Happening Today

House and Senate sessions, Governor’s Counci

Cape Cod Reopening Task Force hosts its weekly conference call with reporters to discuss holiday health recommendations and local COVID-19 testing infrastructure, 9 a.m.

— The Massachusetts Senate and House meet in formal sessions, with the Senate convening at 10 a.m. and the House at 11 a.m.

Governor’s Council meets in a formal assembly and is likely to tend to routine work like approval of notaries public, justices of the peace, and the state’s Treasury warrant, 12 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

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: 43 new deaths, 11,549 total deaths, 3,293 new cases

CBS Boston has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.

More restrictions: Baker orders new business capacity limits as virus cases surge

Reacting to an ominous spike in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker yesterday ordered new pandemic gathering restrictions, most of them starting this weekend. Among the new rules: Lowering the indoor capacity limit to 25 percent for most businesses in the state. 

The BBJ’s Greg Ryan, MassLive’s Tanner Stening and SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall) have more on the new rules, which include ordering hospitals to either postpone or cancel non-essential invasive medical procedures. WCVB has a good summary of all the new restrictions.

One plus of the pandemic: A compromise health-care bill that requires telehealth coverage

This was a surprise development yesterday at the State House. MassLive’s Steph Solis and SHNS’s Katie Lannan (pay wall) report conference-committee negotiators on Beacon Hill have reached a deal on a sweeping health-care reform package – a package that, among other things, requires insurers to cover some telehealth medical services and a wider range of COVID-19 tests and treatments.

In other words, the pandemic has likely led to permanent changes to the state’s health-care system. Solis and Lannan have more on the package that lawmakers hope/expect to pass before the current legislative session ends. More legislative news is below.

Here they go again: Surge in travelers at Logan and elsewhere despite pleas to stay put

Gov. Charlie Baker, Mayor Marty Walsh and others have been urging, even “basically begging,” people not to travel over the Christmas holidays amid the second coronavirus surge. But … a “flood of passengers” are now “swelling” Logan Airport and other airports around the country, with data indicating the number of travelers could exceed what was seen around Thanksgiving, reports the Globe’s Adam Vaccaro.

Meaning: Are we going to see a third and potentially more severe post-Christmas surge in cases?

Boston Globe

Now taking reservations: Churches requiring preregistration for Christmas services

Due to pandemic-era capacity restrictions, some churches in the Greater Boston area are requiring parishioners to preregister to attend Christmas Eve and Christmas services. And they better have their tickets when they arrive. CBS Boston and the Milford Daily News’s Jeff Malachowski and Cesareo Contreras have the details.

In other religious-service news, via the Sun Chronicle: “It came upon a midnight clear; for Attleboro-area Catholics that may not include Midnight Mass.”

Long-term care facilities prepare for mass vaccinations next week

Now that members of Congress have gotten their vital coronavirus shots, we suppose it’s OK to begin vaccinating vulnerable seniors in nursing homes, starting en masse next week in Massachusetts, as Carey Goldberg reports at WBUR. Fyi: New England’s first nursing-home resident received a shot yesterday, after, to reiterate, members of Congress got their vital continuity-in-government shots.


Abortion bill returned to Baker, setting up potential veto showdown

It was indeed a busy day on Beacon Hill on Tuesday. Besides the unveiling of a new health-care reform package, there was this, via SHNS’s Chris Lisinski: “A bill expanding abortion access in Massachusetts is back on Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk after both the House and Senate rejected his proposed changes and doubled down on their original language, setting up a potential veto showdown.”

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

House agrees with Senate’s compromise police-reform changes

In other legislative action, the House adopted the Senate’s proposed changes to the police-reform bill, effectively bending to the veto will of Gov. Charlie Baker, and now lawmakers are only a few procedural votes away from sending the amended legislation back to Baker, reports the Globe’s Matt Stout and SHNS (pay wall).

Btw: Attorney General Maura Healey, a Democrat, agrees with the various changes, specifically getting rid of the original bill’s facial-recognition ban, reports GBHs Zoe Matthews.

The list of candidates eyeing DeLeo’s House seat grows longer

Still no definitive word when or if House Speaker Robert DeLeo plans to leave the State House for a job at Northeastern University, though Senate President Karen Spilka is talking like he’s a goner and will be missed (SHNS – pay wall). But we do know this: A lot of people are eying a run for DeLeo’s House seat, reports the Herald’s Erin Tiernan, who has a full list of the potential candidates.

Boston Herald

Local angle: Bloomberg journalist entangled with Shkreli got start on Cape

Yes, indeedy, we have a Massachusetts angle. Christie Smythe, the Bloomberg journalist whose relationship with pharma bro Martin Shkreli became one of the top stories in the country this week, is a former Cape Cod Times business reporter, Hannah Yasharoff reports. Smythe, who was later fired by Bloomberg after revealing her relationship with Shkreli, is recalled by locals as a “dogged” reporter. 

Cape Cod Times

Wood-burning power plants: Green or dirty as they come?

One of many trends to expect in 2021? Perhaps more wood-burning, or “biomass,” power plants in Massachusetts. WBUR’s Miriam Wasser reports new state rules go into effect next year about what qualifies for renewable energy subsidies – and biomass is one of them. Not everyone is happy with the rules.


Fast rise: Former Walsh aide lands top communication gig at Biden’s White House

From Lexington High School to mayoral campaign intern to City Hall aide to incoming President Joe Biden’s future chief of staff for the Office of Communications. It’s been a fast and inspiring rise for the 27-year-old Emma Riley, reports the Globe’s Jeremy Fox.

Boston Globe

Baker’s TCI pact: Tilting at windmills?

Progressives love it. But the Herald is anything but progressive, and this morning the still-feisty tabloid is pulling out both barrels – in an editorial and Howie Carr column — in opposition to Gov. Charlie Baker’s announcement that Massachusetts is joining two other states and the District of Columbia in the carbon cap-and-trade Transportation and Climate Initiative.

New Legal Sea Foods owner: ‘We won’t be messing around with the clam chowder’

As expected, the iconic Legal Sea Foods restaurant chain, struggling for survival during the pandemic like other eateries, has been sold to a local hospitality group that owns the Smith & Wollensky steakhouses, as the Herald’s Rick Sobey reports. And the Globe’s Larry Edelman reports the CEO of PPX Hospitality Brands is vowing to keep up the quality of LSF’s cuisine, particularly (and especially) its clam chowder.

Healey fires back at Hodgson over jail probe

They’re going at it again. The Globe’s Laura Crimaldi has the latest in the war of words and beyond between Attorney General Maura Healey and Bristol Sheriff Thomas Hodgson, with Healey questioning why the sheriff waited until after her office released a highly critical investigation of his jail to complain about not being interviewed.

Boston Globe

Survey: Mass exodus of employers from state may be a slightly smaller exodus than thought

Remember that summer survey showing a majority of Massachusetts firms, realizing they can operate just about anywhere due to the proven success of remote working during the current pandemic, was considering moving out of the Bay State? A follow-up survey shows fewer companies are now thinking of leaving. But it’s still a high number, as the BBJ’s Greg Ryan reports.


Going viral: Tweet about Fall River real estate has web buzzing

Fall River is going viral and, this time, it has nothing to do with crimes at City Hall. Lynne Sullivan and Linda Murphy at the Herald-News report a tweet by former local Hunter Reis comparing a tiny Los Angeles bungalow to a sprawling Fall River mansion with the same price tag blew up and sparked a debate about property values and, of course, location, location, location. 

Herald News

Recover Boston: The Road Ahead – Economic Issues in 2021

As the country looks ahead at the days when a vaccine will be available to wider parts of the community and as a new administration gains its foothold in Washington, D.C., a distinguished panel of business leaders will discuss the issues they’re expecting in 2021. What will economic recovery look like in Greater Boston? How will businesses move forward safely?

Boston Business Journal

Making a Ruckus: Volunteer Managers as Activists for Change

Explore strategies to create a new path forward for volunteer engagement in your organization in these changing times. VolunteerNow is collaborating with TVMC to offer free professional development webinars to provide guidance, networking and practical ideas to help you move forward during these challenging times. Upon registration you will receive instructions to join the webinar via WebinarJAM.


A League of Their Own: The Future of Network Partnerships

Verizon is unveiling the 5G network’s potential for venues with features like real-time access to video highlights, screening of multiple angles, instant updated stats and fantasy scores on players, and immersive fan experiences. Having just been named the official technology partner of the NHL, Verizon is paving the way for the future of network partnerships.


How to Pivot Your Small Business During Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic has presented unprecedented challenges for small businesses in the Boston area and all over the country. Consumer habits have changed and small businesses have to be able to adapt to the new dynamic. Join Beth Ann Dahan, Project Manager for COVID Business Recovery as she shares ways that you can pivot your small business and survive during difficult times.

Virtual Minority Small Business Conference and Expo

How to Pivot Your Small Business During Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic has presented unprecedented challenges for small businesses in the Boston area and all over the country. Consumer habits have changed and small businesses have to be able to adapt to the new dynamic. Join Beth Ann Dahan, Project Manager for COVID Business Recovery at CWE as she shares ways that you can pivot your small business and survive during difficult times.

Virtual Minority Small Business Conference and Expo

2021 Economic Outlook

Join the Boston Business Journal and CIBC for an expert look at the latest information concerning global, national and regional trends impacting the economy. The 2021 Economic Outlook will offer unique access to economic insights from world-class experts and professionals to help translate economic trends into competitive intelligence to grow your business and find opportunity in the coming year.

Boston Business Journal and CIBC Commercial Banking

Human Trafficking 101

The Key2Free is committed to education and increased awareness with the goal of preventing trafficking before it starts. Across all states, victims of sex trafficking are enslaved every day through force, fraud, or coercion. Together, we can call attention to and fight the shocking realities of the injustice happening right here in our communities.

The Key2Free

Today’s Headlines


Developer proposes Charlestown residential tower taller than the Bunker Hill Monument – Universal Hub

Brockton could have a combined public safety facility by 2023. Here’s what it will cost. – Brockton Enterprise


UMass Memorial, Harrington file merger plans – Worcester Business Journal

Habitat for Humanity proposes first affordable homes in Great Barrington – Berkshire Eagle

Biden urged to name Newburyport’s Espaillat as inaugural poet – Eagle-Tribune


Trump calls on Congress to approve $2,000 stimulus checks, hinting he might not sign relief bill without changes – Washington Post

U.S. Considers Granting Immunity to Saudi Prince in Suspected Assassination Attempt – New York Times

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