Keller at Large

Keller: Can Marty Walsh Go Home Again?

On this week’s Keller at Large, Jon Keller explores former Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s connection to Boston and whether or not he has really left at all. Keller’s take: “And the word out of D.C., where the Biden people chafed a bit at his hesitancy to take the Labor job in the first place, is that he’d better make up his mind fast. Walsh isn’t talking about it publicly. But the arguments for and against a gubernatorial run are not opaque.”


Happening Today

10 a.m. | Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency holds first of two webinars for nonprofits and government agencies on how they may be eligible to recoup costs related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

10 a.m. | Judiciary Committee holds a hearing to accept testimony on dozens of bills that deal with sex offenders and domestic violence.

1 p.m. | Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy Committee holds a virtual hearing dedicated to solar legislation.

1 p.m. |  Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Committee holds a hearing focused mostly on forestry and “administrative infrastructure.”

2 p.m. | Community Development and Small Businesses Committee holds a hearing on nine pieces of legislation dealing with economic development.

Today’s Stories

Advocates say new law could threaten egg supply should it go into effect

Do you like your eggs scrambled or fried? How about served up in an omelet? Fancy them poached? Those all sound pretty good to us.

But the idea that egg prices could soar in less than a month does not. That’s what industry leaders and animal welfare advocates are warning could happen unless legislators change a 2016 voter-approved ballot question that set standards for hen enclosures and treatment of animals used to produce eggs, pork, and veal.

Why is this important now? Well, lawmakers are working against the clock to update a law that is scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2022. If no change is made, some say egg supply in Massachusetts could run short and your favorite breakfast meal could cost a pretty penny more.

The 2016 law requires hen enclosures to have at least 1.5 square feet of floor space per bird, reported State House News Service’s Chris Lisinski. Industry standards have shifted since the ballot question passed and should those criteria take effect, egg producers say Massachusetts would have stricter standards than most other states and suppliers would likely be in non-compliance.

A proposed fix to the ballot question would require 1 square foot of floor space per hen in multi-tiered aviaries. The House and Senate versions of the bill differ on enforcement measures and a start date for a ban on pork acquired from pigs living in cruel enclosures.

Six lawmakers are currently negotiating the differences and time is running out to update the law. The House voted to approve their version in October while the Senate took action on theirs in June.

It almost sounds like an intro to a cheesy movie: Six lawmakers are running up against time to determine the fate of the egg industry in Massachusetts. Will they succeed?

Free COVID-19 tests and masks for at-risk Boston communities

If you live in one of the Boston communities with higher rates of COVID you may be in line for free rapid antigen home tests and masks. Boston Globe’s Sahar Fatima reports that Mayor Michelle Wu on Monday announced the move alongside members of a new COVID-19 advisory committee, which will be chaired by Boston Public Health Commission Executive Director Dr. Bisola Ojikutu.

Boston Herald’s Erin Tiernan reports that Wu also said “everthing is on the table” after Omicron was detected in Massachusetts over the weekend and the winter holidays quickly approach.

ARPA bill allocates money for offshore wind upgrades in Boston

Offshore wind investments are bountiful these days and the billions in federal dollars that have come to the state have allowed officials to build up infrastructure. Boston Business Journal’s Greg Ryan reports that the state’s American Rescue Plan Act bill makes clear that Boston will receive money to rehabilitate a berth and pier on the South Boston waterfront to allow a terminal to service the wind energy industry.

More from Ryan: “It’s part of the $90 million that lawmakers have reserved for offshore wind and port infrastructure development. However, the Boston project is the only one mentioned specifically in the legislation itself.”

Boston Business Journal

Comeback trail? Wilkerson considering bid to return to state Senate

Former state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson tells the Dorchester Reporter’s Gintautas Dumcius she will decide soon whether to run for elected office again now that Sonia Chang-Diaz is pursuing a gubernatorial bid. Wilkerson, who made history back in the 1990s as the first Black woman to serve in the state Senate, lost a primary to Chang-Diaz in 2008 and just weeks later pleaded guilty to public corruption charges.

Dorchester Reporter

Mass General Brigham CEO urges vaccinations, masks after Omicron found in Mass.

For Mass General Brigham CEO Dr. Anne Klibanski, vaccines and masks are of paramount importance now that the COVID-19 Omicron variant has been detected in Massachusetts. State House News Service’s Katie Lannan reports that advice for the public is the same: mask up, get a shot if you haven’t already, and seek out boosters.

More from Lannan: “[Klibanski] said there is a difference between transmissibility — how easily the virus spreads — and how pathogenic it is, or how likely it is that a person will get sick. ‘We know that this particular variant is highly transmissible, i.e. it is highly contagious, so it will likely take over,’ Klibanski said.”

State House News Service

What’s next for superintendent search in Worcester?

Worcester officials named members to a search committee tasked with finding a new school superintendent after the city’s School Committee did not renew Maureen Binienda’s contract. Telegram & Gazette’s Henry Schwan has more details on the 17 members of the committee and how the process to pick the next head of schools will play out.

Telegram & Gazette

Balancing act: Worcester fills short-term gaps as Polar Park caps first year

Brad Kane takes a deep dive into the pandemic-impacted first-year finances of Worcester’s Polar Park and finds some short-term issues but a better outlook for the long run, along with this nugget: A parcel of land the city bought — begrudgingly — during planning for the stadium for $10 was recently flipped to a developer for $3 million.

Worcester Business Journal

Not now: Pilgrim owner won’t discharge radioactive water into Cape Cod Bay in ‘22

They’re not ruling it out down the road, but for now Holtec International says it will shelve a plan to discharge as much as 1 million gallons of radioactive water from the decommissioned Pilgrim Nuclear Plant into Cape Cod Bay while it considers alternatives — but the option remains on the table for the future. Doug Fraser of the Cape Cod Times has the details.

Cape Cod Times

Unionization efforts underway at three Somerville coffee shops

A unionization effort is starting up at three coffee shops in Somerville. GBH News’ Tori Bedford reports that a committee of 11 employees sought voluntary recognition of their organizing with New England Joint Board UNITE HERE. The three coffee shops are Diesel Cafe, Bloc Cafe, and Forge Baking Company.

More from Bedford: “Management can recognize the union voluntarily or push the effort to a vote conducted by the National Labor Relations Board. [Co-owner Jennifer] Park did not say whether management will immediately recognize the union, but said that owners are ‘doing our best to dive in and learn the process and terminology as quickly as possible,’ and are ‘committed to making our workplace the best place it can be for our staff,’ in an email to GBH News on Monday.”

GBH News

Massachusetts to receive $188M to update drinking water systems

We’ve been talking a lot about the effects American Rescue Plan Act dollars will have on Massachusetts, and rightly so. But there’s another piece of federal legislation that is sending a windfall of federal money to the state. 

Eagle-Tribune’s Christian M. Wade reports that the $1 trillion federal infrastructure bill President Biden signed last month includes more than $50 billion for states to upgrade drinking and wastewater systems. Of that, Massachusetts is in line to receive $188 million to help remove, lead, “forever chemicals,” and contamination from drinking water systems.


Off the hook: Indiana job means UMass won’t pay fired football coach

Thanks, Hoosiers. Former UMass Amherst football coach Walt Bell has landed an assistant’s job with the University of Indiana, a position that pays enough to trigger a clause erasing more than $900,000 worth of payments Bell had coming from UMass over the next two years, Matt Vautour of MassLive reports.


Snow expected across the state this week

The famous words of a fictional house may come true this week: Winter is coming. So are snow falls. MassLive’s Will Katcher reports that snow is likely to fall this week all across the state, though temperatures may be too high for any of it to stick around. The National Weather Service is predicting some snow falls today in Springfield and Worcester.  

(And yes, this is the second time we’ve used that phrase in the past three weeks. One of us is re-reading “Game of Thrones.”)


Today’s Headlines


‘We have a mandate’: Boston leaders hear arguments for elected School Committee after voters backed it in November – Boston Globe

Lynn mayor-elect Nicholson to resign from Northeastern job h – Lynn Item


‘Ironclad’ protection: Federal landmark designation sought for Nantucket Sound – Cape Cod Times

Smith College mandates booster shots by Jan. 21 – Daily Hampshire Gazette


SEC Is Investigating Trump’s Social Media Venture – Forbes

Google and Uber delay office returns amid omicron uncertainty – Washington Post

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