Mass Port Board meeting, House formal, and more
9 a.m. | Massachusetts Port Authority Board meets. Officials recently reported the busiest passenger month in May at Logan International Airport since COVID-19 first struck the state, though the numbers remain below pre-pandemic levels.
9 a.m. | Commission on Structural Racism in the Massachusetts Probation Service holds a virtual meeting.
10 a.m. | Striking St. Vincent Hospital nurses and management from Tenet Healthcare are scheduled for two days of talks with a federal mediator. On Thursday, the strike hits 137 days, which the Massachusetts Nurses Association said is the longest nurses strike nationally in more than a decade.
11 a.m. | House holds a formal session with an agenda that includes a sports-betting legalization bill.
2 p.m. | Transportation Committee hears testimony on around 20 bills dealing with transportation finance.
Unearthing new concerns as interest in dinosaurs grows
There’s an issue brewing just under the surface and the main subjects are really, really old – hundreds of millions of years old in some cases.
Archeologists, paleontologists, and geologists are calling on the Legislature to advance a bill that they say would help bring clarity to outdated and vague laws concerning the recovery, study, and protection of fossils and artifacts in the state. The push follows a boost in popularity for dinosaurs and fossil discovery in Massachusetts as a result of the campaign to create an official state dinosaur.
Why is this important? A poll to decide which dinosaur would take the official spot in legislation drafted by Rep. Jack Patrick Lewis garnered over 35,000 votes and even national media coverage. As part of that project, experts and lawmakers are hoping to raise awareness of all the different fields of science that have touchpoints with the recovery and preservation of artifacts.
There’s also a side effect to the popularity being generated by the state dinosaur push. Barnas Monteith, the head of the Massachusetts State Science and Engineering Fair and a paleontologist, said there’s concern among professionals that “a lot of folks are going to go out there, potentially start digging and quite possibly could find some important specimens in our state.”
“While we love that idea, obviously, we encourage folks to find and report the things, we do have some concerns that maybe some folks might go out there and try to personally collect some fossils, and keep them in their private collections,” Monteith said. “In Massachusetts, we obviously, we don’t have too many dinosaurs floating around in our state. And because of that, it is sort of important to preserve and study those specimens.”
What does the bill actually do? It sets up a commission to review existing laws and consult with public and private experts to figure out how to adequately protect and provide public and professional access to archaeological, geological, and fossil resources in the state. It was filed by Rep. Daniel Carey and is currently before the Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture.
Another take: Alfred Venne of the Amherst College Beneski Museum and Bassett Planetarium helped with the state dinosaur initiative. He said one of the first questions asked of him during the process was where could people find fossils of the potential state dinosaur.
“A chill went through my spine going, oh, my goodness, well, we have to make sure that people are doing things appropriately and that we don’t just say, ‘Oh, well, the original fossils were found down the street, around the corner, over here, so start digging,” he said. “In our world, we preserve the locations and the integrity of those locations, for either archaeological or scientific reasons and we try not to just make them a kind of a free-for-all, so to say.”
Looking to bet on sports? It’s looking like a possibility in Mass.
Ready to bet on the Pats or the Red Sox? That could be a reality soon enough as the House advanced on Wednesday a bill legalizing sports betting in Massachusetts, reports State House News Service’s Chris Lisinski. A full debate and additional required votes are expected in the House today.
Also in the Legislature: lawmakers sent Gov. Charlie Baker a spending bill that includes an extension of mail-in voting reforms until Dec. 15, reports State House News Service’s Sam Doran. Several fall municipal elections are quickly approaching including Boston’s mayoral contest.
Will COVID cases spike in the fall?
The inevitable question is already being posed: with COVID cases starting to rise once more, what will the fall look like? It’s not a fun question to seek an answer to but MassLive’s Tanner Stening spoke to the experts to find out what may happen. Hint: the answer isn’t great.
Mask or no mask? School officials await decision
To mask or not to mask? That is the question school officials in central Massachusetts are waiting for guidance on to answer. Telegram & Gazette’s Scott O’Connell reports that school officials are waiting on state guidance to make a final decision. The American Academy of Pediatrics came out in support of requiring masks in schools earlier this week.
More from O’Connell: “Several superintendents around the region this week said they were recently told by department commissioner Jeffrey Riley that further guidance will be released in the upcoming weeks.”
Big push: Mediator scheduled two days of talks in bid to end St. Vincent strike
Try, try again. Striking nurses say they have a new staffing proposal to present to the owners of St. Vincent Hospital when face-to-face negotiations resume today after a federal mediator scheduled two days of talks in the latest bid to end the now 137-day-long job action. Cyrus Moulton of the Telegram has the details.
Campbell presses Janey to release OPAT findings
A new political clash is brewing over calls to release findings from a police watchdog in Boston into child molestations allegations against former Boston Police Officer Patrick Rose, Sr., reports Boston Globe’s Danny McDonald. Boston City Councilor Andrea Campbell pressured Acting Mayor Kim Janey to direct the Office of Police Accountability and Transparency to release its investigation.
More from McDonald: “Stephanie Everett, a Mattapan lawyer and former state government official, started her tenure as executive director of OPAT on May 3 and was tasked with producing an independent review into the Rose case within her first 45 days. Her charge was to figure out what went wrong — and how to fix it.”
Vienna-bound: Biden nominates Victoria Kennedy for Austria ambassadorship
One down, one to go? As long rumored, President Biden has nominated Victoria Kennedy to be the country’s ambassador to Austria and may be close to putting up the name of JFK daughter Caroline Kennedy for a diplomatic post as well, Amer Madhani of the Associated Press reports.
Bring it back: Poll shows overwhelming support for return of happy hour
They really like it. A new MassINC poll found 70 percent of Bay State residents support the return of happy hour at the state’s bars and restaurants, Amy Sokolow of the Herald reports. Happy hours were banned in 1984 to curb drunken driving and earlier legislative attempts to revive them have failed, but the battered hospitality industry hopes conditions are right to revisit the prohibition.
Massachusetts in line to get more money from opioid settlements
Let the cash flow. The state could receive hundreds of millions more for addiction prevention and treatment as part of a $26 billion settlement between states and opioid distributors and a manufacturer, reports WBUR’s Martha Bebinger. That would be alongside the $90 million the state secured from a settlement with Purdue Pharma.
No jail time but 18 months of home confinement for Camara
No jail time for this former Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia II co-conspirator. Former Bristol County Training Consortium Director Hildegar Camara will instead receive three years probation with 18 months of home confinement, reports Lynne Sullivan, Linda Murphy, and Jo C. Goode of the Fall River Herald News. Camara will also have to abide by a 150 hours per year community service requirement.
Working remotely could save money for large businesses
Trying to get your employer to let you work remotely more often? Here’s a good argument: large businesses could save about $11.3 million per year if half the week was dedicated to remote working. Boston Business Journal’s Andy Medici has more details on a new report from Global Workspace Analytics.
Perfect timing: Kosciuszko Circle planning study kicks off as Olympic open
They’re lighting the torch. State and city officials have kicked off a $1 million study of how to redesign Dorchester’s vexing Kosciuszko Circle — an area where erstwhile Olympic boosters had once proposed to build a $2 billion athletes’ village for the 2024 Olympics bid that never was — and surrounding roadways, according to Gintautas Dumcius of the Dorchester Reporter.
WBZ Mourns Loss Of Longtime Colleague And Friend Jim ‘Murph’ Murphy – WBZ-TV
17 hopefuls make their cases for at-large seats on the City Council – Dorchester Reporter
Aiming to preserve certain affordable housing units, Boston council approves home rule petition – Boston Globe
‘Don’t come here’: Provincetown business owner wants others to join his strict vaccination requirement – Cape Cod Times
Critics condemn rehiring of controversial Chicopee police officer Michael Wilk – MassLive
House erupts in anger over Jan. 6 and Trump’s role – The Hill
White House officials debate masking push as covid infections spike – Washington Post
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