10 a.m. | Cannabis Control Commission meets.
10 a.m. | Gov. Charlie Baker joins Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides and Massachusetts Clean Energy Center CEO Jennifer Daloisio to tour the MassCEC Wind Technology Testing Center in Boston and announce the release of the 2021 Clean Energy Industry Report.
11 a.m. | Senate meets in a formal session to debate legislation that would tighten oversight of host community agreements and improve social equity in the legal marijuana industry.
1 p.m. | Gov. Charlie Baker appears on WGBH-FM 89.7 “Boston Public Radio” to help host Jim Braude and Margery Eagan interview Juliette Kayyem about her new book, “The Devil Never Sleeps: Learning to Live in an Age of Disasters.” The governor will then take listener calls.
1 p.m. | Neighborhood Villages and Strategies for Children host a conversation with child care providers about the Commonwealth Cares for Children stabilization grant program and why they would like to see funding prioritized in the fiscal 2023 budget.
Good Thursday morning,
“We’re Back in Person!” Those words, in bright red, adorned the top of a save-the-date invitation this week from the Massachusetts Association of Health Plans announcing its Nov. 17 annual conference at the Seaport Hotel.
And the health insurance organization is not alone. Everywhere you look these days, organizations are returning to large in-person gatherings, and the face-to-face networking that comes with those. These events used to be staples on the Beacon Hill calendar, but either went on hiatus or virtual over the past two years.
The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce plans its annual meeting for May 17 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, billing it as the “preeminent business gathering in New England” that attracts over 2,000 business and civic leaders from across Massachusetts. And the Massachusetts High Tech Council will be at the Seaport Hotel on May 24 for its annual meeting and to celebrate its 45th anniversary.
Gov. Charlie Baker has been invited to attend all three.
“It’s been hard and very nerve-racking to make this decision, but we’re trying to be optimistic,” MAHP CEO Lora Pellegrini told MASSterList.
Pellegrini said some annual attendees of MAHP’s conference were interested in a return to in-person last year, but the organization made the call to stay virtual. And Pellegrini’s glad it. But the desire of people to see each other again is winning out this year, even if predicting the virus seven months out can be a challenge.
Pellegrini said it’s likely that MAHP will offer some testing on site if guests feel unwell, and speakers will be told to be prepared to go virtual if necessary. “Can I say I’m 100 percent confident this event will go off without a hitch? No. But I feel better than I did last year,” Pellegrini said, pointing to vaccination and booster rates and the availability of therapeutics that can limit the severity of the illness.
People may be starting to breathe easier, but the fading Omicron variant that drove the surge at the end of last year and in early 2022 has been replaced with a new BA.2 subvariant that is starting to show up in elevated levels in eastern Massachusetts wastewater.
And you just never know what might spark an outbreak. The Washington Post reports that last week’s Gridiron Club dinner in Washington, D.C. spread more than just humor. A number of attendees, including Attorney General Merrick Garland and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, have since tested positive for COVID-19.
Assistant House Speaker Katherine Clark announced on Twitter Wednesday that she had tested positive despite being vaccinated and boosted, but staff said she had not been at the Gridiron dinner attended by both U.S. Sen. Ed Markey and presidential climate envoy John Kerry.
ON TAP FOR TODAY?
– The Senate meets to debate and vote on a bill that would direct funding to support social equity in the legal marijuana industry and give the Cannabis Control Commission and oversight role in the deployment of host-community agreements between municipalities and cannabis businesses.
– Senate President Karen Spilka is joined by Sens. Michael Rodrigues, Michael Barrett and Cynthia Creem for a press conference in the State House to announce new efforts to address the climate crisis and keep the state on the path towards net-zero emissions by 2050. Spilka has previous highlighted her interest wind, solar and incentives to get people to buy electric vehicles.
IN THEIR OWN WORDS
April is Victim Rights Month, and the Baker administration is marking the moment with a new social media campaign featuring survivors of domestic violence and other abuse telling their stories and helping to make the case for the governor’s pre-trial detention bill.
Gov. Baker has been using social weeks for weeks now to share clips of survivors telling their stories of abuse at events held in Plymouth, Springfield and Worcester. The new campaign that starts this morning will highlight one-on-one interviews the governor’s office has recorded with victims who have either participated in one of those roundtables or testified before the Legislature. Aides say they plan to post new clips a couple times a week throughout the month
Baker’s bill would expand the list of crimes for which a defendant can be held in custody pending trial, and allow judges to consider past criminal histories when deciding on a suspect’s dangerousness.
Thursday’s featured survivor is Sara Malley, of Middleboro, who previously shared with the governor how her ex-husband, who had a violent past, was able to find out where she had moved, broke into her home and assaulted her. His criminal history could not be considered under current law by a judge weighing whether to detain him for being dangerous.
“This bill is like a miracle for us. It just gives us more tools, because we have none right now,” Malley says in the interview.
The Judiciary Committee has until April 15 to decide whether to recommend Baker’s legislation, which has stalled out twice before in the Legislature.
Careful what you text
The head of the Chicopee School Department was arrested by the FBI on Wednesday morning at her Belchertown home and charged with lying to investigators. Superintendent Lynn Clark allegedly sent 99 text messages from “fictitious” phone numbers to a candidate for police chief in Chicopee attempting to pressure that individual to withdraw. Clark later admitted that she had sent the messages after trying to deflect blame on to other possible suspects people, including other city officials, the candidates colleagues or even another member of her own family, according to a statement from U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins.
AGs to N.F.L.: Fix your culture or we will
Attorney General Maura Healey is one of six attorneys general threatening to investigate workplace conditions at the N.F.L. unless the league takes steps to address allegations of harassment and intimidation of women and minority employees, Ken Belson and Katherine Rosman of the New York times report.
A letter led by New York Attorney General Letitia James was sent to N.F.L. Commissioner Roger Goodell outlining the state chief legal officers “grave concerns” with the workplace culture at the league’s New York headquarters. Joining New York and Massachusetts were Illinois, Minnesota, Oregon and Washington state. For Healey, the action is in keeping with her office’s willingness play on the national stage, whether its involved taking on the Trump White House or suing Uber and Purdue Pharma.
The T ignored her until the media came calling
Hannah Rosenberg was injured in a Green Line crash last summer for which federal investigators determined the driver of the trolley to be at fault. But when she tried to get the MBTA to cover her $1,000 out-of-pocket medical bills, she was greeted with silence. For eight months. The Globe’s Sean Murphy tells Rosenberg’s story, and explains how it took a call from him to put Rosenberg’s claim on the fast track.
Climate change a problem the next generation can’t escape
College students like Maddy Roop didn’t envision their futures being about stopping and adapting to climate change. But when it’s in your face every day, some see little choice: “I don’t want to, like, literally throw my whole life away to fix this problem that is not my problem, really. But I have to. Because what else can I do? My planet’s dying,” said UMass Lowell student Maddy Roop.
GBH “Morning Edition” hosts Jeremy Siegel and Paris Alston talked with UMass student and Juliette Rooney Varga, a professor and director of UMass Lowell’s Climate Change Initiative, to better understand how climate change is, well, changing, how young adults make decisions about their future.
Russian runners banned from Boston Marathon
The Legislature has directed the divestment of state pension funds from Russian corporations. Gov. Charlie Baker has ordered the cancellation of state contracts with Russian firms. And now the Boston Athletic Association says Russian runners are no longer welcome. The Herald’s Rick Sobey reports that with the Boston marathon less than two weeks away the BAA has decided to ban Russians living in Russia and Belarusians living in Belarus from competing in the road race. The sanctions remove 63 entrants from the marathon field. “We believe that running is a global sport, and as such, we must do what we can to show our support to the people of Ukraine,” said BAA President and Tom Grilk.
Worcester finds acting, and maybe permanent, city manager
Worcester Assistant City Manager Eric Batista will take over on June 1 as acting chief executive of the state’s second largest city until the City Council can find a permanent replacement for Edward Augusts – which might also be Batista. Born in Puerto Rico before moving to Worcester as a child, Batista has worked for the city since 2012. Longtime manager Augustus recently announced he would step down in May, and Mayor Joe Petty is running for state Senate. The Telegram & Gazette’s Steven A. Foskett Jr. reports that the subtext of Tuesday’s council vote to make Batista acting manager is that he could be the guy for the long-term.
Underserved in some of Boston’s neighborhoods of color
This one will need a little time to ferment. But rest assured Beacon Hill lawmakers will be watching closely. The Globe’s Danny McDonald writes that three Boston city councils want permission to hand out 200 additional liquor licenses in the city to businesses in Dorchester, Mattapan, Roxbury and Hyde Park where there are relatively few restaurants allowed to serve alcohol. The proposal is being pitched as a way to support restaurants and small businesses in those neighborhoods, but it would first require approval from the City Council and then the Legislature and Gov. Charlie Baker. Traditionally, the Legislature has closely guarded its control over liquor licenses, to the frustration of many local officials.
Washed ashore after 27 years
Sting would be proud. Former Harwich resident Jonathan Saunders tossed a bottle off the bow of a sword fishing boat east of Puerto Rico in 1995 with a message and one-dollar bill. Now it’s been found…in France. And there are more out there.
The red light means it’s recording
Great Barrington and Sheffield could become the first municipal police departments in Berkshire County to deploy body-worn cameras. The Berkshire Eagle’s Heather Bellows reports that unions in both towns have signed off on the body cam programs, allowing those communities to access grant funding through the Executive of Public Safety and Security to defray some of the costs.
“I think it’s better for both the police and the public,” Great Barrington Police Chief Paul Storti said. “It protects the public in case we do anything wrong, and protects officers who are accused of doing something wrong.”
New trial sought in 1984 North Adams arson case
Convicted of setting a house fire in 1984 that killed two children and a teenager in North Adams, William P. Cascone is seeking a new trial after 37 years in prison for a crime he says he didn’t commit. Now Cascone hopes scientific advances can help him prove that. The Berkshire Eagle’s Larry Parnass digs deep into Cascone’s case and the legal wrangling taking place to give his case a second look.
What could $10 billion in COVID funding buy here?
Congress is considering a $10 billion spending package to fund the fight against COVID -10. While the contours of a deal between Democrats and Republicans is still evolving, WBUR’s Gabrielle Emanuel and Lisa Mullins take a look at what a new cash infusion could mean for Massachusetts, from more testing to vaccine research.
On unionization, Republican lawmaker sees inconsistency
Three years before Senate staffers announced their intent to unionize, House Democrats voted down Rep. Shawn Dooley’s amendment to allow House staff to form a union. Now the Republican believes his colleagues on the other side of the aisle are being hypocritical as many rally to the side of the Senate aides fighting for the right to bargain over pay raises, better health insurance and a safe work environment. “I just find it very interesting that when it’s an election year and it’s being used for political gamesmanship and to curry favor with unions or certain groups of people, all of a sudden all these people are 100 percent behind it,” Dooley told CommonWealth Magazine’s Shira Schoenberg.
Undeterred: Heroux to try again on nip-bottle ban in Attleboro
Attleboro Mayor Paul Heroux is asking the city council to reconsider his proposal to ban the sale of nip-sized bottles of alcohol in the city, George Rhodes of the Sun Chronicle reports. Last year the council approved seven of nine proposals Heroux advanced as part of his green agenda, but bans on nips and on plastic water bottles were rejected.
Smoke machines latest weapon in war versus rats
While Somerville and Cambridge are targeting rats with electrified boxes, the city of Boston has its own new weapon of vermin war. Sean Phillip Cotter of the Herald reports the city recently deployed two $2,600 smoke machines that essentially suffocate the rodents in their burrows.
No contest: Dartmouth residents vote to keep Indian logo for schools
All eyes in Dartmouth are on the school board after residents overwhelmingly supported a referendum seeking to retain the Indian team name and imagery. Matthew Ferreira of the Standard-Times reports the measure passed by a count of 4,048 to 969 and that proponents are now threatening to recall school committee members who don’t follow suit.
Backyard helicopter flights could net East Brookfield man 20 year prison sentence
East Brookfield resident Antonio Santonastaso could be facing up to 20 years in prison after a federal jury convicted him of flying a helicopter at least 50 times without a license, often taking off and landing from his own backyard. Brad Petrishen of the Telegram has the details.
Did you just throw that at me?
No one is shocked that there’s a feud going on within the ranks of the Governor’s Council. But this tale is a new one. The latest dust up involves a dime, a phone call to call the Boston Herald, and lingering bitterness. Councilors Marilyn Devaney and Terry Kennedy are at the center, but of course everyone’s involved. SHNS’s Sam Doran tries to unwind the latest.
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