Happening Today:

10 a.m. | Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito attend the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Lawrence police station.

10 a.m. | Republican state auditor candidate Anthony Amore joins Andrew Card, the former state representative and White House chief of staff to President George W. Bush, for a media availability.

11:45 a.m. | U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan joins state Sen. Jamie Eldridge, Rep. Kate Hogan and members of the Hudson Select Board and administration to highlight the more than $1 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funding for Hudson to upgrade the town's PFAS Treatment System.

12:30 p.m. | Boston Mayor Michelle Wu appears on GBH News' Boston Public Radio for an hour of "Ask the Mayor."

2 p.m. | Department of Environmental Protection holds a virtual public hearing to accept input on proposed new regulations concerning the ban on the distribution and sale of products like bedding and furniture containing certain flame retardants.

2:45 p.m. | Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito joins local officials in Lowell to visit Acre Crossing, a mixed-use housing development project, and tour the nearby Transformative Development Initiative district

The Supreme Court is back in session with potential landmark decisions on everything from voting rights and government-tribal relations to border enforcement behind every door.

But today, the court will hear arguments in a case that hits closer to home, even if Massachusetts isn’t the named defendant.

The National Pork Producers Council has sued the state of California seeking to overturn a 2018 referendum approved by voters on the West Coast banning the sales of pork, veal and eggs from animals confined in crates and cages that don’t meet minimum space requirements. The California law is similar to one approved in Massachusetts by voters two years earlier, parts of which have still not taken effect.

The case, however, could have much broader implications beyond the treatment of animals that put eggs and bacon on our breakfast plates.

The Supreme Court, now dominated by conservative jurists, is being asked to decide a question of interstate commerce and whether a state like California (or Massachusetts) can enact laws that put limits on private business interests operating in other states. Pork producers certainly don’t have to sell in California if they don’t want to comply with the laws, but that’s an awfully big market to stay out of.

Depending on how narrowly the case is decided, it’s not just the agriculture industry watching closely. Some believe the decision has the potential to impact state clean energy policies, labor rules and other regulations.

U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey were among the 16 senators who wrote to the White House in June asking the Biden administration to back the California law, arguing that its reversal could have widespread ramifications throughout the economy and other industries.

The Massachusetts Legislature rewrote the 2016 ballot law in 2021 to adjust to new techniques being used by the poultry industry to house egg-laying hens. In that law, they also delayed the effective dates on the new rules for pig crating. Those regulations were again put on hold this summer when a federal judge approved a delay to wait for the outcome of the California case, which could be decided by the end of the year. 

— Yes on 4 hits the airwaves with new ad campaign

The coalition fighting to protect the law that will make undocumented immigrants eligible for drivers licenses in Massachusetts has dumped $500,000 into a television ad campaign as the election enters its final few weeks, the Globe’s Samantha J. Gross reports. The Legislature passed the law this past summer over the veto of Gov. Charlie Baker, but gave opponents just enough time to gather the signatures they needed to try to convince voters to repeal it before it can take effect. Public polling initially showed voters split over the issue, but more recent surveys have given a slight edge to those asking people to vote “Yes” and keep the law in place.

The Boston Globe

— Forced labor in Massachusetts and what it looks like

GBH’s Jenifer B. McKim and Sarah Betancourt peel back the curtain on forced labor and human trafficking in Massachusetts, which they report can sometimes be happening in plain sight. Citing statistics from the National Human Labor Trafficking Hotline, the pair report that 180 people have reached out with allegations of forced labor since 2016.

GBH News

— National road safety improvements lacking after N.H. crash

Following the fatal New Hampshire truck accident in 2019 that exposed soft spots in the state’s system for monitoring driver offenses in other states, the Globe’s Laura Crimaldi reports that many states have not heeded the call of the National Transportation Safety Board for other states with similar holes in their system to improve the way they share information and data with other states.

The Boston Globe

— Some say Oath Keepers more than they signed up for

They wanted to be a part of the group – until they realized it was a bad look. With the founder of the Oath Keepers Stewart Rhodes on trial for seditious conspiracy for the role he and his organization playing in the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the Capitol, the Globe’s Danny McDonald reports that some of the hundreds of Massachusetts residents who joined the Keepers – including veterans and police – are now distancing themselves from its more extremist views. Some say they thought it was just a patriotic organization, though many highlighted their military experience and facility for firearms when they signed up, McDonald reports.

The Boston Globe

— Online retail tax case going before SJC

The Eagle-Tribune’s Christian Wade sets the stage for the fight that’s about to play out next month before the Supreme Judicial Court over a tax bill that state is trying to collect from U.S. Auto Parts Network. The case centers around the ability of states like Massachusetts to collect sales taxes from online retailers, and whether Massachusetts is trying to retroactively go back and collect taxes from a period before the country’s highest court said it was legal. One interesting twist here: Gov. Charlie Baker’s Department of Revenue is seeking to have the decision of the Massachusetts Appellate Tax Board overturned.

The Eagle-Tribune

— Expungement over pardons for Baker

Don’t expect Gov. Charlie Baker to be issuing any last minute pardons for past marijuana possession charges. After President Joe Biden last week signed an executive order pardoning simple marijuana possession at the federal level and challenged states to do the same, Attorney General Maura Healey said if elected governor she would follow the president’s lead. Baker, however, pointed to the process already in place in Massachusetts that allows those convicted before marijuana was legal here to apply for their records to be expunged.


— Bristol sheriff’s race heats up with allegations of supporting hate

The temperature in the race for Bristol County Sheriff went up considerably on Monday after the campaign of Democrat Paul Heroux resurfaced past claims that incumbent Republican Thomas Hodgson has quietly supported extremist groups and wore a tie reminiscent of the Confederate flag all the way back in 2003. The Sun Chronicle’s George Rhodes details the barbs traded as the race hits the home stretch.

The Sun Chronicle

— No sale: Mass. blocks $40K worth of pot shop EBT withdrawals

The Department of Transitional Assistance says it blocked $40,000 worth of attempted EBT card withdrawals or purchases at cannabis shops across the state in the first five months of the year, Christian Wade of the Eagle-Tribune reports. The agency says it blocked less than $15,000 worth of similar withdrawals during 2021 from EBT cards.

The Eagle-Tribune

— False alarm: Nantucket says business execs on questioned flight

Nantucket police say a charter flight arriving on the island Tuesday – operated by the same charter company that dropped 50 migrants on Martha’s Vineyard last month – will actually be carrying a team of investment company executives, Zana Razzaq of the Cape Cod Times reports. Island officials had been preparing for the possibility that another planeload of migrants could be headed for Massachusetts.

Cape Cod Times

— Rockport residents challenging transit zoning changes

A group of Rockport residents is challenging a slate of zoning changes approved by voters earlier this year aimed at boosting housing production, including the adoption of a transit-oriented overlay district, Julie Manganis of the Gloucester Daily Times reports. The lawsuit names as defendants the town, the state Department of Housing and Community Development, as well as the attorney general’s office, which signed off on the local bylaws.

Gloucester Daily Times

— UMass Med asks Worcester to change name of Plantation Street

The Worcester City Council will take up a request this week from leaders at the UMass Chan Medical School to consider changing the name of three streets in the city that contain the word “plantation,” MassLive’s Kiernan Dunlop reports. The school’s request notes that the word “connotes oppression in our country” and suggests a broader conversation about place names and cultural sensitivity is in order.


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