9 a.m. | Metropolitan Area Planning Council hosts its annual meeting with Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll and 101 city and town officials in-person meeting for the first time in three years. | Artists For Humanity, 100 W 2nd St., Boston
9:30 a.m. | Boston Mayor Michelle Wu sips a cuppa at Charlestown Coffee Hour. | Edwards Playground, 10 Eden Street, Charlestown
11 a.m. | Gov. Maura Healey cheers on the Mass. Commission on the Status of Women's advocacy day. | Great Hall
11:30 a.m. | Boston Mayor Michelle Wu joins Charlestown High School head and Boston Public Schools Superintendent Mary Skipper to host a media availability. | Charlestown High School, 240 Medford Street, Charlestown
4:30 p.m. | Gov. Maura Healey attends the National Association of Government Employees National Executive Board Reception with Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll.
It’s a women’s world today — on Beacon Hill at least.
They are taking to the State House to demand action on a slate of bills at a time when women’s reproductive rights are under siege on the national scale.
Abortion access, care and health insurance coverage expansion will dominate the dialogue as supporters advocate for a number of bills named as legislative priorities by two different women-focused groups. Both the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women and the state chapter of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists hold advocacy days on Wednesday.
Commission Chairwoman Dr. Sarah Glenn-Smith said the annual event at the State House is a “very powerful day” that brings together the state and regional commissions alongside hundreds of advocates who aim to “move the needle” for women across Massachusetts. Women advocates will lay out their legislative agenda for the session with the goal of promoting and protecting their rights.
Bills from Reps. Lindsay Sabadosa of Northampton, Ruth Balser of Newton and Sen. Cindy Friedman of Arlington (H 1137/ S 646) would expand insurance coverage of all pregnancy care, including abortion, prenatal care and postpartum care.
Boston Sen. Liz Miranda is seeking to improve maternal health outcomes and end racial inequities by better-integrating midwifery care and improving access to out-of-hospital birthing options. Her bill also seeks to reduce financial and administrative barriers to the creation of free-standing birth centers. A bill from Reps. Jay Livingstone of Boston and Kay Khan of Newton would mandate access to contraception, counseling, and abortion care for incarcerated people.
A bill that would allow candidates running for public office to use their campaign funds to pay for child care, regardless of gender or family status, is also working its way through the Legislature once again. Though it’s passed in the Senate more than once, it’s never made it across the governor’s desk.
Somerville’s Sen. Patricia Jehlen has pointed out that political funds can already be used to “rent cars, to rent tuxedos, to take each other out to dinner.” She sponsored the bill alongside Reps. Mike Connolly of Cambridge and Joan Meschino of Hull.
Lawmakers hope including childcare costs as an allowable campaign expense will motivate more people to run for office in a state where it carries one of the highest price tags. U.S. Department of Labor data shows parents spend between $16,000 and $26,000 dollars a year on child care in Massachusetts.
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Keller at Large
Millennials are moving out of Massachusetts in droves in search of a more affordable place to live and work, writes WBZ political analyst Jon Keller. Tapped-out 26-to 35-year-olds aren’t the only residents fleeing the state’s high cost of living amid growing outmigration, but Keller notes if lawmakers don’t stem the exodus — perhaps with tax relief — it could be bad news for the state’s future workforce.
Lining up: Mass Democrats get behind Biden-McCarthy debt ceiling deal
Members of the state’s all-Democrat congressional delegation are backing a deal between President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy — albeit begrudgingly — that’s aimed at avoiding a “catastrophic” debt default, writes Christian Wade for The Eagle-Tribune. The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives has agreed to vote today on a compromise bill to raise the national debt limit after negotiating for spending cuts and other concessions in exchange.
Off track: East-West rail gets the snub from lawmakers
A plant to connect Western Mass to Boston via public transit could be off track as neither the House or Senate budgets included money for the East-West rail project, reports Western Mass Politics. Supporters say it’s a mere setback as the state awaits federal funding. Gov. Maura Healey still “strongly supports” the commuter track — she included $12.5 million for the project in her budget.
Pride: More parades are popping up in small Massachusetts cities
From Newburyport to Topsfield and over to Salem, Pride parades are taking root all over in Massachusetts’s smaller cities, reports Hanna Reale for GBH. Organizers are making a point to make queer neighbors feel supported in their own communities, without having to go to the nearest big city. And it’s an effort that’s taken on additional meaning amid a national rise in anti-LGBTQ legislation in state legislatures.
Boston spends the most per student in large school districts nationwide
Despite declining enrollment, Boston Public Schools’ budget is growing and the district now spends more per student than any other large school district in the country, the latest US Census data reveal. The city’s highest-in-the-nation cost was $31,397 per student during the 2020-21 school year, reported James Vaznis for The Boston Globe. It was a bump of almost 13 percent from the previous year, or about $3,600 more per student.
No workers to fill jobs aplenty in the life sciences industry
Massachusetts is leading the pack when it comes to life sciences job growth, but lacks the available workers to fill positions, according to a new report. The state’s life sciences sector grew its employment base by 14.6% between 2019 and 2022, compared to just 9.4% nationally, reports Zeninjor Enwemeka for GBH. The sector is projected to have an average of more than 6,600 openings in key roles over the next decade.
Charlie Baker’s son strikes plea deal in drunken-driving case
Former Gov. Charlie Baker’s son has struck a plea deal after he was arrested and charged with drunk driving on Interstate 95 earlier this month. Andrew “A.J.” Baker, a 29-year-old South Boston resident, allegedly blew a 0.152, almost double the legal blood alcohol limit of 0.08. He admitted to sufficient facts to warrant a guilty finding in court on Tuesday. He will lose his license for 45 days and be mandated to participate in treatment.
Healey signs Boston City Council bill
Boston officials are almost through the other side of their redistricting woes. The House and Senate signed off on an extension for district-level Boston City Council candidates to file their nomination papers ahead of this fall’s elections. The original deadline passed last week without a finalized local redistricting plan in place. Later on Tuesday, Gov. Maura Healey signed the bill.
With gaming laws on the books, Massachusetts to crack down on offshore casinos
Gamblint is now openly regulated and taxed in Massachusetts, alongside sports wagering and regulators here have agreed to join calls on the U.S. Justice Department to crack down on illegal operators offshore. Members of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission on Tuesday agreed to send a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, joining other states.
Rochester candidates skip campaign finance reports amid allegations of coordination with PAC
Four candidates in last week’s Rochester town election have filed no campaign finance reports and the Democratic town committee in a neighboring community has asked the Office of Political and Campaign Finance to investigate whether the candidates illegally coordinated with a local independent expenditure political action committee. The New Bedford Light’s Colin Hogan has the details.
Reparations debate in Amherst focuses on who should receive payments
Saraya Wintersmith of GBH News reports on the debate that is taking center stage as the town of Amherst moves forward with its plan to pay reparations to those harmed by slavery and racism: Who exactly should be eligible for payments. While many want payments to go only to direct descendants of slaves, critics of that approach say many families lack the documentation to prove such ties and that the residual impacts of slavery affect all Black Americans.
Resident handcuffed at Shutesbury library site sues
A Shutesbury resident who was handcuffed by the police chief while visiting the site of an under-construction town library last month has filed a federal lawsuit against the town, Scott Merzbach of the Daily Hampshire Gazette reports. Michael Hootstein, a hydrogeologist by profession, says he was investigating concerns about groundwater contamination at the construction site when he was detained.
Barnstable will be next Cape town to allow green burials
The town of Barnstable is finalizing the rules that will govern the new “green burial” section of a local cemetery and officials say they’ve already seen significant interest in the interment option that forgoes embalming and uses caskets meant to decay more quickly, Susan Vaughn of the Cape Cod Times reports.
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