6 a.m. | Health care workers with 1199 SEIU hold two informational pickets at Saugus Rehabilitation and Nursing Center to demand better wages.
10 a.m. | Revenue Committee holds public hearing on a slate of corporate tax bills, including several sponsored by Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, a candidate for governor in 2022.
1 p.m. | Boston Mayor Michelle Wu participates in an “Ask the Mayor” segment on GBH’s “Boston Public Radio.”
Programming Note: MASSterList will not publish on Friday, Dec. 24. We’ll be back in your inbox on Monday, Dec. 27. Happy holidays and stay safe!
With Baker averse to a universal mask mandate, advocates could pursue a legislative approach
If Democratic lawmakers are unhappy with Gov. Charlie Baker’s resistance to a statewide universal mask mandate, could they attempt to implement one via legislation?
There’s several reasons why they couldn’t push one through before the end of the year. First and foremost: Republicans would most likely block any legislative mask mandate if a bill came to the floor of either branch during the remaining informal sessions of 2021.
But Democrats do hold a veto-proof majority in the House and Senate, and could pass legislation once formal sessions resume in the new year. With Baker once again saying he has “no interest” in ordering a universal masking requirement, the logical approach for mask mandate-supporting Democrats seems to be approaching the issue through legislation rather than waiting for unlikely executive action.
Senate President Karen Spilka added to the pressure on the governor with a statement calling on the administration to “reinstitute a statewide indoor public mask mandate, increase efforts to achieve vaccine equity, and require proof of vaccination for most public indoor social venues.”
“Additionally, when it comes to school safety, our COVID-19 pool testing practices should be provided on an opt-out, rather than opt-in, basis to better protect our students, teachers and staff,” the statement read. “Many communities, businesses and school districts have already instituted these measures to help save lives and they should be applauded.”
Spilka’s statement did not address any potential legislative action and a spokesman from her office later told MASSterList and the State House News Service that “during this public health emergency, we feel these are appropriate actions for the governor to take.”
A spokesperson for House Speaker Ronald Mariano’s office did not provide a comment to MASSterList when asked if he supports a universal mask mandate or whether he would consider implementing one via legislation.
Legislative leaders have so far taken a back seat when it comes to major COVID mandates in Massachusetts, instead leaving the decision-making to the Baker administration (who they say can act with more speed than the Legislature).
But if they’re displeased with the Republican governor’s recent responses, will they take an alternate path? That’s a question that probably will have to wait until 2022 for an answer.
National Guard called on to support hospitals and ambulance providers
Gov. Charlie Baker is turning to the Massachusetts National Guard once again to help squash challenges associated with the pandemic. MassLive’s Michael Bonner reports that Baker activated 500 members of the Guard to help support non-clinical needs of hospitals and transport systems. A majority of members will start training this week to help out 55 acute care hospitals and 12 ambulance service providers in the state.
Kicking off the FY23 budget process
State tax collectors must be jumping up and down over the revenue collected over the past two years. But looking ahead to the next fiscal year, officials are facing a number of uncertain factors that makes growth uncertain. CommonWealth’s Shira Schoenberg reports that House and Senate budget writers kicked off the fiscal 2023 budget process Tuesday with a consensus revenue hearing.
More from Schoenberg: “…Economists predicted a continued rise in tax revenues next year – but a more modest one than the state saw this year. They all tempered their predictions by noting that there are many unknowns, including the trajectory of the pandemic.”
Guilty: Harvard professor convicted lying about financial ties to Chinese university
At least he didn’t have to wait long. A federal jury deliberated just over two hours before finding Harvard professor Charles Lieber guilty of lying to federal investigators and hiding his financial ties to a Chinese university. The Globe’s Shelley Murphy and Ellen Barry of the New York Times have the details on the closely watched and controversial prosecution of the world-renowned nanoscientist.
Long COVID test lines at Logan as travelers take flight for the holidays
Traveling for the holidays? You may want to get to Logan early if you’re planning to get a COVID test at the airport. Boston Globe’s Emily Sweeney reports that people waited as long as four hours to get a test in the airport’s Terminals E and C. There’s no shortage of tests, said a spokeswoman for the company providing testing at Logan, but travelers should make an appointment in advance.
Place in history: Chuck Hunt, state’s only ‘first husband,’ dies at 67
Chuck Hunt, who became the first-ever ‘first husband’ in 2001 when Jane Swift became acting governor, has died at the age of 67 after a long battle with kidney disease, Bryan Marquand of the Globe reports. Swift says Hunt died at his family’s Williamstown farm, on land that has been in her husband’s family for over 100 years.
Wu looks to boost affordable housing with higher developer fees
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu is looking to boost affordable housing in the city by increasing fees and costs for commercial and residential real estate developers. Boston Business Journal’s Greg Ryan reports that Wu also said she would look to the Legislature to help implement a transfer fee on Boston real estate sales above $2 million.
More from Ryan: “Moving forward with a key campaign plank, Wu is also forming a rent stabilization advisory group, in preparation for possibly petitioning the Legislature to allow Boston to bring back a version of rent control.”
More municipalities looking at vax requirements
As goes Boston, so does Massachusetts … apparently. A number of municipalities across the state plan to put in place vaccine requirements for certain indoor venues, following in the wake of the a recent announcement in the hub. GBH News’ Jenifer B. McKim reports that Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone said he would present a proof of vaccination plan to the city’s Board of Health Tuesday night. Salem is also looking at similar requirements along with Arlington.
‘Not based in reality or facts’
With Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins set to be sworn as Massachusetts’ next U.S. attorney, the county prosecutor said the U.S. Senate debate over her confirmation was “not based in reality or facts, quite frankly.” She joined WBUR’s “Morning Edition” Tuesday and the station’s Deborah Becker reports that Rollins said she is excited to take on a role with expanded responsibilities.
Still soaring: Median home price up 30 percent in two years
The pace of home sales in the Bay State has slowed recently, but not the price increases. Citing Warren Group data, Michael P. Norton of State House News Service reports the median price of a home sold in November was up 19 percent from last year and 30 percent from the same time two years ago, a pace that observers expect to ease up slightly in the new year.
Rubbing elbows: Pols will join Hollywood types in Moby-Dick Marathon
The New Bedford Whaling Museum has released the roster of readers who will take part in the next edition of its annual marathon reading of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick and the Standard-Times reports actor Sam Waterston and a host of pols including U.S. Sen. Ed Markey will be among this year’s presenters.
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