It's nice to be back in your inbox after a week off, but not good that we're stepped back 50 years in time while I was out.
Oh, yeah -- and after two-plus years of telling you all what you need to know about COVID -- I tested positive yesterday. I'm boosted. I feel lousy. I expect to be fine.
Here's today's Need to Knows.
Gov: Abortion ruling may 'encourage' employers to consider Massachusetts
Gov. Charlie Baker said yesterday that he believes last week's Supreme Court decision that ended constitutional protections for abortion may “encourage” employers in places that have effectively outlawed abortion to relocate to Massachusetts, where abortion rights are among the strongest in the country, writes the Globe’s Samantha J. Gross.
“I do believe that having listened to and heard from a lot of companies over the course of the past several days about what this decision means with respect to their workforces and their benefit plans that there may in fact be a big opportunity here for Massachusetts to encourage some employers to either come here or expand their footprint here, as we are a state that takes this issue seriously,” Baker said.
Baker signed an executive order last week that he said aimed to “protect reproductive health care providers who serve out-of-state residents.”
“We know that states that have policies that support workers and support families attract employers and attract employees,” added Jesse Mermell, the former president of the Alliance for Business Leadership and candidate Congress in 2020. “Employers already want to come here for that . . . I have every reason to believe that abortion will be on the radar screen for major companies.”
Ten express bus routes that had served Newton before the pandemic would be reduced to three: the 501, the 504, and the 505 -- just as MassDOT prepares to begin a year’s long construction project along the Mass Pike.
Among other cuts, the city would also lose local service on Chapel and Adams Street in Nonantum (home to a growing cluster of bio, technology and other companies) as well as service along a key part of Crafts Street.
Also eliminated are stops on both sides of Newton Corner, creating an inevitably dangerous (and not ADA accessible) scenario where riders will need to cross multiple lanes of traffic and cut across the Four Points Hotel driveway to catch their bus in an area already known locally as the “Circle of Death.”
But the maps are deceiving since they don't reflect all of the cuts that were supposed to be temporary during the pandemic but are now being permanently scrapped.
Even if you never step on an MBTA bus, these changes should concern us all because it will make it harder for transit-dependent workers to get to jobs and force those who prefer to use public transit into cars, increasing local traffic and carbon emissions.
The Better Bus Project is expected to be voted on by the MBTA Board of Directors in the coming months so your input matters.
Newton building owners take note
If you own or operate a large commercial or residential building in Newton you have one more chance tomorrow (Weds) at 10 a.m. to learn about the city's plans to mandate the reduction of fossil fuels from properties over 20,000 square feet. Details.
Watertown developers take note
Commercial developers in Watertown could soon be required pay into an affordable housing fund by paying a linkage fee on new non-residential projects.
The proposed ordinance limits the initial fee to not exceed $18 per square foot. But could be reviewed at least every five years by both the city council at the recommendation of the city manager, writes the Watertown News.
The linkage fees still need approval from Beacon Hill.
“Non-residential projects are creating demand for affordable housing for people who work in Watertown,” said acting Deputy City Manager Steve Magoon. “I think that we want to be careful that we set a fee that is at a level that would not put us at a significant disadvantage in terms of economic development and projects in the region.
“We want to put Watertown in a position where it is still competitive and where people want to do business.”
Needham beer lovers take note
Needham’s Select Board will hold a hearing tonight (June 28) at 6 p.m. on a proposal to allow microbreweries and brew pubs in town.
The proposed changes would apply to brew pubs the same liquor license regulations that currently exist for restaurants. The establishment of microbreweries and brew pubs also requires changes to Needham’s current Zoning By-Law.
Mochiko Hawaiian Fried Chicken is planning to open in Newtonville, moving into the space on Walnut Street that had been home to Los Amigos until it moved across the street. Mochiko currently has a location in Marlborough and a website that may require sunglasses. (Boston Restaurant Talk)
LGBTQ+-owned Boston Veterinary Clinic is set to open a location in Wellesley later this year. The BVC's expansion is backed by a minority investment from Denali Growth Partners, a Boston-based growth equity firm. (BBJ)
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Construction crews began work last night on the Needham Street/Highland Ave bridge over the Charles River that connects Newton to Needham.
This work will be performed from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. nightly for the next three weeks. One alternating lane of traffic will be implemented across the bridge during work hours and the north side sidewalk will also be closed.
Municipalities ask lawmakers to release ARPA bucks
Mayors and town managers are calling on lawmakers to restore Gov. Charlie Baker's proposal to allocate $2.3 billion in federal pandemic relief now, warning that punting decisions about how to use the pot of aid will blunt its ultimate impact, writes Chris Lisinski at State House News.
ARPA fiscal recovery funds must be committed by the end of 2024 and spent by the end of 2026. Local government leaders are worried that they’re going to need time to put projects to bid while also coping with supply chain and labor shortages.
"Our residents, our businesses, our nonprofits are still reeling from the pandemic, plus facing inflation, staff shortages, supply chain disruptions, and all of us are now worrying about a recession," said Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller, who is also president of the Mass. Municipal Association
Baker filed his proposal in April. Spending decisions need to be reached by July 31 or else they get pushed back another year.