Happening Today

10 a.m. | Special Legislative Commission to Study and Examine the Civil Service Law holds a meeting to discuss municipalities not subject to the state’s civil service law and Massachusetts State Police.

10 a.m. | Tax Expenditure Review Commission meets virtually. Auditor Suzanne Bump participates.

1 p.m. | Treasurer Deb Goldberg chairs a meeting of the Massachusetts School Building Authority‘s Administration, Operations, and Finance Subcommittee.

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Today’s Stories

Good morning and happy Friday.

Depending on where you live, some significant snow accumulation could be in your future. Courts are closed today, and Gov. Charlie Baker told state employees to work from home.

That won’t be a problem for lawmakers and their staffs. The Legislature largely went quiet this week while kids were out of school, but House Speaker Ron Mariano spoke up on twitter Thursday to respond to actions taken by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to direct the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate instances of gender-affirming care for youths.

“The attack on trans rights in Texas is wrong and dangerous. I know the House remains committed to protecting the rights of LGBTQ+ kids and their families across the Commonwealth,” Mariano said.

Mariano was the House majority leader in 2016 when the House passed the transgender anti-discrimination bill, but more recently the House has failed to take up legislation that would allow people over 18 or the parents of a minor to request to change the sex listed on a birth record to a nonbinary “X.” That bill passed the Senate last year and would also cement in law a requirement that the Registry of Motor Vehicles allow those applying for driver’s licenses or ID cards to select “X” as their gender, a practice the RMV began in 2019.

The Senate last year also passed a sex education bill that has yet to surface in the House that would require schools that choose to teach sex ed to provide medically accurate and age-appropriate information, including LGBTQ-inclusive material and discussion of consent.

Mariano’s office said the speaker is “generally supportive” of both those bills, but it still talking with members and working through the details. His office did not say whether the House would vote this session on either, but noted that Mariano has prioritized other matters, such as offshore wind legislation, hospital oversight and pushing sports betting across the finish line.

Mariano wasn’t alone in Massachusetts condemning Abbott’s actions.

Massachusetts Medical Society President Dr. Carole Allen, a pediatrician, said Massachusetts doctors were “deeply troubled and angered” by what was happening in Texas.

“Interfering with patients’ and families’ rights to seek medically appropriate gender-affirming health care and obstructing the trusted and sacred relationship between patient and physician is dangerous and can have dire consequences relative to the mental and physical wellbeing of transgender and questioning children,” Allen said in a statement.

And Attorney General Maura Healey, who is running for governor, said she was “disgusted.”

“We won’t stand for these politically motivated attacks on children. LGBTQ+ youth deserve to live their truth – not to be used as political pawns,” Healey said.

One voice: Lawmakers quick to condemn Putin, warn of local impacts

In the hours after Russian tanks and troops began rolling into Ukraine, Bay State lawmakers were among those quick to condemn the action as a brazen act of war and to warn that Americans will not escape the war’s fallout.

“I trust the American government will impost the strongest possible sanctions to cut this tyrant off from the modern world. President Biden and the free-world leaders are acting quickly and they must not let up,” Gov. Charlie Baker at a storm-related press conference last night at the State House.

Here’s a sampling of some other reactions:

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren also said she supported the sanctions announced by the White House: “The United States will continue leveraging all of our diplomatic, political, and economic tools to bring an end to this unprovoked attack and hold the Kremlin to account.”

U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, a combat veteran, came out in favorof both strong economic sanctions and cyberattacks aimed at crippling the Russian military, the Lynn Item’s Adam Bass reports.

— Another veteran, U.S. Rep. Jake Auchincloss, said the conflict and the coming spike in fuel prices are a reminder that the U.S. and the rest of the developed world need to move away from a reliance on fossil fuels, saying the invasion “needs to be the final wake up call for the world, Paris Alston of GBH reports.

U.S. Sen. Ed Markey said: “This is a fabricated conflict that could have a massive human toll, all spurred by the delusional aspirations of a weak dictator. We stand with Ukraine.”

— And Rep. William Keating, chair of the Europe, Eurasia, Energy and Environment subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called Putin a “craven, insecure leader”:  “And for those that think this is some war in a remote part of the world – make no mistake, this is an act of aggression and violence against all who value peace and democracy.”

— Christian Wade of the Salem News has a roundup of other lawmaker reactions.

Meanwhile, hundreds of protesters, many with direct ties back to Ukraine, gathered outside the State House in response to the invasion, Craig LeMoult of GBH and the Herald’s Meghan Ottollini report.

Tough task: Lawmakers mull plans to wipe away pot arrests

Four years after Bay State voters legalized adult use of cannabis, lawmakers are still trying to find the best framework for allowing those with pre-legalization pot-related violations to get those convictions expunged. Christian Wade of the Eagle-Tribune lays out the state of play.

Eagle-Tribune

Hearing over Boston vaccine mandates gets testy

They returned with a bang. The Herald’s Sean Phillip Cotter reports from the Boston City Council’s first in-person hearing in nearly two years, where union leaders and administration officials sparred in a feisty back and forth over Mayor Michelle Wu’s vaccine mandate for city employees.

Boston Herald

Dogs’ best friends: Meet the humans behind Nero’s Law

A week after Gov. Charlie Baker signed Nero’s Law to allows medical responders to treat and transport police canines the Cape Cod Times’s Asad Jung goes back to the start with the local veterinarian who drew up the legislation from scratch and set it on its course to approval.

Cape Cod Times

Planners behind new Bay City want to downplay the automobile

An updated plan for the property best known as the site of the Bayside Exposition Center was recently detailed to Dorchester residents. Planners say the mixed-use project will be pedestrian friendly and emphasize non-car transportation, with 4,000 spaces–for bikes, according to Jennifer Smith of the Dorchester Reporter.

Dorchester Reporter

Unions yes, MNA no, says St. Vincent Hospital nurse behind vote for decertification

Right race, wrong horse? C. Richard Avola, a registered nurse who crossed the picket lines during the lengthy Saint Vincent nurses strike, is now leading a push to decertify the Massachusetts Nurses Association at the facility. Cyrus Moulton of the Telegram reports Avola believes a different union is needed.

Telegram & Gazette

Two more launch bids for new Framingham state rep seat

Framingham School Committee Chairwoman Priscila Sousa and local activist and one-time mayoral candidate Dhruba Sen have both filed paperwork indicating their interest in running to represent the now majority-minority 6th Middlesex District. Zane Razzaq of the MetroWest Daily News reports the pair join fellow Democrat and former City Councilor Margareth Shepard in the mix for the seat.

MetroWest Daily News

Sunday Public Affairs: Markey On the Record and more

On The Record, WCVB-TV Ch. 5, Sunday, 11 a.m. Guest: Sen. Ed Markey. Ed Harding and Janet Wu host with Democratic political analyst Mary Anne Marsh and Republican political analyst Rob Gray joining for the roundtable.

CityLine, WCVB-TV, Ch. 5, 12 p.m. This week’s topic: Houses with History. Rev. Mariama White-Hammond, chief of environment, energy and open spaces for the city of Boston, which oversees the Boston Landmarks Commission, will talk about the history of the Shirley-Eustis Place in Roxbury, one of the last remaining colonial governor’s mansions in the original Thirteen Colonies, and the history of the enslaved people that lived there. 

Today’s Headlines

Metro

March 21 opening set for Green Line to Union Square – CommonWealth Magazine

Markey stands in solidarity with Lynn GE workers – Lynn Item

Massachusetts

Worcester joins federal initiative to address homelessness with additional affordable housing – Telegram & Gazette

Springfield ending citywide mask mandate on Monday – MassLive

Nation

Biden has chosen his Supreme Court nominee – Washington Post

Inhofe to retire from Senate, teeing up special election in Oklahoma – Politico

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