Mandatory masks start today, House remote session, and more
— Gov. Charlie Baker’s new order requiring face masks or cloth face coverings when out in public takes effect today.
— Department of Transportation Board of Directors Finance and Audit Committee meets with a cap of 10 people in physical attendance and with livestreaming, followed by a meeting of the board’s Capital Programs Committee, 9 a.m. and 11 a.m., respectively.
— Health Policy Commission holds a pair of virtual committee meetings, 10 a.m.
— Governor’s Council meets virtually in the panel’s first assembly since March 25 to vote on state spending under the Treasury warrant, re-appointment of Stuart Rapp as a public administrator in Barnstable County, and appointment of notaries public, 12:30 p.m.
— The Massachusetts House holds its first full formal session under its new emergency rules that allow members to participate and vote remotely, 1 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.
Reminder to readers: SHNS Coronavirus Tracker available for free
A reminder to our readers as the coronavirus crisis unfolds: The paywalled State House News Service, which produces MASSterList, is making its full Coronavirus Tracker available to the community for free on a daily basis each morning via ML. SHNS Coronavirus Tracker.
The numbers: 112 new deaths, 4,212 total deaths, 1,184 new cases
CBS Boston has the latest confirmed coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.
Baker on the downward numbers: ‘Encouraging … good signs … the right kind of trends’
He’s not leaping for joy. But Gov. Charlie Baker has been closely monitoring the coronavirus numbers and yesterday pronounced that he’s finally seeing “the right kind of trends,” “encouraging” downward numbers and “good signs” in general. SHNS’s Chris Lisinski (pay wall) and the Herald’s Erin Tiernan have more the tentative news that we may finally be on the downward slope of the surge. And the Globe’s Mark Arsenault and Martin Finucane report that medical experts agree with the governor’s cautious analysis of the data.
Not that there isn’t a lot of heartache still ahead. From the Globe’s Bryan Marquard and Jessica Rinaldi: “’I’ve never seen anything like this’: Funeral homes cope with a coronavirus surge.”
Flowers for Mom: Baker eases restrictions on florists (and book stores and car dealers)
In his first move at slowly reopening the state economy, Gov. Charlie Baker yesterday eased restrictions on the sale of flowers, just in time for Mother’s Day, with lots and lots of social-distancing caveats that florists must follow. Ditto for car dealers and book stores. The BBJ’s Greg Ryan and MassLive’s Steph Solis have the preliminary reopening details.
Spilka paints a ‘frightening’ picture of state finances as tax collections plunge in April
As the state and national economies struggle, Henry Schwan at MetroWest Daily News reports that Senate President Karen Spilka says the state is facing a “frightening” budget outlook as a result of the coronavirus emergency – and, sure enough, the state Department of Revenue yesterday reported that tax collections were off last month by more than $2 billion in Massachusetts. SHNS’s Michael Norton (pay wall) and the Globe’s Matt Stout have the tax-collection details.
Veterans’ Services Secretary Ureña under fire after veteran-homes deaths
WBZ-TV’s Cheryl Fiandaca reports that Veterans’ Services Secretary Francisco Ureña is coming under fire for the coronavirus crisis at the Holyoke Soldiers Home (and the Chelsea veterans home, for that matter). He’s not exactly been front-and-center these days, come to think of it.
Commissioner: Higher education ‘will never be the same’
WBUR’s Max Larkin and SHNS’s Katie Lannan (pay wall) report on yesterday’s gloomy mood at the Board of Higher Education, where officials were warning of “unprecedented” challenges ahead for public colleges amid the coronavirus carnage.
Three probes launched into violence at Bristol County Jail
It’s a threefer. From Sarah Betancourt at CommonWealth magazine: “Several officials and agencies are launching inquiries into the violence that erupted at the Bristol County Jail on Friday night, sending three immigration detainees to the hospital and causing $25,000 worth of damage. The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General, Attorney General Maura Healey, and the state Senate Post Audit and Oversight Committee said they would look into what happened at the jail.”
Btw, from MassLive: “Bristol County sheriff, lawmakers at odds over visitation restrictions.”
Btw II, from Deborah Becker at WBUR: “Almost 1,000 Prisoners Released In Mass. Amid Pandemic.”
Flyovers: Air National Guard to salute hospital workers across state today
If you hear a roar in the sky between noon and 1 p.m. today, pop outside and look upward. The 104th Fighter Wing, a unit based at Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield, will be conducting flyovers in tribute of hospital and other frontline workers in Boston, Worcester, Springfield, Northampton and Westfield. MassLive’s Jim Kinney has the flyover details.
Price gouging: The fine line between supply-and-demand capitalism and highway robbery
CommonWealth’s Shira Schoenberg takes a look at that fine line between legitimate supply-and-demand price hikes during the pandemic and outright price gouging. Attorney General Maura Healey’s office is defining price gouging as charging an “unconscionably high price” for items, such as (real example) demanding $20 for a four-pack of toilet paper.
This is just robbery: Feds accuse Andover and R.I. men of trying to rip off loan program
They aren’t capitalists. They aren’t socialists. They’re just crooks (allegedly). From NBC Boston: “Two men lied about their businesses in loan applications under the new Paycheck Protection Program, federal prosecutors announced Tuesday, saying they are the first to be charged with fraud in connection with the multibillion-dollar loan initiative in the United States.”
This just in from the Telegram: “Berlin restaurant owner charged with Covid-19 relief fraud.”
The invisible hand of capitalism at work: More than 600 businesses apply to help with coronavirus response
Speaking of capitalism, here’s proof of it working positively for the common good (and as Adam Smith foresaw): Hundreds of firms have applied to help produce badly needed medical supplies during the coronavirus crisis, as Gov. Charlie Baker pointed out yesterday while touring Fall River’s Merrow Manufacturing. MassLive’s Steph Solishas the details.
Our nomination for Best Supporting Frontline Workers: Manufacturers, definitely, and truckers too (Globe).
Should publicly traded companies be getting PPP loans?
OK, one more capitalism-related item, this one at the blurry intersection of capitalism and socialism. The BBJ’s Greg Ryan and Allison DeAngelis report that at least 15 publicly traded firms headquartered in Massachusetts have taken out Paycheck Protection Program loans totaling $29 million, “potentially risking public blowback and legal scrutiny from federal authorities.”
It’s a close call, but they do look like relatively small publicly traded companies – and if they’re saving jobs then they’re saving jobs. Speaking the PPP program, marijuana companies that have been forced to watch from the sidelines as other businesses receive federal aid are urging state lawmakers to fill the gap, Shira Schoenberg at CommonWealth Magazine reports.
Having the train to yourself
Sometimes, it’s lonely on the train. Paul Leighton at the Salem News catches up with the handful of North Shore residents still riding the T’s commuter rail line amid a 97 percent drop in ridership. He finds some getting free rides while others say they’ve essentially had private train service on their morning commutes.
Here we go: Kennedy to launch $1.2M TV ad blitz
And you thought he had suspended his campaign. From the Globe’s Victoria McGrane: “Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III is taking his US Senate campaign to the airwaves, launching a $1.2 million statewide advertising blitz later this week, the first major ad buy of his closely-watched race against incumbent Senator Edward J. Markey.” It’s going to highlight his coronavirus work, of course.
Just in time? GOP’s Hall races deadline to get on crowded Congressional ballot
Former Attleboro City Councilor Julie Hall says she’s hopeful the real and digital signatures she managed to gather in recent weeks will be enough to get her on the ballot as the sole Republican candidate for the 4th Congressional district seat being vacated by Joe Kennedy. George Rhodes at the Sun Chronicle reports that after entering the fray belatedly, Hall pushed the limits of Tuesday’s deadline to join some 11 Democrats already in the crowded race.
Separately, Ted Nesi at WPRI notes there are other signs of stirring in the race, with two of the Democrats touting endorsements of local officials in the Fall River area. Meanwhile, there’s this from SHNS (pay wall): “Source: Shack Won’t Qualify for Ballot in Fourth District.”
Blowback: Rollins gets earful from political ally after she calls public defenders ‘overwhelmingly privileged’
Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins has stirred up more controversy, after lambasting public defenders as “overwhelmingly privileged” people and prompting a harsh rebuttal from a defense attorney’s group that normally views Rollins as a political and legal ally. The Globe’s Andrea Estes has more.
Healey and MFA reach agreement after museum racial incident
The AG’s office was party to this agreement, fyi. From the Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky: “Nearly a year after a group of Dorchester seventh-graders and their teachers said they were met with racist remarks during a field trip to the Museum of Fine Arts, the institution has reached an agreement with the state to work on its inclusion efforts, including creating a $500,000 fund for diversity initiatives.
Postage not paid: Report puts $30 million tag on vote-by-mail
It’s going to be expensive–and that’s only the beginning. A report from The Center for State Policy Analysis at Tufts University says it would cost the Bay State as much as $30 million to run elections entirely by mail and warns that such an approach would create a host of headaches for municipalities, Matt Stout at the Globe reports.
ZOA Book Club #5: – Author Ilya Feoktistov “Terror in the Cradle of Liberty: How Boston Became a Center for Islamic Extremism” (together with Charles Jacobs)
APT executive director Ilya Feoktistov and APT President Charles Jacobs will discuss Ilya’s book, Terror in the Cradle of Liberty: How Boston Became a Center for Islamic Extremism.
ROAR Web Series with Josefina Bonilla and Special Guest Jane Steinmetz
The ROAR Webinar Series with Josefina Bonilla and special guest Jane Steinmetz, Boston Office Managing Principal, Ernst & Young. Join industry Leaders as we discuss innovation and leadership, definition of success and the emergence of new leadership styles in trying times.
Leadercast 2020—Positive Disruption: Leadership lessons with Magic Johnson
Join Business Journal partner, Leadercast, digitally for Leadercast 2020 Positive Disruption the world’s largest annual one-day leadership event broadcasting on May 7, 2020.
ROAR Web Series with Josefina Bonilla and Special Guest Phyllis Barajas
The ROAR Webinar Series with Josefina Bonilla and special guest Phyllis Barajas, CEO, Conexión. Join industry Leaders as we discuss innovation and leadership, definition of success and the emergence of new leadership styles in trying times.
Virtual event in support of Senator Ed Markey with Carole King
Please Join Us For a Virtual event in support of Senator Ed Markey with Carole King. This performance will be held on a video conferencing platform for everyone to enjoy safely from their homes. The link for the event will be available upon RSVP.
Virtual Duckling Day
Join Friends of the Public Garden on Sunday, May 10, at noon for a special “virtual” Duckling Day on Facebook!
Building a New Era of Offshore Wind
The U.S. offshore wind industry finds itself at a crossroads, facing an array of opportunities and pitfalls as initial projects move forward and infrastructure-related challenges increasingly come into focus. A fundamental question persists: How can Massachusetts and New England most effectively scale its ocean resource? What policies do we need now to jumpstart the industry after the profound impact of the Covid-19 epidemic?
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