Happening Today

Suffragist exhibit, Baker coronavirus update, and more

— Lawmakers, eating disorder experts and advocates host a briefing on the so-caled ‘body size’ legislation that would ban discrimination based on height and weight, Room 437, 10:30 a.m.

— Groups including the conservative Fiscal Alliance Foundation and the Beacon Hill Institute hold a press conference to outline a new study that examines the Transportation and Climate Initiative, in front of Room 443, State House, 11 a.m.

Joint Committee on Health Care Financing holds a hearing on three late-filed bills, Room A-2, 11 a.m.

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Massachusetts Caucus of Women Legislators holds a reception kicking off a suffragist panel exhibit, with Senate President Karen Spilka scheduled to speak, Nurses Hall, 12:15 p.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker returns home from vacation in Utah to join Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and state health officials at a press conference to provide an update on coronavirus preparedness and planning, Room 157, 2 p.m.

For the most comprehensive listing of calendar items, 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

Coronavirus updates: St. Patrick’s parade cancelled, Baker cuts short vacation, more cases reported

As the number of coronavirus cases increased yesterday in Massachusetts (WCVB) and as Rhode Island became the latest state to declare a state of emergency (Providence Journal), Gov. Charlie Baker cut short his vacation in Utah and plans to hold a press conference this afternoon about the growing public-health menace (Boston Globe) – and we’re pretty sure the governor is going to get asked lots of questions about how his vacation went.

Across the state, there’s a lot of other coronavirus news out there, starting with the decision to cancel this Sunday’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the traditional South Boston breakfast, as the Herald reports.From the Globe: “Arlington elementary student tests positive for coronavirus.” … From MassLive: “Amherst College orders students off campus; switching to remote learning.” … From CommonWealth magazine: “What about riding the T?” …  From MassLive: “Mercy, Providence, Cooley Dickinson hospitals to limit visitors as coronavirus precaution.” … From the Berkshire Eagle: “Viral fears shuttering town offices in Clarksburg.” … From the Herald News: “As a producer of hand sanitizer, Fall River’s Apollo Safety feels crush of demand amid coronavirus fears.”

And, finally, from the Taunton Gazette: “Dunkin’ responds to coronavirus threat with hands-off refill mug policy.”

The best way to track coronavirus cases? Try this

You may have already seen this, but we’re passing it along just in case you haven’t: John Hopkins University’s COVID-19 Global Case tracker, with up-to-date numbers on the virus’s spread across the globe. It’s pretty impressive. … Speaking of tracking, a number of local media outlets are now providing excellent daily/live coverage of the coronavirus outbreak, including State House New Service and WBUR, among many others.

Are the state and national economies headed for the coronavirus cliff?

The stock market yesterday suffered its worst drop since the 2008 Wall Street meltdown, amid growing fears about the spread of the coronavirus and its impact on the global economy, the NYT reports.

How bad was it locally? The BBJ’s Don Seiffert reports that the Bay State’s ten most valuable publicly traded companies lost $43 billion in value yesterday – with General Electric taking the brunt of the loss. Meanwhile, the Globe’s Shirley Leung talked with a number of local employers yesterday and they’re worried that hysteria alone could be the economy’s undoing. … Some more business-related headlines from around the region and nation, starting with the BBJ: “Coronavirus outbreak causes ‘significant deterioration’ of PerkinElmer sales.” … From WBUR: “Coronavirus Concerns Are Cutting Into Boston’s Convention Crowds.” … From the Herald: “Bay State businesses changing work, travel policies due to coronavirus.”

And, finally, SHNS’s Matt Murphy (pay roll) reports that Senate budget chief Michael Rodrigues and others at the State House are closely monitoring the markets and the potential/likely hits to state revenues.

Champs town: Boston retains its worst-traffic-in-the-nation title

For the second year in the row, Boston’s traffic congestion has been judged the worst in the entire nation, according to Transportation analytics company INRIX, as reported at CBS Boston. Chicago came in a distant 19-hours second.

T potpourri: Protest, possible lower fares, and sustainable budget issues

Speaking of transportation, lots of things were happening on the T front yesterday. Here’s some of the headlines. From SHNS’s Sam Doran (pay wall): “Unions Protest Job Cuts Outside MBTA Board Meeting.” … From Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth: “T budget raises sustainability questions.” … From SHNS (pay wall): “Key Senator Sees Fare Cuts as ‘One of the Bullets’ in transportation bill. … And, again, from the indispensable SHNS (pay wall): “Worcester Making Push for Fare-Free Pilot.”

Elizabeth Warren as VP pick? Please

The Herald’s Joe Battenfeld isn’t buying the idea that U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who last week dropped out of the Dem presidential race after a disastrous showing on Super Tuesday, might make a good vice presidential candidate, calling her a “perfect running mate for a losing ticket.”

Elsewhere, they’re still debating what the heck happened to Warren’s once promising campaign. Susan Ryan-Vollmar at WGBH thinks she knows what happened: “Sexist double standards doomed Warren’s campaign.” But from the Rev. Irene Monroe, also at WGBH: “Elizabeth Warren’s Disconnect With Black Voters Started In Cambridge, Mass.”

Democrats set new voter turnout record on Super Tuesday

The final tally was a little below projections, but it was still an impressive tally: A record number of voters cast ballots in last week’s Democratic presidential primary in Massachusetts – 1,414,498 to be precise. SHNS’s Michael Norton (pay wall) has all the numbers, including the GOP tally.

Norfolk DA: Police justified in shooting Brigham and Women’s suspect 26 times

Thirty-one shots and the suspect hit 26 times? In any event,CBS Boston and the Boston Globe report that Norfolk DA Michael Morrissey has determined that police were justified in fatally shooting a suspect holding a replica gun outside Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Brookline and later leading police on a wild car chase along Route 9 last month.

Storm watch: Methuen officials seek protection from police-contract lawsuits

They want protection from the coming storm. Methuen city councilors have proposed an ordinance that would shield the mayor and councilors from personal liability in lawsuits connected to their official city duties, Bill Kirk reports at the Eagle-Tribune. The move comes as potential lawsuits loom over the council’s efforts to unwind the contract that gave the city’s police superiors officers union a massive raise and pushed the community to the brink of receivership. 

Eagle Tribune

Heavens, no: Church will appeal Lynn pot shop approval

Here’s one to watch. A Lynn church says it will appeal local approval of a recreational marijuana dispensary, saying it should enjoy the same protections as schools because children gather there several times a week, Gayla Cawley reports at the Lynn Item. Fyi: The planned Diem Cannabis store would be less than 100 feet from the Spanish Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Speaking of pot shops, from Steve Brown at WBUR: “Boston’s First Retail Cannabis Shop Opens To The Public.”

Lynn Item

Headcount and circulation plunge at Gannett’s papers

The BBJ Don Seiffert looked into the quarterly post-merger numbers of the Gannett Co., the largest newspaper chain in both Massachusetts and the U.S., and finds it has nearly 13 percent fewer employees than it did a year ago. And it gets worse: Circulation at its Massachusetts newspapers continues to fall dramatically. Check out the accompanying chart for the incredibly shrinking numbers.

BBJ

Meeting of the minds? Healey embraces expanded electricity carbon pricing

Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine reports that Attorney General Maura Healey has issued a white paper that calls for the creation of a New England task force to look into increased use of carbon pricing in electricity generation – something the region’s power grid operator has advocated for year. In the past, Healey has been a critic of ISO New England.

CommonWealth

Pelosi In Boston: America ‘cannot withstand’ another term of President Trump

So does this mean there’s only a 50-50 chance of America surviving beyond this fall’s election? From CBS Boston: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said at Northeastern University on Monday that Democrats need to win the White House in 2020 because the United States ‘cannot withstand’ a second term of President Donald Trump in office.”

Columbia Gas: Guilty, your honor

Christian Wade at the Eagle Tribune reports that the president of Columbia Gas of Massachusetts appeared in court yesterday and did something rarely seen in corporate America: He pleaded guilty on behalf of his company to a criminal felony charge. In this case, the guilty plea was tied to the Merrimack Valley natural-gas pipeline disaster.

Quickie thought: Think of all the past corporate types who somehow avoided, and shouldn’t have been allowed to avoid, similar charges and guilty pleas for their various financial/market/whatever shenanigans, letting them off instead with fines and the old “without admitting guilt” deals.

Eagle Tribune

Report: Coakley hire just one part of Juul’s attorney general offensive

Newly released records show that vaping company Juul made targeting states attorneys general a major part of its strategy to head off onerous regulations, a push that included the hiring of former Mass. AG Martha Coakley, Matthew Perrone and Richard Lardner at the Associated Press report. If you recall, Coakley was hired a while back to lobby other state leaders on the company’s behalf. 

AP News

Advocates call for boost in welfare payment after 20 years of no changes

Bill Clinton was still president the last time Massachusetts adjusted its welfare payment rates – and advocates on Beacon Hill say it’s well past time for a change. Shira Schoenberg at CommonWealth magazine reports on the push at the State House to increase benefit payments to welfare recipients for the first time since 2000.

CommonWealth

On the Cape, a three-week sprint to election day unless …

It’s a sprint, not a marathon. With just three weeks until a special election to fill the Plymouth & Barnstable District, Geoff Spillane at the Cape Cod Times reports the campaigns of Democrat Susan Moran and Republican James McMahon are racing to the finish after emerging from their respective primaries. Spillane also reports state officials are confident the election will be held as planned amid the coronavirus scare –at least for now. 

Cape Cod Times

Reflecting Democracy: Reclaiming Equity in the Political Process

A reflective democracy will bring equity to our schools, communities & commonwealth. Learn about our strategy for civic engagement in 2020.

Massachusetts Voter Table & MassVOTE

Author Talk and Book Signing with Representative Josh Cutler

Author talk and book signing with Representative Josh S. Cutler, author of the recent book, Mobtown Massacre: Alexander Hanson and the Baltimore Newspaper War of 1812

State Library of Massachusetts

Starr Forum: Russia’s Putin: From Silent Coup to Legal Dictatorship

With speaker Yevgenia M Albats, a Russian investigative journalist, political scientist, author and radio host. A session of the Focus on Russia Lecture Series co-chaired by Carol Saivetz and Elizabeth Wood.

MIT Center for International Studies (CIS)

A Conversation on Female Agency

Writers Marjan Kamali and Katrin Schumann present “A Conversation on Agency: Displacement and Power During Political Turmoil.”

Boston Athenaeum

Sanguinary Theatre: Evening with Dr. Joseph Warren & his Massacre Oration

With an exciting blend of modern context and costumed interpretation, join us to relive Joseph Warren’s fiery oration 245 years later.

Revolutionary Spaces

Boston Speaker Series: Susan Rice

Rice served as National Security Advisor from 2013 to 2017. She also served as the United States ambassador to the United Nations from 2009 to 2013. Under President Clinton, Rice worked for the National Security Council and was Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.

Lesley University

Predicting the Democratic Nominee

Welcome to the Democracy Studio! Join us as we combine politically-inspired images and words to provoke a deeper understanding of the state of our democracy.

Tom Manning, Harvard ALI Senior Fellow 2020

Boston Speaker Series: Susan Rice

Rice served as National Security Advisor from 2013 to 2017. She also served as the United States ambassador to the United Nations from 2009 to 2013. Under President Clinton, Rice worked for the National Security Council and was Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.

Lesley University

Screening; Seven Communities, Seven families, One story: The Opioid Crisis

This compelling film, created through the generosity and civic-mindedness of Wareham Community Television, and produced by Queen Banda and Andrea Pergament, shares first hand accounts from seven parents who’ve endured the unimaginable heartbreak and trauma of losing a child to the Opioid Crisis now raging across the United States. In Massachusetts, the system is failing.

Queen Banda and Andrea Pergament (producers)

Jane Swift: The History of Women in Politics

Jane Swift was the youngest woman ever elected to the Massachusetts State Senate and the First Woman Governor of Massachusetts.

Aliali Belkus, Dean of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity

An Evening With Paul Tremblay

Celebrated horror author Paul Tremblay comes to Millbury to read from his work, talk about writing, answer some questions, and sign books.

Jeff Raymond

The Centenary of the 19th Amendment: New Reflections

Join legal and political science scholars to discuss lessons learned from the centenary of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.

Boston University School of Law

13th Annual Good Apple Award Reception

Massachusetts Appleseed Center for Law and Justice invites you to the 13th annual Good Apple Award Reception at the Boston Harbor Hotel. We are pleased to announce that this year’s recipient of the Good Apple Award will be Enrique Colbert, General Counsel of Wayfair.

Massachusetts Appleseed Center for Law and Justice

Election 2020: The Crucial Questions – Conversations on the Edge

A discussion on the crucial questions of the 2020 Election with seasoned political pros.

Cambridge Center for Adult Education

Ex-Rep. Jay Kaufman (D-Lexington) – On how we can bring more democracy & transparency to the Massachusetts Legislature

Ex-Rep. Jay Kaufman (D-Lexington) – On how we can bring more democracy & transparency to the Massachusetts Legislature, and so improve the systems that help deter corruption in state government.

Indivisible Williamsburg and Indivisible Northampton

Today’s Headlines

Metro

Campbell subpoenas police department stop-and-frisk data – Boston Globe

Brockton leaders meet with community over gun violence outbreak – Brockton Enterprise

Massachusetts

Lowell Justice Center opens for first sessions – Lowell Sun

‘On the cutting edge of technology’: Springfield City Council approves $1.7M for police body cameras – MassLive

Front-yard pavement for parking is frowned upon in Worcester – Telegram & Gazette

Nation

Democrats balk at Trump’s payroll tax cut proposal – The Hill

The people who see Bernie Sanders as their only hope – New York Times

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