SJC hearings, House session, and more
— The Supreme Judicial Court holds special sitting in Barnstable to hear oral arguments in four cases, Barnstable Superior Court, 3195 Main Street, Barnstable, 9:30 a.m.
— Health Policy Commission’s Market Oversight and Transparency Committee will discuss a new analysis on the primary care workforce, examining billing practices for nurse practitioners functioning as primary care providers, and receive an update on the HPC’s project to reduce administrative complexity, 50 Milk St., Boston, 9:30 a.m.
— U.S. Senator Edward Markey tours the site of the proposed Weymouth compressor station along with Sen. Patrick O’Connor, Rep. James Murphy, Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch and Alice Arena of Fore River Residents Against the Compressor Station, 50 Bridge Street, Weymouth, 10 a.m.
— The Governor’s Council reviews the nomination of David Deakin of Arlington for a Superior Court judgeship, Council Chamber, 11 a.m.; the council holds a second general meeting at 12 p.m.
— The Massachusetts House meets in formal session to take up legislation that supports improved financial stability in higher education, House Chamber, with recorded votes are set to begin at 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.
Harvard wins admissions-discrimination case
Higher education officials across the country are indeed breathing a sigh of relief today, after a federal judge yesterday rejected claims that Harvard University’s admission policies discriminated against Asian-Americans. The New York Times and WBUR’s Max Larkin have the legal-ruling story. The Globe’s Brian MacQuarrie and Kay Lazar have the sigh-of-relief story. And the Globe’s Danny McDonald has a good “takeaways” piece on the much-anticipated decision by US District Judge Allison D. Burroughs.
Our quick thought: A ruling the other way would have been stunning – and would have completely upended college admissions across the country, effectively making college entrance-exam scores the end-all requirement to get into colleges.
Down the road: A ‘tax-like’ carbon pricing plan for motorists
This is a big deal, for sooner or later this or a similar plan will likely become law one day. From Andy Metzger at CommonWealth magazine: “Officials from Massachusetts and Maryland on Tuesday laid out in broad strokes their plans for a forthcoming program across the East Coast to reduce harmful tailpipe emissions and fund greener transportation alternatives by pricing the carbon contained in gas and diesel fuels. The proposal would mimic a gasoline tax from the perspective of consumers, but it is distinct from a traditional tax in a few ways, as a Baker administration official noted on Tuesday.” Tanner Stening at MassLive has more on the very tentative Transportation Climate Initiative plan.
Hey, look: The 6.25% sales tax on all online purchases also took effect yesterday
Speaking of tax (or “tax-like”) moves: The new family-leave payroll tax took effect yesterday, as numerous media outlets have already reported. But Tim Jones at MassLive also reports that, as of yesterday, all online purchases are now subject to the state’s 6.25 percent sales tax.
Meanwhile, the Globe’s Jon Chesto reports that the “accelerated sales tax collection” issue isn’t going away on Beacon Hill, thanks to those pushing a new technology they say will allow retailers to pay sales taxes on the same day purchases are made.
Rock ‘em sock ‘em politics: Zuckerberg vs Warren
First it was Wall Street plutocrats bellyaching about the prospect of Elizabeth Warren becoming president. Now Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is bellyaching about Warren becoming president – and he’s vowing to fight any antitrust move by Warren if she ever ends up in the White House. Warren, who loves it when her political enemies rear their heads, is gleefully firing back. The NYT has the details.
Btw: Aha! The Washington Post discovers that Warren doesn’t have a plan for something, i.e. K-12 education.
Warren’s Southern problem, Part II: Is it really a problem?
The Globe’s Laura Krantz was definitely on to something the other day with her story about how Elizabeth Warren is struggling in South Carolina, even as she soars in polls in other states. Now the NYT has a story effectively wondering if Warren has hit a political wall with mostly moderate, nonwhite, Southern voters, a problem that has bedeviled progressive presidential candidates in the past.
But then along comes Politico with this story: “Warren gets ‘dramatic shift’ in support from black voters.” We’ll have to wait and see how all of this pans out.
Grover Norquist tries to rally the right-wing troops in Massachusetts
It seems anti-tax activist Grover Norquist and the conservative Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance are now working to “bring together right-leaning business, taxpayer and grassroots organizations, as well as conservative lawmakers and others to keep each other apprised of what different groups are working on” in the state, reports Matt Murphy at the State House News Service.
At the T, what goes up doesn’t necessarily come down
The Globe’s Diamond Naga Siu takes a look at all the various elevator woes commuters, particularly the disabled, are enduring at T stations across the system.
Dreaming of races to win in the 3rd and 4th Congressional districts
Former Brookline selectwoman and recent president of the Alliance for Business Leadership Jesse Mermen plans, as expected, to launch her campaign for Congress in Fall River today, becoming the latest candidate to throw his or her hat into the ring for U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III’s Fourth District seat, now that’s he’s running for U.S. Senate. SHNS’s Matt Murphy (pay wall) has more.
Meanwhile, the Globe’s Scot Lehigh has some advice for would-be candidate Dan Koh, who’s mulling a Dem primary rematch against U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan in the 3rd Congressional District: Look in the mirror, Dan. It’s your beguiling alter ago staring back at you, Lehigh writes
Baker: The Sackler family literally needs to pay for its ill-gotten Oxycontin gains
This is a little unusual. Gov. Charlie Baker has written to a federal bankruptcy judge opposing a “national injunction that would block lawsuits like the one filed by Massachusetts against Oxycontin manufacturer Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family,” reports SHNS’s Matt Murphy. “I stand with the Attorney General (Maura Healey) in calling for the Sacklers to pay from their own pockets,” Baker writes of any future settlement with the founders of Purdue Pharma.
Irony alert: Amazon set to open its first retail store in Massachusetts at Natick Mall
Here’s an irony of ironies: Amazon, which has played no small part in the demise of bricks-and-mortar retail shops and shopping mall across the state and nation, is now set to open its first retail store in Massachusetts in … the Natick Mall. And it’s an “Amazon 4-Star” store, too. The BBJ’s Lucia Maffei has the details.
‘Saltonstall’s Trial’: A cautionary tale for todays’ politics
The Globe’s Joan Vennochi has a good column this morning on an original play set to debut this month in Beverly: ‘Saltonstall’s Trial,’ about how one judge, Nathaniel Saltonstall, stood up to the insanity unfolding during Salem’s infamous witch hunts in 1692. The co-writer of the play says it’s a “cautionary tale” with many mob-mentality lessons applicable to today’ politics.
Smith & Wesson shareholders reject nuns’ human rights resolution
They lost but they won. That’s the conclusion of nuns and other activists after shareholders of the parent company of Smith & Wesson recently rejected their resolution on human rights. It was a clear loss, but they did get about a third of the shareholder votes. Jim Kinney at MassLive has more on what’s ultimately a battle between those favoring gun rights and those fighting to reduce gun violence.
Markey and Kennedy actually unite on an issue: refugee admissions
Anyone who showed up at an immigration roundtable discussion yesterday expecting a clash between U.S. Sen. Ed Markey and U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III left disappointed. Appearing together at the event, there was no clash between the two Senate rivals. They were all business regarding the Trump administration’s controversial immigration policies. Sarah Betancourt at CommonWealth magazine and Lisa Kashinsky at the Herald have the non-clash details.
The Globe’s Adrian Walker was also at the roundtable discussion – and also sticks to the immigration issues at hand.
‘The luckiest town in Massachusetts — Shrewsbury’
You knew it was coming. The Herald’s Howie Carr writes this morning on all the coincidences surrounding the RMV’s past and present license plate lotteries and all the coincidences surrounding the good people of Shrewsbury, the “luckiest town in Massachusetts.”
‘Boston, 2019: eh, not so much’
David Bernstein at Boston Magazine wonders where all the electricity went surrounding last year’s stunning victory of Ayanna Pressley over Michael Capuano – and all the subsequent talk of the Boston City Council becoming the “next hot political gig” and launching pad for political greatness to come. His conclusion: “We’re still waiting.”
Btw: Rich Parr at WBUR had a good “four takeaways” piece the other day on the results from the council’s preliminary elections. Michelle Wu did well, yes, but so did other incumbents. Not exactly a revolution.
The perfect image of suburban vs. city approaches towards housing
Check out the design sketch accompanying Universal Hub’s post on a developer’s plan to raze a nursing home straddling the Boston/Brookline border and replace it with housing. The Boston side of the parcel would have multifamily housing. The Brookline side would get two single-family homes. The image says it all. Actually, we’re surprised to see any homes on the Brookline side.
Hampshire College eyes new education models to preserve future
Tradition can go hang. Hampshire College says it had developed three potential options for revamping its educational model as it seeks to stabilize enrollment and its shaky financial foundation, Jacquelyn Voghel reports at the Daily Hampshire Gazette. Project-based learning, a focus on the planet’s ‘big challenges’ and a curriculum designed in part by students themselves are among the ideas generated by a campus-wide planning session. The college’s board of trustees are expected to vote to advance one of the plans later this month.
Mayor for Life In New Bedford?
These tea leaves are easy to read. If Tuesday’s preliminary election results are any indication, New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell appears poised to easily win re-election next month after capturing 57 percent of the vote in a six-way race, the Standard-Times reports. City Councilor Brian K. Gomes finished second — more than 2,000 votes behind — and now will decide whether to keep his name on the mayoral ballot or focus on the council race.
At Holy Cross, one person blamed for spike in groping complaints
In its annual tally of campus crimes, the College of the Holy Cross says it recorded 104 complaints of improper fondling on campus last year, a massive spike the school says is almost entirely tied to a single person, Scott O’Connell reports at the Telegram. The culprit appears to be a former organist who was banned from campus last year.
Moulton town hall becomes red-blue debate over impeachment
U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton held a town hall meeting in Danvers Tuesday night that quickly devolved into a back-and-forth about impeachment between the Democrat and two Trump supporters. Ethan Forman at the Salem News has the play-by-play breakdown of how the meeting became a microcosm of the impeachment standoff in general.
Barred from holding office, Fall River firefighter heads to federal court
He wants to run, again. Fall River firefighter Joshua Hetzler will take his fight against a local rule barring him from holding public office to federal court later this week, arguing the ordinance impedes his First Amendment rights, Jo C. Goode reports atthe Herald News. Hetzler was elected to the school board in 2017, which is also when voters approved a new charter that bars city workers from holding public office. He was allowed to serve that term but the city’s lawyer says he would not be allowed to take his seat if he wins re-election next month without first resigning his fire department post.
Cocktails and Public Policy: On Artificial Intelligence, Human Rights, and Ethics
This event explores the ways artificial intelligence affects human life, and the emerging ethics and human rights-related questions. Please see website for full speaker bios and info.
Author Talk and Book Signing with Edwin Hill
Mystery writer Edwin Hill will speak at the State Library about his new psychological thriller, The Missing Ones. To register: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SLM-Edwin-Hill
Starr Forum: Iran Reframed
A discussion about the evolution of the Islamic Republic and its reaction to President Trump’s Iran strategy
In Pursuit of Equity, Accountability and Success: Latinx Students in MA
In Pursuit of Equity, Accountability and Success (PEAS) seeks to unite multiple systems and sectors around community, policy, and practitioner-centered solutions to addressing the current system of unequal outcomes in educational attainment and institutional treatment. There will be 10 workshops and we will have three dynamic speakers.
Worcester State University, University of Massachusetts Boston, American Student Assistance in collaboration with DESE, EEC, and DHE, The Worcester State University Latino Education Institute (LEI) and Department of Urban Studies, UMass Boston Gaston Inst.
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.
Discussion: Building Urgency and Political Will
There are many policy solutions that could have impact, but their viability is challenged by the lack of urgency and broad political will that is needed to get municipal leaders to lead on a crisis that their constituents may not currently feel.
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