Vaccinations hearing, global warming committee, and more
10 a.m. | The 13-member Commission on Structural Racism in the Massachusetts Parole Process meets virtually. Agenda includes remarks from the chair, a review of the commission’s charge and presenters.
10 a.m. | Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change, newly chaired by Majority Leader Cynthia Creem this session, plans a four-hour virtual hearing focused on community, municipal and regional climate resilience. Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides is scheduled to testify in the 10 o’clock hour.
11 a.m. | Joint Committee on Public Health and Joint Committee on COVID-19 and Emergency Preparedness and Management hold an oversight hearing on COVID-19 vaccinations for children at the Museum of Science, though only invited guests will be allowed to attend in person.
12 p.m. | Department of Transportation Board of Directors hosts its monthly public meeting virtually. The agenda calls for updates from department heads, a possible vote on a funding agreement for the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority, and a spokesperson said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak will deliver a presentation.
1 p.m. | Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure holds a virtual hearing on about two dozen bills concerning health-related matters.
Diehl Dishes Over “Big Lie”
The political world in Massachusetts may be waiting to see what Gov. Charlie Baker does in 2022, but Geoff Diehl didn’t wait.
The Whitman Republican and former state representative launched his campaign for governor on the Fourth of July, and this Sunday went “On the Record” to explain why.
“If he does run, that’s fine,” the former state legislator said about the popular Republican governor. “I think it’s important to have that debate within the Republican Party about where his values are and where he wants to go with the state.”
Diehl has touted his previous bid for U.S. Senate in 2018, his advocacy against gas tax increases, and his time in the House when talking about what makes him an attractive candidate to conservatives. But if Baker does end up running, the road ahead for Diehl looks a lot different than if Baker doesn’t.
The second-term governor has not yet announced a decision, but has begun raising money in person again and last week traveled to Colorado for Republican Governors Association meetings, the second RGA trip he’s taken in recent months.
Baker most recently told reporters that he and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito are discussing plans with their family and will make a decision “soon,” as WBUR’s Steve Brown reported.
Unlike Baker, Diehl’s political identity is colored by his past support for former President Donald Trump.
Asked on Sunday if he believes Trump holds any responsibility for the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, Diehl said he’s all for an investigation.
“I think it was an awful situation, just like I think all the riots in 2020 in cities across the country were awful, but I don’t think that he was necessarily responsible for it,” Diehl said. “I think that there’s been plenty of political leaders that say, come to Washington and express, you know, your political views during marches. I think it just was something that unfortunately got out of hand by bad actors that came that day.”
(Here’s a full rundown on what happened that day from NPR. It’s updated regularly as new information comes out.)
And what about now-debunked claims of fraud in the 2020 presidential election? Diehl said he “can’t tell you whether it did or did not get stolen.”
“I also don’t think that the 2016 election was stolen by Russian agents trying to get Donald Trump in so you know, I think both parties seem to be very reluctant to accept the results sometimes of our recent elections,” he said.
The torch has been lit and the Games have begun. And while Massachusetts will be rooting for U.S athletes from around the country, residents may cheer just a little louder for the 21 Olympians from Massachusetts competing in Tokyo over the next couple of weeks.
Bay State athletes make up 3.3 percent of the U.S. Olympics team, competing in sports from archery and boxing to rugby and soccer. The rowing teams have the most Massachusetts Olympians.
And it is fun to look at how many people other states sent as well. California tops the list in the number of athletes, sending 126 people to compete in the games. That means roughly 13 percent of the U.S. Olympic team hails from The Golden State.
The games through Aug. 8 so make sure to flip on the T.V. and support our very own:
Jennifer Mucino-Fernandez of Boston, Archery; Lindi Schroeder of Andover, Artistic Swimming; Rashida Ellis of Lynn, Boxing; Michael Hixon of Amherst, Diving; Andrew Mackiewicz of Westwood, Fencing; Eli Dershwitz of Sherborn, Fencing; Alexander Richards of Watertown, Rowing; Andrew Reed of Wayland, Rowing; and Cicely Madden of Weston, Rowing;
Continued: Genevra Stone of Newton, Rowing; Gia Doonan of Rochester, Rowing; Conor Harrity of Weston, Rowing; Kristina Wagner of Weston, Rowing; Regina Salmons of Methuen, Rowing; Madison Hughes of Lancaster, Rugby; Kristi Kirshe of Franklin, Rugby; Kristen Mewis of Hanson, Soccer; Samantha Mewis of Hanson, Soccer; Gabrielle Thomas of Northampton, Track and Field; Heather MacLean of Peabody, Track and Field; and Molly Seidel of Boston, Track and Field.
Several of the state’s top elected officials also chimed in with well-wishes:
Gov. Charlie Baker: “Wishing the best of luck to all the incredible Massachusetts athletes who are competing with #TeamUSA in Tokyo!”
House Speaker Ronald Mariano: “The Olympics are an opportunity to celebrate our shared humanity, feats of athleticism, and triumph over adversity. The House will be rooting for our local athletes as they inspire us over the next few weeks. Best of luck!”
Senate President Karen Spilka: “The Olympics offer us an opportunity to come together as one people and celebrate the achievements of the greatest athletes among us. I wish all 21 of this year’s Olympic athletes from Massachusetts and all of Team USA a successful, safe, and memorable time in Japan. We’ll be cheering you on every step of the way!”
Provincetown approved indoor mask mandate
More troubling trends as a result of the Provincetown COVID-19 cluster: Town officials greenlighted an indoor mask mandate after more than 500 people in various states have been impacted by the outbreak, reports MassLive’s Benjamin Kail.
Making a millionaire: Vax lottery drawing scheduled for today
Who wants to be a millionaire? We surely do. If you signed up for the state’s VaxMillions giveaway we wish you good luck as the initial drawing is scheduled for today. A winner will be announced Thursday, reports Boston Globe’s Gal Tziperman Lotan. About 2 million people signed up for the lottery, less than half of the 4.3 million fully vaccinated people in the state.
At state: five $1 million prizes for people 18 and older and five $300,000 scholarships for kids aged 12 to17.
Are remote meetings the long-term answer for small towns?
Never mind the glitches we’ve encountered and tried to solve while working from home, imagine trying to manage remote meetings for an entire town. Meg McIntyre for the State House News Service reports how remote meetings have simultaneously boosted public participation in government and created hurdles and burdens for small-town officials.
More from McIntyre: “[Shutesbury Town Clerk Grace] Bannasch thinks remote meeting access has been good for her town, boosting participation and keeping people informed during the public health crisis. But as lawmakers consider permanent guidelines around remote participation, she worries this system won’t be sustainable long term.”
‘Getting on board with diversity’
A businessman in Springfield is pushing banks to diversify their boards — a mission he took up even before race relations and equity dominated daily headlines, reports MassLive’s Ron Chimelis. More from Chimelis: “‘We’ve knocked on enough doors, and we’ve received attention. Nationally, I think the banks and corporations mean well and they want to live up to their social responsibility,’ WAMF Consulting Founder Ron Davis told MassLive. ‘They talk about it, but all too often, I’m not seeing it.’”
ICE-D out? Legislature could put kibosh on Sheriff pacts with feds
All but two of the state’s county sheriffs have terminated contracts with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency and now state lawmakers are mulling legislation that would ban the pacts, which allow jails to hold detainees on ICE orders, Jeannette Hinkle of the Cape Cod Times reports.
Vaccination goals in reach for Central Mass. colleges
Vaccination victory? Local colleges in Worcester say they’ve either achieved or are near vaccination targets laid out earlier this year just as students are set to return to campus in about a month, reports Telegram & Gazette’s Scott O’Connell. But looming in the distance is the threat of the Delta variant, a highly contagious version of COVID-19 that has already been found in the Provincetown cluster.
More from O’Connell: “The reward for those students and staff will likely be a return to pre-pandemic conditions on campus, and the retirement of the social distancing and masking requirements of last year. But some college officials said even with the vast majority of their populations vaccinated, worsening virus trends over the coming weeks could result in a return to those measures.”
Taking the local approach with vaccinations
How can Mattapan boost its lowest-in-the-city vaccination rate? Local officials are hoping pop-up clinics that offer barrier-free jabs will help drive up numbers as cases start to rise once again, Boston Herald’s Amy Sokolow reports.
Strength in numbers: Counties may team up to distribute windfall of federal funds
Call it a super county. Leaders in Bristol, Plymouth and Norfolk counties are considering a coalition to distribute some $348 million worth of federal stimulus delivered through the American Rescue Plan Act, Wheeler Cooperthwaite of the Patriot Ledger reports.
Fishy smells coming from the Charles
Did you walk past the Charles River recently and catch a whiff of something bad? You’re not going crazy. Boston officials are urging residents not to swim, boat, or fish in the river while they investigate weird odors, dead fish, and an oil sheen, reports the Associated Press.
On the wagon: Lawmakers get first-hand look at hemp farm
So that’s how they do it. A group of state lawmakers representing the Joint Committee on Cannabis Policy got a personal wagon tour of Peter Melnik’s 30-acre Bar-Way Farm, where he grows industrial hemp–part of a larger tour meant to help lawmakers better understand the state’s cannabis industry. Chris Larabee of the Greenfield Recorder has the details.
Latest victim? Brockton police appear to be hit by cyberattack
Details are scant but it appears the Brockton police department is the latest law enforcement agency in the state to be targeted by cybercriminals, Mina Corpuz of the Enterprise reports. Police say their 911 system and criminal records databases are still working and that state and federal investigators have joined the hunt for the culprits.
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