The $450 million economic stimulus package includes a much-needed housing choice bill, approved by both houses in July, that would allow majority rule
to zoning changes, rather than the onerous two-thirds votes that stymies many good projects now.
It also includes relief for small businesses and, in the House version, a restaurant relief fund and cap on those predatory meal delivery app companies like DoorDash, UberEats, GrubHub, among other measures.
Not passing the transportation bill would jeopardize projects ready to begin this spring and summer, Gov. Charlie Baker warned yesterday.
No respectable business owner or nonprofit leader could get away with leaving so many critical decisions to the final hour.
On Beacon Hill this nonsense is just par for the course.
Baker to decide on occupancy limits soon
Gov. Charlie Baker said yesterday he’d “probably” have an announcement before the end of this week on whether or not to extend the current 25 percent occupancy limits on
businesses beyond Sunday (Jan. 10).
Merger means we’re losing two high profile local employers
The just-finalized official merger of two the state's largest names in health insurance -- Tufts Health Plan and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care -- will result in the loss of two long time
Tufts is currently headquartered in Watertown.
Harvard Pilgrim’s HQ is in Wellesley.
The-yet-to-be-named merged company is moving to the former Reebok headquarters campus, a 42-acre campus dubbed The Block, in Canton later this year.
The minimum base wage for tipped employees is now $5.55 per hour. However, workers who earn tips must be taking home at least $13.50 an hour through hourly
wages and tips or employers must pay the difference. (This wasn’t generally a problem pre-COVID but it could be these days as restaurant business has
pivoted to take out and delivery.)
The rate of premium pay (applicable to many retail employees) for working on Sundays, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day and Juneteenth is reduced to 1.2 times an employee’s
regular rate of pay.
Premium pay for working on New Year’s Day, Columbus Day, and Veterans Day remains at 1.5 times the employee’s regular rate.
The changes are part of a multiyear program of raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2023. Next year, the rate will rise again, to $14.25 and $6.15 for tip workers.
The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center estimates that the pay bump will affect 420,600 workers statewide. Its analysis also found that 60 percent of
the workers affected are women and 40 percent are of color, 45 percent are in food service, 25 percent are in retail, and 89 percent are adults. (
Globe story here.)
Christopher Carlozzi, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business in Massachusetts told WBUR that the increases comes at a time of “a high level of anxiety out there from small business owners who are just worried about their doors staying
Employers also face increased taxes to help make up the $2.4 billion deficit in the state's unemployment insurance trust fund, although the Baker administration
has proposed temporarily freezing the employment rate.
Biz grants deadline next week
Here's another reminder:
Applications are now open for the Baker Administration's $668 million business relief package, administered by Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation.
Deadline to apply is next Friday Jan. 15.
An earlier $51 million program was targeted to businesses that are minority-owned, women-owned, veteran-owned, LGBTQ+-owned, owned by persons with disabilities
or located in Gateway Cities.
This new round of grants (up to $75,000) focuses on hard hit industry sectors,
not demographics. Sector preferences include restaurants/bars, independent retailers, indoor recreation and entertainment, personal services and event
Businesses that already applied to MGCC’s first small business relief program from October do not need to reapply to the new program. All applications
in the existing program are currently being reviewed.
Businesses that applied through the first program will be notified of their status by Jan. 18.
Wellesley extends free parking
The Wellesley Select Board last night approved extending free parking for an additional two months as a way to encourage local commerce.
“We are extremely grateful for all the support and understanding the town has provided the merchants especially during these extremely difficult times,”
said Demian Wendrow, president of the Wellesley Square Merchants' Association.
And in Newton…
While Newton’s free parking program also remains in place, the city also has designated 15 curb-side pickup spots to help retailers and restaurants.
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