Window Into The State House

Are the air rights over the T’s Cabot Yard the next development bonanza?   The Globe’s Jon Chesto reports that state Sen. Nick Collins and Rep. David Biele of South Boston have written to the T about the possibility of developing the air rights over the MBTA’s sprawling Cabot Yard. Hoping to raise hundreds of millions of dollars, the two note UMass-Boston’s recent mega-development deal at the old Bayside Expo site.  
  Life without parole or life with parole? That is the question   SHNS’s Michael Norton (pay wall) and Sarah Betancourt at CommonWealth magazine report that criminal-justice reformers on Beacon Hill are now turning their attention back to a familiar issue, to wit: Whether some who are sentenced to life in prison should at least have the chance at parole.  
  The do’s and don’ts of paying and accepting bribes   This is an odd one. From Adam Gaffin at UH: “The Supreme Judicial Court (yesterday) upheld a fine of more than $2.6 million against a beer distributor for kickbacks paid to some Boston-area bars to give its beers guaranteed taps, but said that the state commission that oversees liquor laws can’t punish a Seaport bar that accepted the bribes because of what it said was a tortured interpretation of those laws.”
  From defense to offense: UMass’s Meehan proposes new online college   Watch out, Southern New Hampshire University. From Kirk Carapezza at WGBH: “University of Massachusetts President Marty Meehan announced on Monday plans to launch a new online college solely for adult learners. In his third annual State of the University address, the former Democratic congressman said the new online college, which is still being developed, would preserve the university’s mission as the number of college-aged high school graduates in the northeast drops.” Gintautas Dumcius at the BBJ and Deirdre Fernandes at the Globe have more. As Fernandes notes, “It remained unclear how much such an enterprise would cost, what types of classes UMass would offer, and who would teach them. Meehan suggested that the system would likely have to borrow millions of dollars to launch this college, with the expectation of a return over the long term.” Re Southern New Hampshire University: The school has emerged as one of the national powerhouses of adult online education. Its commercials are all over cable TV, in case you haven’t noticed.  
  Southern Vermont College the latest to announce it’s closing   Needless to say, UMass’s Marty Meehan isn’t exaggerating the market pressures on colleges today, especially small private colleges (see first item in our Happening Today section above). The latest higher-education casualty: Southern Vermont College, which announced yesterday it will be closing after conclusion of this spring semester, citing dire financial problems, reports Jim Kinney at MassLive.  
  Amid mounting public criticism, MBTA members balk at fare hike for all riders   From Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine: “Facing pushback from the public and transportation advocates on a proposed 6.3 percent average MBTA fare increase, some members of the transit agency’s oversight board signaled on Monday that they may not rubber-stamp the increase. Brian Lang, a director of the Fiscal and Management Control Board, said the T shouldn’t be raising its fares in isolation from the rest of the transportation system.” Meanwhile, the Globe’s Adam Vaccaro reports that “bus riders, senior citizens, and students may yet see a reprieve from the MBTA fare hike, after members of the transit system’s board of directors asked it to consider keeping rates stable for those riders.”  
  Senate slips family-cap measure into mid-year spending bill   From SHNS’s Colin Young: “The Senate is proposing to eliminate a state limit on family welfare benefits as part of a $144 million mid-year spending bill that is poised to become the first significant piece of legislation passed this session by the Senate later this week. New Senate Ways and Means Committee Chairman Michael Rodrigues proposed a new version (S 2181) of the supplemental budget bill passed last week in the House (H 3506) and the Senate teed it up for consideration at a full formal session this Thursday.”
Purdue Pharma says Healey’s lawsuit is ‘sensational and inflammatory’
Speaking of Sackler family, Purdue Pharma and the peddling of opioid drugs, the company is firing back at Attorney General Maura Healey’s lawsuit against the drug firm, filing for dismissal of the case and accusing Healey’s office of engaging in “sensational and inflammatory” rhetoric, reports the BBJ’s Jessica Bartlett. File under: Small violin – very small. Btw: Did you read the Globe story the other day about the former Insys Therapeutics executive who urged his sales team to watch ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ to get pumped up to sell the firm’s Fentanyl spray to doctors and patients? He testified last week at the landmark federal racketeering trial in Boston against former Insys executives, who are accused of, among other things, bribing doctors to prescribe its opioid product.
  The elderly housing squeeze: It’s getting worse
As part of a series on the housing crisis in Massachusetts, Eli Sherman at Wicked Local takes a look at how senior citizens are getting crushed by rising rents and the cost of living in general in Massachusetts. Not even reverse mortgages or selling off their homes at premium prices are covering rising costs.
Bernie Sanders: Time to declare victory and go home?   David Bernstein at WGBH reports that many Dems are shaking their heads over U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ second bid for the presidency. Bernstein lays out two possible scenarios that could unfold, including his candidacy splitting the progressive vote and harming candidates like Elizabeth Warren. “To an awful lot of Democrats, it seems obvious that Sanders should simply declare victory in the battle of ideas, and go home.” The Herald’s Michael Graham writes that there’s yet another scenario that Republicans would dearly love to see: The “dream candidate” Sanders actually winning the Dem nomination – and getting croaked in the general election by Trump.  
  Moulton has entered ‘seriously-looking-at’ stage of mulling run for president   Speaking of presidential politics: We feel duty bound to provide this update, via Lisa Weidenfeld at Boston Magazine, that U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton’s has apparently shifted from merely acknowledging he’s mulling a run for president to “seriously looking” at a run for president.