Today | Department of Revenue is due to report on tax collections from the month of December, which generally accounts for nearly 10 percent of annual state tax revenue.
9 a.m. | Supreme Judicial Court sits to hear oral arguments in five cases.
11 a.m. | House meets in an informal session and Senate holds a formal session to start the second year of the legislative calendar.
12 p.m. | Opponents of the city of Boston’s vaccine mandate for workers plan to rally at the State House and then march to City Hall demanding an end to the policy. Boston First Responders United, a group of city employees, organized the event and expects MAFA Massachusetts, Health Rights MA and other groups to attend.
1 p.m. | Secretary William Galvin opens a new exhibit at the Commonwealth Museum titled “Massachusetts Defending Democracy in America.”
Legislature set to kick off second year of legislative session
Welcome to the second half of the 2021-2022 legislative session.
Both branches gavel into session later today to kick off the second year of session, with the House scheduled to hold an informal session and the Senate a formal. With lawmakers set to deal with a number of issues this year, here’s are three items that are on our mind:
– Mail-in Voting: The Legislature let pandemic-era mail-in voting rules expire last year. And while leaders in both branches have expressed interest in passing new laws, nothing has been pushed across the finish line. The House and Senate have each taken up separate vehicles extending to some extent the voting laws. Expect something to come up soon, most likely before the state elections scheduled for later this year.
– Fiscal 2023: Budget season is nearly upon us. Gov. Charlie Baker is expected to release his fiscal 2023 budget later this month. From there, the House will craft a proposal, followed by the Senate, and later a compromise version that gets sent to Baker. It’s a months-long process that has been made more uncertain by the continuing pandemic.
– Federal Dollars: There’s still a giant pot of American Rescue Plan Act dollars waiting to be allocated by the Legislature — $2.3 billion to be exact. The Legislature sent Baker a $4 billion spending plan late last year that used $2.55 billion of the state’s share of ARPA dollars. How and when the Legislature decides to spend the rest of the money will be crucial in the state’s recovery from the pandemic and ability to deal with additional surges like the one Massachusetts is experiencing now.
Major hospitals mandate booster shot for staff
Better get boosted if you work at one of these major hospital systems. Boston Globe’s Amanda Kaufman and Felice J. Freyer report that Mass General Brigham, Beth Israel Lahey Health, and Wellforce told staff Tuesday that they’ll need to get boosted to continue working as COVID cases and hospitalizations put a strain on systems across the state.
More from the Globe duo: “The requirement comes as hospitals in Massachusetts are seeing rising hospitalizations as a result of COVID and other ailments. At the same time, hospitals are grappling with their own employees becoming sidelined after being infected with the virus.”
Lesser centers east-west rail at heart of LG candidacy
The newly fledged candidate for lieutenant governor will put east-west rail at the center of his candidacy. MassLive’s Alison Kuznitz reports that Lesser said the transportation project is important for both Boston and Western Massachusetts and has the potential to create 40,000 jobs over 30 years.
State reports more than 42,000 breakthrough cases
More breakthrough cases are being reported in Massachusetts. Boston Herald’s Rick Sobey reports that more than 45,000 fully vaccinated people in the state tested positive for COVID-19, more than double the previous week.
Lowell mayor first Cambodian American to top muni office
Lowell hit a historic milestone Monday. City councilors picked Sokhary Chau as the next mayor, making him the first Cambodian American mayor in the United States. Associated Press Boston’s Philip Marcelo reports that the 49-year-old came to the U.S. as a young refugee after surviving Khmer Rouge’s rule.
Some lawmakers making six-figures
Want to be lawmaker? Well, these days it comes with a pretty decent salary. Boston Herald’s Erin Tiernan reports that after legislators pocketed a pay bump last year, most are taking home six figures.
More from Tiernan: “State Sen. Cynthia Friedman was the highest-earning lawmaker of 2021, taking home $220,544, state payroll data shows. The Arlington Democrat earned more than $41,000 more than the next highest earner, Speaker of the House Ronald Mariano.”
Fair warning: Heroux warns he may not finish final term as Attleboro mayor
He’s building the suspense. Attleboro Mayor Paul Heroux is making it clear he may only serve one year of his third two-year term in office if he’s successful in seeking higher elected office – though he’s still not disclosing what post he may be seeking. George Rhodes of the Sun Chronicle reports Heroux could be mulling whether to challenge Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson or U.S. Rep. Jake Auchincloss in the 4th Congressional district.
Wu administration to continue fight to rebuild Long Island bridge
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu is picking up a legal dispute regarding a new bridge to Long Island, where the city once hosted treatment services for people experiencing homelessness and dealing with substance use disorders. GBH News’ Saraya Wintersmith reports that Wu said a December legal filing in the dispute was a key step to make sure the city has full authority to address homelessness and addiction issues.
Domino effect: Scramble is already on for Lesser’s Senate seat
Opportunities like this don’t come along every day. MassLive’s Jim Kinney reports there will likely be no shortage of candidates looking to fill the state Senate seat of Eric Lesser after he formally announced his bid for lieutenant governor. State Reps. Angelo Puppolo and Jake Oliveira top what could become a crowd of candidates.
Carrot and stick: Steamship Authority adopts vaccine mandate, bonus plan
They’re taking the kitchen-sink approach. The state’s Steamship Authority says it will ramp up pressure on its employees to get vaccinated against the coronavirus and plans to use both incentives – employees can snag a $500 bonus for getting jabbed – and eventually moving to fire employees who don’t comply by next month. Rich Saltzberg of the Martha’s Vineyard Times has the details.
Nicole Obi named as next CEO of BECMA
A serial entrepreneur is taking the top spot at the Black Economic Council of Massachusetts. Boston Business Journal’s Steph Soli reports that Nicole Obi has been named the organization’s next CEO. Obi replaces Segun Idowu, who took over as Boston’s chief of economic opportunity and inclusion.
Quincy school committee member and basketball coach on leave
A school committee member and girls varsity basketball coach in Quincy is on voluntary leave of absence as an investigation into his behavior as coach plays out. The Patriot Ledger’s Mary Whitfill reports that Paul Bregoli agreed to the leave a month ago after complaints surfaced from parents about his treatment of students.
Rainmaker: Hampshire College lands second $5M gift in two years
An anonymous benefactor has donated $5 million to Hampshire College, helping push a fundraiser meant to save the liberal arts college from oblivion halfway to its goal of $60 million, Scott Merzbach of the Daily Hampshire Gazette reports. The gift was made in the name of filmmaker and alum Ken Burns, who is co-chairing the school’s five year fundraising campaign.
First woman to take command of U.S.S. Constitution – Boston Herald
Over Council’s objections, Lynn wards are reshaped – Lynn Item
Weymouth High to close Wednesday due to staff shortages – Patriot Ledger
Biz groups speak out against local COVID-19 restrictions – Gloucester Times
Trump Cancels Jan. 6 Event, After Allies See It as a Distraction – New York Times
Record 4.5 million ‘Great Resignation’ workers quit their jobs in November – what this means for Biden – The Independent
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