9:30 | Congressman Moulton addresses business leaders at the latest "Capitol Hill Report" event hosted by the New England Council. Hampshire House, 84 Beacon St., Boston
11:00 | Apprenticeship Week kickoff event. Participants include Gov. Healey, Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Lauren Jones and Housing and Livable Communities Secretary Ed Augustus | 750 Dorchester Ave., Boston
1:00 | Joint Committee on Education holds hybrid public hearing on bills dealing with "school climate" and safety as well as a bill (H 477 and S 245) that Native leaders and allies are supporting and which would eliminate Native mascots in Massachusetts public schools. State House, Room A-2
It’s not every day on Beacon Hill you see progressive Democrats teaming up with Republicans to oppose a piece of legislation.
But that’s exactly what happened when a bill calling for automated enforcement of traffic violations made its way to the Senate floor, where it was ultimately shelved without a final up or down vote, but not before a lengthy debate.
Now, proponents of the bill appear to have relented, backing away from initial proposals that would have allowed each community in the state to install cameras on traffic lights at certain intersections, instead now proposing a pilot program capped at 10 communities.
The key concerns the bill faced — and almost certainly will continue to face — surround government surveillance and data collection. While the cameras would only capture the backs of vehicles, doling out a $25 fee to the registered owner and not the driver, opponents are concerned about what could appear to be government surveillance gone too far.
Clearly, legislators are hoping they can win enough support with the limited pilot program idea that automated enforcement can become a reality this session after Gov. Charlie Baker tried and failed to get it off the ground in 2021. If they are successful, Massachusetts would join 23 states and Washington, D.C., in establishing a red-light camera program or pilot program.
“Making it as a pilot was just one more concession to those concerns in the hopes of getting something going,” said Sen. Will Brownsberger, who sponsored the initial legislation and the current bill. He added that he believed the concerns raised have merit.
“This is a way to address unsafe driving that is going to be non-discriminatory, cost-effective, [and] can be done in a reasonable way,” Brownsberger, a Belmont Democrat, said.
But, Sen. Jamie Eldridge, one of the Democrats who sided with Republicans when the bill first made it to the floor, isn’t so sure.
While Eldridge said he was appreciative the new bill was set out as a pilot program, concerns remained about civil liberties protections.
“That data … big picture could create a form of government surveillance and impact the sense of freedom,” he said.
That said, Eldridge said he recognized the value of an automated enforcement program, particularly because of the growing sense that drivers, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, are increasingly aggressive and irresponsible.
Eldridge, a member of the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security that will determine the fate of Brownsberger’s bill, signaled support for the pilot program idea. But, Eldridge said he would seek input from civil liberties groups before making a final decision.
Rent control supporters abandon ballot question effort
Activists who wanted to ask voters in 2024 whether to allow rent control in Massachusetts 30 years after they banned it in 1994 have abandoned the effort. State Rep Michael Connolly (D-Cambridge), who led the ballot question campaign, is stepping aside while advocates who want the Legislature to restore the rent control option for cities and towns pursue the matter on Beacon Hill. The pro-rent-control legislators have scheduled a hearing for tomorrow to discuss ways to discuss proposals. — State House News Service
Jewish groups scrubbed planned Boston march over public safety concerns
Jewish groups that had planned a Sunday march in Boston in support of hostages held by Hamas postponed the demonstration until a yet-to-be-determined new date. Organizers said they made the call after public safety officials expressed concern about the planned event’s proximity to a scheduled march in support of Palestinians caught between Hamas and Israel’s military. The pro-Palestinian event drew thousands. — Boston Herald
Wu says Boston will continue to allow fossil-fuel powered buildings after all
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, who repeatedly has said Boston would seek to participate in a state program that will bar the construction of new buildings that would rely on fossil fuels to operate, told the Boston Globe she has changed her plans. Wu said the city is too complex to participate in the program. Some environmentalists said they suspect the real reason is that developers oppose the notion. — Boston Globe
State GOP Wants You, Republican party tells veterans
The Massachusetts Republican Party is seeking to assemble a group of veterans to work on military issues and to identify former armed forces members to run for office. “With mounting conflicts around the globe, it is more important than ever to recognize the service and sacrifice so many have made to keep our nation safe. My hope is this coalition leads to an increase in awareness and advocacy amongst our elected officials on veterans issues,” Massachusetts GOP Chair Amy Carnevale said. — Boston Herald
SJC Justice lauds Brookline officials for cleverness, if not legality, of anti-smoking law
The town of Brookline prohibits the sale of tobacco products to individuals born in 2000 or later in a regulation officials said is intended to let already-addicted smokers get their fix legally while cutting off the legal supply to smokers or would-be smokers who ostensibly should know better. Some merchants sued and the state Supreme Judicial Court is exploring whether to allow a measure one justice said was “clever,” if not necessarily legal. — CommonWealth Beacon
On the block: Lucchino says he will sell Worcester Red Sox
Eight years after he bought the team and moved it to Massachusetts, Worcester Red Sox Owner Larry Lucchino says he’s ready to sell the AAA franchise and has already engaged in talks with potential local buyers. Lucchino led the group that bought the then Pawtucket Red Sox in 2015 for $25 million; published reports suggest the team, which is committed to playing at Polar Park for another three decades, could now fetch as much as $70 million. — Worcester Telegram and Gazette
Weekend of negotiations fails to end Andover teachers’ strike
Schools in Andover are closed today after marathon negotiation sessions overseen by a state mediator failed to end a teachers’ strike that began late Thursday. The district says it has offered as much as it can in pay raises and other benefits while the union told reporters the gap between the two sides is just $260,000. — Eagle-Tribune
Town Meeting back on after Truro wraps up voter-challenge process
Town Meeting in Truro will start Thursday night, nearly a month after it was abruptly delayed when a resident challenged the voting status of 66 residents. Walker Armstrong of the Cape Cod Times reports about half of the challenges were upheld by the Board of Registrars during four days of often-contentious hearings. — Cape Cod Times
Pan Mass Challenge raised record $72 million this year
The Pan Mass Challenge raised $72 million this year for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund. The sum represented the largest gift yet from the fundraising organization, which held the first event in 1980, and puts the total raised to-date at close to $1 billion, organizers said. — Boston Business Journal
They’re history: Concord board votes to cover markers dating to 1930
The Concord Select Board has voted to have three historic markers installed by the Massachusetts Bay Colony Tercentenary Commission in 1930 covered because they contain dated information that could be considered offensive to Indigenous people, Lance Reynolds of the Herald reports. — Boston Herald