Happening Today

10:30 a.m. | U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee and Rep. Jesus Garcia of Illinois hold a press conference to introduce their Forbidding Airlines from Imposing Ridiculous (FAIR) Fees Act, which Markey’s office said would prohibit airlines from charging fees “that are not reasonable and proportional to the costs of the services actually provided.”

11 a.m. | Financial Services Committee holds a virtual hearing on legislation dealing with auto and health insurance.

11 a.m. | House holds an informal session and Senate meets without a calendar.

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12 p.m. | Transportation Secretary Jamey Tesler delivers a keynote address to cap off MassDOT’s three-day virtual 2021 Moving Together Conference.

1 p.m. | Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency holds the second of two webinars for nonprofits and government agencies on how they may be able to recoup costs related to the pandemic.

Today’s Stories

Senate confirms Rachael Rollins as U.S. attorney for Massachusetts

Gov. Charlie Baker will have a chance to pick a new interim Suffolk County district attorney as he plans his exit route from the State House’s executive office.

After weeks of delay and contentious arguments, the Senate confirmed Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins to serve as the next U.S. attorney for Massachusetts, making her the first Black woman to serve in the role.

“I’m deeply honored and humbled by the opportunity to serve my community, my Commonwealth and my country as the next United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts,” Rollins said in a statement after the vote. “Every policy and initiative that I have put in place as Suffolk County District Attorney has been designed to improve the safety and wellbeing of the communities I serve, to improve the public’s trust in law enforcement and our courts and to improve the fairness and equity of the criminal legal system.”

As much of the process has been for Rollins, the day had a few dramatic moments. Boston Globe’s Jim Puzzanghera reports that Vice President Kamala Harris had to make her way to Capitol Hill twice on Wednesday to break 50-50 ties — once on a procedural motion to advance the nomination and a second time on the confirmation vote.

Rollins’ nomination process took an unusual route. Typically, U.S. attorney nominees are confirmed unanimously with little to no debate. But for Rollins, a deadlocked Judiciary Committee and heated arguments on the Senate floor led to a narrow confirmation vote.

Boston Herald’s Sean Philip Cotter reports that Republicans focused on Rollins’ progressive background and sought to frame her as “pro-criminal.” Senate Democrats, including Sens. Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren, rushed to Rollins’ defense, describing her as a capable law enforcement official and “smart on crime.”

Baker now needs to choose someone to serve the rest of Rollins’ term, which will end in 2022. Puzzanghera reports that aides to Baker have not said who he plans to nominate though the administration officials talked to several candidates in September.

GBH News’ Mike Deehan reports that Baker spokesman Terry MacCormack said, “The Governor will make an appointment soon from a pool of qualified applicants to serve as District Attorney in Suffolk County.”

ABCD looking at toy shortage as organization continues yearly toy drive

A major nonprofit human services organization is making calls for more donations as they experience a shortage of toys for low-income families ahead of the winter holidays.

ABCD, which works with low-income residents in Boston and the Mystic Valley, runs a toy drive each winter holiday season for disadvantaged families in the area. This year, the pandemic and soaring costs of goods and fuel have led to more requests than available supply.

ABCD Director of Field Operations Josh Young said the organization has received 6,000 requests for toys while ABCD only has about 800 on-site. He said there are still about 70 donors that the organization still needs to pick up donations from, but the need for more toys is still there.

“Things are obviously a little difficult — job loss from the pandemic and soaring costs for food and fuel and other necessities have left families this year especially struggling to survive,” Young told MASSterList. “They’re struggling to make bills and they’re struggling with income to afford the higher prices of food and especially fuel that are currently facing them. And, so in folks just donating a toy, they can put a smile on a child’s face for a family.”

The toy drive seeks unwrapped gifts for children up to 12 years old. You can fill out a form to donate here. To help out the fuel assistance program email: give@bostonabcd.org.

Liz Miranda jumps into Second Suffolk Senate race

There’s another state representative jumping into the race for the Second Suffolk District a day after a Jamaica Plain Democrat announced her intentions to seek the Senate seat. State House News’ Michael P. Norton reports that Roxbury’s Rep. Liz Miranda said she plans to run for Senate in 2022. The seat is currently by Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, who plans to give it up to run for governor. Rep. Nika Elugardo announced said she would run for the seat on Tuesday.

State House News Service

Fading away: Pandemic voting measures set to expire next week

The pandemic isn’t over, but a host of measures meant to make voting easier during it are about to fade into memory — even as a series of special elections await voters, Amy Sokolow of the Herald reports. Secretary of State William Galvin is among those calling on lawmakers to finish work on bills that would extend mail-in voting and other provisions that were left hanging before lawmakers went into their mid-session recess.

Boston Herald

Colleges starting to require booster shots for students, staff

Colleges across the state are starting to require booster shots for students and staff ahead of the spring 2022 semester. Boston Business Journal’s Grant Welker reports that Bentley University and Emerson College announced their requirements Wednesday while UMass Amherst said it would require booster shots last week.

More from Welker: “The requirement makes Bentley and Emerson at least among the first Boston-area colleges to take such a step, while UMass is joined by nearby counterparts Hampshire College, also in Amherst, and Smith College in Northampton. Nearly all private colleges across the state required both students and employees to be vaccinated before the fall semester began.”

Boston Business Journal

Jumping in? Lesser latest lawmaker to weigh run for lieutenant governor

The Globe’s Matt Stout reports state Sen. Eric Lesser is ‘seriously considering’ entering the race for lieutenant governor in next year’s election. Lesser, who served as a special assistant in the Obama White House, would join a Democratic field that already includes fellow state Sen. Adam Hinds, state Rep. Tami Gouveia and Boston businessman Bret Bero.

Boston Globe

What’s next for the cannabis industry in Massachusetts?

After five years of recreational marijuana legalization, and $2 billion in gross sales, what’s next for the industry? MassLive’s Melissa Hanson spoke with the five commissioners and executive director of the Cannabis Control Commission about successes so far, legislation on Beacon Hill, and what the future looks like.

MassLive

Cuts coming? Report says Biogen may slash 1,000 jobs

Cambridge-based Biogen, one of the state’s largest publicly traded life sciences companies and a top employer, is weighing plans to cut as many as 1,000 jobs as it tries to dig out from the financial fallout of its controversial treatment for Alzheimer’s, Rowan Walrath of the Boston Business Journal reports, citing an investigation by State News.

Boston Business Journal

Tough choice: Newly elected Holyoke officials may have to quit city jobs

One or the other. In a testy meeting that included an extended shouting match, the Holyoke City Council failed to muster the votes to change a rule that bars employees of the city from serving in elected office, meaning that two recently elected city councilors will have to choose between being sworn in next month and giving up their jobs in the school system. Dusty Christensen of the Daily Hampshire Gazette has all the details.

Daily Hampshire Gazette

Life science companies flocking to Watertown

When you think of life sciences hubs, you should start including Watertown’s East End. Boston Globe’s Tim Logan reports that five life science startups have signed a lease to fill out a lab currently under construction.

More from Logan: “Boylston Properties, which is converting the old Arsenal Mall into a mixed-use complex known as Arsenal Yards, announced Wednesday that it has rented all of the space at 100 Forge — a nine-story, 165,600-square-foot building — to five venture capital-backed life science companies.”

Boston Globe

Massachusetts company bakes 850-pound pot brownie

It was National Brownie Day yesterday. Bet you didn’t know. To celebrate the occasion, one Massachusetts cannabis company baked an 850-pound pot brownie. The Associated Press reports that a spokesperson for the company said the brownie will be sent to a dispensary in Middleborough and ultimately sold to a medical marijuana patient.

Associated Press

Today’s Headlines

Metro

Five years after Massachusetts voters approved marijuana legalization, some lawmakers seek increased restrictions – Berkshire Eagle

DOJ urges Supreme Court to reject Harvard affirmative action challenge – The Hill

Medford mayor, city apologizes over ‘antisemitic’ Hanukkah menorah display at city hall after community responds in outrage – MassLive

Massachusetts

Small businesses in Mass. are more worried about Omicron than in any other state – Boston Globe

MIAA maintains mask mandate for indoors during winter sports season – Telegram & Gazette

Nation

Senate Votes to Scrap Biden Vaccine Mandate as Republicans Eye 2022 – New York Times

Low-profile heiress who ‘played a strong role’ in financing Jan. 6 rally is thrust into spotlight – Washington Post

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