Keller at Large
Keller: Goodbye N.H. primary, and good riddance
Jon Keller doesn’t mince words in his latest for MASSterList, dissecting the DNC’s decision to potentially shakeup the early presidential nominating calendar. “Goodbye, Iowa and New Hampshire. Hello, end of an error.”
All day | It’s Tax Day in Massachusetts.
10 a.m. | Fisheries and Wildlife Board holds a public hearing to establish rules and regulations relative to the 2022–2023 migratory game bird hunting seasons.
11 a.m. | Gov. Charlie Baker joins Boston Globe climate reporter Sabrina Shankman for a virtual fireside chat as part of the newspaper’s Sustainability Week to discuss how climate change has shaped his eight years in office.
1 p.m. | Senate Committee on Reimagining Massachusetts, chaired by Sen. Adam Hinds, hosts a virtual discussion on Twitter Spaces about addressing post-pandemic educational inequities.
2 p.m. | Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and Administration and Finance Secretary Michael Heffernan join the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, Associated Industries of Massachusetts, the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, the Massachusetts Society of CPAs and the Retailers Association of Massachusetts to urge passage of tax cuts filed by Baker in his FY23 budget.
3 p.m. | Auditor Suzanne Bump appears on The Jordan Levy Show on WTAG 580 AM/94.9 F
Good Tuesday Monday. If you ran the marathon yesterday, congratulations. Get some rest. It’s going to be a good week for it.
April school vacation week means Beacon Hill gets pretty quiet, but with the House gearing up to debate a fiscal 2023 spending plan next week, Gov. Charlie Baker is joining with business groups at the State House to ratchet up the pressure on lawmakers to consider his $700 million tax cut proposal, no piece of which made it into House leader’s initial budget.
The shift to tax cuts comes after the administration has spent a good deal of time and energy over the past several weeks trying to convince the Judiciary Committee to advance his pre-trial detention bill by last Friday’s deadline. The bad news for the administration? It didn’t succeed. The good news? It has more time.
House and Senate leaders told MASSterList that the Judiciary Committee is seeking an extension that would give it until June 30 to issue a report on the governor’s bill, which would expand the list of crimes for which a defendant can be held while awaiting trial and allow a judge to review a defendant’s criminal history when considering whether they should be released or are too dangerous to be free.
“I think certainly Gov. Baker has been quite vocal and active advocating for his legislation,” said Sen. Jamie Eldridge, the Senate co-chair of the Judiciary Committee. “We have also heard from civil liberties groups like the ACLU and domestic violence groups, Jane Doe., about the unexpected or concerning prospects of the bill impacting people of color.”
Eldridge, an Acton Democrat, didn’t want to predict the fate of Baker’s public safety bill, but he offered a healthy dose of skepticism that should give supporters pause.
“I’m still reviewing the bill but I would say it’s not a secret that I’m someone who does have civil liberties concerns. it does significantly expand the list of crimes and from the question of American Constitutional law, your liberties cannot be taken away until you’re convicted by a court of law and this could hold someone for many months without being convicted of a crime.”
Eldridge said the Legislature has been moving away from these types of “tough-on-crime bills,” but said he did meet last week with several families of victims of violent crimes, and plans this week to watch the videos shared with the committee by Public Safety Secretary Terrence Reidy of survivors telling their stories of abuse to the governor during three roundtable discussions hosted this year to help build the case for Baker’s bill.
SURVEY SAYS CLIMATE CHANGE A CONCERN
A new poll released this morning finds that 77 percent of Bay State residents think that climate change poses a very or somewhat serious threat to the state if nothing more is done about it, with 18 percent reporting anxiety about the future of the planet and 13 percent indicating they are fearful.
The survey, conducted in collaboration with the Boston Globe as part of the newspaper’s Sustainability Week, also found a significant partisan divide when it comes to climate change, with 62 percent of Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents calling it a very serious problem, compared to just 23 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning unenrolled voters.
The level of concern, while high, is down slightly from a 2019 poll with jobs and the economy, education and health care ranking among the top public policy issues that residents want to see state government prioritize.
“A lot has happened since that 2019 poll: a global pandemic, a presidential election, and now a war affecting global energy prices,” said Richard Parr, research director at The MassINC Polling Group. “Massachusetts residents are still worried about climate change, but other pressing concerns are weighing on them as well.”
As for solutions to the problem, 67 percent support requiring new and renovated buildings to use renewable power, 70 percent back efforts to make electric vehicle charging stations more accessible, and 76 percent support updating the state’s building codes to better account for threats from climate change. Forty-four percent of drivers said it was very or somewhat likely that their next vehicle would be electric, compared to 38 percent who said likely not.
A Patriots’ Day like the old ones
The sun was shining on Patriots’ Day. The Red Sox were playing (though they lost). And the Boston Marathon was back on its rightful day of the year after a two-year pandemic hiatus. The Globe’s Mike Damiano captures the day.
Florida judge strikes down federal transit mask mandate
The federal mask mandate on public transportation – one of the last places where mask-wearing remains universal – got struck down by a Florida judge Monday prompting several of the country’s largest airlines to lift their mask requirements for domestic flights, the New York Times reports.
The ruling, which came after the Centers for Disease Control extended the transit mask requirement through May 3, left it up to state and local authorities to decide whether masks should continue to be worn on public transportation. The Globe’s Martin Finucane reported that the MBTA was keeping its requirement in place for now while it reviews the ruling and consults with the CDC and other federal partners for guidance.
Vennochi: Baker’s support for Hodgson a head-scratcher
Gov. Charlie Baker, whether he admits it or not, is not attending the MassGOP convention in Springfield next month because the party has moved too far to the right for his liking, right into the arms of Donald Trump. So why, then, is he helping Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson (who famously offered to use inmates to help build Trump’s border wall) kickoff his reelection campaign this week? Globe columnist Joan Vennochi tried to answer that question in her column on Monday, looking at both Hodgson and Baker’s record on immigration. “I don’t really understand it. Politically it makes no sense,” Democratic consultant Doug Rubin told Vennochi.
Doughty has the receipts
Republican Geoff Diehl on Monday called it “embarrassing” that his rival for the GOP nomination for governor Chris Doughty is soliciting support from delegates to next month’s convention without ponying up the $25,000 fee asked of candidates to help stage the convention. The only problem? Doughty said he has paid, and shared an image of the check to prove it. Doughty used the attack from Diehl to reup his challenge to debate, which Diehl has said he won’t do until he’s sure Doughty can get his 15 percent of delegates at the convention to qualify for the primary ballot. MassLive’s Alison Kuznitz has more of the details on the back and forth that went down on Patriots’ Day.
Warren writes prescription for Democrats in the midterms
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren wrote an op/ed for The New York Times assessing the Democrats chances in the midterms: “Democrats win elections when we show we understand the painful economic realities facing American families and convince voters we will deliver meaningful change. To put it bluntly: if we fail to use the months remaining before the elections to deliver on more of our agenda, Democrats are headed toward big losses in the midterms.”
Great Barrington housing officials abruptly quit
Three of the members of the Great Barrington Housing Authority Board resigned Wednesday without giving a reason, but The Berkshire Eagle’s Heather Bellow reports that the wrote a letter to an official at the Department of Housing and Community Development last month criticizing of the state’s structure for housing authorities and the impact that has on recruiting “professional and competent” staff and board members. The resignations, Bellow reports, are the culmination of long-simmering tensions on the housing board, which the three departing members believe should be dissolved.
Wu finds new development chief for Boston
Boston Michelle Wu has chosen James Arthur Jemison II, a senior official with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, to become the city’s chief planner, the Globe’s Shirley Leung and Catherine Carlock report this morning. Jemison worked in both the Menino and Patrick administrations for the city and state, and his selection comes just days after longtime Boston Planning and Development Agency Director Brian Golden announced he will step down.
Balancing tourism and tradition on Nantucket
Last year, a proposal to require a seven-night minimum and 45-day annual unit cap for short-term rentals on Nantucket went down in defeat at Town Meeting. But the vote has not quieted the angst on the idyllic island about the impact the short-term rental market is having on the community and availability of workforce housing. “They say short-term rental websites like Airbnb have opened the island to a deluge of visitors who are turning it into a party haven, upending the time-honored, more restrained ways of summering in a place where the high season does double duty as a verb,” CommonWealth Magazine’s Shira Schoenberg writes.
Weighing in: Plymouth residents poised to have their say on racetrack proposal
Plymouth residents will soon have their say on a proposal to build a $100 million horse racing facility on county-owned land in town, with both a public forum and a non-binding ballot vote slated for the coming weeks. David Smith of the Patriot Ledger reports some locals are frustrated that the Plymouth County Commission has moved the project forward without local input.
Cops dominate list of highest paid in Worcester
Worcester police officers, even those clinging to their jobs through “last chance” agreements, are among the city’s highest paid public servants, MassLive’s Erin Tiernan reports, with 92 of the city’s top 100 highest compensated employees working on the police force. A lot of that has to do with overtime.
Judge won’t dismiss Capitol riot charges against former Natick Town Meeting member
A Trump-appointed federal judge has refused to toss the charges facing former Natick Town Meeting member Sue Iaanni, who is facing three misdemeanor charges for her role in the Jan. 6 insurrection, Abby Patkin of the MetroWest Daily News reports. Ianni’s lawyers sought to argue that their client entered the Capitol through an open door, left willingly soon after and was being selectively prosecuted.
The ‘988’ mental health hotline is coming. But will Massachusetts be ready?
Craig LeMoult of GBH checks in on the preparations being made by the state to implement the ‘988’ mental health hotline due to be launched in July. The three-digit number to get counseling support is the result of legislation championed by U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, among others.
Nailed it: UMass lab cited for precision of Covid deaths forecast
A newly published scientific journal article credits researchers at UMass Amherst with developing the tool that provided the most accurate projections for the number of Covid-19 deaths in the U.S. Scott Merzbach of the Daily Hampshire Gazette reports the Reich Laboratory developed its Forecast Hub early in 2020 to provide guidance to the Centers for Disease Control and that its predictions were the “most consistently accurate” during the first 18 months of the pandemic.
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