9:00 | Health Policy Commission convenes annual cost trends hearing. The commission has blocked out an eight-hour window to hear from industry insiders about the factors that continue to push health care costs higher and delve into their 2023 cost trends report. Gov. Healey and Attorney General Campbell are scheduled to give remarks. The event will also be livestreamed. Suffolk Law School, Boston
10:00 | Boston Foundation and Boston Indicators host webinar on the release of a new report "exploring the history of zoning's use as a tool to limit access of racial, immigrant and other groups to housing in and around Greater Boston."
1:00 | Joint Committee on Environment and Natural Resources holds a hybrid public hearing on about 20 bills related to animals. Proposals aim to ban the sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits in new pet shops, as well as block the sale of fur products like handbags, hats, scarves, and home accessories and decor.
1:00 | State Seal and Motto Commission meets virtually. Agenda includes discussion of draft final report and recommendations concerning coat of arms and state flag, seal design process, educational framework, and accompanying legislative language. The commission also plans to consider "next steps for final review."
What do New England’s largest nature-based conservation organization and a Natick-based developer of mathematical computing software have in common? It might not seem like much at first glance, but MathWorks announced last week that it is giving $25 million to Mass Audubon for the shared goal of restoring and protecting Massachusetts’ natural lands.
The seven-year commitment from MathWorks ($7 million in year one and $3 million each of the next six years) is the largest programmatic gift in Mass Audubon’s 127-year history and was announced at the conservation nonprofit’s annual meeting last week in Boston, which also featured remarks from Climate Chief Melissa Hoffer. The group said the gift “will be used to address urgent, high-impact land protection and restoration projects resulting in the permanent preservation of nature throughout the Commonwealth.”
Natural lands like forests, farmlands and marshes can capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, making them an important tool in the state’s efforts to combat climate change. Massachusetts’ climate roadmap law requires the state to reduce emissions at least 50 percent by 2030, at least 75 percent by 2040 and at least 85 percent by 2050, with tag-along sequestration policies to get the state to net-zero emissions by the middle of the century.
Mass Audubon’s Action Agenda for 2021-2026 calls for the organization to directly protect an additional 10,000 acres (including 20 new urban green spaces and wildlife sanctuaries) by 2026, and to lead a public-private coalition working together to ensure that 30 percent of Massachusetts is permanently protected by 2030.
The organization protected its first tract of land in 1922 at Moose Hill in Sharon, and now protects more than 41,000 acres of land at 107 wildlife sanctuaries and partner properties across the Bay State. For MathWorks, the chance to fund Mass Audubon’s work was about extending the company’s “commitment to its local communities and green initiatives.”
“The opportunity for nature to play a role in fighting climate change is more vital than ever,” MathWorks Senior Vice President and CFO Jeanne O’Keefe said. “We’re confident this kind of partnership will inspire even more corporate social responsibility and lead to the protection of outdoor spaces that benefit people and wildlife across the state.” — Colin A. Young
Boston voters pack City Council with Wu allies
Incumbents and progressives dominated Tuesday’s Boston City Council elections, with voters delivering a nearly clean sweep for candidates who had the backing of Mayor Michelle Wu. Former Wu organizer Henry Santana emerged atop the five-candidate field seeking an at-large seat, while fellow Wu endorsees Enrique Pepén, Benjamin Weber and Sharon Durkan all claimed victory in a relatively low turnout election largely seen as a referendum on Wu’s performance at the halfway mark of her term. — Boston Globe | Boston Herald
Plus one: Durant rolls to victory, adding to GOP ranks in Senate
State Rep. Peter Durant cruised to victory in Tuesday’s special state senate election, flipping the Worcester & Hampshire district seat and boosting the number of Republicans in the upper chamber from three to four. Durant, who has pledged to fight the state’s right-to-shelter law and to oppose efforts to further tighten state gun restrictions from the senate, easily defeated fellow state Rep. Jonathan Zlotnik. — Worcester Telegram & Gazette
Brandeis students rally after university bans group Students for Justice in Palestine
Brandeis students Monday crowded the university’s student center for a last-minute, hour-long rally during which speakers decried Israel’s response to the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attacks and the university’s announcement earlier in the day that it was revoking the charter of the campus chapter of the group Students for Justice in Palestine, according to the university’s student newspaper, The Justice.
In announcing the charter revocation, a Brandeis administrator wrote , according to The Justice: ”This decision was not made lightly, as Brandeis is dedicated to upholding free speech principles…students who choose to engage in conduct in support of Hamas, or engage in conduct that harasses or threatens violence, whether individually or through organized activity, will be considered to be in violation of the University’s student code of conduct.” Students for Justice responded by canceling a planned evening vigil that was to focus on the suffering in Gaza.
Describing the Monday evening protest that was held despite the ban as spontaneous, an article in The Justice continued: “A common sentiment amongst the speakers was indignation and anger towards the University’s choice to de-recognize SJP in what many felt was a response to the vigil, whose stated purpose was to mourn the loss of 10,000 Palestinians. They questioned how their mourning could be considered harassment or violent.” — The Justice
Meanwhile, North Andover officials push back Palestinian flag conversation until next week
North Andover officials pushed to mid-November a meeting that had been scheduled for this week on a resident’s request that a Palestinian flag fly over the town common. “Due to threats of litigation, as well as public safety concerns and space constraints under the Open Meeting Law, the Town Manager and the Police Chief have advised the Select Board to cancel (the Monday) meeting and refer the flag matter to Town Counsel for review,” town officials said in a prepared statement. In mid-October, resident Selma Khayal initiated her effort to have the flag displayed for one month. — Boston Globe
Incumbents prevail in most mayoral races
It was a good night to be an incumbent mayor as cities across the state held their odd-year elections. Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno won a sixth term, capturing 52 percent of the vote after a race marked by allegations of vote-buying by people associated with challenger Justin Hurst. — MassLive
Worcester Mayor Joe Petty secured a seventh straight term, a victory he said shows residents are happy with the direction of the city. — Worcester Telegram & Gazette
One of the few incumbent mayors ousted was Braintree’s Charles Kokoros, who lost his reelection bid to challenger Erin Joyce by about 500 votes. — Patriot Ledger
Meanwhile, Haverhill, Pittsfield and Marlborough are among the cities with new mayors after races for open seats. — WBUR
Audit finds no issues at BU’s Center for Antiracist Research
Boston University says it has found no evidence of financial mismanagement at the Center for Antiracist Research after conducting an internal audit sparked by founder’s Ibram X. Kendi’s decision to lay off half the center’s workforce in September. BU said its review of the books kept since the center was launched in 2020 showed “no issues” with how it handled donations and expenditures. —WBUR
State hires United Way to help address shelter crisis
The United Way of Massachusetts Bay will help arrange emergency overnight shelter stays for families and pregnant women, under a new arrangement with the state. Enacted in response to the immigrant-driven shelter crisis, the agreement calls on the United Way to administer about $5 million in federal funds that are being applied to the situation. Meanwhile, the state Legislature is steering tens of millions of dollars toward creating new emergency shelter beds and activating more National Guard members to help. — State House News Service
Advocates want state to join multi-state nurse-licensure pact
Nurses and advocates want state lawmakers to link nurse licensure in Massachusetts with programs in other states. Joining the 20-year-old Nurse Licensure Compact, they said, would help the state deal with a nursing shortage affecting in-person care and tele-health. Participation in the Compact requires that states incorporate 11 shared testing requirements into their licensing processes. Nurses licensed in one state can then work in other participating states without going through the licensing process anew. Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and Rhode Island already have joined. — State House News Service
Hospital group puts annual unnecessary paperwork tab at $1.75 billion
A new report from the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association concludes that physicians and hospitals in the state spend $1.75 billion annually from “unnecessary
administrative costs from billing- and insurance- related practices. The report adds: “Administrative complexity has been identified as not only a cost driver in Massachusetts and beyond, but also as a major contributor to caregiver burnout.” — Massachusetts Hospital Association
Rejected: Nantucket voters shoot down short-term rental regs
Nantucket Town Meeting voted to reject a set of proposed regulations on short-term rentals that would have limited commercial ownership and put limits on how many times units could be rented, leaving the island no closer to regulating Airbnb and similar rental options than it was three years ago when talk of creating local rules began. — Nantucket Current
Vice President is Boston-bound
Vice President Kamala Harris is coming to Boston tomorrow, Thursday, to talk about apprenticeship programs. Her office, which announced the visit, did not announce the location. Harris also is scheduled to take part in a fundraising event while in the city. — NBCBoston