Boston's Morning Newsletter
The MassGOP has a new leader. Now what?
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Welcome to February, the “honest month.”
To be honest, the frigid cold in the forecast this Friday already has me shivering. While it’s still relatively mild out, make sure you’re prepared with these extreme cold safety tips, like checking your car battery and making sure the tank is more than half full.
Seriously, bundle up North Adams.
To the news:
After getting wiped out of statewide office and losing even more seats on Beacon Hill last year, Massachusetts Republicans are changing it up. WBUR’s Steve Brown reports that party members voted last night to replace conservative two-term chairman Jim Lyons with longtime activist Amy Carnevale. The vote was close — but it means Carnevale will take over as MassGOP chair for at least the next two years.
- Who is she? Carnevale currently works as a lobbyist for the law firm K&L Gates. While the Marblehead resident emerged as Lyons’ biggest critic, that doesn’t necessarily mean she’s a moderate like former Gov. Charlie Baker. Carnevale openly supported Donald Trump in both 2016 and 2020, and casts herself as someone who can unite the Trump and Baker wings, as Politico’s Lisa Kashinsky said yesterday on Radio Boston.
- Another difference: Allies have argued that Carnevale is more media savvy than Lyons, who often refused to talk to local outlets. (In fact, you’ve probably heard her before on WBUR programs.)
- So, what impact does this vote have? Right now, not much; Republicans have little power to push their agenda at the State House. But Carnavale’s election just might help them recruit more competitive candidates in the future. Kashinsky noted that there are people like Taunton Mayor Shaunna O’Connell and former U.S. attorney Andrew Lelling who “could run” for statewide office, but haven’t recently had the support of a functional state party.
Meanwhile, the party in power on Beacon Hill appears poised today to put an end to the state’s most dragged-out election of 2022. A special House panel concluded Tuesday that Dems should finally seat Kristin Kassner, a North Shore Democrat who edged out longtime GOP state Rep. Lenny Mirra by a single vote after a contested recount.
- Now what? The entire House is expected to vote to approve the recommendations today, officially putting Kassner in office.
It’s Day 3 of the Woburn teacher strike, which means school is canceled again in the city. WBUR’s Max Larkin reports that the city and union leaders remain at odds over the terms of a new contract.
- Beginning today, Woburn’s local teachers’ union, as well as the Massachusetts Teachers Association, could face fines starting at $50,000 for each day the strike goes on, under a court order.
- State law prohibits public sector employees from striking — which the MTA wants to change during this legislative session. But it’s unclear if they have the support. During a GBH interview yesterday, Gov. Maura Healey declined to take a position on the issue.
School is also canceled for a second straight day today in Nantucket for a very different reason: a ransomware attack. The attack forced the district to shut down its computers, phones and security cameras. After sending students home early yesterday, officials say they’re still working to safely restore service.
- Nantucket is also warning parents not to use school devices at home until further notice due to security concerns.
PSA: Do you live in Boston and make less than $60,000 a year? Well, then you can get free tax preparation help through the city this year. Mayor Michelle Wu announced yesterday that the Boston Tax Help Coalition (BTHC) will again provide free tax services remotely and in-person at over 30 neighborhood offices in hopes to ensure residents get the most out of their refund. Today also marks the beginning of a special pilot to help visually impaired Bostonians file their taxes.
- Zoom out: Free tax services aren’t just a Boston thing. As much as the tax prep giants don’t want you to know, anyone who made up to $73,000 in 2022 can use IRS’s Free File program to file their federal taxes for free. Just follow the IRS’s online guide.
- Go deeper: From smaller refunds to deduction changes, here’s everything you need to know about filing your taxes in 2023.
P.S.— Applications are now open to be WBUR’s next arts reporting fellow! It’s an awesome chance to embed with our team, report on the local arts scene and launch new projects. But don’t take it from me; this past year’s fellow, Lauren Williams, wrote about what the experience has been like in last week’s ARTery newsletter. Apply here!