Happening Today

Cannabis retail applications, Sagamore repairs, SJC hearings, MBTA Control Board

— Starting today, the Cannabis Control Commission starts accepting some “priority review” applications for pot retail and cultivation establishments.

— Travel over the Sagamore Bridge will be reduced from two lanes to one lane in each direction as crews begin to replace damaged roadway joints on the bridge that spans the Cape Cod Canal.

— The Supreme Judicial Court will hear six cases, John Adams Courthouse, Courtroom One, Second Floor, Pemberton Square, Boston, 9 a.m.

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— About 700 social workers are expected at the Massachusetts chapter of the National Association of Social Workers annual Legislative Education and Advocacy Day, where Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders, First Lady Lauren Baker and Sen. Sal DiDomenico speak, Emmanuel Church of Boston, 15 Newbury St., Boston, 9:30 a.m.

— The Boston Foundation hosts an event to follow up on the release of the national Race to Lead report on diversity, equity and inclusion in nonprofits last year, 75 Arlington St., Boston, 10 a.m.

MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board will hear about bus dropped trips, and take possible action on construction at Wellington Yard and on the appointment of Trustees for the MBTA Deferred Compensation and Savings Plan, State Transportation Building, 2nd Floor, Transportation Board Room, 10 Park Plaza, Boston, 12 p.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Senate President Harriette Chandler and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, meet for a semi-regular leadership huddle, House Speaker’s Office, 2 p.m.

— The Senate task force studying ways to strengthen the local retail sector holds a State House meeting to discuss ‘potential findings, recommendations and next action steps,’ Room 428, 2 p.m.

— Amendments are due by Monday at 3 p.m. to a Senate Ways and Means Committee bill regulating and taxing short-term rentals, with the bill is scheduled for floor debate Wednesday, 3 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

A Vermont-Massachusetts regional school district? It could happen

Voters in the town of Clarksburg—population, 1,700—will weigh in this week on whether to pursue a proposal to merge its elementary school with those in Stamford, Vermont, an arrangement so unique it would require approval of both state’s legislatures as well as Congress, Adam Shanks reports in the Berkshire Eagle. Massachusetts has already set aside funds to study the idea, with the late state Rep. Gailanne Cariddi securing the money before her death last year. If approved, students from both sides of the border would follow Massachusetts’ stricter educational standards. 

Berkshire Eagle

State aid increase seen as more modest than modest, fueling lawsuit threats by struggling districts

Speaking of schools, the headline number in Gov. Charlie Baker’s proposed budget looks good for the state’s school districts, with a 2 percent overall increase, but a review by the Globe’s James Vaznis finds that most districts would see a bump of less than 1 percent and some struggling districts will hardly see any increase at all. The lack of a significant increase may further fuel efforts by urban districts such as Brockton to launch a new lawsuit challenging the way the state divvies up state aid. 

Btw: Expect to see more of these stories this spring: As local election season kicks off, voters in Dudley and Charlton will be asked to approve Proposition 2 1/2 overrides to fund their shared regional school system, Debbie LaPlaca reports in the Telegram. 

Baker: Rosenberg should resign if he knew about husband’s assaults

From Dan Atkinson at the Herald: “Gov. Charlie Baker is not yet calling for state Sen. Stanley C. Rosenberg to step down following his estranged husband’s indictment on a raft of sexual assault charges, but said the former Senate president needs to quit if anything ‘implies or suggests’ he knew about the alleged attacks — as does anyone else on Beacon Hill.” 

‘The toothless Senate and House ethics committees’

The Herald’s Joe Battenfeld and Hillary Chabot are asking, among other things, where the “toothless Senate and House ethics committees” have been, now that the State House has been consumed by various sexual-harassment and other controversies.

In editorials, both the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald are basically wondering the same things, as they apply to what people did and didn’t know at the State House about Bryon Hefner’s alleged criminal antics. The Globe goes further by criticizing the entire Democratic-dominated power structure on Beacon Hill.

Senate chaos? Oh, just a little

Focusing specifically on the Senate: As the Globe’s Matt Stout points out, when you have a top leader step aside, his husband indicted, a sitting senator charged for drunk driving, a former senator facing time in a fed slammer, senators bailing left and right from the chamber, yeah, you’re talking turmoil. And more could be on the way.

The Globe’s Adrian Walker says the state Senate is “an institution on the edge.”

Boston Globe

Chandler: Sen. Brady could face consequences after DUI case

Still more on the Senate, from SHNS’s Andy Metzger at the Salem News: “Facing potential criminal repercussions for allegedly driving drunk, Sen. Mike Brady could also eventually face consequences in the legislative chamber he joined three years ago. Senators should discuss possible action, according to Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, and Senate President Harriette Chandler said this week a decision over whether to take action in the Senate would follow adjudication of Brady’s case in the courts.”

Salem News

State Police probe widens amid new disclosures of huge overtime payouts

Gov. Charlie Baker has his own controversies these days. Gintautas Dumcius at MassLive reports that more State Police troopers are under investigation for phantom overtime shifts. Meanwhile, WBUR’s Ally Jarmanning and the Herald’s Joe Dwinell look at the eye-popping pay some troopers have hauled in by working at Logan Airport and elsewhere. We’re talking millions of dollars, folks.

Baker says a ‘series of reforms’ are on the way, reports Gintautas, in a separate piece at MassLive.

MassLive

Boncore’s secret weapon if he runs for Suffolk DA? Winthrop

Sen. Joe Boncore did it a few years ago when he ran for the Senate and he could do it again this year: Running for office in a crowded field – and winning it all because he won in his hometown of Winthrop. Michael Jonas at CommonWealth magazine takes a look at what might happen if Boncore indeed runs for Suffolk Couny DA.

CommonWealth

Warren, Moulton and Kennedy may get the attention, but McGovern and Neal may acquire real power

The Globe’s Liz Goodwin has a good story this morning on how U.S. Reps. Richard Neal and Jim McGovern are positioned to assume real power in the House if Democrats regain control of the chamber this fall. And it’s power that’s been largely amassed out of the limelight.

Boston Globe

Compromise criminal-justice bill could land on Baker’s desk by end of the week

They’re moving fast on this one, putting pressure on Gov. Charlie Baker in the process. From the AP at NBC Boston: “A compromise bill that calls for sweeping changes in the state’s criminal justice system could be on Republican Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk before the end of the week. A House-Senate conference committee announced an agreement on the legislation March 23 after several months of negotiations. The Senate has scheduled an up-or-down vote on the measure Wednesday, followed by the House on Thursday.”

NBC Boston

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, buses are making a transit comeback

Transit agency engineers and beancounters love ‘em. Riders not so much. The Globe’s Adam Vaccaro reports on how the MBTA is expanding some bus services in the Boston area, in a sort of one-way bus-love fest that isn’t always shared by those using and paying for them.

Boston Globe

T pushes back deadline for collision-prevention system

Sometimes, the deadlines move faster than the trains. The MBTA now says it will have a federally mandated collision-prevention system in place and operational on its commuter rail lines by 2020, two years later than the current deadline and five years after the first target date set by Congress, Christian Wade reports in the Gloucester Times. The T has installed the hardware for the system on some of its lines and may start weekend service shutdowns to begin testing in coming months. 

Gloucester Times

Was your Lamborghini damaged by a pot hole?

Still on the subject of transportation: The Globe’s Laura Crimaldi takes a look at the money the city of Boston is shelling out to motorists whose cars are damaged by street potholes, including an owner of a Lamborghini Murciélago. Charlestown seems to be the ground zero of pothole claims.

Industry executive bemoans Healey’s ‘one-sided’ report on electricity suppliers

From SHNS’s Colin Young at the BBJ: “An executive of the largest residential competitive electricity supplier in North America blasted Attorney General Maura Healey’s call to end that industry, charging that Healey has based her position on a ‘profoundly misguided premise’ and is pursuing ‘a serious mistake.’”

BBJ

State regulators start accepting some applications for pot licenses

A bureaucratic milestone will be reached today: The Cannabis Control Commission starts accepting “priority” applications for state licenses to grow, process and sell pot, according to reports at MassLive and the Boston Globe and Boston Herald. The application process applies to medical marijuana dispensaries and “economic empowerment” applicants — or those often from inner-city/minority areas. We get the latter. But not so much the former. Why should marijuana dispensaries get an advantage? 

Flights from Boston to Cuba set to take off

The BBJ’s David Harris reports that the U.S Department of Transportation has given preliminary approval to JetBlue Airways to operate direct flights from Boston’s Logan Airport to Cuba, a route that JetBlue has been pushing since 2016.

BBJ

Massachusetts seeks permission to curb Medicaid drug spending

This is what happens when Medicaid drug spending doubles to $2.2 billion in just five years. From the NYT’s Robert Pear: “Massachusetts, which led the nation in expanding health insurance coverage, now wants to rein in the growth of prescription drug spending for low-income people on Medicaid, but its proposals have met an icy reaction from patients and drug companies. The state has asked the Trump administration for permission to limit the number of drugs that will be covered in its Medicaid program, seeking to exclude ‘drugs with limited or inadequate evidence of clinical efficacy.’”

NYT

Liberty Mutual becomes the third Mass. firm to pull ads from Laura Ingraham show

Under pressure from online activists furious about talk-show host Laura Ingraham’s Twitter swipe at a student survivor of the recent Florida school shooting, Boston’s Liberty Mutual late last week became the third Bay State firm (after Wayfair and TripAdvisor) to announce it would stop buying ads on Ingraham’s Fox News program, reports Kelly O’Brien at the BBJ. 

BBJ

Gov. pitches $110 million opioid-addiction package

From Dan Atkinson at the Herald: “Gov. Charlie Baker pushed for action on his $110 million opioid addiction package (Friday), calling on the Legislature to act on the proposal before the end of its current term in July. Speaking at the Gavin Foundation’s Devine Recovery Center in Boston, Baker said the CARE Act was necessary to build on previous legislation in 2016, even though the state saw opioid deaths decline by 10 percent in 2017 — bucking the national trend.”

Boston Herald

Warren calls Trump’s Asian policies ‘chaotic’

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, visiting Asia last week, says Trump administration vacancies in the foreign service and other missteps are harming its ability to formulate coherent policy toward North Korea’s nuclear program and other important issues in Asia, the AP reports at CNBC. “This has been a chaotic foreign policy in the region,” Warren said.

CNBC

Baker signs health-care privacy legislation

From Shira Schoenberg at MassLIve: “Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker on Friday signed a bill providing people with more privacy from their health insurance companies.The new law, the so-called PATCH Act, seeks to ensure that patients have the ability to request that a summary of payment form for their health insurance be sent directly to them, not to the policyholder of their insurance.”

MassLive

U.S. commerce secretary buys $3.2 million home in Berkshires

Western Massachusetts residents will apparently be seeing more of at least one Trump cabinet member. U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, a wealthy investor and industrialist, has purchased a pair of properties in Great Barrington for $3.2 million, reports Terry Cowgill at the Berkshire Eagle. The estate, built in 1780, includes a greenhouse and in-ground pool in a rural area known as a haven for the rich and famous.

Berkshire Eagle

Plunge into Politics

AmeriCorps Alums Boston

Politics and Pandemics: Exploring Global Health

United Nations Association of Greater Boston

Author Talk and Book Signing with Amber Moulton

State Library of Massachusetts

Immigrants’ Day at the State House 2018

Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition

The Rule of (Online) Law: Cybersecurity and Management in the Digital Age

Joshua Weissman LaFrance

Candidating with Beej Das, Rufus Gifford, Barbara L’Italien, Juana Matias, Keith R. St. John, and Lori Trahan

Carlisle Rising to Action

Today’s Headlines

Metro

Thousands of Cambridge Health Alliance patients’ financial information compromised – WBUR

MBTA bolsters early morning bus service – Boston Magazine

After a flat year, greater Boston’s rents are rising again – Boston Globe

Massachusetts

Valley activists plan summit to ‘take back the house’ in 2018 elections – Daily Hampshire Gazette

Sagamore bridge work, lane closures begin today – Cape Cod Times

Petition calls for ouster of Holy Cross professor – Worcester Magazine

With new city manager, who’s out, who’s in? – Lowell Sun

Nation

Oklahoma teachers set for statewide walkout amid continued pay dispute – NPR

Kushners saw hope in White House, but it was a mirage – New York Times

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