12:30 p.m. | Sen. Paul Feeney announces $975,000 in new funding for the expansion of the Teamsters Local 25 Driver Training Program.
6 p.m. | Safe Homes holds a virtual gala to present their “People of Courage Awards” recognizing individuals and organizations that are “making a difference” for the LGBTQIA+ community in central Massachusetts.
Good Friday morning,
The Red Sox open their 2022 season in the Bronx at 1:05 p.m. with Nathan Eovaldi on the hill. So while you wait for first pitch, he’s some reading to keep your mind occupied.
Senate President Karen Spilka and other top Senate Democrats helped roll out a sweeping $250 million climate action bill on Thursday that they said would put Massachusetts on track to meet the carbon emission reduction requirements they helped set just a year ago.
While there are many pieces to the Senate climate puzzle, one major thrust is getting more people behind the wheel of electric vehicles. The bill proposes to put $100 million into the state’s MOR-EV rebate program, and another $50 million into electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
To put that into context, the MOR-EV program has been around since 2014 and to date has issued $48.9 million in rebates on the purchase or lease of 23,950 vehicles valued at $50,000 or less.
Senate leaders are proposing to increase the value of the rebate from $2,500 to $3,500, with cash back available immediately at the point of sale, and would offer another $1,000 if the buyer has a gas-powered vehicle to trade in. The bill would also codify a requirement that by 2035 all new vehicles sold in Massachusetts produce zero emissions, which is technically already in the works since Massachusetts has legally tied itself to California emission standards.
The money is significant because by all measures Massachusetts is way off the pace for electric vehicle adoption that it needs to set in order to reach its emission reductions targets. The Baker administration in December 2020 said 1 million EVs would need to be registered by 2030 to reduce emissions by 45 percent below 1990 levels, a far cry from the roughly 36,000 on the road today.
So what are people driving? Tesla is by far the most popular make with 8,816 rebates issued through MOR-EV, followed by Chevrolet at 4,120, Toyota at 4,119 and Nissan at 1,337. Ford, Hyundai, Honda, BMW, Volkswagen and Kia round out the top 10.
It follows then that Tesla dealerships around the state are the top retailers of electric vehicles by rebate, followed by Quirk Chevrolet in Braintree, Mirak Chevrolet in Arlington, Acton Toyota of Littleton and Wellesley Toyota.
Lia Toyota of Northampton is the only retailers west of Worcester to crack the top 15 for EV rebates, according to the state.
FOUR IS GREAT, BUT WHY NOT MORE?
If you thought the tiff between Attorney General Maura Healey and Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz over debate scheduling was spicy, the three Democrats running for attorney general will surely give you heartburn.
Labor lawyer Shannon Liss-Riordan got things started Thursday morning when she challenged her primary competitors to debate ways the office of the attorney general should be used to fight climate change. “We can all agree on the urgency of this issue,” Liss-Riordan said.
Liss-Riordan suggested an April-or-May timeframe, to which Quentin Palfrey agreed. But Palfrey suggested while they were talking about debates they might as well agree to four more – two before the June 4 convention and two after – so that they should flesh out their differences over other issues like single payer health care, safe injection sites and charter schools.
But why stop there. In an internal email shared with MASSterList, Liss-Riordan campaign manager Jordan Meehan wrote to the other campaigns, “We respectfully ask why any campaign wants to limit the number of debates to four.” Liss-Riordan, Meehan said, was prepared to debate any number of times provided they were affiliated with “reputable media organizations.”
Meanwhile, former Boston city councilor Andrea Campbell’s campaign had appeared to agree to the climate debate, with perhaps more issues included, and said it would reach out to the other camps on timing, only to see Liss-Riordan blast Campbell Thursday afternoon for backing out.
“It is deeply disturbing that in less than 8 hours, Andrea Campbell is walking back her campaign’s initial commitment to participate in a climate debate in April or May,” Meehan said in a statement.
Campbell’s campaign manager Will Stockton did not return a call seeking an explanation, but something tells me this isn’t over.
Unsacred unions: Rollins breaks up “sham marriage” ring
Eight were arrested and 11 charged in what U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins said Thursday was an elaborate “sham marriage” conspiracy based out of California to get around immigration laws. Some of against a California agency that prosecutors allege arranged sham marriages to get around immigration laws. At least one client was a Massachusetts resident. The Herald’s Flint McColgan has the details.
Sons of Boston loses liquor license after stabbing
The Boston Licensing Board has suspended the liquor license of the downtown where bouncer Alvaro O. Larrama allegedly stabbed former Marine Daniel Martinez, resulting in his death. The unanimous vote came with an admonishments from regulators over what were described as lax safety protocols at Sons of Boston. Larrama has pleaded not guilty, but is being held on murder charges.
“The entire security operation from beginning to end was a failure,” board chair Kathleen Joyce said during Thursday’s meeting.
There’s wealthy, and then there’s WEALTHY
As you get ready to watch the Red Sox take on the Yankees in their 2022 opener later today remember this: Sox and Boston Globe owner John Henry is the world’s 822nd richest man valued at $3.6 billion, up in one year from $2.8 billion. That’s according to the latest rankings of billionaires from Forbes. The BBJ’s Grant Welker’s combed through the list for boldface Bay State names and found Fidelity’s Abigail Johnson holding steady as the state’s wealthiest resident with a fortune valued at $21.2 billion. Meanwhile, another sports franchise owner – the New England Patriots’ Robert Kraft – saw his wealth grow from $6.9 billion to $8.3 billion last year, while New Balance chairman Jim Davis lost about $1.5 billion and is now worth just $5.4 billion. Click through to satisfy more of your curiosity.
Connoisseurs not high on Bay State weed
Massachusetts was the fifth state in the country to legalize recreational marijuana and the first east of the Mississippi. But being an early adopter doesn’t mean its weed is any good. “It’s garbage,” Warren Lynch, a 47-year-old Malden resident, told The Boston Globe’s Dan Adams. Adams writes that Massachusetts cultivators have been making strides to improve the quality of the pot reaching dispensary shelves, but a combination of climate, COVID-19 and strict safety and testing regulations has resulted in some “nasty corporate schwag.”
North Adams mayor sides with residents in dispute over cannabis farm
North Adams Mayor Jennifer Macksey is suing the city’s Planning Board and a firm that wants to grow cannabis outdoors, saying she had to ‘stop the clock’ to ensure that neighbors’ concerns – mostly about odor – are property addressed. Greta Jochem of the Berkshire Eagle has the details.
Bill to diversity pot industry clears Senate
For the first time since 2017, lawmakers are revisiting in a significant way the laws that govern legal marijuana in Massachusetts. The Senate on Thursday unanimously passed legislation that would put money into grant and loan programs intended to help minority entrepreneurs whose communities were hurt the most by the war on drugs and the criminalization of weed.
“Massachusetts became the first state in the country in 2017 to include explicitly an equity mandate in its adult use cannabis law. There’s just a huge gap between the express intent of the law and what we’re seeing in real life,” Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, the chair of the Cannabis Policy Committee, told Shira Schoenberg in an interview for CommonWealth Magazine. The bill would also provide closer scrutiny of host community agreements between cannabis businesses and municipalities, which in some case have been exploited by local officials, and help lay the groundwork for social consumption, or pot cafes.
Thar she blows
A pod of right whales caused quite a stir as they swam near the Cape Cod canal on Friday warning, bringing out environmental police crews to make sure vessels in the canal obey speed limits and steer clear of the endangered mammals. WCVB has the video.
JUST IN: Sullivan picks up western Mass. support
Attorney and NAACP Boston President Tanisha Sullivan announced the backing of several officials from Springfield and Holyoke Friday morning. Sullivan is running for secretary of state against longtime incumbent William Galvin. The endorsers include: Springfield Rep. Bud Williams; Springfield At-Large Councilors Justin Hurst, Jesse Lederman, and Tracye Whitfield; Springfield Ward 3 Councilor Melvin Edwards; Springfield School Committee members Denise M. Hurst and LaTonia Monroe Naylor; and Holyoke At-Large Councilors Tessa Murphy-Romboletti and Israel Rivera.
Down but not out, clean energy jobs bouncing back
The clean energy sector was not immune from the havoc on employment wreaked by the COVID-19 pandemic, but Gov. Charlie Baker and industry officials remain bullish on its future in Massachusetts. Colin A. Young and Chris Lisinski of the State House News Service report that for the first time in more than a decade clean energy jobs declined in 2020. Though there was a rebound in 2021, the 101,208 jobs counted at the end of 2020 remained below pre-pandemic level, according to the latest report from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center.
“While a full recovery has been delayed in part due to ongoing pandemic uncertainty and supply chain and labor shortage constraints, the state did see some modest gains in wind energy, electric vehicles, and energy storage,” MassCEC CEO Jennifer Daloisio said. “Significantly, the early estimates of data through December 2021 show this recovery continuing, underscoring the resilience of the state’s clean energy industry.”
Walpole prison to close as incarceration rates fall
This might be a closure no one will mourn. The Department of Correction announced Thursday that over the next two years it plans to shutter one of Massachusetts’ oldest prisons. WBUR’s Deborah Becker writes that reduced incarceration rates and high maintenance helped officials make the decision to close MCI-Cedar Junction at Walpole. There are currently 525 men incarcerated at Cedar Junction, meaning the prison is operating at just 68 percent. With $30 million in repairs needed at the 67-year-old facility, officials have opted to relocate operations instead.
Bump vs. DiZoglio: Auditing the unauditable
Some (women) see things as they are, and ask, ‘Why?’ She dreams of things that never were, and asks, ‘Why not?’ Apologies to Bobby Kennedy and George Bernard Shaw. But this is basically where the race for auditor stands at the moment, with Sen. Diana DiZoglio vowing if elected to audit the Legislature she now serves in, and Auditor Suzanne Bump saying if only you could. The back-and-forth has been playing out in the pages of CommonWealth Magazine where Bruce Mohl has been peeling back layers story by story. Bump has joined the chorus of naysayers telling DiZoglio that state law prevents her from doing what she’s promising on the campaign trail – separation of powers and all that. DiZoglio’s answer: Let the courts stop me.
COVID-19 forced researchers to adapt, maybe for the better
The Boston Business Journal’s Rowan Walrath writes that a silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic may be how biotech companies and regulators learned to adapt, out of necessity, their clinical research trials in order to keep them going when face-to-face, on-site interactions where no longer safe. By incorporating telehealth, home visits and other workarounds, researchers were able to design more flexible trials that in the long run could lead to more efficient and diverse studies.
A Petty endorsement
Democrat Andrea Campbell will pick up the endorsement of Worcester Mayor Joe Petty on Friday in her campaign to become the next attorney general, MassLive’s Alison Kuznitz reports. Campbell, a former Boston city councilor and candidate for mayor, will appear with Petty outside Worcester City Hall at 4:45 p.m. as part of her “Listening to Gateway Cities” tour. The nod from Petty could help Campbell, who has led in early polling on the race, but is looking to expand her brand beyond Greater Boston where she is more well known. Petty is seeking a different office as well this year, running for state Senate to succeed retiring Sen. Harriette Chandler.
Too tiny? Nahant pushes back on new T zoning regulations
Officials in Nahant are urging the state to exercise ‘flexibility’ as it enforces new zoning regulations meant to increase density in communities serviced by the MBTA. Thor Jourgensen of the Item reports that as written the rules seek to increase the amount of housing in the town by 45 percent, something leaders say will be challenging in a community that measures just one square mile –nforty percent of which is considered floodplain or wetlands.
‘ABC’ ticket pushed by Parler CEO goes down in Hamilton, Wenham school race
Early this week we shared a story about how this local race was feeling a bit like a national one. Well, the three candidates for the Hamilton-Wenham regional school committee who were heavily promoted by the CEO of the conservative social media site Parler all finished out of the running as the two communities wrapped up a contentious election season, Dustin Luca of the Salem News reports.
Tsarnaev asks for stay of execution, seeks new appeal
Convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has asked the First Circuit Court of Appeals to stay his execution and consider new constitutional claims, including a judge’s decision to hold his trial in Boston, the Globe’s Jeremy Fox reports.
The race to replace Lesser
Western Mass Politics and Insights’ Matt Szafranski delves into the Senate race to succeed Sen. Eric Lesser, who is leaving the Legislature this year to run for lieutenant governor. More specifically, Szafranksi looks at how Democrats Sydney Levin-Epstein and Rep. Jake Oliveria are styling their campaigns as they got started in earnest this week.
Sunday Talk Shows
Talking Politics, WGBH-TV, Ch. 2, 7 p.m.: Host Adam Reilly is joined by The Boston Business Journal’s Steph Solis and GBH News politics editor Peter Kadzis to discuss the push to make driver’s licenses available to undocumented immigrants, the move by Senate staffers to unionize and Boston’s rebrand. Also, Walk Boston head Stacey Beuttell joins to discuss bad driving habits and whether automated cameras should be used crack down on speeding and red-light violations.
Keller at Large, WBZ-TV Ch. 4, 8:30 a.m.: Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation President Eileen McAnneny discusses Gov. Charlie Baker’s proposed tax cuts, the ballot question fight over raising taxes on millionaires, and the challenges facing the Massachusetts economy.
On The Record, WCVB-TV Ch. 5, Sunday, 11 a.m.: U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan, of Westford, sits downs with hosts Ed Harding and Janet Wu, followed by a political roundtable discussion with Democratic analyst Mary Anne Marsh and Republican analyst Rob Gray.
CityLine, WCVB-TV, Ch. 5, Sunday 12 p.m.: Adrienne Benton, the first woman of color to serve on the Boston Athletic Association board of governor, and Marilyn Bevens, the first African American woman to run the Boston marathon in under three hours, celebrate Black marathoners; Syndicated comic creator Robb Armstrong talks about the 2nd annual Comics in Color festival in Roxbury; Real Pirates Salem Executive Director Bill Golden talks about life on the high seas; cast members of “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations” preview the show’s Boston run.
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