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This Week in Massachusetts – June 27

Posted on June 27, 2023

State House News:  Biden Administration Awards $147 Million for Internet Access

The federal government is sending $147 million Massachusetts’ way to expand high-speed internet in the state.

President Joe Biden announced $42 billion in federal funds for broadband expansion across the country on Monday, $147 million of which will be directed to the Bay State.

In Massachusetts, the funding will be deployed through a five-year plan that the Massachusetts Broadband Institute is developing with the Massachusetts Broadband and Digital Equity Working Group. As part of that work, the institute is seeking input from residents about their barriers to internet access, affordability and adoption through a statewide Digital Equity survey.

The institute’s plan to use the funds is due back to the federal government later this year.

“This new funding from the BEAD program will be a gamechanger for Massachusetts and the grant programs that will flow out of our statewide digital equity planning effort,” said Quentin Palfrey, the Massachusetts Director of Federal Funds and Infrastructure.

“This funding will continue Massachusetts’s legacy of leveraging federal investment to build an economy around innovation and learning by ensuring residents statewide can adopt the 21st century digital tools that many of us take for granted.”

Palfrey, whom Gov. Maura Healey tapped as her administration’s point person to compete for federal dollars, attended the announcement at the White House on Monday.

Since her election, Healey has spoken often about prioritizing federal funding opportunities and has weaved matching funds for federal grants into spending bills. She signed a supplemental budget in March that directed $30 million to provide matching funds for federal funding for broadband infrastructure.

“With these funds, Massachusetts will build on ongoing work to ensure that our residents can access the affordable and reliable broadband service they need to work, learn, access healthcare resources, and connect with loved ones,” the governor said in a statement.

State House News: Lawmakers Hear Pleas For Location Shield Law


Anyone with a cellphone in their pocket can likely be tracked – to the grocery store or the gym, to work or school, to religious services or health care appointments. With prolific data available on Bay Staters’ day-to-day lives, a bill seeks to ban tech companies from selling the information they collect on where a person is and has been.

Senate Majority Leader Cynthia Stone Creem and Rep. Kate Lipper-Garabedian say their legislation (H 357 / S 148) will help protect LGBTQ+ people, domestic violence survivors, those seeking reproductive health care, religious minorities and others who face higher levels of discrimination and violence.

AXIOS Boston:  Amazon Launches Local Business Delivery Network


Amazon plans to tap thousands of U.S. small businesses, from bodegas to florists, to deliver its packages by the end of the year.

Amazon on Monday will start recruiting existing small businesses in 23 states including Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Florida, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, South Dakota, and Washington.

  • At least 20 dense cities across the country, including Boston, New York, Los Angeles and Seattle, will be targeted by the program.
  • The company is interested in working with a wide range of businesses such as florists, coffee shops, clothing stores, among others. Amazon notes they don’t need delivery experience to make the partnership work.

Dubbed Amazon Hub Delivery, this is the tech and logistics giant’s latest attempt to expand its “last mile” network — the last stage in logistics where packages are ultimately delivered to customers — through external workforces.

Participating businesses deliver an average of 30 packages a day for seven days a week, excluding major holidays.

Meanwhile, drivers from Amazon’s Delivery Service Partner network drop off the packages to local businesses, which are required to have a secure area for storage.

Amazon wouldn’t state exactly how much it pays per package; but based on earnings of $27,000 a year, the rate would be about $2.50 a package.

Eagle Tribune: Galvin Pushes to Update Lobbying Laws

Secretary of State Bill Galvin wants to bar individuals convicted on federal charges from serving as state lobbyists for at least 10 years.

A proposal, filed by state Sen. Michael Brady, D-Brockton, on behalf of Galvin’s office, would expand a state statute “automatically” disqualifying people convicted of certain state crimes from registering as lobbyists to include individuals convicted of federal offenses.

The move comes in response to a recent state Supreme Judicial Court ruling that cleared former House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi to lobby the state Legislature and executive branch, despite his prior convictions on federal charges.

Galvin, whose office oversees the registration process for state lobbyists, said the proposal would simply clarify that the law covers federal offenses.

“The only way to fix the problem is the update statue, and that’s what we’re trying to do,” he said. “You don’t want people who have been engaged in such conduct being paid to affect public policy.”

DiMasi was convicted in 2011 on federal conspiracy, fraud and extortion charges for using his clout as speaker to steer lucrative state contracts to a company in exchange for $65,000 in payments from an outside law firm.

Commonwealth Magazine: Eng Cites Progress, but T Speed Restrictions on Rise

MBTA General Manager Phillip Eng reported Thursday that the agency is making progress eliminating slow zones on subway lines, but the T’s performance dashboard indicates the amount of track with speed restrictions is actually on the rise.

In a presentation to the MBTA board of directors, Eng said 97 speed restrictions have been lifted and two more will be eliminated shortly. He said 42 speed restrictions have been lifted on the Red Line, including nine between North Quincy and JFK on the Braintree Line. He said 15 speed restrictions have been removed on the Blue Line and eight on the Green Line. He did not say over what period of time the restrictions were lifted.

Eng said remaining speed restrictions on the so-called Tufts curves of the Orange Line are about to be lifted, returning speeds to normal levels. Work began on that stretch of track during the one-month shutdown of the Orange Line last summer, raising speed levels from 10 to 18 miles per hour. Eng said final work on that stretch of line is now done, which should allow the T to close out speed restrictions in the area and address one of the issues raised by the Federal Transit Administration in its safety audit of the MBTA.

Despite the good news, the MBTA’s performance dashboard as of Thursday morning indicated speed restrictions have been rising since June 13, when restrictions covered 20.3 percent of the subway system. On Thursday, the percentage was up to 21.8 percent.

Boston Business Journal: The Great Resignation is Over. Prepare for the ‘Big Stay.’


The Covid-19 pandemic fueled a historic level of workers quitting their jobs in what became known as the Great Resignation.

But the tide is changing, and workers are instead biding their time for better offers as the Great Resignation gives way to the “big stay.”

Nela Richardson, senior economist for ADP, said workers resigned from 50 million jobs last year, the highest number since the government started tracking quits in 2000. Since the height of the pandemic, the quit rate has fallen, more workers have returned to the workforce and the economy continues to create a robust number of jobs.

Health Care

Boston Globe: Abortion Alarm Spurs Push for Cell-Phone Data-Privacy Law

A lot has changed in the year since the US Supreme Court’s Dobbs ruling declared there’s no constitutional right to get an abortion. But here’s something that hasn’t changed — the US still doesn’t have a comprehensive national data privacy law.

Massachusetts Senate Majority Leader Cynthia Stone Creem is tired of waiting. She’s pushing for a state law that would ban tech companies from selling the vast troves of location data they collect from millions of wireless phones. Such data could be used by states that strictly regulate abortion to prosecute women seeking abortions or doctors who provide them, even across state lines.


New York Times: A Pill Form of Ozempic Is on the Horizon

The next iteration of Ozempic and Wegovy — the much-discussed, hard-to-obtain injectable medications known for their ability to induce weight loss — may come in pill form.

Researchers presented data in two studies on Sunday at the American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions conference, one of which showed that 50 milligrams of semaglutide — the active compound in Ozempic and Wegovy — taken orally each day is roughly as effective as weekly Wegovy shots in reducing weight in people who are overweight or obese. Wegovy injections contain 2.4 milligrams of semaglutide.

That trial, also published Sunday in The Lancet, tracked 667 people over 68 weeks. Eighty-five percent of those who took semaglutide lost at least 5 percent of their body weight over the course of the study, compared to just 26 percent of those who received the placebo. Those who took semaglutide lost, on average, around 15 percent of their body weight — roughly six times that of the placebo group.

A separate study, also presented Sunday and published in The Lancet, focused on oral semaglutide for people with Type 2 diabetes. Just over 1,600 participants were divided into three groups and given 14-milligram, 25-milligram or 50-milligram daily doses. Those who took the 25- and 50-milligram doses lost more weight, and had greater reductions in blood sugar, than those who took the lowest dose.

Novo Nordisk, the company that manufactures Wegovy and Ozempic, funded both trials.


Budget and Taxation

State House News:  House, Senate Advance Stopgap State Budget

Lawmakers moved Monday to give their negotiating team more time to craft a final state budget for the fiscal year that begins in five days. The House and Senate worked together to place on Gov. Maura Healey’s desk a $6.66 billion interim budget that she filed last week, which would effectively authorize another month of funding for government services while the final spending plan remains tied up in private House-Senate deliberations.

The bill emerged Monday morning from the House Ways and Means Committee, and both