Overview

 

  • On Monday, January 10th, a state-managed digital vaccination verification system was launched which may bring lawmakers a step closer to reopening the State House. The State House has been closed to the public for nearly two years, since the initial March 2020 surge of COVID-19. House Speaker Mariano and Senate President Spilka had said they planned to reopen the building to employees and the public last fall and while the House and Senate have established protocols for lawmakers and staffers to return to the building, the public still has no access. When Governor Baker discussed the proof of the vaccine system, he repeatedly stressed that they do not require it and that he does not have plans to require its use in businesses statewide. But Speaker Mariano doubled down on the idea of requiring it to be used to gain entry to the State House when asked about the conflict with what Baker had said. The speaker did not say when he expects decisions about when and how to reopen the State House but said that getting a sense of how widely the digital vaccine passport system is adopted "will go a long way to helping us make some decisions."

 

  • On Tuesday, January 11th, Kim Driscoll, the fifth-term mayor of Salem, announced she is running for lieutenant governor, calling herself a ‘pragmatic executive who can provide a voice for cities and towns within a new Democratic administration’. Driscoll, first elected in 2005 as Salem mayor, launched her campaign with the endorsements of a half-dozen other mayors, including those from Revere, Melrose, and Newton. She is the only one of Massachusetts’ current 47 mayors seeking a statewide seat this year. Driscoll is the fifth Democrat to seek the lieutenant governor seat; last week, state Senator Eric Lesser, a Longmeadow Democrat, said he was running, joining state Representative Tami Gouveia, a two-term Democrat from Acton; state Senator Adam Hinds, a three-term Democrat from Pittsfield; and Bret Bero, a Democrat who is a Boston businessman and Babson College lecturer.

 

  • On Tuesday, January 11th, Boston City Councilor Lydia Edwards declared victory in the special election for the First Suffolk and Middlesex state Senate seat to represent a district that stretches from Cambridge and Beacon Hill through East Boston to Winthrop and Revere. Edwards will bring the Senate back to its full 40 members after skating to victory without a Republican opponent on the ballot after she bested Anthony D’Ambrosio, a first-term Revere School Committee member, in last month Democratic primary.

 

  • On Wednesday, January 12th, the Baker administration announced that the members of Massachusetts’ first-in-the-nation Commission on Clean Heat were sworn in and held its first meeting, though the administration did not provide details of any business the group conducted. The Commission, created via Executive Order 596, will advise the administration as it works to achieve Net Zero emissions by 2050 and the panel has a November 30th deadline to recommend policies that "seek to sustainably reduce the use of heating fuels and minimize emissions from the building sector while ensuring costs and opportunities arising from such reductions are distributed equitably." EEA Secretary Kathleen Theoharides has appointed EEA Undersecretary of Energy and Climate Solutions Judy Chang to serve as her designee and chair of the commission, and its membership is comprised of outside stakeholders, including representatives from the fields of affordable housing, energy efficient building design and construction, healthcare, heating system design and technology, real estate, and heating fuel distribution.