Happening Today

Baker in California, Senate budget, and more

— Gov. Charlie Baker is in Mountain View, California today for the ASPIRE Forum on energy, hosted by Bloom Energy.

— The Health Care Financing Committee will review 30 bills dealing with health system contracting, networks, prices and rates, Gardner Auditorium, 10:30 a.m.

— Organizers hold a press conference to preview findings and recommendations of the Special Commission on Local and Regional Health, Room 222, 10:30 a.m.

Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight holds a hearing on Gov. Charlie Baker’s $1.1 billion borrowing bill for information technology, public safety equipment and cybersecurity, along with various ‘honorary’ bills that would designate new state emblems and holidays, Room 437, 1 p.m.

Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture holds a hearing on 25 bills, many of which deal with energy policy and recreation issues, Room A-2, 1 p.m.

Committee on Revenue meets to take testimony on bills related to the sales tax and excise tax, including legislation by Gov. Charlie Baker to raise $137 million annually through an increase in the excise tax paid on real estate transfers, Hearing Room B-2, 1 p.m.

— The Senate Ways and Means Committee holds an executive session to vote on its fiscal 2020 budget bill, Room 428, 2 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

Lawmakers appear ready to ban handheld phones in cars

SHNS’s Katie Lannan (pay wall) and MassLive’s Shira Schoenberg report that House lawmakers appear ready to go along with the Senate in banning handheld cell phones in cars – and a vote on a ban could come as soon as next week. Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, supports the measure.

The Globe’s Matt Stout reports that House Speaker Robert DeLeo is planning to discuss with other chamber leaders a “two-pronged bill” that would address distracted driving and concerns that a ban could lead to racial profiling.

Baker and Spilka on budget surplus: Handle with care

Sure, there’s more than a few people on Beacon Hill who would love to spend what may be a rather large end-of-year state budget surplus, thanks to a huge influx of tax-collection revenues in April. But SHNS’s Matt Murphy reports that Gov. Charlie Baker and Senate President Karen Spilka believe a large bulk of any surplus, which could conceivably reach as high as $1 billion, should be socked away in the state’s reserve fund.

The Herald’s Mary Markos reports that others are cautioning that last month’s tax-collection windfall is probably just a one-month affair.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Pork busters? Not these GOP lawmakers

The Globe’s Victoria McGrane and Matt Stout report how some Republicans have expressed shock and dismay at the recent behind-the-scenes budget antics of the Democratic-controlled House. But behind the scenes Republican leaders were grabbing whatever tax dollars they could get for their districts, in an old-fashioned display of “budget pork” spending.

Boston Globe

‘Mnuchin Gives Richie the Bird, Not Trump’s Taxes’

From the AP at MassLive: “Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has made it official: The administration won’t be turning President Donald Trump’s tax returns over to the Democratic-controlled House. Mnuchin told Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., in a Monday letter that the panel’s request ‘lacks a legitimate legislative purpose’ as Supreme Court precedent requires.”  The NYT reports the case is now likely headed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, Matt Szafranski at Western Mass Politics & Insight provides some background info on the controversy, as well as providing us with the headline above. 

Neal’s ‘Richiepalooza,’ Part II: Steak houses, Celts and Bruins games, etc.

Speaking of U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, David Daley, who last month was taking shots at Neal’s prolific fundraising extravaganzas, writes at the Globe this morning about Neal’s apparent love for steak houses, waterfront dining, boutique hotels, Bruins and Celts games, etc. etc., all paid for via a campaign fund stuffed with corporate contributions.

Boston Globe

Lelling defends charges against judge: ‘There’s nothing political about this case’

U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling last night defended his office’s charges against a sitting state judge accused of helping an undocumented immigrant to escape detention by an ICE agent, saying that there was “nothing political” about the indictment and that it was a strict “rule-of-law case.” Appearing on WGBH’s Greater Boston, Lelling also took swipes at state and local prosecutors now criticizing his move, noting that none of them stepped forward to initially complain about the judge’s actions. WGBH staff and the Globe’s Danny McDonald have more.

T’s ambitious repair program runs into a problem: Lack of staffing

CommonWealth magazine’s Andy Metzger and the Globe’s Adam Vaccao report that the T is rethinking the pace and approach towards its ambitious big-bucks plan to fix the transit agency’s infrastructure in coming years. Among the problems: It currently doesn’t have the staff to handle an immediate flood of repair projects. 

Metco moves to a lottery system to choose students

It makes more sense than the current quasi-birthright system. From the Globe’s James Vaznis: “The days of Boston families signing up their children for the Metco program as soon as they are born are now history. Massachusetts education officials have given the voluntary school integration program permission to choose students through a lottery instead of on a first-come first-serve basis, in an effort to bring more fairness to those who get in. Under the changes, announced Monday, parents will be able to submit applications only in the fall for the following school year.”

Boston Globe

Ex-GOP chair Nassour announces run for Boston City Council

Jennifer Nassour, the former chair of the state Republican Party and a Back Bay resident, has announced she’s running for the Boston City Council seat now held by Josh Zakim, who isn’t seeking re-election following his failed primary bid last year for secretary of state. Though council elections are non-partisan affairs, Universal Hub notes of Nassour: “If elected, she might be the first city councilor to publicly identify as a Republican since John Sears left in 1981.”

Universal Hub

Rollins, Creem and Maila: Don’t forget women in criminal justice debate

In a Globe opinion piece, Suffolk DA Rachael Rollins, Sen. Cynthia Creem and Rep. Liz Malia say more focus is needed on the plight of female inmates being released from state prisons: “The state has a dearth of community-based residential reentry services for women as they make the often difficult transition from incarceration back into the community. It’s time for that to change.”

Boston Globe

Prosecutors ask SJC for tighter bail rules

Speaking of criminal justice, from Christian Wade at the Salem News: “Prosecutors asked the state’s highest court on Monday to expand the list of criminal offenses under which suspects can be kept in jail because of the danger they pose to society. The case before the Supreme Judicial Court involves the release on bail of a 49-year-old Lawrence police officer who is accused of engaging in sexual acts with a 13-year-old boy.”

Salem News

Healey fines companies for asking job applicants about criminal histories

One more criminal-justice related item, from Shira Schoenberg at MassLive: “Two Massachusetts companies – Brooks Brothers and DesignWerkes – have been fined $5,000 each and required to remove from their job applications questions about applicants’ criminal histories. Attorney General Maura Healey’s office also sent warnings to 17 other companies requiring them to remove similar questions from their job applications.”


Boston cop whose gun was stolen by two R.I. strippers is fired

There seems to be unspoken societal unanimity on this one. From Marc Fortier at NBC Boston: “A Boston police officer who allegedly had his gun stolen from him by two exotic dancers earlier this year has been fired. Boston police confirmed Monday that Officer Emanuel Brandao was terminated as of March 31. He was placed on leave immediately following the incident. No further details were released.”

Are further details – or explanations – even required?

NBC Boston

Settled: Utility, communities to announce gas explosion deal

Columbia Gas has reached a deal to settle lawsuits from the communities of Lawrence, Andover and North Andover to fund costs associated with the September 2018 natural gas explosions and fires, Kristin LaFratta reports at MassLive. The payouts are expected to cover the direct costs communities bore in responding to the disaster as well as other work, such as repairs to roads dug up to address the over-pressurization issue blamed for the blasts.

Nurses push staffing ratios that voters rejected only last year

File under ‘If at first you don’t succeed …’ From the BBJ’s Jessica Bartlett: “Six months after losing an expensive battle to establish limits on how many patients a nurse could have at one time, the Massachusetts Nurses Association is backing legislation that would lay the groundwork for creating patient limits. The legislation, sponsored by state Sen. Diana DiZoglio and state Rep. Dan Ryan, would ask the Department of Public Health and the state’s Health Policy Commission to hire an independent researcher” to study various nursing issues, including staffing.


Despite joy-ride breach, Massport says Worcester airport security sufficient

Everything’s fine. Massport says no new security measures are planned for Worcester Regional Airport after a man allegedly jumped a fence and took a fuel truck on a brief joy ride onto the runway, George Barnes reports in the Telegram. Massport says both it and State Police determined security measures already in place in Worcester are sufficient.


Friendly’s and Garelick Farms owner explores possible sale of units

Frankly, we’ve lost track of how many times Friendly’s has been sold, carved up and/or restructured over the years. From Jim Kinney at MassLive: “The Friendly’s ice cream manufacturing business is for sale — along with Lynn-based dairy company Garelick Farms — as parent company Dean Foods Co. looks to restructure in the face of competition and declining milk consumption.” Fyi: The Wall Street Journal (pay wall) originally broke the story yesterday

Marblehead latest to say Goodbye Columbus Day

They’re making the switch. Town meeting voters in Marblehead have given the heave-ho to Columbus Day, electing to join the growing movement designating the October day off as Indigenous People’s Day, after a spirited debate on the topic, Ethan Forman reports at the Salem News. 

Salem News

Encore Boston’s request for 4 a.m. liquor license meets resistance

Encore Boston Harbor’s request for 4 a.m. liquor licenses at the future casino is not sitting well with some pols and anti-casino activists, reports Sean Philip Cotter and Brooks Sutherland at the Herald. But Scott Croteau at MassLivereports that MGM Springfield was granted a 4 a.m. license by regulators, so one assumes Encore will also get its wish.

Btw, from the Globe’s Jaclyn Reiss: “These are the 15 bars and restaurants opening at Encore Boston.’ 

Boston Herald

George Perrot pleads not guilty to latest rape charge

From Kristin LaFratta at MassLIve: “George Perrot, a Springfield native who was released from prison after 30 years for a rape conviction that was later overturned, pleaded not guilty to more recent allegations that he sexually assaulted a woman on Jan. 4. Perrot, 50, was held without bail in Salem Superior Court on Monday after he pleaded not guilty to charges of rape, open and gross lewdness, resisting arrest and assault and battery on a police officer.”

Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni says Perrot should never have been released from prison in the first place, reports Patrick Johnson at MassLive.


DCF family resource workers: Understaffed, overstretched

In her continuing series on the state’s foster-care system, Shira Schoenberg at MassLive reports that the Baker administration has indeed beefed up staff and funding at the Department of Children and Families. But there’s one area where workers still feel overwhelmed: Those overseeing foster parents. Schoenberg explains.


More sober houses, please, except in Falmouth

Sarah Mizes-Tan at WGBH takes a look at the growing need for alcohol- and drug-addiction rehab facilities in Massachusetts, though, curiously, not in Falmouth, which already has more than its fair share of sober houses due the nearby presence of addiction-treatment center Gosnold.


Young Dems at UMass join boycott of party’s Congressional committee

They’re in. College Democrats at UMass Amherst have signed onto a boycott movement that seeks to punish the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for taking a stand seen as punishing consultants and others who have worked to unseat incumbent Democrats facing primary challenges, Dusty Christensen reports at the Daily Hampshire Gazette.


Advanced Analytics and Artificial Intelligence Impact on Healthcare

This forum will provide attendees with the opportunity to hear both pros and cons as the healthcare industry moves forward with these types of advancements in technologies. In light of Governor Baker’s comments regarding the space, we welcome further dialog as to what is real and what is science fiction.

Sen. Jo Comerford, Rep. Paul Mark, and SAS

Offshore Wind Panel

YPE is excited to announce that we will be hosting a panel discussion on offshore wind energy at WilmerHale later this spring! Our panelists and moderator represent a diverse group of stakeholder interests from the growing offshore wind industry here in Boston, from finance and development to engineering and manufacturing.

YPE Boston

NETWORK Conference

The Massachusetts Coalition for Adult Education (MCAE) brings together over 500 adult educators, counselors, administrators, volunteers, and activists for its annual NETWORK Conference, the largest gathering of its kind in New England.

Massachusetts Coalition for Adult Education (MCAE)

Intro to Construction Management Onsite Course

This is a two-part course that will be held on May 10, 2019, and May 17, 2019. Introduction to Construction Management will provide students with a practical understanding of the planning, design and construction processes from project initiation to closeout.

NAIOP Massachusetts

Book Talk: Boston’s 20th-Century Bicycling Renaissance

Author talk and book signing with Lorenz J. Finison, author of the new book Boston’s Twentieth-Century Bicycling Renaissance.

State Library of Massachusetts

A Conversation With Bill Cummings

Young professionals are invited to hear from Cummings Properties founder Bill Cummings as he discusses his career, dedication to philanthropy and new self-written memoir.

NAIOP Massachusetts

Poverty and Inequality in Boston: A Tale of Two Cities?

Join us for a discussion about what we can do about income inequality in Boston.

A Faith that Does Justice

JALSA 2019 Annual Meeting

The Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action is devoted to engaging the community in promoting civil rights, protecting civil liberties and achieving social, economic, racial, and environmental justice.


Massachusetts Clean Community Awards Gala

The Massachusetts Clean Community Awards Gala recognize volunteers, nonprofit leaders, government leaders, businesses, and educators for exceptional environmental protection and community improvement efforts. This celebration will be chock full of inspiring stories, good food, drink, and entertainment! WCVB news anchors Emily Riemer and Ben Simmoneau will emcee the event.

Keep Massachusetts Beautiful

Today’s Headlines


In South Boston, a tiny triangle of land sparks big legal battle – Boston Globe

Northeastern proposes second science, engineering complex – Boston Business Journal


Former Greenfield Mayor Forgey enters race for city council – Greenfield Recorder

Marlborough to become first Mass. community to implement Museum in the Streets – MetroWest Daily News

Passenger rail ridership continues to climb on Valley line – Daily Hampshire Gazette


A leading planner of Trump’s inauguration says White House threw her under the bus – New York Times

Ahead of 2020, Microsoft unveils tool to allow voters to track their ballots – NPR

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