House formal, Boston mayoral forum, committee hearings, and more
10 a.m. | Twenty-six bills related to competitive suppliers, grid modernization and electric vehicles are on the agenda for a Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy hearing. Many of the bills aim to require widespread adoption of electric vehicles, promoting incentive programs and installation of charging infrastructure or converting MBTA and other public motor vehicle fleets to electricity.
11 a.m. | Joint Committee on Housing holds public hearing to consider 19 bills on housing production, a frequent topic of debate amid the prolonged inventory shortage that is helping to drive up prices.
11 a.m. | House holds formal session with roll calls starting at 1 p.m
2 p.m. | Transportation Committee holds a hearing with 20 bills about transit fares and transportation governance on the agenda. A Rep. Adrian Madaro bill would require the MBTA to implement a low-income fare program, a mandate Gov. Baker vetoed from a transportation bond bill he signed in January.
2 p.m. | Boston Coalition for Homeless Individuals holds “Pathways Out of Homelessness” virtual Boston mayoral forum with the five major candidates running for the city’s top office. The coalition includes Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, Pine Street Inn, Project Place, and St. Francis House.
CDC shifts masking guidance as case numbers rise
Time to mask up once more — at least in some places. But unfortunately not in the super hero sense.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed their masking guidelines Tuesday, advising even people who are vaccinated to wear masks in areas where the Delta variant is helping drive up case numbers, Associated Press’ Mike Stobbe reported. CDC officials also recommended that teachers, staff, and students wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status.
The new guidance from the CDC applies to areas in the U.S. that record at least 50 new cases per 100,000 people in the last week. Here’s a rundown from Boston Globe’s Amanda Kaufman detailing which counties in Massachusetts fall into the CDC criteria.
The news at the federal level has a lot of implications for Massachusetts, where officials have been debating whether or not to require masks in schools this upcoming fall and as pandemic-era closures and restrictions are no longer in place
In the wake of the CDC reversal, over 200 public health and medical experts called on Baker and Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley to implement universal indoor masking for the 2021-2022 school year .
The letters circulated by Sen. Becca Rausch were authored by Dr. Regina LaRocque of Harvard Medical School and Dr. Natalya Davis, a Quincy pediatrician.
“The rapid, ongoing spread of the highly contagious COVID-19 delta variant in Massachusetts represents a serious risk as the 2021-2022 school year begins,” LaRocque said. “Young children lack protection from disease, and vaccination rates among adolescents are insufficient to prevent outbreaks in school communities.”
The Delta variant, a highly contagious version of COVID-19, has contributed to rising new daily new case counts in Massachusetts.. State health officials reported 657 confirmed cases of COVID-19 yesterday and 12 confirmed deaths.
Gov. Charlie Baker said Monday that he was awaiting more information from the CDC before making a decision one way or the other, reported State House News Service’s Matt Murphy. And on Tuesday, Baker spokesperson Terry MacCormack told MassterList that “the Baker-Polito Administration is reviewing the new face covering guidance released by the CDC.”
There’s a lot of questions that don’t have readily available answers at the moment.
With cases spiking, are restrictions likely to come into play again? What about vaccine requirements for various businesses? And one question floating around in this MassterLIst writer’s head: will the uptick in cases complicate the reopening process for the State House?
It seems Boston City Council has answered at least one of those questions: Council President Pro Tempore Matt O’Malley is requiring all council staff and interns working in-person to show proof of vaccination or take a weekly COVID test starting Aug. 30, according to a memo he sent out and posted to Twitter.
“This requirement comes in light of rising COVID-19 cases,” O’Malley wrote. “The Delta Variant is causing cases to rise nationally for mostly unvaccinated and some vaccinated people as it is more transmissible. We must make every effort to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 and keep each other safe and protected in our workplace.”
Rollins looks toward likely confirmation by U.S. Senate
No issues expected. Legal experts say U.S. Senators are likely to confirm Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollin as the U.S. attorney for Massachusetts, reports WBUR’s Deborah Becker. The nomination news dropped Monday and while it wasn’t a huge shocker (Rollins confirmed weeks ago that she was being vetted for the role), it does mark another Massachusetts first: the first Black woman to serve in the post.
Gov. Charlie Baker will now pick someone to serve out the remainder of the Rollins’ term and Boston Globe’s Shelley Murphy and Emma Platoff explore who might replace her. More from the reporting pair: “The Republican governor, who has clashed with Rollins on several occasions, is facing pressure from criminal justice reform advocates who are pushing for a candidate who will build on Rollins’s progressive legacy.”
Flush with cash, state lottery records record profits
Did you win anything from the lottery? We didn’t and we’re sad. But the Massachusetts Lottery is riding a high after profits soared to record of more than $1.1 billion last fiscal year, reports State House News Service’s Colin A. Young. Players bought more than $4 billion worth of scratch tickets and even Keno hit an all-time sales high of $1.057 billion.
State officials say that the lottery was a “safe form of entertainment and an important sources of revenue for small businesses,” reports Andrew Brinker at the Boston Globe.
Just in case: Mass. House delegation stockpiles cash ahead of midterms
You never know. The nine Democrats who represent the Bay State in Congress are all building up their campaign war chests ahead of next year’s midterms, Steve LeBlanc of the Associated Press reports, via the Daily Hampshire Gazette. The delegation’s senior member, U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, also boasts the fattest bank account, with $2.6 million in stashed cash.
Not so happy about happy hour
A recent push to legalize happy hours or discounts on a drinks in an attempt to help businesses rally after the pandemic is getting mixed reviews on Beacon Hill, reports Christian Wade at the Eagle-Tribune. Among the several proposals lawmakers have filed is a Rep. Marcos Devers bill that would create a commission to study whether changing the rules would bring boost to bars and restaurants.
More from Wade: “Rep. Paul Tucker, D-Salem, said happy hours contributed to horrific drunken driving accidents before they were banned, and he would oppose lifting the restrictions. ‘We’ve made a lot of progress to get drunk drivers off the roads and we can’t turn the clock back,’ said Tucker, a former Salem police chief. ‘It would be a mistake.’”
Correia appeals conviction, lawyers say he is an ‘inexperienced entrepreneur’
Appeal away. Former Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia II started the appeal process for his conviction on 21 counts of government conspiracy, extortion, and defrauding investors and the IRS, reports Fall River Herald News’ Jo C. Goode.
More from Goode: “Boston-based attorneys Daniel Marx and William Fick filed the 50-page post-conviction motion Tuesday morning with U.S. District Judge Douglas P. Woodlock. In the document, the attorneys paint Correia as an ‘inexperienced entrepreneur’ whose actions related to his company, SnoOwl, were not a federal crime.”
Acting no longer
Take the acting out of the title and make it official. Jamey Tesler was named as the state’s transportation secretary Tuesday after serving in acting capacity since January, reports State House News Service’s Chris Lisinski. Tesler took over as acting transportation secretary after Stephanie Pollack left for Washington to serve as deputy administrator at the Federal Highway Administration.
Face time fix? Big Three meet in person for first time since pandemic
For the first time since the start of the pandemic, Gov. Charlie Baker met in person with leaders of the Massachusetts House and Senate and Shira Schoenberg said there is hope on Beacon Hill the personal touch will help bridge some major policy disagreements going forward, Shira Schoemberg of CommonWealth Magazine reports.
Close that loop: North Shore lawmakers push for Dover Amendment update
Legislators from the North Shore are urging fellow lawmakers to consider updating the Dover Amendment — the 1953 law that allows educational institutions and certain other nonprofits to bypass local regulations — to make it clear that local environmental rules should still be followed, Sam Minton of the Lynn Item reports. Lawmakers say the reality of climate change demands updating the law, but the move could help the town of Nahant fend off a controversial expansion of Northeastern University’s Marine Science Center.
It smelt like burning plastic and it’s not going away just yet
The air quality alert issued Monday by the Department of Environmental Protection was extended through midnight Tuesday for northern Worcester, sourthern and central Middlesex and Essex Counties, reports MassLive’s Tristan Smith. The initial alert came as a result of haze from wildfires out west hanging over the state.
And researchers told the Berkshire Eagle that fires are going “to be burning all summer” and bad air quality can be expected across the nation this year. Climate change is making for drier landscapes which make it easier for fires to start and spread, the experts said.
Sticking it out: Districts see no evidence of mass teacher retirements
No more than usual. While some teachers have decided to call it quits after an historically disruptive school year, most school districts say the number of retirements among educators is in line with more ‘normal’ years, Zane Razzaq of the MetroWest Daily News reports.
‘It’s going to be an invasion:’ Tiny Hinsdale frets over RV park plans
Officials in Hinsdale are set to begin reviewing a proposal for a 300-spot RV park to be built on a local campground but residents are already calling the plan too big for the town of about 2,000 and its network of rural back roads. Larry Parnass of the Berkshire Eagle has the details.
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