Rent control rally in front of the State House.

Happening today:

7:30 p.m. | Lt. Gov. Driscoll gives remarks at the Greater Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce Annual Economic Outlook Breakfast | Cruiseport Gloucester, 6 Rowe Square, Gloucester

9 a.m. | The Public Health Council meets. The council will hear updates from Commissioner Margaret Cooke, then plans to vote on whether to promote two regulations related to the registration of sanitarians and certified health officers. They will also hear a presentation updating councilors on the Office of Problem Gambling Services

9:50 a.m. | Mayor Wu gives remarks at the 25th Annual Greater Boston International Women's Day Breakfast | Linda K Paresky Conference Center, third floor of the Main Campus Building, Simmons University, 300 Fenway, Boston

10 a.m. | Senate President Spilka joins an International Women's Day celebration hosted by State Street for a discussion on "Embracing Equity." Closed press | 1 Lincoln Street, Boston

10:30 a.m. | Mass. Gaming Commission meets to finalize a regulation that governs involuntary exclusion from sports wagering. A commission lawyer said the topic would need to be addressed on Wednesday so the regulation can be in place for the Friday launch of mobile betting. The commission could also vote to accept mobile betting platforms' house rules.

1:30 p.m. | Mass. Civic Learning Coalition holds hybrid event looking at progress in civic education in Massachusetts schools since the 2018 passage of the state civics education law. Speakers include Sen. Rausch, Rep. Vargas, DESE Associate Commissioner Erin Hashimoto-Martell, Matt Wilson of Discovering Justice and the Civic Learning Coalition, and teachers and students.....Room 428

3:30 p.m. | Gov. Maura Healey joins Lt. Gov. Driscoll to visit Strong Women Strong Girls for International Women's Day | Hurley K-8 School, 70 Worcester St, Boston

The rent is too damn high in Somerville too — or so say city councilors, who this week will set to work crafting a rent cap plan in Boston fashion.

As the average cost of a 1-bedroom apartment in the city now approaches $2,450 — a 12% increase over the last year alone, according to RentHop — City Council President Ben Ewen-Campen has decided “enough is enough.” 

Somerville renters – now paying the fourth highest rent prices in the state – aren’t likely to see a finished policy until the fall, Ewen-Campen said. He revealed few details, but said the planned home-rule petition would likely mirror Boston’s with a 6% annual cap tied to inflation and a 10% hard cap.

Boston’s average rent, at $2,750, is up 13% over last year.

Massachusetts voters narrowly banned rent control statewide in a 1994 referendum. Unless lawmakers pass enabling legislation, cities and towns must win approval from the City Council, the Legislature, and the governor to enact any kind of rent stabilization.

Rent control has a storied and contentious 100-year history in Massachusetts, where it’s been the law of the land during three distinct eras, first in 1920. Cambridge historian Bill Cunningham recently told MASSterList he thinks local policies in Boston, Somerville and beyond “have a chance again” this session.

But first advocates will have to overcome real estate industry naysayers who warn of catastrophic hits to development. Landlords have already launched a six-figure opposition campaign and filed suit over policy-related documents in Boston. Another hurdle lies in the Legislature, where the House in 2020 overwhelmingly shot down a rent control amendment.

Polls, however, suggest a growing appetite for capping rents as prices soar statewide. A recent poll found 65% of likely voters favored reviving a local option for municipalities to enact stabilization policies, State House News reports.

Massachusetts had rent control in the 1920s, the 1940s through the mid-1950s, and from 1970 until the mid 1990s. Somerville was among the cities that enacted rent caps for some time during the most recent iteration along with Boston, Brookline, Cambridge and Lynn.

First in a century: DiZoglio to audit state Legislature

State Auditor Diana DiZoglio is making good on her campaign trail promise to audit the Massachusetts House and Senate. The former state Senator from Methuen said it’s time the state’s lawmakers have oversight in their dealings. During her time under the Golden Dome, DiZoglio frequently criticized the Legislature’s opacity.

The Boston Globe | The Boston Herald | State House News

3 Strikes: Lynch ‘demands’ review after ‘troubling’ incidents at Logan Airport

U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch is calling for a review of FAA flight operations and an update on investigations into three recent “troubling” incidents at Boston Logan International Airport: One close-call between planes, a plane wing into a plane tail and a Massachusetts man who allegedly attacked a flight attendant and tried to open an emergency exit door on a United flight heading to Boston

The Boston Herald

Report: UMass Dartmouth hid sex assault allegations against former police officer, report finds

A scathing investigation found the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth covered up allegations that a former campus police officer, David Laudon, sexually assaulted and harassed a student, allowing the officer to quietly resign and to go on to work for other police departments.

WBUR

Former Boston Councilor Arroyo retires as Suffolk probate register

Felix D. Arroyo, patriarch of one of the most well-known political families in Boston politics and the first Latino elected to the Boston City Council, has retired from his post as Suffolk County register of probate. Arroyo served as register for over eight years and retired Friday, according to a spokeswoman. Vincent Procopio has been appointed acting register.

The Boston Globe

Natural gas bills to drop after winter spike

Natural gas consumers will be getting a break on their bills beginning this month, with two of the state’s largest utilities cutting their rates.

The state Department of Public Utilities said it has approved a reduction in the base rate for gas charged by National Grid and Eversource, as of March 1.

The Gloucester Times

Don’t eat the fish: PFAS chemicals found in 13 state parks

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is warning residents to be careful when eating fish caught in 13 state parks. Testing over the past year revealed elevated levels of PFAS chemicals, technically known as per- and polyfluorinated substances, in certain fish. Health officials recommended avoiding some species from the tested sites and limiting consumption of others. Stocked fish, the advisories said, remain safe to eat.

WBUR

Community colleges to drop Covid vax mandate at school year’s end

The Massachusetts Association of Community Colleges says the state’s 15 community colleges will also drop their Covid-19 vaccination requirements at the end of the current school year. Mary Byrne of the Daily Hampshire Gazette reports the colleges are citing the end of the federal state of emergency in dropping the mandate, which went into effect early last year.

Daily Hampshire Gazette

Let ‘er rip: SJC says Southborough erred in shutting down rude comments 

In a ruling cheered by free speech advocates, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has ruled that selectmen in Southborough improperly shut down comments from a resident they said violated the board’s “civility code.” The ruling could have wide-ranging impacts on cities and towns, many of which have actively sought ways to turn down the temperature at increasingly caustic public meetings. 

The Boston Globe | The Telegram & Gazette

Never mind: Would-be apartment developer withdraws plan Beverly T garage

A developer who hoped to put an apartment building atop the Beverly MBTA parking garage has withdrawn his plan after it ran into opposition from Mayor Mike Cahill and residents in the neighborhood. Paul Leighton of the Salem News reports Barnat Development withdrew its proposal to build 70 apartments with no new parking just hours before the city’s formal planning review was set to begin. 

Salem News

AG says Edgartown repeatedly violated open meeting law

The office of Attorney General Andrea Campbell has ruled that the Edgartown Select Board repeatedly violated the Open Meeting Law by releasing insufficiently detailed minutes from executive sessions held way back in 2015. But as Abigail Rosen of the Martha’s Vineyard Times reports, the board has not yet decided if or how it will respond to the ruling.

Martha’s Vineyard Times

Erin Tiernan was a Editor and Author of MASSterList