Today | Labor officials release Massachusetts unemployment rate and jobs data for February.
9:45 a.m. | U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan and U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch hold a press conference to discuss their trip to the Ukrainian border and eastern Europe as part of a Congressional delegation visit.
10:30 a.m. | Sen. Ed Markey and Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark host a press conference to discuss the $4 million in spending they helped secure for the proposed Wonderland Commuter Rail Station and Blue Line Connector.
11 a.m. | U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, city officials, and advocates tour the ABCD Dorchester Early Head Start childcare center. A media availability follows.
11:30 a.m. | U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern visits the Spanish American Center in Leominster to announce federal funding that will help the nonprofit address food insecurity. The congressman visits Athol nonprofit LaunchSpace later in the day.
Good Friday morning.
Senate Republicans may not have succeeded in suspending the state’s gas tax yesterday, but they can walk away with a political victory, of sorts, having forced many senators to go on record with their support or opposition.
Everyone knew the vote was coming. Senate Republican leaders made their intentions clear during a press conference on Wednesday. The proposal would have suspended the state’s 24-cent gas tax through Labor Day and any revenue that was lost — a projected $400 million — would have been covered by replaced with fiscal 2023 surplus revenue.
But when the dust finally settled, only eight Democrats crossed party lines and the amendment was defeated 11-29, including no votes from all four senators running for statewide office – Sonia Chang-Diaz, Diana DiZoglio, Adam Hinds and Eric Lesser. It looked a lot different than the unanimous vote in Connecticut where Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont eagerly signed a tax reprieve through June.
The Senate’s chief budget writer Sen. Michael Rodrigues (D-Westport) said a tax suspension would put the state’s bond rating at risk, and doubted that consumers, and not big oil companies, would see the savings.
“Don’t think you’re providing any relief if you vote for this,” Rodrigues warned.
Sen. Ryan Fattman (R-Sutton), the sponsor of yesterday’s proposal, said working families have been suffering at the pumps and need some sort of relief. AAA reported the average price of a gallon of gas in Massachusetts hovered at $4.25, that’s down from a week ago ($4.30) but still above last month’s average ($3.56).
“Many businesses have been walloped, whacked, destroyed in some instances over the last two years, they have felt tremendous pain,” he said. “And the only thing that could exacerbate that pain is by people over the course of the next several months, not visiting their businesses because it’s too expensive.”
Chang-Diaz calls for three debates before June
Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz challenged Attorney General Muara Healey to participate in three live, televised debates ahead of the Democratic convention on June 4. Boston Globe’s Samantha J. Gross and State House News Service’s Matt Murphy have more details.
“Democrats deserve to hear publicly from their candidates for governor on the important issues facing us,” Chang-Díaz wrote in a letter to Healey. “This moment calls for leadership that is willing to answer the tough questions and provide fearless commitment to the residents we serve.”
In a statement to MASSterList and the State House News Service, Healey spokesperson Karissa Hand did not commit to anything, saying the attorney general “looks forward to continuing to engage with voters throughout this campaign and participating in forums and debates before the primary election to share her vision and ensure voters know where the candidates stand on the issues.”
Clark graduate students vote to unionize
Graduate students at Clark University have voted in favor of unionization. Telegram & Gazette’s Jeff A. Chamer reports the university will now engage in collective bargaining with the Clark University Graduate Workers United union.
More from Chamer: “The effort to unionize began when health care premiums had increased but the graduate workers’ wages had not during the previous school year, said Patrick Geiger, a graduate worker and member of CUGWU in a previous interview with the Telegram & Gazette.”
Kerry says he’ll stay in climate role through next UN summit
U.S. Climate Envoy John Kerry says he’ll stay in his role at least through late this year when the next United Nations climate summit will happen in Egypt, Ella Nilsen of CNN reports. Kerry also tells the network it’s “imperative” the U.S. Congress pass some climate-focused measures soon and expressed support for President Biden’s plan to boost natural gas exports to Europe to help western nations wean themselves from Russian fossil fuels.
Separately, Joe Dwinell of the Herald reports a watchdog group has joined the newspaper’s push to get Kerry’s climate office to disclose staff salaries. Protect the Public’s Trust has sued the State Department, which has said it won’t be able to turn over the requested information until 2024.
Worcester medical school looking to hire hundreds
University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School is looking to fill 600 positions in Worcester. MassLive’s Kiernan Dunlop reports Chancellor Michael Collins said the school is looking to help the state’s second largest city in its quest to grow economically. Collins was participating in a Worcester Business Journal and State House News Service virtual forum.
Dropkick Murphys file cease-and-desist against white nationalists
Stop using their music. Boston Globe’s Brittany Bowker reports the Dropkick Murphys filed a cease-and-desist letter as a response to a white nationalist group using one of their songs in a promotional video.
‘Heartbreaking’ sights at Poland-Ukraine border
Scenes of people fleeing their homes in Ukraine and looking for refuge in Poland were “heartbreaking” to see for Rhode Island Congressman David Cicilline. GBH News’ Alexi Cohan reports the representative recently made a trip to the Poland-Ukraine border to see for himself what was going on.
This morning U.S. Reps. Lori Trahan of Lowell and Stephen Lynch of South Boston will discuss their own experiences from the Congressional trip to eastern Europe at Lynch’s Boston office.
Allen reflects on brief governor run as she preps return to Harvard
Former gubernatorial candidate Danielle Allen says she isn’t ruling out seeking elected office again and repeated her assertion that the state’s primary system makes it harder for non-traditional candidates to break through in a return-to-campus interview with Yusuf Mian and Charlotte Ritz-Jack of the Harvard Crimson.
Suffolk County sees population drop as pandemic rocks cities
Suffolk County, which is dominated by the city of Boston, lost 3 percent of its population in the year ending last July. Grant Welker of the Boston Business Journal reports that declining populations was a trend seen in a number of typically high-rent cities such as Los Angeles and New York.
Green Line extension has some worried about higher rents
The new Green Line extension into Somerville had a lot of people cheering. But some residents are worried the new Union Square stop will lead to higher rent. WBUR’s Simon Rios reports one resident said their rent was in line to double.
More from Rios: “Five new Green Line stations are expected to open in coming months in Somerville and neighboring Medford, creating a transit corridor all the way to Tufts University. But some neighbors worry the new train stops could lead to a rush of new development that prices them out of their homes.”
Boston revokes Sons of Boston entertainment license
The City of Boston revoked the entertainment license for the Sons of Boston, the bar where a bouncer allegedly stabbed a 23-year-old ex-Marine. Boston Herald’s Sean Philip Cotter reports city officials said the bar didn’t have the proper “security and operations plan.”
Kowloon site apartment project wins height variance
A plan to build as many as 200 apartments on the site of the Kowloon restaurant has won a major boost with all five members of the board of selectmen voting to grant the project a height variance in exchange for promises the units will all have only one bedroom. The Item’s Oksana Kotkina has the details
Public Affairs Shows: Sonia Chang Diaz, Steve Hoffman, and Katherine Clark
Talking Politics, WGBH-TV, Ch. 2, 7 p.m.: Gubernatorial candidate Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz discusses her path to victory with host Adam Reilly. Bay State Banner senior editor Yawu Miller and Boston Globe Joan Venocchi discuss what state receivership would mean for Boston’s public schools, and what the political implications would be for Mayor Michelle Wu.
Keller at Large, WBZ-TV Ch. 4, 8:30 a.m.: Steven Hoffman, chair of the Mass. Cannabis Control Commission, discussing the state of legalization and proposed changes to pot laws.
On The Record, WCVB-TV Ch. 5, Sunday, 11 a.m.: Assistant House Speaker Katherine Clark talks with hosts Ed Harding and Janet Wu, followed by a roundtable discussion with political analysts Mary Anne Marsh and Rob Gray.
CityLine, WCVB-TV, Ch. 5, Sunday 12 p.m.: This Senate Judiciary Committee has concluded hearings for Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. Offering commentary on the historic nomination are Angela Onwuachi-Willig, dean of the Boston University School of Law, Dr. Sherri Ann Burnett-Bowie, Harvard grad and President of the Boston Chapter of The Links, Inc, and Simone Yhap, Northeastern University law student and national chair of the National Black Law Students Association.
Corrections & Clarifications
A quick clarification: The e-bike rally hosted by the Boston Cyclists Union scheduled for yesterday outside the State House was postponed until next week. The weather in Boston featured a whole lot of rain. We don’t blame people for wanting to stay indoors.
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