Redistricting, public health, post-pandemic resiliency, and more
10 a.m. | Joint Committee on Redistricting meets virtually to hear from residents of the 7th Congressional District. It’s the committee’s eighth hearing as it inches closer toward proposing maps with new boundaries for the state’s legislative and Congressional districts.
10 a.m. | Joint Committee on Public Health holds virtual hearing on vaccine bills. Bills on the docket mostly concern the COVID-19 vaccine and the agenda features bills dealing with vaccine equity, school immunizations, community immunity, and an immunization registry.
1 p.m. | Elder Affairs Committee holds virtual public hearing on more than a dozen bills relating to home and community-based services.
1 p.m. | Senate Committee on Reimagining Massachusetts Post-Pandemic Resiliency holds a hearing on transportation, the latest topic the panel will dive into as it considers long-term impacts from COVID-19.
2 p.m. | Legislative Commission to Study and Examine the Civil Service Law holds virtual hearing with a 30-minute Human Resources Division presentation about civil service laws, a 30-minute Massachusetts Municipal Association presentation on experiences of cities and towns, and a 30-minute presentation from the attorney general’s office pertaining to its involvement in enforcement.
One step closer to a full budget
You’re waking up 11 days into fiscal year 2022 and the state finally has an enacted budget. The Legislature sent Gov. Charlie Baker a $48.1 billion spending plan Friday afternoon, reports State House News Service’s Chris Lisinski, who adds that the proposal codifies the state’s film tax credit, delays implementation of a charitable giving tax deduction, and puts aside $350 million of the Student Opportunity Act.
More from Lisinski: “At this time last year, budget writers were fretting a potential tax revenue implosion and wondering if state reserves would be enough to hold public services together. But taxpayers have delivered robust collections for the state, enabling significant spending increases and allowing historic deposits into the rainy day fund.”
Nothing doing: Visit to Dallas, marathon talks can’t break stalemate in nurse’s strike
It was a long meeting short on results. Striking nurses and Saint Vincent Hospital held a seven-hour negotiation session on Friday — the first-face-to-face meeting in over a year between the two parties — but emerged without any apparent progress having been made as the strike stretches into the longest job action by nurses in the country in a decade, Melissa Hanson of MassLive reports.
Springfield Narcotics Bureau shown the door
Out with the old, in with the new. A year after federal investigators found Springfield Police Department’s narcotics bureau engaged in a pattern of excessive force, the city’s police commissioner is replacing it with a new team focused on violent crime just as gun offenses are on the rise in the area, reports Boston Globe’s John Hilliard.
‘Rubber stamps’ or unfair insult?
Over the last year and a half, Boston School Committee members unanimously approved 95 out of 99 action items, raising concerns of “rubber stamping,” reports Boston Herald’s Alexi Cohan. But committee members are pushing back, saying branding them as “coat hangers” or “rubber stamps” for the mayor is an insulting notion.
More from Cohan: “But from November 2019 to the present, members have unanimously approved all but four action items, over 43 meetings, a Herald analysis shows — following a similar analysis from the previous year, which showed even more unanimity. The count since November 2019 does not include votes to approve meeting minutes or the superintendent’s report.”
Return to Normalcy Series: Court Edition
We’re back with another look at the things marking a return to normalcy. Today’s update: courts and cities are lifting more restrictions as COVID-19 cases continue to decline and more and more people are get vaccinated each day.
State courts will resume most of their normal operations today, reports WBUR, including lifting capacity limits in courtrooms and restrictions on jury trials although masks are still required in some instances. Boston City Hall is also open to the public five days a week now, with residents no longer required to book appointments for in-person services.
And the State House … just kidding … that’s still closed to the public. House Speaker Ronald Mariano said the building will not have a “complete reopening” before the start of October, State House News Service’s Chris Lisinski reported Thursday.
Report: Pandemic’s disproportionate impacts
A new report from a legislative task force says the pandemic took a disproportionate toll on Black and Latinos in the state in regards to severe sickness and death, reports Christian M. Wade at the Salem News.
More from Wade: “The panel made a number of recommendations to address disparities in health care, including the creation of a new cabinet-level “executive office of equity” to oversee efforts on equity, diversity and inclusion. Panelists called for more support for anti-poverty programs such as food stamps, cash assistance and an expansion of the state’s earned income tax credit.”
Rolling in money: Pittsfield gets first ARPA payment
Green dough is flying into Pittsfield. The city received it’s first payment from the American Rescue Plan Act last month of $16.2 million, reports Berkshire Eagle’s Amanda Burke. Now the fun part begins: how to spend it. The city will get a total of $32.4 million.
It’s a debate that is probably roiling many local governments across the country and it is certainly front and center on Beacon Hill these days as state lawmakers figure out how to use federal aid dollars.
Pay up: State on hook for costs tied to suit over denied opiate treatment
They’ve got two week’s notice. A federal judge has ordered the state to pay $230,000 in legal fees and other costs rung up during a 2018 lawsuit filed to force the Middleton jail to provide opiate treatment services to an inmate, Julie Manganis of the Salem News reports. The funds will go to the ACLU and a Boston law firm that handled the case on behalf of the inmate.
Federal Funds: Act VII
Speaking of the debate over how to spend federal dollars: Gov. Charlie Baker wants to invest $100 million in offshore wind port infrastructure. That’s part his $2.9 billion proposal for how to spend half of the state’s American Rescue Plan Act allocation, reports Shira Schoenberg of CommonWealth. Baker needs approval from the Legislature for the money to be spent and his track record so far on this doesn’t suggest a favorable outcome for the Republican.
But as Schoenberg writes: “Politically, while the Baker administration has long been supportive of offshore wind, the addition may also provide a sweetener for House Speaker Ron Mariano, a Democrat representing Quincy and Weymouth, who has been vocal about his desire to turn the South Coast into a hub for wind energy.”
Big day: Divided over former power plant, Somerset heads to polls
Voters in Somerset go to the polls today to fill a vacancy on the Select Board created after a member resigned over alleged bullying by neighbors upset about the progress in cleaning up the site of the Brayton Point power plant, an issue that has the town seeking help from Gov. Baker on how to move forward. Audrey Cooney of the Herald-News and Tolly Taylor of WPRI have the details.
Bay State string of hate
On the note of violence in Massachusetts, there has been a weird and concerning pattern of vicious crimes so far this summer — from a brazen, hate-fueled “execution” in Winthrop to the stabbing of a rabbi in Brighton. Boston Herald’s Marie Szaniszlo reports that the cluster of crimes in the state are leaving law enforcement on high alert.
Weighing in: Moulton picks candidate in Lynn mayoral race
Congressman Seth Moulton endorsed Jared Nicholson in the Lynn mayoral race, saying the former school board member shares his passion for improving train and ferry service to the North Shore city, Allysha Dunnigan and Sam Minton of the Lynn Item report.
It’s sparked debates all across the country even though many people don’t actually understand what the term means. And education experts in Worcester say the the reaction to “critical race theory” is a perplexing and predictable response to academic examination of the country’s history of racism and racial inequities, reports Telegram & Gazette’s Scott O’Connell.
More from O’Connell: “But [Sheldon] Eakins, along with several local education leaders in the region, pointed out critical race theory isn’t a curriculum and isn’t taught in grade schools or even undergraduate college in most cases. ‘It’s a legal term,’ he said, for an academic concept explored predominantly in graduate-level programs. ‘I think a lot of this (opposition) stems from people not understanding there are two CRTs.’”
Not hat, big problem: Cape businesses struggle to fill gift shops
Oh, the humanity. As if the dearth of summer help wasn’t enough, businesses on Cape Cod are now facing a shortage of souvenir-style hats and T-shirts due to global supply chain disruptions tied to the pandemic, Denise Coffey of the Cape Cod Times reports.
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