Happening Today

Beacon Hill inauguration ceremonies, Rollins sworn in, Governor’s Council

— Prior to inaugural ceremonies today at the State House, House and Senate lawmakers will hold morning party caucuses, at which legislative leaders are usually nominated.

Governor’s Council holds its final weekly assembly of the 2016-2018 term, with votes expected on Kathleen McCarthy to the Superior Court bench, Brian Sullivan as Lynn District Court clerk-magistrate and Michael Malamut to the Housing Court bench, Council Chamber, 10:30 a.m.

— Incumbent and newly-elected legislators will be sworn into office to formally begin their role in the 191st biennium session of the General Court, House and Senate Chambers, 11 a.m.

Governor’s Council holds a hearing on Gov. Baker’s nomination of attorney William Rooney as a judge in the East Hampshire District Court, Council Chamber, 1 p.m.

— An inauguration ceremony is held for Suffolk County’s new district attorney, Rachael Rollins, with Gov. Charlie Baker, U.S. Senator Ed Markey, Auditor Suzanne Bump, Treasurer Deb Goldberg and Mayor Martin Walsh planning to attend, Roxbury Community College Media Arts Center, 1234 Columbus Ave., Boston, 2:30 p.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito attend an inaugural interfaith ceremony at Morningstar Baptist Church, 1257 Blue Hill Ave., Mattapan, 5:30 p.m.

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

Today’s Stories

New year, new lawmakers, new session on Beacon Hill …

Old and new lawmakers will be sworn in today at the State House, officially launching the start of a new legislative session, with Robert DeLeo and Karen Spilka serving as leaders of the House and Senate, respectively, as the Associated Press reports at WHDH. There will be one AWOL lawmaker: Sen. John Keenan of Quincy has left for Greece to work inside a refugee camp, according to a report at SHNS.

Meanwhile, the Globe’s Matt Stout and Victoria McGrane profile “five freshman lawmakers to watch” on Beacon Hill. At the top of their list: State Rep.-elect Nika Elugardo, who has accused the Democratic Party of being “straight-up racist” and compared the Massachusetts House to a slave plantation. Shira Schoenberg at MassLive reports on four progressive women from western Massachusetts who will be joining the legislature today — and they’re all raring to go.

… and senators finally get to behold their newly renovated Senate chamber

As lawmakers are sworn in today on Beacon Hill, state senators will finally get to emerge from the State House basement to conduct business in their official chamber, after completion of an 18-month, $22.6 million renovation to repair and update the historic Senate hall. Senate President Karen Spilka gave Gov. Charlie Baker a sneak peek at the finished project on Monday. SHNS’s Matt Murphy has the details.


Rep. Brodeur explores run for mayor of Melrose

While new lawmakers are sworn into the legislature today, one House member is looking at leaving. State Rep. Paul Brodeur has confirmed to State House New Service that he’s thinking about running for mayor of Melrose in 2019. SHNS’s Matt Murphy at the Globe has the details.

Boston Globe

Warren’s in. But can she win?

You’ve undoubtedly already heard: U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has established a presidential exploratory committee, meaning she’s all but certain to run for president. Here’s the exploratory announcement stories from the Globe’s Jess Bidgood and Liz Goodwin and WGBH’s Phillip Martin.

But let’s get into the fun stuff: Can Warren actually A.) Win the Democratic nomination and B.) win the big one if she nabs the nomination? The Globe’s Michael Levenson reports, among other things, that Monday’s move seems to have been an attempt to preempt any move by fellow progressive Bernie Sanders. Whether it makes Bernie thinks twice before announcing his own candidacy is the big question. The Herald’s Hillary Chabot reports that Bernie remains Warren’s main progressive obstacle to the Dem nomination. The Herald’s Kimberly Atkins thinks Warren may be the next Jeb Bush, i.e. a much-touted, well-funded flop. Then there’s all the other Dem presidential wannabe candidates she has to defeat, as the NYT reports. The NYT also reports on Joe Biden’s national “campaign-in-waiting” apparatus.

What about a general election? The Herald’s Howie Carr thinks Warren, as the Dem nominee, would merely make Trump’s day (and year). The Springfield Republican, in an editorial, believes Warren, if she wins the nomination, may  confirm that Dems are truly out of touch with the rest of America. But here’s a surprise coming from the conservative Wall Street Journal editorial board: “Warren’s name ID and reputation make her potentially formidable.” We think the WSJ has it about right: Underestimate Warren at your political peril.

Btw: The Globe’s Joan Vennochi and the Herald’s Joe Battenfeld have more on Warren’s non-surprise move. Here’s some other Warren stories – From the Berkshire Eagle: ‘Berkshire politicos weigh in on Warren announcement.’ From the Sun Chronicle: ‘Democrats warn Warren will come under attack.’ From the Telegram: ‘Region’s lunch-car vote may prove challenging to Warren.’

OK, we get it: Warren is another Dukakis

The Herald is straining mighty hard to link U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who’s now unofficially an official candidate for president, with former Gov. Michael Dukakis, the failed Democratic nominee for president in 1988. The Herald’s Jaclyn Cashman writes that Warren has already set a “land-speed record in presidential campaign trail gaffes” by going “full Dukakis” with her livestreamed beer swilling video. And speaking of the livestreamed beer swilling video, Sean Phillip Cotter reports that it’s fallen flat, just like, well, he actually doesn’t mention the Dukakis-in-the-tank moment. But the Herald’s Jules Crittenden does (with a prominent photo) in his piece on the Bay State’s long list of failed presidential candidates. It’s all a stretch, but that’s what tabloids are for, stretching things here and there, etc.

Roger Lau: Warren’s ‘steady hand’

Andy Metzger at CommonWealth magazine takes a look at Roger Lau, the “consummate under-the-radar staffer” and “steady hand” behind U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s bid for the White House.


Mitt’s psychological profile of Trump’s ‘glaring’ character flaws

Mitt Romney is in challenge-Trump mode today. Tomorrow he could be in grovel-to-Trump mode. You never know with Mitt. Anyway, the former Massachusetts governor, Republican presidential candidate and incoming U.S. senator from Utah has an op-ed in the Washington Post chastising President Trump for “glaring” shortfalls in leadership and character, as the Globe’s Peter Bailey-Wells reports. The New York Times has more on Romney’s stated stand on Trump, which, to our ears, sure sounds like he’s positioning himself as a possible 2020 alternative to Trump, in the somewhat unlikely events the president doesn’t run for re-election and/or if he faces a GOP mutiny.

Washington Post

Modest start: Officials expect 2.7 percent growth in state revenues

Even though tax collections have mostly exceeded expectations this fiscal year, State House budget writers, eyeing national and international economic storm clouds on the horizon, are taking a cautious approach to next fiscal year’s state budget, projecting only modest revenue growth of 2.7 percent. Shira Schoenberg at MassLive has the details.


Twofer: Baker signs lockout benefits and gas safety bills

In a somewhat surprise move, Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday signed legislation that extends unemployment benefits to National Grid employees who have been locked out of work by the utility, even though Baker had until tomorrow to approve the legislation. Baker had previously signaled he’d sign the bill, but most thought he’d wait to see if the company and union officials could first work out a deal before making the legislation the law of the land. Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine has more.

In a non-surprise move, Baker has signed separate legislation that requires greater engineering oversight of natural gas work, following the September gas-line explosions and fires that devastated the Merrimack Valley,reports MassLive.

Delayed gas bills add insult to injury in Merrimack Valley

Speaking of the September pipeline disaster: Columbia Gas customers in the Merrimack Valley whose service was interrupted for days or weeks after last September’s explosions are experiencing sticker shock as they open bills from the gas supplier for the first time in months, saying they were unaware they’d be charged retroactively, Zoe Matthews reports in the Eagle-Tribune. 


It’s on the record: Baker won’t use housing stipend on a pied-a-terre

The world will hold him to this vow. From SHNS’s Matt Murphy: “There will be no pied-a-terre in Boston for Gov. Charlie Baker. No western Massachusetts hideout, either. The governor, who lives with his wife in their turn-of-the-20th century Swampscott home, has no plans to invest his new $65,000 housing stipend in a property or rent closer to the office, according to his staff. The housing allowance is a first for a Massachusetts governor after the Legislature, in its first act of the two-year session in 2017, voted through a package of pay raises for public officials, including the governor, that included a stipend for housing.”


Vaping loophole: Some towns opt to keep selling tobacco to 18-year-olds

Although the minimum age to buy tobacco products increased to 21 under state law on Jan. 1, some communities have opted to accept a grandfathering clause that allows customers between 18 and 21 to continue buying cigarettes and vaping products if the turned 18 by Dec. 30, 2018, Deborah Allard reports at the Herald-News. The small southern Massachusetts towns of Somerset and Berkley are two of those communities and at least one business owner is eager to let would-be young customers know that they can still purchase products at one of his stores.

Herald News

Their high hopes for 2019: Spilka, Healey, Pressley on the New Year

The Herald has a series of columns by Boston’s “movers and shakers” on what they hope to see and accomplish in 2019. Here’s a sampling: Senate President Karen Spilka: ‘Mental health parity a priority in coming year.’ … Attorney General Maura Healey: ‘Young people provide inspiring example.’ … U.S. Rep-elect Ayanna Pressley: ‘A year to redefine leadership, together.’ 

Meanwhile, Spilka has a Globe op-ed this morning on all the urgent business that her chamber hopes to tackle in 2019, including education funding.

AIM takes aim at eliminating employer fees to prop up Medicaid

Associated Industries of Massachusetts, the state’s most influential business group, plans to submit a bill this session to immediately eliminate $300 million in fees imposed on employers to help pay for Medicaid, saying that the fees/tax/whatever are no longer needed and that the state has failed to tame Medicaid costs, reports the Globe’s Priyanka Dayal McCluskey.

Boston Globe

Judge orders actor Kevin Spacey to appear at sexual-assault arraignment

The judge obviously isn’t buying his stage-fright argument. From Wheeler Cowperthwaite at the Cape Cod Times: “A Nantucket District Court judge on Monday denied Kevin Spacey’s request to skip his arraignment on a sexual assault charge a few hours after the court officially received the motion from the actor’s attorney. The attorney sought to waive Spacey’s appearance at the Jan. 7 arraignment to reduce the ‘risk of contamination of the pool of jurors available for the trial.’”

So what’s Kevin been up to amid all the legal wrangling in Massachusetts? Wearing a baseball cap that reads ‘Retired since 2017’ and delivering a pizza to a Daily Mail photographer who somehow discovered that Spacey was hiding out in a $6 million mansion in Baltimore.

Cape Cod Times

SJC will soon decide: Who, exactly, is a drug dealer?

The Globe’s Maria Cramerhas an interesting story on how the Supreme Judicial Court will soon hear a case involving a UMass student convicted of drug distribution and involuntary manslaughter for having purchased heroin from a drug dealer for himself and fellow student Eric Sinacori, who later died of an overdose. To complicate matters, the student who died had previously “acted as a drug informant for the school police after they caught him selling LSD and other drugs on campus.”

Airbnb’s suit against Boston could have national implications

Isaiah Thompson at WGBH takes a closer look at Airbnb’s lawsuit against Boston’s new regulations of short-term rentals of homes and apartments. The suit could have national implications for Airbnb and other online companies and it all comes down to Section 30 of the federal Communications Decency Act. Thompson explains.


Data on potential new MassPike exit could drop this month

State transportation officials are poised to unveil as soon as this month traffic and population data that could help determine whether a new exit is built on the MassPike–a process that could take up to a decade, Jim Kinney reports at MassLive. Planners are considering whether to fill the 30-mile gap between Westfield and Lee, though Kinney reports there is already an opposition movement forming as well. 


Northbridge manufacturer cuts workforce by 25 percent due to tariffs

Riverdale Mills, a Northbridge-based manufacturer of wire-mesh products says it has cut its payroll by 25 percent–from 200 to 150 workers–in response to tariffs President Trump has slapped on steel imports, Zachary Comeau reports at the Worcester Business Journal. The company says it reduced its headcount without layoffs.  

Worcester Business Journal

Roots of Migration: US Immigration Policy Past and Present

Join us this year as we present workshops on essentials issues in nonprofit management such as supervision, financial management, fundraising, communications, and more! We have trained more than 3,000 nonprofit professionals on the skills needed to take the lead in their work and their careers.

Better Nonprofit Management Training Series

2019 Leadership Institute

The goal of the NAIOP Massachusetts Leadership Institute is to develop the practical knowledge and leadership skills that are necessary to advance the careers of mid-level commercial real estate professionals with 10+ years of experience. This is a 12 week program (January 15 – April 4).

NAIOP Massachusetts

Power Breakfast: Economic Outlook

Join the BBJ for a panel discussion looking into 2019!

Boston Business Journal

Today’s Headlines


Three Mass. biotechs prepare to ring in the new year with IPOs – Boston Business Journal


Legislature sends credit freeze bill to Gov. Baker – MassLive

National Fish espionage lawsuit gets trial date – Salem News

Saugus school committee to adopt policy on what members should say on social media – Lynn Item

More proceeds from 2014 sale of Norman Rocwell painting distributed in Gardner – Telegram & Gazette


Beyond ‘No comment’: The White House has no response–at all–to many media questions – Washington Post

Lawmakers hope new House day care will keep staff on Capitol Hill – NPR

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