House formal, committee hearings, Diehl on Greater Boston, and more
9:30 a.m. | Bills dealing with the Department of Children and Families are up for a hearing before the Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities.
10 a.m. | Department of Environmental Protection holds a hearing on its proposal to add a condition to Water Management Registrations that would “restrict nonessential outdoor water use by registrants during times of drought declared by the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs.”
10 a.m. | Boston City Council Committee on Government Operations holds a hearing on a proposal that would permanently establish virtual participation options for public meetings. ACLU’s Technology for Liberty Program Director Kade Crockford plans to testify.
11 a.m. | Committee on COVID-19 and Emergency Preparedness and Management holds COVID-19 listening session within the Health and Medical Coordinating Coalition Geographic Region 5, which comprises southeastern Massachusetts, Cape Cod, and the islands.
11 a.m. | House holds formal session, planning to debate the 2021-2022 House Rules and an order extending the current Emergency Rules until Oct. 1, 2021
7 p.m. | Former Rep. Geoff Diehl, now a Republican candidate for governor, is a guest on GBH’s “Greater Boston.”
Maybe $1 million isn’t as tantalizing as people thought?
By Colin A. Young for MassterList and State House News Service
Fewer than half of the people who have gotten fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in Massachusetts have registered for a chance to win $1 million or a $300,000 college scholarship from the state, Treasurer Deborah Goldberg said Tuesday.
Appearing on Bloomberg Baystate Business, the treasurer said 1.8 million people have registered for the VaxMillions giveaway including 70,000 to 80,000 12- to 17-year-olds. To be eligible for the drawings that start on July 26, entrants must be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus by July 22. As of Tuesday, there were at least 4.24 million people who got fully vaccinated in Massachusetts.
“I actually had a conversation with the governor just this afternoon … about ways in which we can promote VaxMillions even more than we’ve attempted to,” Goldberg said of the program that was intended to incentivize people to get vaccinated. She added, “In the next three weeks, there’s got to be a really concerted push — in radio, newspapers, in multiple languages — to encourage people … that’s what we’re hopeful for because I’m concerned about the Delta variant and its impacts on populations that were already seen throughout the country on areas that have lower vaccination rates.”
Pressed by host Joe Shortsleeve about whether the chance to win $1 million has actually had the intended impact on vaccination rates in Massachusetts, Goldberg said it is too early to tell.
“You have to remember, the rate was going down. So the rate did … it was huge at the very beginning and now we have to wait to see. Let’s not forget, it started on July 1. We have to wait. I really think we need to give it this week and next week to see how it’s going,” she said.
A report in Commonwealth Magazine on Tuesday concluded that the average number of daily vaccinations in Massachusetts dropped from 25,010 a day the week before the giveaway was announced June 15 to an average of 11,145 a day the last week of June. Shortsleeve cited Ohio, which recorded a 43 percent increase in vaccination rates the week after it announced its own cash incentive program, and Goldberg pointed out that the Buckeye State “was really behind on vaccination rates” when its program began.
“When the governor first approached me to have this conversation, I said to him that you really need to contrast us to Ohio, in that you can’t expect the same kind of rate of increase with the announcement of our sweepstakes,” Goldberg said. “So we understand that. Our feeling is, whatever positive results come out of this, the better. For every single person that gets vaccinated, that’s one less person that will get sick.”
Clark on infrastructure: ‘So linked together’
Congress shouldn’t pass up the chance to invest in all types of infrastructure, which for Assistant House Speaker Katherine Clark includes child care and climate resiliency and would require linking two federal spending proposals together in an attempt to overcome Republican opposition.
“We cannot leave half of our economy or three-quarters of our economy behind, we have to do it all,” the Massachusetts Democrat said on WBUR’s “Radio Boston” Tuesday afternoon. “They must move as one package because that’s the way we make a difference for Americans at home. That’s the way we build an economy that is inclusive and for the future.”
Federal officials are currently weighing an infrastructure deal that includes $579 billion in new spending for roads, bridges, public transit, rail, airports, broadband infrastructure, and ports.
At the same time, Congressional Democrats are looking to move ahead with legislation that would spend money on child care, healthcare, and education.
There has been talk of linking the two bills together, which flared tensions with Republicans and led President Joe Biden to backtrack last month and affirm his support for passing the bipartisan bill separately. For Clark, the two bills are “so linked together.”
A new infrastructure package would add to the billions of dollars in federal aid streaming into the state and an expected tax revenue surplus for the fiscal year that ended last week.
“It’s just simply, we can’t have sort of halfway measures here,” Clark said, adding, “We can’t say, well, we’re going to put climate off until another time. All of these issues are urgent, all of them we have solutions and ways to do this now.”
Clark is not alone in the Massachusetts Congressional Democrat in defining infrastructure as more than just roads and bridges.
“Without quality services, such as child care and paid family and medical leave, we cannot build an economy that works for all. Improving our human infrastructure is critical for the United States to attract workers and remain internationally competitive,” U.S. Rep. Richard Neal said at the end of June during a Massachusetts High Technology Council forum.
When do you know it’s summertime?
One indicator probably isn’t a House rules debate. But that’s exactly what the House teed up Tuesday for a formal session scheduled for later today. House Democratic leadership gave representatives a few hours to file amendments to a new package of House rules that were created after a months-long review, reports State House News Service’s Sam Doran. Also on the calendar: an extension of pandemic-era emergency rules until Oct. 1.
‘I don’t understand how these charges can be brought against me’
That’s what one of the 11 people members of the Rhode Island-based group “Rise of the Moors” said Tuesday during his arraignment in Malden District Court after being brought in in connection with an hours-long standoff in Wakefield over the weekend, Boston Globe’s Alexandra Chaidez and Tonya Alanez report. The leader of the group was held without bail and a dangerouness hearing is scheduled for Friday.
More from the Globe duo: “Earlier Tuesday, other members of the “Rise of the Moors” group who appeared in court refused to cooperate with the Probation Department or [Judge Emily A. Karstetter] and repeatedly insisted the state court has no authority over them.”
Out of one and into another
Transportation for Massachusetts Director Chris Dempsey, that is, who announced his departure from the organization Tuesday as he looks to pursue a campaign for state auditor, reports State House News Service’s Chris Lisinski.
Keep it going: Lowell council asks lawmakers to let it keep pandemic voting boosts in place
They’re getting antsy. The Lowell City Council held a special meeting Tuesday where they voted to advance a home-rule petition seeking permission to extend pandemic-era voting opportunities — including no-excuse absentee and early in-person voting — for this year’s municipal elections, Alana Melanson of the Lowell Sun reports.
Federal funds: Act V
It’ll probably become a question that will be asked for years to come: How should the state spend billions in federal aid dollars? Gov. Charlie Baker renewed a push to shuttle $2.9 billion from the American Rescue Plan to housing production, workforce training, and tourism, reports MassLive’s Steph Solis.
Key ally: Biden administration hires Warren student-loan expert
She’s got her woman on the inside. The U.S. Department of Education hired Toby Merrill, founder of the Predatory Student Loan Project and the author of research that U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren cited as she called for massive swaths of student loan debt to be wiped from the books by President Biden. Ayelet Sheffey of Business Insider has the details.
Planning to get back at it after Dallas trip
After striking nurses get back from a trip to Dallas to visit Tenet Healthcare, the owner of St. Vincent Hospital, negotiations are set to resume between Massachusetts Nurses Association and the hospital, reports Telegram & Gazette’s Isabel Sami.
COLA no longer flat for Boston City Council staffers
Not the soda. Boston Heralds Sean Philip Cotter reports that Boston City Council staffers are getting a pay raise after the body approved a budget last week that increases the City Council’s budget by $400,000 for the first time since 2018.
More from Cotter: “Also out of the $400,000 total, each of the 13 city council offices will receive about $20,000 more to distribute among their staff. Staff numbers can range from office to office. Those salaries are funded by a stipend of $216,000 a year each councilor receives to hire office staffers as temporary employees.”
One by one: Rockport will hand recount ballots in razor-thin Prop 2 1/2 override
Patience will be a virtue. Rockport election officials will gather Wednesday to hand recount some 2,500 ballots after residents filed paperwork questioning the results of last week’s election, which saw voters approve an $800,000 budget override to fund local schools by just 10 votes, Michael Cronin of the Gloucester Times reports.
New life: Framingham Sheraton revamp to include assisted living
Plans are coming together for the next chapter in the life of the iconic Framingham Sheraton Hotel, with a New Hampshire developer planning to turn part of the sprawling, castle-like structure near the Pike into a 120-bed assisted living center, Jeff Malachowski of the MetroWest Daily News reports.
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