Happening Today

ARPA funds hearing, local government advisory commission, and more

9 a.m. | Local Government Advisory Commission holds remote meeting, its first since the pandemic began. Agenda includes welcome remarks from chair Adam Chapdelaine and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, swearing-in of members and election of executive committee members, update on COVID-19 from HHS Secretary Marylou Sudders, and a discussion of the state budget and fiscal condition by A&F Secretary Michael Heffernan.

9 a.m. | Public Health Committee convenes a virtual public hearing to consider legislation that would allow terminally ill Massachusetts residents to acquire a prescription for a medication “to bring about a peaceful death.”

11 a.m. | Education, social equity, safety net, and families issues are the chosen focal areas for the next virtual public hearing convened by the Joint Committee on Ways and Means as lawmakers weigh how to spend the roughly $4.8 billion in American Rescue Plan Act funds state government has remaining.

1 p.m. | Structural Racism in the Massachusetts Probation Service Commission convenes its second virtual hearing, where members will hear testimony from the general public.

Today’s Stories

Rollins’ nomination hearing ends with deadlocked committee

Partisanship was on full display Thursday morning during a federal hearing to consider the nomination of Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins to serve as U.S. attorney for Massachusetts.

And depending on where you stand ideologically, you probably walked away with one of two views about who Rollins is and what her record of service shows: a “pro-criminal” and “radical” prosecutor or a seasoned veteran looking to reform the criminal justice system. Republicans argued the former, Democrats sided with the latter.

The end result of the hour-plus hearing was a deadlocked U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. Boston Globe’s Jim Puzzanghera reports that the vote was 11-11 — straight down party lines.

The tie doesn’t mean Rollins’ confirmation is dead in the water, but as Puzzanghera points out in his piece from yesterday, it “will seriously slow it, forcing Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to hold an additional vote by the full Senate just to bring up her nomination.” That vote, and her confirmation, only requires a simple majority.

Boston Herald’s Joe Dwinell has a minute-by-minute breakdown of the debate, which Republicans used to focus on a list of 15 low-level, non-violent crimes like drug possession, trespassing, or breaking and entering, that Rollins’ office mostly declines to prosecute.

Democrats rushed to her defense and pointed out the large swath of support Rollins has received from local politicians and law enforcement officials on both sides of the aisle.

There was also an opportunity Thursday to hear directly from Rollins hours after the committee vote at a Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce virtual event.

State House News Service’s Matt Murphy reports that Rollins said she “knew this was not going to be easy and that the work we’re doing here in Boston is scary to some people who are deeply invested in the status quo.”

Taken all together, today’s hearing was a slow-down but not a shut-down of Rollins’ path to the U.S. attorney’s office.

New Senate voting reform bill makes COVID-19 era measures permanent

Making mail-in voting and expanded early voting options permanent? Check. Same-day voter registration? Check. Those are some of the provisions included in a new elections reform bill Senate leaders unveiled Thursday morning that they plan to take up next week, reports State House News Service’s Chris Lisinski. The bill comes over two months before COVID-19 era voting measures are set to expire.

More from Lisinski: “The bill goes beyond enshrining changes already embraced on a temporary basis, allowing prospective voters to register for the first time or update their registration and cast a ballot on the same day, a change known as same-day registration.  It would also create new supports for voters with disabilities and impose additional requirements on correctional facilities to ensure the thousands of incarcerated residents still eligible to vote can access ballots.”

State House News Service

Smith & Wesson taking off to Tennessee

They’re moving out of Massachusetts. Smith & Wesson plans to move its headquarters and a number of its operations to Tennessee in 2023, reports MassLive’s Jim Kinney. The move comes in response to a proposed law that would ban the company from making assault-style weapon and certain handguns in the state. Smith & Wesson plans to lay off 550 workers in the area.


Hundreds of workers could leave Mass. hospitals as vax deadlines approach

Hundred of employees could leave Massachusetts hospitals as COVID-19 vaccine mandate deadlines loom on the horizon. Boston Business Journal’s Jessica Bartlett reports that those deadlines range from Oct. 1 to Nov. 1 and that at Mass General Brigham, about 5,000 workers have still not submitted proof vaccination which only accounts for 7 percent of the hospital’s workforce.

At Wellforce, Bartlett reports, the parent company of Tufts Medical Center and Lowell General Hospital, 97 percent of their 12,000 employees were vaccinated ahead of a Oct. 1 deadline. At Beth Israel Lahey Health, 91 percent of their 36,000 employees have summitted proof of vaccination ahead of the Oct. 31 deadline.

Boston Business Journal

No room? Spilka casts doubt on Senate taking up sports betting bill this fall

Their agenda is full and sports betting might not make the cut. Senate President Karen Spilka lays out her fall priorities for Chris Lisinski of State House News Service and admits that as of now a House-approved bill legalizing sports betting is not near the top of the list of things to do. Spilka said spending ARPA funds and approving new legislative districts are top priorities and that whether betting gets a vote will depend on the Senate’s available ‘bandwidth.’

State House News Service

DOT employees may face suspension if they’re unvaccinated by deadline

Department of Transportation employees who still have not received a vaccination by Oct. 17 will face a suspension for up to 15 days before being terminated, MassLive’s Will Katcher reports. Gov. Charlie Baker’s executive branch COVID-19 vaccine mandate goes into effect that same day in October.

More from Katcher: “In a message sent to the state’s transportation department staff Wednesday afternoon, Jamey Tesler, the agency’s secretary and CEO, and his leadership team said that employees would need to prove full vaccination or receive an exemption by Oct. 17 to avoid suspension.”


No change: After week of political pressure, St. Vincent Hospital ‘reaffirms’ position

Thanks for the input. Despite a week of pressure from state and city leaders to end the six-month-long nurses strike, St. Vincent Hospital is reiterating that it is well within its rights to move forward with plans to permanently replace striking employees — and says the Mass. Nurses Association’s own guidelines make that clear. The Telegram’s Cyrus Moulton has the details.

Telegram & Gazette

Connecticut sports betting goes live

Sports betting is starting up in another New England state. State House News Service’s Colin A. Young reports that residents of Connecticut can place bets on their favorite sports team as of Thursday. That means every state bordering Massachusetts except Vermont has legalized the activity.

State House News Service

Getting heard: Supreme Court to take up Boston City Hall flag case

The U.S. Supreme Court will take up the case of a Boston man who has been trying to get City Hall to fly a Christian flag since 2017, Josh Gerstein of Politico reports. An appeals court ruled unanimously in January that the city could refuse Hal Shurtleff’s request that a Christian flag be displayed, but the highest court’s new conservative majority could see the case as a chance to expand religious rights.


From WBUR and GBH radio waves

Missed today’s radio shows? No worries, here’s a rundown of some of the interesting conversation that occurred on WBUR and GBH programs.

From GBH’s “Boston Public Radio:” Boston mayoral candidate Annissa Essaibi George is ramping up criticism on rival candidate Michelle Wu. Listen to (or read) Essaibi George’s conversation with host Jim Braude here.

On WBUR’s “Radio Boston:” More on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing yesterday morning and Rachael Rollins’ path to become the next U.S. attorney for Massachusetts. WBUR’s Deborah Becker and New York Times Magazine report Emily Bazelon offer their analysis on the situation.

Proposal announced to develop offshore wind port in Salem

Over 40 acres of land around Salem Harbor Footprint would turn into an offshore wind port under a deal announced by Vineyard Wind and Crowley Maritime Corporation. Salem News’ Dustin Luca reports that the port would become the second major offshore wind port.

Salem News

No thanks: Saugus states opposition to Boston’s Methadone Mile plan

Leave us out of it, too. Elected officials and residents alike in Saugus are making it clear they are opposed to a plan floated by the city of Boston to relocate homeless people sheltering in tent cities around the Methadone Mile to a hotel on the Revere/Saugus line, Sam Minton of the Lynn Item reports. Officials say they’ve not heard from Boston counterparts about the idea and residents and local police are worried the surge of relocated residents would overtax local services.

Lynn Item

Sunday public affairs TV: Julian Cyr, Boston mayoral race analysis, and more

Keller at Large, WBZ-TV Ch. 4, 8:30 a.m. Boston mayoral race analysis with Bill Forry and Gin Dumcius of the Dorchester Reporter. Topics include Acting Boston Mayor Kim Janey’s endorsement of Michelle Wu and Annissa Essaibi George’s potential path to victory.

This Week in Business, NECN, Sunday, 10 a.m. This week’s topic: The course is the same, but everything else is different, says Boston Athletic Association CEO Tom Grilk. John Hancock CEO Marianne Harrison on the Boston Marathon and the company’s pandemic pivot. Plus, The Boston Globe’s Shirley Leung on the business of Tom Brady’s return to Foxboro, the future of the MBTA ,and the legacy of Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren.

On The Record, WCVB-TV Ch. 5, Sunday, 11 a.m. Guest: Sen. Julian Cyr, a Truro Democrat, talks with hosts Ed Harding and Sharman Sacchetti followed by a political roundtable discussion with analysts Mary Anne Marsh and Virginia Buckingham.

CityLine, WCVB-TV, Ch. 5 Sunday 12 p.m., This week’s topic: The nonprofit Boston Black News and The Boston Globe are teaming up to broadcast ‘The Black News Hour’ a new radio program focused on telling the stories of the black community. The Globe’s Senior Assistant Managing Editor Greg Lee and Globe reporter Meghan Irons join us to share plans for the initiative.

Today’s Headlines


Boston Police Accountability Panel Scraps First Public Meeting, Reschedules It For Next Week – WGBH

Allston I-90 price tag $400M higher than in Nov. – CommonWealth Magazine


Barnstable County Sheriff Jim Cummings announces his retirement after 24 years – Cape Cod Times

Amherst school district to require student COVID-19 vaccines – Associated Press

Rats! This problem just won’t go away in Attleboro, beyond – Sun Chronicle


House Democrats delay planned vote on $1 trillion infrastructure bill amid dispute between party moderates and liberals – Washington Post

Maine, Nebraska remain Electoral College battlegrounds after redistricting – Politico

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