Happening Today

Eviction bill hearing, Census data, more

10 a.m. | The Mass. Cannabis Control Commission meets and is expected to review dozens of license renewals, new applications and final approvals. Regulators will also discuss diversity guidance, the timeline for the next round of regulatory review and outreach to the Legislature and executive branch. 

10 a.m. | Homes for All Massachusetts hosts a rally outside the State House to voice support for a bill up for a hearing later in the day that would temporarily pause evictions and foreclosures for 12 months following the end of the state of emergency. Speakers will include renters, homeowners and Sen. Patricia Jehlen, the bill’s author, organizers say.  

11 a.m. | U.S. Sen. Ed Markey holds a press conference on Senate passage of the bipartisan infrastructure package and $3.5 trillion budget resolution. State Sen. Sal DiDomenico, Rep. Dan Ryan, Chelsea City Manager Tom Ambrosino, city housing and community development director Alex Train and Gladys Vega of La Colaborativa will also participate in the event. 

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11 a.m. | The House meets in informal session, while the Senate meets without a calendar 

11 a.m. | MassDOT holds a virtual public hearing to provide an opportunity for public feedback and questions on recent outdoor advertising applications.

1 p.m. | The U.S. Census Bureau releases the first local level results from the 2020 Census and hosts a press conference to provide analysis of the data on population change, race, ethnicity, the age 18 and over population, and housing occupancy status. Once the data is available, Massachusetts and every other state use it to redraw the boundaries of Congressional and state legislative districts. 

1 p.m. | The Joint Committee on Housing holds a virtual hearing on legislation that would put a temporary pause on evictions and foreclosures for the 12 months following the end of the state of emergency. 

1:30 p.m. | Boston Acting Mayor Kim Janey hosts a press conference to share an update on COVID-19, including vaccination policy for City of Boston employees.

5 p.m. | Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin holds a media availability to announce official population numbers for the largest communities in Massachusetts and discuss population trends. 

Today’s Stories

Wrong way: UMass Memorial reopens Covid command center as numbers rise

They’re rewinding the clock. UMass Memorial Hospital has reactivated the command center it first put in place at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, Cyrus Moulton of the Telegram and Katherine Hamilton of the Worcester Business Journal report. The hospital cited not only the Delta variant case surge but also the loss of 100 beds at St. Vincent’s Hospital and an overall labor shortage for the move. 

The latest Department of Health coronavirus numbers help explain the move. Rick Sobey of the Boston Herald reports Wednesday’s new case count of 1,368 is the highest ​since April. The state says there are 346 patients hospitalized with Covid, more than four times the number reported in early July.

Holding off: Public Health Commission delays vote on mask guidance

Not yet. The state’s Public Health Council heeded mounting warnings over the Delta variant Wednesday, delaying a vote to officially rescind mask guidance that is no longer in effect. The council had voted to repeal mask regulations on an emergency basis in June, and was set to finalize the decision this week, the State House News’ Katie Lannan reports. A vote on the guidance is now set for September, when members hope there will be a clearer understanding of the virus’ trajectory.

State House News Service

Ticking up: New COVID-19 outbreak reported in Mass. high security prison

More worrying data. State officials are monitoring an outbreak of COVID-19 cases in the state’s maximum security prison. In a report released this week, the state documented 29 new infections at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, WGBH’s Jenifer B. McKim reports. 

Another infection was reported at the Massachusetts Alcohol and Substance Abuse Center in Plymouth. The Department of Corrections did not report a single COVID-19 case in the state’s prisons in July.

WGBH

Just wear it: More school districts adopt mask mandates for fall

More mask mandates for students across the Bay State. The Worcester School Committee has unanimously approved requiring masks for all students, Scott O’Connell of the Telegram reports. In New Bedford, meanwhile, Kerri Tallman of the Standard-Times reports the school board was evenly divided over how to proceed, meaning the masking rule from last year remains in place. Also ordering masking: The state-run Holyoke school system, as reported by Dusty Christensen of the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

Northeastern University has also reversed course, now saying it will require all students to be masked up, regardless of vaccination status, Adam Gaffin of Universal Hub reports. 

Break over: It’s back to politics as unusual for Scott Brown

That’s enough of that. U.S. Sen. Scott Brown is turning his attention back to the political arena, ending his brief tenure as dean New England Law Boston so he can “help rebuild the Republican party.” 

Joshua Miller of the Globe, Erin Tiernan of the Herald and Benjamin Kail of MassLive report Brown has no immediate plans to run for office but is likely to use a still-active PAC he founded to help support other candidates–after he finishes touring with his rock band. 

Still, Alayna Treene of Axios reports that depending on how some dominoes fall, both the New Hampshire governor’s mansion and the state’s Senate seat that is up in 2022 could be targets for Brown, who has been a Granite State resident since shortly after losing his bid for re-election to Sen. Elizabeth Warren–and has already lost one Senate race up north.  

Brown certainly has a unique political resume, having represented a blue state in the Senate while being at least cozy enough with former President Trump to have scored a nearly four-year stint as ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa. 

Like-minded: SEC chief urges Warren to do something about crypto

He shouldn’t have to twist her arm too much. Count Security and Exchange Commission Chairman Gary Gensler among those who agree with U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren that Congress should give regulators more power to oversee cryptocurrency exchanges. In response to an earlier letter from Warren, Gensler said under current rules, investors “are not adequately protected” from “scams, fraud and abuse,” Stephanie Dhue of CNBC reports. 

CNBC

Rent control redux? Boston mayoral hopefuls have variety of fixes for housing crisis

Specifics, please. Adam Reilly of WGBH gets the candidates for Boston mayor to dish out some details about how they’d fix what they all agree is a major problem: The cost and scarcity of housing in the city. He finds a host of policy approaches, from capping rent increases to building on vacant city-owned property. 

Still a crisis: 1,000 opioid deaths first half of year

It’s taken a back seat, but it’s not gone away. State officials say 1,038 Bay State residents died of opioid overdoses in the first six months of the year, a modest 5 percent decrease from the same time last year, Katie Lannan of State House News Service reports. 

Not here: Holyoke rejects plan for Dunkin’ atop Mount Tom

Nope. The Holyoke Planning Board has rejected a proposal from Dunkin’ Donuts for a drive-through shop atop Mount Tom, Dusty Christensen of the Daily Hampshire Gazette reports. The decision comes after months of work and nine public hearings and most of the ‘no’ votes were driven by concerns about traffic and public safety. 

Build, baby, build: North Adams advances smart growth zoning

North Adams is poised to become the latest Berkshires community to embrace the state’s Chapter 40R smart growth zoning overlay, a move that would allow dense housing in two parts of the city in exchange for 20 percent of the housing built being set aside as affordable. Greta Jochem of the Berkshire Eagle has the details. 

Berkshire Eagle

Catching a lifeline: MBTA to snag $860 million in pandemic relief funds

The MBTA is set to collect $860 million in federal pandemic relief funds that will help the T maintain daily service and fund jobs while the pandemic drags on. The funds come from the nearly $30 billion earmarked for public transportation in the relief package signed into law by President Biden in March, the Associated Press reports. The funds will go towards filling in revenue shortfalls left behind by faltering ridership rates during the pandemic.

Associated Press

Bring it back: Legislators in Western Mass. pushing restoration of statewide eviction moratorium

Western Mass. legislators are throwing support behind the COVID Housing Equity Bill, which would effectively restore the state’s moratorium on evictions and foreclosures. Amid a surge in cases of the highly-infectious Delta variant, twenty legislators signed onto a letter Wednesday urging the Housing Committee to advance the legislation, MassLive’s Peter Goonan reports. The letter says more than 2,700 evictions have been filed in Western Mass. since the statewide eviction moratorium was lifted last October.

MassLive

Today’s Headlines

Metro

Dorchester Reporter partners with NBC10 for Sept. 8 mayoral debate – Dorchester Reporter

Most candidates a no-show for city council debate in Lynn – Lynn Item

Massachusetts

Public meeting on proposed machine gun range set for Aug. 26 in Falmouth – Cape Cod Times

Repeal of fireworks ban being pushed – Salem News

Former top city housing official jailed for alleged domestic violence after fraud conviction – Telegram & Gazette

Nation

Federal judge says Trump’s accountants must turn over tax records to House panel – Politico

Rand Paul discloses 16 months late that his wife bought stock in company behind covid treatment – Washington Post

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