Happening Today

9 a.m. | Public Health Council meets remotely, with plans to hear an update from the Office of Problem Gambling Services, an update on the Vaccine Equity Initiative and results from the COVID-19 Community Impact Survey.

11 a.m. | House holds a formal session to consider a new draft of Gov. Charlie Baker’s supplemental budget. Senate Democrats caucus ahead of Thursday formal session where they will consider a soldiers’ home oversight reform bill.

12 p.m. | Transportation Committee holds a virtual hearing on Gov. Baker’s annual Chapter 90 local road funding bill (H 4358).

4 p.m. | Boston Board of Health meets, with agenda that includes discussion of the fiscal 2023 budget and COVID-19 updates and discussion.

Today’s Stories

Good Wednesday morning.

Average gas prices keep climbing higher as inflation and the war in Ukraine drive the cost of a gallon to $4.306 this morning, according to AAA Northeast. That’s the third record set in as many days after reaching a short-lived high of $4.24 on Tuesday 

The political fallout has led to increasing calls from Republicans for a suspension of the state’s gas tax to help offset at least a small portion of the higher price. For the second day in a row on Tuesday, Republican gubernatorial candidate Chris Doughty said residents “need relief from skyrocketing prices across the board” in an appeal to temporarily suspend the tax.

Doughty launched an online petition calling for the suspension of the tax and took a very direct dig at Attorney General Maura Healey, the leading Democratic candidate for governor.

“Guess who has had nothing to say about the gas tax or the pain at the pump? Answer: Maura Healey,” Doughty wrote.

Well, Healey did have something to say by the end of the day. In a statement to MASSterList, a spokesperson for Healey said the crisis “underscores the urgency of rapidly transitioning to energy independence and a clean energy economy.

“Maura also believes we must consider meaningful solutions to address the high cost of gas that is hurting Massachusetts families right now, but wants to ensure that consumers would see the savings of any actions we take, and not increased profits for the big oil companies,” the statement said.

Republican Geoff Diehl called on lawmakers to use a pending supplemental budget to “immediately suspend collection of our state gas tax” and the motor vehicle excise tax. “The best use for surplus tax revenues is to restore it into the pockets of taxpayers who were overcharged in the first place, and this is one way to do it,” he said.

The House plans to take up the Ways and Means Committee’s $1.6 billion spending bill during a formal session later today. You can watch the session here.

Asked if she would support suspending the tax and what she would do as governor to offset recent price increases on commuters, Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz said “once again, wealthy fossil fuel executives are taking advantage of a fragile political situation, just like they did last year.”

“In 2021, oil companies raised gas prices while pocketing over $100 billion dollars in profits — in the middle of a global pandemic,” she said in a statement to MASSterList. “They don’t need to be raising prices to absurd levels now and we must not strip-mine the state budget so they can line their pockets.”

Gov. Charlie Baker is vacationing in Utah this week, but last week he said his administration was looking at ways to help residents struggling with inflation, and said the gas tax would “probably be the place we would go” if he did propose a short-term solution. 

For a different take….

Former Sen. Ben Downing, who ended his campaign for governor last year, said a gas tax moratorium could take away funding for infrastructure projects.

“If you like potholes, unsafe bridges, and congestion, these are the candidates for you,” he wrote, referring to Doughty and Diehl. “A gas tax suspension is the worst kind of governing by gimmick. I hope all the statewide Democratic candidates call it out for what it is.”

Galvin wants state to investigate rising gas prices

Secretary of State William Galvin is wary about the recent rise in gas prices and wants the state to look into potential price gouging. WBZ NewsRadio’s Kyle Bray reports Galvin said “the lack of explanation” for the increases needs to be examined.

Here’s the full quote: “The rapidity in which the prices have increased and the lack of explanation of why they’ve increased, when in fact it has no direct relation to Russian supplies, needs to be examined,” Galvin said. “If they have nothing to hide then we will know that, but I think it is urgent that we do something about this.”

WBZ NewsRadio

AG Healey monitoring gas price increases

Separately, Attorney General Maura Healey (in her capacity as the AG) said her office is monitoring increases in gas prices after receiving price gouging complaints. MassLive’s Will Katcher reports this came hours after Secretary of State William Galvin called for an investigation into price hikes.


Robinson nomination stalled but still alive

It’s Bernie Sanders fault. Ok, not really. But State House News Service’s Chris Lisinski reports a U.S. Senate committee considering state Rep. Maria Robinson’s nomination to a federal post postponed a decision because the panel couldn’t muster enough Democrats in-person to push through Robinson’s nomination in the face of Republican opposition.

Nine of the 10 Democrats on the committee were present with Sanders voting by proxy. But committee rules give more power to in-person votes leaving committee chair Sen. Joe Manchin one vote short of what was needed to push through the nomination.

State House News Service

‘There is no equal opportunity’ in Boston

Boston city workers of color decried what they called a culture of nepotism and unfair treatment within city departments, reports Boston Globe’s Danny McDonald. One public works department employee said, “There is no equal opportunity, because if I go … into the interview with 20-plus years of experience, they turn around and give the position to an individual with six months to a year just because he’s a friend of the person who’s interviewing.”

Boston Globe

New Hampshire towns consider hand-counting ballots

There’s a push afoot in New Hampshire to revert to hand-counting ballots as opposed to using machines like AccuVote. WBUR’s Tood Bookman reports one town – Milton – has a question asking voters to decide whether election officials should ditch digital options, saying (without proof) that machines can be hacked or rigged.


Third Democrat enters race to unseat Hodgson in Bristol County

Former Somerset Police Chief George McNeil announced he’ll seek the Democratic nomination to run against Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson in November, Jo C. Goode of the Herald News reports. McNeil, who left his job in Somerset last year, joins Fall River lawyer Nick Bernier and Attleboro Mayor Paul Heroux in vying for the chance to topple Hodgson, who has held the sheriff’s post since 1997.

Herald News

The legacy of DA Rollins

What’s does Rachael Rollin’s exit from the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office mean for local progressives? Eoin Higgins for Bolts Magazine writes Boston-area advocates are worried her successor — interim DA Kevin Hayden — is stymying Rollins-era policies like the list of lower-level offenses the DA’s office previously declined to prosecute.

More from Higgins: “Progressives are now aiming to reclaim the office in the 2022 elections. Ricardo Arroyo, Boston councilor known for left-leaning politics, is challenging Hayden. The two are expected to meet in the Democratic primary in September.”

Bolts Magazine

Lawsuit seeks millions in damages for Boston vax mandate

A group of people filed an updated lawsuit in federal court that seeks $6 million each in damages from Boston for what they allege are violations of their constitutional rights as a result of COVID vaccine mandates. Boston.com’s Christopher Gavin reports the group first filed the lawsuit last month hours before the city lifted its vaccine mandate.

More from Gavin: “Several of the plaintiffs, all of whom have not been vaccinated against the contagious virus, allege they have suffered humiliation, anxiety, embarrassment, and ‘mental anguish’ as a result of being denied service or barred entry to places such as restaurants, gyms, museums, and other venues.”


Assumption President Cesareo latest to join retirement trend

Assumption University in Worcester will be joining a slew of other Bay State institutions seeking a new leader after President Francesco Cesareo announced he would step down in June after 15 years at the helm of the school, Katherine Hamilton of the Worcester Business Journal reports.

Worcester Business Journal

Cape trash could be headed out of state on the rails

Solid waste generated on Cape Cod could soon be heading to Virginia or Ohio via railroad under a plan being mulled to address a pressing shortage of landfill space and rising trash collection costs for residents. Asad Jung of the Cape Cod Times has the details.

Cape Cod Times

Lowell High School project $30 million over budget…and climbing

What was supposed to be a $270 million project to build a new high school in Lowell is now going to cost at least $300 million and contractors say the city may not have seen the end of pandemic-related cost increases just yet, Jacob Vitali of the Sun reports.

Lowell Sun

Today’s Headlines


Boston hospitals recoup millions in debt from Kuwaiti government – Boston Globe

Boston board approves another downtown pot shop – which is closer to another one than called for by city ordinance – Universal Hub

USA Today owner Gannett Co. gave advertisers inaccurate information for nine months – Wall Street Journal


Questions linger at Worcester City Council over departure of chief diversity officer – Telegram & Gazette

UMass Amherst to end mask mandate with some exceptions, joining Northeastern and Boston University – MassLive


Decriminalizing ‘magic mushrooms’? Rhode Island lawmakers are considering it. Here’s why: – Providence Journal

How to Contact MASSterList

Send tips to Matt Murphy: Editor@MASSterList.com. For advertising inquiries and job board postings, please contact Dylan Rossiter: Publisher@MASSterList.com or (857) 370-1156. Follow @MASSterList on Twitter.

Subscribe to MASSterList

Start your morning with MASSterList’s chronicle of news and informed analysis about politics, policy, media, and influence in Massachusetts. Plus, get an inside look at Beacon Hill’s hottest new job postings.