10 a.m. | Governor’s Council interviews Lawrence City Attorney Raquel Ruano, who is Gov. Charlie Baker’s pick to fill a vacancy on the District Court bench.
10:30 a.m. | Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance holds Zoom press conference with farmers to discuss the impact the proposed income surtax on millionaires would have on family farms.
10:30 a.m. | Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and Secretary of Public Safety and Security Terrence Reidy join Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett at Salem State University for a roundtable discussion with survivors to discuss the governor’s “dangerousness” legislation.
10:30 a.m. | Prisoners’ Legal Services of Massachusetts holds a press conference outside the State House to support budget amendments filed by Rep. Ruth Balser that would steer money away from incarceration of individuals civilly committed for alcohol and substance use treatment.
2 p.m. | Sen. Michael Barrett joins MassINC pollsters and Boston Globe reporter and producer Dharna Noor to discuss a new poll on residents attitudes toward climate change.
6:30 p.m. | Gov. Charlie Baker is the special guest at Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson’s reelection campaign kickoff event, according to Hodgson’s campaign. Republican gubernatorial Chris Doughty also plans to attend.
Good Wednesday morning,
If you have climate news to make, this is your week. Earth Day is Friday, and with it has come a flood of climate themed programming, from new polls on voters attitudes toward the environment to “fireside” chats with Gov. Charlie Baker. Baker even said Tuesday he’s thinking about having his Swampscott home evaluated for a heat pump.
Attorney General Maura Healey also got in on the action with the release of a comprehensive climate and emission reduction plan, the first detailed policy proposal from her campaign for governor, which should start to put an end to those all-style-no-substance headlines she’s been getting.
The Globe’s Sabrina Shankman, who interviewed Baker on Tuesday, writes that Healey’s plan would address “each of the state’s three major sources of emissions —buildings, transportation, and power plants — with a broad program of benchmarks and reforms that includes hard deadlines for meeting emissions targets.” Healey has proposed a Cabinet level climate czar to coordinate across her would-be administration, and pledged to develop a 100 percent clean electricity supply by the end of the decade.
State House News Service’s Colin A. Young reports the plan was enough to get the two chairs of the Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy Committee – Rep. Jeffrey Roy and Sen. Michael Barrett – off the sidelines and behind Healey’s campaign for governor. Roy and Barrett endorsed Healey over their State House colleague Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, who came out with her own climate plan months ago.
Other highlights of Healey’s plan include a doubling of the state’s offshore wind target, full electrification of public transit by 2040, and point-of-sale rebates on used and low-cost electric vehicles to help put 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2030.
NO WAY TO PRESERVE THE STATUS QUO
A new report out from the Center for State Policy Analysis at Tufts University dissects the question moving toward the November ballot that would redefine what it means to be a gig workers driving for a company like Uber, Lyft or DoorDash.
While the question at the heart of the ballot campaign is whether drivers for these companies should be classified as employees or independent contractors, the 9-page paper lays out what it would mean for drivers if voters support the ballot questions being pushed by the tech giants. Unusual, however, is the fact that there is no clear cut way to preserve the status quo. CSPA Executive Director Evan Horowitz writes that a no vote would essentially be betting on the courts, where Attorney General Maura Healey has sued to classify drivers as employees.
Of course, Option 3 would be for the Legislature to pass a new law before the issue even gets to the ballot. Christian Wade of the Gloucester Times has and Katie Lannan for the State House News Service have more of the details.
Masks coming down on MBTA
A day after a Florida judge struck down the federal mask mandate for public transportation and air travel, the MBTA said it would followed the lead of the federal government and no longer enforce mask-wearing on the T and commuter rail. MassLive’s Alison Kuznitz reports that mask mandates also were lifted Tuesday at Bradley International Airport, Worcester Regional Airport and Logan International Airport, and Amtrak discontinued its requirement for face coverings.
“The Commonwealth has followed federal guidance in terms of face coverings and to be consistent with that, we are lifting the face covering mandate at the Commonwealth’s transportation hubs and on most public transportation vehicles,” Transportation Secretary Jamey Tesler.
Masks will continue to be required on the MBTA’s paratransit service The RIDE, and the Steamship Authority said passenger heading to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket will still be asked to mask for now.
Meanwhile in New York, the Metropolitan Transit Authority will continue to require passengers to be masked on subways for now. And the Justice Department indicated it would appeal the Florida ruling, though it would not seek an injunction to keep the federal mandate in place while the case is ajudicated.
Seal and motto review commission struggles to get into gear
Already six months behind schedule, the special commission reviewing the official state seal and motto with an eye toward revamping the Native American imagery wants to extend its mission into next year. GBH’s Adam Reilly reports that the commission will ask the Legislature for a new deadline of March 31, 2023 to make recommendations on whether the seal and motto should be changed and to what. But it appears even members of the commission are uncertain what direction their work will take. “What’s the path moving forward? What’s the ultimate objective? I’ve never really been entirely clear on that myself,” said Michael Comeau, the executive director of the Massachusetts Archives.
The ups and downs of Boston biotech
Demand for lab space is seemingly insatiable. Venture capital investments are soaring. And many biotech stocks are down and some companies are resorting to layoffs. The Globe’s Ryan Cross untangles what’s going on in one of the most vibrant sectors of the Massachusetts economy.
Environmental justice sought in Baker’s infrastructure plan
Gov. Charlie Baker has proposed legislation to borrow $9.7 billion for long-term investments in transportation and environmental infrastructure, but GBH’s Emma Foehringer Merchant reports that some advocates worry the impact of those projects on low-income and minority communities might be getting lost in the rush to put the money to work. Merchant writes that an environmental justice advisory council created by a 2021 climate law is supposed to advise the state on the impact of its policies and large infrastructure projects, but it has yet to be constituted. The Legislature has not yet passed any version of Baker’s bill.
Effort afoot to help police cope with on-the-job trauma
WBUR’s Ally Jarmanning recounts the day Plymouth County Sheriff’s Office deputy Jim Creed had just enjoyed a dinner with his wife at Bertucci’s when he was called into action. Creed fired a single round, killing a man who was attacking other patrons with a knife. Creed and his wife were not injured, but Jarmanning writes that they were also not “unscathed.” Creed and is now part of an effort being led on Beacon Hill by Rep, Kathy LaNatra of Kingston to require law enforcement agencies to establish programs to help officers and their families deal with trauma.
National Grid embraces green gas
The push to cut carbon emissions has meant efforts to electrify everything from cars and public transit to stoves and home heating. But National Grid said Tuesday what it can’t electrify it will aim to power with “clean” gas by 2050. The British utility company released its plan to decarbonize its US natural gas pipeline system within the next 28 years, replacing it current gas supply with renewable natural gas from decomposing materials on farms and landfills and “green” hydrogen created from water using electricity from offshore wind farms. The Globe’s Jon Chesto explains more of the details.
A more effective COVID-19 vaccine in works for fall
Cambridge-based Moderna has found some success with a new version of its COVID-19 vaccine that it hopes will provide “stronger, longer-lasting protection against variants of the virus” and be ready for the fall to help protect against a winter surge, WBUR’s Rob Stein reports. More testing must still be done, but Stein writes that federal officials hope to see results from Moderna and Pfizer on modified vaccines this spring to give the companies time to ramp up production.
Baker wades into national charter school debate
Not since early in his governorship has Gov. Charlie Baker spent much political capital on the charter school movement, but Christian Wade reports in the Eagle-Tribune that Baker has joined with 17 other Republican governors asking the Biden administration to delay a new rule they worry will make it harder for private charter schools to access federal funding. Baker and the governors wrote a letter to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona asking him to suspend implementation of the rule for a year to gather more feedback. The new rule would require charter schools to prove local districts are over-enrolled to qualify for federal support.
Housing prices continue to climb this spring
Could it possibly get any harder to buy a home in Greater Boston. The Globe’s Tim Logan writes that despite dwindling inventory and rising interest rates, the median price for a single-family home hit $789,500 in March, according to the Greater Boston Association of Realtors, up 9.4 percent from the same month last year. It’s a great time to sell, but maybe only if you’re moving out of state.
Road test retakers have high failure rate
The Herald’s Joe Dwinell reports that 64.5 percent of the 1,074 drivers who had a retake a road test after it was revealed they never passed their initial exam failed the retry. More gave up their licenses voluntarily and 838 just never responded to the RMV. This all stems from the revelation in February that Registry of Motor Vehicle employees in Brockton were just handing out licenses without putting people behind the wheel.
Downsized: A week after oncology unit closure, MetroWest Medical Center lays off interpreter staff
MetroWest Medical Center says it will no longer offer live language interpreter services and has laid off an undisclosed number of staff members as a result, Saumya Rastogi of the MetroWest Daily News reports. Last week, the hospital said it would close its oncology unit and send patients to St. Vincent in Worcester, which is also under the umbrella of parent company Tenet Healthcare.
Live Streams of Governor’s Council meetings will resume
They’re back on the air. Meetings of the Governor’s Council will again be streamed live after Councilor Marilyn Devaney convinced her colleagues to support restoring the pandemic practice. The Herald’s Amy Sokolow reports the livestream returns with Wednesday’s Council meeting. Her colleagues had previously spurned Devaney’s efforts to keep streaming their proceedings, pointing the finger at the governor’s office for declining to continue to provide staff to run the cameras and suggesting that because the State House is open to the public again it was no longer necessary.
Worcester names four finalists for school superintendent
The Worcester School Committee has named four finalists to succeed Maureen Binienda as superintendent of the district after casting a wide net in a national search, Scott O’Connell of the Telegram reports. Apart from Charles Grandson, who currently serves as chief of equity and strategy in Boston public schools, the other finalists hail from California and Pennsylvania.
Get off my lawn!
The Berkshire Eagle’s Heather Bellow reports that election season in West Stockbridge is getting nasty after someone drove their vehicle onto the lawn of a Select Board member who is up for reelection in what looked to be an attempt to flatten his campaign sign. Police have boosted patrols and are also investigating who stole three of the signs in two areas of town belonging to another Select Board member who is running for a second term.
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