10 a.m. | Gun-control advocates hold press conference about gun violence's impact in Massachusetts and "urgent need for continued action." | State House steps
10 a.m. | Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll sits in on a Pride Month Roundtable on Gender Affirming Care with state health officials. | State House Library
10:15 a.m. | Gov. Maura Healey highlights new housing plan in the unveiling of the 2024-2028 capital investment plan. | Housing Assistance Corporation, 460 West Main Street, Hyannis
1:30 p.m. | Ahead of the one-year anniversary of the Dobbs decision, Gov. Maura Healey tours family planning sites on Martha's Vineyard to highlight a grant they received to dispense medication abortion. | 517 State Road, Vineyard Haven
2:15 p.m. | Gov. Maura Healey takes a seat at the housing development roundtable. | Island Cohousing, 17 Rock Pond Road, West Tisbury
3:30 p.m. | Gov. Maura Healey visits Island Food Pantry to learn about food insecurity on the Vineyard. | 137 Vineyard Avenue, Oak Bluffs
Somerville is on the verge of opening the first government-sanctioned safe injection site in Massachusetts. And as the opioid epidemic rages on, harm-reduction advocates hope state lawmakers will pave the way for more supervised places where people can use heroin and other illegal drugs and be revived if they overdose.
Lawmakers are considering a bill that would create a 10-year pilot program for overdose prevention sites in two or more cities — with required local approvals and licensed through the Department of Public Health.
It’s the same plan a legislative committee first recommended more than four years ago — but with a Democrat now in the corner office, Rep. Dylan Fernandes of Falmouth told MASSterList “the landscape has shifted” in favor of harm-reduction including overdose prevention sites.
Gov. Maura Healey “believes harm reduction strategies are an important part of mitigating the opioid crisis” and is in favor of giving cities and towns the option of opening safe injection sites, a spokeswoman told MASSterList.
It’s a marked switch from the previous administration where former Gov. Charlie Baker was opposed. And where ex U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Andrew Lelling — a Trump appointee — very publicly promised prosecution.
Supervised injection sites are illegal under federal law and clinic staff risk federal charges and loss of state medical licenses if they monitor illegal drug use. Health care organizations could jeopardize their federal funding for involvement. The proposed state program would protect clinicians working in sanctioned safe injection sites in Massachusetts.
The tide is shifting — and it’s about time, Fernandes said. Opioid overdoses killed 2,301 people in Massachusetts in 2021 — the deadliest year on record, state health data show. More than 107,000 died nationwide. “It’s unconscionable to me that we would stop or prevent methods like overdose prevention sites that have been proven to save people’s lives and help them into treatment they so desperately need,” Fernandes said.
State health officials are set to release new overdose data this afternoon.
There have been no consequences so far for safe injection sites in New York City, which has emboldened cities like Somerville to forge ahead. The city with a penchant for progressivism has most of the funding in place and will decide whether to pull the trigger on its plans to launch a mobile safe injection site in the coming weeks.
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BREAKING: Healey administration unveils new housing, capital investment plan
Gov. Maura Healey today unveils a $14 billion, five-year capital investment plan that gives a window into how her administration plans to tackle the state’s worsening housing crisis and achieve its goals of creating a more affordable, competitive and equitable future.
Here’s what’s in the plan:
- $1.5 billion investment in housing, including a $97 million annual contribution to launch a new HousingWorks program to build 200 to 300 new housing units per year.
- $1.4 billion to reduce emissions through transportation electrification, creation of sustainable transportation alternatives, and construction of resilient infrastructure to withstand the impacts of a changing climate.
- $1.2 billion in capital funding for the Executive Office of Economic Development to invest throughout the commonwealth.
- $840 million for climate-resilient higher education campus improvements.
- $262 million towards replacing the Cape Cod bridges.
- $270 million annually for local transportation programs.
Waning hope: Missing sub carrying Titanic tourists nears oxygen deadline
The search for the missing OceanGate Titan submarine, which disappeared Sunday during a dive to bring tourists to view the wreckage of the Titanic, is now in its fifth day, reports Fox News. The sub is expected to run out of oxygen imminently, according to estimates from the U.S. Coast Guard.
Sex ed curriculum gets proposed overhaul by Healey administration, including LGBTQ+ updates
State health officials are taking an eraser to the word “abstinence” as it pertains to sexual health curriculum, reports Bruce Mohl for Commonwealth Magazine. The state’s 25-year-old guidance recommends methods for preventing pregnancies, “including abstinence,” but includes no direct mention of contraception. Sam Drysdale of State House News Service said Healey’s proposed updates cover LGBTQ+ health and wellness, mental and emotional health, among others.
DeSantis SuperPAC founder courts Massachusetts donors
Kenneth Cuccinelli, a former Virginia attorney general who served as a homeland security official in the Trump administration and the founder of a Ron DeSantis-aligned super PAC with plans to spend $100 million on voter outreach this presidential cycle, dropped into Massachusetts on Wednesday to meet with potential donors. Matt Stout for The Boston Globe said it’s a sign of the state’s importance as a checkbook-rich stop for candidates.
Bill proposes 16-year-olds, non-citizens voting in Massachusetts
Kids and non-citizens could be voting in Massachusetts elections soon — if some lawmakers get their way, reports Matthew Medsger for The Boston Herald. The Joint Committee on Election Laws heard testimony yesterday in favor of several different bills to adjust the voting age for some elections, allow permanent resident non-citizens to vote in hometown elections, and allow municipalities to use ranked-choice voting locally.
Bill would remove statue of limitations on child sex abuse suits
Most survivors of childhood sexual abuse don’t come forward until decades later — if at all. Alexi Cohan for GBH reports that in Massachusetts, survivors have 35 years from the time of the abuse to file a lawsuit. A bill before the legislature could get rid of that statute of limitations altogether.
New England electric grid might do better than expected in coming winters
A gut reaction from the energy sector last fall that “the sky is falling” upon hearing news that one of the region’s major players was closing may have been a bit of an overreaction, reports WBUR. Officials this week seemed more optimistic about being able to “manage” any energy shortfalls on the coldest winter days if the Everett terminal shutters. At least for the next few years.
From the Westwood dump to viral TikTok fame
One man’s trash is another man’s TikTok fame in this era, reports Hannah Green for Boston Business Journal. Kirk McKinney Jr. saw his local dump in Westwood as a site filled with opportunity, which ultimately ignited his interest in junk removal and recycling. Now the business has two dump trucks, a warehouse in Norwood and nearly 145,000 followers on TikTok.
Hands across the Hill experiment in political discourse across the aisle times out
A cross-cultural project that began in 2017 after Donald Trump’s election — and earned national attention — is ending, reports NEPM. Hands Across the Hills organized conversations between people in mostly Democratic Leverett, Massachusetts, and mostly Republican Letcher County, Kentucky. Leverett organizer Sharon Dunn said when COVID-19 prevented in-person meetings — and then one of the founders, Paula Green, died — momentum slowed.
Not in our backyard: Cambridge latest seeking to halt Lexington solar project
The City of Cambridge has filed a lawsuit seeking to halt a 1 megawatt solar project in Lexington, saying that the plan to clear some 1,000 trees is a direct threat to the drinking water in the Hobbs Brook Reservoir. As Maya Benjamin of Cambridge Day reports, Cambridge joins Waltham and some private parties in seeking to have the Lexington Planning Board’s approval overturned.
Worcester school board member takes aim at pay disparity with City Council
City Councilors in Worcester earn twice as much per year as their counterparts on the city’s school board and School Committee member Sue Mailman is taking her campaign to update the city’s charter and make the stipends more equitable to social media, the Telegram’s Jeff Chamer reports.
Spared: After pushback, SouthCoast communities exempted from new septic regs
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection said Wednesday that new septic system permitting regulations aimed at reducing nitrogen pollution will apply only to Cape Cod–at least for now. That marks a win for communities on the SouthCoast, which had argued that the cost of complying would not be worth the environmental gains.
Amherst bid to ease duplex permitting sparks fear of student deluge
As Amherst considers a zoning change that would ease permitting for some kinds of multi-family housing, especially in owner-occupied homes, some residents and political groups say the rules are likely to be abused by out-of-town investors looking to cash in on sky-high demand for off-campus student housing. Scott Merzbach of the Daily Hampshire Gazette has details on where the debate stands.
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