6:30 a.m. | U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton joins striking 1199 SEIU employees from the Saugus Rehabilitation and Nursing Center as they walk back for their first shift after a 24-hour strike.
10 a.m. | Gov. Charlie Baker attends a groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of new piers at the U.S. Coast Guard’s Boston Base. Mayor Michelle Wu offers remarks
10 a.m. | Boston Athletic Association holds a public safety press conference in Copley Sqaure ahead of the 126th Annual Boston Marathon with BAA CEO Tom Grilk, Boston Marathon Co-Medical Director Dr. Aaron Baggish, Homeland Security Undersecretary Jeanne Benincasa Thorpe, State Police Deputy Superintendent Scott Warmington, and FBI Boston Division Special Agent in Charge Joseph Bonavolonta.
10 a.m. | Sen. Ed Markey, Congressman Jim McGovern, Lt. Gov.Karyn Polito and Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides visit Union Station in Worcester to announce that the $3 million Worcester Regional Food Hub is fully funded and ready for construction.
11 a.m. | Senate meets in a formal session to consider a major clean energy bill ( S 2819) targets the transportation, energy and the construction fields for action to hasten emissions reduction efforts.
1 p.m. | Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs hosts a public hearing on its Clean Energy and Climate Plan proposals for 2025 and 2030, including economy-wide emissions limits, emissions sublimits for specific sectors, and policies to achieve the emissions limits, sublimits, and other goals.
Good Thursday morning.
The Massachusetts Republican Party convention is five weeks away, but Gov. Charlie Baker is not worried about booking a hotel room in Springfield. Because he’s not going.
Baker, whose frosty relationship with party leadership has been well documented, declined an invitation from the MassGOP to speak at the event where delegates will be deciding who the party should endorse and which candidates for statewide office will qualify for the ballot.
“Not being a candidate for office the governor and lieutenant governor thought delegates would be better served focusing on candidates for election this year,” Baker advisor Jim Conroy told MASSterList Wednesday.
It may seem unthinkable that a popular governor not seeking reelection wouldn’t attend his own party’s convention. But given Baker’s current relationship with the MassGOP he is probably right. His presence might have been a distraction, his speech a highlight of a convention for a party that is trying, wisely or not, to turn the page on the past eight years and chart a course forward.
The party is also not moving in the direction Baker tried to set for it since taking office in 2015, veering from the center lane Baker occupied well to the right. You need only look at who is speaking at the MassGOP convention to understand why Baker is not.
The party is still nailing down its program, but Chairman Jim Lyons announced Wednesday that in addition to candidates for statewide office and some elected officials, like Rep. Steve Xiarhos, the guest speakers in Springfield will be Thomas Homan, former acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement under President Donald Trump, and pro-life advocate and 40 Days for Life Co-founder David Bereit.
“Tom Homan’s work protecting America’s borders is exactly the story we want to share at our convention,” Lyons said in a statement. “Additionally, David Bereit is an outstanding speaker and pro-life advocate whose work has saved countless lives from the clutches of the abortion industry.”
Baker is a pro-choice Republican who decried many of Trump’s immigration policies while in the White House.
“WE FELT THEY WEREN’T NECESSARY”
The prospects for tax relief this session seemed to take a step backward Wednesday with the release of House leadership’s $49.6 billion fiscal 2023 budget. It wasn’t just that the bill omitted all of the tax cuts proposed by Gov. Baker in January, but also what Speaker Mariano had to say about them: “Well, we felt they weren’t necessary at the time.”
Mariano has previously suggested he was possibly interested in increasing the estate tax threshold and packaging that with some other type of tax reform to help low- and middle-class residents. Now? There’s still time for a tax debate and Baker actually did file his $700 million tax cut plan as legislation separate from the budget, but what had felt like momentum now looks to be stalled.
So what did the House do with the money? Well, Colin A. Young of State House News writes they boosted spending by 4.2 percent overall and 2.9 percent above what was recommended by Baker, pouring additional money into education, housing supports and food security, and MassLive’s Alison Kuznitz reports the bill proposes, as Baker did, to eliminate all probation and parole fees and would also eliminate all charges for inmate phone calls to family.
The Globe’s Matt Stout quotes House budget chairman Aaron Michlewitz explaining: “We chose to use the opportunities that we have here to make investments into the middle class that we feel were extremely necessary, to stabilize the economy while the economy is doing relatively well from a revenue standpoint.”
Mariano was also not moved by S&P Global Ratings stating Tuesday that temporary state gas tax suspensions like the one adopted in Connecticut and proposed by Bay State Republicans were “unlikely to lead to rating changes on highway user tax-supported debt.”
The concern over how a gas tax suspension would impact the state’s bond rating (and in turn interest rates) was cited repeatedly by Democrats during debate last month as the main reason not to take action. And Mariano’s sticking to that. “I thought it was a very bizarre statement for a bond rating agency to make. Either it will affect the bond rating or it won’t,” the speaker said, according to my colleagues at State House News Service.
And here we thought it was journalists who like to parse statements for wiggle room.
The Senate takes up a sweeping bill designed to put Massachusetts on track to meeting the legal requirement of net-zero emissions statewide by 2050, including investments in electric vehicle rebates and changes to offshore wind procurement rules. The State House News Service’s Colin A. Young looked at the more than 150 amendments filed ahead of this afternoon’s debate. The Globe’s Jon Chesto also reports that business groups are trying to fight a provision in the bill that would allow up to 10 cities to ban new natural gas hookups for new buildings and major renovations as a pilot program.
UMass board defrosts tuition
After a two year freeze, the University of Massachusetts board of trustees approved a 2.5 percent jump in tuition in the 2022-2023 academic year, representing between $346 and $395 more per year, as well as increases in room and board costs ranging from 1.9 percent to 3.9 percent. State House News Service’s Chris Lisinski reports that UMass President Marty Meehan said another year of level tuition would not be “sustainable” in the current economic climate and with the public university system likely to face higher benefit costs. For in-state undergraduates, combined annual tuition and mandatory fees will increase in fiscal year 2023 to $16,952 at UMass Amherst, $15,172 at UMass Boston, $14,854 at UMass Dartmouth and $16,182 at UMass Lowell.
One more try for “dangerousness” bill proponents
In just the past two weeks, the Baker administration has launched a new social media campaign focused on victim stories and Public Safety Secretary Terrence Reidy has sent a letter to the Judiciary Committee urging members to watch the roundtable talks with survivors hosted by the governor. It’s all been an effort to convince Democratic leaders to advance Gov. Baker’s pre-trial release legislation, which would allow judges wider latitude to detain defendants while they await trial if they pose a threat. With the committee facing a Friday deadline to report on the bill, 14 of the victims who have participated in those roundtable discussions have made a direct plea to House Chairman Michael Day and Senate Chairman Jaime Eldridge in a letter obtained by MASSterList. “We all unfortunately have lived through terrifying circumstances in dealing with our abusers through our paths to receiving justice. In our cases, having an expanded dangerousness statue would have allowed judges to consider, at the request of a prosecutor, whether our abusers could have been held before trial,” the survivors wrote. Day has not responded to multiple requests for an interview over the past week.
Springfield cops agree to DOJ settlement over use of force
After a year of negotiations, U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins announced a landmark settlement with the Springfield Police Department over the use of force following a scathing report from the Justice Department that faulted the department’s Narcotics Units for using excessive tactics during arrests. The Springfield Republican’s Stephanie Barry describes the consent decree as “unprecedented” and one that would bring more transparency and DOJ oversight to policing in Springfield. Barry reports that the final agreement “will tightly control any use of force police employed by officers during an arrest beyond ‘unresisted handcuffing,’ require strict reporting protocols and greater transparency.”
At-sea catch monitoring expanded to all fishing vessels
Federal fishing regulators have approved new rules that will increase at-sea monitoring of local catches to 100 percent of trips, the Associated Press’s Patrick Whittle reports. At-sea monitors collect data on commercial fishing boats to help enforce catch limits for depleted species in the Northeast such as cod, haddock and flounder. The new rules will allow some electronic monitoring technologies to be used as an alternative to human workers, Whittle writes. Monitoring is a controversial topic among fisherman who see it as another complication to earning a living in the industry, but environmental groups cheered the move. “This is a great day for New England’s historic groundfish fishery, including the chronically overfished Atlantic cod,” said Gib Brogan, a campaign director with Oceana.
What’s a guy from Malden doing on the MVRTA?
Riders on the Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority’s 01 route got an unexpected surprise Tuesday when they noticed one of their Buckley Transportation Center in Lawrence to bring attention to the MVRTA two-year, ride-for-free program. The free bus fare pilot runs through March 1, 2024 and is being paid for with $950,000 in federal pandemic relief money. The Eagle-Tribune’s Terry Date reports that system-wide ridership is up 42 percent since the free fare program began on March 1.
For many Ukrainian runners, it’s maybe next year
Monday’s running of the Boston Marathon was supposed to be a celebration and an opportunity for many Ukrainian athletes hoping for the experience of crossing the Boylston Street finish line, but then their country went to war. “We literally stopped running,” said Volodymyr Solohub, a Ukrainian journalist whose work has appeared on PRX’s The World. GBH News’s Esteban Bustillos spoke with some Ukrainian runners about their disappointment and fear for their country, where running has started to grow as an amateur sport.
Popular Children’s Museum exhibit Boston Black coming down
For more than 18 years, the Boston Children’s Museum has been home to the Boston Black: A City Connects exhibit highlighting the city’s Black population and encouraging children to explore and discuss race. Now the museum is closing it down to make room for You, Me, We, a new exhibit focused on identity slated to open later this year. Melissa Higgins and Malene Welch from the Children’s Museum joined Paris Alston and Jeremy Siegel on GBH’s Morning Edition to talk about the change.
Healey “really troubled” by bishop’s flag comments
On her tour through Worcester Tuesday, Attorney General Maura Healey said she was “really troubled” by Diocese of Worcester Bishop Robert McManus calling on Nativity School of Worcester to take down the gay pride and Black Lives Matter flags flying on campus, MassLive’s Kiernan Dunlop reports. McManus said the flags send messages in conflict with the teachings of the church HIs statement on April 3 has sparked an uproar in the city, prompting the gay pride flag to go up at City Hall. McManus also pulled out of The College of the Holy Cross commencement due to the fallout. If she wins the election, Healey would to be the first openly gay governor of Massachusetts. “Nativity and other schools should be allowed to fly those flags,” Healey said.
COVID positivity rate climbs ahead of weekend celebrations
The COVID-19 positivity rate in Boston is at 6.2 percent, and though Boston Mayor Michelle Wu has said the city is “not there yet” on a return to mandatory indoor public masking, the Boston Public Health Commission urged residents to take precautions as they celebrate Passover, Easter and Patriot’s Day weekend, Globe correspondent Charlie McKenna writes. The positivity rate is now higher than the 5 percent threshold Wu and health officials used as one of several triggers to end the mask mandate, and some cities like Philadelphia have returned to masking. “Celebrating with family and friends is an important and treasured time, and as cases increase, we must remain vigilant so we can be together safely,” said Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, commissioner of public health, in the statement.
Housing headlines Wu’s first Boston budget
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu went big on housing in her first budget presented to the City Council, proposing the largest spending plan in the city’s history at $3.99 billion, reports the Herald’s Sean Philip Cotter. Wu wants to use $380 million “to build and acquire new affordable units, invest in affordable homeownership, and fund housing stability services and an expanded voucher program.” To pay for the housing plan, she’s relying in part on $206 million in one-time American Rescue Plan Act funds.
Two Stoughton cops put on leave in connection to death investigation
The death last year of a 23-year-old pregnant woman in Canton has now led to the resignation of one Stoughton police officer and two more being placed on paid administrative leave. The Globe’s Laura Crimaldi writes about the latest developments in what the paper is calling a “widening scandal” related to the investigation into the woman’s death.
Easthampton mayor apologizes for “racially insensitive” remark
The Springfield Republican’s Jeanette DeForge reports that Easthampton Mayor Nicole LaChapelle apologized Wednesday for making a racially insensitive remark to members of the Easthampton High School civics competition team. LaChapelle has been out of the country since April 7, but after the School Committee called for an investigation the mayor said she personally apologized to the student. “We understand she told a student of color that she didn’t have a ‘white voice,’” School Committee member Marin Goldstein said. DeForge reports that LaChapelle said she intended her comments to be motivating to students of color, but had the opposite impact.
Lowell keeps hope alive for return of professional baseball
Three years after the last pitch was thrown in a Lowell Spinners game, key stakeholders – including Red Sox ownership, federal lawmakers and UMass President Marty Meehan – continue to discuss the possibility of returning minor league baseball to the city of Lowell, the Eagle-Tribune’s Mac Cerullo reports.
Under the radar: Few voters know their sheriff
Just 17 percent of Massachusetts voters can identify their county sheriff, a new poll commissioned by the ACLU finds. The Daily Hampshire Gazette’s Brian Steele reports the group’s Know Your Sheriff campaign follows a similar push in 2018 to raise awareness of the role of district attorneys.
Neighbors seek limit on Mass & Cass hotel solution
Give us an end date. Business and neighborhood groups in the Mass and Cass area want Boston officials to provide a date certain for when the city might be able to move its public health outreach services out of the Roundhouse Hotel and away from the troubled area, Greg Ryan of the Boston Business Journal reports.
Judge tosses approval of Southborough 40B project
The saga continues. Six years after it was approved at the local level, a controversial apartment and condo complex proposed in Southborough under the state’s Chapter 40B affordable housing law has been halted by a judge who said the project sought to make an “end run” around the rules. The Telegram’s Brad Petrishen has the details.
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