In-House

Mass. Marijuana Summit II: New regs, federal threat, financial hurdles

A dynamic and controversial industry is only months from launching in Massachusetts. The regulations are complex and the barriers to entry formidable. How can we make sense of the arrival of recreational marijuana, an industry that may soon exceed $1 billion annually?

State House News Forum

The European Conference 2018

European Clubs of the Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard Business School, Harvard Graduate School of Design, and the European Affairs Society at The Fletcher School

Alliance for Vocational and Technical Education White Paper Release

Alliance for Vocational and Technical Education

2018 MIT Latin American Conference

MIT Sloan Latin American Business Club

Nahant Reads Together: Caleb’s Crossing, a town-wide read of one book to encourage dialog about current issues

Town of Nahant

Today’s Headlines


Boston city councilors back next month’s student protest against guns – Universal Hub

Extortion case will go on, despite recent rulings some say undercut the case – Boston Globe


Mass. Senate leadership changes leave WMass out – MassLive

Can Lynn build its own Faneuil Hall? This new marketplace is going to try – Lynn Item

Framingham to focus on transit projects downtown – MetroWest Daily News

Mayor eyes increased funding for school safety – Gloucester Times

In school vote, majority of Lenox students favor keeping ‘millionaire’ mascot name – Berkshire Eagle


Kushner’s businesses got loans after White House meetings – New York Times

Surreal’ Trump meeting on guns left Republicans reeling, Democrats optimistic – CNN

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