Gaming Commission, Distracted-driving bill, and more
— Massachusetts Gaming Commission meets with an agenda that includes a MGM Springfield Quarterly Report, Research Agenda Updates, 2020 Community Mitigation Fund, MassMutual Center at 1277 Main Street, Springfield, 10 a.m.
— Gov. Charlie Baker joins Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy at an ‘Everett Spotlight on Housing Choice’ event, with Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria, Sen. Sal DiDomenico, Rep. Joe McGonagle and others expected to attend, 1760 Revere Beach Parkway, Everett, 10:45 a.m.
— Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery holds a hearing on bills dealing with houses of corrections and civil commitment, Room B-1, 10 a.m.
— Families affected by distracted-driving crashes hold a press conference to criticize the Legislature for ongoing delays in passing a bill banning hand-held cell phones in cars, Room A-2, 11 a.m.
— Gov. Charlie Baker joins Secretary Kennealy, Amesbury Mayor Ken Gray and local officials to participate in the groundbreaking of Maples Crossing in Amesbury, 12 South Hunt Road, Amesbury, 4:30 p.m.
— Gov. Charlie Baker and First Lady Lauren Baker attend Pine Street Inn’s 50th Anniversary Celebration, Cyclorama, 539 Tremont Street, Boston, 7:30 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.
The Impeachment Drive: Inquiry or Inquisition?
The political battle lines are forming over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s launch of an official impeachment inquiry against President Trump after it was learned the Republican president urged Ukraine’s leader to launch an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden.
Needless to say, local and national Democrats are pumped, believing that the evidence is clear and that impeachment proceedings are warranted. The Globe’s Laura Krantz and Jazmine Ulloa report even U.S. Rep. Richard Neal is now firmly on board. The Globe’s James Pindell reports that U.S. Senator and Dem presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren is locked and loaded for an impeachment showdown.
But are others as pumped up as Democrats? From a three-reporter team at the Herald: “New Hampshire voters: Democrats will face impeachment blowback.” From the Globe’s James Pindell: “N.H. residents don’t see impeachment inquiry as game changer.” And Hanna Krueger at the Globe reports on the same old red-blue divide even here in Massachusetts. From the Herald’s Michael Graham: “Careful what you wish for, Liz Warren — Trump impeachment perils loom.”
War on Vaping, I: Reeling industry expected to legally challenge Baker’s vape ban
The vaping industry, now reeling from Gov. Charlie Baker’s move to ban the sale of vape-products for four months in Massachusetts, is poised to legally challenge the administration’s action, calling the temporary ban “preposterous” and devastating to those selling legal vaping products, reports Christian Wade at the Eagle Tribune.
Baker has one legal authority firmly in his corner: Attorney General Maura Healey, who’s praising the governor’s emergency action, reports Noah Bombard at MassLive. Meanwhile, SHNS’s Katie Lannan (pay wall) reports that House Speaker Robert DeLeo is signaling the House will soon move to develop comprehensive vaping legislation.
War on Vaping, II: Vape shops face ‘financial ruin’
Setting aside the legal and public-health issues involved, there’s little doubt that the Baker administration’s four-month ban is hammering vaping-related businesses across the state. A sampling of headlines from around the state – From MassLive: “Worcester vape shop owners face possibility of losing their businesses amid statewide ban.” From the Enterprise: “Vape ban a ‘death sentence’ for Brockton-area vape stores.’ From the Patriot Ledger: “Vape users, sellers stunned by governor’s 4-month ban.” And from WGBH: “State Cannabis Regulator Says She Is Concerned Vaping Ban Will Push People To The Black Market.” Last but not least, from the Globe’s Andy Rosen: “Massachusetts vaping shops facing financial ruin.”
War on Vaping, III: Debating the health benefits of Baker’s ban
On the public-health front, Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders yesterday was defending the Baker administration’s move to slap a four-month ban on the sale of vaping products, saying the state needs to “understand more fully” the health risks tied to vaping amid an outbreak of mysterious illnesses effecting those who vape. She spoke with WGBH’s Joe Mathieu yesterday.
Tanner Stening at MassLive reports that many health officials are backing the administration’s dramatic action, but not all medical officials are sold on the idea, saying that evidence about the dangers of vaping are still inconclusive and that vaping has actually helped many people to quit smoking. Meanwhile, from SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall): “Vape ban could cause people to use dangerous products.”
Republicans blast ‘asinine’ campaign finance reform move
It initially looked like the bill might sail through with little opposition. Wrong. From Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine: “The House approved legislation on Wednesday making a number of reforms to state campaign finance laws, one of which was attacked by GOP lawmakers as an ‘asinine,’ unnecessary bid to oust the Trump-loving chairman of the Massachusetts Republican Party from the commission that appoints the state’s top political fundraising regulator.”
SHNS’s Michael Norton (pay wall) has more on the House bill.
Working both sides? Ex-ZBA member approved variances for properties he later helped to sell
A former member of the Boston Zoning Board of Appeals who resigned last month helped approve variances for properties he later helped sell as a real estate broker, Isaiah Thompson reports at WGBH. Records show in at least four cases, Craig Galvin helped broker the sales of properties on which he had previously voted to relax zoning restrictions, according to WGBH. Mayor Marty Walsh’s office would only say that its ongoing outside review of the board will address any conflicts, either real or potential.
UMass Boston target of fake Chinese scholars scam
From Deirdre Fernandes at the Globe: “The University of Massachusetts Boston was one of seven campuses nationwide targeted by a Chinese government official in a visa fraud scheme aimed at bringing foreign government recruiters to the United States under the guise of visiting research scholars, according to court documents.”
The alleged goal of the scammers: To lure scientists to work in China. We have a hunch they were after a little bit more than that, frankly.
Fourth EEE death and 11th human case of virus confirmed
From WCVB: “A fourth Massachusetts resident has died after contracting Eastern equine encephalitis this year, according to state health officials. … The 11th case of EEE was (also) confirmed in a man in his 70s from Charlton. As a result, the risk level for Auburn, Charlton, Dudley, Leicester, Southbridge and Spencer have been elevated to high.”
Governor’s Council confirms fellow member for plum judicial post
The Herald’s Mary Markos reports that Governor’s Councilor Jen Caissie was named clerk magistrate of the Dudley District Court yesterday by her fellow councilors – becoming “the latest politically connected candidate put forward by the Baker-Polito administration” to land a plum judicial post. SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall) reports that legislators now get to appoint Republican Caissie’s replacement on the elected council.
Rejected once, the 72-hours-hold bill is back before lawmakers
To hold or not to hold. Lawmakers are again debating the wisdom of whether to allow doctors to order opioid addicts to be held for treatment for up to 72 hours after rejecting the measure as part of Gov. Baker’s opioid crisis bill. Christian Wade at the Salem News reports state Sen. Bruce Tarr has refiled the proposal, which continues to be opposed by the Mass. Medical Society and civil liberties groups.
As the Red Line finally gets back to normal service …
Andy Metzger at CommonWealth magazines reports that Red Line service has finally returned to normal, more than 100 days after a Red Line train derailed and took out the line’s signaling system, causing a summer of frustrating service delays.
… the T pulls its shiny new Orange Line cars due to faulty doors
A cynic might say this is back to normal too. From the Herald’s Sean Philip Cotter: “The shiny new Orange Line trains are out of service after a door opened up while the train was in motion near the Massachusetts Avenue stop, according to the MBTA. MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said one of the door ‘leaves’ — half of each set of doors — opened last Friday afternoon, causing the train to automatically come to a stop, as it’s designed to do.”
Btw: Andy Metzger at CommonWealth magazine reports that a new poll shows residents support increased use of electrified commuter rail cars over diesel-powered commuter trains – but they don’t agree on how to pay for the switch.
RMV’s Merit Rating Board: Can we get a little help here?
The previously inactive RMV oversight board at the center of the agency’s current records-keeping scandal has put out the word it needs a little help from the state’s inspector general’s office — and Inspector General Glenn Cunha says he’d more than glad to oblige. SHNS’s Chris Lisinski (pay wall) and CommonWealth magazine’s Andy Metzger have the details. Meanwhile, Steph Solis at MassLive reports that it may take the Merit Rating Board a little longer than expected to find a new director, following the recent firing of its previous director.
Hynes on Hynes: Retire the Hynes
He’s not exactly unbiased either way. Thomas J. Hynes Jr., the commercial real estate titan and nephew of former mayor John B. Hynes, has an op-ed in the Globe this morning endorsing Gov. Charlie Baker’s plan to sell the Hynes Convention Center to partly pay for the expansion of the South Boston Convention Center, sayings it’s time for the Hynes to “retire gracefully” and for the city to move forward.
All aboard: Four municipalities apply for T pilot-ferry program
Sarah Betancourt at CommonWealth magazine reports that the T is now taking applications for ferry service pilot projects – and Quincy, Hull, Winthrop and Lynn officials are all on deck in hopes of participating in the program.
Rights groups warn against data collection clause in disputed distracted-driving bill
This is tied to the delay in passing the legislation, fyi. From SHNS’s Chris Lisinski: “Sixteen civil rights organizations urged legislative leaders Tuesday to reject the House’s approach to demographic data collection in a stalled distracted-driving bill. In a letter to House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Karen Spilka that was acquired by the News Service, the groups warned that adopting the draft proposal that House conferees continue to back would push law enforcement ‘in the direction of secrecy instead of transparency.’”
Hammered: State sues Boston Sand & Gravel over pollution at Charlestown plant
From Universal Hub’s Adam Gaffin: “The Massachusetts Attorney General’s office (earlier this week) sued Boston Sand & Gravel over what it says is excessive sand and dust flowing into a small creek and into the air from the company’s five-acre facility in Charlestown.”
ADL’s Breaking Barriers Speaker Series Presents: Survivor’s Club with Michael & Debbie Bornstein
ADL’s Breaking Barriers Speaker Series presents: Survivors Club with Michael and Debbie Bornstein. Please join us on Thursday, September 26, 2019 to hear from Michael Bornstein, one of the youngest survivors of the Auschwitz death camp, and his daughter Debbie Bornstein, co-author of Survivors Club. Register by Wednesday, September 25: www.adl.org/breakingbarriers2019
Starr Forum: Iran Reframed
A discussion about the evolution of the Islamic Republic and its reaction to President Trump’s Iran strategy
Boston Speakers Series: John Kerry
Kerry served as United States Secretary of State during President Barack Obama’s second term. He represented Massachusetts in the United States Senate for nearly thirty years, and was the Democratic Party’s nominee for president in 2004.
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