Window Into The Statehouse

Senate finally passes ambitious climate-change bill   Is fourth time the charm for the Massachusetts Senate? SHNS’s Colin Young and CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl report that, yes, the Senate yesterday approved an ambitious climate-change bill, the fourth time in just over a year the chamber has passed a variation of the legislation that’s been, in order, ignored, vetoed, amended and delayed over the months. It now heads to the House for likely passage. Next up for the Senate: A Thursday vote on the UI/PPP pandemic relief bill, reports the Herald’s Erin Tiernan.  
  Lynch on T cuts: ‘We’re going to have to have a come-to-Jesus meeting’   A come-to-Jesus meeting with whom? U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch isn’t saying exactly, but we suspect it eventually includes a talk with a certain tall guy who recently got a buzz cut. The Patriot Ledger’s Mary Whitfall and the Herald’s Erin Tiernan have more on Lynch’s angry reaction to the MBTA’s weekend cuts in subway and bus services, despite the huge amount of federal bucks headed the T’s way.  
  Baker’s tumbling poll numbers   The other polling shoe dropped yesterday, with UMass Amherst/WCVB releasing more survey data that shows Gov. Charlie Baker’s popularity plunging, due largely to his handling of the vaccine rollout, it would appear. We’re talking about a 26-point decline since August. SHNS’s Matt Murphy, MassLive’s Steph Solis and the Globe’s Jeremy Fox have more on the UMass/WCVB numbers. And from the Globe’s Joan Vennochi: “The pandemic exposed Charlie Baker’s Republican heart.”  
  The silence is deafening: Legislative leaders mum on forcing Baker to delay school re-openings   With the backing of teacher unions, some lawmakers are pushing hard for emergency legislation that would force Gov. Charlie Baker to delay the planned reopening of in-person classes next month. But the Globe’s Emma Platoff reports that House Speaker Ron Mariano and Senate President Karen Spilka haven’t stated their position on the bill despite inquiries from the Globe. One of the reasons for their silence could be (repeat: could be) tied to the fact that Dems would own the vaccination/school reopening issue if they pass the bill – and then they’d have to answer to A.) parents and B.) elderly people and relatives of elderly people. See post below. FYI, the Globe, in an editorial, is making its position known: “No delays. It’s time to get back to school.” And Fyi II, parents apparently made this possible, via WCVB: “Winthrop school committee votes to have all students return to full in-person learning April 5.”  
  Aged-based vaccinations: It’s working – and dramatically so   The Herald’s Rick Sobey reports that the average age of those hospitalized for COVID-19 in Massachusetts has dropped dramatically, from an average of 73 years old to 64 years old, and experts are crediting the state’s priority of vaccinating “older people who are more susceptible to severe disease and death from the virus.” Think about this next time an occupational group, no matter how worthy and deserving they are to get vaccines, try to get bumped up on the vaccine priority list.  
  Declining vaccines in large numbers: State troopers and prison guards   As most everyone else in Massachusetts clamors for vaccine shots, the Globe’s Matt Stout and Dasia Moore report that nearly 850 State Police employees have not been vaccinated, due largely (apparently) to vaccine hesitancy within ranks. Meanwhile, the AP at MassLive reports that more than half of prison guards in Massachusetts have declined COVID vaccines.  
  Out in Lynn: McGee won’t seek re-election as mayor   He’s done. Thomas McGee, who left his seat in the state Senate four years ago to be elected mayor of Lynn, says he won’t seek another term, setting the stage for a wide open race to succeed him, Allysha Dunnigan at the Lynn Item reports.   
  As IG slams ‘useless’ sleep apnea studies funded by MassHealth …   Christian Wade at CNHI News writes that Inspector General Glenn Cunha’s office has released a new report calling into question whether MassHealth should be spending millions of dollars on so many sleep apnea studies, suggesting providers may be fleecing taxpayers via “medically useless” or even fraudulent procedures. Have you ever been to a sleep apnea clinic? It does make you wonder.  
  … activist wants MassHealth to stop funding circumcisions   Speaking of MassHealth, Universal Hub’s Adam Gaffin reports that a Boston anti-circumcision activist will be “allowed to make his case before a jury that state-funded circumcisions are a waste of taxpayer money,” thanks to a recent Suffolk Superior Court ruling that permitted the lawsuit to move forward.  
  Warren’s network: It’s spreading everywhere   Politico’s Zachary Warmbrodt has the latest on U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s growing clout in the Biden administration, largely through the placement of a “small army of her former aides and allies” in key government positions. But wait, the Warren influence is also spreading to … California? Politico reports Warren is getting involved in the Newsom recall battle in the Golden State.  
  Romney: The right and wrong ways to boycott the Olympics   Former Massachusetts Gov. and current Utah Sen. Mitt Romney knows a thing or two about the Olympics, having organized the 2002 Salt Lake Games, and he says current calls to boycott the 2022 Olympics in China are unfair to U.S athletes. His idea: Let the athletes participate – and boycott the games diplomatically and economically when possible. He explains at the NYT.  
  Spilka: If we must have sports gambling, make it a ‘national model’   Speaking of sports, Senate President Karen Spilka continues to take a cautious wait-and-see approach towards legalized sports gambling in Massachusetts. But she says if there must be legalized sports betting, it should be a ‘national model,’ reports SHNS’s Michael Norton.  
  MFA’s iconic JFK portrait now hanging in the White House   Here’s an interesting item. An iconic portrait of John F. Kennedy, by American artist Jamie Wyeth, is now hanging in President Biden’s private study in the White House – courtesy of a loan agreement with Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, reports Andrea Shea at WBUR.  
  Getting results: Holyoke councilors call for police review after officer’s viral video   He definitely got their attention. The Holyoke City Council may order an outside review of the city’s police department following accusations of corruption and favoritism made in a viral online video posted by a now-suspended police officer, Greta Jochem at the Daily Hampshire Gazette returns.   
  Special delivery: Amazon showers cash on South Shore towns   Score. The towns of Plymouth and Kingston will receive direct payments from Amazon as the e-commerce giant prepares to open yet another distribution center on the border of the two towns, reports Kathryn Gallerani of the Patriot Ledger. Kingston will get $425,000–about half for a new fire truck–and Plymouth will get $200,000 toward a water system upgrade.   
  Getting testy: Nurses union denies bullying claims, hospitals slams patient safety claims   A week in, they’re only talking to swap accusations. The Mass. Nurses Association is denying claims of bullying against the 100 or so nurses who have crossed strike picket lines to work at St. Vincent’s Hospital, Michael Bonner at MassLive reports. Hospital management, meanwhile, says claims that patient safety is suffering amid the job action are false, Cyrus Moulton at the Telegram reports.