Happening Today

Road safety, Revenue Committee, and more

— Gov. Charlie Baker, Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack, Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver and Massachusetts State Police Major Richard Ball participate in a MassDOT Work Zone Safety Event to highlight Work Zone Awareness Week and the Governor’s proposed road safety legislation, MassDOT Highway Operations Center, 50 Massport Haul Road, Boston, 10 a.m.

— SNAP Gap Coalition joins Sen. Sal DiDomenico and Rep. Jay Livingstone for a legislative briefing titled ‘Navigating the Maze: It’s time to close the SNAP Gap and create a common application,’ House Members’ Lounge, 10:30 a.m.

Revenue Committee holds a public hearing on constitutional amendments imposing a 4 percent income surtax on households that make more than $1 million per year, known as the “millionaire’s tax,” Gardner Auditorium, 11 a.m.

— The Health Care Financing Committee reviews two dozen bills dealing with prescription drug access, cost and transparency, Room A-1, 1 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 House budget: More money for education, no new taxes

The House yesterday unveiled it proposed $42.7 billion budget, stripping out some tax increases proposed by Gov. Charlie baker while adding additional money for education. 

WGBH’s Mike Deehan has a good summary of the budget’s highlights, such as how lawmakers will weigh possible tax Increases only after the budget Is adopted and how the House and Senate seem to be on the same page on tax-debate matters. The Herald’s Mary Markos also has a good list of funding highlights, such as an additional $30 million increase for struggling nursing homes. 

Other stories that caught our attention – From the Globe’s Victoria McGrane and Matt Stout: “House proposal increases education spending over Baker’s plan.” … From Shira Schoenberg at MassLive: “Timeline for Massachusetts education reforms still unclear.” …From the SHNS (pay wall): “House bans sports betting, gambling amendments in budget.” … From Bruce Mohl and Andy Metzger at Commonwealth magazine: “Beacon Hill assuming Encore will open on time.” … From SHNS (pay wall): “Revenue advocates disappointed by House leaders’ caution on new taxes.”

And, last but not least, from the Herald’s Joe Dwinell: “DeLeo targets Cultural Council’s lavish spending.” (We just had to get that Cultural Council angle in.) 

Healey: Tax vaping and ban flavors

Martha Coakley, take note. From Alexi Cohan at the Herald: “Attorney General Maura Healey called Wednesday for banning flavored vaping products and taxing e-cigarettes to crack down on unsafe teen smoking habits in a speech before the New England Council.” The governor has also proposed taxing e-cigarettes, fyi.

Boston Herald

Healey: Governor? Senator? U.S. Attorney General?

Speaking of the AG, the Herald’s Hillary Chabot thinks Maura Healey is angling for higher office – and perhaps not just in Massachusetts.

Trahan: ‘I will not be distracted from the important work’

U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan, thrown on the defensive by reports of mysterious campaign funds popping up in her account during last year’s election, is hitting back at a Lowell Sun editorial that criticized her “weak explanations” about the dough. “I am working every day across the 37 cities and towns in our district to fulfill the promises and goals I laid out during the campaign,” Trahan writes at the Lowell Sun. “I will not be distracted from the important work ahead and will stay focused on the issues affecting our communities and families.”

Lowell Sun

A positive or a negative? Warren’s campaign raises $6M in first quarter

Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign yesterday reported that the Massachusetts senator raised $6 million during the first quarter of 2019, a number far short of fellow progressive Bernie Sanders and several Democratic newcomers, reports the Globe’s Liz Goodwin and the Washington Post’s Matt Viser. The Herald’s Joe Battenfeld says the number shows just “how far Elizabeth Warren’s star has fallen.”

Curiously, the New York Times, which recently ran a tough story on Warren’s fundraising woes, is putting a positive spin on the latest number, saying it exceeded apparently low expectations. Then again, the Times also notes that Warren saw a big bump in donations after it ran its initial negative piece a few weeks back.  

Btw: Warren yesterday also released her tax returns for 2018, showing that she and her husband made $905,742 last year, down from the $972,654 in 2017, reports SHNS’s Matt Murphy (pay wall).

Three Devens-based Marines killed in roadside bombing in Afghanistan

This is a sad one. The AP’s Rahim Faiez at WBUR reports that three U.S. Marines, whose regiment is based at Fort Devens in Massachusetts, were killed earlier this week in Afghanistan, victims of a roadside bombing in the war-torn country. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has ordered state flags to be lowered to half-staff in memory of two Marine Corps reservists who were from New York, according to WITF.


Ocasio-Cortez calls out State Street over past gender-pay controversy

It wasn’t a hard smackdown, but it was a smackdown nevertheless. The BBJ’s Greg Ryan has the details on U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s critical mention of State Street Corp.’s multimillion-dollar settlement of a gender and racial pay disparity case a few years back – and the irony of State Street’s “Fearless Girl” statue in Manhattan.

BBJ (pay wall)

Globe columnist gets a little carried away with Kirstjen Nielsen criticism

Universal Hub’s Adam Gaffin reports that the editors at the Globe had to do a little editing of a column by Luke O’Neil, who, in the column’s original online version, expresses regret for not urinating in the food of neoconservative Bill Kristol when O’Neil was a waiter at a Cambridge restaurant years ago – and how he was reminded about his long-ago outrage by the recent ouster of Kirstjen Nielsen as Homeland Security secretary. The Globe made other edits to the column as well. Adam chronicles the changes.

Not that other Globe columnists needed similar post-posting editing (we assume), like Yvonne Abraham and Joan Vennochi, both of whom have columns this morning harshly criticizing Nielsen, Trump and the administration’s immigration policies, without resorting to mentions of any inner hidden desires.

Universal Hub

Former member of Rollins’ transition team arraigned on domestic violence charges

Not exactly good political timing for Rachael Rollins, considering her recent spat with the governor. From WHDH TV: “A former member of Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins’ transition team has been arraigned on domestic violence charges, officials said. Jeremy Thompson, 41, of Roxbury, was arraigned Tuesday in Boston Municipal Court on charges of criminal harassment and assault on a family or household member, according to a spokesman for Rollins’ office. Prosecutors say Thompson threatened the mother of his child while she was working at the MBTA’s Mass. Ave. Station on Monday. “

The Globe’s John Ellement has more.


Perhaps the most ill-conceived urban shopping mall in history may soon become state offices

Universal Hub’s Adam Gaffin reports that the last vestige of the old Lafayette Mall in Downtown Crossing may soon be turned into offices for the state Department of Industrial Accidents. The space has been sitting largely empty since 2002, as UH reports, and we’d note the mall was failing well before that too.

Universal Hub

Stocking up: Police say man used EBT cards to stock restaurant fridge

Hoo boy. A Holyoke man who police say used as many as 75 different state-issued EBT cards faces charges that he spent $250,000 worth of welfare benefits to buy supplies for his wife’s restaurant, Buffy Spencer reports at MassLive. The restaurant — El Rincon Boricua in Holyoke –was closed after police raided it on Wednesday and city inspectors said they found numerous code violations. 


First-ever photo of a Black Hole: Take a bow, MIT, Harvard, BU and UMass

WBUR has a good photo of the first-ever image of a black hole in deep, deep outer space – and Spencer Buell at Boston Magazine reports how our hometown nerds at MIT, Harvard and BU played starring roles in the spectacular project. The Gazette reports UMass-Amherst folks were also involved. The Globe’s Brian MacQuarrie singles out one person for her contributions: Katie Bouman, 29, a doctoral grad at MIT.

Next victim: Rollins vows ‘battle’ with Lelling over safe injection sites

After recently tangling with Gov. Charlie Baker, Suffolk County DA Rachael Rollins may have another foe in her sights: U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling, who Rollins says she plans to “battle” with over his legal opposition to safe injection sites, as reported by Jacqueline Tempera at MassLive. Fyi: Rollins made the Lelling remarks before her unexpected weekend flare-up with Baker.


Walsh asks for $63G to fund more needle kiosks

Mayor Marty Walsh isn’t proposing to battle U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling over safe injection sites, but he is proposing more needle kiosks across the city as activists complain about the thousands upon thousands of discarded drug-addict needles laying around city parks and streets, reports the Herald’s Brooks Sutherland. Walsh’s request for additional kiosks is contained in the new $3.48 billion city budget that he unveiled yesterday. The Globe’s Milton Valencia has more on the proposed budget.

Is it too early to start talking about the 2021 mayoral race? No

David Bernstein at WGBH reports that this fall’s Boston city council races may produce the “most interesting off-year municipal election the city has seen in years” – and it could sort out who might be in the best position to run for mayor in 2021, whether or not Marty Walsh seeks a third term.


‘New England’s Great Casino War’: MGM wins battle for Green Monster advertising rights

The Globe’s Joe Chesto has an update on “New England’s Great Casino War,” i.e. how MGM nudged out Foxwoods to secure the coveted ad signage on Fenway Park’s Green Monster.

Boston Globe

Details, details: Northampton police paid $350K for pot-shop duty

Northampton police officers have been paid more than $350,000 for working details at Northampton’s New England Treatment Access, one of the first recreational pot shops to open in the state, Bera Dunau reports at the Daily Hampshire Gazette. The shop’s owners say they don’t mind the expense and it seems to be money well-spent: There have been no reports of crime near the store and the city seems to have handled any traffic impacts with minimal disruption.


Twelve is enough: Braintree’s Sullivan won’t seek re-election

He’s going to give someone else a shot. Braintree Mayor Joseph Sullivan, who was first elected to the role when the community became a city in 2007, says he won’t seek a fourth term in office, Fred Hanson reports at the Patriot Ledger. Sullivan, a former state legislator who also served as director of state’s lottery before being elected mayor, says he hasn’t decided what his next act may be.

Patriot Ledger

Schumer: Friendly’s skirted layoff laws when it closed 23 restaurants

From Jim Kinney at MassLive: “U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, criticized Friendly’s Wednesday, saying the chain based in Wilbraham, Massachusetts, didn’t give employees federally required 60-day layoff notices before closing 22 restaurants in five states over the weekend. … Fourteen of the Friendly’s locations that closed are in western and central New York.”

Senator pushes for inmate voting rights

We suspect this won’t go far. From SHNS’s Katie Lannan: “Nineteen years after Massachusetts voters agreed to a constitutional amendment banning people incarcerated on felony convictions from voting in state elections, a state senator from Pittsfield is pushing to re-enfranchise those prisoners. Sen. Adam Hinds is seeking to again amend the section of the state Constitution spelling out who is qualified to vote.”

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

The Annual Distinguished Lecture presented by David Cole, National Legal Director of the ACLU

BU Law’s Annual Distinguished Lecture Thursday, April 11th, 2019 will feature David Cole, the National Legal Director of the ACLU as he presents on the topic of “Preserving Liberty in the Trump Era: Lessons from the Legal Resistance.”

Boston University School of Law

Talk by Greg O’Brien, author of On Pluto: Inside the Mind of Alzheimer’s

Everyone knows someone who is experiencing serious cognitive decline. Greg O’Brien, journalist and author of the memoir On Pluto: Inside the Mind of Alzheimer’s, will speak about his experience as a person with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Additional information will be available. 60 minutes, FREE, as part of Nahant Public Library’s Dementia Friendly Nahant project.

Nahant Public Library

Finding Good Health Info on the Internet

Catherine Martin, M.Ed. CHIS from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine/NIH will speak to us on finding good health information on the Internet, including how people can contribute to research through the “All of Us” research program through the NIH. Additional information will be available. 60 minutes, FREE, as part of Nahant Public Library’s Dementia Friendly Nahant project.

Nahant Public Library

A Conversation with His Excellency Juan Manuel Santos Calderón

His Excellency Juan Manuel Santos Calderón, former President of Colombia, Nobel laureate, and Angelopoulos Global Public Leaders Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School, discusses key global issues and reflects on his distinguished career with Professor Ricardo Hausmann, director of Harvard’s Center for International Development and former Chief Economist of the Inter-American Development Bank.

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

Africa & the World

Join us for an evening with Zoe Marks to discuss “Africa and the World!”


“NOVA Wonders” Cambridge Science Festival Exhibition

From the mysteries of astrophysics to the secrets of the human biome, explore exhibits, presentations, and activities from local STEM organizations based on the NOVA Wonders miniseries.

NOVA Education

Today’s Headlines


Battle lines drawn over rent control in Boston – Universal Hub

Mayor’s budget will boost anti-displacement efforts – Dorchester Reporter


State commits $210 million to new Lowell High project – Lowell Sun

Berkshire Innovation Center on track for completion in October–or sooner – Berkshire Eagle

State delays decision on Vineyard Wind cable – Cape Cod Times


Sanders vows to blow up Senate rules to pass Medicaid for all – Politico

National Enquirer expected to be sold imminently as parent company faces pressure – Washington Post

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