House session, and more
— Homes For All Massachusetts coalition holds a press conference in support of six ‘equity and racial justice housing amendments’ to the economic development bill being considered by the House, State House, 9:30 a.m.
— The Massachusetts House meets in formal session, with members encouraged to participate remotely and with plans to take up the economic development bill that includes legal sports betting and Gov. Baker’s housing production proposals, 11 a.m.
— The Massachusetts Senate is scheduled to meet today with no set agenda, 11 a.m.
— Massachusetts High Technology Council hosts a panel discussion on women in leadership and how they can balance careers, family and community, 11:30 a.m.
— Gov. Charlie Baker speaks on a private conference call with legislative leaders, 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.
The coronavirus numbers: 19 new deaths, 8,529 total deaths, 369 new cases
The Boston Herald has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.
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.
No knockout: Choppy Senate debate sets stage for sprint to primary
Past, present and future — they all got an airing. The Democratic primary debate between U.S. Sen. Ed Markey and U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III included a reprisal of age-old attacks and fresh fights as the candidates sought to break through to voters who will be deciding the primary race with early mail-in votes and at the ballot boxes in September.
Benjamin Kail of MassLive and Lisa Kashinsky of the Herald and Danny McDonald of the Globe have blow-by-blow reports on the face-off, which may have left some voters feeling unsatisfied as moderators kept the candidates moving along on topics such as criminal justice reform and immigration.
Bruce Mohl of CommonWealth reports Kennedy seemed to be laying the groundwork for creating more of a contrast with the incumbent, taking aim at a 2013 vote by Markey in support of expanding ICE’s capacity to house detainees.
So how’d they do? James Pindell of the Globe gives Kennedy a C+ and Markey a C-, saying neither delivered any knockout punches and both came away with fodder for down-the-stretch ads.
Sinking feeling: Kennedy slams Markey for not visiting towns long buried under Quabbin Reservoir
Universal Hub reports that U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy’s staff must have thought they had a real zinger when they issued a press release accusing Markey of not visiting certain towns in Massachusetts. The only problem: Three of the six listed towns no longer exist. They were wiped out 85 years ago by construction of the Quabbin Reservoir.
Divided House passes police reform bill
Now for the tricky part. It took until late into the night Friday, but the House has passed its own version of a police reform bill, setting the table for high-stakes talks to reconcile the legislation with an earlier bill passed by the Senate. SHNS’s Chris Van Buskirk (pay wall) and WBUR’s Sharon Brody and Derek Anderson report the action now moves to a conference committee, which will try to iron out the kinks in time to get a bill to Gov. Baker before the end of the month.
Meanwhile, Nik DeCosta-Klipa of Boston.com reports the ACLU was quick to criticize the House package, saying it does not do enough to address the demands of protesters who want profound changes in how policing works.
Sports betting: It’s back on the table
In a surprise move, the House’s economic development bill, unveiled on Friday, calls for the legalization of sports betting in Massachusetts, which could raise $50 million for the suddenly cash-starved state. SHNS’s Matt Murphy (pay wall) and the Globe’s Andy Rosen have more on the resurrected sports-betting proposal.
Meanwhile, the Globe’s Jon Chesto reports that the House bill would earmark some of the sport-betting tax revenue towards helping the battered restaurant industry in Massachusetts. SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall) reports one person is unhappy with the bill: Treasurer Deb Goldberg.
Baker’s housing bill: It’s also back
Besides sports betting, the House economic development bill unveiled on Friday also includes Gov. Charlie Baker’s long-sought ‘Housing Choice’ legislation that would “lower the requirement at the local level for a range of land-use approvals, from a two-thirds majority to a simple majority,” according to the Globe (scroll way down).
Stay put: Baker orders mandatory quarantines for out-of-staters — with heavy fines
He wants to protect the progress. Gov. Charlie Baker on Friday issued strict new mandatory quarantine requirements for some, though not all, visitors to the Bay State, complete with $500 fines for scofflaws, SHNS’s Chris Lisinski (pay wall) and three staffers from the Globe report.
The rules take effect Aug. 1 and require travelers from all but a handful of states to quarantine for 14 days upon arriving — or provide evidence of a negative Covid-19 test.
Looks more likely lawmakers will extend the session
It’s not a done deal yet between the House and Senate. But House Speaker Robert DeLeo sure sounds like he’s already planning on an extension of the legislative session beyond July 31, telling State House News Service that lawmakers might tackle the budget and conference-committee bills during an extended session. Christian Wade at the Salem News has more on the extended-session debate.
In an editorial, the Globe is urging lawmakers to extend the session. In an opinion piece at CommonWealth magazine, former state Sen. Ben Downing says Beacon Hill needs to pick up the pace in general – and not just this year.
All over the map: Reopening debate rages in cities and towns
Facing an early August deadline to report their back-to-school plans, cities and towns across Massachusetts continue to scramble for answers. In Peabody, the superintendent says opening schools will require hiring more staff, Ethan Forman of the Salem News reports. Sandra Quadros Bowles of the Telegram reports Millbury schools have ruled out a full-time return to in-class learning. And Scott Merzbach of the Daily Hampshire Gazette says the task force preparing Amherst’s back-to-class program seem to be stuck on how to keep staff safe.
Erin Tiernan of the Herald reports the Pioneer Institute wants Gov. Baker to get off the fence and lead the way on reopening schools.
Good news, bad news: Enrollment rises at some community colleges but state budget looms
It could be the best of times, it could also be the worst. Scott O’Connell and Lauren Young of the Metrowest Daily News report that the state’s community colleges are seeing enrollment bumps as students look to stay closer to home to continue their education. But the state’s budget crisis means many schools don’t know exactly what classes and services will be available.
Question of the day: Will the state’s deficit be in the nine or ten figures?
SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall) and the Globe’s Larry Edelman report that state tax collections last fiscal year, which ended June 30, came in $3 billion lower than projected. But state officials stress the lower-than-expected number is partly, if not largely, due to the delayed income-tax payment deadlines this year until July. So the number could be much smaller.
Ed Ansin, TV pioneer and Channel 7 owner, RIP
Worcester-born billionaire and local news visionary Ed Ansin has died at the age of 84, Channel 7 News reports. Ansin owned both Channel 7 (WHDH-TV) in Boston and founded the Sunbeam network.
The Globe’s Shirley Leung and Abigail Feldman report Ansin continued to working right up until the end and say his death could bring changes to the Boston-area TV channel lineup.
Break, don’t bend: Berkshires eyes next level in controlling coronavirus
Don’t stop now. Public health officials in the Berkshires are celebrating the positive trends in the region–just one coronavirus patient in an ICU as of Friday–but warning against complacency and say the risk of a resurgence remains very real as vacationers flood into the area, Heather Bellow of the Berkshire Eagle reports.
Cruisin’ for trouble
It was caught on camera: Lots and lots of people crammed together, with little or no social distancing or mask wearing (as far as we can tell), on a party cruise on the Provincetown II – and the cruise company is now “facing scrutiny,” WCVB reports.
In other party-hearty pandemic news from the Cape, from CBS Boston: “Pop-Up Testing Site Opening In Chatham After Coronavirus Cluster Linked To House Party.”
Telehealth: Has its time come too soon?
Telehealth, also known as telemedicine, has become suddenly popular, at least among patients, due to the pandemic lockdown. But even though there appears to be momentum behind legislation that would make telehealth a permanent feature in Massachusetts, appearances can be deceiving on Beacon Hill, as CommonWealth magazine’s Shira Schoenberg reports.
Cape Cod island to open for first time in 300 years
This is cool. Hannah Chanatry at WBUR reports that the Cape Cod’s Sipson Island, privately owned since the early 1700s, was expected to open this past weekend for the first time in more than 300 years, thanks to a trust that recently purchased the nearly pristine island.
In meeting with Baker on Nantucket, Pence vows to get more COVID-19 aid to Massachusetts
We’ll believe it when we see it, i.e. Vice President Mike Pence’s pledge over the weekend to funnel more coronavirus aid to Massachusetts, as reported by WBUR’s Elie Levine and the Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky. Pence was on Nantucket for a re-election fundraiser, but took time out to meet with Gov. Charlie Baker, who didn’t attend the fundraiser.
‘One of the worst police departments in the country’
Following up on the recent scathing report by the U.S. Justice Department on the Springfield Police Department’s rogue narcotics unit, the Globe’s Dugan Arnett and Laura Crimaldi, in interviews with people, find the situation may be even worse than what the feds found.
Will they be counted?
The Globe’s Zoe Greenberg reports that advocates and even U.S. Census officials are worried that many people in lower-income communities might be undercounted this year in the census due to the pandemic. And, yes, we’re talking Everett, Chelsea, Lawrence and other cities and neighborhoods hit especially hard by coronavirus cases.
Rats: They have to eat somewhere
The Herald’s Meghan Ottolini reports on a surge in complaints over rats, some of them “the size of cats,” inundating neighborhoods in Boston. The apparent cause of the rodent infestation: Many restaurants have closed and/or reduced services during the pandemic and, well, rats are now scrambling for new food sources other than overflowing restaurant dumpsters.
Mark your calendars: Juneteenth officially recognized as state holiday
Gov. Charlie Baker on Friday officially signed the $1.1 billion COVID-19 spending bill – and in the process signed an amendment within the bill making June 19 an annual state holiday — “Juneteenth Independence Day,” marking the end of slavery in America, reports Derek Anderson at WBUR.
FYI: SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall) has more on the spending bill in general.
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.
Future-proof: How to create new small business offers for a COVID world
Karen Tiber Leland, author and president of Sterling Marketing Group, answers your questions in an interactive Q&A webinar. Find out how your small business can manage the big changes ahead and how to build a currency of trust with your customers in the new world of PR and media.
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.)
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