Happening today:

11 a.m. | Gov. Maura Healey testifies at Joint Ways and Means Committee hearing on her fiscal 2024 budget proposal | Gardner Auditorium

10 a.m. | Zero Carbon Renovation Fund Coalition hosts a brunch-and-bubbles policy briefing. Advocates say their legislation proposing a $300 million fund would "jumpstart the market for zero carbon renovations in existing buildings in Massachusetts, with the goal of having this fund administered by MassCEC." | State House Room 428

10 a.m. | Arc of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council hosts their 45th annual legislative reception. Sen. Michael Barrett and Rep. Christine Barber will receive "Legislator of the Year" awards from the Arc and MDDC. Several hundred people with disabilities, their families and industry professionals are expected to attend, as well as several elected officials | Great Hall

11:30 a.m. | Boston Police Commissioner Michael Cox is interviewed on GBH News program "Boston Public Radio" live at GBH's Boston Public Library studio | WGBH-FM 89.7

Noon | Drivers for ride-hailing platforms Uber and Lyft gather in support of legislation (HD 2071 / SD 1162) that would guarantee them access to a minimum wage, paid sick time, unemployment insurance, discrimination protection and collective bargaining rights. | State House steps

2 p.m. | Joint Committee on Transportation convenes its first public hearing of the 2023-2024 term to consider Gov. Healey's road and bridge funding legislation (H 52). Healey's bill calls for $400 million in bonding for the Chapter 90 program over a two-year period, marking a departure from the typical one-year authorizations but not from its common funding level of $200 million per year. | Room A-2 and Virtual

Despite a Democratic stranglehold on Beacon Hill, centrist politics still appear to reign supreme for officials testing the waters on new policy pitches hot off the campaign trail.

Barely two months into the job, Bay Staters got their first taste for how Gov. Maura Healey plans to put into action promises to make education more accessible, improve transportation and tackle climate change initiatives in her $55.5 million budget revealed last week.

Policies outlined in the spending plan and accompanying tax relief bill didn’t ruffle too many feathers on the left or the right. She delivered on promises to make community college free for some and wants to slash tax bills for people on both ends of the pay scale, but left both sides wanting more, the Boston Business Journal reported.

It’s a moderate brand perfected by former Republican Charlie Baker, who managed to hold onto his throne as the nation’s most popular throughout the pandemic during one of the most polarizing times in American politics. And as then-President Donald Trump repeatedly lambasted his so-called RINO ways. 

It was messaging that worked for the GOP governor in solidly blue Massachusetts then. And it’s one that Healey has echoed straight out of the gate in a state where independent voters make up the majority of the electorate, a recent Boston Globe article pointed out.

It’s also a strategy that can help move the needle on contentious policy matters.

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu — who leaned into her liberal policy ideas, carrying her across the finish line over her more moderate challenger, former City Councilor Annissa Essaibi George — appears to be reaching for the center when it comes to the hot button rent control debate.

With pen now to paper on Wu’s “rent stabilization” policy, she’s catching heat from both sides in her attempts to straddle the middle.

While one city councilor told Wu “you can’t be reasonable and in the middle with a housing crisis,” the real estate lobby is sounding the alarm on the policy they say could freeze out development altogether, Commonwealth Magazine reported.

Keller @ Large

Invoking the words of the ancient Greek poet Hesiod, WBZ political analyst Jon Keller says, “Moderation is best in all things.” From Gov. Maura Healey to Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, he lays out how politicians are playing the center line.


State auditor probing discrimination claims at convention center authority 

State Auditor Diana DiZoglio is planning an audit of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority to look into allegations of racism in hiring, promotions, and procurement practices as Black leaders from around the state called for independent investigations. The MCCA in response has said it will also conduct its own investigation.

Boston Globe

Suffolk County sheriff admits to hiring niece, asking subordinates for child care

Suffolk County Sheriff Steven W. Tompkins has paid over $12,000 in fines after he admitted to violating state law by creating a no-bid job for his niece and by repeatedly asking his subordinates to run personal errands for him, according to an agreement he signed with the state’s Ethics Commission.

The Boston Globe

Everett superintendent who accused mayor of racism not getting new contract

Everett School Committee members voted against renewing the contract for Superintendent Priya Tahiliani following years of tension between her and the mayor.

Tahiliani, who has led the school system since March 2020, filed a complaint with the state last year accusing Mayor Carlo DeMaria of subjecting her to “blatant and overt acts of discrimination and retaliation.”

The Boston Globe

Less red tape for opioid users seeking life-saving drug

Congress eliminated what became known as the “X-waiver” in legislation President Biden signed late last year. Previously, the federal government limited access to buprenorphine, a medication that addiction experts consider the gold-standard for treating patients with an opioid use disorder.


Top Dem wants wind power company banned from future projects

A top Senate budget official is calling for Avangrid to be banned from bidding on any future projects in the state if it terminates its current offshore wind contract. Avangrid agreed to the terms of a 20-year power purchase agreement last year and just before it won final regulatory approval the company stepped forward to say the economy had shifted and it needed more money 

Commonwealth Magazine

Blarney Blowout raises binge drinking concerns at UMass

A new drinking fad known mostly by the acronym BORG, which stands for black out rage gallon and involves a gallon-sized plastic bottle and alcohol sent nearly 50 people to the hospital on Saturday. It was the day of the annual and controversial Blarney Blowout, a St. Patrick’s Day tradition at UMass Amherst.

Boston Globe | WCVB

Apparent cyberattack closes Northern Essex Community College 

Northern Essex Community College will be closed today as the school deals with fallout from just the latest cyberattack to target a Bay State college, Mike LaBella of the Eagle-Tribune reports. The school expects its Lawrence and Haverhill campuses to reopen on Wednesday. 

The Eagle Tribune

Quiet time: Salem may ask state, again, to let it enforce noise limits 

This time, they’ve got friends in high places. Elected officials in Salem are considering asking the state for permission to use electronic devices to enforce local noise ordinances and Dustin Luca of the Salem News reports the city hopes this effort will have a better chance of passing the legislature now that the city’s former mayor is serving as lieutenant governor. 

Salem News

Lawmaker says help may be coming on septic upgrades 

State Sen. Mark Montigny is telling his constituents and others facing potentially costly upgrades to their septic systems to comply with new state regulations that relief could be on the way from the Healey administration. The Standard-Times’ Frank Mulligan reports the lawmaker is hoping to convince environmental regulators to create a carve-out for some parts of the state or other relief. 

The Standard Times

More like this: Healey says Worcester housing project underscores challenges, opportunities 

Gov. Maura Healey made a visit to Worcester to highlight a new mixed-income apartment project that may perfectly sum-up the state’s housing crisis: While the project adds 48 new housing units available to people at varying income levels, the nonprofit that helped develop says it received applications from 1,700 would-be renters.

MassLive | Telegram & Gazette

Erin Tiernan was a Editor and Author of MASSterList