State seal commission, committee hearings, and more
11 a.m. | A 19-member commission tasked with reviewing the state’s official seal and motto meets for the first time to discuss potential challenges facing the group like staff capacity, outstanding appointments, and an Oct. 1 reporting deadline for a revised or new design of the seal and motto and an associated educational program.
11 a.m. | President Biden delivers remarks on economic recovery and the bipartisan infrastructure framework
12 p.m. | Joint Committee on Redistricting meets virtually to hear from residents of the 4th Congressional District.
1 p.m. | Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use, and Recovery holds virtual hearing on 19 bills related to resiliency in mental and behavioral health care systems.
1 p.m. | Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure meets virtually to consider 20 bills related to motor vehicles, regulating business practices in the industry, and vehicle warranties.
Chang-Díaz: Leaning yes on vaccines for kids over 12
Should there be a mandate for school children over 12 to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in order to attend school? It’s a question that seems to be gaining urgency as fall is around the corner and the state is witnessing an uptick in cases of the virus.
And at least one of the gubernatorial candidates said she leans “yes” on the matter.
“I want to make sure that we are being science-driven and following closely the science,” Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz said on WCVB’s On The Record.
The larger question, of course, is whether or not government officials should require official guidance or mandates around vaccination. We’ve all heard of vaccine passports. Some have floated the idea of requiring employees to get jabbed before returning to work. But none have really stuck in Massachusetts.
Opponents of mandates say individuals should be able to make their own decision without the infringement of state government. And others, like Gov. Charlie Baker, say the government needs to let private entities make the decision on their own.
Chang-Díaz acknowledges that it’s a difficult question to tackle.
“We are in extraordinary times,” the Boston Democrat said. “This is uncharted territory when it comes to the competing values, which are core values, that we have of public health on the one hand and individuality on the other hand. We do in the case of students, right, … there is substantial precedent in Massachusetts of requirements of vaccinations in order to attend public school. So I think we need to look to that as a base.”
MassGOP vice-chairman resigns from post
Tom Mountain is out. The Massachusetts Republican Party vice-chairman announced his resignation from the position in a Sunday night email to the state party, reports Boston Globe’s Emma Platoff. The circumstances around the departure are a bit vague. He cited a need “to focus on an effort to immediately clear my name” following the publication of a blog post.
More from Platoff: “Mountain did not name the website he was referring to, and he did not respond to a Globe inquiry Sunday night. Earlier this month, turtleboysports.com published a story, including screenshots of what it said were Mountain’s comments, with the headline: ‘Vice Chairman Of Mass GOP Leaves Tons Of Creepy Comments For Women On Facebook Including Underage Girls, Claims He Was Hacked.’”
‘Vast and Uncaring Nature’
Wilderness always tempts adventurers to go out and explore. But with beautiful views and exhilarating experiences comes moments when we realize that Mother Nature is a very powerful creature. Sen. Will Brownsberger found himself humbled after a seemingly easy hike turned into a good reminder of why we always need to be prepared.
From his column: “At home in Boston, I am accustomed to taking long runs every week or two. With a T-pass, a credit card, and a cell phone, I consider myself ready for anything. The only things I fear are ticks, drivers, and the sudden urge to go to the bathroom.”
Finding a new way to operate after the pandemic
How does one redefine normal? It seems like a fairly mighty task. But after a pandemic that threw everything we knew into the air, there’s quite a bit of room to rethink business and daily routines. Telegram & Gazette’s Scott O’Connell reports how one sector, community colleges, are found a new way to do business.
More from O’Connell: “What COVID-19 illuminated is just how much many community college students — many of whom are working adults, parents or have other nonschool obligations — appreciated the flexibility afforded by a virtual college education, college officials said.”
‘Don’t hold your breath’
Are deadlines suggestions on Beacon Hill? There isn’t a cut-and-dry answer there. But what about the speed at which lawmakers spend billions in federal dollars that have flowed into the state to help mitigate the effects of the pandemic? Boston Globe’s Emma Platoff reports that Beacon Hill legislators are under pressure from advocacy groups and Gov. Charlie Baker to start spending the money as fast as possible.
More from Platoff: “The process of spending the discretionary funds — just one portion of the roughly $113 billion in federal aid that has come to the state during the pandemic — will take months, if not years, lawmakers have suggested. Critics, however, say such a timeline is too slow to address urgent needs in their hard-hit communities.”
Losing a Senate seat would ‘dilute’ Springfield’s influence
From one to two. Springfield could be at risk of losing a Senate seat as lawmakers try not to spilt up cities and towns, reports MassLive’s Jim Kinney. But one senator who represents a good portion of the city believes it would dilute its influence.
Here are Sen. Eric Lesser’s comments as reported by Kinney: “It would dilute our influence. Two voices for Springfield is better than one.” Lesser said. “That would be one less voice for the city. It should really be represented by a delegation.”
Businesses looking at UI rate bump
There’s a bump on the way … in unemployment insurance rates. Boston Business Journal’s Greg Ryan reports that businesses in the state will effectively see a 10 percent increase in their rates starting this year.
More from Ryan: “The Baker administration revealed the quarterly ‘Covid-19 recovery assessment rate’ in a letter to Massachusetts businesses on Thursday. The special assessment is part of the legislative fix passed in May to lower the sky-high UI bills that caught employers by surprise this spring.”
They’re back: Jury duty notices on their way as trial courts ramp up operation
Recess is almost over. Bay State residents will soon start finding summons to show up for jury duty in their mailboxes again as the state’s trial courts begin to resume operations after a lengthy pandemic pause, Rich Harbert of the Patriot Ledger reports.
Baker heading out to the mountains
Maybe he’ll get a nice hike in? Gov. Charlie Baker will be on mountain time at the start of the week as he heads out to Aspen, CO for a meeting of the Republican Governors Association, reports Boston Herald’s Erin Tiernan. He’ll be back on Wednesday.
Canceled: Plug pulled on planned Baker fundraiser after Meehan listed as host
Whoops. A planned $500-per-person fundraiser for Gov. Baker was canceled after the invitation to the event listed UMass President Marty Meehan as a member of the host committee — something not allowed under state law because Meehan is a public employee, Marie Szaniszlo of the Herald reports. Wonder how the Democrats planning to challenge Baker — should he run — feel about Meehan’s would-be role in boosting the Republican?
Stalled at the gate: Journalism commission’s work hampered by pandemic
A 23-member commission formed by the Legislature in January to study ways to support local journalism has only had two members named and is likely to get a one-year extension on an original August deadline to report its initial findings, Sophia Garnder of the Daily Hampshire Gazette reports.
‘Modest amount’ of jail time
Government officials are looking for a modest amount of federal incarceration time for Hildegar Camara, who was a co-conspirator in the Jasiel Correia case, reports Fall River Herald News’ Jo C. Goode.
Movie magicians approve of film tax credit
Some movie industry professionals are pretty happy that the Legislature and Gov. Charlie Baker approved a budget solidifying a film tax credit for the state. Lowell Sun’s Barry Scanlon reports that at least one movie, “The Fighter,” wouldn’t have been filmed in the Lowell area if the incentive program wasn’t in place.
Going up: Nantucket bars raise drinking age amid crackdown on fake IDs
Bars on Nantucket are taking steps to tamp down what they say is a surge in underage drinking and fake IDs, with one even raising the minimum age to get through the door from 21 to 25, Brian Bushard of the Inquirer & Mirror reports.
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