8 a.m. | Boston Mayor Michelle Wu attends the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts' Annual Equal Opportunity & Diversity Breakfast. | State Street Pavilion, Fenway Park, 4 Jersey St, Boston
9:30 a.m. | Grab a cup of Joe with Boston Mayor Michelle Wu at the South End Coffee Hour. | Hayes Park, 158 Warren Ave, Boston
10 a.m. | Dig into a policy brief on Massachusetts' emergency rental relief system with advocacy groups including Boston Foundation and Metropolitan Area Planning Council.
10:30 a.m. | Gov. Maura Healey attends annual Remembering & Honoring Massachusetts Military Heroes ceremony | Soldiers and Sailors Monument, Flagstaff Hill, Boston Common
10:30 a.m. | Treasurer Deb Goldberg joins officials including Boston Mayor Michelle Wu to read the names of fallen service members ahead of Memorial Day weekend. | Soldiers and Sailors Monument, 139 Tremont St., Boston
More than a year after police departments from Cape Cod to Boston began issuing warnings about rising reports of drink spiking at local bars, state senators have taken a first step toward addressing the issue.
But advocates say to stop people from getting “roofied,” officials still need to grasp the full scope of the crisis.
Boston Police received 116 reports of potential drink-spiking incidents in 2022, none directly resulting in arrests.
It’s impossible to know the true scope of the issue — no official statistics exist. Many say the drink-spiking instances are likely vastly underreported.
Boston police only recently began tracking drink-spiking incidents in its internal reporting system.
Sen. Paul Feeney on Wednesday called out a “patchwork response” so far by the commonwealth.
A budget amendment from the Foxboro Democrat that was approved on Wednesday would target prevention by directing $300,000 to the Department of Public Health to bulk purchase drug testing kits to pass out at bars and nightclubs, as well as study and recommend prevention strategies. It would also fund a public awareness campaign. To pass, it needs approval in the Senate’s full budget and to survive conference committee negotiations.
Feeney pointed out in his speech on the Senate floor that drink-spiking can often lead to other crimes like burglary, rape, assault or murder.
“We have not caught up as a commonwealth to what’s actually happening out there,” Feeney said.
His larger bill, currently before the Joint Committee on Public Health, would create a task force charged with collecting data and tracking confirmed drugging incidents. It would also issue recommendations on standardizing care for victims at hospitals, regardless of whether or not a sexual assault has occurred.
As state lawmakers play catchup, victims and concerned citizens have turned to social media to spread awareness and share resources.
Facebook group “Booze in Boston” launched last May in response to an alarming rise in drink-spiking at bars in the Boston area. It counted more than 13,300 members as of Thursday.
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Senate budget debate latest
Senators continued to make headway on more than 1,000 amendments to their $56 billion budget, passing hundreds more in bundled amendments.
Approvals included a proposal from state Sen. Brendan Crighton, transportation committee co-chairman, that would create a commission to study congestion pricing — the third time the measure has come before the chamber. It would explore the policy to impose roadway tolls that rise or fall based on traffic to disincentivize drivers from commuting at already-crowded peak times. Among the rejected amendments was a Republican-led proposal to strip budget language that would grant some undocumented immigrants in-state tuition at public colleges and universities.
There’s more budget debate to come, starting at 10 a.m.
Report suggests Boston’s transportation plan needs redirect
Boston is trending in the wrong direction when it comes to transportation, according to a new report. Researchers urge governments to discourage driving and improve public transit, biking, walking, and car sharing, and to electrify all modes of transportation, including freight, as soon as possible, reports The Boston Globe’s Taylor Dolven. The report urges governments to make transportation investments to help slash emissions.
Boston reparations task force coordinator arrested for trespassing at city hall
The project coordinator for the City of Boston’s Task Force on Reparations was arrested last week inside City Hall, charged with trespassing and resisting arrest. The arrest followed weeks of issues where he allegedly was trespassing in the building after hours, and at times becoming aggressive and threatening to other staff members inside of City Hall, reported Flint McColgan for The Boston Herald. The employee George Williams, 35, has since been fired
Boston city councilors agree on redistricting map
There was “surprisingly” little drama on Wednesday as Boston city councilors passed a new map of voting precincts, reported Emma Platoff for The Boston Globe. In a 10-2 vote, councilors approved a map that redraws the boundaries of the nine district seats after a federal judge blocked an earlier attempt and tasked them with a rewrite earlier this year.
Moulton wants more vets in MassDems
U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton wants more veterans represented in the state’s Democratic Party. In an effort to boost their visibility in state and federal politics, he’s requested the state committee to update the party’s charter to allow veterans to be named as “add-on delegates” at political conventions by including them in a list of “marginalized communities” eligible for the at-large spots, reports Christian Wade for The Eagle Tribune.
Savin Hill attorney in the running in District 3
Matt Patton, a labor attorney who lives in Savin Hill, on Wednesday formally launched his campaign for the District 3 seat, held by outgoing Dorchester Councillor Frank Baker. He made the announcement at the Savin Hill MBTA stop.
Rent relief advocates push for more funding post-pandemic
A rental relief program that rescued strapped renters by the thousands amid the pandemic, bolstered by federal aid, is running out of funding. Housing advocates say that the program, known as Rental Assistance for Families in Transition, or RAFT, is needed now more than ever, reports Andrew Brinker for The Boston Globe. They want lawmakers to set aside $250 million in funding.
They’re here: Milestone marked as first wind turbine parts arrive in New Bedford
The first large components of the wind turbines that will make up the Vineyard Wind offshore wind farm arrived in New Bedford on Wednesday after crossing the Atlantic from Portugal–marking a major milestone for both the state’s green energy industry and the city’s economic visions.
Congressional delegation eyes military angle in search for Cape bridge funds
Members of the Bay State’s Congressional deflation are now asking the U.S. Department of Defense to fund a portion of the $4 billion they are seeking to fund the replacement of the Cape Cod Bridges. While urging Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to exercise his authority to support infrastructure investments, lawmakers argued that updating the bridges is a matter of national security because they provide the only land access to Joint Base Cape Cod.
Show your work: Worcester councilors want more insight into Polar Park operations
Amid fresh debate about whether the decision to bankroll the construction of Polar Park poses a long-term risk to Worcester’s budgets, some members of the city council are demanding more transparency into the park’s operations. Some councilors want to do away with the Worcester Ballpark Commission and return oversight of the facility directly to the council.
Lowell could use Superior Courthouse to shelter unhoused
The Lowell City Council has voted to explore whether the vacant former superior courthouse could be repurposed to provide shelter for the growing unhoused population in and around the city. The Sun’s Melanie Gilbert has the details.
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