Happening Today

House budget debate, MBTA-DOT meeting, millionaire’s tax

Mass. Gaming Commission meets and is expected to hear a casino update from the director of the investigations and enforcement bureau and may vote on the way money is split between the standardbred horse racing and thoroughbred racing industries, 10 a.m.

— The Massachusetts House meets in a full formal session to start deliberating the House Ways and Means fiscal 2022 budget proposal and the filed 1,157 amendments, 10 a.m.

Joint Committee on the Judiciary meets virtually to consider a by-request Constitutional amendment that would have judicial officers serve for seven years after which they would become eligible for reappointment, 10:30 a.m.

Department of Transportation board of directors and MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board meet in individual and overlapping sessions, with the T’s board is set to review the agency’s fiscal year 2022 budget buoyed by federal stimulus funds, 12 p.m.

Joint Committee on Revenue holds a virtual hearing to consider four Constitutional amendments that would impose a tax on individuals with incomes in excess of $1 million, give the Legislature power to value agricultural or horticultural lands for taxation purposes and requiring a two-thirds vote in each legislative branch to utilize the state’s stabilization funds and another capping state income taxes, 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.

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: 6 new deaths, 17,199 total deaths, 1,085 new cases

MassLive has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.

As J&J shots resume in Mass., some are concerned about a ‘hesitancy wall’

The feds late last week decided to lift the “pause” on Johnson & Johnson vaccines (WBUR) – and Massachusetts is now expected to receive 4,000 J&J doses this week, reports the Globe’s John Hilliard. CVS is also resuming J&J shots this week.

But the J&J news comes as some experts see a slowing down in the number of vaccinations across the state – a slowdown that may indicate we’re quickly approaching the so-called “vaccine hesitancy wall,” or the point where most of those who have yet to be vaccinated are those refusing to be vaccinated, report the Herlald’s Lisa Kashinsky and Sean Philip Cotter. At WBUR, Arun Rath and Amanda Beland were writing about the same ‘hesitancy’ issue last week.

Time’s up: Schools that received waivers return to in-person classes today

It’s back to in-person learning today for many school districts that previously got a waiver to delay a return to classrooms, reports CBS Boston. And that means K-8 students in Boston, among others, reports Mark Gartsbeyn at Boston.com.  

As welcome as the return to classes may be in some quarters, the return could cost some parents receiving unemployment benefits, reports Christian Wade at Newburyport Daily News.

MIT researchers prove: Six feet equals 60 feet

Here’s an interesting story, via NBC Boston, about how MIT researchers say those who maintain a 60-foot distance from others indoors are no more protected from the coronavirus than those sitting 6 feet from others indoors. It’s all about wearing masks.

NBC Boston

Senate boosts Holyoke bond bill to $600M and removes controversial labor agreement

This should complicate things on Beacon Hill. SHNS’s Chris Lisinski reports on the Senate’s move to increase the size of the bond bill that includes funds to rebuild the pandemic-ravaged Holyoke Soldiers’ Home and to strip out a controversial project-labor-agreement clause in the bill.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

BC and Mount Holyoke join mandatory-vax gang

They’re going full-vax on the Heights this fall, reports NBC Boston. And they’re going full-fax at Mount Holyoke College too, reports, the Daily Hampshire Gazette. The two schools now joins BU, Northeastern, UMass Amherst, Emerson etc. in requiring students to be vaccinated for the fall semester.

How did the state’s nursing-home deaths suddenly plummet from 9,018 to 5,502?

The Globe’s Kay Lazar takes a look at how a change in methodology led to the number of recorded nursing-home deaths suddenly plunging by 39 percent in Massachusetts. It has to do with the state aligning its pandemic data with national standards. 

Fairly or unfairly, Mark Twain’s lies-damn-lies-and-statistics quote does come to mind at moments like these.

Boston Gobe

It’s not your imagination: Cyber attacks have increased during the pandemic

It appears hackers are spending more time behind the screens too. Christian Wade at the Eagle Tribune reports on the huge spike in cyber attacks against local governments, schools and businesses during the COVID-19 crisis, according to the latest FBI data.

Eagle Tribune

As House prepares to debate new budget, Tarr eyes budget debates stretching well into the future

The Herald’s Erin Tiernan reports that the Massachusetts House today starts debate over its proposed $47.6 billion state budget for next fiscal year, a budget that includes generous use of the state’s rainy day fund.

But Senate minority leader Bruce Tarr, a Republican from Gloucester, is trying, via a constitutional amendment, to permanently make it more difficult for lawmakers to dip into reserve funds, as Christian Wade at the Salem News reports. 

Report: Florida owner of Seabrook Nuclear Station is bankrolling efforts to block Quebec hydro-electricity to Mass.

Here’s something we didn’t know (and probably should have known): NextEra, a Florida-based energy company that owns the Seabrook Station nuclear power plant in New Hampshire, has spent millions financing Maine ballot initiatives and other moves designed to block Massachusetts’ attempt to import clean hydro-power from Quebec, reports CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl. If the issue goes to a statewide vote in Maine, we have a suspicion this financial connection will get more than a little attention in ad campaigns.


Pot border wars: The looming confrontation with New York

As the Globe’s Dan Adams reports, Massachusetts will soon lose its monopoly status as the lone Northeast state where pot can be sold and purchased legally– and the coming interstate competition could harm some marijuana retailers on the borders with New York, Vermont, Connecticut and Rhode Island, Adams reports.

Seven Lynn police officers suspended after texts reveal possible drug use and racial slurs

It looks like it’s the Lynn Police Department’s turn for controversy. Tréa Lavery at the Lynn Item reports that seven Lynn cops have been put on leave after an internal investigation found officers allegedly texting back and forth about use of cocaine and steroids — and making racial slurs at the same time.

Lynn Item

Point Counter Point: Is the state’s new T-station housing edict wise or a diabolical plot by developers?

At the Globe, housing activist Andrew DeFranza and state Rep. Shawn C. Dooley square off over the state’s new requirement that cities and towns allow multifamily housing near MBTA stations. The former believes it’s a wise and much needed rule. But the latter believes it’s “nothing more than a ploy by big developers to maximize profits and run roughshod over local zoning with little respect for the community.”  

Boston Globe

Confirmed: Snail mail really is snail mail

Paul Singer reports on GBH’s investigation into the U.S. Postal Service’s claims of fast mail deliveries – an investigation that entailed simply mailing off 100 letters and seeing what happened to them. In-state deliveries were fine, thank you. But interstate deliveries, well, a few of the letters are still floating out there in some sort of parallel universe that may yet prove or disprove Einstein’s view on quantum entanglement.


Going up: Developer proposes tallest Worcester building in 30 years

More evidence that Worcester is rising. Grant Welker at the Worcester Business Journal reports a development team is proposing a 13-story residential tower — the tallest building proposed in the city since 1990 — as part of a mixed-use proposal in the city’s Canal District. 


Back to the table: St. Vincent, striking nurses to resume negotiations

It’s a start. As the nurses strike at St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester enters its eighth week, the two sides are set to return to the negotiating table on Monday afternoon for the first time since early March, the Telegram reports.


Asian Republicans charge Massachusetts GOP with discrimination

That seeming inconsequential Republican State Committee election dispute in Suffolk County? It just got more complicated, with dozens of Vietnamese-American Republicans alleging that state GOP chair Jim Lyons is leading a “callous and underhanded scheme” to discriminate against them. GBH’s Mike Deehan has more on a small election with potentially big ramifications in next year’s GOP gubernatorial primary fight.


Education board member apologizes for ‘insulting’ comment that infuriated Lawrence mayor

From the Felicia Gans and Naomi Martin athe Boston Globe: “State education board member Michael Moriarty apologized Friday for comments he made about Lawrence and Holyoke schools this week after Lawrence Mayor Kendrys Vasquez called for his resignation.”

Diversion tactic: Amherst plan would steer police funding to civilian response team

Now it gets tricky. Amherst’s Community Safety Working Group has sent its final reports to the town manager and wants $2.2 million in funding that would go to police to be diverted to a new, civilian response team that would answer non-violent calls, Scott Merzbach at the Daily Hampshire Gazette reports. The proposed Community Response for Equity, Safety and Service, or CRESS, mirrors a similar proposal for rethinking policing in neighboring Northampton. 

Daily Hampshire Gazette

Leave it alone: State claims ownership of Mount Tom land to halt quarry filling project

This land is our land. That’s the message from the Department of Conservation and Recreation to the operators of a former quarry site on Mount Tom in Holyoke, Patrick Johnson at MassLive reports. The quarry firm wants to allow millions of yards of fill to be dumped into the crater created by the quarrying of rock. The state says leave it as is and points to a 2002 agreement that gives the state the right to make an ownership claim on the property.  


From Citizens United to Bots United: Reinterpreting “Robot Rights” as a Corporate Power Grab

Towards Life 3.0: Ethics and Technology in the 21st Century is a talk series organized and facilitated by Mathias Risse, Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, and Berthold Beitz Professor in Human Rights, Global Affairs, and Philosophy. Speaker is Frank Pasquale, Professor of Law, Brooklyn Law School

Harvard Kennedy School

Exploring Trees and Equity in Boston through Literature

In collaboration with Speak for the Trees, Boston, we will be presenting resources to help you learn about tree and nature equity, environmental justice, and the natural world that exists throughout the city of Boston. We will be highlighting literary, scientific and art collections and other resources available through the Boston Public Library that are of interest to adults teens and children.

Boston Public Library

Leadership During Crisis Featuring Carmen Yulín Cruz

Join UMass Women into Leadership for a conversation with Carmen Yulín Cruz, former mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, as she discusses her thoughts on leadership during crisis.

UMass Women into Leadership

EdVestors to Host 18th Annual Education Showcase to Highlight Successful Strategies that Emerged During Pandemic

EdVestors, a school improvement organization that combines strategic philanthropy, education expertise, and implementation support to accelerate advancement in Boston schools, will host its 18th annual Education Showcase on Tuesday, April 27th from 4-6 p.m. This year’s event will be live-streamed via Zoom.


Transportation Tech Trends: 3 Perspectives on the Future Direction of Mobility

Between now and 2030, policymakers and regulators will need to guide deployment of new technologies, including connected vehicles, advanced driver assistance systems, and micromobility, to maximize benefits while minimizing harm for all road users. This conversation will feature three fellows working at the intersection of technology and transportation policy.

Harvard Kennedy School

Monuments and Memory: A Confederate Marker in Boston

In October 2017, Massachusetts officials removed one of the only markers in the state dedicated to the Confederacy from Fort Warren on Georges Island. This program will explore the history of the marker, the organization that erected it, and the broader national dialogue abut how we remember the American Civil War.

Boston Public Library

Future of Non-profits

Not for profit organizations are critical to our economy and make our community better through the work they do. Join the Boston Business Journal and leaders in the non-profit world as we tackle the Future of Non-Profits.

Boston Business Journal

Balance Sheets and Debt Crisis: Predicting Defaults in the 21st Century

In this seminar, Gon Huertas will present on “Balance Sheets and Debt Crisis: Empirical Regularities for Modern Cases of Sovereign Distress”, a research paper published by the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

Harvard Kennedy School

Challenge or Crisis: Addressing the Immigration Surge at the Border

Speakers and Presenters: Nate Bruggeman, former Counselor at the Department of Homeland Security; Juliette Kayyem, Belfer Senior Lecturer in International Security.

Harvard Kennedy School

Across the Aisle: New Faces of Congress

The Kennedy Institute will host a bipartisan panel of new Members of Congress to discuss the current state of affairs in Washington as well as opportunities for finding common ground and forging collaboration in the 117th Congress.

Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate

A Terrible Malady: Disease and Epidemics in New England

Epidemics of smallpox, measles, yellow fever, diphtheria, and other illnesses were common ailments in New England from colonial times up through the 19th century. Learn more about these diseases why they were so greatly feared by your ancestors, and remedies they may have used.

Boston Public Library

A Virtual Discussion with Special Guest Philip Mangano: Scaling Housing Solutions for Individuals Experiencing Homelessness: Hotel/Motel Conversions

The increasing number of the most vulnerable and disabled individuals living long-term on the streets and languishing in shelters is only likely to grow as we continue to experience the aftershock effects of the pandemic across the nation. But the current housing development system will need new strategies to accelerate the development of safe, supportive housing.

Rasky Partners

Louis Menand – The Free World: Art and Thought in the Cold War

Harvard Book Store joins us in welcoming Louis Menand, the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of English at Harvard University and author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Metaphysical Club, for a discussion of his latest book, The Free World: Art and Thought in the Cold War. He will be joined in conversation by our president David Leonard. This program is part of our Repairing America series.

Boston Public Library

The Path Ahead for Climate Change Policy

HPCA Director Robert Stavins will engage Nat Keohane in conversation focusing on what comes next for climate policy both in the United States and abroad.

Harvard Kennedy School

When the Doughnut Meets the City: Can We Create Regenerative and Distributive Local Economies?

Doughnut Economics starts with the goal of meeting the needs of all people within the means of the living planet. Achieving this calls for economies that are regenerative and distributive by design. What would it look like to put this into practice at the level of the city? Kate Raworth will present the core ideas of Doughnut Economics and share stories of how the idea is being put into action.

Harvard Kennedy School

Boston’s Radical Working Class History

Join us for an episodic tour of Boston’s radical working class in history, from the movement for the eight-hour day and the epic clashes of 1919 to postwar struggles for jobs, housing, and school equity that continue to inform today’s organizers.

Boston Public Library

Patriot Call to Action – Massachusetts Grassroots Unity Summit

Speakers include Jim Lyons, MAGOP. Donations accepted at event.

United Cape Patriots

Today’s Headlines


Bank of America pledges $1 million to King Boston efforts, the biggest corporate gift so far – Boston Globe

City councilors to discuss spending first $23 million on Quincy College campus project – Patriot Ledger


Moving in? Study shows evidence of population growth in Berkshires – Berkshire Eagle

Mansfield, Foxboro officials waiting to hear when or if the music starts – Sun Chronicle

Methuen City Council seeks to limit temporary appointments – Eagle-Tribune


The End of U.S. Mass Vaccination Is Coming Sooner Than Later – Bloomberg

The redistricting cycle is about to begin – Politico

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