Happening Today

Today | Thursday marks the two-year anniversary of Gov. Baker declaring a state of emergency to respond to the unfolding global COVID-19 crisis, which would be officially declared a pandemic the following day.

11 a.m. | Mass. Fiscal Alliance and other groups hold virtual press conference to discuss a new coalition that is coming together to bring awareness to impacts from California’s new executive order banning the sale of most internal combustion engines (ICE) by 2035.

11 a.m. | House meets in an informal session. 

12 p.m. | Mass. Climate Action Network, Clean Energy Group, Applied Economics Clinic, and Strategen will hold a press-only press conference to announce the publication of new reports on the financial risks associated with the oil and gas peaking power plant proposed in Peabody.

1 p.m. | Senate meets in a formal session with plans to take up a bill overhauling oversight and management of the state-run soldiers’ homes in Holyoke and Chelsea.

Today’s Stories

Happy Thursday. 

Rising gas prices are by far the central talker this week with a gallon of unleaded averaging $4.30 on Wednesday in Massachusetts as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and a ban on Russian oil imports to the United States.

Over the past several days a number of Republicans have called on state leaders to put a temporary hold on the state’s 24 cent gas tax in an effort to alleviate some of the financial pressure commuters are feeling at the pumps. The latest push to do that ran into Democratic resistance in the House yesterday afternoon where House Speaker Ron Mariano called it a “political stunt.”

Arguing the Legislature should show residents they also have “skin in the game” when it comes to rising gas prices, Rep. Peter Durant (R-Spencer) urged his colleagues to support a proposal that would have put a pause on the tax if the price of one gallon of unleaded fuel surpasses $3.70. 

“This is one small step that we as a commonwealth can say to the people of this state, that we feel your pain, we’re willing to step up to the plate, we’re willing to do what’s right,” Durant said, but the amendment went down on a voice vote.

The lead House Democrat in charge of transportation policy said the proposal would hurt the state’s ability to borrow money in the future. Rep. William Straus (D-Mattapoisett) said “by targeting the gas tax and taking it away from our bond repayment obligations, we really will do more harm than good for everyone we represent.”

House Minority Leader Brad Jones (R-North Reading) said his “advice is to take a little more time” on the proposal to try and answer any questions or concerns that were raised during debate. Like what if the price never goes back below $3.70?

State House News Service’s Matt Murphy and Katie Lannan each have more details on the $1.6 billion COVID-19 supplemental budget that did pass and effort to divest pension funds from Russia.

Thousands gather to honor Trooper Tamar Bucci

Law enforcement officers from all over the region gathered in Revere Wednesday to honor the life of State Trooper Tamar Bucci, who died last week after a tractor-trailer hit her police cruiser. MassLive’s Will Katcher reports Bucci was just 20 months into her police career.

More from Katcher: “After the service, the crowd stood silently in the frigid cold outside Saint Anthony of Padua Church during a state police ceremony for the departed trooper. As snowflakes began to fall on the North Shore, a gun salute to honor Bucci jolted attendees and onlookers to attention.”


Worcester mayor to run for state Senate

Mayor Joseph Petty is officially looking to climb the political ladder. Telegram & Gazette’s Steven H. Foskett Jr. reports the Worcester mayor formally announced his candidacy for the 1st Worcester Senate seat, the one Sen. Harriette Chandler is vacating as she retires.

More from Foskett: “Petty, the city’s longest-serving mayor, said in an interview that the pandemic highlighted for him the limitations of municipal government. He said he wants to bring resources back to the district and commonsense solutions to the challenges we face together in Central Massachusetts.”

Telegram & Gazette

Massachusetts is ‘in a much better place’ with COVID

Massachusetts is in a better place now. The state isn’t dead, just finding itself at a more optimistic juncture in the COVID-19 pandemic. State House News Service’s Colin A. Young reports the state’s top public health officer described a brightening landscape after two years of dealing with a stubborn virus that has thrown normal life out the window. 

State House News Service

Boston lifts COVID-19 emergency declaration

Two years later, health officials in Boston voted to end the city’s COVID-19 public health emergency declaration on April 1. Boston Herald’s Rick Sobey reports the Board of Health’s unanimous vote follows the lifting of Boston’s mask mandate last weekend and a series of improving COVID-19 metrics.

Boston Herald

‘Curse of the Attorney General’

Sitting Massachusetts attorney generals have a really bad track record when it comes to making the jump to the state’s executive office. Will Maura Healey have the same bad luck? GBH News’ Adam Reilly writes Healey’s challenge is figuring out what lessons can be learned from previous losses and avoiding them at all costs.

GBH News

Nantucket weighs direct housing aid to town workers

The Nantucket Select Board will ask voters at town meeting to set aside $1 million in federal pandemic relief funds to provide direct housing-cost assistance to municipal employees in the hopes of helping existing workers and attracting more to fill some 30 vacant positions. Brian Bushard of the Inquirer & Mirror has the details.

Inquirer and Mirror

Inside NYC’s safe consumption sites

The idea of setting up safe drug consumption sites in Massachusetts has been debated for years on Beacon Hill, and has largely fallen flat. One bill filed this year that’s still alive would setting up a 10-year pilot program that municipalities could opt-into.

While some other countries have embraced the concept as a way to combat the opioid epidemic, the Associated Press’s Jennifer Peltz that took readers inside the first safe consumption sites in the United States located in Manhattan’s East Harlem and Washington Heights neighborhoods. The group that runs the sites say they’ve prevented 150 overdoses during roughly 9,500 visits.

But, of course, there are concerns.

Opponents say the sites further drug usage without preventing it in the first place and could create unsavory conditions for the neighborhoods where they are located. Supporters argue that people are going to use drugs regardless and it’s better to have a safe, healthy environment for people where health professionals are on hand to assist, and try to steer them toward treatment.

Associated Press

New England Aquarium scientists take to the ocean

Scientists at the New England Aquarium achieved a first this year — they went out on boats to survey the waters of southern New England. The goal is to better understand how endangered North Atlantic right whales are increasingly using the area amid climate change.

Over four days from mid-January to early March, researchers made a 70-mile trek south of Nantucket searching for the whales – spotting 21 of the endangered mammals, or 6 percent of the estimated total population There, they focused on capturing “detailed lateral photographs used to assess the health and scarring of the animals, as well as collecting tissue and fecal samples to analyze the whales’ reproductive status and stress level,” the aquarium said.

Newton public schools could cut over 70 positions next year

A Newton public schools budget shortfall could lead to as many as 74 positions being cut next year. Boston Globe’s John Hilliard reports Superintendent David Fleishman said the district is facing “extraordinary challenges” in the fiscal 2023 budget as enrollment declines.

Boston Globe

Amherst takes next steps on reparations initiative

The Amherst City Council has voted unanimously to start the process of creating a home rule petition to seek legislative approval for a plan to provide direct economic reparations for people of African heritage, Scott Merzbach of the Daily Hampshire Gazette reports.

Daily Hampshire Gazette

New Marlborough weighs rules to protect dark night sky

Larry Parnass of the Berkshire Eagle reports the town of New Marlborough is poised to become one of the first communities in the Bay State to enact zoning legislation designed to prevent light pollution and make sure the night sky remains visible.

Berkshire Eagle

Back to school: Mayoral hopeful Essaibi George returns to classroom

Gintautas Dumcius of the Dorchester Reporter catches up with Annissa Essaibi George, the former city councilor and mayoral candidate who is back in Boston public school classrooms as a substitute teacher. Dumcius found Essaibi George keeping the “doors of opportunity open” on her political future.

Dorchester Reporter

Today’s Headlines


Boston parents say they want next superintendent to be free from local politics – Boston Herald

Encore tries to defuse concerns on concerts, expansion – CommonWealth


Anti-Semitic, racist graffiti found at Natick High School – MetroWest Daily News

Ludlow’s Harrington seeks Republican nomination for 7th Hampden District – Greenfield Recorder


Democratic-led Congress keeps ban on D.C. weed – Politico

The hidden billion-dollar cost of repeated police misconduct – Washington Post

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