Pride flag

Happening Today:

9:30 a.m. | Congressman Richard Neal and the Social Security Administration's acting commissioner visit the SSA's field office in Springfield. | 70 Bond St., Springfield

9:30 a.m. | Boston Mayor Michelle Wu attends the 27th Annual Caribbean American Carnival Association of Boston Breakfast. | Reggie Lewis State Track Athletic Center, 1350 Tremont Street, Roxbury

9:45 a.m. | Congressman Jake Auchincloss speaks at Moms Demand Action "Wear Orange" event about his efforts to reform gun laws. | Town Hall, 90 South Main St., Sharon

10:15 a.m. | Boston Mayor Michelle Wu attends the Mayor's Office of Black Male Advancement's My Brother’s Keeper 2023 Summit. | Bolling Municipal Building, 2300 Washington Street, Roxbury

11 a.m. | Boston Mayor Michelle Wu attends a topping off ceremony for the new Engine 17 building. | 7 Parish Street, Dorchester

4 p.m. | Gov. Maura Healey attends the Newburyport Pride Kickoff. | City Hall, 60 Pleasant St., Newburyport

There is “more work to do” to protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and other queer people, Gov. Maura Healey says — even in Massachusetts, a pioneer in recognizing LGBTQ communities.

At a time when LGBTQ rights are under siege nationally, the country’s first openly gay person elected governor told MASSterList she generally “supports efforts” in Massachusetts to make sex education more inclusive of LGBTQ students, expanding gender-neutral options on state identification and expanding access to gender-inclusive bathrooms.

In Massachusetts — where gay marriage was first legalized and where voters considered the first-ever statewide referendum on transgender rights — local lawmakers this session are considering more than a dozen bills that would further expand LGBTQ rights. Including:

  • The Healthy Youth Act, first passed by the state Senate in 2011, would require sex education in public schools to use medically accurate and age-appropriate curriculum that features LGBTQ-inclusive material and information on consent.
  • Allowing people to change their gender designation on birth certificates to a nonbinary “X” without requiring medical documentation, a court order or proof of name change.
  • A bill allowing the construction of gender-neutral bathrooms under the state building code.

Healey said she would “have to review specific legislation” that reaches her desk, but in a statement said her goal is to “ensure that everyone in Massachusetts can live a happy, healthy and authentic life.”

Advocates are seizing June — LGBTQ Pride Month — to urge action by state lawmakers and affirm Massachusetts’ support for queer communities. Instances of hate are on the rise nationwide and in Massachusetts, which was also a “hotbed” for anti-LGBTQ+ extremism last year, according to an Anti-Defamation League report published last week. 

At least 25 states in the last two years have introduced legislation to restrict access to gender-affirming medical care for minors. 

Roughly 500 anti-LGBTQ bills have been filed in state legislatures across the nation in the current session, according to the Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth.

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. Did someone send you this edition? Subscribe here!

Big mistake: State owes feds $2.5 billion used to pay jobless claims

The state must pay back $2.5 billion it erroneously used to pay out a huge uptick in unemployment claims amid the pandemic. A routine audit uncovered the error and though it happened under former Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration, current state officials aren’t saying whose to blame, report Larry Edelman and Jon Chesto for the Globe. Business leaders say the bill shouldn’t fall on the backs of employers already paying more to cover the cost of jobless claims paid out for the pandemic unemployment surge they didn’t cause. 

The Boston Globe

Give us a year: MBTA brass promises ‘incremental improvements’ but longer timeline for sweeping change

Frustrated MBTA riders will have to wait at least a year before they start to see a major improvement in their daily commute, T brass said. The public may experience “incremental improvements” in the interim, reports Gayla Cawley for The Boston Herald. While faster trip times as speed restrictions are lifted in the days and months to come, the MBTA’s new General Manager Phillip Eng said major turnaround at the embattled agency won’t translate into sweeping changes anytime soon.

The Boston Herald | State House News Service

MassHealth rolls actually grew in first month of redetermination

Overall enrollment on the MassHealth rolls saw a net increase in April during the health agency’s first month of redetermining who qualifies for the insurance, reports Chris Lisinski for State House News Service.  About 18,700 people joined the insurance program — which was more than 12,000 people who left MassHealth coverage in April. The state expects the numbers of those shedding service to grow as the process of redetermining eligibility for about 2.4 million Bay Staters ramps up.

State House News Service

Massachusetts’ new housing boss says ‘more faster’ on building but slim on details so far

One thing is clear when it comes to tackling the housing crisis in Massachusetts that’s hurting state competitiveness and leaving many vulnerable to eviction or homelessness: “More, faster.” But the state’s new Housing Secretary Ed Augustus was slim on details for how he plans to build out thousands of homes needed to meet demand, reports Sam Drysdale for State House News Service. He was also mum on how transfer fees, rent control and eviction protections might play in. Augustus was sworn in Thursday and is the state’s first dedicated housing secretary in three decades.

State House News Service | The Boston Herald

Get to know Ed Augustus, the former state senator and Worcester city manager turned state Housing and Livable Communities secretary.


School districts exploring MCAS alternatives

A consortium of eight school districts are trying out performance assessments as a more inclusive, and less intimidating, alternative to the MCAS  — Massachusetts’ standardized test, taken annually by students in grades three through eight, as well as 10th graders, reports Max Larkin for WBUR. Massachusetts is one of just eight states that still requires students to pass a standardized test to graduate from public high schools. The state has also used low MCAS scores as its primary justification for assuming control over districts.


Massachusetts assault weapons ban faces challenge in federal suit

A national gun rights group has asked a federal judge to immediately halt Massachusetts’ longstanding ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines while the court decides whether the law should stand at all, reports The Boston Herald’s Matthew Medsger. The National Association for Gun Rights on Tuesday was heard by First Circuit U.S. District Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV in their attempt to overturn a 1998 assault weapons weapon ban made a permanent law in 2004 by then-Gov. Mitt Romney.

The Boston Herald

Medicare will cover new Alzheimer’s drug if it wins FDA approval

A new class of Alzheimer’s drugs will be eligible for Medicare coverage if they get full FDA approval, reports Rowan Walrath for the Boston Business Journal. In a Thursday statement, the agency responsible for deciding what health insurance for most Americans over 65 covers OK’d coverage of monoclonal antibodies that fight Alzheimer’s disease by targeting amyloid proteins. That includes two made by Cambridge-based Biogen Inc that are up for FDA approval next month.

Boston Business Journal

Race shaping up for mayor’s seat in Chicopee 

Looks like a mayoral race is shaping up in Chicopee, too, now. Ward 3 City Councilor Delmarina Lopez announced Thursday her intention to run for mayor, with a pointed critique of incumbent Mayor John Vieau. Vieau has not formally announced reelection, but the two of them are the only ones to pull papers so far.

Western Mass Politics

Deal reached to end strike at Vineyard Wind facility 

A week-long strike that halted early work in the Port of New Bedford on the Vineyard Wind project has ended after the project reached a deal with a local longshoremen’s union. Mayor Jon Mitchell was among those heralding the deal, which includes a promise for more full-time jobs, additional local hiring and funding for training. 

South Coast Today | New Bedford Light

Worcester police sued over 2020 response to George Floyd protest 

The Worcester police department has been sued over its response to chaotic protests that erupted in the city in the summer of 2020, with a dozen people claiming they were the victims of excessive force when they joined crowds nationwide protesting the death of George Floyd. Plaintiffs in the suit include a number of people who were arrested but later had charges dropped.

MassLive | Telegram & Gazette

Getting out: Trulieve says it will exit Bay State cannabis market 

Trulieve Cannabis Corp. says it has begun to wind down its operations in Massachusetts, closing a handful of dispensaries by the end of this month and exiting the local market entirely by the end of 2023. Last year, a worker died after inhaling cannabis dust in a Trulieve processing facility.

MassLive | Telegram & Gazette

Experiment over: Wegman’s will shutter Natick Mall store 

Their customers voted with their feet. Grocery chain Wegman’s says it will close the two-story market it opened to much fanfare in the Natick Mall less than five years ago. The chain says customers never warmed to the location, which forced them to navigate mall traffic and parking, and that workers will be offered jobs at other stores. 

The Boston Globe | MetroWest Daily News

Weekend political and policy talk shows

Keller@Large | 8:30 a.m. Sunday | WBZ-TV | Political analyst Jon Keller interviews Attorney General Andrea Campbell, discussing the need for tighter regulation of online sports betting, the gap between low crime stats and the public’s fear of crime and progress on policing reform.

On The Record | 11 a.m. Sunday | WCVB-TV MBTA General Manager Phil Eng is the guest this weekend for one of the first in-depth interviews with the GM since his appointment in April by Gov. Healey. Ed Harding and Sharman Sacchetti host. Democratic Political Analyst Mary Anne Marsh and Republican Political Analyst Rob Gray join the roundtable discussion.

Subscribe to MASSterList

Start your morning with MASSterList’s chronicle of news and informed analysis about politics, policy, media, and influence in Massachusetts. Plus, get an inside look at Beacon Hill’s hottest new job postings.

Erin Tiernan was a Editor and Author of MASSterList