Gaming Commission, road safety bill, Senate session
— The Massachusetts Rivers Alliance will host a press conference on a bill requiring public notification when there is a sewage spill in a waterbody, with Sen. Pat Jehlen, Reps. Linda Campbell and Denise Provost, Environment Massachusetts State Director Ben Hellerstein and others expected to speak, State House, Room 222, 9:30 a.m.
— Gov. Charlie Baker and First Lady Lauren Baker will visit the Professional Center for Child Development as ‘guest readers,’ Professional Center for Child Development, 32 Osgood St., Andover, 9:30 a.m.
— Annual Vietnam Veterans Memorial Day ceremonies honor the lives and legacies of the state’s Vietnam-era veterans, Memorial Hall, 10 a.m.
— The Gaming Commission meets, 101 Federal St., 12th floor, Boston, 10 a.m.
— The Joint Committee on Transportation meets to review Gov. Charlie Baker’s road safety bill, which included a proposed ban on hand-held cell phones in cars, and other legislation, Room A-2, 10 a.m.
— The Massachusetts Senate plans a formal session, with consideration expected on the so-called cap on kids and conversion therapy bills, Senate Chamber, 12 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.
Marijuana monopolies, Part II: Regulators probing if pot firms are already too big for their britches
From the Globe’s Todd Wallack and Dan Adams: “State regulators acknowledged Wednesday they have been investigating whether large marijuana companies are flouting state rules on the number of licenses that can be controlled or owned by a single entity, potentially making it harder for smaller, independent entrepreneurs to compete.”
Both the Globe’s Spotlight Team and the Boston Business Journal have recently reported that some companies already exceed state limits on how many licenses they can control – and have even bragged about their market clout to investors.
No-stop pot: Uxbridge drive-through marijuana shop gets town OK
Happy meals indeed. An Uxbridge businessman — who happens to be a member of the town’s planning board — is proposing to turn an old car wash into the state’s first drive-through cannabis shop, Susan Spencer reports at the Telegram. The town signed a host community agreement with Ironstone Express Inc. even though three such deals have already been struck — the limit set by voters. The proposal still needs to clear the Cannabis Control Commission.
UMass president hints at 2.5 percent tuition hike – if lawmakers don’t fork over more dough
After advancing a 1.5 percent tuition increase for UMass medical students, university officials are now eyeing a potential 2.5 percent tuition hike for UMass undergraduates, or at least that’s the number president Marty Meehan let slip yesterday if legislators don’t approve the system’s full funding request, reports SHNS’s Katie Lannan.
Fourteen Springfield police officers indicted in off-duty beating case
State Police and Springfield police must be in some sort of competition. From Dan Glaun at MassLive: “Twelve Springfield police officers, one retired officer and a former officer who now works for the Massachusetts State Police have been indicted on allegations of participating in or lying about the 2015 off-duty beating of a group of men after an argument at a Springfield bar.”
Scott Croteau at MassLive reports the 12 active SPD officers have all been suspended without pay.
Sorry, kids: Worcester nixes bid to let 16-year-olds vote
The Worcester City Council has spiked a bid to gain its support for a push to give 16-year-old residents the right to vote in local and state elections, Nick Kotsopolous reports at the Telegram. A local activist asked the council to support a bill filed by Worcester’s own Sen. Harriette Chandler — or at least send it to committee for further study — but the council decided against any further action.
DeLeo: We don’t need a new working group to study the tax code
From the Globe’s Victoria McGrane: “The Massachusetts House will not participate in a Senate-hatced working group to study overhauling the state tax code — and instead it will look at the state’s tax system through its existing Revenue Committee, Speaker Robert A. DeLeo said on Wednesday.” SHNS’s Matt Murphy (pay wall) reports that Gov. Charlie Baker is once again expressing his opposition to new broad-based tax increases, if that’s indeed Spilka’s ultimate aim in establishing the working group.
The search for the burial site of America’s first published poet: Anne Bradstreet
Anne Bradstreet’s 1650 book of poetry, “The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America,” was a big hit in colonial America and her native England, but she’s largely forgotten today. But now some scholars are hunting for her burial site, believed to be in North Andover, in an attempt to restore her legacy as North America’s first published poet, reports the AP’s Astrid Galvan at WGBH. Btw: Bradstreet was also the daughter of a colonial-era Massachusetts governor and later the wife of a Massachusetts governor.
Amazon reports 30 percent drop in long-term jobs in Fall River
This is interesting, especially since the company was awarded nearly $15 million in state and local tax breaks to open the facility. From the BBJ’s Greg Ryan: “Amazon.com Inc.’s full-time, permanent workforce at its Fall River fulfillment center fell by more than 400 employees in 2018, a drop of more than 30 percent from a year prior, state records show.” Amazon’s seasonal-fluctuations explanation doesn’t make much sense. But you decide.
Berkshire Mall’s deadbeat owner: A trail of unpaid bills and shuttered malls across the country
Jim Kinney at MassLive reports that the owner of the Berkshire Mall, now sitting empty with the lights most definitely turned out, has a pattern of not paying his tax and utility bills at dozens of other malls across the country, leading to intermittent shutdowns without warning, as was the case at the Berkshire Mall.
Super-hero actor says he may ‘cut ties’ with Tom Brady if he’s still a Trump supporter
Chris Evans, the Sudbury native who plays Captain America on the silver screen, says he might have to “cut ties” with Tom Brady if it turns out he’s still a supporter of President Trump, reports Spencer Buell at Boston Magazine. Perhaps we’ll pay a little more attention to Evans after he’s won six Academy Awards. Until then, we’re sticking with the guy who’s won six Super Bowls.
Conversion therapy bill: More symbolism than substance?
As the Senate prepares to possibly vote today on the so-called gay conversion therapy bill, Sarah Betancourt notes there’s one thing missing in the legislation: An adequate enforcement mechanism. Other states have passed similar bans – and none of them have seen any disciplinary actions due to lack of enforcement measures, she writes.
Scituate backs off political yard-sign limits after ACLU complains
Scituate selectmen have decided to stop enforcing a bylaw that limits use of political signs on residential yards and elsewhere in town after the ACLU warned officials the partial ban was unconstitutional, reports Mary Whitfil at Wicked Local.
RoboDoc: Physician disciplined for signing hundreds of online prescriptions without meeting anyone
Widget factory, prescriptions factory, same difference. From Colman Herman at CommonWealth magazine: “The State Board of Registration in Medicine has disciplined a New Jersey-based physician for prescribing prescription drugs over the internet without ever having examined his patients. “ He was apparently paid $30 per signed prescription for about 860 patients, 80 of whom lived in Massachusetts.
The media really wants to see that Kraft video …
From the Globe’s Travis Andersen: “Several media outlets pushed back Wednesday against a request by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and other defendants charged with soliciting prostitution in Florida to keep evidence sealed in the case, including video footage of the alleged sex acts. The outlets, including The New York Times, ESPN, Associated Press, and ABC, filed a motion this week in a Palm Beach County courthouse opposing the request by lawyers for Kraft, 77, and the other defendants to keep the evidence hidden from public view.”
Curiously, there’s no mention of local media outlets signing onto the filing.
GateHouse to partner with Google on digital subscriptions
Speaking of the media, Dan Kennedy reports at his media blog that GateHouse Media, owner of a slew of daily and weekly newspapers in Massachusetts, will partner with Google News on a digital-subscriptions project, following Tuesday’s announcement that Google will partner with the McClatchy chain. Dan has the internal GateHouse memo.
She knew about Steve Wynn’s sexual misconduct – and walked out the door with a cool $9M
This is interesting to know as the state Gaming Commission prepares to hold three days of hearings next week on whether the Everett casino license should be yanked from Wynn Resorts. From Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine: “Kim Sinatra, a top Wynn Resorts official caught up in the scandal over Steve Wynn’s sexual misconduct, walked out the door of the company last summer with more than $9 million in cash and stock, according to a company proxy statement released on Wednesday. … In January, Nevada gaming regulators identified her as one of several officials who became aware of sexual misconduct allegations made against Steve Wynn but failed to take any action.”
Fast track or off track? Mashpee tribe’s land bill headed for Congressional hearing
Speaking of gambling, Taunton residents who successfully halted work on the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe’s First Light casino in Taunton say they’re ready to testify before a Congressional subcommittee examining a bill that would allow the tribe to side-step that legal hurdle, Tanner Stening reports at the Cape Cod Times. As recently as last week, Bay State lawmakers had hoped to fast track the bill directly to a vote in the House.
Here’s a better plan to soak the rich …
Larry Summers, the Harvard economist, and Natasha Sarin, an assistant law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, write at the Boston Globe that they agree with U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez that the nation needs to raise more tax revenues from the rich. But they say their seemingly humdrum idea of loophole closing, improved compliance, and closing of shelters would raise far more money.
Those electronic toll fees you pay on the Pike? Millions first go to Visa, Mastercard, American Express etc.
Did you know the state has to fork over $4.3 million a year to big banks and credit-card companies to process all those electronic toll fees on the Pike? It’s one of the reasons why the switch to all-electronic tolling in 2016 isn’t saving as much money as originally projected, reports Mary Markos at the Herald.
The Charlie Baker Housing Roadshow: Coming soon to a community near you
The Globe’s Jon Chesto reports that Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito are hitting the road to promote the governor’s housing bill that he says is necessary to address the housing crisis in Massachusetts. The only question is: Will local community leaders and Beacon Hill lawmakers buy into the plan?
Cows stampede through Dartmouth, police on high bovine alert
OK, they didn’t quite stampede, but some Scottish Highland Cattle have been escaping a local farm on a fairly regular basis and Dartmouth police have now issued a pun-filled bovines-on-the-loose alert. Melissa Hanson at MassLive has more. And, yes, we technically got through this post without our own bovine puns, thank you.
Boston moves closer to allowing electric scooters on streets
Speaking of rampages in the streets, electric scooters will legally start darting around Brookline next week. And if Boston has its way, the electronic wonders could soon be zipping around city streets as well, after action taken yesterday by the city council. Adam Gaffin at Universal Hub has the details.
House approves $8M to cover loss of fed Title X funding
Next up, the Senate. From Shira Schoenberg at MassLive: “The Massachusetts House voted Wednesday to authorize up to $8 million in state spending over a little more than a year to reimburse family planning clinics for any money they lose under a new federal rule. ‘We want to be prepared to make sure that these facilities are operating and that they can provide health services for women,’ said House Speaker Robert DeLeo, D-Winthrop.” The House vote was expected, btw.
Salem councilor wants art support in city budget — just like Seattle
Salem: Like Seattle, but with witches? A Salem councilor wants the city to start setting aside a percentage of its capital budget each year for public art and events, borrowing a page from other cities, including Seattle. Councilor Christine Madore is pitching the “percent for art” ordinance, saying it would help cement the city’s reputation as a cultural destination and boost projects that currently rely on private grants, Dustin Luca reports at the Salem News.
Lobby 101 – Methuen
Wondering how to get involved in improving animal protection in Massachusetts? At this event, we will discuss the legislative process, current legislation you can take action on, and different ways that you can effectively use your voice to make a difference for animals.
Energy Efficiency & CRE: Ambitious New Goals, Codes and Technologies
Passive house, carbon-free, increased electrification, solar rooftop requirements, a new energy code, new energy efficiency goals, and greenhouse gas reductions for buildings…what does it all mean for commercial real estate and how do we get there?
Invite Your Legislator to School Day
The Massachusetts Association of 766 Approved Private Schools (maaps) is hosting 6 “Invite Your Legislator to School” Days at special education schools across the Commonwealth.
2nd Annual Milford DTC Spring Brunch
The Milford DTC’s second annual spring brunch will honor police chief Thomas O’Loughlin for his years of service to the town. Sen. Jamie Eldridge, Framingham city councilor Margareth Shepard, rep. Brian Murray, rep. Jeff Roy, and Worcester Co. register of deeds Katie Toomey are scheduled to speak, along with town election candidates. Proceeds to benefit the group’s scholarship fund.
Impact & Opportunity – The North Shore Innovation Economy
The Biotech and the Tech industry have long been strong drivers of economic growth and job creation. Massachusetts is home to a biotechnology supercluster that is second to none. In recent years, the two industries have converged to create new industries that leverage the strength of each… empowering new fields, such as digital health and synthetic biology.
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