Senate climate bill, relief legislation, and more
— U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch participates in two press conferences to highlight the recently passed American Rescue Plan, the first with Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch and House Speaker Ronald Mariano and the second with Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, 9:45 a.m. 11 a.m., respectively.
— The Massachusetts Senate meets in a full formal session and may take up the comprehensive climate-change bill that Republicans objected to voting on last week due to late revisions, 11 a.m.
— The Senate Ways and Means Committee is accepting written testimony through noon on a House-approved relief bill that freezes unemployment-insurance rates, exempts PPP loans from state taxes and expands paid-leave to workers, 12 p.m. deadline.
— Fall River Mayor Paul Coogan, state Rep. Carole Fiola and U.S. Rep. Jake Auchincloss tour the Fall River Industrial Park and talk with employees about COVID-19 recovery and the future of the economy, starting at 12 p.m.
— Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate holds a virtual St. Patrick’s Day celebration featuring two conversations on the state of Ireland-U.S. relations and the legacy of the Kennedy family’s connection with Ireland, with speakers including U.S. Rep. Richard Neal and former U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III, 2 p.m.
For the most comprehensive list 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: 30 new deaths, 16,311 total deaths, 1,508 new cases
CBS Boston has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.
Teacher unions back emergency legislation delaying full school reopenings
The Globe’s John Hilliard and Gal Tziperman Lotan have the latest in the state-vs-teachers reopening showdown: “The leaders of three Massachusetts teachers unions are backing emergency legislation filed by state lawmakers that would require the education commissioner to give districts more time to prepare for the full-time return of elementary school students to classrooms.”
How much of a delay? Well, Boston Public Schools Superintendent Brenda Cassellius is still talking of a return to fully reopened classrooms … next fall? The Herald’s Erin Tiernan and Alexi Cohan have more. Meanwhile, the Globe’s Bianca Vázquez Toness and Jenna Russell report Boston, as well as Worcester, appears likely to request a waiver from reopening next month.
So let’s get this straight: Hundreds of thousands of educators have been pushed to the front of the vaccination line, but many of them may not be returning to classes anytime soon, perhaps not until next fall in some cases? Just thinking aloud.
Meanwhile, educators are now getting shots at the local level
As teacher unions push for a delay in the reopening of schools, educators across the state continue to get and/or register for vaccinations – and not just at CVS and max-vax sites. Municipalities are starting to provide shots exclusively to educators, such as in Boston (WCVB), Revere (GBH) and eventually on the Cape (Wicked Local), etc. The dosages are apparently coming via vaccines distributed to local public health departments etc., or at least in some cases.
Mission accomplished: Glitch-free preregistration rollout
Hundreds of thousands of people rushed to sign up on the state’s new vaccine preregistration site on Friday – and the system didn’t crash. So it was mission accomplished from that low-bar standard. Universal Hub and MassLive have more.
The Globe’s Hiawatha Bray says the new site is a huge improvement over the old VaxFinder site, though there’s still room for improvement. GBH’s Edgar Herwick has a good piece explaining how the new system works.
Poll: Baker starting to get the blame
Maybe he’s not Gov. Teflon? A new UMass Amherst/WCVB survey shows widespread dissatisfaction with the state’s vaccine rollout – and Gov. Charlie Baker is starting to get much of the blame. But, curiously, he’s also getting much of the credit at the same time. WCVB’s Ed Harding has more.
Meanwhile, from UMass: “Those saying that Baker has done ‘very well’ dropped by more than half, from 36% to just 15%. Meanwhile, those saying he has not handled the outbreak well at all increased from 9% to 16%.”
The state’s vaccine rollout: From mediocrity to national leader?
Maybe this will help the governor’s recently sagging poll numbers. The Globe’s Hanna Krueger and Ryan Huddle report that, by most metrics, the state’s once much-maligned vaccine rollout program is now considered one of the top performers in the nation, though many problems still exist.
Fyi: Andy Slavitt, a White House senior advisor on COVID-19, yesterday gave a Twitter shout-out to Massachusetts and a handful of other states for their vaccination performances.
Legislative oversight hearing, Round 2: Baker to be asked about hiring of private vax firms
Looking at the recent poll numbers, lawmakers might be a little more aggressive this time around. We’ll see. From the Globe’s Matt Stout and Martin Finucane: “Governor Charlie Baker has been called to testify at a second legislative oversight hearing exploring Massachusetts’s COVID-19 rollout, according to state lawmakers, who intend to drill down into his administration’s decision to entrust a handful of private companies with running its seven mass vaccination sites.”
After receiving second dose, Yo-Yo Ma gives surprise cello performance in Pittsfield
Amana Burke at the Berkshire Eagle reports that those who got a vaccine shot at Berkshire Community College on Saturday were given a special treat – a surprise performance by world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma, who used his 15-minute observation period to celebrate his own second dose. The NYT has more.
Outdoor dining to start earlier than expected in Boston
In another positive sign that the pandemic is easing, Mayor Marty Walsh has decided restaurants can offer outdoor seating earlier than expected this spring, reports Saraya Wintersmith at GBH. Just a thought: Can’t we make this a permanent rite of spring?
Despite positive pandemic trends, MBTA implements service cuts
WCVB’s Josh Brogadir reports that the MBTA over the weekend began implementing bus and subway service cuts due to dramatic declines in ridership and fare collections during the pandemic. But it also comes as federal relief dollars are set to flow to the transit agency and as data shows positive coronavirus case and vaccination trends. Many are upset with the service cuts, as the Herald’s Rick Sobey reports.
Federal and state tax policies: They’re not always in sync
Christian Wade at the Salem News reports Gov. Charlie Baker is eyeing a “workaround tax” on certain businesses to help their owners skirt a federal cap on deductions of state and local taxes. Wade explains.
Meanwhile, there’s yet another seemingly arcane tax issue at play in the new $1.9 trillion federal relief package that could complicate two Beacon Hill initiatives aimed at helping small businesses and unemployed low-income workers. SHNS’s Matt Murphy (pay wall) has more.
‘Unintended consequence’: 21 first-degree murders set free under state’s compassionate release law
This is stirring up things on Beacon Hill. From the Globe’s Shelley Murphy and Andrea Estes: “In all, 21 convicted murderers sentenced to life without parole have been released under the state’s three-year-old medical parole law, state records show. Most of them were released as COVID-19 swept through the state’s prisons.”
State Rep. Bruce Ayers is co-sponsoring a bill that would make most first-degree murderers ineligible for medical parole, the Globe reports.
It’s set: U.S. Senate to vote on Walsh nomination on March 22
WCVB reports that the U.S. Senate has finally set a day to vote on Mayor Marty Walsh’s nomination as the next secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor – and it looks like March 22, or next Monday.
Magic mushroom advocates: Following the pot legalization playbook?
CommonWealth’s Shira Schoenberg reports that enthusiasts of magic mushrooms and other plant-based hallucinogenic drugs are now pushing to legalize the psychedelic wonders, using roughly the same tactics and arguments that ultimately led to the legalization of medicinal pot in Massachusetts, i.e. they’re allegedly therapeutic.
‘Marvelous’ Marvin Hagler, Brockton boxing great, RIP
He wasn’t quite as big as Larry Bird, but boxing champ ‘Marvelous’ Marvin Hagler most definitely ranked up there as one of the great Boston sports icons of the 1980s – and now he’s gone. The Enterprise’s Cody Shepard and the Globe’s John Powers report on Hagler’s sad death over the weekend at the age of 66. What a career – and life.
Free at last: Lucio Perez leaves Amherst church after nearly four years
Lucio Perez, a Guatemalan native who became a cause celebre for immigration advocates during the Trump administration, has officially ended more than three years of living in sanctuary in an Amherst church after being granted a stay of deportation, Greta Jochem at the Daily Hampshire Gazette reports.
Bombs away? Future of Noman’s Land debated again
What to do with bomb island? The Atlantic’s James Freitas and Hakai Magazine report on the debate over the future of Noman’s Land–an uninhabited island near Martha’s Vineyard that remains littered with unexploded bombs from its nearly half century as a Naval test range. Some say it should be left as is, while others worry about the live ordinance and want a large-scale cleanup.
Banned in Northampton: Confederate flag out and some want more to follow
More bans ahead? The Northampton School Committee unanimously voted to ban images of the Confederate flag from all schools in the district but many of those who spoke in support of the move want the board to go further and make it clear that all symbols of hatred and discrimination be off limits, Greta Jochem at the Daily Hampshire Gazette reports.
The South End Then and Now: See your neighborhood with new eyes.
With Michael Cox, historian, artist and tour guide, we will walk the Silver Line bus route along Washington St. from Massachusetts Ave to Berkeley St., stopping at every SL bus stop to learn what was above and below ground right there when the EL carried riders to Nubian Square. We’ll check out the South End Burying Ground and many other great sites.
Lucy Stone: Make the World a Better Place
This program explores the lifelong fight of Massachusetts’ own Lucy Stone to win equal voting rights for women and African Americans. Despite leading both the women’s rights and abolitionist movements, Stone’s name is often absent from history. Join us in examining why this historical titan’s work was so integral to the nation’s evolution.
Hemingway the Author
The Kennedy Library and GBH partner for a preview and discussion of Hemingway, a new documentary series directed by award-winning filmmakers Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. Writers Abraham Verghese and Tobias Wolff join Burns and Novick to discuss Hemingway’s life, craft, and legacy. Kennedy Library Director Alan Price moderates.
I Dissent: How Ruth Bader Ginsburg Became the Notorious RBG
Award-winning journalist Irin Carmon, co-author of the runaway bestseller Notorious RPG, tells the intimate story of a remarkable Jewish woman who transcended divides and describes how to carry on her legacy.
“The Black Lives Matter Protests: An Early History” with Chad Williams
The U.S. has been rocked by the murder of George Floyd and the widespread recognition of violence against Blacks. These events have re-awakened us to our racist legacy. Across the nation and globally, Black and white people have protested policy brutality and the continued inequalities in our society.
Be an Agent of Change: Achieve Health Justice
Join A Faith That Does Justice and Healthcare for All for a conversation about the actions you can take as an individual to work towards justice, equity, and inclusion in health care.
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