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By Matt Murphy with help from Keith Regan

"Historic" Train Summit

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Happening Today

10 a.m. | Attorney General Maura Healey testifies before U.S. House Committee on Oversight & Reform on her office's investigation into McKinsey & Company.


11 a.m. | House resumes its debate on the state's fiscal year 2023 budget


11 a.m. | Gov. Charlie Baker and other administration officials join students from Kennedy Elementary School in Boston to help stock Jamaica Pond with trout.


11:30 a.m. | New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell gives State of the City address during a luncheon event at New Bedford High School.


2 p.m. | Gov. Charlie Baker and Boston Mayor Michelle Wu take part in King Boston's groundbreaking for the "Embrace Memorial," a forthcoming 22-foot-tall monument.


6 a.m. | Attorney General Maura Healey and Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, the two Democrats running for governor, participate in an Environmental League of Massachusetts/WBUR forum focused on energy and the environment.

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Today's News

Good Wednesday morning.


Who knew Gov. Charlie Baker would turn out to be such a train guy? Baker famously bought up all the third rail in the country in 2015 after one of the worst winters in history proved the MBTA was no match for mountains of snow. The state is on track to open commuter rail service to the South Coast by the end of 2023. And now Baker could leave office having laid the foundation for East-West rail (or West-East rail depending on your perspective)


Baker emerged from a meeting with U.S. Reps. Richard Neal and Jim McGovern and much of the western Mass. State House delegation yesterday having reached what he called an "agreement on a path forward" for East-West rail, which would expanded service from Worcester to Springfield to Pittsfield.


Baker said Amtrak would be the preferred service provider, with its interest in expanding in the Northeast, its access to the existing track and available resources to contribute. "This is a huge step forward here today," Neal said during a press conference at Springfield's Union Station, calling the meeting among the parties "historic."


The leaders said they would seek through a $9.7 billion transportation bond bill already filed by Baker to create a new Western Massachusetts rail authority to oversee the development of the project, which does not yet have a timeline. Neal and Baker also said they would seek to leverage federal support through the new infrastructure law signed by President Biden to cover its hefty price tag.


"I think we have a real opportunity," Baker said.


The Springfield Republican's Jim Kinney has more on the meeting, including the hurdles that still remain, such as the potential need for land takings, securing the funding and creating the rail authority to oversee it all. House Transportation Committee Chair William Straus told MASSterList he wants to talk with his colleagues who were at the meeting before commenting on the plan.


HEALEY'S UNION BOOST


Some endorsements matter more than others. They just do. And Attorney General Maura Healey picked up a big one Tuesday for her campaign for governor.


The SEIU Massachusetts State Council, an umbrella labor organization for six local unions, endorsed Healey for governor in what campaign officials said was the first time in at least 20 years the union has weighed in during a Democratic gubernatorial primary. This matters because SEIU is major organizing force in Democratic politics, and will give Healey's ground game a huge boost.


"Maura Healey’s commitment to fight for issues like affordable healthcare, housing, and child care is not only aligned with our members’ values - it’s what we need to advance racial and economic justice here in Massachusetts," said Peter MacKinnon, president of the SEIU Massachusetts State Council and SEIU Local 509. 


The endorsement comes after a lengthy vetting process that included a forum for members with both Healey and Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, the attorney general's Democratic rival for the nomination. Healey was in Lawrence Tuesday to help make the vote of confidence stick, celebrating SEIU's support and meeting with home care workers from 1199SEIU as they seek a $20 per hour starting wage in ongoing contract negotiations.


FROM LAWRENCE TO CONGRESS


Healey has a different sort of day planned for Wednesday. Before a forum tonight with Chang-Diaz focused on the environment and their climate change plans, Healey will be testifying before Congress as part of an ongoing investigation into McKinsey and Company's role in the opioid epidemic.


The committee, on which both U.S. Reps. Stephen Lynch and Ayanna Pressley sit, has produced an interim staff report suggesting McKinsey consultants frequently worked on Food and Drug Administration contracts while also working for opioid manufacturers, like Purdue Pharma, and failed to disclose these conflicts of interest.


Healey has been invited to testify along with McKinsey Global Managing Partner Bob Sternfels and Jessica Tillipman, assistant dean for government procurement law studies at George Washington University Law School.


Healey was the first attorney general in the country to sue the Sackler family for Purdue Pharma's role in the opioid epidemic, and in February 2021 she co-led a $537 million settlement with McKinsey to resolve claims claims it advised Purdue on how to target doctors to “turbocharge” OxyContin sales.


The continuing opioid abuse crisis has not yet become a major issue in this year's race for governor, but maybe that's about to change.

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Harvard confronts slave history


Harvard University has published a detailed accounting of the college's ties to slavery, including the ownership of more than 70 people by university presidents, faculty and staff who performed labor on campus and the reliance on donors who built their wealth from a system of slavery. The Globe's Mike Damiano writes that the Cambridge institution will spend $100 million to extend educational opportunities to students from communities descended from enslaved people and continue to pursue scholarship on the impact of slavery worldwide.


The Boston Globe

More money, more problems


It's easy to assume that budgeting is easier when there's ample cash to go around. But as the House debates a nearly $50 billion state budget this week at a moment when the state is flush with tax revenue and federal stimulus money, the Globe's Matt Stout writes about the tension that has been percolating between those who see this as a time to invest and those who want to give the money back through tax breaks. Right now in the House, the invest-it crowd is winning, but people like Gov. Charlie Baker believe there's a way to do both.


The Boston Globe

Whale preservation group raise "red flag" on donations


The Save the Right Whales Coalition, a group that opposes wind projects being developed off the coast of Massachusetts, is questioning the objectivity of major environmental and scientific research organization because of the money they've received from offshore wind developers. SHNS's Chris Lisinski reports that the coalition catalogued $4.2 million in donations from developers to groups like the Environmental League of Massachusetts, the New England Aquarium and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, though some say the money was intended to pay for research and has no bearing on their positions or scientific findings.


State House News Service

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Abortion rights are under attack like never before. Right here in Massachusetts, thousands of college students live in “access deserts” where the nearest abortion provider is an hours-long trip away. That cannot stand. Navigating an unplanned pregnancy is stressful. But accessing medication abortion shouldn’t be. We have an opportunity to ensure that abortion care is accessible to all across the Commonwealth. State legislators must pass An Act to Require Public Universities to Provide Medication Abortion.

Debit or credit? Healey says the either/or at Fenway is Ok


Attorney General Maura Healey gave the Red Sox the all clear to proceed with their new cashless vendor system at Fenway Park after the shift away from greenbacks at the old ballyard raised some eyebrows. State law prohibits businesses from refusing to accept cash, but the Sox are allowing fans to use their cash to preload a Mastercard debit card at the stadium. “I don’t think this a big deal,” Healey said at an event Tuesday, according to the Globe's Diti Kohli, after a day earlier indicating she was looking into it. "As long as there are systems that allow for the use of cash through these cards, that’s going to — we think — work out."


The Boston Globe

Cence expands Boston consulting footprint


Big news in the lobbying and consulting world. A little more than two years after veteran lobbyist Dan Cence bought the public relations firm Solomon McCown and hung his name on the door, Cence is now acquiring Murphy Donoghue Partners and merging the two firms' practices. Cence will become the CEO of what will now be known as Issue Management Group, with offices in Boston and New York City and strategic communications, public affairs and digital divisions to serve its clients. The Globe's Jon Chesto has more details on the merger.


The Boston Globe

Maine doesn't want our trash anymore


A new law signed by Maine Gov. Janet Mills will send Massachusetts waste haulers in search of a new place to dispose of tons of construction debris and other refuse exported every year to out-of-state landfills. The Eagle-Tribune's Christian Wade reports that the ban in Massachusetts on disposal of most constructions and demolition debris has made places like the Juniper Ridge landfill in Alton, Maine a popular dumping ground. But not anymore after Maine lawmakers got tied of other states sending their trash to Vacationland. The action has the potential to increase costs of waste disposal here in Massachusetts if much of the 2 million tons of annually exported trash from Massachusetts needs to be hauled longer distances.


Eagle- Tribune

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Parties close to settlement over conditions of Springfield courthouse


NEPM's Adam Frenier reports that former and current employees at the Roderick Ireland Courthouse in Springfield are nearing an agreement with the Trial Court over what has been described as an unhealthy work environment due to mold and other conditions. A trial was set to begin over whether the court building should be shut down, but both sides asked the judge for a delay Tuesday to formalize a settlement. Gov. Charlie Baker has said steps have been taken to clean the courthouse, but ultimately it's the Trial Court's responsibility. 


New England Public Media

Could the comeback be on for Dianne Wilkerson?


Fourteen years after she resigned from the Senate while facing charges for bribery, Dianne Wilkerson has pulled nomination signature papers to run for her old Second Suffolk District seat, according to multiple reports confirmed by the Secretary of State's office. Wilkerson's case is one of Beacon Hill lore after she was caught on camera by the feds stuffing cash into her sweater, but recently the first Black woman elected to the Senate has returned to being active in the community since serving her time and there have been rumblings of a political comeback. Whether she follows through on a run remains a question mark, but if she does she would join a race that already includes Reps. Liz Miranda and Nika Elugardo and Rev. Miniard Culpepper.


GBH News

More than half in Mass. have had COVID-19


More than half of the roughly 7 million people who live in Massachusetts have been infected with COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, according to new estimates from the Centers for Disease Control. The Globe's Kay Lazar digs into the numbers and reports that while Massachusetts' 52.6 percent infection rate lags the nationwide rate of 57.7 percent, it trails only Rhode Island among New England States. The latest data from the Department of Public Health shows that roughly three-quarters of residents are fully vaccinated.


The Boston Globe

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Clear sailing for Auchincloss in the 4th


What a difference two years makes. Tom Reilly of the Sun-Chronicle reports it looks like U.S. Rep. Jake Auchincloss could go unchallenged in the Democratic primary after Jesse Mermel, who finished second in the packed primary two years ago, said she would not run again because of pressing family issues. And with two GOP hopefuls also dropping from the race, Auchincloss is all but a lock to return to D.C.


Attleboro Sun-Chronicle

Lowell City Council approves contract for new manager Golden


Rep. Tom Golden will officially become the new city manager in Lowell after the City Council hammered out a five-year contract that will see him earn $235,000 annually, Jacob Vitali of the Sun reports. Golden says he plans to resign from his 16th Middlesex District seat once sworn into his new role, which is expected to happen on Thursday.


The Sun

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Nurses union files complaint against Saint Vincent

 

The Massachusetts Nurses Association has filed an unfair labor practice claim against Saint Vincent Hospital, saying a new plan to unilaterally impose 12-hour shifts on some nurses violates existing contract agreements, including the one that ended one of the state’s longest strikes in January. The Telegram’s Cyrus Moulton has the details.


Telegram & Gazette

Wayfair pledged 300 hires in Western Mass. Then Covid happened.


They’re a little off the pace. Greg Ryan and Lucia Maffei of the Boston Business Journal report Boston-based e-commerce company Wayfair has filled just 52 of the 300 jobs it promised to bring to Western Mass. in exchange for a $31 million tax break back in 2019. Wayfair says the pandemic is the main culprit and the shortfall highlights the difficulties economic development officials may face in enforcing similar agreements in the wake of the coronavirus.


Boston Business Journal


Today's Headlines

Metro


Boston Chamber of Commerce joins suit against millionaire’s tax - Boston Herald


For Essaibi George, a time to pay back by helping Ukrainians - Dorchester Reporter


Massachusetts


Springfield outlines plans for $7.2M from opioid settlement - MassLive


Commission to request extension to deliver recommendations on the Massachusetts state seal - Herald News


Nation 


Maine agrees to return unemployment benefits to prisoners on work release at start of pandemic - Bangor Daily News


Biden grants clemency to 78, restoring traditional pardons after Trump - Washington Post



Jobs

Reach MASSterList and the State House News Service’s connected audience in the political and public policy worlds in Massachusetts. Have friends interested in one of these positions? Forward the newsletter to them! Contact Dylan Rossiter: Publisher@MASSterList.com or call (857) 370-1156 for more information.



Recent postings to the MASSterList Job Board:


Deputy General Counsel — NEW!, Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination


Deputy Chief of Investigations — NEW!, Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination


Research and Project Assistant — NEW!, Massachusetts Municipal Association


Data Processing Agent — NEW!SEIU Local 509


Government Relations Lead Representative — NEW!, National Grid


Reporter/Editor, MASSterList


Policy Manager, Jane Doe Inc


Operations and Programming Associate, Kendall Square Association


Director of Private Insurance and Prescription Drug Reform, Health Care For All


Mediator/Conciliator, Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination


Business Development Manager, Massachusetts Housing Partnership


Policy and Advocacy Director, Save the Harbor/Save the Bay


Director, Communications & Media Relations, Massachusetts Biotechnology Council


Director Of Public Policy, Children's League of Massachusetts


Director, Human Service & Education Worker Training Fund, SEIU Education and Support Fund


Membership Sales Manager, Retailers Association of Massachusetts


Communications Associate, Economic Mobility Pathways


Education and Training Coordinator, Massachusetts Municipal Association


Chief Executive Officer, MassINC


HAF Case Management Program Manager, Massachusetts Housing Partnership


Associate Director for Communications, Eliot Community Human Service


Executive Director, Kendall Square Association


Manager of Public Relations & Government Affairs, Keolis Commuter Services


Temporary Litigation Paralegal (one-year), Attorney General’s Office

How to Contact MASSterList

Send tips to Matt Murphy: Editor@MASSterList.com. For advertising inquiries and job board postings, please contact Dylan Rossiter: Publisher@MASSterList.com or (857) 370-1156. Follow @MASSterList on Twitter.

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