Presented by Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM)

GOOD MORNING, MASSACHUSETTS.

COVID-19 RELIEF MOVING ON CAPITOL HILL AND BEACON HILL It’s all about Covid-19 relief this week.

Lawmakers in Washington may pass a much-anticipated Covid-19 relief package as soon as today. The House is the final stop for the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which the Senate approved in a lengthy session over the weekend. From there, it will hit President Joe Biden’s desk for a signature.

Massachusetts is expected to get $7.962 billion in federal funds from the bill, according to data from the House Committee on Oversight and Reform that was compiled by USA Today. The funding is largely distributed based on a state’s population, and Massachusetts is behind 11 states with larger populations as far as funding goes.

At the State House, top lawmakers announced on Monday they’ve made a deal on their own economic relief bill. The legislation would waive tax penalties on unemployment insurance received in 2020, and exclude forgiven Paycheck Protection Program loans from gross income when taxing small businesses. The PPP loans were a growing concern for businesses that were kept afloat by the funds this year, and haven’t yet recovered financially. Legislators did not put a price tag on the bill in their joint statement, but said it could pass soon.

“Time is of the essence to bring this much needed relief to businesses and employees, and so we will act expeditiously,” Senate President Karen Spilka, House Speaker Ron Mariano and the chairs of the Ways and Means Committee said in a statement.

The state hasn’t exactly been in a funding drought. According to the nonprofitPeter G. Peterson Foundation

, Massachusetts is behind only two other states New York and Vermont when it comes to federal Covid-19 relief per capita. The Peterson Foundation analysis was conducted March 3, and doesn’t include the latest federal stimulus bill.

Massachusetts has received $8,910 per person so far, the foundation estimates. Gov. Charlie Bakerwas criticized last month

for not spending $1 billion of the federal aid the state has already received.

Have a tip, story, suggestion, birthday, anniversary, new job, or any other nugget for the Playbook? Get in touch: [email protected]

TODAY Reps. Katherine Clark and Lori Trahan are guests on WBUR. Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu, a candidate for mayor, hosts an early education and childcare roundtable.

A message from the Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM):

The Senate enters 2021 facing the immediate challenges of moderating the pandemic and setting Massachusetts on the road to economic recovery. Senate President Karen Spilka is not only looking at long-term issues such as the effect of COVID on remote work, transportation and child care. Register here for AIMs Executive Forum featuring the Senate President as she outlines her vision for the commonwealth.

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THE LATEST NUMBERS

Massachusetts reports 892 new COVID cases, 18 deaths on Monday as state nears the pandemics anniversary, by Tanner Stening, MassLive.com: State health officials confirmed another 892 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, which is based on 41,062 new molecular tests, according to the Department of Public Health. Officials also announced another 18 COVID-related fatalities, bringing the death toll from the pandemic to 16,103

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DATELINE BEACON HILL

House passes DCF transparency bill, by Shira Schoenberg, CommonWealth Magazine: Looking to address longstanding concerns about the states child welfare system, the Massachusetts House on Monday passed a wide-ranging bill to improve operations at the Department of Children and Families, while also requiring better public reporting from the state agency. This is the second time lawmakers have tried to pass the bill, and key lawmakers say they hope it will succeed this time, because many of the provisions are now agreed on by both the House and the Senate

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Battle lines drawn in debate over app-based workers, by Lucia Maffei, Boston Business Journal: Courts and lawmakers across the globe, as well as right here in Massachusetts, are now facing that very question: Should gig workers be considered as contractors, as they mostly are today, or as employees? The answer goes to the heart of the business model on which the entire gig economy rests

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Health insurers to promote 2017 birth control provision, by Sarah Betancourt, CommonWealth Magazine: A trade association representing a swath of the states commercial health insurers is launching a public awareness campaign to let members, pharmacists, and providers know that a 2017 law permits women fully insured through commercial health plans to fill a 12-month supply of oral contraceptives all at once. The law has already been in effect for three years but, as a CommonWealth investigation revealed, only about 300 women obtained a 12-month supply of birth control last year through the states largest insurers, and none had received it through MassHealth, the states Medicaid program

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Animal rights group press for cage rules, by Christian M. Wade, Eagle-Tribune: A California-based animal rights group is ratcheting up pressure on Attorney General Maura Healey to release new regulations for a voter-approved law banning sales of eggs and meat from cage-confined animals. In a recent court filing, lawyers representing the Humane Farming Association asked a state court to order Healey’s office to issue draft rules by March 30, and argued that a delay jeopardizes farm animals

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HEALTH CHECK

CDC releases guidelines for vaccinated people after delay, by Erin Banco, Adam Cancryn, and Sarah Owermohle, POLITICO: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released hotly anticipated guidelines for vaccinated people Monday, saying those who have received their Covid-19 shot can socialize with other fully vaccinated individuals indoors without wearing masks or social distancing

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VAX-ACHUSETTS

In surprise move, Baker administration sets high insurance payments for vaccinations, by Priyanka Dayal McCluskey, Boston Globe: As they prepared to roll out COVID-19 vaccines across Massachusetts, the Baker administration in December made a little-noticed decision about how much it would pay hospitals, health centers, pharmacies, and other providers for putting shots in arms of people covered by the states Medicaid program

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Massachusetts is a leader in vaccinating Black residents, but advocates say stats belie equity problem, by Erin Tiernan, Boston Herald: Massachusetts is outperforming most other states when it comes to getting shots into the arms of Black residents, reports show, but equity advocates say statistics dont tell the whole story

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A perfect way to do it: Worcester Housing Authority organizes COVID vaccine clinics at its complexes, by Michael Bonner, MassLive.com: A first-floor room inside the Belmont Towers apartment complex in Worcester is normally reserved for Bingo. On Monday, it was transformed into a COVID-19 vaccination clinic. For organizers, the space represented a finish line. While those receiving the vaccine on Monday still need another dose, planning for Monday and the subsequent visit took months to coordinate

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FROM THE HUB

Cornel West, Feeling ‘Disrespected,’ Is Leaving Harvard For A Second Time, by Max Larkin, WBUR: Cornel West is leaving Harvard again. West, one of very few philosophers called upon in times of crisis by CNN, has in a long career received tenure at Princeton, Yale and at Harvard itself his alma mater on a prior appointment. But he wasnt granted tenure when he returned with a dual appointment to the Harvard Divinity School and the Department of African and African-American Studies in 2016, and was not granted it upon a recent review of his contract

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Boston no longer has worst traffic in America amid coronavirus pandemic, by Sean Philip Cotter and Rick Sobey, Boston Herald: Boston has managed to shed the dubious distinction of having the worst traffic in America, according to a new report amid the coronavirus pandemic, but a leading transportation advocate warned that higher congestion levels are going to come back.

Boston school system launches outside investigation into allegations of student emotional manipulation, suspends relationship with nonprofit, by Naomi Martin and James Vaznis, Boston Globe: The Boston public school system announced Monday evening that it is suspending its relationship with a nonprofit youth advocacy organization whose unusual peer counseling sessions came to light when a student member of the school committee abruptly quit last week.

Young people have had the most COVID cases in Massachusetts in the last 2 weeks; doctors say spread fueled by gatherings outside of school, by Melissa Hanson, MassLive.com: In the last two weeks, the majority of COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts have been diagnosed in people ages 0-19, a trend that health officials say is not related to schooling and is more likely to be caused by the activities of teenagers. Mask usage is an important factor for this metric and teenagers may not always wear a mask, said Richard Ellison, an epidemiologist at UMass Memorial Medical Center

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FAS Dean Gay Says Harvard Planning for Full Return in Fall 2021, by Meera S. Nair and Andy Z. Wang, The Crimson: Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Claudine Gay said in a Friday interview that Harvard is currently planning for fall 2021 with the overriding goal of charting a path to a full return for our students, our faculty, and staff

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PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES

Federal funds are helping the MBTA cover losses due to the pandemic in the short term. After that is the problem. by Nik DeCosta-Klipa, Boston.com: Transit advocates have demanded answers from the MBTA for why it is holding back most of the hundreds of millions of dollars the agency has received in federal COVID-19 relief funds, rather than using the money to immediately restore pandemic-induced service cuts. On Monday, the MBTA delivered one such answer in the form of its long-term budget outlook

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Amtrak to add private rooms to Northeast regional overnight trains, by Charlie McKenna, Boston Globe: Amtraks Northeast Regional trains will now include private rooms for select trains traveling overnight between Washington, D.C., Boston, and New York, officials said. The rooms will be available on trains beginning April 5, Amtrak said in a statement. Trains will feature three kinds of private rooms Roomettes, Bedrooms, and Accessible Bedrooms

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A message from the Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM):

DAY IN COURT

Judge rules state cant halt unemployment payments without proper review, by Katie Johnston, Boston Globe: The states Department of Unemployment Assistance cant halt unemployment insurance payments or demand repayment of benefits that have already been paid out without granting claimants a chance to present their case, a Worcester Superior Court judge ruled in a preliminary injunction last week

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Legal Sea Foods loses court fight for Covid-19 insurance coverage, by Greg Ryan, Boston Business Journal: A federal judge in Boston on Monday threw out Legal Sea Foods lawsuit demanding insurance coverage for financial losses stemming from coronavirus-related government restrictions, dealing a blow to similar efforts by Massachusetts businesses hurt by the pandemic

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Massachusetts Trial Court paying $480K to rent Eastfield Mall cinemas for a year; utilities cost additional $235,800, by Jim Kinney, Springfield Republican: The Massachusetts Trial Court will pay $480,000 to rent the Eastfield Mall cinemas for a year as a place to host jury trials in a way that complies with COVID-19 restrictions. The utility cost will be an additional $235,800. A spokeswoman for the Executive Office of the Trial Court provided inaccurate information Friday, the day the deal was signed

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FROM THE DELEGATION

US Rep. Richard Neal confident $1.9 trillion rescue plan will be on President Bidens desk by the end of the week; votes on transportation, minimum wage hike await, by Jim Kinney, Springfield Republican: House Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal is confident not only that the $1.9 trillion American Rescue plan will pass the House Tuesday for the second time, but that it will pick up a few Republican votes along the way

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IT’S NOT EASY BEING GREEN

Offshore wind project off Marthas Vineyard nears approval, by Jennifer A. Dlouhy and Josh Saul, Bloomberg: The Biden administration is moving closer to a final approval of Vineyard Wind LLCs $2.8 billion offshore wind farm planned near the coast of Massachusetts. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is set to publish a favorable final environmental review of the 800-megawatt project on Monday, according to two people familiar with the matter

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Legal fight to stop PCB dump in Lee works to leverage EPA’s own earlier opposition, by Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle: As they open a new court fight over plans to bury toxic material in Lee, lawyers for two local environmental groups are finding an ally, of sorts, in the Environmental Protection Agency

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Debate over Taunton gasification plant heats up, by Susannah Sudborough, The Taunton Daily Gazette: The fight over whether Aries Clean Energy should be allowed to open a gasification plant in Taunton just got more interesting. The proposed plant, which would be located on a portion of the former landfill site on East Britannia Street, would turn solid sewer waste, known as sludge, into biochar for the region

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ABOVE THE FOLD

Herald: CAN I CATCH A BREAK?Globe: Democrats split over extremes of far right,” “CDC offers ray of hope.

FROM THE 413

Because of this video I will probably be fired: Holyoke officer alleges police corruption in viral video, by Stephanie Barry, Springfield Republican: Holyoke Police Officer Rafael Roca took to YouTube this weekend in a 43-minute video denouncing his own department as rife with corruption, racism and favoritism. Because of this video I will probably be fired, Roca told his audience, which had reached nearly 14,000 views by Monday afternoon

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UMass to pursue action against Blarney party of 200, by Ana Pietrewicz, Daily Collegian: In an email sent to students early Monday morning, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Campus Life Brandi Hephner LaBlanc said students identified as being involved with hosting or attending an off-campus gathering of about 200 people this weekend will be issued an interim suspension from the University of Massachusetts

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Massachusetts police departments see pretty depressing decline in potential new recruits, by Patrick Johnson, Springfield Republican: Looking to find college graduates with an interest in law enforcement, the Springfield Police Department recently set up a booth at a Westfield State University career fair. The university offers both undergraduate and masters degrees in criminal justice so it seemed like a good bet, said Police Commissioner Cheryl C. Clapprood

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THE LOCAL ANGLE

Nurses begin strike at St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester, by Cyrus Moulton, Telegram & Gazette: Hundreds of striking nurses and their supporters gathered outside St. Vincent Hospital at dawn Monday, holding signs for Safe Staffing Now, waving to honking motorists and cheering as overnight nurses came out in the cold after their shift.

TRANSITIONS Jordan Frias is the new chief of staff for Boston City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo.Tweet.

Marc Fitzgerald and Michael Zullas were elected co-managing partners of Casner & Edwards, LLP. Katie L. S. Von Kohorn was named to the firms management committee.

NEW EPISODE: COVID 101 On this weeks Horse Race podcast, hosts Jennifer Smith and Stephanie Murray discuss a coronavirus outbreak at UMass Amherst with Massachusetts Daily Collegian reporters Cassie McGrath and Will Katcher. Subscribe and listen on iTunes

and Sound Cloud

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Want to make an impact? POLITICO Massachusetts has a variety of solutions available for partners looking to reach and activate the most influential people in the Bay State. Have a petition you want signed? A cause youre promoting? Seeking to increase brand awareness among this key audience? Share your message with our influential readers to foster engagement and drive action. Contact Jesse Shapiro to find out how: [email protected].

A message from the Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM):

The COVID-19 pandemic transformed workplaces around the globe. One of the consequences of this transformation in the United States has been a mass exodus of women from the workforce. Women, and particularly women in communities of color, have been hard hit from both a health and economic perspective. They have also been hampered by the move among schools to remote learning and limited access to childcare.

At Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM), we believe businesses must increase value for society and be a force for positive change, therefore, we are calling attention to the loss of women in the workforce with the goal of finding solutions.

We are spearheading the conversation about the Pink Slip phenomenon across the commonwealth. We want tobring this issue to life for the business community and deliver specific action steps that can be taken immediately to reverse this alarming trend. We know WOMEN MEAN BUSINESS.

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