(RE)OPENING DAY Seven hundred and eight days after House and Senate leaders shuttered the State House to the public at the onset of the pandemic, the peoples house is finally reopening to the people.

VISITING HOURS Visitors can enter the building from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. They can stay later, but only if theyre watching an ongoing House or Senate session.

VAX OR TEST General Court officers will check for either proof of vaccination or a negative test at the door, so bring your vaccine card, a photo of the card or digital proof of vaccination. Two shots of Pfizer, two shots of Moderna or one dose of J&J will satisfy the vaccine requirement. A negative PCR test or a photo of a negative rapid test from less than 24 hours before entry are also acceptable.


MASK UP Masks are required in all common areas of the State House entrances, hallways, elevators, restrooms. But lawmakers and their staffers can mask down at their workstation. Kids under 5 are exempt from both the mask and vaccine requirements.

COMPLIANCE CHECK Credentialed state employees in compliance with vaccine requirements wont need to show proof of jab to enter the building. Neither will journalists with State House press passes. But the four state representatives who remain out of compliance with the House vaccine mandate will have to follow the same rules as the public.

NO REGRETS Senate President Karen Spilka told WBZs Jon Keller over the weekend that she wanted to throw open the doors last fall, and after New Years Day, but kept them closed as Omicron surged. Still, she said, we have opened up in a way to the public that we have never done before by streaming sessions and committee hearings.

GOOD TUESDAY MORNING, MASSACHUSETTS. Heres a look at some of the State House happenings these past 23 months, by the numbers:

247 The number of formal and informal House sessions since the building closed to the public on March 16, 2020.

239 The number of formal and informal Senate sessions since the building closed to the public.

19 Senators and representatives who joined the Legislature following the November 2020 election.

8 Lawmakers whove joined the Legislature as a result of special elections.

2 House speakers (Robert DeLeo and Ron Mariano).

1 The time Gov. Charlie Baker said he missed the stale cookies and bad coffee that he once shared with legislative leaders while they forewent in-person leadership meetings earlier in the pandemic. Spilka later said she provided a variety of delicious pastries for the meetings. Your Playbook scribe intends to inquire about the pastry status now that Baker and the House and Senate leaders are back to meeting in person.

TODAY Baker and A&F Sec. Michael Heffernan testify before the Joint Committee on Revenue on the administrations tax relief proposal at 1 p.m. Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito chairs a Seaport Economic Council meeting at noon and visits the Seaport Landing Municipal Marina in Lynn at 2:30 p.m. Rep. Jake Auchincloss visits the Old Colony Museum at 10 a.m., Attleboro Arts Museum at 11:30 a.m. and tours Millis small businesses at 3 p.m. Rep. Ayanna Pressley participates in a Black Mothers Matter: Child Care is Racial Justice virtual discussion at 6 p.m. State Auditor Suzanne Bump attends Association of Government Accountants meetings in Washington, D.C.

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JOIN THURSDAY TO HEAR FROM MAYORS ACROSS AMERICA: The Fifty: Americas Mayors will convene mayors from across the country to discuss their policy agendas, including the enforcement of Covid measures such as vaccine and mask mandates. Well also discuss how mayors are dealing with the fallout of the pandemic on their local economies and workforce, affordable housing and homelessness, and criminal justice reforms. REGISTER HERE.


ALL EYES ON RUSSIA: Members of the congressional delegation have been receiving classified briefings on the escalating Russia-Ukraine situation.

After Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered troops to separatist regions of eastern Ukraine, Rep. Bill Keating, who was just overseas for the Munich Security Conference, said Putin had chosen the wrong and foolish path and that the U.S., NATO and the European Union will enact swift and severe consequences for the actions taken by the Russian government. Rep. Jake Auchincloss similarly called for strict sanctions in the face of Russian belligerence. Sen. Ed Markey said he thinks Putin has underestimated NATO, NBC10s Alison King reported.

But Rep. Stephen Lynch said on WCVBs On the Record Sunday that he was worried about the firmness of the NATO coalition and what will happen when shots are fired, warning that we have a new Cold War.


“Charlie Bakers $700M tax relief plan for Massachusetts gains steam,” by Erin Tiernan, Boston Herald: “State budget watchdogs largely support Gov. Charlie Bakers plan to give nearly $700 million in tax cuts to mostly low- and middle-income earners, but progressives warn the payback could backfire.”

Charlie Baker files $2.4 billion supplemental budget for COVID resources, child care grants and more, by Amy Sokolow, Boston Herald: Gov. Charlie Baker filed a $2.4 billion fiscal year 2022 supplemental budget that targets areas of immediate need including the states COVID-19 response, child care, housing and infrastructure, citing the states deep pockets as justification for the high price tag. Although the bill recommends $2.4 billion in supplemental appropriations, the net state cost will be $1.6 billion, buoyed by surplus revenues from the first half of the year.

Hate crimes up slightly in Mass. in 2020, by Shira Schoenberg, CommonWealth Magazine: The number of hate crimes in Massachusetts increased slightly in 2020, with a larger percentage related to racial and ethnic bias, according to a new report issued by the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security. In 2020, the report found, there were 385 incidents of hate crimes reported by police departments, up from 376 in 2019.

MUSICAL CHAIRS: Senate Dems Shuffle Leadership Atop Six Committees, by Colin A. Young, State House News Service (paywall): New Sen. Lydia Edwards of Boston got her initial committee assignments Thursday and will step into the roles of Senate chair of the Community Development and Small Business Committee and Senate vice chair of the Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets. [Senate President Karen] Spilka announced a rejiggered roster of committee chairmanships including Sen. Brendan Crighton of Lynn as the Senates new point person on the Transportation Committee.

Massachusetts civil asset forfeiture reform heating up on Beacon Hill, by Flint McColgan, Boston Herald: A class-action lawsuit headed by a Boston-area woman challenging asset forfeiture on the federal level is casting light on an issue thats also subject to reform efforts on Beacon Hill. Partnered House and Senate bills requiring greater transparency and accountability on civil asset forfeiture the tool police use to seize money and assets purportedly linked to crime this month received an extended reporting deadline to April 15.


Massachusetts colleges ease COVID-19 measures, by Matt Yan and Amanda Kaufman, Boston Globe: Some Massachusetts universities have announced they will ease COVID-19 measures, such as mandatory testing and masking, on their campuses. Northeastern University, Emerson College, the University of Massachusetts Lowell, and Lasell University all recently announced changes to their protocols.

Boston businesses bid farewell to vaccine mandate, but some still check vax cards, by Amanda Beland, WBUR: [F]or businesses like Row 34, the city just took one big step toward returning to normal: Mayor Michelle Wu lifted the mandate Friday that required people to prove their vaccination status to visit restaurants, fitness centers and entertainment venues. Even still, not every Boston business is ready to relax its rules.

More: TD Garden drops proof of vaccination mandate, still holds onto masks, by Meghan Ottolini, Boston Herald. 

“Local hospitals make plans for rationing blood amid shortage,” by Craig LeMoult, GBH: “‘The blood shortage is real, it’s regional and national, and it is compromising patient care,’ said Dr. Robert Makar, director of the Blood Transfusion Service at Massachusetts General Hospital. The problem is the pandemic.”

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Boston seeing spike in records requests and complaints about responses, by Sean Philip Cotter, Boston Herald: The records requests and subsequent complaints about them alike keep flowing into Boston in recent years, as city public records hunters in 2021 registered more than 230 appeals with the state. Secretary of State William Galvins office, which is the place to bring any complaints about the responses or lack thereof to public records requests to government agencies, fielded 233 last year that had to do with the city of Boston. Though the citys public records office remains slow to respond to requests from media and members of the public alike, these issues largely predate Mayor Michelle Wu, who came into power in November.

Boston St. Patricks Day breakfast to return to traditional in-person format next month, by Meghan Ottolini, Boston Herald: The long-running St. Patricks Day breakfast will be held in person this March after going virtual in 2021, the Herald has learned. A spokesperson with state Sen. Nick Collins office confirmed the breakfast will be live, in-person, with a full audience on March 20, at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center from 9 a.m. to noon.

Rollins reforms loom over Suffolk DA race, by Michael Jonas, CommonWealth Magazine: Rachael Rollinss name wont be on the ballot this year, but her approach to prosecution in Suffolk County may end up being front and center. … Boston City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo announced his candidacy for the DAs post and he has been quick to declare his allegiance to the Rollins legacy. While Arroyo offers a full-throated embrace of Rollinss policies, Hayden seems to be carving out ground more toward the political center.

Massport prime landing spot for six-figure pay in Boston, by Joe Dwinell, Boston Herald: It pays to work at Massport. A total of 554 employees earned $100,000 or more last year, payroll records show. Thats down from last year. The top earners, however, remain mostly the same. Director of Aviation Edward Freni topped everyone at $397,596 in gross pay. Following close behind was CEO Lisa Wieland, at $339,230, and Director of Administration and Finance John Pranckevicius also in that stratosphere at $304,331.


  With Mass. GOP in trouble, Baker pledges to help like-minded candidates, by Emma Platoff, Boston Globe: Governor Charlie Baker whose decision not to seek reelection robbed Republicans of their best shot at holding the corner office said in an interview with the Globe on Thursday that he will remain active in the states political world even as he prepares to leave office. He intends to advise, campaign alongside, and raise money for like-minded candidates in his moderate mold, he said, and will help a PAC closely aligned with him raise an anticipated $2 million to support centrist candidates in both parties.


Gubernatorial candidate and state Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz condemns xenophobia after celebrating new immigrant drivers license bill, by Alison Kuznitz, MassLive: As gubernatorial hopeful and state Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz [last] week celebrated the House passing the Work and Family Mobility Act, allowing immigrants to apply for drivers licenses, she confronted stinging racism on social media.

Hampden County Sheriff Nick Cocchi lands support to appear on ballot for reelection, by Alison Kuznitz, MassLive: Hampden County Sheriff Nick Cocchi swiftly gained support for his reelection bid this week, garnering three times the number of signatures he needed to complete his nomination paperwork and secure his name on the ballot.

Rodriguez announces candidacy for state Senate seat, by Jill Harmacinski, Eagle-Tribune: Doris Rodriguez has announced her candidacy for the new State Senate First Essex District seat, saying she hopes to become the vocal bridge between our communities of Methuen, Lawrence and Haverhill.


AG’s Office recovers $760K in worker wages, by Christian M. Wade, CNHI/Newburyport Daily News: Attorney General Maura Healeys office has clawed back hundreds of thousands of dollars in wages for Massachusetts workers who were chiseled out of pay by their employers. Last year, the offices Fair Labor Division issued 160 citations against 72 construction companies for violating labor, misclassification and prevailing wage laws, according to newly released data. The recovery efforts returned at least $760,000 in wages for 565 workers through settlements and other enforcement actions, the AGs Office said in a report.


Seventh Massachusetts resident charged in Jan. 6 insurrection, by Phillip Martin, GBH News: [The FBI] arrested an Athol man in connection to the Jan. 6, 2021, attempt to overthrow the results of the 2020 presidential election. He is the seventh Massachusetts resident to face charges related to the attack on the U.S. Capitol that led to five deaths, including one Capitol Police officer. Vincent J. Gillespie, 60, is charged with assaulting law enforcement officials during the breach of the Capitol as well as resisting, or impeding officers, civil disorder, engaging in physical violence in a restricted building or grounds, and related offenses.

Mass. General pays $14.6 million to settle whistle-blower suit over concurrent surgeries, by Jonathan Saltzman, Boston Globe: Massachusetts General Hospital on Friday agreed to pay $14.6 million to settle a federal lawsuit alleging it fraudulently billed government insurers for surgeries performed by trainees without proper oversight because supervising surgeons were working in another operating room.


“Elon Musk claps back at Elizabeth Warren claim that he paid ‘zero’ in taxes,” by Tyler O’Neil, Fox Business: “Tesla CEO Elon Musk clapped back at Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., who claimed that he had paid ‘zero’ in taxes in 2018. Musk cited his multi-billion-dollar anticipated tax bill for 2021.”


  Lawmakers want to restrict local pot shop fees, by Christian M. Wade, CNHI/Salem News: Lawmakers are seeking to curtail fees cannabis businesses are forced to pay to cities and towns as part of a broader overhaul of the states pot law. Impact fees would still be allowed, but they would be capped at 3% of a pot shops gross sales, and the host agreements would expire after five years. Efforts to eliminate the impact fees are strongly opposed by the Massachusetts Municipal Association.


Northampton City Council calls on President Joe Biden to cancel student debt in unanimous vote, by Cassie McGrath, MassLive: In a unanimous vote, the Northampton City Council passed a resolution calling on President Joe Biden to cancel student loan debt through executive order.


Car mogul Ernie Boch Jr. has a Bentley on the burning cargo ship in the Atlantic Ocean, by Rick Sobey, Boston Herald: The luxury-car cargo ship that caught on fire while heading toward Rhode Island has a vehicle that belongs to Ernie Boch Jr. The local car mogul said he has a 12-cylinder, battleship-grey Bentley on the merchant ship Felicity Ace, which has been burning for days in the Atlantic Ocean. A Bentley like that can sell for upwards of $200,000.

The Constitution and the Ten Commandments: A Christian group plants its flag, by Brian MacQuarrie, Boston Globe: [The Rev. Steven Louis] Craft is the chaplain of Camp Constitution, a New Hampshire-based organization whose request to fly a Christian flag outside Boston City Hall was rejected in 2017, even though city officials had approved 284 flag-raisings over 12 years without exception, including the flags of China, Cuba, and even the Montreal Canadiens hockey team. To Craft and others at the camp, the citys denial is more fodder for their argument that religious groups face government discrimination in a country whose founders routinely asked for divine intervention and guidance.

When the hospital challenged his unemployment benefits, ICU nurse fought back, by Katie Johnston, Boston Globe: Given all the unemployment fraud in the early months of the pandemic, in addition to the surge of legitimate claims from laid-off workers, its not surprising employers are scrutinizing jobless benefits. But some people who have a right to assistance have been caught in the crosshairs. For [Jack] Stewart, 51, the dispute with Baystate Medical Center was a slap to the face after the work he had put in, especially at the height of the pandemic, he said.

Utilities make progress on fixing gas leaks, by Christian M. Wade, CNHI/Eagle-Tribune: Massachusetts utilities reported nearly 29,000 gas leaks in 2020, about 5,288 of which were classified as Grade 1 leaks, meaning they should be repaired immediately, the latest data from the state Department of Public Utilities shows. A recent DPU report shows utilities are making slow, but steady, progress on fixing the leaks since 2014 when the state began tracking leaks.

IN MEMORIAM: Dr. Paul Farmer, public health luminary and co-founder of Partners in Health, dies at 62, in Rwanda, by David Abel and Kenneth Singletary, Boston Globe: Farmers death was announced in a statement by Partners in Health, the international non-profit organization that he co-founded, which said the acclaimed infectious disease doctor unexpectedly died in his sleep.

HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY to Steve Grossman, former state treasurer and DNC chair, who celebrated Thursday, and to Playbook superfan Emma Huggard, who celebrated Saturday.

ENGAGED Peter Hamby, host of Snapchats Good Luck America and founding partner of Puck News, on Friday proposed to Katie Warshaw, a former Marty Walsh aide whos now an MBA candidate at UCLA Anderson School of Management.

REWIND I joined GBH’s Adam Reilly and the Boston Globe’s Emma Platoff on GBH’s “Talking Politics” to discuss the latest developments in the governor’s race and more.

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