Happening Today:

9:30 a.m. | Boston Mayor Michelle Wu grabs a cup at the Hyde Park Coffee Hour. | Amatucci Playground, 140 Hyde Park Ave, Hyde Park

10 a.m. | Homes for All lobbies for rent control starting with a legislative briefing in Room 428, followed by an 11 a.m. rally. | State House steps

10 a.m. | Gov. Maura Healey swears in Ed Augustus as Secretary of Housing and Livable Communities and two new board members for the MWRA. | Governor's Ceremonial Office

10 a.m. | MBTA General Manager Phil Eng and MBTA Board Chair Thomas Glynn speak bout the future of the T.

1:15 p.m. | Boston Mayor Michelle Wu signs an ordinance advancing tworker and public protections in construction and demolition operations alongside OSHA and others. | Brazilian Worker Center, 14 Harvard Avenue #2, Allston

4:30 p.m. | Gov. Maura Healey celebrates the Boston Pride Flag Raising and Portraits of Pride Unveiling. | City Hall Plaza, 1 City Hall Square, Boston

The state’s first standalone housing secretary in more than three decades, Ed Augustus, is on the job. And advocates say focused leadership on housing needs can’t come soon enough.

High housing costs took the spotlight at the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Housing this week during two days of listening sessions. The committee has yet to hold hearings on any of the 154 bills on its docket, but Co-Chairwoman Sen. Lydia Edwards told MASSterList a schedule is coming “soon” and pledged hearings would wrap by winter.

The timeline means it’s unlikely any of those bills targeting affordability will pass until next year — including legislation enabling cities and towns to enact rent control policies. Advocates like Gabriela Cartegena of Vida Urbana say there’s been an “urgent need” for rent stabilization “for at least 10 years now.” Rent control proponents plan to rally Thursday at the State House where they’ll lobby for quicker action, starting at 10 a.m.

Eviction filings so far this year are more than double the number seen in 2022 as housing costs continue to climb. Massachusetts needs to build some 200,000 homes in the next eight years to stabilize rent and home prices, the Healey administration says. Augustus, who is known for engineering Worcester’s downtown redevelopment as city manager there, will lead the charge.

Augustus weighed in on his plan to attack the state’s housing crunch. Responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.

What are the biggest hurdles to lowering housing costs?

To address housing costs, we need to increase supply — by a lot. Developers face multiple hurdles, the number one being navigating complicated local zoning and regulations that restrict opportunity, but we also anticipate higher interest rates may make financing more challenging and builders may continue facing supply chain or labor shortages. 

How effective is rent control in capping rapidly rising rents?

Our administration supports communities implementing local solutions to their housing challenges. We will review any legislation that reaches the Governor’s desk.

What makes you the right person for the job?

As Worcester’s former city manager, I’m proud that we created and preserved thousands of affordable housing units, made key investments in affordable housing and introduced policy changes to encourage more affordable housing development. But there is always still more work to be done. Far too many families — particularly low-income families and families of color — are struggling to keep up with the rising cost of housing, and it’s going to take a whole-of-government approach and every single community coming to the table to deliver results.

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Senate could delay release of radioactive wastewater from nuclear plant into Cape Cod Bay

Senators are seeking to revive the commission through their annual budget after former Gov. Charlie Baker struck down a commission to examine any potential negative environmental effects of dumping radioactive water from the decommissioned Plymouth Nuclear Power Plant into Cape Cod Bay. In an amendment passed with their fiscal year 2024 budget last week, a commission would be created to study the impacts of the proposed solution to get rid of the spent nuclear fuel pool water and prevent the DEP from approving permit applications until after the commission files a report, which could be as late as November 2025.

State House News Service

Retiring BU president accuses graduating class of ‘cancel culture’

Boston University’s retiring president left his final class of graduating students on a sour note, calling students out for so-called “cancel culture” after they booed and shouted obscenities at the Warner Bros. Discovery CEO speaker amid the ongoing writers’ strike, writes Rick Sobey for The Boston Herald. President Robert Brown on Wednesday gave his perspective about the heated commencement ceremony from May 21. The graduating students chanted “Pay your writers!” at Zaslav throughout his commencement speech.

The Boston Herald

Little interest in lifting happy hour ban among Massachusetts lawmakers

Happy hour drink discounts are unlikely to return to Massachusetts anytime soon with lawmakers expressing little interest in lifting the statewide ban on drink discounts amid an effort to revive the practice as a post-COVID economic boost. Consumer Protection Committee Co-chair Rep. Tackey Chan said in a hearing on Wednesday that his fellow representatives have not signaled a desire to clear the way for beverage promotions.

State House News Service

Republicans mount fight for Gobi’s soon-to-be-vacant state Senate seat

State Rep. Peter Durant, a Spencer Republican, will next week announce a run for the Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Sen. Anne Gobi. Gobi is leaving the Legislature to join the Healey administration, Chris Van Buskirk of The Boston Herald reported. Republicans are hoping to turn Gobi’s district red and bump up numbers in a chamber where there are only three Republicans and Democrats hold a super majority. House Rep. Jonathan Zlotnik, a Gardner Democrat, is also in the running.

The Boston Herald

Here to stay? Lawmakers ponder making pandemic-era cocktails-to-go permanent

Pandemic-era regulations that temporarily allowed outdoor dining and alcohol sales will expire next year unless state lawmakers move to make the rules permanent, writes Christian Wade for The Salem News. One proposal would codify emergency regulations put in place several years ago during the COVID-19 pandemic allowing restaurants to sell beer, wine and cocktails with takeout and delivery orders.

Newburyport NewsState House News Service

7th grader suing school over district’s refusal to let him wear ‘Only 2 genders’ shirt

Lawyers for a Middleboro 7th grader are suing the school district over their refusal to allow him to wear a controversial shirt in class. The student wore a shirt reading “There are only two genders” to the school and was told to change, reports Darren Botelho for NBC Boston. The school said that he was violating its dress code, and the principal told Morrison other students had complained about it. He refused to change and ended up going home during the school day.

NBC Boston

Women push for better pregnancy care on Beacon Hill

Pregnancy and parenting issues took center stage amid action by two women’s advocacy groups on Wednesday, with pregnancy-related legislation featured on each group’s agendas, GBH reported. One bill would create grant programs aimed at equitably expanding access to mental health services during and after pregnancy, and another would require MassHealth to cover services from doulas, professionals who provide physical, emotional and informational support during pregnancy, labor and pregnancy loss.


Compass Medical of Quincy, South Shore announces sudden closure

A Quincy-based health organization with six locations south of Boston announced the sudden closure of all its medical facilities, The Patriot Ledger reported. It means an uncertain future for the healthcare of its patients.

The Patriot Ledger | The Boston Globe

Batten down the hatches: New England overdue for major hurricane hit

New England is “way overdue” for a serious hurricane hit, meteorologists tell Jacob Wycoff of WBZ. Southern New England averages a hurricane landfall once every 12 years or so. Major hurricanes hit once every 60 years, historically speaking. Most New Englanders remember Hurricane Bob from 1991 — but had sputtered down to a Category 2 by the time it hit landfall in Newport, Rhode Island. The last big hit to the region came 69 years ago with 1954’s Hurricane Carol.


Lynn clears the way for return of T ferry to Boston 

The Lynn Economic Development and Industrial Corporation has agreed to lease pier space to the MBTA, a move that clears the way for the return of the Lynn-to-Boston commuter ferry–a service that briefly ran on a pilot basis in the years before the pandemic. The Item’s Emily Paul notes the T is set to relaunch the service ahead of the planned closure of the Sumner Tunnel this summer.

The Item

Exile over? Martha’s Vineyard library invites Dershowitz to speak again 

He’s back. Alan Dershowitz has been invited to speak about his newly released book at the Chilmark Library, a move that comes a year after he claimed to have been shut out from the institution–and social life on Martha’s Vineyard in general–because of his defense of former President Donald Trump. The library’s trustees said their concerns last year were about public safety and the crowd at this year’s talk will be limited to 25 people.

Martha’s Vineyard Times

Lowell City Hall is latest target of crusading YouTuber 

Cameron Morsberger has the details on what went down at Lowell City Hall on Wednesday when a self-declared ‘First Amendment auditor’ showed up with video cameras in tow to pose questions to various officials about their roles.  

Lowell Sun

Supreme Court ruling prompts Framingham to consider new flag policy

The Framingham City Council is in the process of adopting a new policy that would limit what flags can be flown over city hall, making it just the latest community seeking to tighten its written policies in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that found Boston ran afoul of the First Amendment with its more discretionary approach to the issue.

MetroWest Daily News

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Erin Tiernan was a Editor and Author of MASSterList