Happening Today

House and Senate sessions, unemployment premium payments

— U.S. Rep. Richard Neal holds a press conference on COVID relief legislation, 9:15 a.m.

— The Massachusetts House and Senate meet in formal sessions, mostly remote, each starting at 11 a.m.

Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority meets virtually, 11:30 a.m.

Labor and Workforce Development Committee accepts testimony all day on a bill filed by Gov. Charlie Baker calling for smaller increases in the unemployment insurance premiums paid by businesses.

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: 100 new deaths, 11,852 total deaths, 2,973 new cases

CBS Boston has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.

Trump signs stimulus bill, but unemployed still lose week of benefits

After demanding that $2,000 checks for every American be included in a final stimulus bill, President Donald Trump last night unexpectedly capitulated and signed the $900 billion package, reports the Washington Post. But his approval came too late for some unemployment-insurance recipients, who will now receive one less week of expanded benefits due to the president’s tardy signature.

The Globe’s Abigail Feldman and Shannon Larson have local reactions to the president’s action. Let’s just say they’re not happy with his delays.

Washington Post

Baker vetoes bill expanding abortion access

Here’s one more legislative item lawmakers will have to deal with as they attempt to complete business before the end of the current session. SHNS’s Matt Murphy and CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl report on Gov. Charlie Baker’s veto late last week of the recently passed abortion-access bill, with the governor specifically citing his opposition to lowering to 16 the age at which a woman can obtain an abortion without parental or judicial consent. 

Lawmakers appear to have enough votes to override the veto.

‘An all-out offensive’: Lawmakers rush to pass high-profile legislation before end of session

The clock is ticking for legislators to take action on a number of bills before the end of 2020, and SHNS’s Colin Young reports (pay wall) that advocates are mounting “an all-out offensive” to get climate-change legislation passed this session.

Meanwhile, the Herald’s Erin Tiernan reviews some of the other high-profile bills awaiting action, including economic development and transportation-spending legislation.

Don’t forget: The DeLeo-Mariano handoff

Speaking of legislative action this week, it’s still not official yet, but most State House observers are expecting a formal announcement, probably this week, that House Speaker Robert DeLeo is indeed stepping down to take a job at Northeastern University, clearing the way for state Rep. Ronald Mariano to take over the speakership. “He is nothing if not ready,” a three-journalist team at the Globe reports on the 74-year-old Mariano.

Boston Globe

Openness opening? Activists eye transparency push in new House session

Hope springs eternal. Danny Jin at the Berkshire Eagle reports activists with Act on Mass. are hopeful that a potential change in State House leadership and the start of a fresh legislative session on Beacon Hill are just the openings needed to get lawmakers to back a push to create more transparency on how laws are made. 

Berkshire Eagle

Next up for vaccinations: Long-term care residents, courtesy of CVS and Walgreens

As the state finishes vaccinating health-care workers, next up are senior citizens in long-term care facilities, as WBUR’s Carey Goldberg reported last week. And WCVB reports that teams from CVS and Wallgreens pharmacies will be assisting in the giving of shots to approximately 173,000 people across the state, starting today. MassLives reports that veterans and family members at the hard-hit Holyoke Soldiers’ Home are nervously awaiting vaccinations.

Vaccination updates: Allergic reaction to shot, state’s new vaccination dashboard, flu-shot lawsuit, and should neediest cities go first?

The topic of vaccinations has become a sort of subplot (for lack of other words) of the pandemic drama – and there’s a lot of news to report. So we’ll go with quick summaries and headline in this post, starting with NBC Boston: “Boston Doctor Has Allergic Reaction to Moderna’s COVID Vaccine, Uses Own EpiPen.” … From Deanna Pan at the Globe: “Should residents of hard-hit cities and towns be vaccinated before other groups? Some epidemiologists think so.” … NBC Boston reports on the state’s new vaccination dashboard. … From the Herald’s Sean Philip Cotter: “Massachusetts grad student, parent suing over flu vaccine requirement.” 

Restaurant owner to give $30,000 in bonuses to staff from pre-Christmas gift card sales

Leo Keka, take a bow. The Patriot Ledger reports the owner of the popular Alba restaurants in Quincy and Hanover has decided to give his staff $30,000 in bonuses, via funds raised from the sale of pre-Christmas gift cards. Besides the kindness of his action, selling gifts cards is a great idea in general to help struggling restaurants everywhere. So buy ‘em if they got ‘em.

Patriot Ledger

When in doubt, print money: Local currency experiment thriving in Berkshires

Speaking of helping local businesses: As leaders look for ways to boost economies burdened by the pandemic, could local currency be one solution? Julia Holtz at the Globe highlights the under-the-radar success of BerkShares, a 10-year-old program that sells discounted “money” that can be used only at local businesses. Some $10 million worth of BerkShares have circulated since the program launched 14 years ago. 

Boston Globe

Double trouble: After they fully reopen, state courts face one heck of a backlog

Justice delayed is justice denied? WBUR’s Deborah Becker raises the issue after tallying up all the backlogged legal cases across the state due to pandemic lockdowns of late. The latest number of trials awaiting hearings: 103,469.


‘No signs of 2022 campaign for Charlie Baker, but Karyn Polito gearing up’

The Herald’s Joe Battenfeld sees little evidence that Gov. Charlie Baker is preparing to run for a third term, at least in terms of his fundraising activities. But Battenfeld does see signs of Lt. Karyn Polito gearing up for something.

Speaking of the governor, SHNS’s Katie Lannan and Matt Murphy, appearing on WBZ’s Keller at Large over the weekend, try to explain Baker’s unshakably high approval ratings, despite getting hit from all directions during the pandemic. The numbers suggest he’d easily win a third term, but the question is whether he wants to serve a third term.

Boston Herald

BC’s Heather Cox Richardson: ‘The breakout star of the newsletter platform’

And we thought we were the breakout star of the newsletter format with a circulation of more than 22,000. But Boston College historian Heather Cox Richardson has us beat, as well as having other journalists beat, with the highest paid Substack subscription base in the nation. How does she do it? Via ‘straightforward explanations’ of how current political events fit into historical context. The NYT has the envy-inducing details.


Fall River’s Jasiel Correia: The poster child of how legalized pot corrupts local pols

Politico’s Mona Zhang reports on the corrupting influence that marijuana legalization has had on local politics across the country. Exhibit A: Our very own Jasiel Correia, the former pride of Fall River.

Speaking of the Fall River case, via the Herald News: “Who’s who on the federal prosecutors’ witness list in the upcoming trial of Jasiel Coreia.”


Kennedy: Political system sadly doesn’t promote compromise

As he prepares to leave Congress, U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy reflects on the political dysfunction in our nation’s capital and thinks the system is “not set up to actually promote the type of compromise, the type of progress that our country needs and I think our people are demanding.” WCVB has more.


Maine’s ‘lasting animosity towards Massachusetts’

Out of the goodness of our hearts we give them their independence and this is what we get in return, lasting resentment and animosity? In a Globe Ideas section piece, Colin Woodward reflects on the 200th anniversary of Maine winning its statehood and how so many of its problems today can trace back to Massachusetts’ poor and selfish colonial-era stewardship of Maine. Or so he says.

Boston Globe

The final insult: Greater Boston no longer a top 10 metro market

Maine hates us. Now the rest of the nation doesn’t respect us. Or at least that’s the way the Globe’s Danny McDonald portrays the latest U.S. Census data showing Greater Boston is no longer one of the top 10 metropolitan areas by population in the country, getting shoved off the big-boys list by Phoenix. Here’s our question: If we re-annex Maine, would that put us back in the top 10? It’s something to think about.

Sticky note: Cambridge to post climate-change warning stickers on gas pumps

And from the … the UK’s Guardian newspaper? Yes, the Guardian, via Universal Hub, reports that the city of Cambridge is preparing to post “bright yellow stickers” at gas stations warning motorists that every drop of gasoline they pump and use has an impact on the climate.

The Guardian

More homework: Report cites hurdles for Salem teacher-housing plan

Keep studying. That’s the advice from the Urban Land Institute to the city of Salem about its plan to use land around the city high school to build affordable housing set aside for teachers and other municipal workers, Dustin Luca at the Salem News reports. One obvious problem: Starting teachers earn less than $50,000 a year, while renters of even the ‘affordable’ units would require income of nearly $70,000 to make ends meet. 

Salem News

We want to know what you think…

As 2020 draws to a close, we want to know about our readers’ opinions of the news and the news media as a whole. If you can, please fill out this quick ten question survey so that we can learn more about what you (anonymously) think as we enter 2021. Thanks so much.

Google Survey

The Struggle for Freedom: Patriots of Color at Bunker Hill

The American Revolution was an era-changing historical earthquake, but little told is the role of people of color in the struggle for independence.

Boston Public Library and the National Park Service

Breathless in Boston: An Exploration of Lung Function in the Era of COVID-19 with Dr. Christopher Fanta, MD

Join the Boston Public Library in partnership with Beacon Hill Village for this online program. Dr. Fanta will take us on a tour of how our lungs work in health and disease, including strategies to keep our lungs healthy and strong throughout our lives. Dr. Fanta will discuss several issues relating to the lungs including the special effects of COVID-19 on lung function.

Boston Public Library and Beacon Hill Village

The New Administration: Opportunities and Challenges

Panelists including Lisa Lerer, reporter at the New York Times, and Julian Zelizer, professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University and CNN Political Analyst, discuss opportunities and challenges for the incoming administration as well as reflections on the significance of the Biden-Harris victory in 2020 elections. NBC News Correspondent Harry Smith moderates.

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

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


In the North End, occupancy limit leaves cafes, eateries starved for customers – Boston Globe

Preservationists attempt to save Brookline homes from demolition – Boston Herald


The South Shore’s biggest moments of 2020 – Patriot Ledger

In-class school stymied by costs, staffing, risks – Eagle-Tribune

Framingham police department officially leaving Civil Service – MetroWest Daily News


Teens expand TikTok playbook to help Democrats in Georgia runoffs – The Hill

It may be legal, but high prices and inconvenience may drive black-market marijuana for years – Bangor Daily News

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