9 a.m. | Massachusetts Municipal Association holds its monthly meeting featuring a panel discussion on public safety sector recruitment efforts. Registration costs $40. | Lake Pearl, 299 Creek St., Wrentham
11 a.m. | Boston Mayor Michelle Wu holds storm preparations presser ahead of Hurricane Lee’s forecasted hit to New England later this week. | 3rd Floor Mezzanine, City Hall, Boston
Noon | It's lunchtime with Gov. Maura Healey in celebration of universal free school meals for public students. She breaks bread with Erin McAleer of Project Bread and other officials. | Snug Harbor Elementary School, 333 Palmer Street, Quincy
1 p.m. | Major investments from the new millionaire tax revenues are coming to early education and care. The Joint Committee on Education holds a hybrid informational hearing with stakeholders on where to target the coming cash. | Room B-2
1 p.m. | Grid Modernization Advisory Council meets for first time since the state's three electric distribution companies — National Grid, Eversource and Unitil — filed their required plans laying out what's needed to achieve net-zero emission by 2050.
7:30 p.m. | Outstanding Latinx community leaders will be honored at Amplify LatinX's inaugural ALX100 award reception with Gov. Maura Healey as the honorary chair of the event. | Boston Public Library
As attention turns to electrifying the power grid in an effort to wean the state off natural gas dependence and meet mid-century emissions goals, developers say the time for natural gas has still not passed.
Massachusetts is rolling out a major initiative to retrofit existing homes and buildings — the second-biggest polluters after fossil-fuel-guzzling planes, trains and automobiles — with cleaner electric infrastructure in place of gas, even as new construction continues to install the fossil fuel hookups
Developers fought tooth and nail last session to keep the lid on a pilot program allowing fossil fuel bans in 10 communities. They continue to oppose a bill to expand that program this session. Lexington Sen. Michael Barrett, co-chair of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, said the effort faces “a major fight.”
Greater Boston Real Estate Board CEO and President Greg Vasil recently told MASSterList, “The whole concept of fossil fuel hookup bans is premature.”
“Are we far enough along with power sources from renewables to be able to actually pull that off?” Vasil said, noting forced electrification could drive up the cost of building much-needed housing.
The region’s electrical grid is capable of meeting current demand, according to ISO New England. However, Barrett said grid capacity will eventually need to be massively expanded to meet demand — a timeframe he says he can’t predict given current regulations.
Barrett says he’s “confident” that it costs less to build all-electric new construction. He points to a Baker-era study by the Department of Energy Resources that shows after rebates and incentives, it would cost roughly $6,000 more to build a gas-powered five-bedroom home in Worcester than to make the home fully electric. Barrett says those numbers can likely be extrapolated out for high-density residential and commercial buildings but said at this point he lacks the data to back up that assumption.
Until then, cities and towns can take things into their own hands and adopt the state’s new stretch building code. So far 20 have hopped aboard. Cities like Boston are taking things a step further, banning fossil fuels in new construction of municipal buildings.
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Healey says $250 million more needed for emergency shelter
Folded into a $2.15 billion supplemental budget to cover deficits from the fiscal year that ended in June, Gov. Maura Healey is asking lawmakers to steer $250 million in one-time resources from the Transitional Escrow Fund to cover the ongoing costs of emergency shelter services for thousands of local and migrant families experiencing homelessness.
The $250 million reserve would address estimated expenses from the ongoing shelter crisis response and associated shelter expansion efforts through the end of the current fiscal year, according to a spokeswoman from the governor’s office told MASSterList in a statement.
Spokeswoman Karissa Hand said the state continues “to advocate for additional federal relief and solutions to this rapidly evolving emergency,” but said the money in the supplemental budget proposal would cover basic needs and shelter costs for about 1,700 of the 6,300 families currently living in state care.
Sutton hotel housing migrant families ignites following safety concerns about building
Confirming fears voiced last week by the fire chief and two state lawmakers about the safety issues with a Sutton hotel serving as emergency shelter for displaced migrant families, a fire that broke out in the Red Roof Inn yesterday morning. Several people were evaluated for smoke inhalation injuries, including members of the Massachusetts National Guard. For The Boston Herald, Chris Van Buskirk reports the Healey administration has said the severity of an emergency shelter crisis and state law requires them to quickly procure temporary housing for local homeless and migrant families. First responders got a helping hand from members of the National Guard who had deployed to shelter sites across the state housing migrant families earlier in the day. About 50 people, mostly migrant families from Haiti, are being sheltered at the motel.
Hurricane Lee: Tropical storm warning issued for coastal Massachusetts
The storm is almost upon us and meteorologists are finally in agreement that something — namely blustery winds — are headed for coastal New England. The National Hurricane Center has issued a Tropical Storm Watch for the entire shorelines of Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and much of Maine. A Hurricane Watch has been issued for the coastline in far northern (Downeast) Maine, reports WBZ. The Canadian Hurricane Center has also issued a Hurricane Watch for the coast of New Brunswick to Point Lepreau, as well as the coast of Nova Scotia from Digby to Medway Harbor.
All talk, no action on gun reform bills
When it comes to gun reform, there appears to be a lack of urgency for action emanating from the state Senate, State House News Service’s Alison Kuznitz reports. President Karen Spilka has been coy about a timeline on the unveiling and eventual vote on a firearms reform bill that her counterpart in the House, Speaker Ronald Mariano, has deemed a priority. Spilka said that her colleagues are focused on incorporating provisions surrounding ghost guns, data collection, and Glock triggers that she said “can speed up the rate that bullets come out of the gun” into a bill that is being drafted.
Advocates press Beacon Hill for action on tax cuts
Massachusetts government finance watchdogs are upping the pressure on Beacon Hill lawmakers to pass a long-awaited tax relief plan. The Herald’s Matthew Medsger writes about a new report by the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation that points to huge post-pandemic jumps in state revenue before urging the Legislature to use the time left in the year to finally get their act together on tax cuts. A pair of tax reform bills were passed by either chamber long before lawmakers went home for their August recess, but the conference committee working to merge the differing proposals has yet to show any sign lawmakers are moving closer to a compromised piece of legislation.
Secretary previews housing bond bill policies to come
A full menu of housing policies is on the table — including creating seasonal designations for communities affected by summer tourism, establishing a commission on the future of senior housing and upgrading existing housing stock to make it more accessible for people with disabilities, the state’s new Housing Secretary Ed Augustus revealed. The News Service’s Sam Drysdale reports the new policies were floated ahead of the Dignity Alliance Massachusetts during a “study session,” where he hinted at some policies that may be included in a bond bill the administration plans to file to address the housing affordability and availability crisis in Massachusetts.
A welcome mat for developers: Wu wants to give tax breaks for housing construction
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu is throwing out the welcome mat for housing developers, previewing a tax incentive she said she plans to create to encourage much-needed housing. Wu made the announcement during her annual Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce address where the Boston Business Journal’s Greg Ryan reports the mayor unveiled plans to overhaul the city’s approach to planning and zoning. Housing prices are through the roof amid a continued affordability crisis and the mayor’s progressive housing policies and attempts to revive rent control have failed to gain traction, leaving her to court developers instead.
Boston city councilor wants to know why Leominster flooding gets quicker emergency declaration than Mass and Cass
One Boston city councilor is seizing on the governor’s quick action in declaring a state of emergency in Leominster and other areas affected by catastrophic flooding this week to draw attention to the lack of such a designation at the epicenter of the city’s opioid crisis at Mass and Cass. Universal Hub’s Adam Gaffin reports that Councilor-at-large Erin Murphy’s attempt to get her colleagues to pressure the city’s Public Health Commission to declare a formal state of emergency exists at the intersection, however, was foiled by outgoing Councilor Ricardo Arroyo who spiked the vote in the interest of requesting more information.
‘Goo-goos’ go gaga for reform on Boston city council, reject unethical behavior
Good government advocates — who CommonWealth Magazine writer Michael Jonas said are historically called “goo-goos” — tossed two incumbent city councilors, Ricardo Arroyo and Kendra Lara, out of office in Tuesday’s election. Jonas and the Herald’s Joe Battenfeld both say in separate op-eds that the result is a definitive rejection by Boston voters of unethical behavior. Both councilors have been dragged down in recent months by questions about their behavior. The two left-leaning councilors both finished third in preliminary races in which the top two finishers advance to the November final election.
Merrimack Valley gas explosions: Five years later
Yesterday marked five years since the devastating gas explosions in the Merrimack Valley cratered neighborhoods and took the life of one young man. It was around 4:15 p.m. on that Thursday afternoon in 2018 when dozens of fires and explosions broke out. Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover were all impacted, reports Robert Goulston for Fox 25 Boston. In the aftermath, new safety regulations for natural gas have been rolled out and regulators are rethinking the grid.
Fox Boston 25
Former city manager set aside report implicating police chief in road rage incident
Former Worcester City Manager Ed Augustus says he set aside an investigator’s finding that former Police Chief Steve Sargent engaged in conduct unbecoming his position in connection with an alleged road rage incident because it was “inconclusive.” Augustus — who is now the state’s director of housing — issued a statement saying he chose to accept an apology from Sargent over the incident, in which a resident alleged the former chief had been drinking.
Close enough: Haverhill mayoral hopeful will seek recount
The third-place finisher in Tuesday’s preliminary mayoral election in Haverhill says he will pursue a recount after falling 10 votes short of advancing to the November final. Guy Cooper finished just behind Scott Wood Jr. and well behind top vote-getter Melinda Barret.
Five months later, Lowell’s cyberattack cleanup continues
Nearly five months after a cyberattack hit Lowell’s computer network, systems in the city are still not back to normal operations, Melanie Gilbert of the Lowell Sun reports. Although computers in some cruisers aren’t functioning fully, the city says there is no risk to public safety.