Keller at Large

Place your political bets here

In his latest Keller at Large on MassterList, Jon Keller pooh-poohs the potential of legalized sports betting in Massachusetts – and instead he plays bookie by laying down the odds on future political developments in Massachusetts.

Keller at Large

Happening Today

Evictions moratorium hearing, House and Senate sessions

Cape Cod Reopening Task Force holds a media availability to discuss to discuss the state of COVID-19 cases on the Cape, Rep. Sarah Peake joining the call, 9 a.m.

— Suffolk Superior Court Judge Paul Wilson hears oral arguments on whether to issue a preliminary injunction temporarily blocking the state’s moratorium on almost all evictions and foreclosures during the COVID-19 pandemic, 10 a.m.

— The Massachusetts House meets in formal sessions, 11 a.m.

— The Massachusetts Senate meets in formal session, 1 p.m.

Mass. Gaming Commission meets and is expected to hear an update on casino reopenings and the resumption of live horse racing, and to vote on the suitability part of Plainridge Park Casino’s license renewal, 10 a.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

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: 29 new deaths, 8,360 total deaths, 356 new cases

CBS Boston has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.

Extended session, here we come

WGBH’s Mike Deehan reports that the Massachusetts House has decided to extend the legislative session beyond tomorrow’s deadline, giving lawmakers until the end of the year to work on a backlog of key legislation and budget matters delayed by the pandemic. The Senate is expected to follow suit.


Senate takes a pass at sports betting …

MassLive’s Steph Solis and SHNS (pay wall) report that the Senate yesterday passed its own $459 million economic development bill. But there was one major omission: Authorization of legalized sports gambling in Massachusetts. So where legalized sports betting stands now is anyone’s guess, with the House recently approving sports gambling in its economic development bill and the Senate rejecting the idea.

House passes health-care reform bill. Next up: Climate change?

SHNS’s Katie Lannan reports that House lawmakers yesterday unanimously passed a health-care reform bill yesterday – but took “another pass at infusing additional cash into financially strapped community hospitals.” Still, House members say they’re borrowing a pandemic-era idea from Gov. Charlie Baker to try to funnel money to providers. The House bill is now likely headed to a House-Senate conference committee.

In other Beacon Hill action as lawmakers scramble to finish as much business as possible this week, from CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl: “House climate change bill calls for roadmap/Measure differs from more prescriptive Senate approach.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Black Beacon Hill staffers demand changes

The Globe’s Adrian Walker and WGBH’s Tori Bedford report that Black legislative staffers on Beacon Hill have penned a letter to State House leaders urging them to take stronger steps to combat discrimination and sometimes even outright racism at the state capitol. They’re part of a new coalition called the Beacon B.L.O.C (Building Leaders of Color).

Legislative updates: Third casino license, transportation poll and more

A lot is happening these days on Beacon Hill as lawmakers rush to finish as much business as possible this week. So we’ll go with just brief summaries and headlines in this post. SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall) reports that the House is asking the Gaming Commission to report back to lawmakers by Oct. 1 on the status of issuing a third casino license in Massachusetts. … MassLive’s Steph Solis and SHNS’s Katie Lannan (pay wall) report on a new MassINC poll showing strong public support for taking action to improve the state’s transportation infrastructure. The tricky part: Finding the money to pay for it. … From SHNS’s Chris Lisinski (pay wall): “Mayors Appeal for Value Capture, Regional Ballot Questions.”

BPS nurses, teachers and bus drivers: No safety, no reopening

The Globe’s Naomi Martin and the Herald’s Marie Szaniszlo report that Boston school nurses, teachers and bus drivers rallied yesterday against reopening city schools without proper pandemic safety measures. They’re basically telling city and state officials: Put up or shut up regarding resources needed for safe school reopenings.

Here’s our question: Are we looking at potential school strikes this fall? We ask because of reports such as this one, via ABC News: “National teacher union supports strikes over reopening plans.”

Markey unveils his uber-weapon: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

In a new TV campaign ad, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the darling of the young progressive left, goes to bat for U.S. Sen. Ed Markey in his primary battle against U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy, touting Markey’s progressive credentials on Medicare for All, the Green New Deal and racial justice. Then she issues this zinger at Kennedy’s new-generation appeals: “When it comes to progressive leadership, it’s not your age that counts, It’s the age of your ideas.”


‘So it begins, the air war for the First Congressional District …’

Western Massachusetts Politics & Insight’s Matt Szafranski has picked up incoming third-party political groups on his radar – and they’re already carpet bombing the First Congressional District with new ads, as U.S. Rep. Richard Neal and Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse go at in their Dem primary battle.

And then there’s this mark-your-calendar item, via the Berkshire Eagle: “Rep. Richard Neal, challenger Alex Morse to face off in Aug. 17 debate.


Fourth Congressional District update: ‘We Asked, They Answered’

WBUR has a good summary of all the candidates – nine Dems, two Republicans – running for the Fourth Congressional seat now held by U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy, who’s challenging Ed Markey in the U.S. Senate race. The candidates also answer some basic questions about where they stand on issues. 


Colleges scramble for COVID tests – and for hotel rooms

WGBH’s Kirk Carapezza reports on the all-out efforts by local colleges to make sure they can provide adequate virus testing this fall as students return to classes.

Meanwhile, Universal Hub reports on the scramble for hotel rooms to serve as both dorms and classrooms for local colleges. And we’re talking about more than Northeastern trying to book rooms. On another higher-ed front, from MassLive: “Worcester State University reports highest coronavirus case total of Massachusetts colleges, but still a fraction of numbers across US.” 


Power struggle: Tensions mount between Mass. and Maine over hydro lines

Massachusetts and Maine are practically on war-footings (sort of) regarding COVID-19 quarantine rules. Now this: A group of current and former Maine lawmakers is telling Hydro-Quebec, which wants to sell lots of hydro power to Massachusetts, to stop meddling in a ballot campaign over transmission lines. Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine has more.

In other clean-energy news here in Massachusetts, from SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall): “Policy Shift Aims to Bring More Offshore Wind Sooner.”


The VP vetting process: ‘It’s been compared to a colonoscopy’

Just in case you’re ever considered for a VP spot on a presidential ticket, you better be prepared to answer questions about your deepest and darkest thoughts while in middle school. Because they dig deep – very deep – into one’s background during a typical VP vetting process, reports Callum Borchers at WBUR.


Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard: No escape from COVID-19

WCVB reports that summer travelers are getting the blame for the rise of COVID-19 cases on Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. WCVB has the numbers.

On the Cape itself, this isn’t helping matters, via Arianna MacNeill at “Parties criticized after 8 Falmouth lifeguards test positive, possible case surfaces at Spencer bash.”


Former head of CCC’s pot-diversity efforts: Not enough

The BBJ’s Jessica Bartlett talks with Shekia Scott, who recently left her post heading up the Cannabis Control Commission’s equity and diversity efforts. Scott’s message: the equity and diversity efforts at the CCC are lacking.

In related news, from WGBH’s Saraya Wintersmith: “Cannabis Commissioners Call For Loan Fund To Promote Diverse Ownership.”

BBJ (pay wall)

Not done downsizing: Gazette building in Northampton to be sold

First the presses were shut down, now the building is on the market. The Daily Hampshire Gazette’s publisher says the paper will sell the building that’s been its home since 1975, but plans to keep a presence in Northampton and possibly even lease back part of the current facility. Scott Merzbach of the Gazette has the details.


Disappearing local news: Lawmakers search for answers

Speaking of local media downsizing, CommonWealth magazine’s Sarah Betancourt reports that an amendment tucked into the House’s economic development bill calls for the study of the “rapidly shrinking landscape of local news in Massachusetts.” We’ll have to wait and see what comes out of conference committee on this one.

Meanwhile, even the U.K’s Guardian is taking note of the issue: “Local journalism is on its knees – endangering democracy. Who will save it?”


Delayed response: Boston council moves forward with post-scandal zoning board reform

The Boston City Council has advanced a set of measures aimed at reforming the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals–almost exactly a year after a staff member admitted to taking bribes to advance certain projects and a member resigned after acknowledging conflicts of interest. Sean Phillip Cotter of the Boston Herald reports Mayor Marty Walsh plans to sign the order, which still needs approval from the state legislature. 

Boston Herald

The EEE threat: Carver bans outdoor activities from dusk to dawn

CBS Boston reports that state public health officials have raised the risk level for Eastern Equine E (EEE) to high in Carver and Middleboro after more mosquitos tested positive for the virus – and Carver is now banning activities at outdoor public spaces from dusk to dawn starting this weekend.

CBS Boston

Pressure campaign: Southwick agrees to pay severance to laid-off clothing workers

Every little bit helps. Haverhill Mayor James Fiorentini says the 400-plus workers abruptly laid off from the Southwick clothing factory in Haverhill will be getting paid for unused vacation and sick time and have health care coverage continued until the end of August, Allison Corneau at the Eagle-Tribune reports.

Eagle Tribune

Topsfield Fair canceled due to pandemic

Finally, this comes as no surprise, but it’s still news (and disappointing news at that). From the Eagle Tribune’s John Castelluccio: “America’s oldest county fair will not go on this year, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. The Essex Agricultural Society, the organization that runs the Topsfield Fair, announced Wednesday that this year’s fair has been canceled.”

Eagle Tribune

ROAR Web Series with Josefina Bonilla and Special Guest Lisette Garcia

The ROAR Webinar Series with Josefina Bonilla and Lisette Garcia, Micromobility Enthusiast, Gotcha, discuss building Community through Micromobility.


Environmental Leaders For Senator Ed Markey

Environmental Leaders For Senator Ed Markey with Special Guest Gina McCarthy

Give Green

Today’s Headlines


Tufts will stagger arrival times for fall students, require COVID-19 testing and quarantine – Boston Globe

Cheers owner sues insurers over refusal to cover coronavirus-related losses – Universal Hub


Worcester planners favor Main South zoning change for housing in old mills – Telegram & Gazette

Mashpee selectmen close beach access to nonresidents – Cape Cod Times

New Bedford police chief and NAACP head at odds over police in schools – Standard-Times


Democrats and Republicans deliver lashing to big tech CEOs – Washington Post

Trump plays on racist fears of terrorized suburbs to court white voters – New York Times

How to Contact MASSterList

Send tips to Matt Murphy: For advertising inquiries and job board postings, please contact Dylan Rossiter: or (857) 370-1156. Follow @MASSterList on Twitter.

Subscribe to MASSterList

Start your morning with MASSterList’s chronicle of news and informed analysis about politics, policy, media, and influence in Massachusetts. Plus, get an inside look at Beacon Hill’s hottest new job postings.