8:30 a.m. | Federal Reserve Bank of Boston President Susan Collins and other economists discuss how hybrid work and changes in where people live will impact housing, commuting, and the economy in New England at a conference hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank.
9 a.m. | Massachusetts Association of Health Plans hosts a virtual policy briefing on its report on the state of children's mental health in Massachusetts.
10 a.m. | Massachusetts Gaming Commission resumes its assessment of six applications for mobile sports betting licenses not tied to an existing casino or slots parlor.
11 a.m. | Gov. Maura Healey and Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll travel to North Adams to makes an announcement about an initiative to support cities and towns.
11 a.m. | Congressman Stephen Lynch, UMass Boston Chancellor Marcelo Suarez-Orozco and UMass Board Chair Steve Kara host a press conference on campus to discuss $3 million in federal funding UMass Boston will receive to create a home care digital and simulation lab.
1 p.m. | Boston Mayor Michelle Wu attends and speaks at the U.S. Conference of Mayors' 91st Winter Meeting in Washington D.C.
2:45 p.m. | Gov. Maura Healey and Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll visit Ludlow Mills.
Former Gov. Charlie Baker was no fan of the idea of rent control, soured by the experience of being a young man living in Boston and being forced to pay market rate on a starting salary while wealthier neighbors paid less in rent-controlled apartments.
“Number one, it’s unfair,” he would say.
But some cities and states around the country are starting to experiment again with the policy, and with Baker gone and Gov. Maura Healey installed on Beacon Hill, proponents are gearing up for another push.
The Globe’s Catherine Carlock and Emma Platoff scooped yesterday that Boston Mayor Michelle Wu is floating a plan that would tie annual rent increases in the city to inflation, allowing up to 6 percent hikes on top of the CPI and never more than 10 percent.
Oregon and California are also testing rent controls tied to inflation, but it’s far more likely here to see a city like Boston get the greenlight as opposed to a statewide policy. And even that is probably a long shot.
Healey, not unlike Baker, is skeptical of rent control. She said during the campaign that she does not favor a return to the policy that was banned by voters in 1994, but would consider local efforts to control rent on a case-by-case basis. Legislative leaders in recent years have also been reticent to touch the topic.
Any rent control policy in Boston would have to clear both the City Council and the State House, and from the looks of things yesterday Wu’s pitch has a long way to go.
“Rent control is a failed policy solution that won’t help the dire need to create housing in Boston and across the Commonwealth. Rent control, also known as rent stabilization, has been shown to decrease housing production of future units, as well as discourage upkeep and maintenance of controlled units. Limiting housing construction now, when the BPDA permitted the lowest number of units in 2022 than it had in nearly a decade, would only exacerbate the city’s housing crisis,” said Greg Vasil, CEO of the Greater Boston Real Estate Board, in a statement responding to Wu’s proposal.
Meanwhile, strong advocates for rent control see Wu’s plan as too soft and one that would still allow for unaffordable rent hikes every year.
Axios reports this morning that the average asking rent in Boston in the fourth quarter of 2022 rose 11.8 percent to $2,942, according to Moody’s, ranking it fourth among major cities with the fastest growing rents and behind only San Francisco in price.
— Sizing each other up under the Dome
Productivity on Beacon Hill could well depend on the dynamics between the new “Big Three.” Despite all being of the same political party, the Globe’s Matt Stout and Samantha Gross explore the budding relationship between Gov. Maura Healey, Senate President Karen Spilka and Speaker Ron Mariano, the building rivalries at play and some pitfalls for Healey to avoid. One big one: No surprises.
— Walsh on gender wage gap: Close it now
U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said this week that companies in the United States need more women in CEO and board positions to rapidly close the gender wage gap that persists across industries. Walsh was speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos. “Companies shouldn’t have to pass legislation to realize there’s an inequity pay gap in the United States of America,” Walsh said, according to Insiders’s Kate Duffy and Cadie Thompson.
— The case against Lyons builds
Drip, drip, drip. With less than two weeks until the MassGOP’s election of a chair, embattled party leader Jim Lyons is coming under intensified scrutiny for what could be illegal coordination with a super PAC to dig up and share dirt on Gov. Maura Healey and her personal life. Moving beyond mere accusations, the Globe’s Emma Platoff reports on emails sent by the party’s treasurer to members of the State Committee that potentially corroborate claims that Lyons was working with both an outside opposition research firm and the Mass Freedom super PAC at the same time to build a case against Healey and to have the super PAC pay for the work. Coordination with super PACs is illegal
— What did they have to say for themselves?
Yesterday was a pick-your-flavor type of day if you like to celebrate fresh starts. Attorney General Andrea Campbell, Treasurer Deb Goldberg, Secretary of State William Galvin and Auditor Diana DiZoglio all took their oaths of office. So what did they say?
- Pledging to defend abortion rights, Andrea Campbell sworn in as state’s 1st Black female attorney general – MassLive
- ‘Source of hope, inspiration’ — Methuen’s Diana DiZoglio sworn in as state auditor by Gov. Maura Healey – The Eagle-Tribune
— Term-limits in Congress? Nevermind
U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan is starting her third term in Congress, which would be her last if the Constitutional amendment she once said she supported had passed. But it didn’t. And Trahan no longer supports the idea, reports the Eagle-Tribune’s Christian Wade, who highlights the recent attempts by D.C. watchdog group U.S. Term Limits to call out the congresswoman with billboards along I-93. The 3rd District, of course, is no stranger to term-limit controversy. UMass President Marty Meehan drew criticism during his time representing the then-5th Congressional District after he promised to serve no more than four terms, but changed his mind. Wade writes that Trahan is not closed off to the idea of term limits, but not the 6-year plan she once endorsed.
— Shut it down: Heroux eyes closure of aging New Bedford jail
New Bristol County Sheriff Paul Heroux says his office will move to shut down the Ash Street jail in New Bedford, a project that could cost as much as $10 million and require a slate of state approvals, Arthur Hirsch of The New Bedford Light reports. Heroux says the jail, which was built in the 1800s and is believed to be one of the oldest facilities of its kind in the country, is overdue for closure and that he would consolidate all of the sheriff’s operations in one location in Dartmouth.
— City eyes colleges, universities for possible tax revenue
Worcester officials are taking a fresh look at the payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreements in place with the city’s colleges and universities with an eye toward boosting those fees, though officials are warning residential taxpayers against expecting a windfall of new revenue. The Telegram’s Cyrus Moulton has the details on what is just the latest push to boost PILOT payments.
— Springfield councilor proposes ‘Green Corps’ to tackle litter
Springfield City Councilor Jesse Lederman is proposing the city form a “Green Corps” of youth workers who keep the city’s streets clean, a project he hopes to launch this summer, MassLive’s Jonah Snowden reports. Lederman has identified several potential funding sources, including settlement funds the city got from Eversource and federal APRA cash.
— Next: Following neighbor’s lead, Edgartown tees up nip-bottle ban
The number of towns on Martha’s Vineyard that could put bans on the sale of nip liquor bottles is up to two after the Select Board in Edgartown voted to put the question before Town Meeting this spring. Abigail Rosen of the MV Times reports voters in Oak Bluffs will also be tackling the single-serving liquor bottle question when town meeting season rolls around in a few weeks.
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