Gov. Maura Healey

Happening today:

9 a.m. | Mass. Gaming Commission meets. Officials expect to get an update on casino operations including the number of table games, could consider a request from sports betting operators for clarity on how the commission's ban on Russian and Belarusian events applies to mixed martial arts fighters, and will review a host of sports betting regulations for potential finalization.

10 a.m. | MBTA Board of Directors meets to discuss ongoing service disruptions in the wake of the T's inability to verify previous inspections and repairs.

10 a.m. | Higher Education Commissioner Noe Ortega makes the first of three visits this week to visit public colleges and universities. Ortega will tour Framingham State University, meet with faculty and staff, and talk with students about their experiences at the college. | Framingham State University

10 a.m. | Boston City Council's Civil Rights and Immigrant Advancement Committee holds hearing on "discrimination in lending and appraisals" (Docket 164) | Iannella Council Chamber, City Hall - 5th floor, Boston

10 a.m. | Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket residents, business owners, teachers, nurses and public safety workers rally at the State House to voice support for a transfer fee on "high-end real estate transactions" that could spin off revenue for affordable housing, homeownership aid and senior relief. Rep. Fernandes and Sen. Cyr plan to attend. | State House

10 a.m. | Project Bread hosts virtual advocacy event to promote "school meals for all" legislation, which would allow every student who wants or needs a school breakfast or lunch to receive it at no cost to their family and with no requirement to sign up or provide income or other information.

10:30 a.m. | Mayor Wu gives remarks at the El Centro Adult Education Center ribbon cutting ceremony. | 1785 Columbus Ave, Jamaica Plain

11:45 a.m. | Gov. Maura Healey visits the Hajjar Elementary School in Billerica with Education Secretary Tutwiler to highlight her administration's budget proposals aimed at combating food insecurity, including extending the universal school meals program and providing a three-month offramp for enhanced federal SNAP benefits. | 59 Rogers St., North Billerica

1 p.m. | Gov. Maura Healey visits Dwelling House of Hope in Lowell, joined by local officials, to highlight budget proposals aimed at food insecurity. | 125 Mt. Hope St., Lowell

Massachusetts families sliding down the slope of a “hunger cliff” might catch a bit of rope this week.

Lawmakers appear ready to take up a supplemental budget that includes time-sensitive benefits for families struggling to put food on the table as federal pandemic-era benefits dry up and inflation pushes up the price of groceries. 

A $282 million spending bill filed by Gov. Maura Healey in January included a $130 million “off-ramp” for some 630,000 Massachusetts families who lost COVID-era enhanced federal SNAP benefits at the beginning of March. Her proposal would soften the blow by giving families 40% of the extra federal money for a three-month period.

The program that boosted family food benefits by about a third throughout the pandemic “abruptly” ended in early March, cutting checks for local families by an average of $151 per month in households with children across the state, according to the state Department of Transitional Assistance.

Because the House and Senate passed different versions of Healey’s bill, which contains borrowing authorizations, enactment of a final version must be done by roll call in each branch during a formal session, State House News reported. Both chambers have formal sessions planned for Thursday, and the Senate’s version of the spending bill is pending before the House.

It’s a possible sign that a resolution could be near on the supplemental budget, Sam Doran writes.

Advocates looking to end child hunger, however, are looking to Healey’s latest supplemental spending plan as hope for a more permanent solution. Food insecurity for Massachusetts families with children continues to trend upward, compounded by the rising costs of housing and other basic needs. 

As of February, an estimated 21.1% of families with children were going hungry, according to U.S. Census data. 

Healey’s latest $734 million supplemental budget, filed last week, would extend funding for another pandemic-era program: expanded free school meals for all students. 

She wants to fund the program through the 2023-2024 school year at a cost of $171 million. Lawmakers championed the cause during the last budget cycle and advocates see the governor’s nod as an “encouraging sign” that the program could become permanent.

Project Bread President and CEO Erin McAleer called the proposal “a bold step forward to ensure that we can end child hunger.”

Representative Andy Vargas and Senator Sal DiDomenico are pushing twin School Meals for All bills in the Legislature.

The universal free school meals program has provided food to an additional 80,000 Massachusetts students since the onset of the pandemic, saving families an average of $1,000 per school year per child, according to Project Bread.

Send tips to Erin Tiernan For advertising and general inquiries, contact Dylan RossiterPublisher@MASSterList.comClick here to post a job on the MASSterList Job Board. Follow @MASSterList on Twitter

MBTA watch 🚇

Days since the last derailment, fire, falling debris, or critical incident: 1

Days with localized speed restrictions: 13

Days without “normal” weekday subway service: 274

On Jan. 5, Gov. Healey pledged to hire a new MBTA Transportation Safety Chief within 60 days. It has now been 76 days without the position being filled.

Healey’s housing secretariat plan gets hearing next week

Gov. Maura Healey’s plan to split the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development into two secretariats focused separately on housing and economic development gets its day in front of lawmakers next week, writes Colin A. Young for State House News. The Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight scheduled a hearing for Monday at 11 a.m. in Gardner Auditorium, which will also air virtually. 

State House News

Changing of the guard: MBTA to get a new GM ‘soon’

A new general manager is coming to the MBTA “very, very soon,” Gov. Maura Healey promised. The new governor has promised new leadership for the “woefully understaffed” transit system but Healey has largely kept the Baker administration’s team in place as she’s asked T riders to be patient as she works through a search process while keeping details vague.

State House News

Final destination: FAA cracks down on airport safety following ‘troubling’ incidents 

A series of near misses at multiple airports including in Boston has prompted a “call to action” from the Federal Aviation Administration “to ensure focus and attention on risks to the aviation system.” U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch earlier this month called for an FAA review and an update on investigations into three recent incidents at Logan International Airport, writes The Boston Herald’s Gayla Cawley.

The Boston Herald

Free speech: Sports betting ads fall under 1st Amendment, lawmakers say

Lawmakers signaled they’re unlikely to try to stave off a deluge of ads enticing gamblers to the state’s just-legalized sports betting platforms, saying any restrictions might infringe upon their First Amendment rights. They’re betting advertising campaigns will die down after March Madness, writes Chris Van Buskirk for MassLive. Attorney General Andrea Campbell, meanwhile, has raised concerns. 


Evictions on the rise in Boston as state protections set to expire

Housing advocates are urging state legislators to extend an eviction prevention policy set to expire at the end of the month as the number of eviction filings in Boston has returned to pre-pandemic levels, a report from Princeton University’s Eviction Lab has revealed. The number of evictions filed each week in Boston are up nearly 75% from last year, which experts say is partly due to moratoriums being lifted.

NBC Boston | GBH

Left behind: Healey wants to give rural Mass. a seat at the table

Gov. Maura Healey said the Bay State’s 181 rural communities have been “left behind,” during a Wednesday appearance on WBUR. She plugged a new director post she says would create “a dedicated advocate and ombudsman for rural communities.” The person in the role would be responsible for “cultivating rural economic development and coordinating with secretariats and state agencies to ensure that state government is attuned to the unique needs of rural communities,” she said.

State House News

Mass. ranks most expensive for older people living alone

Massachusetts is the most expensive state for older people living alone, new data suggests, meaning they’re more likely to face economic insecurity than older singles in any other state. Compared to most of the country, it costs older singles $8,000 a year more to stay in their homes in Massachusetts — higher than Hawaii, New York and California.


A-List: Matt Damon, Casey Affleck filming in the North End

Bay State-bred stars Matt Damon and Casey Affleck were spotted filming in Boston this week for a new film being billed under the working title “Quincy.” The cameras were, however, filming in Boston’s North End, where the celebrities were spotted at Bova’s Bakery.

The Boston Herald | The Boston Globe

Healey issues reminder to pharmacies on stocking abortion pills 

Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey is reminding the state’s pharmacies that they must continue to carry a medication used in abortions, regardless of the outcome of a Texas case that could impact the drug’s FDA-approval status, Steve LeBlanc of the Associated Press reports.

AP News

Plot thickener: Cannabis industry data breach has ties to Russian oligarch investigation 

Tori Bedford of GBH explains how a pot blogger’s investigation into ties a Russian oligarch may have to a Bay State cannabis concern led to the data breach that exposed the personal information of thousands of cannabis workers–and why that blogger went into hiding as the story unfolded.


Chopping block: Marblehead says 33 school jobs at risk without override 

The schools chief in Marblehead says the district will have to cut 33 positions and eliminate services at the high school such as freshman sports unless more money can be found or voters back a Proposition 2 ½ override in the upcoming budget cycle. 

The Item

Warren teams with GOP’s Scott to call for new Fed bank oversight post 

File this one under: Politics makes strange bedfellows. U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is teaming up with Republican Florida Senator Rick Scott on legislation that would create a new watchdog post to oversee the Federal Reserve. The bill filing comes after Warren said Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell had failed the U.S. economy by providing insufficient oversight of regional banks and not responding effectively enough to rising  inflation. 

Market Watch

Send tips to Erin Tiernan For advertising and general inquiries, contact Dylan RossiterPublisher@MASSterList.comClick here to post a job on the MASSterList Job Board. Follow @MASSterList on Twitter

Erin Tiernan was a Editor and Author of MASSterList