Today | Four of the 11 new mayors elected in November take office on Jan. 3 in a mix of virtual and in-person events with limited capacity.
9 a.m. | Supreme Judicial Court sits to hear oral arguments in five cases.
10 a.m. | Boston Mayor Michelle Wu holds an outdoor swearing-in ceremony at City Hall to formally inaugurate new and returning city councilors.
11 a.m. | House holds informal session and Senate meets without a calendar.
3:30 p.m. | A day before a hearing on legislation that would allow every student who wants or needs a school breakfast or lunch to receive meals at no cost to their family, Project Bread and the Feed Kids Coalition host a virtual rally.
Schools and colleges look to welcome students back as omicron surges
Welcome to 2022.
The new year brings fresh possibilities, a slate of unique opportunities, and new challenges for all of us to face. But it seems that the same pandemic-related problems will persist for the next 12 months and that COVID is in no rush to loosen its grip on the world, let alone Massachusetts.
To ask how long the virus will be with us almost seems like a naive question at this point. What we do know is that following winter break, schools are set to start up during a surge in cases and companies are facing uncertain times ahead.
Boston Globe’s Gal Tziperman Lotan and Taylor Dolven report at least a dozen schools or districts in the state are working off modified plans as students return to class today while businesses are short-staffed and looking to survive the new onslaught of COVID.
The Massachusetts Teachers Association, the largest teachers union in the state, said canceling or delaying the start of school allows students and teachers more time to take COVID-tests.
Boston Herald’s Erin Tiernan reports that the head of the union met with more than 200 local union members and leaders Sunday to discuss a one-day delay — though state officials aren’t apt to go with the idea.
Colleges in the state are grappling with the same questions as students prepare to return to the commonwealth from all parts of the state and world. Boston Business Journal’s Grant Welker report that a number of higher education institutions are altering their spring semester plans as a result of an uptick in cases fueled by the omicron variant.
Regardless of what happens over the next year, how we deal and live with COVID will easily be the looming question over everything that happens. So buckle in for 2022, the third of the year pandemic.
Here’s what you need to watch out for in Boston politics this year
We’re looking forward to all the political story lines (new and old) that will play out in 2022. Wondering what’s in store for Boston politics? Boston Herald’s Sean Philip Cotter breaks down the year ahead and what you need to look out for. Some top items: the newly minted Wu administration, Boston’s city budget, and what will play out in the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office.
COVID forces scaled back inauguration ceremonies
It’s the time of year where new elected officials hold swearing-in ceremonies as they prepare to embark on a new political year. But COVID obviously has other plans for any politicians looking to hold large-scale or “normal” events. MassLive’s Jeanette DeForge reports that municipalities across Western Massachusetts are scaling back ceremonies as the virus continues to make daily life a living hell. Westfield went as far as canceling its inauguration ceremony because of infections.
St. Vincent nurses set to vote on new contract
Striking nurses at Worcester’s St. Vincent Hospital will vote today on whether to ratify a new contract and return to work. Associated Press’ Worcester Bureau reports that the tentative agreement nurses and Tenet Healthcare reached includes improvements to staffing and allows nurses who decided to go on strike the right to return to their same position, hours, and shifts.
Not so bad: Unemployment fund just $115M in the red
The Baker administration announced – on New Year’s Eve no less – that the state’s unemployment insurance trust fund has a deficit of $115 million, delivering relatively good news after months of worry that the fund could be billions in the red. Bruce Mohl of CommonWealth and the Globe’s Larry Edelman report consulting firm KPMG helped unscramble a financial picture clouded by federal loans, emergency infusions, and other maneuvers.
The top business stories of 2021
Everyone loves to reflect on the year that was. We did it here at MASSterList and the State House News Service. But there’s more to life than politics. Staff at the Boston Business Journal dove into some of the biggest business stories of 2021 including the battle over how to classify app-based workers, declines in college enrollment, and a surge in home prices.
This day in history: Auchincloss sworn in amid one crisis, just ahead of another
All was relatively calm. One year ago today, U.S. Rep. Jake Auchincloss became the newest member of the Bay State Congressional delegation. As Lucas Phillips of the Globe reported, COVID protocols meant no public audience for the ceremonial swearing-in, and Auchincloss acknowledged he was taking office amid the crisis caused by the pandemic — though even he was unaware of a much different crisis the 117th Congress would be engulfed in just 72 hours later.
Alison Bosma of the Milford Daily News also noted the event marked a major shift for local politics, ending Joe Kennedy III’s eight-year run in Congress and by extension the Kennedy dynasty’s dominance of Bay State politics.
Questions arise over Baker’s drugged driving bill
Some experts in Massachusetts are pushing back against legislation from Gov. Charlie Baker that takes aim at drugged driving. Boston Globe’s Dan Adams reports the administration argues the bill would make the roads safer but experts like Harvard Law School’s Nancy Gertner say the language is “junk science to the nth degree.”
More from Adams: “[The bill’s] centerpiece is an expansion of the ‘drug recognition expert,’ or DRE, protocol, which aims to train police officers so they can identify whether someone is impaired and by what substances.”
Some city workers in Boston to shift to work from home
A contingent of City of Boston employees will temporarily work from home. Associated Press’ Boston Bureau reports that Mayor Wu asked city workers who could perform all of their work from home to do so from Jan. 4 to Jan. 18.
Pressley tested positive for COVID
A member of the Massachusetts federal delegation tested positive for COVID. WBUR’s Roberto Scalese reports that U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley announced her positive test on Friday, saying her symptoms were ‘relatively mild’ while praising her fully vacinnated and boosted status.
Boston, in brief: Axios announces plans for local news product in ‘22
Here they come. Political news outlet Axios says it will bring its brevity-based news coverage to the Boston market some time in 2022, Adam Gaffin of Universal Hub reports. In a release, Axios says the rollout is part of a plan to help save local news by expanding to many cities that are considered news deserts, though Boston hardly fits that bill.
Downtown dorms? Orleans eyes college-like housing for seasonal workers
The town of Orleans is considering a zoning bylaw change that would allow high-density dormitory-style housing in the downtown business district, an innovation meant to address the perennial problem of finding suitable housing for the seasonal workers the local economy demands each summer. Denise Coffey of the Cape Cod Times has the details.
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