Happening Today

Baker unveils budget, Governor’s Council, and more

Massachusetts Vision Zero Coalition will host a ‘Day of Action for Road Safety’ to inform legislators about hands-free use of mobile devices, automated enforcement and truck safety, with Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito attending State House, Room 437, 9:30 a.m., with Baker and Polito appearing at 10 a.m.

State Ethics Commission meets, 1 Ashburton Place, 6th Floor, Room 619, Boston, 9:30 a.m.

Health Policy Commission holds a listening session on proposed updates to accountable care organization (ACO) certification requirements, 50 Milk St., 8th floor, Boston, 10 a.m.

— Sen. Brendan Crighton and Reps. Christine Barber and Tricia Farley-Bouvier hold a press conference to announce the ‘Work and Family Mobility Act,’ a bill that would give qualified immigrants access to Massachusetts’ drivers licenses, outside House chambers, 10 a.m.

— Auditor Suzanne Bump will host a reception for new members of the Legislature to inform them about the work of her office, State House, Room 229, 10 a.m.

— Dozens of students from more than 20 districts plan to meet with legislators to promote Rep. Jen Benson’s carbon pollution pricing bill, Old West Church and State House, 10 a.m.

Governor’s Council holds a hearing on Gov. Baker’s nomination of attorney Jeffrey Clifford to the Quincy District Court bench, Council Chamber, 10:30 a.m.

MassCare hosts a lobby day for its single payer bills, Grand Staircase, State House, 10:45 a.m.

Association of Developmental Disabilities Providers holds its annual legislative luncheon at the State House, with Rep. Paul Brodeur and Sen. Joan Lovely honored, Great Hall, 11 a.m.

Governor’s Council meets, with Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito chairing, to possibly vote on the nominations of David Sorrenti as a district court judge, Gloriann Moroney to the Parole Board, and Terri Klug Caffazo as a Middlesex Probate and Family Court judge, Council Chamber, 12 p.m.

— The Massachusetts Sierra Club and Sen. Jamie Eldridge hold an environment and climate bill co-sponsorship fair, where lawmakers can learn about and sign on to bills relating to climate change, transportation and other issues, Nurses Hall, 12:30 p.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker joins Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Secretary of Administration and Finance Michael Heffernan, Secretary of Education James Peyser and Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Jeff Riley to announce the administration’s fiscal 2020 budget proposal, including the administration’s school finance reform initiative, Room 157, 2 p.m.

‘Radio Boston’ airs an hour-long special on addiction treatment and recovery, with Department of Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, MGH Recovery Research Institute founder and director Dr. John Kelly and others expected to discuss the issue, WBUR-FM 90.9, 3 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

The big question: Will Baker propose a boost in education funding – and taxes?

As the Globe’s Matt Stout and Victoria McGrane note, Gov. Charlie Baker, fresh off his re-election and second-term inauguration, has already surprised many by proposing a tax increase to pay for climate-change resiliency projects. So why not another tax increase? That’s the question a lot of people are asking at the State House this morning, as the governor prepares to unveil his proposed fiscal 2020 budget later today, amid his vow to address the controversy over the state’s education-funding formula. Stay tuned. The Herald’s Mary Markos has more on the governor’s forthcoming budget proposal.

Boston Globe

Baker: Time to ban hand-held phones in cars and allow cops to stop motorists not wearing seat balls

The governor has been busy on other fronts lately, such as his recent proposal to legalize sports betting in Massachusetts. Now he’s focusing on other high-profile issues. From Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine: “Gov. Charlie Baker filed road safety legislation on Tuesday that would require drivers to use electronic devices in hands-free mode only, mandate side guards and additional mirrors on large state-owned trucks, and allow police for the first time to pull over motorists who are not wearing seatbelts. The measure would also begin the discussion about how to regulate electric scooters and bikes.”

SHNS’s Matt Murphy at WBUR and Shira Schoenberg at MassLive have more on the governor’s road-safety legislation.


Shutdown showdown: Trahan warns of the economic toll

The NYT reports that the U.S. Senate today will vote on two competing bills to end the federal government shutdown. They’re not given much chance of passage. If they don’t pass, there’s growing fear that the prolonged shutdown will indeed harm the economy, a concern shared yesterday by U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan, as SHNS’s Chris Lisinski reports at the Lowell Sun. She’s right to be concerned about the economy. The Washington Post reported the other day on how leaders are nervously eyeing the one-two punch of the shutdown and slowing economic growth in China. 

In other shutdown news, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren was hammering away at President Trump yesterday in Puerto Rico, calling his proposed border wall “dumb” and saying he was merely trying to stir up fear, reports the Globe’s Liz Goodwin.

John Kerry to Trump: ‘Resign’

Former U.S. Sen. and Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, when asked in Davos what he would say to President Trump if he had attended the exclusive gathering in Switzerland, had a one word answer: “Resign.” The remark drew applause and cheers. The Washington Post has the details.

Washington Post

Not as feared as feared: MGM Springfield’s lackluster performance greeted with relief in Connecticut

This is interesting. From Jim Kinney at MassLive: “MGM Springfield isn’t drawing as many gamblers or their dollars away from two Connecticut casinos as that state once feared. Connecticut budget planners had expected a 25-percent drop in slot revenues from Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino due to MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor. Now, they forecast a much smaller hit of 9.2 percent.”

And it’s all because MGM Springfield’s revenues are lagging projections in general. And it could get worse after the planned opening of the Encore Boston Harbor casino in Everett later this year.

Fyi: Speaking of gambling, Massachusetts Treasurer Deb Goldberg thinks that any move to legalize sports gambling in the state should include approval of online lottery games, reports SHNS (pay wall).


Sal DiMasi: ‘I can do consulting. I can do advocacy. I can even do lobbying’

Sal DiMasi, the former House speaker, convicted felon and recently released jailbird, is letting it be known he’s available to help anyone who needs legislative assistance on Beacon Hill and in Washington, reports Matt Stout at the Globe. “I can do consulting. I can do advocacy. I can even do lobbying,” DiMasi says.

Boston Globe

Avoiding the next Mount Ida, Part II: Board approves new monitoring system for struggling colleges

From Laura Krantz at the Globe: “State officials on Tuesday signed off on a plan to create a new state monitoring system for the financial health of private colleges in Massachusetts. The plan comes after the calamitous closure of Mount Ida College last spring. The school’s failure to notify state officials or make a contingency plan for how students would finish their degrees ignited fury among state officials, who vowed to implement more oversight.”

Boston leaders urge Irish pols to reject Israel trade ban

From Sean Philip Cotter at the Herald: “Boston heavyweights are throwing their heft behind a letter opposing Irish officials’ attempt to ban trade with Israeli settlements — a proposal some call anti-Israel and anti-Semitic. Several Bostonians have drafted a letter to send to Irish politicians, urging the Emerald Isle not to move forward on a law that’s coming before one of its governing bodies on Thursday.”

Boston Herald

Quincy eyes local tax on Airbnb rentals

Taking advantage of a new state law that allows local governments to slap taxes on short-term rentals of homes and apartments, a city councilor in Quincy has proposed a 3 percent “community impact fee” on such rentals, reports Erin Tiernan at Wicked Local. Tiernan provides some interesting info to the debate: “A search for rooms or homes for rent in Quincy on the website Airbnb shows more than 300 places available in the city on any given night.”

Wicked Local

Mega MAGA outrage, Part II: The ‘algorithmically designed’ controversy

In case you’re interested, the NYT has a video (and story) that walks viewers through exactly what happened over the weekend when a bunch of Kentucky kids and a Native American protester faced off in Washington – and its shows, beyond any reasonable doubt (at least to us), that the kids, while no angels, were not the instigators of the controversy. The Globe’s Michael Cohen, admirably, admits he initially got it wrong. But the Globe’s Renée Graham is doubling down on her criticism of MAGA hats, the students and that “smirking teen.” We’ll be blunt: He was not “smirking”  and he wasn’t the one doing the confronting. But you decide. Watch the NYT video.

But who’s right and wrong isn’t necessarily the issue here. It’s about how social-media and the MSM can so quickly spread, amplify and distort even the most minor incidents, as the NYT’s Ross Douthat and David Brooks note. Btw: Molly Roberts at the Washington Post warns that, if we’ve learned anything, it’s that people shouldn’t be too quick to jump to secondary conclusions about initial conclusions, for you never know when another video might arise. And she’s right!

State tax breaks to corporation rose to $142M last year, the bulk of it to MassMutual

Greg Ryan at the BBJ reports that the Baker administration approved almost $10 million more in corporate tax breaks in fiscal year 2018 than it did the year prior, thanks largely to the $46 million deal given to Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. for its Boston and Springfield expansions. Total tax breaks dished out last year came to $142 million.

BBJ (pay wall)

Location, location, location: Area coastal home values fall by $400M due to sea-rise concerns

Time to start buying near inland lakes. First Street Foundation, a Brooklyn-based nonprofit that studies the impact of rising sea levels and flooding, estimates that homeowners in New England coastal area have lost more than $400 million in property value due to concerns over rising sea levels – and it will only grow worse with time. Simón Ríos at WBUR has more.


Pot growers pressure regulators to act on ‘community host agreements’ – or else

From SHNS’s Colin Young at the Salem News: “A group representing Massachusetts marijuana growers officially petitioned the Cannabis Control Commission last week to review and regulate the statutorily-required agreements between marijuana businesses and their host towns, and says it plans to sue the commission if it does not act.” Marijuana advocates have also produced what they say is statistical proof that local governments are gouging pot businesses, i.e. 79 percent of local agreements exceed state guidelines, Naomi Martin reports at the Globe.

Salem News

MGH announces $1 billion expansion project

How they’re going to squeeze all of this on their Boston campus, we don’t know. Still, the BBJ’s Jessica Bartlett reports on MGH’s plan to spend $1 billion to expand its sprawling medical complex along Cambridge Street, including construction of a new 12-story clinical building and seven-story utility building.

BBJ (pay wall)

State board approves New Bedford charter-school compromise

The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has approved a compromise plan that will allow the Alma del Mar charter school to expand in New Bedford, subject to conditions it agreed to with the city, reports Aimee Chiavaroli at South Coast Today. 

South Coast Today

Shocking: Martin Luther King Jr. memorial runs into delays

Of course. It’s Boston. Nothing is built without debate and delays. And so it goes with the planned memorial for Martin Luther King. Jr. on the Boston Common, as concerns are raised about the planned memorial’s “costs and materials involved.” The Globe’s Michael Levenson has the delay details.

Never mind: Telegram sportswriter decides to back Rivera for Hall after all

After creating a small Boston-vs-NY fracas by saying he would abstain from voting for the Yankees’ Mariano Rivera to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, the Telegram’s Bill Ballou writes that, after further review, he ended up backing Rivera anyway. One of the main reasons for his switch: David Ortiz. He explains.


Lawmakers blast high court ruling on transgenders in the military

Massachusetts Senate President Karen Spilka and U.S. Rep. Richard Neal were among Massachusetts lawmakers who criticized the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision yesterday to temporarily allow the Trump administration’s ban on transgender people serving in the military to take effect, as legal challenges make their way through the lower courts, reports Shannon Young at MassLive.


National Grid fined $750K for ‘bombogenesis’ storm performance

From a report at the BBJ: “The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities has hit National Grid with a $750,000 penalty for storm preparation and restoration efforts that regulators say fell short in October 2017. More than 330,000 National Grid electric customers in 166 Massachusetts communities were affected by Oct. 29 storm  known as a ‘bombogenesis,’ which triggered more than a million power outages statewide in total.”

BBJ (pay wall)

Warren, Markey and Moulton seek delay in relicensing of Seabrook Nuclear Station

From Mary Serreze at MassLive: “Questions about degraded concrete at the Seabrook Nuclear Power Station have prompted three Massachusetts lawmakers to call for a delay in the coastal New Hampshire facility’s federal relicensing. In a Jan. 18 letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Sens. Edward J. Markey and Elizabeth Warren joined U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton to ask that a license amendment for Seabrook be stayed until a hearing can be held this summer on the concrete problems and whether they pose a safety hazard.”


Executive Forum – The State of Massachusetts Business 2019

Join us on January 25 as AIM presents the 2019 State of Massachusetts Business address and Economic Outlook Forum. AIM President Rick Lord and a panel of experts will discuss solutions to one of the most persistent challenge facing employers today: the shortage of qualified workers.

Associated Industries of Massachusetts

Get New Insight and Practices for Boosting Revenues

Are you ready to infuse your product, marketing and sales efforts with fresh ideas that work? Past Summits have won rave reviews. Learn more and register at StrategicMarketingSummit.com

MarketReach, Inc.

Instant Issues After Hours: Eric Lesser on Leadership & Negotiation Challenges in the World of Politics

The World Affairs Council will present Massachusetts State Senator Eric Lesser in conversation with Dr. Joshua Weiss, program director for Bay Path University’s Master of Science in Leadership and Negotiation, at an Instant Issues After Hours event on Tuesday, January 29, 2019 at 5:30 p.m at Merriam-Webster, Inc.

The World Affairs Council of Western Massachusetts

Live Webinar: Brown Bag – Policy Update

John Regan, AIM’s executive vice president for government affairs, will give an update on the Associations’ legislative agenda for 2019/2020 and provide a brief update on the state’s new Paid Family and Medical Leave law.

Associated Industries of Massachusetts

ADL’s Breaking Barriers Speaker Series with Carmen Ortiz

What to expect at this event? The event will begin with a brief networking reception followed by a conversation between Carmen Ortiz and ADL New England’s Regional Director, Robert Trestan. Time will be reserved at the end to take questions from the audience. Light appetizers and soft drinks will be served.

ADL New England

Today’s Headlines


Missing Boston woman found alive; Charlestown man charged – Boston Herald

Martin Luther King Jr. memorial plans run into questions, delays – Boston Globe


Massachusetts lawmakers seek delay in Seabrook, New Hampshire, nuclear plant license renewal – MassLive


Senate Leaders Plan Competing Bills to End Shutdown – NYT

Supreme Court Revives Transgender Ban for Military Service – NYT

Los Angeles teachers reach agreement with district leaders to end strike – Washington Post

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