Happening Today

Gaming Commission, Cannabis Commission, and more

Massachusetts Gaming Commission meets to discuss Region C, Plainridge Park Casino, Racing Division and its executive director search, 101 Federal St., 12th floor, Boston 10 a.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker visits Hattie Kelton Apartments to make an announcement related to the fiscal 2020 Brownfields Redevelopment Fund awards, 61 Heath St., Jamaica Plain, 10:30 a.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker joins Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and others to celebrate the launch of the Career Tech Initiative, Greater Lawrence Technical School, 57 River Road, Andover, 3:30p.m.

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— Speaker Robert DeLeo, Sen. Brendan Crighton, Rep. Aaron Vega, and First Lady Lauren Baker speak at the 14th annual Youth Mentoring Day, Great Hall of Flags, State House, 10 a.m.

— After having two meetings disrupted by people upset with the slow pace of pot license approvals, the Cannabis Control Commission holds an ‘applicant forum’ to hear specifically from those who feel they don’t have enough information about the status of their applications, Union Station, 2 Washington Sq., Worcester, 1 p.m.

For the most comprehensive calendar listings, check out State House News Service’s Daily Advances (pay wall – free trial subscriptions available), as well as MassterList’s Beacon Hill Town Square below.

Today’s Stories

Baker: Hike Uber-Lyft fees to pay for T improvements

Gov. Charlie Baker yesterday proposed a $44.6 billion state budget for fiscal 2021 – and it indeed includes hundreds of millions of dollars in new education funding as called for under the state’s recently passed school-aid reform law, as SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall) and MassLive’s Steph Solis report.

Needless to say, all hell would have broken loose if he hadn’t met the new school-aid goals. But that didn’t happen, so the media’s attention turned to … the governor’s proposal to hike the Uber-Lyft ride fee from 20 cents to a $1 – and then all hell broke loose, at least among ride-sharing companies, as Steph Solis reports separately at MassLive. The new funds would be used to help pay for desperately needed MBTA improvements. 

The BBJ’s Greg Ryan and CommonWealth’s Shira Schoenberg have more on the governor’s ride-hailing fee plan.

An all-new MBTA Board, anyone?

Tucked in the governor’s budget blueprint is a proposal that’s sure to generate plenty of debate in coming months: Replacing the current five-member MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board with a new seven-member board that wouldn’t meet as often. Some transit advocacy types are already complaining about not extending the current board’s mandate, as CommonWealth magazine’s Shira Schoenberg and Bruce Mohl report. Meanwhile, there’s another potential critic of Baker’s plan: Mayor Marty Walsh, who wants a Boston representative on the board, as the Globe’s Adam Vaccaro reports.

Lottery ticket sales: Will that be cash or debit card?

SHNS’s Colin Young reports on yet another interesting item tucked in the governor’s proposed budget: Allowing people to finally purchase Lottery tickets with debit cards (though not credit cards), ending the current all-cash approach towards sales. 

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

The Net-Zero Revolution: Taking the State House and the world by storm

SHNS’s Michael Norton (pay wall) and CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl haven’t forgotten the governor’s big news on Monday, not to be confused with the governor’s big budget news on Tuesday, regarding his call for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 in Massachusetts – and how it’s completely transformed the climate-change debate on Beacon Hill. It’s also among the most ambitious plans around the world, as Mohl writes.

WGBH’s Mike Deehan has the 2050 climate goal as his top four takeaways from the governor’s State of the State address on Monday, ahead of even the governor’s “rant” controversy. Yes, it’s that big.

Health scare on plane from China

We’ll probably see more of this. Universal Hub, via Live Boston, reports on a health scare last night at Logan Airport tied to fears over China’s mystery new coronavirus. Apparently an incoming flight from China was met by emergency responders checking on reports of passengers with “flu-like and stomach-ailment symptoms.” It was apparently a false alarm, thank goodness.

Universal Hub

Sanders takes commanding lead in latest New Hampshire poll

Right on time or too soon? Three weeks out, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has surged to a significant lead in the New Hampshire Democratic primary, a new WBUR/MassINC poll shows. Sanders was top choice of 29 percent of likely voters, Anthony Brooks reports. Pete Buttigieg fell to second place with 17 percent, followed by former VP Joe Biden with 14 percent and Sen. Elizabeth Warren with 13 percent. 

WBUR

Michael Bloomberg’s parallel-universe rise to the upper tier

Speaking of polls, Benjamin Kail at MassLive reports that campaign  latecomer Michael Bloomberg, Medford’s very own, has risen to fourth place in the Democratic primary race for president, according to a pair of new national surveys. Meanwhile, the Globe’s James Pindell reports that the billionaire former mayor of New York is running in a sort of “parallel campaign world,” skipping the four early states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina and focusing instead on other delegate-rich states.

MassLive

The final insult: Patrick is being mentioned as VP material

The Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky reports that Deval Patrick’s foundering presidential bid is making some wonder whether he’s really gunning to land a spot on the Dem ticket as a vice presidential candidate – or perhaps nab a future cabinet post. Patrick’s exacerbated response: “Does it look like I’m running for something other than president?”

Meanwhile, from the Globe’s James Pindell: “Back in Dorchester, Patrick cracks jokes with old friends and urges them to help his presidential campaign.”

Boston Herald

Feds: Iranian student deported due to family’s ties to Hezbollah and Revolutionary Guard

And the furor has suddenly died down. Shannon Dooling at WBUR reports that federal customs officials say the Iranian student who was deported earlier this week from Boston was given the boot due to his family’s ties to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and a cargo company accused of providing weapons to Hezbollah on behalf of the IRGC.

WBUR

Academics and authors ride to the defense of fired Babson College employee

We’re glad to see this happening, i.e. dozens of academics, authors and free-speech types coming to the defense of a Babson College employee who was fired for making an admittedly very poor joke about U.S. sites that Iran could bomb, as the Globe’s Deirdre Fernandes reports. But we’d feel better if these sudden First Amendment warriors started defending others who are routinely silenced and punished for expressing controversial views on college campuses. It’s not just about protecting anti-Trump speech.

Boston Globe

Why, Alan, why?

Speaking of academics, add Steven Harper, a Northwestern University law professor and former student of Alan Dershowitz’s at Harvard Law School, to the growing list of Harvard-related types who are trying to fathom why Dershowitz said one thing about the constitution during Bill Clinton’s impeachment proceedings in 1998 and why he’s saying another thing during Donald Trump’s impeachment proceedings in 2020.

NYT

Hey, Charlie, it’s time to chat about western Mass. rail service …

The Globe’s Jon Chesto reports that U.S. Rep. Richard Neal plans to give Gov. Charlie Baker a diplomatic earful later this week when the two apparently meet, pitching new commuter rail service that would finally connect Boston and Springfield (at minimum). We found this part interesting: Connecticut transportation officials, pumped over the recent success of the new CTrail service between New Haven and Springfield, are urging Neal to press the issue of expanding rail service in the region.

Boston Globe

Steamship Authority may need lawmakers to help bail it out after terminal overruns

The Steamship Authority says it may not be able to pay for a planned addition to its ferry fleet because cost overruns tied to the construction of a new terminal in Woods Hole — a project that’s apparently $10 million over its original $60 million price tag. Rich Saltzberg at the Martha’s Vineyard Times reports the authority may need lawmakers to lift its $100 million cap on long-term borrowing. 

Martha’s Vineyard Times

OMG: Donald Chiofaro finally unveils the official harbor tower details!

This is old new news, if that makes sense: Developer Donald Chiafaro has finally unveiled the official – and not merely the preliminary unofficial — details of his planned 42-story tower that would replace the Aquarium garage, a mere 12 years after he first floated the controversial idea. The BBJ’s Catherine Carlock has the contemporary details.

BBJ

Airbnb regulations: Coming soon to a community near you

The Herald’s Sean Philip Cotter reports that Quincy, Milton, Brookline, Revere and Everett are among the communities that are now also considering new rules on short-term rental companies, i.e. Airbnb, all of them following the new-regulations lead of Boston, Cambridge, Newton and Somerville.

Boston Herald

Lawmakers seek safeguards on Pilgrim plant decommissioning

From SHNS’s Chris Lisinski: “Lawmakers are seeking additional influence over the decommissioning of the recently shuttered Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station, but a representative for the company conducting the work argued Wednesday that those attempts may be unconstitutional.”

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Taunton councilor wants to make it clear: Crude Facebook comments weren’t from him

The hackers did it. That’s what Taunton City Councilor John McCaul is saying about crude Facebook comments attributed to him about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Charles Winokoor reports in the Taunton Gazette. 

Taunton Gazette

Circumstantially speaking, poll shows Massachusetts majority oppose cost of TCI

From the Herald’s Mary Markos: “A new statewide poll shows that the majority of Massachusetts residents are circumstantially opposed to the Transportation Climate Initiative, a regional agreement that would raise gas prices in an effort to reduce carbon emissions. The poll, released Wednesday by the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, found that just over 61 percent of people said they strongly or somewhat oppose Massachusetts joining TCI if neighboring states decide not to join.” … That’s a new one on us: “Circumstantially.”

Boston Herald

Snuffed out: Anti-tobacco groups claim win as Lawrence says no to hookahs

No means no. The Lawrence Board of Health has tabled a proposal brought forward by the city’s bar and nightclub owners to allow hookah use, handing a win to anti-tobacco groups who said the move would ignore the city’s ban on smoking in public and endanger public health, Bill Kirk at the Eagle-Tribune reports.

Eagle Tribune

Boston Speaker Series: Douglas Brinkley

An award-winning historian, Brinkley has written on a wide range of topics, including D-Day, Hurricane Katrina, President Kennedy, and the Great Space Race and the lives of Ronald Reagan, Bob Dylan and Walter Cronkite. Brinkley serves as a CNN Presidential Historian, and as a contributing editor at Vanity Fair.

Lesley University

Boston Speaker Series: Douglas Brinkley

An award-winning historian, Brinkley has written on a wide range of topics, including D-Day, Hurricane Katrina, President Kennedy, and the Great Space Race and the lives of Ronald Reagan, Bob Dylan and Walter Cronkite. Brinkley serves as a CNN Presidential Historian, and as a contributing editor at Vanity Fair.

Lesley University

The Impact of Latinos in Massachusetts

The Impact of Latinos in Massachusetts incorporates a dialogue with executive leaders around the buying power and impact of Latinos in community and business.

El Mundo Boston

10th Annual New England First Amendment Awards

Named after the late publisher of The Providence Journal, the Hamblett Award is given each year to an individual who has promoted, defended or advocated for the First Amendment throughout his or her career. NEFAC will honor A. G. Sulzberger at its tenth annual luncheon from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Feb. 7, 2020, at the Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel.

New England First Amendment Coalition

Today’s Headlines

Metro

Plan to build two apartment towers on Morrissey Blvd. filed with city – Dorchester Reporter

11 Boston police officers assigned to school unit don body cameras – Boston Globe

Massachusetts

Michelle Carter of Plainville will be released from jail – Sun Chronicle

Plans for private lot spark parking vs. housing debate in Great Barrington – Berkshire Eagle

Baker Isn’t Betting On Casinos In Proposed Mass. Budget – WBUR

Nation

The Staggering (and Uncovered) Legal Bills Facing Impeachment Witnesses – The New Yorker

Democrats roll out multimillion dollar investment in six battleground states – The Hill

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