8:30 a.m. | U.S. Sen. Ed Markey is the keynote speaker for the second day of the American Clean Power Association’s Offshore WINDPOWER Conference & Exhibition Omni Boston Seaport Hotel.
10 a.m. | Cannabis Control Commission meets and is expected to return to the discussion started last month about its list of disproportionately-impacted areas and whether Lawrence should be added.
10 a.m. | Transportation Committee holds a hearing on bills related to bicycles and pedestrians, mainly focusing on road safety.
11 a.m. | House holds an informal session and Senate meets without a calendar.
3:15 p.m. | U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Hillman will preside over a hearing on the motion filed by the Massachusetts Correction Officers Federated Union seeking a preliminary injunction to block Gov. Baker from enforcing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for executive branch employees.
Boston mayoral candidates face off in televised debate
With only weeks until Boston’s mayoral election, candidates Michelle Wu and Annissa Essaibi George took to the airwaves to face off in the first one-on-one televised debate of the race where they covered everything from housing to public safety and schools to the opioid crisis in the city.
The forum comes just after a new poll from the MassINC Polling Group showed Wu with a 32-point lead over Essaibi George. The televised affair was painted as a way for Essaibi George to potentially make up ground by addressing voters directly.
Boston Globe’s Danny McDonald and Milton J. Valencia report that Essaibi George presented herself as a candidate with more experience working at the neighborhood level who has received backing from city workers and went after Wu on housing and policing.
One of the more contentious moments of the debate came when Essaibi George took aim at Wu on rent control after Wu said the city should partner with smaller landlords to prevent evictions, reports Boston Herald’s Sean Philip Cotter.
“Michelle does not believe in the power of that small landlord,” Essaibi George said. Wu defended by saying residents support rent control and that they “shouldn’t listen to scare tactics around what our residents need right now.”
CommonWealth’s Michael Jonas reports that the two candidates seemed to be aligned in talking about addressing issues like homelessness, addiction, and ensuring all Boston Public Schools have equal access to resources.
Missed the debate last night? CBS Boston has portions of the debate on their YouTube channel.
Supreme Court hears arguments on reinstating death penalty for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev
How much sway did Tamerlan Tsarnaev have over his younger brother Dzhokhar in the time leading up the Boston Marathon bombings and did a federal appeals court mistakenly throw out Dzhokhar’s death sentence? Those were some of the questions Supreme Court justices considered during a hearing Wednesday on whether or not to reinstate Dzhokhar’s death sentence, reports Boston Globe’s Shelley Murphy and Travis Andersen.
Associated Press’ Mark Sherman reports that the court’s six conservative justices seemed open to embracing the Biden administration’s argument to resentence Dzhokhar to death while the three liberal justices appeared opposed.
They’re at an impasse
Officials at St. Vincent Hospital declared that no further progress could be made in negotiations to resolve a more than seven-month long nurses’ strike. Telegram & Gazette’s Cyrus Moulton reports that the hospital declared an impasse, meaning it can implement its last offer those working inside the hospital. The Massachusetts Nurses Association claimed the action was illegal and wouldn’t have an effect on the strike.
New direction: In strategy shift, Baker seeks $750 million for offshore wind
Gov. Charlie Baker plans to push lawmakers to set aside $750 million to boost the offshore wind industry, a move meant to position the Bay State at the forefront of a soon-to-boom industry and one that Bruce Mohl of CommonWealth reports represents a shift in thinking from the governor on the state’s role in growing the sector.
‘Very good trend’
One of Massachusetts’ top health officials said she’s seeing a “very good trend” in COVID-19 data for the state. State House News Service’s Katie Lannan reports that Acting Public Health Commissioner Margret Cooke said COVID-19 hospitalizations have been dropping, case counts are decreasing, and vaccination rates continue to increase.
Population shifts are changing voting patterns in Boston
Changing demographics in traditionally Irish and Italian American Boston neighborhoods could signify an end to those areas’ dominance and shift the power in the upcoming mayoral election, Bay State Banner’s Yawu Miller reports.
More from Miller: “In past election cycles, Boston’s predominantly Irish and Italian-American neighborhoods have dominated local politics, but in this year’s race, changing demographics in South Boston, Dorchester and other traditionally high-turnout, white working-class enclaves could spell an end to those areas’ dominance.”
Boston employees on unpaid leave work in five ‘public facing’ departments
The 812 city of Boston employees who were placed on unpaid leave after missing a deadline for getting vaccinated or agreeing to regular COVID-19 testing work in five “public facing” departments. Boston Globe’s John R. Ellement and Jenna Russell report the departments are Boston Public Schools, Boston Public Libraries, Boston Center for Youth and Families, the Disability Commission, and the Age Strong Commission.
House passes $300 million supplemental budget
A $300 million bill closing out the books on fiscal year 2021 doesn’t include funding to pay down state debt related to unemployment insurance claims, reports Boston Business Journal’s Greg Ryan and Steph Solis.
More from the BBJ duo: “The legislation, which the House introduced and passed Wednesday, means that businesses will need to look for other paths to relief from UI costs that have increased significantly during the pandemic. The bill now goes to the Senate for review.”
Picture time? Lawmakers mull greenlighting red-light cameras
Is it time? Christian Wade of the Salem News reports the Legislature’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee heard testimony Wednesday on several bills that would follow the lead of two dozen other states and authorize the use of cameras to issue red-light violations to drivers. Supporters say the moves wouldn’t be about revenue — one bill caps fines at $25 — but about making the roads safer for all.
‘Toxic:’ East Longmeadow loses town manager to harsh political climate
Add her to the list. East Longmeadow Town Manager Mary McNally has resigned, citing a “toxic” political environment and interference with her daily duties that have created an “intolerable” work environment. Patrick Johnson of MassLive has the details.
Taking a look at draft maps and Western Massachusetts
Following up on the release of draft redistricting maps, Western Mass Politics & Insight’s Matt Szafranski dives deep into changes potentially coming to 413. House maps propose having four Springfield-heavy seats but only one suburban district as opposed to two and on the Senate side, the Berkshire-based district reaches further east.
More from Szafranski: “In the 413, the process may have delivered as well as it could. With population declining or otherwise not keeping pace with the commonwealth overall, losses in representation became inevitable. Political shifts may have paved over some issues. Other challenges seemingly came to resolution. Diverse districts endure under the proposed maps and the broader region’s overall losses is a rep seat.”
Stressful times: Mayor blames Covid for surge of violence in Lawrence schools
He gets it. Lawrence Mayor Kendrys Vasquez says anxiety around the pandemic and a full year of missed in-person education is behind a surge in violent incidents in the city’s schools, including two arrests and a recent assault on a teacher trying to break up an altercation, Jill Harmacinski of the Eagle-Tribune reports.
Meanwhile, a half-dozen extra police officers have been added to the security protocols at Brockton High after a student brought a gun to school last week, Darvence Chery of the Enterprise reports.
Sen. Adam Hinds officially launches LG bid
After news broke last night that Sen. Adam Hinds planned to announce his bid for lieutenant governor, the Pittsfield Democrat officially launched his campaign Wednesday morning in front of Pittsfield City Hall. Berkshire Eagle’s Danny Jin reports that Hinds says he will focus his campaign on addressing inequalities that have grown as a result of the pandemic. Another legislative colleague, Rep. Tami Gouveia, is also running for the post.
And there’s already an endorsement in the race: Sen. Adam Gomez formally backed Hinds’ bid hours after the official announcement, reports MassLive’s Peter Goonan.
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