Window Into The State House

So why doesn’t Massachusetts have school-reopening metrics like other states?   WBUR’s Max Larkin reports that many major school districts in Massachusetts are opting for some form of remote learning this fall, such as “hybrid” models, which CommonWealth’s Shira Schoenberg tries to explain in a separate piece . But some parents and others are wondering why so many districts are favoring remote learning even when coronavirus case rates are super low in many communities, as the Globe’s James Vaznis reports. We’re talking well below the World Health Organization recommended infection-rate level for resuming in-person classes. And some are wondering why the state hasn’t established specific criteria/requirements for in-person classes, as is the case in New York, Maine, and other states, Vaznis writes.  
  Tufts under pressure after UMass-Lowell and Holy Cross announce they’re going mostly remote   The Herald’s Rick Sobey reports that Tufts University, which plans to partially reopen its Medford-Somerville campus this fall to students, is now under pressure from the mayors of the two cities to reduce the number of students on or near campus during the coming semester. The pressure comes as an increasing number of colleges opt for mostly remote learning this fall, the latest being UMass-Lowell (Herald) and Holy Cross.  
  Landlords actually offering tenants rental deals? In Massachusetts?   The world has definitely been turned upside down – at least in Massachusetts and a few other states – when apartment landlords are being forced to think the once unthinkable: actually offering bargains to potential tenants, from waiving fees to actually lowering rent prices. Sofia Rivera at Boston Magazine has more. It has to do, partly, to a lack of college students vying for apartments in the region. See above Tufts item.  
  Some question Baker’s plan for roving teams of pandemic-rule enforcers   From the Herald’s Erin Tiernan: “A new state initiative that will slap people who violate coronavirus mask and gathering orders with fines of up to $500 is slated to start Tuesday but with details still scant, there is growing concern the program could do more harm than good in the hard-hit communities it’s intended to help.”  
  Want COVID-19 information about child-care centers? Don’t ask   More evidence of the Baker administration’s occasional discomfort with full transparency. From the Globe’s Stephanie Ebbert: “The Baker administration is refusing to provide data on coronavirus cases reported by the state-licensed emergency child care centers that remained open during the three-month period while the state was shut down. The Globe sought the data to obtain clearer information about the risk of coronavirus spread in group care settings for children.” As Ebbert notes, the data might come in handy amid debate over reopening schools and related safety issues.  
  The July revenue numbers that weren’t supposed to happen   CommonWealth magazine’s Bruce Mohl takes a look at the mystery surrounding the unexpected year-over-year rise in state tax collections in July, a phenomenon that wasn’t supposed to happen amid the pandemic-caused economic downturn. Could it be the result of the expanded federal unemployment benefits? That’s one guess.  
  The VP sweepstakes: Coming down to the wire   The NYT is reporting that an announcement is imminent concerning Joe Biden’s pick for his VP running mate. And the Globe’s James Pindell squeezes in one last look at the top VP candidates and their individual strengths, including Elizabeth Warren’s progressive bona fides.  
  Mo Cowan on being Black in America – even when you’re a U.S. senator   Mo Cowan may be a former U.S. senator and an executive at a Fortune 500 company. But he says he’s first and foremost, in the eyes of white Americans, a Black man – and he has a moving piece at Boston Magazine about how he can never escape that fact, even when boarding a senators-only tram at the U.S. Capitol. In related news about race in America, from SHNS’s Chris Lisinski(pay wall): “Black Staffers Report Productive Talks with Legislators/Group Outlined Eight Demands in July.  
  A modest proposal: Amherst residents eye cannabis revenue in push for reparations   A group of activists is petitioning the Amherst Town Council to set up a committee to study ways to make reparations to residents who have been harmed by racially inequitable policies over the years — and it wants to tap into recreational marijuana revenues to make it happen, Scott Merzbach at the Daily Hampshire Gazette reports.   
  ‘Electronic Shackles’: State’s use of ankle monitors skyrockets   Here’s the bottom line to Jenifer McKim’s story at WGBH: “The number of people required to wear GPS (ankle) monitors in Massachusetts has nearly tripled over the last eight years to about 4,100, including parolees, probationers and those awaiting trial, according to the state Probation Service that oversees the program.”