Happening Today

9 a.m. | Massport Authority Board meets to hear updates on fiscal year 2021 audited financial statements, ground transportation, and safety and security. Airport workers and elected officials plan to testify during the meeting in support of raises for airline workers.

10 a.m. | Committee on Covid-19 and Emergency Preparedness and Management, Public Health Committee and Education Committee hold a joint oversight hearing on children’s COVID-19 vaccines and testing, with testimony expected from the Baker administration and other invited speakers.

10 a.m. | Renters and homeowners facing eviction and foreclosure hold a rally outside the State House organized by Homes For All Massachusetts in support of legislation that reinstitutes a temporary ban on evictions and requires landlords to exhaust all assistance options before pursuing a COVID-related eviction.

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11 a.m. | Senate meets in a formal session planning to take up legislation outlining genocide education in Massachusetts and another bill related to professional licensure and schooling for Bay State military families.

11 a.m. | House meets in a formal session with roll call votes starting after 1 p.m. On the agenda: establishing House district boundaries based on the 2020 Census data. House Democrats plan to caucus at noon.

Today’s Stories

House takes up district maps

The decennial process of drawing new political boundaries in Massachusetts takes another step forward today.

House lawmakers gather in a formal session later this morning to vote on district maps for all 160 representative seats. It’s a been months-long process that’s had elected officials distill delayed census data into what they say are new districts that focus on lifting minority representation.

The House met in a brief session Wednesday morning where they gave initial approval to their maps that include changes to majority-minority districts around Framingham and New Bedford. State House News Service’s Matt Murphy reported that the revised House maps would bump up the number of majority-minority districts from 20 to 33.

And at least one lawmaker was quick to suggest changes to the several districts. House Minority Leader Brad Jones, who represents the 20th Middlesex, filed two amendments to the bill relative to the 1st, 2nd, and 14th Essex districts.

On the Senate side, Democratic leaders said they’ll most likely wait until next week to take up proposed districts to allow members more time to suggest changes. But unlike the Senate, the House is working on deadline — candidates looking to run for House seats have a Nov. 8 deadline to reside in the district they hope to run for.

Recorded votes in the House start at 1 p.m. and you can watch the session here.

Green light on for pre-ordering pediatric COVID vaccines

They’ve got the green light. Hospitals and doctors all across the state can start pre-ordering COVID vaccines for kids 5-11 years old. Boston Business Journal’s Jessica Bartlett reports that vaccines could arrive before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gives final approval for their recommendation.

More from Bartlett: “While pre-ordering is being done through the state, practices will eventually be able to order vaccines directly from the federal government, as is the case for boosters.”

Boston Business Journal

Cruz wants new ports of entry in Massachusetts

A Texas congressman wants to open up new ports of entry for immigrants in more liberal cities including three in Massachusetts. Boston Herald’s Erin Tiernan reports that U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz is proposing the legislation in an effort to make Democrats deal with a surge of immigration at the southern border.

More from Tiernan: “Cruz’s so-called ‘Stop the SURGE’ Act calls for 13 new ports of entry to be established by the Department of Homeland Security where illegal immigrants entering the United States from Texas would be transferred for processing … The plan fails to address how the feds would transport immigrants from the southern border, or cover the cost of opening new port.”

Boston Herald

McConnell: Rollins is ‘soft on crime’

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell cast Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins as “soft on crime” during a floor speech Tuesday in which the Kentucky Republican also went after Democratic policies and the Biden administration. 

Boston Globe’s Amanda Kaufman reports that McConnell also said “Rollins wants her county to be a place where these crimes get free passes.” The comments comes as Rollins is currently under consideration to become the next United States attorney for Massachusetts.

Boston Globe

Feeling ‘very positive’ in Washington

Federal Democrats are feeling “very positive” about negotiations over two spending bills focused on infrastructure, social services, and climate change. State House News Service’s Matt Murphy reports that top Democrats, including Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark, spoke to reporters Wednesday and focused on the need to support child care.

State House News Service

Chang-Diaz picks up 13 more endorsements

More endorsements just came through for Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz. Boston Herald’s Erin Tiernan reports that 13 state and local lawmakers backed Chang-Diaz in her bid to become governor in the 2022 race. State House News Service’s Katie Lannan reports that Sen. Adam Gomez, one of the elected officials endorsing Chang-Diaz, praised her “track record for delivering for Massachusetts families.”

Try, try again: Hall launches another bid for Congress in 4th District

Is a rematch brewing? Former Attleboro City Councilor Julie Hall says she’ll make another bid for the 4th Congressional District seat in Congress, setting up a possible rerun of the 2020 election that saw the Republican lose to U.S. Rep. Jake Auchincloss by more than 20 points, George Rhodes of the Sun Chronicle reports.

Sun Chronicle

Who qualifies for a COVID vaccine exemption under the state worker mandate?

Who can get a religious exemption from the COVID vaccine under the state worker mandate? MassLive’s Benjamin Kail dives into the needed qualifications as hundreds of state employees and contractors are looking for an exemption.

MassLive

Leveling the field: Amherst College drops legacy admissions advantage

Amherst College says it will no longer give an advantage in admissions decisions to children of alumni, saying that ending the legacy privilege will help open the door to a top-flight education to a broader pool of candidates. The Daily Hampshire Gazette’s Scott Merzbach reports the move comes as the college also expands its financial aid offerings to incoming students.

Daily Hampshire Gazette

Bills propose tax on sugary drinks, doubles alcohol tax

That pint or soft drink after work could cost a little more under two proposed bills under consideration at the state level. MassLive’s Will Katcher reports that Rep. Kay Khan is looking to double the state’s excise tax on alcohol and proposes a new tax on drinks high in sugar. The new taxes could net $435 million in revenue to fund public health programs.

MassLive

Not so fast: Swansea delays move of town offices to vacant mall

A $5 million plan to transform part of the Swansea Mall into town hall offices is being shelved for the time being because of legal issues surrounding access to the property, Audrey Cooney of the Herald-News reports.

Herald News

Course reversal: North Brookfield school board retains Indian mascot after all

New board, new result. The North Brookfield School Committee voted to rescind its earlier decision to replace the district’s Indian mascot, Kim Ring of the Telegram reports. The reversal comes after a change in board membership and a non-binding town meeting vote to make the Indian the entire town’s official mascot.

Telegram & Gazette

Today’s Headlines

Metro

UMass Memorial fuels new health program with $1 million donation to city – Telegram & Gazette

One of the Seaport’s last public parking lots could be replaced by life-sciences labs and a STEM training center – Universal Hub

Boston City Council votes to relax parking rules for affordable housing – Boston Globe

Massachusetts

Mental Health Treatment Is A Key Component To Mass. Pandemic Recovery, Baker Says – GBH News

Only 100 COVID cases linked to 2021 Big E, West Springfield public health director says – MassLive

Nation

All eyes on Manchin after Republicans again block voting rights legislation – Washington Post

Trump announces new social media network called ‘TRUTH Social’ – The Hill

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