Millionaires tax, GOP state committee, official state dinosaur
— State Administration and Regulatory Oversight Committee holds a virtual hearing to consider 33 bills on topics falling under the broad umbrellas of finance and land use as well as the state’s official dinosaur, 10 a.m.
— Legislation updating building standards and fire safety laws goes before the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security at a virtual hearing, 10 a.m.
— The House and Senate meet in a joint session to vote on a proposed constitutional amendment that would raise the income tax on wealthy Massachusetts residents, otherwise known as the ‘millionaires tax,’ in the final step toward putting the question before voters in 2022, 1 p.m.
— Governor’s Council holds public interview for Sergio Carvajal, who was tapped by Gov. Charlie Baker last month for an opening on the Housing Court, 1 p.m.
— Republican State Committee meets privately, with plans to vote on important changes to its bylaws and convention rules, Marlborough, 6:45 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.
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: 2 new deaths, 17,554 total deaths, 11 new cases
NBC Boston has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.
‘Westie whites,’ Part II: Now the school committee chairwoman resigns over racially charged texts
Alexandra Oliver-Dávila, chair of the Boston School Committee, is the latest board member to resign over racially charged texts that members were shooting back and forth amongst themselves during a public hearing last year. WBUR’s Max Larkin and the Globe’s James Vaznis have more on the third they-can-only-blame-themselves texting casualty.
As we noted yesterday, Boston really is like the Balkans when it comes to politics. Our Serbia? Definitely South Boston. Romania? Not sure. Maybe Roxbury. Etc., etc.
Report: Dennis White’s ex-wife among five more cops linked to OT fraud scandal
We told you he wasn’t going away. Nor is his ex-wife, it seems. The Globe’s Dugan Arnett and Maggie Mulvihill report that another five members of the Boston Police Department have been implicated in the growing overtime fraud scandal at the department – including a former police union president and the ex-wife of Dennis White, who just this week was fired by Acting Mayor Kim Janey as police superintendent.
In other BPD news, via the Herald’s Sean Philip Cotter: “Boston looks to move Dennis White suit to federal court.”
How Michelle Wu made Kim Janey what she is today
In other city news, GBH’s Adam Reilly has an interesting, and fun, story on how mayoral candidate Michelle Wu played a role in making Kim Janey what she is today, i.e. the acting mayor who’s also running for mayor. It all ties back to an early 2020 city council president vote.
The Massachusetts Republican Party: ‘A house divided’
Abraham Lincoln once warned that a house divided cannot stand. So applying the same principle to today’s divided party of Lincoln in Massachusetts, one has to wonder how much longer the feud between state GOP chair Jim Lyons and Gov. Charlie Baker can go on. Anthony Brooks at WBUR has more on the ‘house divided.’
Meanwhile, from Politico’s Lisa Kashinsky: “Charlie Baker is one of the nation’s most popular governors. That isn’t enough for the GOP.” The Globe’s Scott Lehigh counts all the reasons why the conservative Lyons will be on the hot seat during tonight’s GOP State Committee meeting.
Denied: Berkshire DA’s failed effort to remove judge comes to light
Berkshire County District Attorney Andrea Harrington recently moved to have a Baker-appointed district court judge removed, calling her a ‘threat to public safety,’ but the effort failed after the judge overseeing all district courts found there was ‘no factual basis’ for Harrington’s claim, reports Amanda Burke at the Berkshire Eagle.
Refreshing step: Cocktails-to-go included in Senate pandemic-rules bills
It’s a go. The Senate yesterday unveiled legislation that would keep and/or extend a number of popular pandemic-era rules, such as expanded mail-in voting, remote public hearings, outdoor dining and … cocktails-to-go at restaurants until next March. The Globe’s Matt Stout and SHNS’s Katie Lannan have more.
Hardest-hit communities to get $3.2 million for COVID-19 vaccine equity push
Overall, the news is still great in terms of the state’s vaccination program and plunging coronavirus case counts, which are now down 79 percent since just a month ago, as Tanner Stening at MassLive reports.
But there are still pockets out there where people aren’t getting vaccinated in high enough numbers – and so the state is allocating $3.2 million in grants to community and faith-based organizations in 20 cities and towns as part of COVID-19 vaccine equity efforts, as Dennis Hook reports at MassLive.
Millionaires tax: Today’s big vote
The outcome is not really in doubt (or so we assume). But it’s still a big day on Beacon Hill today, as both the Senate and House jointly convene to vote on whether to put a constitutional amendment on the 2022 ballot that would raise taxes on the rich, i.e. the “millionaires tax,” as SHNS’s Matt Murphy reports.
Even though the measure appears poised for passage, there’s still plenty of pre-vote debate and jockeying under way. From Sen. Jason Lewis and Rep. James O’Day at CommonWealth magazine: “Fair Share Amendment will make the Commonwealth stronger and more equitable.” From the Greenfield Recorder: “Greenfield rally part of statewide campaign for Fair Share Amendment.” But from the Globe’s Jeff Jacoby: “Voters have repeatedly — and wisely — defended the state’s ban on graduated tax rates.” And you know where the Herald’s Howie Carr stands on the issue.
‘Massachusetts is a poacher’s paradise’
SHNS’s Chris Van Buskirk reports on an effort on Beacon Hill to crack down on illegal hunting in Massachusetts and to get the state to join a national compact to track and punish poachers.
Sen. Pacheco eyes possible run for state auditor
We may have yet another candidate for state auditor. SHNS’s Chris Lisinski reports that long-time state Sen. Marc Pacheco, a Taunton Democrat, has been “calling allies in recent weeks to discuss a potential run for state auditor next year, multiple sources told the News Service.”
Southbound train: Cape renews effort for commuter rail service
Enough with the studies. The latest in a series of feasibility reports on the idea of extending commuter rail to Cape Cod is due in the coming weeks, but transportation officials say the need is obviously they’re and they’re pushing for rail service to at least the Cape Cod Canal. Jeannette Hinkle at the Cape Cod Times has the details.
‘Trump won’ banner doesn’t fly at Fenway
It was also done for his own safety. From WCVB: “A fan who displayed a banner reading ‘Trump won’ during a Boston Red Sox game was kicked out of Fenway Park, according to a spokesperson for the team. … The act was in violation of the Red Sox’s policy prohibiting signs of any kind to be hung or affixed to the ballpark, according to the spokesperson.”
CommonWealth’s Shira Schoenberg reports on the tragic death of CaSonya King and how her case has not only generated a wrongful death lawsuit but has also become symbolic of a broken mental-health system in Massachusetts.
Back to the future: Steamship Authority resorts to old-fashioned cash and phones post-ransomeware hack
The Steamship Authority is still struggling with its ticketing and reservations processes following last week’s ransomware attack on the ferry service’s computer system, as the Herald’s Rick Sobey reports. But thank goodness for cash and old-fashioned phone banks, as SHNS’s Michael Norton reports.
Just in time for summer: cannabis-infused ice cream
It can never beat Brigham’s Mocha Chip Ice Cream. But Cloud Creamery’s new cannabis-infused ice cream should prove popular among certain types this summer in Massachusetts. MassLive’s Melissan Hanson has more.
‘Rigged for billionaires’: Warren and Markey renew call for ‘wealth tax’ after report on tax-dodging bigwigs
It’s all about tax loopholes. From Benjamin Kail at MassLive: “Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey on Tuesday repeated calls to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans following ProPublica’s report on leaked Internal Revenue Service files showing top billionaires have long used legal loopholes to sidestep tax burdens.”
Never mind: Worcester canceling virtual academy plans amid low demand
Not worth it. Worcester Superintendent Maureen Binienda says the city will drop its plan to create a virtual academy that would have launched this fall, saying relatively few families had expressed interest in the online-only option, Scott O’Connell at the Telegram reports.
No can do: Dracut town meeting fails to draw a quorum
They’re blaming the heat –and the NHL playoffs. Officials in Dracut say they’ll try again next week to hold the annual town meeting after Monday’s efforts failed to draw a quorum of 250 voters fell well short. Prudence Brighton at the Lowell Sun reports officials say the brutal heat and a Bruins playoff game may have kept people away.
Building a Sustainable Future for New England Seafood
Please join us on Wednesday, June 9th to hear Andrea O’Donnell Sustainability Coordinator of Ipswich Shellfish Group discuss how the company is to working with other like-minded seafood companies in North America to drive industry sustainability progress and help improve fisheries around the world.
Angles on Bending Lines: Brian Jefferson on Geographic Information Systems and the War on Crime and Drugs
In this conversation series, we talk with experts about why we should be careful about geographic information in modern data. How is data collected, and how does it get fixed into categories and numbers? Who gets to own data sets, and who gets to make decisions using them? What sorts of public responsibilities should shape the social lives of data?
Reflections of Alan Turing
Dermot Turing is the author of the acclaimed biography Prof, about the life of his uncle, Alan Turing and X, Y & Z: the Real Story of How Enigma Was Broken. He spent his career in the legal profession after graduating from Cambridge and Oxford, and is a trustee of Bletchley Park. He has extensive knowledge of World War II code-breaking and is a regular presenter at major cryptology events.
Deborah Lipstadt and Rabbi Ed Feinstein: Anti-Semitism Today – What’s Really Going On?
Deborah Lipstadt, Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies at Emory University, is one of the nation’s foremost experts on Holocaust denial and modern anti-Semitism. Rabbi Ed Feinstein is the beloved senior rabbi at Valley Beth Shalom in Encino, California, one of the largest Conservative congregations in the United States.
Justice Rising: Robert Kennedy’s America in Black and White
Patricia Sullivan, professor of history at the University of South Carolina, discusses her new book Justice Rising: Robert Kennedy’s America in Black and White, which draws on government files, personal papers, and oral interviews to examine Robert F. Kennedy’s life and legacy. Kenneth Mack, professor of law and history at Harvard University, moderates.
Paula Peters – The True Cost of Colonization: American History from an Indigenous Perspective – Baxter Lecture
Join us in partnership with American Ancestors/NEHGS and the GBH Forum Network for this online program where Paula Peters will discuss the romanticized myth of the Pilgrims’ arrival and the true cost of colonization from the perspective of the indigenous people.
California EPA’s Pollution and Prejudice Project
Government agencies play a critical role in advancing environmental justice across the United States, and California’s primary environmental agency (CalEPA) is one of the leaders in this field. At CalEPA, understanding the role of government in perpetuating institutional and structural racism is essential to its work to address the legacy of racist practices and their impacts today.
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