Tobacco age vote, Nick Collins sworn in, Third District candidates debate
— Public Health Council meets to vote on Baystate Health’s application to build out its satellite Baystate Orthopedic Surgery Center and hear an informational briefing on proposed changes to the Controlled Substances Act, 250 Washington St., Boston, 9 a.m.
— House Committee on Technology and Intergovernmental Affairs and the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security hold a joint hearing on cyber security, Hearing Room B-1, 10 a.m.
— The Governor’s Council will interview Gustavo del Puerto, one of Gov. Charlie Baker’s nominees for the Housing Court, Governor’s Council Chambers, 10 a.m.
— Reps. Stephen Kulik and Sarah Peake plan to make a ‘significant announcement’ related to the ‘day of action’ at the State House to spur lawmakers to act on overhauling state planning, zoning and permitting laws, according to the Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance, Room 437, 10:30 a.m.
— House meets in formal sessions, with plans to take up a bill that would raise the minimum age to buy tobacco and electronic cigarettes from 18 to 21, a measure already taken by many municipalities throughout the state, 11 a.m.
— Members of the state’s Animal Cruelty Task Force, legislators and animal advocates gather to push for passage of a bill to strengthen animal-cruelty laws in Massachusetts, Room 428, 11 a.m.
— Senate President Harriette Chandler is scheduled to speak at a Freedom For All Massachusetts briefing on protecting the state’s transgender public accommodations law, House Members Lounge, 11:15 a.m.
— Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito will be on hand for the swearing in ceremony of Rep. Nick Collins, who won the recent special Senate election, as senator at the weekly meeting of the Governor’s Council, Room 360, 11:50 a.m.
— Former Rep. Kathleen Teahan, author of ‘The Cookie Loved ‘Round the World,’ gives the State Library’s monthly author talk, Room 341, 12 p.m.
— The Governor’s Council will interview Donna Toman Salvidio, one of Gov. Charlie Baker’s nominees for the Housing Court, Governor’s Council Chambers, 1 p.m.
— Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone gather for the grand opening of the Global Center for Cleantech Innovation at Greentown Labs, Greentown Labs, 444 Somerville Avenue, Somerville, 3 p.m.
— Twelve Democrats running in the Third Congressional District participate in a debate sponsored by the Lowell Sun, Sentinel & Enterprise and Boston Herald, Kent Recital Hall, Fitchburg State University, 384 North St., Fitchburg, 5 p.m.
— Gov. Charlie Baker and First Lady Lauren Baker attend the Preservation Massachusetts 30th Annual Paul and Niki Tsongas Awards Dinner, Fairmont Copley, Grand Ballroom, 138 Saint James Avenue, Boston, 7:15 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.
Kerry’s shattered dreams
The rest of world is trying to determine the geopolitical implications of President Trump’s move yesterday to exit the Iran nuclear deal. In Massachusetts, we’re trying to determine the local political implications for our very own John Kerry, the former secretary of state who recently tried to salvage the Iran deal he brokered while serving in the Obama administration.
The Globe’s Matt Viser recalls the intense negotiations Kerry conducted three years ago to achieve a nuclear agreement with Iran – an agreement tossed to the wind yesterday by Trump. The Herald’s Dan Atkinson reports that Kerry may soon start unloading on Trump’s decision. The Herald’s Joe Battenfeld is declaring Kerry’s salvage attempt a complete flop and embarrassment. Shannon Young at MassLive has the negative reactions of U.S. Sens. Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren, among others, to Trump’s move yesterday.
Healey ‘deeply troubled’ by Schneiderman allegations
Attorney General Maura Healey used to regularly team up with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on a number of liberal causes, but yesterday she was distancing herself from fellow Democrat Schneiderman, who abruptly resigned Monday night amid allegations that he’s sexually abused women over the years. Healey said that she’s “deeply troubled” by the charges against her former ally and that he made the right decision to resign, reports Spencer Buell at Boston Magazine and Gintautas Dumcius at MassLive.
The Herald’s Jordan Graham reports that while Healey has lost a key political ally, Schneiderman’s resignation could actually clear the way for Healey to play a more prominent role on the national stage. The Herald’s Howie Carr isn’t buying it. Not at all. Matt McDonald at New Boston Post reports that John Kingston, a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, is trying to tie U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren to Schneiderman, who once co-hosted a fundraiser for Warren way back in 2011. Yeah, it’s a stretch.
The debate over how to spend the state’s likely budget surplus has officially commenced …
Unless there’s a catastrophic plunge in state tax revenues over the next two months, it looks like there will be a somewhat hefty state budget surplus at the end of the current fiscal year – and local governments are already laying claim to some of it. Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito says cutting the state sales tax “makes some sense.” SHNS’s Michael Norton has the details at the Telegram.
Report: Mass. municipal payrolls grew 40 percent over past decade
Clearly, local governments need the extra money, for wages paid by cities and towns in Massachusetts have risen 40 percent in the past decade, well above the national increase of 24 percent, Joe Dwinell reports at the Herald, citing federal data. In Essex County alone, municipal payrolls grew by 145 percent, even as the number of employees on the books remained steady. “Federal databases don’t lie,” the Pioneer Institute’s Greg Sullivan tells Dwinell.
Hey, how about a sales tax holiday this year?
As the state’s fiscal outlook seemingly improves by the day, Gov. Charlie Baker emerged from a legislative leadership meaning yesterday and pronounced he’s all for a sales tax holiday this summer and will push for one later this session, reports Shira Schoenberg at MassLive. But House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Harriette Chandler were, well, non-committal. “Something for us to think about,” DeLeo said. “We’ll look at it very carefully,” Chandler said.
Globe editorial on Long Island Bridge reconstruction: Where are the details, Mayor Walsh?
In an editorial, the Globe seems to be siding with Quincy skeptics of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s plan to rebuild the Long Island Bridge, saying the administration simply isn’t providing enough details. “Asking taxpayers to cough up $100 million for a bridge — plus whatever (a) recovery center will cost — without due diligence and consideration of alternatives is unwise.”
Winners and losers from yesterday’s primaries
There was indeed a local angle to the primary elections held in other states yesterday: U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s preferred Democratic gubernatorial candidate won in Ohio, defeating U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ preferred candidate. Aaron Black at the Washington Post has all the other winners and losers from yesterday’s races.
Elizabeth Warren among Dems embracing the progressive policy du jour: guaranteed jobs
Speaking of U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Danielle Kurtzleben reports at WBUR that Democrats mulling presidential runs in 2020 have been steadily embracing all sorts of positions once thought to be on the political far-left fringe, including Medicare for all and tuition-free college. The policy du jour: Guaranteed jobs for all Americans. Warren is reportedly “looking closely” at the issue and has even co-sponsored one jobs-guarantee bill, reports Kurtzleben.
Some exhibit: Bomb squad called to museum to handle live Civil War-era ammo
Museum curators at Mount Holyoke College were cataloging Civil War artifacts for an upcoming display when they noticed something … and decided to call the Massachusetts State Police Bomb Squad. Good thing they did. Turns out a cartridge was determined to contain live primer and powder inside a split-in-half cannon ball, reports George Graham at MassLive.
Trying to figure out the logic of Partners’ possible takeover of Harvard Pilgrim
Based on the opinions of health-care experts quoted in Priyanka Dayal McCluskey’s Globe piece this morning, Partners HealthCare’s potential acquisition of Harvard Pilgrim seems to be a real corporate and public-policy head scratcher. “There’s no compelling logic for a merger here,” David E. Williams, president of the Boston consulting firm Health Business Group. He’s not alone in expressing skepticism that such a deal might save money.
UMass-Boston students stage walkout over controversial Mount Ida move
Students, faculty and staff members at the University of Massachusetts-Boston staged a walkout yesterday to protest UMass-Amherst’s planned $70 million takeover of nearby Mount Ida College, even as UMass-Boston struggles with a budget deficit and deteriorating campus facilities. Laney Ruckstuhl at the Globe and Kristin LaFratta at MassLive have the details.
Can you build a truly diverse industry from the ground up?
The Globe’s Dan Adams takes a look at an interesting business experiment now under way in Massachusetts, i.e. the state’s attempt, via regulations, to promote more minority-owned firms within the fledgling marijuana industry in Massachusetts. It’s worth a shot. Here’s why: Capitalism is ultimately about a series of failures until something succeeds, and if you don’t even try, you can’t have failures that lead to successes. Via regulations, the state is ultimately giving minority firms an opportunity to at least try to succeed in a new government-sanctioned industry, ironically making it a fascinating market-based experiment.
Oops: Commission mistakenly fast-tracks 10 pot licenses that were meant to be rejected
Speaking of the state’s emerging pot industry and boo-boos, from the BBJ’s Jessica Bartlett: “The Cannabis Control Commission accidentally gave out priority status to 10 recreational marijuana businesses, blaming the error on a faulty transcription. At its meeting on Tuesday, the commission has voted to withdraw the priority status approval of the 10 applicants, pending further review, saying the applicants didn’t meet the commission’s criteria.” Says the commission’s executive director: “We will be in touch with those applicants to inform them this error did occur.”
House poised to pass bill that would raise tobacco-buying age to 21
With nearly 70 percent of the state’s population living in communities that have already raised the tobacco-buying age to 21, the House is poised to follow suit today when it takes up a bill that would increase the buying age statewide to 21, impose the same age and other restrictions on e-cigarettes and prohibit the sale of tobacco products by pharmacies. SHNS’s Katie Lannan at Wicked Local has more on what looks like a bill that has a good shot at making it to the desk of Gov. Charlie Baker, who is “conceptually” supportive of the age increase.
Bar wars: A rowdy night in Boston’s watering holes
The next full moon isn’t due until May 29, so we can’t explain this. From Universal Hub’s headlines yesterday: “Guy looking for trouble found it at a South Boston bar, where he smashed a beer bottle into a man’s head” and “Man thrown through bar window suffered minor injuries; woman standing inside required major surgery” and “Dumbass who wouldn’t leave a group of women alone at a Roxbury bar gets chased out by them.” Then there was this: “Target gets in trouble for way it tried to stave off trouble from underage college students looking to buy beer.”
Meanwhile, NH not pleased other states are staking out its liquor stores for bootleggers
In the 1970s, Massachusetts got in a spat with then-N.H. Gov. Mel Thompson for sending officials to stake out Granite State liquor stores for alcohol bootleggers. Now it seems New York and Vermont officials are doing the same in the tax-free-liquor New Hampshire – without telling NH officials. Todd Bookman at WBUR has more.
Former top fed prosecutor lands job at Boston law firm
William Weinreb, who served as acting U.S. Attorney in Boston for a year before losing out to Andrew Lelling for the full-time post, has joined the Boston office of Quinn Urquhart & Sullivan LLP, a national litigation firm that only recently opened shop here, reports the BBJ’s Greg Ryan. Among other accomplishments, Weinreb was the lead prosecutor of Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
State’s last survivor of Bataan Death March dies, his ashes to be spread on Cape
Bernard Pothier, 99, whose son said he awoke every morning thinking the “glass was always half-full,” passed away earlier this week in Reading. Pothier, a long-time resident of Cape Cod, was believed to be the last remaining Massachusetts resident to have survived the Bataan Death March in 1942, reports Madeline List at the Cape Cod Times. His ashes will be spread on the Cape. RIP, Bernard Pothier.
Smith & Wollensky is abandoning its Boston castle
The Medford-based Smith & Wollensky steakhouse chain plans to close its high-profile restaurant at the old “Castle building,” i.e. the former armory in Park Square, to focus on a new location in Wellesley and its other restaurant along Boston’s Fort Point Channel, reports the Globe’s Jon Chesto. We’re at a loss as to what might replace S&W in the castle building. Probably another brewery?
Great Barrington is third community to ban single-use plastic bottles
Then there were three. Great Barrington on Tuesday became the third community in the U.S.—all of them in Massachusetts—to ban small, single-use plastic water bottles, Heather Bellow reports in the Berkshire Eagle. The new rule takes effect in January and follows the lead of Concord and Sudbury, both of which have similar bans already in place.
SJC hears arguments on homeless in hotels
The state’s highest court is poised to weigh in on whether the state can order homeless families out of motels and into state shelters even if those facilities cannot accommodate their disabilities. Christian Wade reports in the Gloucester Times that attorneys for the ACLU argued before the Supreme Judicial Court yesterday that the state’s current approach violates the Americans with Disabilities Act while lawyers for the state say a lower court’s injunction preventing the moves are hampering larger efforts to curb homelessness.
Author Talk and Book Signing with Kathleen Teahan
The Public Conversation
Is Social Media Killing Journalism?
Leonard Bernstein and President John F. Kennedy
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