EXPIRATION DATE — After 462 days, Massachusetts is no longer under a Covid-19 state of emergency. But there are more questions than answers about what pandemic-era policies will be sticking around.
State lawmakers blew past yesterday’s deadline to extend several pandemic policies, setting up orders and laws allowing remote public meetings, to-go alcohol sales and some eviction protections to expire along with the state of emergency at 12:01 a.m.
The lapses may prove only temporary. The House plans to vote on its version of the policy-extension legislation at 11 a.m., and the Senate plans to return at 2 p.m. “We are keenly aware of the time-sensitive nature of the issues tied to the lifting of the state of emergency,” a Senate spokesperson said, adding that the body will meet today “in hopes of swiftly addressing these measures.”
But the House and Senate bills differ in several key ways — telehealth rates, caps for third-party food-delivery fees, how long to-go alcoholic beverage sales should continue among them — that could potentially draw out the process for getting legislation to Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk.
In the interim, municipal and school boards are scrambling to figure out how to return to in-person meetings and safely allow public access and participation with some town and city halls still closed to the public.
“If the legislature and the governor can’t reach an agreement on the extension of remote meetings for a number of days, it would be very disruptive,” Massachusetts Municipal Association Executive Director Geoffrey Beckwith told me, urging lawmakers to carve out the remote-meetings provision and “fast-track it to the governor” today.
The Lexington Historical Commission changed its Wednesday meeting from Zoom to in-person “due to lack of state legislative action.” But legislators can still meet remotely today, because they’re not governed by the state’s open meeting law and their rules aren’t affected by the emergency’s end.
Lawmakers are also entering the post-emergency phase with no timeline for reopening the State House to the public. Baker said yesterday “there really are no rules around congregating or gathering” inside a building where people could traditionally “come and go as they please,” so lawmakers have to hash out “how they want to handle that” as the pandemic lingers.
In another sign of the pandemic times, the governor’s office is cutting back on how often it livestreams Baker’s press conferences now that capacity restrictions have been lifted and more reporters and videographers can attend his events.
GOOD MORNING, MASSACHUSETTS. State GOP Chairman Jim Lyons announced late last night that an upcoming Father’s Day fundraiser featuring Rep. Dan Crenshaw, (R-Tex.) was “called off due to planned protests.”
“I do not want my guests, my neighbors, or Congressman Crenshaw to be subjected to a chaotic and potentially volatile situation,” Lyons said in a statement deriding the “far-left’s obsession with silencing anyone who dares to express their right to free speech.”
Multiple Republican sources said that they hadn’t heard of any protests. Lyons has refused to make a state committeewoman who made anti-gay remarks resign, and instead lashed out at all but one House Republican for caving to “cancel culture.”
Crenshaw’s campaign could not immediately be reached for comment. Lyons didn’t pick up a call, but said in his statement he hoped to host Crenshaw “at some point in the future.” WMUR reported yesterday that Crenshaw is slated to headline a “major Republican fundraiser” in Concord, New Hampshire, on July 8.
Pressure is mounting on Lyons to resign — or for the state committee to remove him — most recently from a Boston Herald editorial that a Republican source said sent GOP circles buzzing and one person likening it to the “Washington Post turning on Joe Biden.”
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TODAY — Harvard professor Danielle Allen formally launches her bid for governor at 10 a.m. near the Massachusetts 54th Regiment Memorial on the Boston Common; Cambridge Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui joins. Framingham Mayor Yvonne Spicer, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll and Lawrence acting Mayor Kendrys Vasquez talk economic recovery with the Associated Industries of Massachusetts at 10 a.m. Acting Boston Mayor Kim Janey delivers remarks at the groundbreaking ceremony for construction on the Josiah Quincy School at 10:30 a.m. Boston City Councilor and mayoral candidate Michelle Wu tours St. Francis House and Rosie’s Place. Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Health and Human Services Sec. Marylou Sudders and Treasurer Deb Goldberg announce a new initiative to boost vaccination rates at 11 a.m.
– “Massachusetts reports record low coronavirus death and case rates before state of emergency expires,” by Rick Sobey, Boston Herald: “Health officials on the last day of the coronavirus state of emergency reported eight more COVID deaths and 44 new cases, as the virus data continues dropping to record lows amid the vaccine rollout.”
– “House Speaker Mariano Fitted With Pacemaker in Florida,” by Matt Murphy, State House News Service (paywall): “House Speaker Ron Mariano was recently hospitalized while in Florida and fitted with a pacemaker after experiencing ‘some medical discomfort,’ according a statement released by his office Monday evening, but the 74-year-old Quincy Democrat said he hopes to resume a full work schedule soon.” More from the Boston Globe’s Matt Stout.
– “Democrats Botch Bill To Extend COVID Protections Letting To-Go Cocktails And Virtual Public Meetings Expire,” by Mike Deehan, GBH News: “The pandemic state of emergency in Massachusetts will come to an end when the clock strikes midnight Monday and lawmakers admit they won’t be done with legislation in time to guarantee that protections and privileges for businesses and residents tied to the emergency order will stay in place.” More from the State House News Service’s Katie Lannan.
– “Charlie Baker unveils $2.6 billion capital plan as Massachusetts emerges from pandemic,” by Rick Sobey, Boston Herald: “Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday announced a $2.6 billion capital plan to ‘support economic recovery and growth’ as Massachusetts emerges from the coronavirus pandemic. The plan addresses the Bay State’s ‘housing crisis’ and also provides support for the public higher education system — including $87 million for five new major capital projects at colleges and universities.”
– “Lawmakers hear wide range of policy suggestions to address racism,” by Shira Schoenberg, CommonWealth Magazine: “Policymakers and experts agreed at a legislative hearing on Monday: structural racism continues to be a problem in Massachusetts, impacting everything from economic inequality to incarceration rates to health disparities. But it became clear during the inaugural hearing of the Joint Committee on Racial Equity, Civil Rights, and Inclusion that there is far less consensus about how to address the problem. Speakers suggested a wide range of proposals, affecting areas from data collection to affordable housing.”
Rep. Ayanna Pressley, in written testimony submitted to the committee and shared with POLITICO, called for state lawmakers to get police out of schools. Similar to legislation she’s introduced federally, Pressley wants to see funding moved away from cops in schools and toward hiring counselors, nurses and social workers. “When our education system is intertwined with the criminal legal system, students of color, LGBTQ+ students, and students with disabilities are disproportionately forced to endure unjust treatment that infringes on their right to learn,” Pressley wrote in her testimony. “Instead of police, we must provide our youth with the proven resources that help them grow and cultivate their potential.”
Also from the hearing: “Rollins slams lack of criminal justice data sharing,” by Shira Schoenberg, CommonWealth Magazine: “Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins slammed the Baker administration for failing to update the state’s criminal justice information system to allow information to be more easily shared between agencies. ‘I think it’s just excuses,’ Rollins said when asked why the update – mandated by a 2018 law – has not yet been completed.”
– “Gillette Stadium Mass COVID Vaccination Site Closes,” by CBSBoston.com staff: “The Gillette Stadium vaccination site in Foxboro shut down at 6 p.m., nearly five months after opening its doors to the public on January 18.”
– “How a city emerges from a 462-day state of emergency,” by Hanna Krueger, Boston Globe: “Depending on their coordinates and crowd, Massachusetts residents have spent early June living in two vastly different realities. One, a post-COVID era of raucous revelry, the opening act of ‘hot-vax summer.’ The other a tenuous toe-dip into the waters where a shark attack once occurred.”
– “Janey seeks Latino nominees for School Committee,” by Stephanie Ebbert, Boston Globe: “Acting Mayor Kim Janey intends to begin seeking applications for new Boston School Committee members as soon as Thursday with an eye toward preserving Latino representation — a move that could quell concerns raised by Latino leaders Monday but raise others over her authority to make appointments.”
– “Boston EMS paramedic pulled down nearly $300,000 last year as calls never stopped,” by Joe Dwinell, Boston Herald: “One city paramedic punched in for nearly $300,000 in pay last year, logging massive overtime as Boston EMS kept running 24/7 through the pandemic. … payroll records obtained by the Herald through a series of public records requests show some first responders answer the call — a lot.”
– “City of Boston to launch a task force review of PILOT program,” by Danny McDonald, Boston Globe: “Boston authorities are planning to launch a review this summer of voluntary payments that key tax-exempt institutions such Harvard University and other prominent nonprofits make to the city, officials announced Monday.”
– “Welcome To The Wuniverse: How Michelle Wu Became Gen Z’s Favorite Politician,” by Natalie Gontcharova, Refinery 29: “…among young progressives, Wu is the favorite, which political observers see as potentially critical to her rise. … Wilnelia Rivera, president and founder of Boston-based Rivera Consulting, which counts among its clients Rep. Ayanna Pressley’s congressional campaign, says that come fall, a lot of people will be paying attention to whether the Gen Z electorate will help expand the all-important metric of overall turnout in the race.”
– “First PAC in Boston mayoral race pulls in big bucks supporting Andrea Campbell,” by Sean Philip Cotter, Boston Herald: “Mayoral candidate Andrea Campbell is leading the pack in terms of PAC money, as the first big Political Action Committee in the race is using big-money donations from the likes of the Pats’ Jonathan Kraft to make ads supporting her.“
– ICYMI: Somerville mayoral candidate Will Mbah has been endorsed by Medford City Councilor Nicole Morell, per Mbah’s campaign.
– “Uber, Lyft rides plunged to record lows in 2020,” by Bruce Mohl, CommonWealth Magazine: “The number of Uber and Lyft rides in Massachusetts plunged to record lows during the pandemic of 2020, with the total number of rides across the state falling to 35 million, down 62 percent from 2019, according to state figures released Monday. With the drop in rides, there was also a sharp downturn in revenue for the rideshare companies, their drivers, the state, and municipalities.”
– “DOJ asks Supreme Court to revive Boston Marathon bomber death sentence, in break with Biden vow,” by John Kruzel, The Hill: “The Biden administration on Monday urged the Supreme Court to reinstate the death penalty against the Boston Marathon bomber in an apparent break with the president’s stated opposition to capital punishment.”
– “Supreme Court asks Biden administration for view on Harvard affirmative action case,” by Deirdre Fernandes, Boston Globe: “The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Biden administration to weigh in on a challenge to Harvard University’s use of race in college admissions. The move effectively defers, at least for a few months, a high-stakes case aimed at ending an effort by colleges to make their campuses more racially diverse.”
– “Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court upholds dismissal of Somerville mayor’s lawsuit against Barstool Sports,” by Nik DeCosta-Klipa, Boston.com: “Kirk Minihane may lave lied and misled his way into getting an interview with Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone — but he didn’t break Massachusetts state law, according to the state’s highest court. … Curtatone said he accepted the court’s decision, but expressed hope that it might shine a light on ‘bad actors’ and the need to instill trust in the media.”
– “Four demonstrators sue Boston police for alleged excessive force after George Floyd protest in 2020,” by Travis Andersen and Jeremy C. Fox, Boston Globe: “Four demonstrators injured after a George Floyd protest in Boston last May filed a federal lawsuit against the city and three Boston police officers on Monday for allegedly using unnecessary force against them. The demonstrators accuse the officers of carrying out unprovoked attacks as police were attempting to clear the protest, which had been largely peaceful before devolving into violence and looting.”
– “Cases of three Capitol insurrection defendants from Berkshires move forward,” by Larry Parnass, Berkshire Eagle: “The men arrested at the time of the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol continue to be called into court, with three appearances this month and more that lie ahead. … The three Berkshires residents are among hundreds of defendants charged after the January insurrection at the Capitol.”
– “Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission extending curbside pickup, telehealth appointments for medical patients as COVID State of Emergency ends,” by Melissa Hanson, MassLive.com: “When COVID-19 changed daily life last year, the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission started allowing curbside pickup and telehealth appointments for medical patients to help increase safety. Even though the State of Emergency declared by Gov. Charlie Baker is ending Tuesday, those measures will be allowed to continue for a few months, the CCC said.”
– “Cultivate opening its 3rd cannabis shop on Tuesday; Worcester location will have more than 40 strains on the menu,” by Melissa Hanson, MassLive.com: “In 2018, Cultivate made history as one of the first two adult-use cannabis stores to open on the East Coast. The company’s newest location is at 1023 Southbridge St. in Worcester, where customers step into an open and airy retail space flanked by a moss-covered wall. Doors will open at 8 a.m. Tuesday. Cultivate first opened in Leicester. Then last year, the company opened its second store, located in Framingham. Both of those shops are co-located with adult-use and medical cannabis, but the Worcester store is adult-use only.”
– “Small departments feel pinch of training requirement in police reform,” by Larry Parnass, Berkshire Eagle: “A month before [Dalton Police Chief Deanna Strout] was sworn in this past winter, police reform legislation vaporized the program used to train reserve officers — those who work less than full time and whose ranks number in the thousands. … At recent annual town meetings in the Berkshires, chiefs of small departments briefed officials on the reform measure’s fallout — particularly its costs.”
– ICYMI: “LaChapelle eyes another 4 years as Easthampton’s mayor,” by Jacquelyn Voghel, Daily Hampshire Gazette: “Mayor Nicole LaChapelle will run for a third term in the coming municipal election, setting her sights on four more years as the city’s mayor. For the first time, the next mayoral term will be for four years, rather than two.”
– “4 South Shore districts flagged as disproportionately putting Black students in special education,” by Joe Difazio, Patriot Ledger: “Four South Shore school districts were flagged by the state in the last academic year for disproportionately identifying Black and African American students with certain special education needs compared to peers of other ethnicities. … Milton and Scituate were flagged for disproportionately categorizing Black students as having communication disabilities. Weymouth was identified for disproportionately classifying Black students with intellectual disabilities and Hingham found specific learning disabilities in Black students at a higher rate than compared to their peers.”
– “100 days and counting: St. Vincent Hospital nurses strike hits ‘monumental, somber’ milestone,” by Cyrus Moulton, Worcester Telegram & Gazette: “Nurses are calling Tuesday — the 100th day of the St. Vincent Hospital nurses strike — both a ‘somber’ and ‘monumental’ anniversary. … St. Vincent Hospital CEO Carolyn Jackson and the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association also marked the anniversary. ‘I’m surprised and disappointed that (the strike) has lasted this long’…“
– “Want to own a hotel in Kelley Square? Worcester-themed Monopoly may make it possible,” by Kim Ring, Worcester Telegram & Gazette: “From Polar Park to Piedmont Street, city residents are being asked to ponder their favorite places for a spot on a custom Monopoly board slated to be released later this year. The game, being created and manufactured by Top Trumps USA Inc. and licensed by Hasbro, the official owner of the Monopoly game and brand, will feature Worcester locations in the spots normally occupied by Boardwalk, Baltic Avenue, Marvin Gardens, etc.”
TRANSITIONS – Laura Flores is joining the White House as a platforms manager. Before, she worked for Sen. Elizabeth Warren and NextGen America, a climate-focused progressive organization for young voters. Alana Guzman has joined Rep. Ayanna Pressley’s office as press/digital assistant. Guzman is a recent graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and has interned for Reps. Ilhan Omar and Veronica Escobar.
MAZEL! – to John Guilfoil Public Relations, which was the top award winner at this year’s 53rd Annual Bell Ringer Awards, taking home 15 awards in a variety of categories.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY – to Marie Harf and Hunter Woodall. Happy belated to Maud Mandel.
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