Keller at Large
Are our public-sector unions part of the problem or part of the solution?
In his latest Keller at Large on MassterList, Jon Keller says the current trying times require new thinking and approaches to solve our problems. But are police and teachers unions part of the solution – or part of the problem?
House and Senate sessions and more
— Cape Cod Reopening Task Force holds a media advisory call to discuss Barnstable County COVID-19 Cases and recent legislative action related to a Steamship Authority revenue shortfall, 9 a.m.
— Pension Reserves Investment Management Board holds two committee meetings, starting with the Administration and Audit Committee and later the Compensation Committee, with Treasurer Deborah Goldberg chairing, 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. respectively.
— House members have been advised to prepare for a full formal session to continue deliberations on police reform legislation, 11 a.m.
— Former Gov. Deval Patrick discusses issues related to leadership during the pandemic at a Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health event, 12 p.m.
— The Massachusetts Senate meets in a formal session, 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 coronavirus numbers: 18 new deaths, 8,249 total deaths, 192 new cases
MassLive has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.
As House slogs through hundreds of police-reform amendments, leaders talk of extending session
The House made only slow progress yesterday on its police-reform legislation, slogging through hundreds of amendments attached to the bill and forcing members to resume remote debate today on issues. MassLive’s Steph Solis and the Herald’s Erin Tiernan have more.
Meanwhile, SHNS’s Katie Lannan (pay wall) confirms that Beacon Hill leaders are indeed in preliminary talks to extend the session beyond July 31, though Senate President Karen Spilka says every effort will be made to address issues by the end of this month.
Nine issues to watch in the waning days of the session
Whenever the legislative session officially ends, State House News Service has compiled a handy list of the top issues that must still be resolved (or ignored) by lawmakers. Some are familiar: Police reforms, the state budget, transportation and climate change. But there are other big issues still out there.
Meanwhile, Chris Dempsey, director of Transportation for Massachusetts, has his own transportation-related recommendations with time running short on Beacon Hill.
SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)
Are coronavirus cases rising among young people? State wants to know
Amid signs that young people are starting to get infected with the coronavirus in greater numbers in Massachusetts, the state is planning a “deep dive” into data to verify if it’s true, reports Marc Fortier at NBC Boston. Gov. Charlie Baker says early data does seem to indicate that more young people are contracting the virus.
Confirmed: Massachusetts got shortchanged by feds on PPE supplies
So it wasn’t our imagination. From Christine Willmsen at WBUR: “In May, Massachusetts received the lowest amount of personal protective equipment from the federal government in the U.S. relative to its count of positive cases, according to an analysis of data gathered by the The Associated Press and shared with WBUR and other news outlets.” If you recall, May was the height of the surge here.
Boston schools eyeing ‘hybrid’ school reopening
The state’s largest school district is tentatively planning a ‘hybrid’ approach toward school reopening this fall, i.e. students attending in-person classes some days, remote learning other days. The Herald’s Alexi Cohan and the Globe’s Bianca Vázquez Toness have the details on plans now being floated by the Boston school superintendent’s office.
In related news, from the Herald: “Warren, Massachusetts teachers unions blast coronavirus school reopening push.”
Report: Districts asking parents to sign away their children’s special-education rights
Speaking of education, the Globe’s Bianca Vázquez Toness and Naomi Marty report that 11 school districts – and likely others – are getting parents to sign away their kids’ special-education rights. And advocates are not happy about the practice they say violates federal laws.
DOR: Out-of-state telecommuters must still pay Mass. taxes
This is interesting. Should out-of-state employees who normally travel into Massachusetts for work no longer pay Massachusetts taxes if they now remotely work from home during the pandemic? DOR’s non-surprise response: No. So pay up. SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall) has the taxing details.
Baker on fed intervention in cities: Locals know what’s best, not Trump
Yet another example of Gov. Charlie Baker mastering the art of biting his tongue while getting his point across. This time, it is Baker’s indirect criticism of President Trump’s decision to send federal law-enforcement agents into U.S. cities to break up protests. The Globe’s Matt Stout has more.
In contrast, check out former Homeland Security Secretary and former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge’s blistering attack on Trump’s dispatch of law enforcement personnel to cities. “It would be a cold day in hell before I would consent to a unilateral, uninvited intervention into one of my cities,” Ridge, a Republican, tells the Washington Post, in a story that’s getting wide circulation on the web.
Btw: The Herald is hyping Trump’s “Bloodshed Must End” mantra on its front page.
Voting-by-mail fraud alert: Applications sent to voters who no longer live at lawmaker’s home
We hope we’re wrong, but we starting to get a little nervous about expanded voting-by-mail this fall in Massachusetts. And so is state Rep. Lenny Mirra, who says he got ballot applications in the mail for a couple who previously lived in his home. Others are making the same complaints. CNHI’s Christian Wade has more on early concerns about possible voting-by-mail fraud.
Markey fires his first TV salvo in Senate race
U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III has already aired TV ads in his bid to unseat U.S. Sen. Ed Markey. And now Markey is launching his own television blitz. Actually, it’s more like a mini-blitz, with the initial buy costing around $345,000. The Globe’s Victoria McGrane has more.
Separately, from the Globe’s Danny McDonald: “Neal challenger Morse releases TV ad highlighting brother’s addiction struggles.”
Baker and Pence to meet on Nantucket to discuss COVID-19 response
No, he’s not attending the planned Trump-Pence re-election fundraiser scheduled for Saturday on Nantucket. But Gov. Charlie Baker does plan to meet with Vice President Mike Pence on the uber-resort island to discuss pandemic-related matters, according to a report at WCVB.
Breaking news: Healey is using AG office for political gain
Maybe Attorney General Maura’s Healey’s latest lawsuit against the Trump administration was the proverbial straw that broke the pundit’s back. Whatever the case, the Herald’s Joe Battenfeld is going after Healey this morning, saying she’s “turned her office into a virtual nonstop onslaught against President Trump,” all of it to advance her own political career. We’re shocked. A politician using an office for partisan political gain?
Walsh defends McChrystal’s $1M no-bid pandemic contract
It’s the blob of city contracts: It keeps growing and growing. Yet Mayor Marty Walsh is defending the city’s pandemic consulting-services contract with the firm created by retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal. WGBH’s Paul Singer has more.
T control board: They’re back
Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine reports that four members of the MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board, which was due to expire at the end of last month, have decided to stay on for the coming year as lawmakers grapple with other pressing pandemic-era matters.
In other state personnel matters, SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall) reports that it’s now a good bet that Karen Wells, the leader of the Gaming Commission’s Investigations and Enforcement Bureau, will be offered the job as the agency’s executive director after serving in the position on an interim basis.
Bittersweet move: Amazon opens delivery center in former Necco candy factory
From factory workers making Sweethearts to warehouse workers preparing packages for deliveries, things have definitely changed at the former Necco candy factory in Revere. The AP at WBUR has the details.
If Baker won’t listen to landlords’ complaints, maybe a judge will
The Herald’s Rick Sobey and Lisa Kashinsky have an update on a lawsuit filed against the state’s moratorium on evictions and foreclosures, a moratorium that Gov. Charlie Baker earlier this week extended into October.
Warren’s new role: Biden’s policy adviser
She may be a long-shot pick as Joe Biden’s vice-presidential running mate, but Elizabeth Warren nevertheless seems to have found a role in his presidential campaign — as a progressive policy adviser, reports the AP’s Will Weissert. The story is similar to what the Globe’s Jess Bidgood was reporting the other day.
A very good year: Lee nets almost $1 million in first year of pot sales
Good timing. With many communities across the state struggling to patch together budgets, the town of Lee has nearly $1 million extra to work with, thanks to the first year of pot sales at Canna Provisions, reports Dick Lindsay at the Berkshire Eagle.
Counterpoint: Trahan declares racism a health crisis, breaking from Lowell council
She disagrees. U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan said in an online town hall that she considers racism to be a ‘public health crisis,’ breaking from the city council in Lowell, which rejected a call to make the same finding, Robert Mills at the Lowell Sun reports.
As goes Easton: Town’s Black Lives Matter debate mirrors national trend
Jennifer Levitz at the Wall Street Journal visits Easton and finds the predominantly white suburb bitterly divided over the national conversation around race and policing.
Getting to the Point on Voting Rights
Join the Kennedy Institute for a conversation on voting rights and hear from former congressional staff who helped ensure passage of the Voting Rights Act, grassroots organizations that garnered national support for the legislation, and how the United States is currently facing similar crises around disenfranchisement.
Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate
For Real Estate: Why Constant Contact is the Smarter Choice for Online Marketing
In this free, one-hour webinar, you’ll get an overview of the tools that Constant Contact offers.
Virtual Amplify Conference – Nuestro Impacto: Be Counted, Be Heard (Day 2)
Join us for our Virtual Amplify Conference – Nuestro Impacto: Be Counted, Be Heard hosted by Amplify Latinx, the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy and the Gastón Institute, in collaboration with our partner organizations.
Report to celebrate Metro Boston communities for clean transportation leadership
Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center is releasing the 2020 edition of Renewable Communities, a report highlighting cities and towns that are leading the way to 100% renewable energy. The report will include case studies of projects to increase mass transit ridership, reduce reliance on private vehicles, and promote electric cars in Somerville, Belmont, and Chelsea.
Report to celebrate movement for fossil-fuel-free buildings
Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center is releasing the 2020 edition of Renewable Communities, a report highlighting cities and towns that are leading the way to 100% renewable energy. The report will include case studies of policies to encourage the construction of highly efficient and fossil-fuel-free buildings in Boston and Brookline.
Hard-Hit Industries: Rebuilding Restaurants, Retail, and Travel & Hospitality
Pioneer Institute invites you to our Virtual Policy Briefing, “Hardest Hit Industries,” on Wednesday, July 29th at 3:00 PM featuring Mary Connaughton, the Institute’s Director of Government Transparency and Director of Finance and Administration.
Greater Milford Democratic Congressional Debate
The first debate between the Democratic candidates vying to replace Congressman Kennedy, featuring questions from you, the voters and broadcast live on Milford TV! (To protect the health and safety of the candidates and organizers, the event will be held remotely.)
Democratic Town Committees of Bellingham, Hopedale, Hopkinton, Medway, Milford and Norfolk
Quincy coronavirus cases rising again – Patriot Ledger
Berklee College of Music to offer only remote classes this fall – Boston Globe
Outside investigator explains Methuen police probe – Eagle-Tribune
Book deal: Worcester library eliminates late fines – Telegram & Gazette
Republican feuding this week represents broader reckoning over party’s future as Trump sinks in the polls – Washington Post
Biden: Trump is the first racist elected president – Politico
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