Happening Today

Child marriage ban, Baker to unveil transportation bill, and more

Health Care for All and the Massachusetts Drug Affordability Coalition present the results of a Massachusetts poll recently conducted by the national polling firm PerryUndem, Room 428, 10 a.m.

— The Massachusetts Senate plans a formal session with plans to consider bills to end child marriage in Massachusetts, ensure consumer choice and equal access to eye care, and increase consumer transparency about insurance provider networks, Senate chamber, 11 a.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack, Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Kathleen Theoharides and MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak hold a press conference to announce the filing of a transportation bond bill, Room 157, 12 p.m.

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— U.S. Rep. and presidential candidate Seth Moulton is a guest on ‘Radio Boston,’ WBUR-FM 90.9, 3 p.m.

— Suffolk County DA Rachael Rollins is a guest on ‘NightSide,’ WBZ NewsRadio 1030, 8 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

Back on: Baker to allow RMV personnel to testify at rescheduled oversight hearing

Two days after key RMV officials were no-shows at a legislative hearing on the scandal-plagued agency, the Baker administration is reversing itself, saying the no-shows will be yes-shows at a rescheduled hearing set for next Tuesday. They’ll also provide the documents (or most of them) demanded by Democratic lawmakers. MassLive’s Steph Solis and the Herald’s Mary Markos have the details.

The Mueller testimony: Dud or dramatic moment in history?

There seems to be, at least among local media types, a general consensus that Robert Mueller’s testimony yesterday was a big dud for Democrats who had hoped it would rev up passionate support for President Trump’s ouster from office. A sample from the Globe’s Jess Bidgood: “Mueller gave his questioners little to work with on partisan footballs like impeachment or the conspiracy theories about the origins of his investigation.”

Here’s more from the local pundit class: The Globe’s Joan Vennochi thinks both Mueller and Democrats were “toast” by noon yesterday. The Herald is going all Herald this morning. From Howie Carr: “Mueller stumbles, forgets, passes on that question.” From the Herald’s Joe Battenfeld: “Dems just lost a 2020 campaign weapon in Robert Mueller.” And from the Herald’s Michael Graham: “Dems need to find another strategy, the Mueller one flopped.”

But there was one pundit outlier yesterday, i.e. the Herald’s Jeff Robbins: “The evidence is there – time for Congress to move ahead with impeachment.”

Mueller’s testimony seems to have swayed at least Trahan to the impeachment cause

Christian Wade at the Eagle Tribune reports that U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan, previously a reluctant impeachment warrior, has swung around to supporting impeachment proceedings, saying Robert Mueller’s testimony yesterday persuaded her of the need for action.

Meanwhile, Spencer Buell and Alyssa Vaughn at Boston Magazine have a guide to who does and doesn’t support impeachment among the state’s political elite. There are indeed some holdouts. Hint: Four of them are congressional members who currently face, or will likely face, primary challenges from the left.

Eagle Tribune

Federal disaster aid sought for Cape towns hammered by tornadoes

More help could be on the way. After seeing for himself the damage wrought by two Cape Cod tornadoes this week, Gov. Charlie Baker officially requested federal disaster relief for the impacted communities not long after U.S. Rep. William Keating urged him to make the call, Travis Anderson at the Globereports. Keating and Baker both praised the initial response of local emergency officials and utility crews, who have restored power to all but a few thousand customers. 

Meanwhile, Cynthia McCormick at the Cape Cod Times looks at the impact the storms could continue to have on vacationers and the important summer rental season. 

Water: The latest household item that people can’t afford?

High cell-phone, cable, electric and property tax bills. Now water? Martha F. Davis, part of a research team at Northeastern University, writes at WBUR that the price of water is getting too expensive for many residents in Massachusetts and says the state should follow the lead of others in crafting programs to make H20 more affordable for seniors and others struggling to pay bills. Here’s her full “Drop in the Bucket” report at Northeastern. 

WBUR

How Worcester became the ‘opioid painkiller capital of New England’

File under: ‘Wow.’ Pharmacies in Worcester handled more than 49 million opioid painkillers in the seven years leading up to 2012, helping set the stage for today’s opioid crisis, Grant Welker at the Worcester Business Journal reports. The number of opioids prescribed in Worcester was more than four times higher than in Boston, U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency data show.

WBJ

House passes DeLeo’s $1.3 billion climate-resilience bill

From SHNS’s Colin Young: “The Massachusetts House crossed one of Speaker Robert DeLeo’s priority bills off its list Wednesday with the unanimous passage of a bill to establish a new grant program to help cities and towns confront climate change impacts and to borrow more than $1 billion to pay for it.” Gov. Charlie Baker has his own climate-resilience bill. Where that stands now is anyone’s guess.

Btw: SHNS’s Michael Norton (pay wall) reports that the House and Senate seem to be moving ever closer to a summer recess – and he reviews some of the issues still on the legislative table on Beacon Hill. 

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

State seeks to reduce wait time for new doctors to practice medicine

The BBJ’s Jessica Bartlett reports that the Health Policy Commission wants to reduce the current year-long wait before new doctors in Massachusetts can practice medicine, as part of an effort to get more physicians out in the field, help reduce health care costs and curtail what it calls “administrative complexity” within the medical industry.

BBJ (pay wall)

Religious exemptions for vaccinations hits all-time high in Massachusetts

Speaking of medical matters: Is Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s anti-vaccination campaign finding a receptive audience in Massachusetts? From Molly Boigon at WGBH: “More than 80 percent of the 920 Massachusetts kindergartners excused from vaccines last year received religious exemptions. The percentage of kindergartners taking religious exemptions reached an all-time high for the 2018-2019 school year, according to Massachusetts Department of Public Health data going back to 1987-1988.”

Boigon takes note of state Rep. Andy Vargas’s pending bill that would eliminate the religious exemption.

WGBH

‘Yak attack’: Residents warned of rampaging yaks, yes, yaks

The Cape may have its Great White Sharks problems, but West Springfield clearly has a more exotic wildlife challenge: Rampaging yaks. Jeanette DeForge at MassLive reports that city officials in West Springfield have put out an alert warning residents of yaks charging and chasing people, or at least charging and chasing one hiker at the Bearhold Reservoir. “So…we have yaks in Bearhole. Beware,” Mayor William Reichelt posted on Facebook.

The long-haired bovid normally associated with places like Tibet are believed to have escaped from a private owner.

MassLive

He tried to hire a hitman to kill a cop and prosecutor – and instead got hit with more jail time

From Scott Croteau at MassLive: “A 21-year-old Massachusetts man who tried to solicit the help of another inmate and a hitman to have three people killed, including a police officer, was sentenced in federal court this week. Mason Stickney, who is from the Newbury village of Byfield, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Denise J. Casper in a Boston federal court to 90 months in prison and three years of supervised release.”

MassLive

The BCAE case: Was it larceny or looting?

As expected, Saugus selectman Mark Mitchell and two others pleaded guilty of stealing $1.7 million from the Boston Center for Adult Education. But the Globe’s Gal Tziperman Lotan makes the alleged larceny look more like a case of wholesale looting, with Mitchell, as the center’s comptroller, allegedly writing nearly $900,000 in checks to himself and more than $300,000 to groups for “his personal benefit,” including a youth baseball team in Saugus that he managed.

Boston Globe

Lawmakers hike assessment on utilities by 50 percent

Yet another one of those hard-to-spot provisions usually tucked into a state budget. From SHNS’s Colin A. Young: “Though lawmakers left a handful of proposed taxes on the cutting room floor when they compromised on a budget, the fiscal year 2020 spending plan being reviewed by Gov. Charlie Baker includes a 50 percent increase in the annual assessment imposed upon gas and electric utility companies. The assessment of a percentage of each utility company’s Massachusetts revenue is meant to be a reimbursement of the cost of overseeing and regulating the gas and electric industries.”

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Judge rejects plea deal in ICE obstruction-of-justice case

This is an interesting development. From the Herald’s Jonathan Ng: “Suspended Judge Shelley Richmond Joseph has rejected a plea deal offered by federal prosecutors, but a retired court officer also indicted in the same case is still mulling the offer, according to a new court filing.”  

Looks like one side is confident about the case and the other nervously willing to cut a deal. Or maybe we’re reading too much into early-stage legal jousting.

Boston Herald

Senate aide to receive NCSL’s top staff award

Congratulations, Christie. From SHNS’s Katie Lannan (pay wall): “A state Senate staffer is set to receive a top award at the National Conference of State Legislatures meeting next month. Christie Getto Young, chief of staff to Sen. Sal DiDomenico of Everett, will be the first staff member from the Massachusetts Legislature to receive NCSL’s Legislative Staff Achievement Award, according to DiDomenico’s office. The award is NCSL’s top national staff award.”

Super squad? Warren, Pressley team up on bank payment bill

They want everyone to have access to fast money. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley have teamed up to propose legislation that would require the Federal Reserve to create a real-time payments system available to everyone to enable checks to clear within seconds — instead of the up to five days it can now take, Nik DeCosta-Klipa at Boston.com reports.

Boston.com

Exit here, eventually: New Pike exit plan already months behind schedule

Better late than never? What was supposed to be a six-month look at potential locations for a new Mass Pike exit in the Berkshires has now stretched well beyond a year but could produce result by the fall, Larry Parnass at the Berkshire Eagle reports. The long-discussed idea of closing the 30-mile gap between existing exits 2 and 3 got new life after the Pike toll booths were removed. 

Berkshire Eagle

Celebrate Boston’s Public Open Spaces

Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) and the Boston Waterfront Partners will celebrate Boston’s public open spaces by co-hosting the third annual Pitch A Blanket event near the Waterfront. Participants will learn more about their right to use and access public open spaces near Boston Harbor, the threats that climate change will bring to open space near the Waterfront, and more.

Conservation Law Foundation

YoungDemsRead Book Club: The Fifth Risk

Join #YoungDemsRead in reading “The Fifth Risk” by Michael Lewis in July Meet new friends in Boston and discuss this spellbinding piece.

Greater Boston Young Democrats

NAIOP @ Night at Alcove

Join NAIOP at Alcove, a modern neighborhood restaurant on Lovejoy Wharf that is a welcoming port on the edge of Boston’s West End. Expand your network and develop valuable business relationships while enjoying signature drinks and appetizers.

NAIOP Massachusetts

Rugelach with Ruth

Representative Balser will join us at a home in Newton for an intimate discussion on immigrant justice and progressive issues. Your ticket to this event is a donation of any amount, which will go to support JALSA’s efforts to create a more just, compassionate, and equitable society. Your invitation for our Rugelach with Ruth Balser will be emailed to you once a donation has been made.

Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action

Today’s Headlines

Metro

Museum of Science cuts more than two dozen workers layoffs, retirement packages – Boston Business Journal

Battery Wharf hotel workers poised to strike – Boston Globe

Massachusetts

Union Point contractors who are owed money want resolution – Patriot Ledger

As Hampshire Council of Governments unwinds, complexities remain – Daily Hampshire Gazette

More pot shops seeking Worcester approvals – Telegram & Gazette

Nation

What we learned from Mueller’s seven hours of testimony – New York Times

Trump vetoes Congressional effort to block Saudi arms sales – NBC News

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