Happening Today

Today | Monday is a federal and state holiday that honors the birth of President George Washington and the history of the United States presidency.

Today | In partnership with the Red Sox Foundation and in recognition of Black History Month, Museum of African American History in Boston provides free admission and tours from Monday through Saturday of school vacation week.

Today’s Stories

Good morning and happy Presidents Day.

Whether you’re working today or not, we’re here to help get your day started. It’s school vacation week so there will be little legislative action under the Golden Dome, but if you’re planning a visit to the State House when it officially reopens to the public tomorrow, remember you’ll need proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test from the past 24 hours.

“There were a lot of considerations,” Senate President Karen Spilka said in an interview that aired Sunday morning with WBZ reporter and MassterList contributor Jon Keller about why it took so long to get to this point. “The State House is a place of work, we have a few hundred employees there. It’s a very old building. So for example, if we open to the public, we need to do it in a way that as best as possible protects the health and safety of not only the members…the representatives and the senators, but especially our staff.”

The Massachusetts State House is the last state capitol in the country to reopen in some capacity to the public. Spilka said members’ offices are small, social distancing is a challenge, and officials have been working to make some physical changes to the building like upgrading HVAC systems.

“We are doing it in ways that will hopefully ensure the health and safety of our employees. Fifty people a day are still dying from COVID,” she said.

What about the Work and Family Mobility Act?

The House last week passed a bill that would authorize the Registry of Motor Vehicles to issue driver’s licenses to immigrants who can prove their identity without demonstrating legal status.

“I’m looking forward to getting it on the governor’s desk,” Spilka said of the bill.

That bill has the backing of some law enforcement groups, and passed the House on a 120-36 vote after hours of debate where critics said the legislation rewards people who entered the country illegally. Supporters say it ensures that everyone on Massachusetts roads receives proper driver’s education.

Despite her support, Spilka did not give a timetable for a vote in the Senate.

Boston drops proof of vax requirement

Boston dropped it’s proof of vaccination requirement for gyms, restaurants, and other indoor businesses. The Associated Press reports Mayor Michelle Wu made the announcement Friday, pointing to positive COVID data.

Associated Press

Athol man arrested on charges he assaulted officers at U.S. Capitol riot

Federal officials arrested a man from Athol Friday for allegedly assaulting law enforcement officers during the riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 2021. Telegram & Gazette’s Mike Elfland and Brad Petrishen report tipsters identified Vincent Gillespie through photographs.

Telegram & Gazette

Investigation looking at rising meat prices

Eat a burger recently? You probably paid more for it than you did a year ago. Many have tied the recent increase in meat prices to inflation. But now, Boston Globe’s Jim Puzzanghera reports members of Congress and the Biden administration are looking at whether power players in the meatpacking in industry are artificially inflating prices.

Boston Globe

Boston subject of a number of public records complaints

An increasing number of people are seeking public records from the City of Boston, and an similar sized group are filing public records complaints with the Secretary of State’s office. Boston Herald’s Sean Philip Cotter reports there were 233 public records complaints filed that had to do with Boston.

More from Cotter: “Though the city’s public records office remains slow to respond to requests from media and members of the public alike, these issues largely predate Mayor Michelle Wu, who came into power in November.”

Boston Herald

COVID surge could end by the time spring rolls around

There may be another big reason to look forward to springtime. With nearly three-quarters of people in the United States now boasting some level of immunity to the omicron variant, the surge of cases could be over by the time flowers start blooming again. Boston Herald’s Marie Szaniszlo reports researchers at the University of Washington are studying a number of people in several different parts of the world who have “functional immunity” to the variant.

Boston Herald

It’s back: In-person St. Patrick’s Day breakfast returns

Perfect timing. State Sen. Nick Collins says this year’s St. Patrick’s Day breakfast will return to its traditional live and in-person format next month after a year during which the political barbs and Irish songs were delivered over Zoom. The fact that it’s a gubernatorial election year should give participants plenty of fodder, but then again the current crop of politicians aren’t exactly masters of comedic timing. Meghan Ottolini of the Herald has more details.

Boston Herald

This day in history: Popularity in perspective

It’s all relative. On this day back in 2020, Gov. Charlie Baker was riding some of the best favorability ratings of his time in office, with a new poll finding 52 percent of likely Democratic primary voters in the Bay State approved of him. An impressive showing by any measure, but as Chris Liskinski of State House News Service reported, the data still put Baker well behind then-Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and, of course, Dunkin’ Donuts in terms of overall popularity.

State House News Service

New spending bill takes aim at COVID

Gov. Charlie Baker is looking to spend billions on COVID-19 response efforts while also sending cash to the child care and human services sectors. State House News Service’s Colin A. Young reports Baker filed a new $2.4 billion spending bill that includes $700 million for things like rapid tests, testing, and maintaining vaccination sites.

State House News Service

Rodriguez announces candidacy for state senate seat

Lawrence resident Doris Rodriguez has tossed her hat into the ring for the newly created First Essex District state Senate seat and plans a campaign emphasizing her experience being raised by immigrant parents in the cities of the Merrimack Valley, Jill Harmacinski of the Eagle-Tribune reports.

Eagle-Tribune

Getting there: Utilities make progress on fixing gas leaks

Data from the Department of Public Utilities shows the state’s utilities making progress on addressing leaks in their natural gas pipeline networks, with the volume of such leaks down 28 percent since 2014. Christian Wade of the Eagle-Tribune reports some lawmakers want the process to move a little quicker.

Eagle-Tribune

Today’s Headlines

Metro

Mayor Wu lifts proof of vaccine mandate due to improving COVID-19 conditions – Boston

Massport prime landing spot for six-figure pay in Boston – Boston Herald

Massachusetts

UMass Lowell goes mask-optional Feb. 28 – Lowell Sun

New Bedford city council asks mayor to delay enforcement of plastic bag ban. Will he? – Standard-Times

Nation

Sen. Warren, others urge U.S. Justice Dept to oppose Sanderson chicken deal if antitrust violation found – Reuters

California unveils plan to become first state to treat coronavirus as ‘endemic’ risk – Washington Post

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