Informal sessions, SJC meets, and more
7:30 a.m. | National Association of State Personnel Executives holds its annual meeting, which runs through Wednesday, at the Omni Parker House.
9 a.m. | Lawmakers, gubernatorial candidates, and voting rights advocates rally outside the State House to call for greater reforms to ensure eligible incarcerated people can exercise their right to vote in correctional facilities. Speakers will include Sen. Adam Hinds, Rep. Liz Miranda, and two Democrats seeking the gubernatorial nomination: Harvard University professor Danielle Allen and former Sen. Ben Downing
9 a.m. | Several cases are scheduled to come before the Supreme Judicial Court on the first day of its October sitting.
10:15 a.m. | Boston mayoral candidate Michelle Wu announces a new endorsement from an elected officials, according to her campaign.
11 a.m. | House and Senate hold informal sessions.
Here are two things to keep on your radar this week
Good Monday morning. Here are two important events to keep on your radar this week: the final legislative hearing on American Rescue Plan Act funds and a debate in the Senate on voting reform legislation.
ARPA FUNDS: The state received about $5 billion in ARPA funds and over the course of the summer and into the fall, lawmakers have been holding public meetings to hear from stakeholders on how to best spend the money. The last one of those public hearings is scheduled for Tuesday at 11 a.m.
Boston Globe’s Matt Stout writes that leaders in the House and Senate say they’re still discussing exactly how to spend the money but decisions could be made soon.
And this comes as the Legislature is moving into a six-week period of legislating that is supposed to wrap up in mid-November, though anything leftover will carry into 2022.
VOTING REFORM: Senators plan to take up a bill that looks to keep COVID-19 era voting provisions in place. Senate leadership unveiled the bill last week, heralding it as a way to push back against more restrictive laws passed in other parts of the country.
The bill, State House News Service’s Chris Lisinski reported, would make permanent mail-in voting and expanded early voting options, as well as institute same-day voter registration and create new supports for voters with disabilities.
Lawmakers in the Senate have until 2 p.m. this afternoon to file amendments to the legislation. It remains to be seen how apt the House is to take up the bill this fall.
Berkshire County could lose one House seat in redistricting
With draft maps of new House and Senate districts expected to be released soon, Berkshire Eagle’s Danny Jin reports that Berkshire County is likely to see its four House seats cut to three in the process as a result of population loss.
“With the numbers we have, we just couldn’t hold on any longer in justifying four Berkshire seats, and it shouldn’t be a surprise,” Pittsfield Democrat Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier told the Eagle. Farley-Bouvier serves on the Legislature’s Redistricting Committee.
Employers’ costs for paid-leave program set to go down
Employer costs for Massachusetts’ paid-leave program will lower next year, the Baker administration said Friday. Boston Business Journal’s Greg Ryan writes that’s despite the fact that workers will be eligible to receive more in benefits as a result of rising wages.
Opioid settlement money slated to be used for harm reduction
Some decisions have been made about how to spend funds from legal settlements associated with the opioid crisis. WBUR’s Deborah Becker reports that the Opioid Recovery and Remediation Fund Advisory Council signed off on a plan to use about $10 million for harm reduction. That includes, among other things, providing safe supplies to active drug users, increasing access to methadone, providing supportive housing, and increasing community outreach.
From Boston, with whistle: Facebook whistleblower has local ties
The former Facebook executive who has turned over thousands of pages of internal documents to regulators and the media she says demonstrate that the social media company chose profits over public safety has Boston ties, Nick Stoico of the Globe reports. Frances Haugen studied at both the Olin School of Engineering in Needham and at Harvard Business School, coached a high school debate team and was even quoted in a 2003 story about the heartbreaking end of that Red Sox season.
Coalition seeks $1 billion for small businesses
Speaking of the ARPA hearing later this week, a coalition representing entrepreneurs of color is urging the Legislature to allocate $1 billion in stimulus funds to help small businesses owned by people of color or located in lower-income areas. Boston Globe’s Jon Chesto reports that pretty much all of that money would come from the state’s share of American Rescue Plan Act dollars.
More people weighing in on nurses’ strike in Worcester
A number of voices are starting to join the conversation. Telegram & Gazette’s Cyrus Moulton reports that after a week which saw more people weigh in on the nurses’ strike at St. Vincent Hospital, hospital docs are backing CEO Carolyn Jackson while United Healthcare Workers East union is getting behind the nurses. This comes as negotiations remain at an impasse.
More from Moulton: “While initially focused on staffing levels, the negotiations remain at a standstill over a return-to-work agreement. Nurses wanted a provision that would enable them to return to their old jobs; the hospital said it would not displace permanent replacement nurses that it had hired, although all striking nurses would be guaranteed a job.”
Weighing in: Pressley endorses Wu as mayoral race hits home stretch
With less than a month to go before Boston voters choose the city’s next mayor, U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley’s endorsement of City Councilor Michelle Wu could be a game-changer by lending Wu immediate progressive bona fides and a key inroad with Black voters, who many believe could decide the race. Michael Jonas of CommonWealth and the Globe’s Meghan Irons have the details.
Going shopping: Swansea seeks $5M to move town offices to empty mall
Plenty of free parking. Voters in Swansea will be asked to approve a $5 million plan at next month’s town meeting that would fund the consolidation of town offices currently spread across three locations into a single stop shop at the mostly vacant Swansea Mall, Audrey Cooney of the Herald-News reports.
Judge refuses to rule against exam school admissions policy in Boston
Denied. For the second time, a federal judge decided not to rule against a new admissions policy used at Boston’s exam schools intended to increase diversity. Boston Herald’s Marie Szaniszlo reports that District Judge William Young issued a 55-page ruling which said the “Supreme Court has explained that the motive of increasing minority participation and access is … not suspect.”
More from Szaniszlo: “But Young’s decision also comes two months after the judge, in a move unprecedented for him, withdrew his initial opinion, which had ruled in favor of a zip-code-based temporary exam school admissions policy, saying the district ‘misled’ him by leaving out text message records that included racially charged messages.”
Saved: Scituate Coast Guard station won’t be closed after pushback from residents, pols
The U.S. Coast Guard says it is moving away from plans to shutter its station in Scituate following outcry from local residents and a concerted campaign from local, state, and national leaders, who said the outpost is needed to keep the local waters safe amid a pandemic surge in boating traffic, Mary Whitfill of the Patriot Ledger reports.
Cape and Islanders in line for flood insurance rate increase
Nearly two-third of Cape and Island property owners will see their flood insurance rates rise. WCAI’s Eve Zuckoff reports that new data from the Federal Emergency Management Agency shows 54 percent of Cape and Islanders insured through the National Flood Insurance Program will see an increases of up to $10 a month.
More from Zuckoff: “Another 6 percent will see increases of up to $20 per month, or $240 all at once, and roughly 4 percent will see increases of more than $20 a month. About 35 percent of locals will see their bills decrease.”
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