Happening Today

House session, fare evasion, and more

Coalition of Puerto Ricans in Massachusetts holds virtual event to support a resolution in support of Puerto Rico’s self-determination, with scheduled speakers including Boston City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo, U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley, Reps. Jon Santiago and Orlando Ramos, and Sen. Adam Gomez, among others, Worcester Councilor Sarai Rivera; Easthampton Councilor, 10 a.m.

— The Massachusetts House plans to hold a full formal session to consider a $400 million bond authorization bill to finance a new Holyoke Soldiers’ Home facility, 11 a.m.

Betsy Lehman Center for Patient Safety holds a forum discussing health care safety and quality improvement efforts in high-risk industries, featuring Rep. Liz Miranda, Lt. Col. Susan Gannon of the U.S. Army Reserves and New England Patriots offensive coordinator coach Josh McDaniels, with Boston Globe reporter Rob Weisman moderating, 12 p.m.

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— Members of the North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters plan to demonstrate against “rampant wage theft and tax fraud tainting the construction industry,” State House steps, 3:30 p.m.

MBTA staff host a virtual public hearing to discuss proposed governing fare evasion on the T, 6 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.

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: 14 new deaths, 17,082 total deaths, 2,004 new cases

NBC Boston has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.

Snow? Maybe six inches? Tomorrow?

We should have known. Terry Eliasen at CBS Boston and Dave Epstein at the Globe report on the depressing news of snow on the way for many parts of Massachusetts tomorrow. … Now on to all things politics and public policy (mostly).

House unveils $47.6B budget balanced by surprisingly robust revenue numbers

Remember a year ago when most thought lawmakers would be slashing billions of dollars from the state budget, arguing over taxes and rainy day funds and painful program cuts? What a difference a year makes. The House yesterday unveiled a $47.6 billion budget blueprint that actually increases spending by nearly $1.2 billion (2.6 percent) over the current budget and by $1.8 billion (3.9 percent) over Gov. Charlie Baker’s January budget recommendation. And it was accomplished without tax increases, deep service cuts and digging too much into various federal funds.

SHNS’s Colin Young, MassLive’s Steph Solis and CommonWealth’s Shira Schoenberg have more. The headline on the Globe’s piece by Emma Platoff and Matt Stout sums it up pretty well: “Despite pandemic’s upheaval, fiscal outlook appears stable for state government.”

Still on track: Despite J&J setback, Baker says state should hit 2M fully vaccinated mark this week

Saying he sees only a “minimal impact” ahead from the pause in administering Johnson & Johnson shots (SHNS), Gov. Charlie Baker said yesterday said he sees no reason why the state shouldn’t hit the 2-million fully vaccinated mark later this week, thanks to an ample supply of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, reports MassLive’s Steph Solis.

MassLive

Lynn tax firm fined $136,000 for prohibiting employees and customers from wearing masks

OSHA is throwing the book at ‘em. From CBS Boston: “The owner of a Lynn tax preparation company is facing more than $135,000 in fines after she (was) accused of prohibiting employees and customers from wearing masks and refusing to implement COVID protocols.” 

CBS Boston

State teams up with Red Sox and others to get vaccines to minority communities

Working with the Red Sox Foundation, El Mundo, Healthcare for All and other groups, the Baker administration is planning to set aside 20,000 vaccine appointments at the Hynes Convention Center next week for those living in communities of color.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Meanwhile, pandemic disparities: They’re real

These two stories partially explain why officials are starting to focus more intensely on helping certain demographic groups during the pandemic. The first is from SHNS’s Katie Lannan, who reports on new findings by the Health Policy Commission that “Hispanic and Black patients represented a disproportionate share of COVID-19 hospitalizations in 2020, as did patients from lower-income communities.”

The second is by GBH’s Esteban Bustillos, who reports on the findings by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston that women, and mothers with young children in particular, have been especially hit hard by the pandemic.

It’s all about competition: UMass trustees approve tuition freeze

They have to stay competitive during these trying pandemic times – and that means letting students know as soon as possible what they can expect to pay to attend a UMass school. SHNS’s Katie Lannan and MassLive’s Ron Chimelis report on the UMass trustees’ earlier-than-normal vote on tuitions for next year.

Huntington Theatre proudly presents: ‘Common Ground’

Here’s some good pandemic-era news: The Huntington Theatre is planning a full 2021-2022 season of indoor productions, the latest sign we’re slowly getting back to normal. But the intriguing news for political and historical junkies: The slate of productions includes Kirsten Greenidge’s adaption of ‘Common Ground,’ J. Anthony Lukas’s Pulitzer-winning book about the 1970s Boston busing crisis, as the Globe’s Don Aucoin reports.

And if you’ve never read Common Ground, you don’t know your Boston history as well as you think.

Boston Globe

Poll: 8 In 10 Bostonians say racism is a significant problem

Sadly, this WBUR poll wasn’t taken in the 1970s. It was taken just recently. Simón Ríos has more. And in other polling news, also via WBUR: “Rent Control Supported By Most Boston Voters.”

WBUR

Becoming mayor of Boston: Is it literally a birthright?

And speaking of Boston’s history, here’s a pop quiz: Who was the last mayor of Boston who wasn’t originally from the city of Boston? GBH’s Adam Reilly has the answer in a piece on how Boston voters really do prefer born-and-bred Bostonians as their mayor. And that may pose problems for Michelle Wu.

GBH

Baker: Vehicle-inspection outage not a safety concern – yet

If it drags on for months, yeah, he might get nervous about thousands upon thousands of carbon-belching clunkers tooling around the state’s roadways. But Gov. Charlie Baker said yesterday he doesn’t view the now weeks-long pause in motor vehicle inspections as a public safety threat, reports SHNS’s Chris Lisinski.

Do health-care spending caps even work?

It’s starting to dawn on some members of the state’s Health Policy Commission that their annually set caps on rising health-care costs are routinely blown away by reality. The BBJ’s Jessica Bartlett reports on the “soul-searching” now under way at the commission about the effectiveness of its yearly benchmarks.

BBJ

Vocational-school advocates: Riley’s admissions proposal a step in the right direction

They’d prefer an admissions lottery at vocational schools. Still, vocational-school advocates say Education Commissioner Jeff Riley’s proposal to change vocational admission policies isn’t bad. MassLive’s Melissa Hanson and the Herald’s Marie Szaniszlo have more on the reactions to Riley’s recently suggested changes.

She feels persecuted, so persecuted, after Town Meeting condemns attack on U.S. Capitol

Sue Ianni thinks she and other conservatives are being persecuted in Natick because a Town Meeting earlier this week passed a resolution calling the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol “despicable” and saying anyone who took part in it doesn’t represent the sentiments of Natick or the Town Meeting.

Ianni, a Town Meeting member facing charges for her role in the storming of the Capitol, just knows they were referring to her. Oh, she knows. Henry Schwan at MetroWest Daily News has more.

MetroWest Daily News

Giving in: Worcester won’t fight lawsuit over school committee makeup

It’s official: They’re not going to fight it. The Worcester City Council has voted to make changes to how the city’s school committee is elected rather than fight a lawsuit alleging Voting Rights Act violations that have had the effect of limiting the voting power of minority populations, Steven Foskett Jr. at the Telegram reports. The city says it will now ask the legislature to approve a home-rule petition setting aside some school board seats for specific voting districts. 

The Telegram

Alden Shoe’s former CEO pleads guilty to embezzling $30M for jewelry, Caribbean trips, NYC condo for a ‘friend’

What tipped the accountants off? The hundreds of thousands of company dollars spent on diamond jewelry and Caribbean trips for his “friend”? The $900,000 check he once wrote out to himself to allegedly buy a NYC condo for said “friend”? MassLive’s Michael Bonner and the Herald’s Erin Tiernan have the details on former Alden Shoe CEO Richard Hajjar’s now-admitted multimillion-dollar spending spree on the company’s dime. Btw: Former Boston news anchor Bianca de la Garza is mentioned in both stories.

‘Civility’ lost: Somerset selectman resigns, citing behavior of Brayton Point neighbors

Points for drama. Somerset Selectman Holly McNamara resigned from her position in a drop-the-mic moment at the board’s meeting Wednesday, saying “civility has been lost” in the community amid continued controversy over the redevelopment of the Brayton Point power plant site, according to a report at the Herald News.

Herald News

Why wait? Markey leads lawmakers pushing to expand Supreme Court

They’re ready to skip to the end. A group of Democratic lawmakers, including U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, plans to unveil legislation today that would expand the Supreme Court from nine to 13 justices, Jess Bravin at the Wall Street Journal reports. The move — almost certain to fail — comes after President Biden announced a commission to study the court-packing issue.

WSJ (pay wall)

Go west: Councilor calls for state agency to set up shop in downtown Springfield

Springfield City Councilor Sean Curran is urging Gov. Charlie Baker to relocate an entire state agency’s headquarters to his city, saying it would light a fire under Springfield’s efforts to help the local economy recover from the pandemic, Peter Goonan at MassLive reports.

MassLive

Civil Resistance: What Everyone Needs to Know by Erica Chenoweth

Join us for the book launch of Dr. Erica Chenoweth’s new book, Civil Resistance: What Everyone Needs to Know. We will be discussing the relevance of nonviolent social movements with a cross-section of activists and scholars. In her book, Dr. Chenoweth explains what civil resistance is, how it works, why it sometimes fails, and how violence and repression affect it.

Harvard Kennedy School

Short-and Long-Run Fiscal Policy, and the Rising Brick Wall Facing President Biden

In this webinar, Gene Steuerle will demonstrate the extraordinary extent that Democrats for decades have succeeded mainly in devoting almost all real growth in spending to Social Security and health care, while Republicans have concentrated on lowering taxes on capital owned mainly by the rich and avoiding tax increases on others. Registration is required.

Harvard Kennedy School

Governance and Democracy in Peril: From the US Capitol to the World

The last few years have reminded us that democracy is still a new & fragile way of governing. The big question is whether democratic systems can manage the societal, technological, & environmental stresses that will intensify in time. The challenge to democracy will be most intense in big, diverse countries like the US — polities that struggled to honor basic human rights while maintaining unity.

UMass Boston: McCormack Graduate School

Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg – Livestream Tour

Join for an online/virtual tour of the “Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg” exhibit. The retrospective was organized by the Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, based on the best selling book by journalist Irin Carmon and attorney Shana Knizhnik.

Washington DC HIstory & Culture

Defense Project Series: A Talk with HR McMaster on Global Security

Please join MG(Ret) Bill Rapp in a lively talk with HR McMaster, former National Security Advisor and retired Lieutenant General, as McMaster discusses global security challenges for the United States and its allies in the coming decade. McMaster calls for clear eyed recognition of major threats facing the U.S. and to avoid the hubris that has marked much of the last 30 years of foreign policy.

Harvard Kennedy School

Harvard Seminar in Environmental Economics and Policy: Kelsey Jack, University of California, Santa Barbara

Kelsey Jack, University of California, Santa Barbara, “Harvesting the Rain: The Adoption of Environmental Technologies in the Sahel”. Seminar held via Zoom and is open to the public.

Harvard Kennedy School

Power in Plants: A Conversation on the Environmental Impacts of Plant-Based Dietary Shifts

Please join the Center for Leadership for a discussions on the correlation between climate change solutions and sustainable food futures through plant-based meat with Rebekah Moses, Head of Impact Strategy at Impossible Foods Inc.

Harvard Kennedy School

Today’s Headlines

Metro

Nine Zero hotel to reinstate terminated workers, union says – Boston Globe

Brockton Fair canceled for second straight year – Brockton Enterprise

Massachusetts

Holy Cross to resume in-person activities as cases decline – Telegram & Gazette

Instead of a wedding reception, Lombardo’s hosts a Wrentham District Court jury trial – Sun Chronicle

‘Fake’ Facebook account posts misinformation that Dighton teachers have COVID – Taunton Gazette

Nation

The FBI Takes a Drastic Step to Fight China’s Hacking Spree – Wired

U.S. could have 300 million extra vaccine doses by end of July, raising concerns over hoarding – Washington Post

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