Happening Today

Title X press conference, budget hearing, and more

— Parents and students affiliated with METCO, a state-funded grant program allowing students from some cities to attend public schools in different communities, will gather to advocate for additional funding, with METCO CEO Milly Arbaje-Thomas, Reps. David Linsky, Tommy Vitolo and Ruth Balser, and Sen. William Brownsberger speaking, Grand Staircase, 9:30 a.m.

— A press conference will be held to express opposition to the Trump administration’s Title X rule, with Sen. Ed Markey, Dr. Danielle Roncari of Planned Parenthood League of Mass., Rebecca Hart Holder of NARAL Pro-Choice Mass., and Dr. Carole Allen of the Mass. Medical Society, Planned Parenthood, 1055 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, 10 a.m.

— The Baker administration’s proposed spending in the areas of the environment, energy and transportation are up for debate and discussion at a Joint Ways and Means Committee public budget hearing, Springfield Technical Community College Scibelli Hall, Top of Our City Conference Center, 7th Floor, One Armory Square, Springfield, 11 a.m.

— The Massachusetts Building Trade Council will hold its annual convention March 19-21, with U.S. Sen. Ed Markey will speak at the event at 12:45 p.m., Hotel 1620, 180 Water St., Plymouth, 11 a.m.

— The Edward M. Kennedy Institute holds a ‘Massachusetts Trailblazers’ panel with women who will discuss their pathways to office and insights from the campaign trail, with WCVB’s Janet Wu moderating and with panelists Reps. Hannah Kane and Tram Nguyen, Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll, Boston City Council President Andrea Campbell, and Chelsea City Council President Damali Vidot, EMK Institute, Columbia Point, Boston, 7 p.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker and House Speaker Robert DeLeo attend the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts’ 100th anniversary celebration, with DeLeo delivering remarks, Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, 415 Summer St., Boston, 6:45 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

Feds: State Police troopers had ticket quotas to fufill

Something to ponder during your morning and evening commutes: The Globe’s Matt Rochereau and MassLive’s Scott Croteau report that federal prosecutors are now saying that troopers with ties to the State Police unit in the ongoing overtime scandal were required to issue eight traffic tickets per shift as part of a quota system, a “practice that state courts have deemed unconstitutional and agency officials have repeatedly denied exists,” as Rocheleau writes.

Is the Northeast now ‘oversaturated’ with casinos?

The Globe’s Mark Arsenault reports that four upstate casinos in New York have fallen short of revenue expectations, leading to the logical question: Is the Northeast market oversaturated with casinos these days? Some experts believe that’s indeed the case.

It’s not just New York casinos seeing disappointing numbers. MGM Springfield, which only recently opened its doors, is also seeing lower-than-projected revenues, as the Associated Press and MassLive have reported. So how will Encore Boston Harbor fare when it finally opens later this year in Everett? Our money is on its numbers being off too. We’ll see.

Boston Globe

Oversaturated or not, cultural council stands to make a killing on gambling

File under ‘Huh?’ From the Herald’s Joe Dwinell: “The jet-setting Massachusetts Cultural Council — called out for lavish spending on hotels, meals and trips — is in line for a big budget bonanza under the state’s gaming law, with a new bill pending that would remove legislative control on that money. The arts council would reap a 2 percent cut of casino revenues from MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor, if and when the Everett gambling mecca opens.”

Boston Herald

NESN goes all in with new sports-gambling show

Speaking of gambling, it seems some local media outlets can’t wait for legalized sports gambling in Massachusetts. First, from the Herald’s Michael Silverman: “Just because sports betting is currently legal in only one New England state — Rhode Island — that has not stopped NESN from broadcasting a three-hour show five days a week devoted completely to the practice. ‘Follow the Money’ began airing (Monday) morning on NESNplus from 7 until 10, and beginning next month it will air on NESN from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.” John Ourand at the BBJ has more on NESN’s move.

Meanwhile, here’s the headline on a MassLive sports-section story this morning: “Register for MassLive’s $1 Million College Basketball Bracket Challenge, Presented by MGM Springfield.” It involves a “randomly chosen” winner among registrants.

Let’s make a deal: Freeze UMass tuition in exchange for $26M

From SHNS’s Katie Lannan: “The University of Massachusetts could freeze tuition and fees for in-state undergraduate students next year, a UMass official said Monday, if lawmakers agree to a $26 million funding increase. Otherwise, a fifth consecutive year of tuition hikes could be on the horizon.”

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Baker administration files legislation for new ‘innovation’ schools across state

From Shira Schoenberg at MassLive: “Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday filed legislation to expand Springfield’s ‘empowerment zone’ model for education statewide. Baker said the model, which he is calling ‘innovation partnership zones,’ can be used to help improve underperforming schools and ensure that every student receives a quality education.” SHNS’s Katie Lannan (pay wall) has more on the plan.

MassLive

Markey unloads Kraft campaign donation to anti-trafficking group

The Bob Kraft massage-parlor incident just won’t go away. From Bob Mohler at the Globe: “Senator Edward J. Markey, who received $3,600 in campaign donations from New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, intends to donate that money to an organization focused on ending human trafficking after Kraft was charged with soliciting prostitution at an Asian spa in Florida.”

Boston Globe

Meanwhile, Dems call for investigation of Florida massage-parlor founder

Still on the topic of Bob Kraft and massages: Top Congressional Democrats are now calling for an FBI investigation into the woman who founded a string of massage parlors tied to sex trafficking – including the Orchids of Asia parlor that Bob Kraft apparently frequented in Florida – and her fundraising and political-access connections to President Trump, the Washington Post reports.

Washington Post

‘Big Reiki’ flexes its muscle on Beacon Hill

And speaking of “bodyworks” operations, the Globe’s Stephanie Ebbert reports on what appears to be one of the most formidable lobbying groups ever seen on Beacon Hill: “Big Reiki.” Well, maybe not. But the practitioners of the palms-to-body alternative medicine do have a new lobbying group and they’re out to block any attempt to license them, as lawmakers push to crack down on human and sexual trafficking.

Girl who sought relief from bullying is asked to give teacher aide a massage

OK, one last massages-related item – and this one is rather incredible: A 13-year-old girl at the School for Exceptional Studies in Lawrence apparently told teacher aides of bullying by other students and that she didn’t want to participate in a gym class. OK. Sit on the bleachers. And, btw, give one of the teacher aides a massage. Maria Cramer at the Globe has the details.

Meanwhile, Breanna Edelstein and Zoe Mathews at the Eagle Tribune report that North Andover school officials probably broke their own rules when they asked a girl who said she was sexually assaulted by a classmate to sign an agreement to stay away from the alleged attacker.

Quasi-public agencies: Six-figure salaries nirvana!

They’re all quasi-public agencies, sort of out there to the side, not really the focus of too much attention, and they mostly have this in common: They pay their workers quite well, reports the Globe’s Matt Rocheleau, who dug into new payroll data to find a lot of six-figure salaries at places like the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority, Massachusetts Housing Partnership, MassHousing, Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority, etc. etc.

Boston Globe

Elizabeth Warren calls for ending electoral college

In her presidential-campaign swing through the south, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren yesterday proposed eliminating the nation’s electoral college system for electing presidents, removing Confederate statues, and creating a national commission to study reparations for black Americans, the NYT reports. The latter two ideas aren’t necessarily new, fyi. The Globe’s Liz Goodwin and Jess Bisgood have more on Warren’s CNN town hall meeting in the Deep South.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports that Warren, who’s not doing so well in most polls, appears to have embraced her underdog status. Btw: Here’s one poll, by Emerson College, that shows Warren isn’t doing all that bad in Wisconsin. She’s at least in double-digit numbers territory.

NYT

Beware of transportation chiefs bearing mediation gifts?

From Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine: “Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack said on Monday that she is willing to act as a conduit between members of the MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board and the Legislature on the need for broader transportation revenue initiatives even though she doesn’t see a need for them.”

CommonWealth

Darwin Award alert: New Bedford man arrested after receiving 5 pounds of cocaine at Wareham Post Office

A future candidate for a Darwin Award? From Wicked Local: “A New Bedford man has been arrested and is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday on charges that he allegedly used the U.S. Mail to receive a two-kilo package of cocaine, Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz has announced. State Police arrested 46-year-old Neftali Montero-Pellot of New Bedford, late Friday afternoon on one count of trafficking cocaine over 200 grams.”

Wicked Local

Mass Dems rally to push for immigration reforms

Taylor Pettaway at the Herald and Steph Solis at MassLive report on a rally yesterday in Boston by leading state Democrats and activists who are pushing for immigration reform measures. Among those attending: U.S. Reps. Katherine Clark and Jim McGovern, U.S. Sen. Ed Markey and Mayor Marty Walsh. Meanwhile, Sarah Betancourt at CommonWealth magazine has a good summary of the sweeping new immigration legislation that House Democrats unveiled last week.

Help on the way? Mashpee Wampanoag bill could be fast-tracked in Congress

One more casino to add to the oversaturation? Congress apparently could vote soon on legislation that would affirm the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe’s claim to tribal lands in Mashpee and Taunton — and end a series of legal challenges that have left its casino project in limbo, Tanner Stening reports at the Cape Cod Times. The House appears poised to fast-track the bill by taking it up under a suspension of the rules, which means it will require a two-thirds majority to be approved. We’ll see.

Cape Cod Times

Judge rules CCC lacks power over contents of local pot contracts

The Cannabis Control Commission had previously concluded that it probably didn’t have the authority to oversee local agreements signed between pot companies and local governments – and now a Essex County judge agrees, reports Dan Adams at the Globe. The ruling is a setback to advocates who believe local governments are effectively shaking down pot companies for every nickel they can get, writes Adams.

Boston Globe

At Berkshire Mall, former Penney’s could go to pot

A chocolate candy maker from Brooklyn has plans to turn a former JC Penney store at the Berkshire Mall into a marijuana cultivation and production facility, Dick Lindsay reports at the Berkshire Eagle. The struggling Lanesborough mall has lost nearly all of its major tenants in recent years and has been in danger of defaulting on its tax bills.

Berkshire Eagle

Group calls for removal of Confederate plaques on Martha’s Vineyard

The local chapter of the NAACP will ask the town of Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard to remove from a park two plaques paying tribute to soldiers of the Confederacy, saying they belong in a museum instead of a “place of honor,” Brian Dowd reports at the Martha’s Vineyard Times. The plaques adorn the statue of a Union soldier in the iconic village that for years was mistaken for a Confederate fighter until it was repainted.

Martha’s Vineyard Times

If only Mount Ida College was called Trump College …

She’ll take on predatory student lenders and anything with the name ‘Trump’ attached to it. But Attorney General Maura Healey won’t go after Mount Ida College for stiffing students and parents when it abruptly closed last year – and that’s a political dodge, writes the Globe’s Joan Vennochi.

Revenge avengers: Fall River councilors seek to block payback moves

Members of the Fall River city council want to put up roadblocks to prevent Mayor Jasiel Correia from removing office-holders who opposed his re-election, Jo C. Goode reports at the Herald-News. Shortly after he won re-election despite being recalled from office, Correia removed two members of the school committee –one whom ran against him and another who endorsed that opponent. The proposed resolution, which will be taken up Tuesday, cites Correia’s “political retaliation” and would require council review before some officeholders could be removed. 

Herald News

Women’s Legislative Breakfast

The Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus will host our first annual Women’s Legislative Breakfast at the State House on Thursday, March 21, 2019 in celebration of Women’s History Month.

Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus

STEM and the Massachusetts Workforce Challenge

Already, the college degree pipeline in Massachusetts is inadequate to meet demand, and workforce supply, especially in STEM fields, must be better cultivated in the Commonwealth’s own backyard. Join us as we bring together business, education and public policy leaders to discuss the critical topic of the interconnection between STEM education, public policy and the changing needs in Massachusetts’ workforce.

State House News Forum

Kathy Kelly: Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan: What’s happening and what can we do?

Kathy is just coming off her fast to call attention to the need for the U.S. to end its joint war with the Saudis against Yemen. She is the founder of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, and for many years has visited the war-torn countries of the Middle East and supported those working for peace in those countries.

Massachusetts Peace Action

Fun in the Tropics at Franklin Park Zoo

Escape to the Tropics with the Zoo’s young professionals group, The Wild Things, at Franklin Park Zoo! Join us in your best luau gear as you dance and limbo your way through the Tropical Forest with friends!

Franklin Park Zoo

Today’s Headlines

Metro

Somerville Licensing Commission waives application fees for cannabis dispensaries – DigBoston

Boston makes it move into electricity purchasing for its residents and businesses – Boston Globe

Massachusetts

Westfield State University faculty vote no confidence in president – MassLive

MassDOT: Worcester airport has $97M economic impact – Worcester Business Journal

Beverly students push for lower voting age – Salem News

Attleboro area lawmakers don’t like idea of raising gas taxes – Sun Chronicle

Nation

A Mar-a-Lago weekend and an act of God: Trump’s history with Deutsche Bank – New York Times

‘He’s the real deal’: Beto’s jaw-dropping windfall quiets critics – Politico

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