Happening Today

Renewable energy standards, Constitutional Convention, and more

Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy holds a virtual public hearing on the DEP’s proposed changes to the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard regulations, 10 a.m.

— The Health Policy Commission’s Advisory Council meets for an update on the commission’s programs and publications and the 2022 health care cost growth benchmark, 12 p.m.

— The Constitutional Convention convenes but will not be taking up the proposed 4 percent income-surtax amendment that needs a favorable vote to reach the 2022 statewide, 1 p.m.

UMass Unions United holds a virtual press conference that organizers say will address the impact of ‘chronic understaffing on students, workers and communities,’ 2 p.m.

— Senate President Karen Spilka and other lawmakers speak at an economic recovery forum hosted by the city of Framingham, 4:45 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: 0 deaths, 17,344 total deaths, 472 new cases

CBS Boston has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.

Act I, Scene 3: Senate unveils $47.6B budget with film tax-credit plot twist

Gov. Charlie Baker and the Massachusetts House have already unveiled their proposed budgets. Yesterday, it was the Senate’s turn. From SHNS’s Chris Lisinski: “Senate Democrats rolled out their $47.6 billion fiscal year 2022 state budget proposal on Tuesday, proposing an annual spending plan that reforms taxes for pass-through companies, overhauls the film tax credit program, and expands support for lower-income residents in the wake of the pandemic’s devastation.”

The Globe’s Matt Stout and the Herald’s Erin Tiernan have more – while CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl zeroes in on the Senate’s proposal to pare back the state’s film tax credit, setting up a budget-talks showdown with the House. Meanwhile, from Christian Wade at the Salem News: “Senate budget calls for child care tax refund.”

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Zero deaths

As Universal Hub’s Adam Gaffin notes, the number may be revised upward in coming days. But it’s still a most welcome number: There were 0 (zero) reported coronavirus deaths yesterday in Massachusetts, the first time in a long time there were no recorded Covid-related deaths in the state.

And another milestone was surpassed yesterday, as NBC Boston reports: More than 3 million people are now fully vaccinated in Massachusetts.

Universal Hub

Biden to Baker: ‘You’re doing a hell of a job’

Can someone get Gus Bickford some smelling salts? Yes, President Joe Biden, a Democrat, yesterday heaped praise on Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, for his handling of the state’s vaccination efforts, as the Berkshire Eagle’s Larry Parness and the Herald’s Erin Tiernan report.

You would think the Massachusetts State Republican Party would be plastering Biden’s comments all over its website. But you’d think wrong — at least as of this morning. Maybe Jim Lyons needs smelling salts too?  

‘Charlie Baker’s big bounce back’

Gov. Charlie Baker was bouncing back before President Biden’s “you’re doing a hell of a job” comment yesterday. But the bounce was made bigger by the president’s praise of the state’s successful vaccination program that wasn’t so successful only a short while ago, as the Globe’s Scot Lehigh writes. And along the same lines, there’s this from the Globe’s Emma Platoff: “For Baker, vaccine rollout has gone from political nightmare to point of pride.”

Throwing everything at it: Walk-in clinics, Lyft rides, gift cards, baseball tickets, even fishing licenses

They’re going all-out to get as many people as possible vaccinated. In his virtual meeting with President Biden yesterday, Gov. Charlie Baker said the state’s new walk-in policy at mass-vaccination sites seems to be working, as MassLive reports (scroll down). Meanwhile, from WCVB: “State, CIC Health program offering free Lyft rides to get vaccinated.”

But it’s hard to beat this Maine program, via NBC Boston: “Maine Reveals Vaccine Incentives: Gift Cards, Baseball Tickets, Fishing Licenses.” And we’re talking LL Bean gift cards. Gov. Baker, take note: Dunkin’ Donuts is headquartered in Massachusetts.

The next vax battle: Requiring kids to get back-to-school shots

Things could get testy this fall. With the fed approval earlier this week of Pfizer’s vaccine for adolescents, the Globe’s Felicia Gans and Nick Stoico dive into the next logical question: Should students be required to get shots in order to go back to school? It may come down to what individual school districts decide.

Boston Globe

Joining in: In reversal, Salem rescinds outdoor mask order

Everyone seems to be getting on the same page. The Salem Board of Health has voted to rescind its local mask mandate, making it one of the last communities to fall in line behind Gov. Baker’s move to relax the order statewide, Dustin Luca at the Salem News reports.

Salem News

The amphibious option: Janey floats idea of ferries landing at Long Island

Quincy had better shore up its beach defenses just in case. The Globe’s Danny McDonald and the Herald’s Sean Philip Cotter and Erin Tiernan report that Acting Mayor Kim Janey is now reviewing plans to turn Long Island into an addiction recovery center – and using ferries to get people there until, or if, a new bridge is built.

For the record: Boston’s mayoral field is indeed diverse

The Globe’s Meghan Irons reports that a Tuesday deadline to pull papers for city office came and went in Boston – and so it’s official: “For the first time, all of the major candidates identify as people of color.” Or as Universal Hub put it the other week: “Looks like no Irish-American candidates for mayor this year.”

In other mayoral-race news, from the Globe’s Adrian Walker: “Once an outsider, Barros now runs for Boston mayor from the inside.” And we’re not sure Acting Mayor Kim Janey can take too many of these types of headlines, via UH: “As Boston Covid-19 rate drops, city announces vague plans for re-opening libraries, offers a few more specifics on community centers.”

Biden administration OKs Vineyard Wind, Trump warns Martha’s Vineyard

Doug Fraser at the Cape Cod Times reports that the Biden administration yesterday approved construction of the Vineyard Wind project – which will make it the first commercial-scale offshore wind project in the U.S., as the Washington Post reports.

But former President Donald Trump yesterday couldn’t resist bellowing his somewhat misleading thoughts on the matter, as the Herald’s Marie Szaniszlo reports.

Cape Cod Times

Feds: Miami woman used RMV website to steal IDs, apply for fed loans and live the high life

Hello, RMV? Anyone there? From Universal Hub: “A Miami woman faces a charge of wire fraud after she allegedly used the Massachusetts MyRMV site to help create IDs in other people’s names that let her apply for federal loans that she’d deposit in bogus bank accounts.”

Universal Hub

Newsflash: Judge tosses suit, upholds 2020 election

They had a ‘rational basis.’ A Superior Court judge has dismissed a lingering lawsuit challenging the results of the state’s 2020 election on the grounds that lawmakers went too far in making it easier for people to vote by mail, saying that the legislature acted rationally given the pandemic and that the GOP plaintiffs failed to demonstrate how they were harmed. Shira Schoenberg at CommonWealth Magazine has more.


Man in the middle: Auchincloss joins centrists in opposing drug-pricing push

U.S. Rep. Jake Auchincloss is among 10 centrist House Democrats threatening to derail Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s push to tack a drug-pricing bill onto President Biden’s infrastructure package, Alice Miranda Ollstein and Susannah Luthi at Politico report. In a letter, the lawmakers expressed concern about the bill’s impact on life-science innovation. Progressives are outraged, of course.


Question of the week: So how much are local communities legally extorting from pot companies?

Everyone knows they’re doing it. It’s just a matter of by how much. SHNS’s Matt Murphy and the Globe’s Dan Adams report on yesterday’s legislative hearing on so-called “host community agreements” that some say are nothing more than forms of “legal extortion” by towns and cities trying to pry money from pot-shop applicants.

One marijuana-industry study claims there are $2.5 million in unlawful fees. But the BBJ’s Jessica Bartlett reports there’s actually “little information” on how community-agreement dollars are spent.

Out of the park: With plenty of fanfare, WooSox open Polar Park with win

Mission accomplished. With a host of local pols, celebs and sports legends watching, the Worcester Red Sox made history Tuesday by christening Polar Park with a victory in their first-ever home game in the $160 million stadium. The Telegram’s Bill Ballou has all the details. 


21st Century Business Forum: Author Josh Linkner

The 21st Century Business Forum is a free webcast presented on the second Wednesday of each month. Bestselling author Jon Gordon will interview CEOs, entrepreneurs, authors, coaches, and thought leaders as they share their insights, ideas, and experiences of success as well as lessons learned.

21st Century Business Forum

100 Days of the Biden Administration: What’s Next for Immigration, Health Policy, and Economic Justice?

Now 100 days into President Biden’s administration, the Ash Center is convening a panel of experts who will examine the challenges and future opportunities for his administration in a number of key policy areas including immigration, health policy and economic justice.

Harvard Kennedy School

Child Welfare and Domestic Violence – The Summit on Intersection and Action

Join experts in child welfare/domestic violence for a summit on action and safe solutions for survivors and their children. This summit explores the gaps in policy, practice, training, data collection, and cultural competency where domestic violence and foster care merge, and proposes thoughtful solutions appropriate for a nationwide audience.

UCLA Pritzker Center

Endangered Animals and Border Walls

Scientists, lawyers and politicians discuss whether impenetrable, man-made border walls harm endangered species and accelerate extinction. We explore how border walls harm wildlife, particularly wildlife that is already fractured, losing habitat, trafficked, and facing extinction.

National Lawyers Guild NYC Animal Rights Committee

Engineering in the Climate Emergency

How can technology work towards a just transition? The Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Royal Academy of Engineering will bring together expert engineers with perspectives from policy making and social sciences for a joint discussion about these topics. Chaired by Professor Sir Jim McDonald, FREng, FRSE, Royal Academy of Engineering.

The Royal Society of Edinburgh

Today’s Headlines


West Roxbury group gears up to fight bike lanes again – Universal Hub

Once an outsider, Barros now runs for Boston mayor from the inside – Boston Globe


Berkshire colleges to receive millions through American Rescue Plan – Berkshire Eagle

Martha’s Vineyard agricultural fair set for August comeback – Martha’s Vineyard Times

Plenty of work but seemingly few takers so far at Patriot Place in Foxboro – Sun Chronicle


Long lines at the gas pump as panic buying grips Southeast – New York Times

Judge Dismisses NRA Bankruptcy Case, Heightening Risk For Dissolution Of Group – NPR

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