Thursday, January 17, 2019

Baker-Polito Administration Announces Plan to Legalize Wagering on Professional Sports

Baker-Polito Administration Announces Plan to Legalize Wagering on Professional Sports

BOSTON – Today, Governor Charlie Baker announced plans to file legislation that would permit people in Massachusetts to wager on professional sports. The proposal would utilize the existing regulatory structure for gaming licensing in Massachusetts, including enforcement powers of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC), the prohibition on wagering by anyone under 21 years of age and penalties for various violations.

“Expanding Massachusetts’ developing gaming industry to include wagering on professional sports is an opportunity for Massachusetts to invest in local aid while remaining competitive with many other states pursuing similar regulations,” said Governor Baker. “Our legislation puts forth a series of commonsense proposals to ensure potential licensees are thoroughly vetted and safeguards are in place to protect against problem gambling and illegal activity. We look forward to working with our colleagues in the Legislature to pass this bill into law.”

“Over the last seven years, the Massachusetts gaming industry has grown into an economic driver for thousands of jobs associated with construction, hospitality and tourism,” said Lt. Governor Polito. “The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has developed a comprehensive set of regulations and passing this bill into law will allow the proper oversight of the industry’s next chapter in addition to providing critical support to the Commonwealth’s cities and towns.”

The administration’s proposal would authorize the MGC to issue newly-created sport wagering licenses to the current Category 1 resort casino licensees (MGM-Springfield and Encore-Everett) as well as the Category 2 licensee (Plainridge). A current gaming license would be required to operate an onsite sports wagering lounge.  Such opportunities would be extended to a Category 1 licensee should one be approved for Region C in the future.

Additionally, holders of newly-created gaming licenses would be able to provide sports wagering online, or contract with an entity to provide the service. Online sports pool operators would need to be licensed as a gaming vendor and the agreement would need to be approved by the MGC.

Separate from existing Category 1 and Category 2 licensees, the administration’s proposal also allows for unaffiliated entities to conduct online only sports wagering. Online only operators would need to be fully qualified and licensed by the MGC as a sports wagering licensee under the current process set forth by the Expanded Gaming Statute.

The application fee for an initial license would be set at $100,000 under this proposal with the funds dedicated to supporting the MGC’s administration of the application process. Once approved, an applicant will pay a licensing fee of not less than $500,000 that will need to be renewed every five years. In person sports wagering licensees would pay a tax rate of 10% and online wagering licensees would pay a rate of 12.5%. The revenue generated from renewals, in person and online wagering would exclusively go to the Gaming Local Aid Fund to finance local aid distributions, mirroring the current system for directing revenue from the Category 2 licensee. To level the playing field, a 12.5% tax rate would also be applied to daily fantasy sports contests which are currently untaxed. The administration anticipates this proposal would generate $35 million in revenue in the upcoming Fiscal Year 2020 that will benefit all 351 cities and towns in the Commonwealth.

The legislation calls on the MGC to promulgate necessary regulations to implement sports wagering, including protections for people placing wagers, a cashless system for sports wagering and a verification system to approve age and identity of potential online users. The MGC will also be asked to include the impact of sports wagering on individuals, businesses and the economy in its annual research report, in addition to annual assessments on non-category 1 or 2 licensees to help support compulsive gambling support programs.

Similar to the Commonwealth’s current regulations governing daily fantasy sports, wagers would not be permitted on high school, collegiate or amateur events. Wagers would also not be permitted on Esports.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

AG HEALEY PRIORITIZES OPIOID EPIDEMIC, CLIMATE CHANGE, GUN VIOLENCE PREVENTION AND EDUCATION FUNDING IN INAUGURAL ADDRESS

AG HEALEY PRIORITIZES OPIOID EPIDEMIC, CLIMATE CHANGE, GUN VIOLENCE PREVENTION AND EDUCATION FUNDING IN INAUGURAL ADDRESS
            BOSTON – Attorney General Maura Healey was sworn in for her second term today and administered the oath of office to hundreds of Assistant Attorneys General. In her inaugural address, AG Healey focused on a few specific priorities for the years ahead, including a continued focus on the opioid epidemic, leadership on clean energy and addressing climate change, gun violence prevention efforts, and support for new funding for education to help all students in Massachusetts succeed.
            At the Emerson Colonial Theatre – after being sworn in by Judge Rya W. Zobel – AG Healey also highlighted some of the office’s accomplishments over the past four years, including work to combat the opioid crisis, defend gun laws, recover millions of dollars for taxpayers, successfully defend state interests in court, and take action on behalf of residents on issues of wage theft, consumer protection, and civil rights.
“Four years ago, I said that the Attorney General’s job is to be the People’s Lawyer. And that’s what I, that’s what we, have tried to be,” AG Healey said. “We were tested by new challenges and confronted some old divisions. Change doesn’t come easily, and sometimes progress is slow. But we know that when we work as one, when we harness our drive and determination, there’s nothing we can’t do.”
            AG Healey said confronting the opioid crisis will continue to be her office’s top priority in the new term. She vowed to expand prevention education in schools, use her Fentanyl Strike Force to take lethal drugs out of communities, break down barriers that stop families from accessing the mental health and substance use treatment they need, and protect the Affordable Care Act. AG Healey also highlighted her ongoing lawsuit against Purdue Pharma.

“I promise you – we’ll hold opioid makers accountable for the role they played in creating this crisis,” said AG Healey, noting that her office was the first state to sue not just Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, but its executives and its owners. “We’ll do whatever it takes to hold this company accountable and get the justice our families deserve.”

On gun violence, AG Healey said her office will continue to and work with survivors of violence and young leaders, including the student organizers of March for Our Lives Boston who were at the ceremony today.

“Over the last four years, we worked and cried with too many parents who’ve had to experience the unimaginable. People who turned their grief into action, and their loss into resolve, to protect those we can still keep safe,” AG Healey said. “In the name of their children, and all those we’ve lost, we say, ‘no more.’”

This year, the AG’s Office will work with Sandy Hook Promise to expand school-based violence prevention and suicide training and mental health training to nearly train 140,000 young people.

AG Healey also highlighted the need for Massachusetts to “lead the clean energy revolution that will protect and power the world” and protect the investments made toward a clean and sustainable future.

“Our shoreline is eroding, our fishing communities are watching ecosystems collapse, residents from Plum Island to South Boston to the Cape are facing costs in the billions, and our federal government calls it a hoax,” AG Healey said. “In this critical moment, let us act.”

She called for the need to set new goal – meeting the state’s electric power needs with renewable energy by 2050, and half or more by 2030, with a comprehensive statewide plan for electric vehicles. AG Healey also endorsed the plan for a regional cap-and-invest system to address emissions in the transportation sector, modeled on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

            And lastly on education, AG Healey said her office will support efforts on Beacon Hill and stand with community leaders to secure new funding for education.

“I’ve visited a lot of classrooms over the past four years. I’ve learned we have incredible teachers and administrators, and the best students in the world. But the way schools are funded in our state doesn’t work,” AG Healey said. “Your zip code shouldn’t determine the quality of your education. Let’s make the changes we need to give every student the same chance to succeed.”

AG Healey’s address centered around teamwork and working together as a state to build a better future.
 “From my basketball days, I know what makes a great team. The best team isn’t the one with the fastest players or the tallest players. It’s the team that is willing to go above and beyond – that isn’t intimidated by long odds,” AG Healey said. “That knows we are truly at our best when we work together and make the people around us better. That’s the kind of team we have here in this state. That’s why, no matter what happens in Washington, we’ll continue to lead. We’ll take care of each other and lift each other up.”
Today’s swearing-in ceremony was also attended by state and local officials, members of the judiciary, former Attorneys General Martha Coakley, Tom Reilly and Jim Shannon, partners in law enforcement and first responders, along with family, friends and colleagues. Some of the special guests include Cory Palazzi of Cory’s Cause, Mark Barden of Sandy Hook Promise, Massachusetts Major City Chiefs of Police Association President Brian Kyes, Joanne Peterson of Learn to Cope, Greg Gibson and Anne Marie Crotty, whose son was killed in a school shooting in Massachusetts in 1992, Gladys Vega of the Chelsea Collaborative, the Rev. Mariama White-Hammond, and Patricia and Manuel Oliver whose son was killed in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. Nicole Talbot, a student at the Landmark School in Beverly, sang the national anthem.
            To read AG Healey’s entire inaugural address, click here.

City of Boston funding updates

CITY of BOSTON

The Funding Update

ARTS

Multi-Arts Production Fund, 2/15/2019
Funding focus: original live performance projects that embody a spirit of deep inquiry, particularly works created by artists who question, disrupt, complicate, and challenge inherited notions of social and cultural hierarchy. Grants range from $10,000 to $45,000.

POPULATIONS

Seventh Generation Fund, 2/1/2019
This Indigenous identity-based organization is dedicated to the self-determination of Native Peoples and the sovereignty of distinct Nations. It mobilizes financial, technical, and informational resources directly to Native communities to empower action. Funding categories: a) Thriving Women; b) Land Defender and Water Protector; c) Community Empowerment and Cultural Vitality; d) Traveling Song Initiative; e) Mini Grants. Grants range from $250 to $50,000.

Massachusetts Census Equity Fund, 3/1/2019
MCEF seeks to increase participation in the 2020 Census in communities that are at significant risk of being undercounted. The grant program will support community based organizations to educate, organize and empower residents in hard-to-count communities. Grants will range from $5,000 to $20,000; some grants in higher amounts may be awarded.


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to The Funding Update

HEALTH

Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, 2/8/2019
The Trauma-Informed Care for Young Children Grant Program is geared specifically toward funding training and other efforts to improve the capacity of early education and care providers to address the needs of children experiencing trauma. A total of $355,000 is available.

Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation of Massachusetts, 2/15/2019
Special Initiatives grants provide one-time support for innovative projects that expand access to healthcare for low-income consumers. Funding priorities: protecting the availability of coverage and care for the most vulnerable people in the state; supporting linkages between social services in housing and food security and healthcare. Maximum grant: $50,000

Massachusetts Department of Public Health, 2/20/2019
Funding focus: gun violence among youth living in high-crime communities. Funding goals: 1) Address disparities/inequities in exposure to gun violence; 2) Promote/enhance effective services to reduce violence; 3) Support behavioral health programming. Grants range from $250,000-$600,000.


HOUSING

Massachusetts Department of Housing & Community Development has posted a Request for Information relative to the Emergency Assistance Program to inform an upcoming Request for Responses. Homes For Families offers a thoughtful analysis of how this process is intended to work.

PUBLIC INTEREST

The Boston Foundation, 1/25/2019
Seeking Equality Fund proposals that address unmet or under-met needs, issues or problems facing LGBTQ+ populations in Massachusetts. Maximum grant: $20,000

United Way, 1/25/2019 Intent to Apply
Funding priorities: housing, jobs, financial well-being, school readiness, college/career success. The Venture Fund is a catalyst for getting promising new ideas for driving population-level change into practice. A competitive, juried selection process will result in up to 4 awards of up to $75,000 each to nonprofits that have the experience, community presence, and relationships to approach a big problem in a new way, but need funding and a thought partner to bring that idea to life.

Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation, 2/7/2019
Small Capital Grants support one-time expenses that directly enhance a nonprofit’s ability to serve its clients and achieve its mission. Grants may be used for facility improvements, vehicles, equipment purchases, and other non-expendable assets. Grants range from $10,000-$50,000.

Bigglesworth Family Foundation, 2/14/2019
Multiple CYSTEM funding opportunities to increase diversity in the Interactive Software industry:
a) I & R Grants target projects that allow sector leaders to test new models that have the potential to help their individual organizations and when replicated, to help their peer organizations. 
b) Recruitment and Retention Grants focus on the recruitment and retention of individuals from underrepresented communities. 
c) Advocacy Grants fund efforts to support the diversification of the Industry. 
d) Organizational Development Access Grants seek to strengthen an organization's ability to efficiently deliver services to clients.

NBCUniversal Foundation, 2/15/2019
Funding Ctegories: Community Engagement, Culture of Inclusion,
Next Generation Storytellersand Youth Education.

World of Children Award, 3/31/2019
The program was created to recognize individuals who make a difference in the lives of children in the United States and across the globe, regardless of political, religious, or geographical boundaries.The Awards honor individuals in categories that include Protection, Education, Humanitarian, Health, and Youth. Awards range from $25,000 to $50,000


FELLOWSHIPS

NEA Foundation, 2/4/2019
The Global Learning Fellowship provides global education professional development opportunities for K-12 public school educators.

Also availablefrom NEA: Student Achievement Grants for classroom resources - deadline 2/1/2019. Grants range from $2000 to $5000.

Kuehn Charitable Foundation, 2/11/2019
The 2019-2021 Kuehn Fellowship offers a two-year placement with a Greater Boston housing non-profit.


FEDERAL GRANTS - Subject to Availability of Funds

Office on Violence Against Women, 2/13/2019
Grants for Outreach and Services to Underserved Populations support direct services and capacity-building. Grants range from $400,000 to $450,000.

Environmental Protection Agency, 2/15/2019
Environmental Justice Small Grants support and empower communities working on solutions to local environmental and public health issues. Maximum grant: $30,000         
    

CONNECT WITH US

Visit the Intergovernmental Relations Resource Page for a wide variety of research, nonprofit guidance, blogs, foundation tips and more. You can also subscribe to, and access back issues of, The Funding Update there.

MAYOR WALSH CHALLENGES TRUMP ADMINISTRATION'S CHANGES TO TITLE IX

MAYOR WALSH CHALLENGES TRUMP ADMINISTRATION'S CHANGES TO TITLE IX
Mayor Walsh and representatives from Boston colleges speak out against proposed changes to Title IX, the federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in educational settings 
BOSTON - Wednesday, January 16, 2019 - Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced he will submit public comment to the U.S. Department of Education, challenging the proposed changes to Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, the federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in educational settings receiving federal funding. Mayor Walsh was joined by Lee Pelton, President of Emerson College, Marisa Kelly, President of Suffolk University, Pam Eddinger, President of Bunker Hill Community College, Debra Robbin, Executive Director of Jane Doe Inc., and Katie Mitrano, Student Body President, UMass Boston and Boston Regional Outreach Lead, Every Voice.

The proposed rule changes would affect how educational institutions define sexual misconduct, when schools become obligated to address sexual misconduct, and the process for determining whether someone has committed sexual harassment. Specifically, the proposed changes would narrow the definition of sexual harassment in educational settings, establish a filing and hearing process that places burden on the survivor, restrict the evidentiary standard rule, and reduce ability for schools to properly address sexual harassment and assault.

"Boston is home to 200,000 students, and these rule changes would have a devastating impact on students who deserve to be safe, supported, and treated with respect," said Mayor Walsh. "Nothing should stand in the way of students being able to receive a great education. I want to make sure Secretary DeVos and Donald Trump hear it loud and clear: We believe survivors. We believe women. And we believe they deserve more support, respect, and compassion -- not less."

Sexual harassment is currently defined by the Department of Education as "any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature" and the proposed regulations would change the definition to conduct that is "severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive." Additionally, the proposed changes would shift the threshold that officials use to determine if an assault claim requires a response from school officials from the "preponderance of evidence" standard set under the Obama administration to a "clear and convincing evidence" standard. These changes narrow the definition of what is considered sexual harassment, and raise the standard of evidence for proving sexual assault occurred.

"The proposed changes to Title IX roll back every best practice we recognize in handling sexual discrimination, harassment and assault," said District Attorney Rachael Rollins. "We should be encouraging survivors to come forward, not limiting their reporting options. We should be supporting survivors, not narrowing their protections. Title IX is a critically important legal protection for people subjected to discrimination and harassment based on gender and sexual assault. The Suffolk County District Attorney's Office stands ready to accept reports from, and support, anyone who believes they have been subjected to any type of violence, including all forms of sexual assault."

National data indicate that 27 percent of college women have experienced some form of unwanted sexual contact, nearly half of grade 7-12 studentsexperienced sexual harassment in the past academic year, and nearly two thirds of college students report experiencing sexual harassment.

The Department of Education announced the proposed changes in November, though they have not yet gone into effect. The public may comment on these changes until January 28, 2018. Over 53,000 comments have already been submitted. The Department of Education is required by law to review the comments and address them before publishing the final rules.

The proposed standards would require schools' Title IX grievance processes to allow for a live hearing, which includes cross-examination. During cross-examination, the respondents "advisor" would be permitted to publicly question the survivor's experience, memory, and sexual behavior so long as the questions about sexual behavior are "to prove that someone other than the respondent committed the conduct alleged."

Additionally, educational institutions would be required to address an incident of sexual assault or harassment only if it is reported directly to "an official...who has authority to institute corrective measures." In K-12 settings, a teacher is considered such an official, but this is not the case in collegiate settings. Additionally, the proposed regulations limit the purview of Title IX complaints to "conduct that occurs within its education program or activity" which does not include any  off-campus areas used by students, including housing.

Boston Public Schools remains committed to preventing and addressing sexual misconduct and their policies will not change. The administration will continue to respond immediately and thoroughly when students come forward and Boston Public Schools will continue to build a healthy culture where students feel safe.

"Betsy DeVos's reform to Title IX is dangerous and does not adequately protect survivors of sexual assault or sexual harassment," said City Councilor At-Large, Annissa Essaibi-George. "Our colleges and universities should serve as a beacon of safety for survivors. One of the most dangerous aspects of the reform would guarantee the accused the right to cross-examine the accuser. Schools would have limited responsibility to investigate incidents that take place off campus. In Boston, we know that a majority of our college students don't live in university housing. These new changes would, without a doubt, affect our Boston students."

"The Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts (AICUM) commends Mayor Walsh and his administration for its leadership on such an important issue," said Richard Doherty, President of AICUM. "AICUM stands with Mayor Walsh in communicating to Secretary DeVos that our number one goal is ensuring the continued well-being of students, faculty, and staff on college campuses throughout Boston and all of Massachusetts. Our member institutions are dedicated to providing a learning and working environment which is free from discrimination and harassment, including on the basis of sex."

"Some of the proposed changes to Title IX are not only concerning for survivors and allies but would have the effect of converting college campuses into criminal courtrooms that prioritize cross examination and re-victimization," said Gretchen Manning, Acting Executive Officer and Deputy Executive Officer of the Massachusetts Community Colleges Executive Office. "We applaud Mayor Walsh for his leadership and attention to this issue and look forward to partnering with him to protect victims."

"Title IX is an important tool for getting schools to respond to sexual violence and to put systems in place that make sexual harassment and assault less likely to happen," said Gina Scaramella, Executive Director of the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center. "Changes to the regulations proposed by the Trump Administration attempt to undo vital progress that has been made over the past several decades. These changes will make it more difficult for survivors of sexual assault and harassment to come forward and get the support they deserve from their schools and universities. We join together with survivors, the Mayor's Office, and organizations and advocates throughout Greater Boston in opposing these changes and recommending alternatives grounded in best practice."

Mayor Walsh encourages anyone who would like to weigh in on this issue to submit their own public comment at regulations.gov before the January 28 deadline. Comments should be concise, and express the author's views using specific and well-reasoned examples, including how the proposed rules might impact the author personally.

RITE AID WILL PAY $177,000 TO NALOXONE FUND AND WILL UPDATE OPIOID DISPENSING PRACTICES IN SETTLEMENT WITH AG HEALEY

RITE AID WILL PAY $177,000 TO NALOXONE FUND AND WILL UPDATE OPIOID DISPENSING PRACTICES IN SETTLEMENT WITH AG HEALEY
Brings Total AG Led Naloxone Fund to $919,000

BOSTON – Rite Aid of Massachusetts will contribute $177,000 to the state’s Municipal Naloxone Fund and correct its procedures to settle allegations that its dispensing of controlled substances, including opioids, failed to follow regulations designed to prevent substance use disorder, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.

“In our efforts to combat the opioid epidemic, pharmacies are on the front lines,” AG Healey said. “Today’s settlement with Rite Aid will update their practices and provide more lifesaving doses of naloxone to first responders, helping keep this fund available for as long as it is needed.”

In an assurance of discontinuance filed in Suffolk Superior Court today, the AG’s Office alleges that some Rite Aid pharmacies dispensed controlled substances in exchange for out-of-pocket payments rather than billing MassHealth. The AG’s Office alleges that in doing so, Rite Aid violated MassHealth regulations by failing to monitor drug utilization patterns of MassHealth members enrolled in the Controlled Substance Management Program (CSMP). 

MassHealth administers the CSMP, a program for its members who use large quantities of prescribed drugs. Except in very limited circumstances, CSMP regulations require that a CSMP member obtain all prescribed medications from a single pharmacy known as the member’s primary pharmacy. The primary pharmacy is required to monitor the prescription use pattern of each CSMP member and use sound professional judgment when dispensing all prescription drugs.

AG Healey’s Medicaid Fraud Division began an investigation into certain policies and practices of Rite Aid relating to the dispensing of opioids and other controlled substances to individuals enrolled in the state’s CSMP. That investigation began in conjunction with similar inquiries into CVS and Walgreens for alleged non-compliance with CSMP regulations.

The AG’s Office partnered with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Massachusetts Legislature in 2015 to create the Municipal Naloxone Fund. The Fund allows municipalities to purchase naloxone for use by first responders at a heavily discounted rate. In addition to today’s payment of $177,000 from Rite Aid, the AG’s Office has contributed over $740,000 to the fund.  

These settlements are part of AG Healey’s ongoing efforts to combat the growing opioid addiction crisis in Massachusetts. The AG’s Office is looking at a host of other practices, from marketing by pharmaceutical companies, to pill diversion and drug trafficking by criminal entities, to coverage for substance use disorder treatment by insurance companies.
The AG’s Office also continues to work on solutions that include eliminating barriers to treatment and supporting prevention and education initiatives across the state. In 2017, the AG’s Office and the GE Foundation launched Project Here, an initiative that is making substance use prevention education available to all public middle schools in Massachusetts.
This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Anthony Vargas and Investigator Kaleigh Ross of the AG’s Medicaid Fraud Division, with significant assistance from MassHealth.

Governor Baker Signs Bill To Ensure First Responders’ Confidential Access to Mental Health Services

Governor Baker Signs Bill To Ensure First Responders’ Confidential Access to Mental Health Services