Baker and Walsh in D.C., Cannabis commission, and more
— Gov. Charlie Baker and Boston Mayor Martin Walsh are in Washington, D.C., participating in a morning panel discussion hosted by Mike Allen of Axios and later meeting with Delaware Sen. Tom Carper, a Democrat and ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, followed by a sit-down with the Massachusetts Congressional delegation.
— Department of Environmental Protection is scheduled to continue the hearing on an appeal of the air quality permit it issued for Enbridge’s natural gas-fired compressor station in North Weymouth, DEP offices, One Winter St., Boston, 9 a.m.
— Cannabis Control Commission meets to vote a final license for a medical marijuana dispensary and 13 provisional recreational marijuana licenses, and discuss a policy to allow marijuana use in certain public social settings, Health Policy Commission, 50 Milk St., Boston, 10 a.m.
— Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito joins Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy and local officials to co-chair a regional Economic Development Planning EDPC Engagement Session at Springfield Technical Community College, One Armory Square, Building 2, 7th Floor, Springfield, 11 a.m.
— Attorney General Maura Healey and Framingham Mayor Yvonne Spicer hold a press conference to discuss the rehabilitation of the Sarah Clayes House, a historic home that was refurbished with assistance from Healey’s Abandoned Housing Initiative, 657 Salem End Rd., Framingham, 11 a.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.
Hang it up: House passes handheld phone ban in cars
The House yesterday passed legislation that would ban the use of handheld cell phones in cars and Shira Schoenberg at MassLive puts the 155-2 vote into perspective: “This was the first time that the House has voted in favor of a ban, a policy that has passed the Senate in prior years and has the support of Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican. The Senate is expected to take up a version of a hands-free bill next month.” SHNS’s Katie Lannan (pay wall) has more on what looks like a done-deal in regards to approving the ban.
Lawmakers hatch plan to alter voter-approved protections for egg-laying hens
This is a curious one. WGBH’s Michael Deehan reports that, tucked into the House budget, is a provision that would slightly loosen the 2016 voter-approved law that mandated larger enclosures for egg-laying hens – and the measure is supported by both opponents and some proponents of the old Question 3 ballot question. It’s not a big change per se, by the sound of it, but it’s enough to draw criticism that it’s compromising the intent of the law.
U.S. House passes Wampanoag land bill after last week’s presidential Twitter tussle
Bottom line: A possible tribal casino is now back in play in Massachusetts. From Carrie Jung at WBUR: “A bill aimed at securing the federal trust status of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe’s land in southeastern Massachusetts has passed the U.S. House. … Lawmakers were supposed to vote on the bill last week under a process that would’ve required a two-thirds vote for approval. But its sponsors pulled it last minute after President Trump in a tweet called it a ‘special interest casino bill’ and encouraged Republicans not to vote for it.”
Sarah Betancourt at CommonWealth magazine has more, including how U.S. Rep. Bill Keating ushered the bill through the House.
The state’s transportation crisis: Bold plans? What bold plans?
Despite all the talk about boldly tackling the multitude of problems facing the state’s transportation system, the Globe’s Matt Stout notices something: There are no financial plans on the legislative table. None. Just bits and pieces of ideas here and there.
Harvard law professor on university’s dismissal of dean: Embarrassing
Harvard Law School professor Randall Kennedy is uncorking on the university for removing law-school colleague Ronald Sullivan from his faculty dean position, in the wake of controversy over his now-ended legal work for Harvey Weinstein. Kennedy at the NYT: “I have been a professor at Harvard University for 34 years. In that time, the school has made some mistakes. But it has never so thoroughly embarrassed itself as it did this past weekend.”
Gordon College braces for layoffs and academic cuts
We have another one. From Hilary Burns at the BBJ: “Gordon College is making budget cuts as part of efforts to withstand ongoing disruption within the higher education sector. The private Christian liberal arts college, founded in 1889 and located in Wenham, said it is cutting its $58 million operating budget by 7 percent over two years and hopes to create new revenue sources. The budget cuts will result in layoffs and fewer academic offerings.”
BU professor rips DEP for allegedly getting ‘coaching’ from compressor proponent
Nathan Phillips, a Boston University earth and environment professor, is alleging that the state Department of Environmental Protection has received “coaching” on how to model air quality from a company seeking a natural gas compressor station in Weymouth, reports Chris Lisinksi at State House News Service.
The allegations come as DEP hears an appeal of its decision to grant a permit for the station – and activists are most definitely remaining active in their opposition to the permit, Lisinski reports in a separate SHNS piece (pay wall).
Poll shows Biden expanding lead, Warren still in second-tier territory, Moulton holding steady at 0 percent
For what it’s worth: A monthly Reuters/Ipsos poll shows that Joe Biden got a nice bounce in support following his recent announcement he’s running for president, expanding his lead to 29 percent over Bernie Sanders’s 13 percent. U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren was tied for third, at 6 percent, with Kamala Harris and Beto O’Rourke. And how, pray tell, is U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton doing following his own recent presidential-candidacy announcement? He got 0 percent (as in “zero”).
Union work rules could further drive up cost of most expensive high school in state history
They must be going for a Guinness World Record. The price tag for a new Lowell High School — already on track to be the most expensive school-building project in state history — could rise by as much as $40 million if the city requires a “project labor agreement” that spells out union hiring requirements over the course of the five-year project, Elizabeth Dobbins reports at the Lowell Sun. In response to a demand from local union leaders for a deal that covers the entirety of the project, city manager Eileen Donoghue said as much as 15 percent could be added to the bottom line of the $343.3 million mega-project.
TSA is trying to be hip and cool about pot at airports, but don’t push ‘em too hard
The folks at the Transportation Security Administration “think we’re cool,” but not so cool as to turn a blind eye to passengers bringing marijuana through security checkpoints at Logan and other airports, reports the Globe’s Felecia Gans. So what happens when TSA officials find a little pot in suitcases? They call the State Police, who usually point to trash cans where passengers can dispose what’s legal in Massachusetts but not legal on federally-regulated planes.
T fares rising faster than cost of driving
Andy Metzger at CommonWealth magazine looks back, way back, at the data and finds that T fares have risen faster than the cost of driving cars in Massachusetts. Not exactly a smart policy if you’re trying to encourage people to take public transit and reduce carbon emissions.
The Chinese maker of T’s new subway cars facing growing opposition in Washington
Speaking of the T, Jim Kinney at MassLive has an update on the controversy swirling around China’s CRRC, maker of the MBTA’s new subway cars and the contractor of subway cars in other cities. The list of complaints now being aired in Washington range from alleged Chinese government-backed subsidies allowing CRRC to underbid rivals to national security concerns. Universal Hub notices that at the heart of the complaints may be a group representing CRRC’s chief competitors.
Teflon Charlie: How does he do it?
The Globe’s Joan Vennochi is going after Gov. Charlie Baker this morning, following the latest curious development at the State Police, where key documents in the OT scandal were recently destroyed, allegedly by folks just following bureaucratic document-disposal rules. “There are honest state troopers whose reputations are being dragged through the mud of this corruption scandal,” Vennochi writes. “Yet the mud slides off Baker. Isn’t it time for something to stick?”
USS Constitution captain fires broadside at private security company
Consider this a warning shot. From Sean Philip Cotter at the Herald: “The commander of the USS Constitution says he’s concerned about the staffing of the civilian contractors guarding Old Ironsides, and didn’t rule out closing the ship for the day if he saw a risk. ‘If there is ever a time when security is inadequate, it is my duty and obligation to make that call,’ Navy Cmdr. Nathaniel Shick, who’s in charge of the historic ship, told the Herald.”
The Thornton case: They had the goods but not the nerve
Staff attorneys at the Federal Election Commission say they found evidence that Boston law firm Thornton illegally refunded millions of dollars in political contributions made by its employees, but a deadlocked vote among partisan members of the commission means there will not be formal inquiry, Andrea Estes reports in the Globe. Donations, made primarily to Democrats ahead of the 2016 election cycle, were allegedly paid back via bonuses. So who stopped the case from moving forward? The FEC’s two Republican members. File under: ‘Go figure.’
Might Boston’s whole-hearted support of school-funding reform have something to do with $100M?
Michael Jonas at CommonWealth reports that a proposed change in the state’s school-aid formula could be a boon for Boston — as much as $100 million – due to one provision related to charter-school funding. Jonas explains.
California Trump supporter pleads guilty to threatening Globe employees
From Universal Hub: “As expected, Robert Chain, 68, of Encino, CA, pleaded guilty (Wednesday) to federal charges related to the more than one dozen phone calls he made to the Boston threatening to shoot Globe employees in the head.”
State Medal of Valor awarded to two Hampden County sheriff’s corporals
Here’s some welcome (and well-earned) good news about police officers in Massachusetts, via MassLive: “Two corporals from the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department were awarded the state Medal of Valor on Tuesday for courageous actions which likely saved the life of a distressed person in the department’s care. Hampden County Sheriff’s Department corporals Ian McCollum and Fernando ‘Freddy’ Amaral were honored for going above and beyond the call of duty at the 22nd annual Correctional Employee of the Year ceremony at the State House.”
Baker nominates public safety aide for judgeship
This isn’t the first administration official to get a court nod – and probably won’t be the last. From SHNS’s Matt Murphy (pay wall): “One of the Baker administration’s senior public safety officials, who has worked on everything from the opioid crisis to impaired driving, was nominated by Gov. Charlie Baker for a judgeship on Wednesday. The nomination of Jennifer Queally, undersecretary for law enforcement in the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, for a circuit judgeship at the District Court was one of two new judicial nominations made by the governor.”
Troubling sign? MGM Springfield says April revenue fell 15 percent
Hmm. MGM Springfield says gamblers dropped $21.8 million at its slots and table games in April, a 15 percent decrease from the month before as the state’s only full-fledged resort casino braces for the arrival of Encore Boston in a matter of weeks. MGM said it was “pleased” with its “overall performance,” but Jim Kinney of MassLive reports the casino is only falling further behind its pre-opening projections, which predicted nearly $35 million in monthly gross gaming revenue.
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.
The Fletcher School Class Day Ceremony address
The Fletcher School is welcoming Susan Rice, former U.S. National Security Advisor and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, will deliver the Class Day speech at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University on Saturday, May 18.
Conversation in Civic Innovation: The Role of Apprenticeships in the MA Innovation Economy
Is there another path to preparing candidates for tech careers? Apprenticeships have served as a thoughtful method of workforce development in the US for decades. In Europe apprenticeships have evolved to support careers in the innovation economy. Some states in the US – South Carolina and Washington state – are thinking about how apprenticeships can help prepare more candidates for tech jobs.
NAIOP/SIOR Mid-Year Market Roundup
Please join NAIOP and SIOR for one of the industry’s premier market forecasts. Explore the drivers and market fundamentals behind the statistics, including trends, new growth areas and a general outlook for the future.
Old North Speaker Series: James Farrell – The Child Independence is Born
Did the Revolution begin with the writs of assistance trial? To answer that question, we will review the purpose and function of writs of assistance within the political, legal, and economic environment of colonial Massachusetts, and discuss the constitutional dispute over writs of assistance in the 1761 trial.
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