Coverage of Massachusetts from New England Public Radio, NPR, and other NPR stations.

Chang-Díaz Makes It Official: She’s Going For Massachusetts Governor

10 hours ago
Massachusetts state Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz speaks in January 2021 at the ceremonial signing of a new policing reform law. The Boston Democrat was one of the lead negotiators of the bill.
Sam Doran / State House News Service

Jamaica Plain Democrat Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz plans to officially jump into next year's gubernatorial contest on Wednesday, launching her campaign with a knock on "Beacon Hill insiders" she describes as lacking urgency.

College sports are big business. According to the fiscal year annual report by the NCAA, the total revenues among all Division I athletic departments in 2019 was $18.9 billion. However, the NCAA has long faced scrutiny over how much of that revenue goes towards athletes. 

Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder go behind the recent Supreme Court ruling that found the NCAA violated antitrust laws by limiting educational-related gifts to student athletes. 


The Pandemic May Have Presented An Opportunity For Churches

Jun 22, 2021
The Rev. Christopher Carlisle, an Episcopal priest, ministers outside in western Massachusetts.
Courtesy / Visionaries Inc.

The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically affected the institutional church, which overnight watched its communities exiled from their buildings.

Dr. Danielle Allen, a Harvard professor and highly regarded political theorist, recently announced that she is running for governor in 2022. As the first Black woman to run for this office in Massachusetts, her campaign is already making history. 

Dr. Allen has a stunning academic career, but she has never held elected office before.


Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder sit down with Dr. Allen to talk about her inspiration to run, her policy positions and what Massachusetts needs to know about her.


Skyleigh D’Ambrosia, 17, loves learning about science. She’s taken pretty much every science class available at her high school in the western Massachusetts town of Athol.

“I want to be a doctor when I’m older,” she said. “So those are just kind of important classes.”

Connecticut lawmakers did not consider the multi-state Transportation and Climate Initiative plan this year. But Governor Ned Lamont said he’s optimistic that Connecticut would eventually join the initiative.

The door to the upstairs office at Iron Horse Entertainment Group's Northampton Box Office.
Ellery Berenger / NEPR

Updated 3:46 p.m.

The owner of several entertainment venues in Northampton and Holyoke, Massachusetts, has been hit with $100,000 in fines and restitution after the Massachusetts Attorney General's office found the rights of about 30 workers were violated.

For years, Doug McGarrah has suffered from bullet train envy.

“Those of us who have been fortunate enough to travel to places like Spain or Japan, we all marvel at these wonderful ways of getting around on high-speed rail,” said McGarrah, a partner at the law firm Foley Hoag in Boston. “We come back to America, and we get on our systems that are — let’s just say substandard.”

But with Congress debating a massive infrastructure bill, McGarrah and other proponents of high-speed railways hope to seize the moment.

A sign outside a Pride store in Northampton, Massachusetts.
Alden Bourne / NEPR

This week, Pride gas stations and convenience stores started giving a free large cup of coffee — iced or hot — to those who have been vaccinated.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker.
Craig F. Walker / Boston Globe / Pool / State House News Service

This week, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced a COVID-19 vaccine lottery, designed to encourage people to continue to get their shots.

The United States federal government has recognized June 19th, or Juneteenth, as a holiday commemorating the day in 1865 when the very last slaves living in Texas received word that they had been freed two and a half years earlier from President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth has been celebrated in the Black community for generations, but is now gaining awareness across the nation.

Out-Of-State, Illegal Markets Scooping Up Massachusetts Sports Wagers

Jun 17, 2021
Sports betting.
Marit and Toomas Hinnosaar / Creative Commons /

While Massachusetts lawmakers have been slow-walking proposals to legalize sports betting here over the last three years, the revenue and jobs that the activity could provide has passed the state by as legal sports betting proliferates around the country and in nearby states, supporters told the Joint Committee on Economic Development on Thursday.

In light of Connecticut recently passing sports betting legislation, Massachusetts remains one of the last states in the reigon to jump on board. A joint committee is meeting to discuss 19 bills associated with sports betting. State Senator Eric Lesser, author of one of the bills, talks with Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder on why he's leading the push for legalization. 

If Massachusetts does end up on the sports betting bandwagon, who will benefit from the revenues? State Representative Orlando Ramos explains why social equity should be a factor.

A road on the edge of the Allendale neighborhood in Pittsfield, Mass., leads to a PCB disposal site used during the first phase of the clean up of the Housatonic River, in a file photo.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPR

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is launching a study to determine cancer incidence in five cities and towns on the Housatonic River.

As Connecticut looks to pass cannabis legislation, Massachusetts is working to evolve theirs to be more socially equitable. Segun Idowu, CEO of Black Economic Council of Massachusetts (BECMA) talks with Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder about his testimony in a hearing on how lawmakers need to be fair on who receives funding in this booming business.

Poll Finds 61% Support For Sports Betting Legalization In Massachusetts

Jun 16, 2021
DraftKings advertisements in Boston's South Station are seen in 2015.
Jesse Costa / WBUR

Most Massachusetts voters have already made up their minds about legalizing sports betting, and 61% of the state strongly or somewhat supports the idea, a poll commissioned by Plainridge Park Casino and Encore Boston Harbor found.

As Massachusetts officially ended its state of emergency and marked 4 million residents vaccinated, Gov. Charlie Baker says now people who get their coronavirus inoculations could get another shot: at winning a million dollars or a scholarship.

Pledging to renew civic spirit in Massachusetts, Danielle Allen announced her campaign for governor Tuesday in Boston, launching a bid to become the first elected woman — and the first Black woman — in the state’s highest office.

Lawmakers in Massachusetts are pondering a redistricting bill that would allow legislators to reconfigure state and federal political boundaries before local governments. This, a reversal from traditional state practice, could affect where you vote and whom you can vote for.

Representative Shawn Dooley explains why he opposes the bill, while Representative Alice Peisch gives her perspective on why Massachusetts needs this bill passed now.

Massachusetts Racial Equity Panel Uses First Hearing To Build To-Do List

Jun 15, 2021
The Massachusetts Statehouse.
Wally Gobetz / Creative Commons /

A diverse stream of Massachusetts lawmakers, activists and community leaders produced a lengthy list of racial equity proposals on Monday, kicking off one of the legislature's most daunting undertakings to date: confronting centuries of structural racism ingrained in nearly every facet of public life.

Sports betting in action.
Thomas Schlosser / Creative Commons

This week, a legislative committee will take another look at legalizing sports betting in Massachusetts.

The Massachusetts Statehouse in Boston, Massachusetts.
File Photo / The Republican / Masslive

The Massachusetts Joint Committee on COVID-19 and Emergency Preparedness and Management held the first of a series of statewide listening sessions on the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder examine healthcare and sports surrounding the transgender community that is estimated at 1.4 million people in the United States according to the Williams Institute at UCLA Law School. 

Transhealth Northampton is a groundbreaking, independent, and comprehensive trans healthcare center. CEO Dallas Ducar talks about the clinic's importance.

Pride parade participants march through downtown Northampton, Massachusetts, on May 4, 2019.
Steve Smith / The Republican /

A new survey published by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health shows that LGBTQ+ residents continued to face significant barriers to health care, jobs and housing stability during the pandemic.

Saturday will mark five years since the Pulse nightclub mass shooting in Orlando, Florida.

Among those killed in the early morning of June 12, 2016, was Torrington High School graduate Kimberly “KJ” Morris.

Rick Sullivan, president of the Western Mass Economic Development Council.
Hoang 'Leon' Nguyen / The Republican /

The head of an economic development agency in western Massachusetts says the so-called "Fair Share Amendment" could hurt the region.

Shrinking Republican Party In Massachusetts Struggles For Direction

Jun 10, 2021
Jim Lyons (center), who now chairs the Massachusetts Republican Party, confers with fellow delegates including Rep. Marc Lombardo (left) at the party's 2018 convention.
Sam Doran / State House News Service

The Massachusetts Republican Party on Wednesday night united behind resolutions supporting Israel and opposing universal mail-in voting in Massachusetts. But the gathering did not seem to calm the tensions that have been boiling between conservatives and party members more loyal to Gov. Charlie Baker.

Wednesday afternoon Massachusetts House and Senate legislators voted 159-41 to let voters decide in 2022 whether to allow a 4 percent surtax on annual household incomes greater than $1 million. According to The Boston Globe, this will be the seventh time since the 1960’s that similar proposed laws have been on the ballot. Each time before, it’s been struck down. So what will make the seventh attempt different?

A female mosquito.
Alvesgaspar / Creative Commons

Some communities in Massachusetts are trying to opt out of the state's mosquito spraying program. That's after a change in state law provided for a process to do so. 

Charles Stokes of Springfield, Massachusetts, was among those attending a rally on June 9, 2021, to call on Mayor Domenic Sarno to fire Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood.
Karen Brown / NEPM

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno is standing by his police commissioner, Cheryl Clapprood, following a rally Wednesday calling for her to be fired.