• On Monday, March 7th, the Department of Energy Resources announced that comments on DOER's stretch code update and new municipal opt-in specialized stretch code will now be accepted until 5 p.m. on Friday, March 18th rather than the end of the day Wednesday, March 9th. Senators Michael Barrett (D - Third Middlesex) and Cynthia Creem (D - First Middlesex and Norfolk), chairs of the Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy Committee and Senate Committee on Global Warmingrespectively, last week wrote to DOER Commissioner Patrick Woodcock and, among other issues, said the way that DOER had scheduled the five required public hearings, including a Friday evening session, meant that "the Baker Administration is depriving the public of a full opportunity to participate." However, the agency said the decision to extend the comment period came in response to stakeholder requests.

 

  • On Wednesday, March 9th, Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty formally announced he is running for the 1st Worcester District state Senate seat being vacated by state Senator Harriette Chandler. Petty, the city's longest-serving mayor, said in an interview that the pandemic highlighted for him the limitations of municipal government. Senate President Emerita Harriette Chandler announced she will not seek reelection this year after more than three decades of public service. So far, Petty’s only competitor is Robyn Kennedy, an executive at the social justice nonprofit YWCA Central Massachusetts. The new First Worcester District, reshaped in last year's redistricting effort, will include most of Worcester and all of Boylston, West Boylston, Northborough, Berlin, and Bolton. 

 

  • On Monday, March 7th, Senate President Karen Spilka and House Speaker Ronald Mariano announced visitors will no longer have to wear masks or show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to enter the Massachusetts State House, reversing policies they imposed less than two weeks earlier when they reopened the building. On February 22nd, legislative leaders reopened the State House to the public, ending the longest-running closure of a state capitol in the continental United States since its initial closure in March 2020. However, for elected lawmakers, they must continue to follow the older set of rules meaning that lawmakers who remain out of compliance with their branch's vaccine order are still barred from entering the House or Senate chamber and instead must follow debate and cast votes remotely, even though unvaccinated visitors can watch proceedings from the gallery.