Happening Today

9 a.m. | Massachusetts Port Authority Board of Directors meets.

11 a.m. | Senate meets without a calendar and Democrats hold a virtual caucus. 

11:30 a.m. | Gov. Charlie Baker visits Somerset to celebrate plans to build the first offshore wind manufacturing facility at Brayton Point.

3 p.m. |  Congressional candidate Jeffrey Sossa-Paquette, a Shrewsbury Republican, greets voters at the Leominster Farmers Market.

6 p.m. | MBTA staff convene virtual public hearing to receive feedback on a package of proposed fare updates.

Today’s Stories

Good morning. If you’re anything like us here at MassterList, you’re looking forward to the long weekend, but at least the end of the work week will be near the 60s.

We have fresh poll results this morning on how drivers with app-based services like Uber and Lyft view the proposed ballot question that would ensure those companies can continue to classify their drivers as independent contractors and not employees. If passed, drivers would be guaranteed a wage floor for the time they’re engaged with customers and have access to paid family and medical leave and accrued sick time.

Eighty-one percent said they would vote yes, while just 10 percent said they would vote no.

The survey touched 406 randomly selected drivers for Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and Instacart between Jan. 27 and Feb. 4. It was conducted by Beacon Research on behalf of Flexibility and Benefits for Massachusetts Drivers, the committee behind the ballot initiative.

“I think it’s clear that drivers are driving for the independence of it and freedom it allows them, so I wasn’t too surprised by these findings,” said Beacon Research’s Chris Anderson, who also happens to be Attorney General Maura Healey’s pollster.

Healey has sued Uber and Lyft to force them to classify their drivers as employees under Massachusetts labor laws, which would afford them a number of wage, benefit and employment protections not currently available.

The survey told drivers that if passed the ballot question would classify drivers for app-based companies as “independent contractors” rather than employees and establish new benefits and protections. Women, drivers of color, those without college degrees and parents of school-aged children were mostly likely to support the measure. Of the minority that opposed the question, 59 percent said they wanted things to stay the same, while 31 percent said they wished to treated as an employee.

Given the choice between being an independent contractor or an employee, 71 percent said contractor and 27 percent said employee.

Those surveyed were contacted from a pool of about 160,000 drivers active on one of the platforms and Anderson said he believes there views will have some sway come November.

“I expect a lot of voters will be taking their cues from drivers. People who are getting rides and deliveries may ask their drivers, so I think drivers’ positions will probably be pretty important in the long run,” Anderson said.

Veto-proof vote on licenses

A pathway for some undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses in Massachusetts is a step closer to reality. The House passed the legislation 120-36 late Wednesday afternoon, and even with unanimous opposition from House Republicans — and a few Democrats– Democratic leadership managed to secure a veto proof majority as the bill moves to the Senate for further consideration.

Transportation Committee Co-Chair Rep. William Straus said he believes the bill addresses Gov. Charlie Baker’s concerns when it comes to strict proof-of-identity requirements: “Governor Baker said, ‘My problem with giving licenses to people who are undocumented is just that, there’s no documentation to back up the fact that they are who they say they are,’” Straus said.

Brewster Republican Rep. Timothy Whelan said the bill “isn’t a slam-dunk in the world of law enforcement by any measure,” and many officers have “serious concerns” when it comes to the validity of documentation.

On the other side of the aisle, Rep. Danillo Sena, who was born in Brazil but later moved to Acton at the age of 14, said he supports the bill because it “ensures opportunity” for all residents in the state, including the more than 200,000 immigrants without status.

“If immigrants without status have the ability to obtain a driver’s license, they will be able to legally drive to work without fear, they will be able to take their children to school without fear, and they will be able to go to the doctor’s office without fear,” he said.

Allen, Koonce sentences commuted by Guv’s Council

The sentences of two men convicted of first-degree murder — Thomas Koonce and William Allen — were commuted Wednesday by the Governor’s Council. CommonWealth’s Shira Schoenberg reports its the first commutations in Massachusetts for first-degree murders in 25 years.

More from Schoenberg: “Frances Bynoe, the fiancé of William Allen’s father and a family spokesperson, said Allen is most looking forward to ‘a nice dinner’ when he is released. He is also excited to get together with his cousins, aunts, and uncles – some of whom have gotten married and had children while Allen was incarcerated.”


Wu: Receivership is ‘not an option for Boston’ public schools

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu said the city would push back against the state if it attempted to intervene in the city’s public schools through receivership. GBH News’ Zoe Mathews reports Wu made it pretty clear, saying “receivership is not an option for Boston,” and it is “not a recipe to getting us where we need to go.”


$100M could help improve MBTA signal issues

What would it take to improve signal systems on the Red and Orange Lines? A new report suggests it would cost about a quarter of the $428 million the MBTA received in federal infrastructure funding. Boston Business Journal’s Greg Ryan reports on the study released Wednesday by A Better City that argues $100 million would go a long way.

Boston Business Journal

Singing the Blues: Lynnfield parent gets stiffest sentence in admissions scheme

Lynnfield resident John B. Wilson was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison for his role in the Varsity Blues college admissions scandal, the stiffest sentence issued in the case to date. Boston Globe’s Shelley Murphy and Tonya Alanez and Rick Sobey of the Boston Herald report the judge slammed Wilson for his lack of contrition after his conviction on paying $1 million in bribes to get his children into top schools.

South Shore Plaza shooting suspect charged with murder

A Maynard man was charged with murder after police say he shot Dijoun Beasley in the head at South Shore Plaza last month. Patriot Ledger’s Mary Whitfill and Joe Difazio report 19-year-old Julius Hammond-Desir was ordered to be held without bail until a probable cause hearing in March.

Patriot Ledger

Governor’s race poll faces criticism

Critics immediately pounced on a new poll commissioned by the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance Foundation that looks at the gubernatorial field. The poll — which found Attorney General Maura Healey still had the highest name recognition — surveyed 750 likely voters. But as MassLive’s Alison Kuznitz reports, critics say the poll presents a distorted picture of the race and offers little value to the candidates themselves.


Worcester fixes snafu, repeals mask mandate

This time it’ll stick. The Worcester Board of Health has voted once again to drop the city’s mask mandate after an earlier vote was determined to be invalid because one new member of the board had yet to be sworn into office, the Telegram’s Steven Foskett Jr. reports.

Telegram & Gazette

Chilmark voters to have a say on radioactive water release

Voters in Chilmark on Martha’s Vineyard will take up a ballot question this spring asking their position on a plan by the owners of the shuttered Pilgrim Station nuclear power plant to discharge up to 1 million gallons of radioactive water into Cape Cod Bay. Rich Saltzberg of the Martha’s Vineyard Gazette reports a handful of island towns could be on record against the move by the end of the spring.

Martha’s Vineyard Times

Fire captain jailed for sexual assault

A fire captain in Millbury made his way to jail yesterday after admitting to sexually assaulting a young girl for more than five years. Telegram & Gazette’s Brad Petrishen reports Walter Swenson will serve a 2 1/2 year sentence after pleading guilty to six counts of indecent assault and battery on a child under age 14.

Telegram & Gazette

Help desperately wanted: Lowell Council tackles stack of vacancies

The city of Lowell has more than 80 unfilled jobs in city government, a problem the City Council is eager to tackle with a review of pay rates and other moves, but as The Sun’s Jacob Vitali reports, the strong city manager form of government means the council will have to tread carefully.

Lowell Sun

Today’s Headlines


Saugus looking to welcome marijuana dispensaries – Lynn Item

Black alumni pen letter supporting Ketanji Brown Jackson as next SCOTUS pick – Harvard Crimson

For Trump, a perilous exclamation point to years of wealth inflation – New York Times


Foxwoods announces high-stakes casino expansion in Connecticut – MassLive

Worcester County home prices increased 10.3 percent in January – Worcester Business Journal


Democrats’ climate plan languishes, putting hundreds of billions in private investment on hold – Washington Post

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