Chamber News

July 17, 2020 Likes Comments

Only one man stands between you and a to-go frozen margarita

The concept is simple.

If residents in a municipality or region want to build a bike trail or fund a cross town shuttle bus they can vote to increase their local hotel, auto excise, sales or property tax to pay for it.
If they don’t like the proposal, they vote it down.
Cities as large as Los Angeles and as small as Manhattan, Kansas have used this method to control their transportation destinies for years.
But not in Massachusetts. It’s not allowed here.
Yesterday, the state Senate took an important step in the right direction. They supported a measure known as a Regional Transportation Ballot Initiative that would give local communities the right to decide for themselves if they want to fund a local transportation project. (Special thanks to Newton’s Sen. Cindy Creem for her leadership on this yesterday.)
While some of the state’s largest business groups oppose this idea, our chamber along with the Alliance for Business Leadership, Kendall Square Association, Black Economic Council, MassBio, Brookline Chamber and others, endorsed the measure this winter as one of a menu of solutions we supported to address our transportation crisis.
Several coalitions of mayors and managers have for years expressed strong support too.
Let’s hope the provision survives the joint conference committee and is approved by the governor.
Baker: Get used to wearing a mask
This was a busy day on Beacon Hill, which, frankly, is a godsend for your humble newsletter writer, since there’s not much happening locally for me to tell you about today.
First, Gov. Charlie Baker once again made a strong plea for face mask wearing while praising the people of the Commonwealth for doing just that (although we’ve all seen too many covidiots who don’t).
He said masks rules are “going to remain in place until we don't have an emergency."
The governor also took another stab at saving his housing choice bill, a much-needed proposal that would make it easier for city councils and town meetings to approve housing projects with a simple majority vote.
The Globe has just published an urgent editorial urging lawmakers to act on the bill.
And check out this report from the Boston Foundation which draws the clearest link yet between the housing crisis and the spread of COVID-19 in Massachusetts.
Only one man stands between you and a to-go frozen margarita
Hopefully the next thing Baker does is sign the to-go cocktail bill (S 2812), which was delivered to his desk yesterday.
A watered-down version of an earlier, broader, restaurant relief package, this law eliminates a two-drink per entree limit initially approved by the Senate, and instead caps the amount of alcohol a person can buy at 64 fluid ounces.
The bill allows for to-go cocktails through Feb. 28, 2021 or until the state of emergency is lifted, whichever is later, according to State House News.
And the governor needs to decide if he’s going to exercise his line item veto to any part of a $1.1 billion COVID-19 spending bill was also sent to him yesterday.
It includes hundreds of millions of dollars for personal protective equipment, hospitals and shelters, homelessness prevention, child care providers, camps, elections, food banks, addiction treatment services and more.
It also provides $10 million to provide grants to businesses with 50 or fewer employees to help cover payroll and benefits, mortgage interest, rent and utilities.
Designing our better future
Designers at the Watertown-based Sasaki have been busy pondering how COVID-19 has changed the ways we work and live and designing solutions to “build a healthier, safer and more equitable future.”
Here’s a great compilation of their latest thinking on everything from office design, landscaping and the campus.
Also: Sasaki Principal Michael Grove, debunks the myth that suburban sprawl may save us and that living in cities puts citizens at higher risk for contracting the novel coronavirus are deceptive.
Pro bono business help
Here’s three organizations that may be able to provide support or advice for your small business.
  • MA Small Business Development Center offers free and confidential one-to-one business advice to prospective and existing small businesses focusing on, business growth and strategies, financing and loan assistance as well as strategic, marketing and operational analysis. In addition, low-cost educational training programs are offered across the state targeted to the needs of small business.
  • SCORE is the nation’s largest network of free, expert business mentors, is a nonprofit association dedicated to entrepreneurial education and the formation, growth and success of small business nationwide.
  • Lawyers Clearinghouse provides pro bono legal services to help small businesses and nonprofits who will need assistance dealing with employment and contract issues as well as those needing help to navigate and apply for assistance through the CARES Act.
Watertown approves second cannabis shop
Recreational marijuana has been legal in Massachusetts for four years but the approval process for retail shops has been agonizingly slow.
This week, Watertown officials approved a host agreement for an adult-use marijuana dispensary planned for at 330-350 Pleasant Street.
Buds Goods & Provisions (also opening in Worcester) now must apply for a license from the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission before it can apply to the Watertown Zoning Board for a special permit, Watertown News reports.
Watertown previously approved the license for the yet-to-open Natural Selections at 23 Elm St. Eventually (whenever that is) the town expects to have three recreational shops.
In Newton, Cypress Tree, on the corner of Elliot Street and Route 9, has been approved by the city but has yet to begin construction.
Recreational shops are not allowed in Needham. Sira Naturals in Needham is licensed for medical patients only.
That’s all I've got. Stay cool this weekend. Wear your mask and sunscreen, especially if you go here.
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
Your chamber is here when you need us.


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