Happening Today

8:30 a.m. | New England Council hosts an in-person breakfast in Boston with Congressman Richard Neal, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee.

10 a.m. | MBTA Board of Directors meets virtually.

11 a.m. | Senate meets in a full formal session to consider a $1.6 billion mid-year spending bill.

2 p.m. | With his prison sentence commuted last month by the Governor’s Council, Thomas Koonce goes back before the Parole Board seeking to be paroled back into the community he has been separated from for 30 years.

Today’s Stories

Good Thursday morning. A political heavyweight waded into the governor’s race yesterday.

During a MASSterList and State House News Service virtual discussion, House Speaker Ronald Mariano endorsed Attorney General Maura Healey for governor, a move that may send signals to other Democratic representatives about who they should throw their support behind in November.

In describing his support for Healey, Mariano said he’s had the opportunity to work with her on a number of health care issues and appreciated her “fact finding efforts” to get up to speed on them.

“And so we had a working relationship for a long time, so this was an easy decision for me,” he told the News Service’s Katie Lannan on the same day Healey announced she’d amassed the 10,000 signatures required to appear on the ballot.

Senate President Karen Spilka declined to endorse either of the two Democrats Wednesday, but did say is “especially excited, I do believe, that our next governor will be a woman.” Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz is Healey’s rival for the Democratic nomination, a rolled out 25 new endorsements herself Wednesday from state and local elected leaders, including Rep. Steve Owens.

The wide-ranging conversation with Spilka and Mariano covered what each hopes to take up before formal sessions end in July. Some of the issues brought up: veterans homes, voting, health care, child care costs, and mental health reforms.

If you missed the discussion, you can watch the full recording on the MASSterList Facebook page or read more:

– Boston Globe’s Matt Stout focused on Mariano’s comments on rising child care costs in Massachusetts and how the House Could act on the issue “right away” in its fiscal 2023 budget next month.

– GBH News’ Adam Reilly pinpointed a few zings the speaker and Senate president directed at Gov. Charlie Baker after he said he would “fight like mad” for health care reform legislation.

– State House News Service’s Matt Murphy writes that Mariano committed his branch to addressing mental health care while Spilka said the Senate is looking at Earth Day as a good time to take up a major energy bill.

– MassLive’ Alison Kuznitz also takes a look at Mariano endorsing Healey in the governor’s race.

Pro-union Starbucks employees say the company is forcing them out

Starbucks workers in Boston who are helping helping advance a unionization effort at several locations say they are being targeted by management. GBH News’ Tori Bedford reports Naomi Goldstein, who filed a petition last month to form a union at a Starbucks in Newtonville, said her hours have been dramatically reduced and a request for a leave of absence lead a manager to say she would need to quit instead.

More from Bedford: “Starbucks denies its local stores are retaliating against employees engaged in organizing a union, actions that would violate federal labor laws. The National Labor Relations Board has not filed a complaint against Starbucks for business practices at any Boston or Massachusetts locations.”

GBH News

Senate Republicans plan to force vote on gas tax suspension

CommonWealth’s Shira Schoenberg reports that Senate Republicans plan to force a vote on a gas tax suspension that would run through Labor Day, even though a similar push failed in the House earlier this month. The policy is unlikely to pass, but it will add some political fodder during campaign season by forcing some Democrats to be recorded against the tax break.


Augustus ponders next moves as he looks to step down in May

What is Worcester City Manager Edward Augustus going to do after he steps down from his city job later this year? Telegram & Gazette’s Steven H. Foskett Jr. reports the longtime city figure hasn’t decided.

More from Foskett: “Augustus said he has had a few conversations, but nothing firm. He said he has always been passionate about education and the idea of a return to higher education — he director of the office of government and community relations at the College of the Holy Cross when he was initially approached to serve as interim city manager in 2014. He said the idea of a return to higher education seemed interesting to him.”

Telegram & Gazette

Some experts worried about end to free day care COVID tests

A state-run program that provides free COVID-19 tests to day cares across Massachusetts is scheduled to expire this summer. GBH News’ Craig LeMoult reports childcare experts are worried about the program lapsing in the event case counts rise again this fall.

GBH News

Boston launches new LGBTQ+ office

A new city office in Boston will help organize resources, create programming, and advocate for policy changes for the LGBTQ+ community. Boston Globe’s Emma Platoff reports Mayor Michelle Wu announced the new office during a Wednesday press conference.

More from Platoff: “The new office is the latest in a string of initiatives the new mayor has launched since taking office in November, a list that also includes new offices on early childhood, Black male advancement, and urban agriculture. While the new efforts make clear statements about the mayor’s priorities, their scope and impact remain to be seen.”

Boston Globe

New $50M state program to help out with hiring employees

If a business hires someone, they could be eligible for a $4,000 grant from the state. Boston Herald’s Matthew Medsger reports a new program the Baker administration launched Wednesday will use $50 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to provide eligible businesses and nonprofits with those grants — up to $400,000 per company.

More from Medsger: “The grants will be distributed through the state’s Workforce Training Fund Program. According to [Lt. Gov. Karyn] Polito, that program is normally the means by which employers seek funds from the state, but will now be usable by nonprofit organizations.”

Boston Herald

After pandemic pause, Hynes Convention Center sale back in play

This may sound familiar. The Globe’s Catherine Carlock and Jon Chesto report an age-old debate over the future of the Hynes Convention Center is likely to reignite now that the Baker administration is preparing to restart the process of putting the Back Bay facility up for sale after a pandemic pause. Expect plenty of stakeholders to want a say, including business owners, lawmakers and Boston Mayor Michelle Wu.

Boston Globe

Riley recommends renewing virtual schools’ certificates despite concerns

While they may have “poor academic outcomes,” a top state education official recommended renewing certificates for two virtual schools in Massachusetts. MassLive’s Heather Morrison reports Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley still expressed concerns about Greenfield Commonwealth Virtual School and TEC Connections Academy Commonwealth Virtual School, saying “neither school has fully delivered on the promises of its mission.”


Northampton ralliers call for one of last mask mandates to be dropped

Students and parents in Northampton rallied Wednesday at City Hall hoping to pressure the city’s school board to reconsider its decision to leave a mask mandate in place well beyond the end of the statewide requirement at the end of February. Briane Steele of the Daily Hampshire Gazette reports the school committee could address the mask rule again as soon as Thursday.

Daily Hampshire Gazette

Alternative approach: Greenfield man launches low-budget long-shot bid for governor

He’s going his own way. Greenfield resident Lucas G. Cote says he’ll make a bid to be the Republican nominee for governor, but the longtime UMass custodian who has never held elected office plans to do so without raising any funds or recruiting any volunteers. And the Recorder’s Domenic Poli reports Cote will try to get the 10,000 signatures needed to land a spot on the primary ballot all by himself.

Greenfield Recorder

Affordable housing nonprofit needs housing – for its own workers

George Brennan of the Martha’s Vineyard Times reports the Island Housing Trust is desperately seeking housing for its own employees, a bind that has workers commuting from as far away as Boston and only underscores the lack of workforce housing on the island.

Martha’s Vineyard Times

Cardinal O’Malley to decide fate of St. Brendan church in Dorchester

After nearly 90 years, the St. Brendan church in Dorchester could close permanently. Dorchester Reporter’s Bill Forry reports parishioners are awaiting a formal decision from Cardinal Sean O’Malley, who has been asked to “relegate” the church.

Dorchester Reporter

Today’s Headlines


In the North End, the kerfuffle over outdoor dining continues – Boston Globe

In the race for a children’s COVID-19 vaccine, Moderna is pushing ahead – WBUR


Northampton man arrested in hit-and-run crash that left UMass student seriously injured – MassLive

Massachusetts top court suspends judge over unwanted contact – Associated Press


Newsom gas tax relief plan: $400 debit cards and no tax hike – Politico

Trump Is Guilty of ‘Numerous’ Felonies, Prosecutor Who Resigned Says – New York Times

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