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

Amilcar Shabazz is a professor of African American Studies at UMass-Amherst. He hopes to be on the new reparations committee.
Carol Lollis / Daily Hampshire Gazette /

The town of Amherst, Massachusetts, is creating a committee to make reparations for those harmed by anti-Black racism. 

Urban, Suburban Shift Highlighted In Massachusetts 'Future Of Work' Report

Jul 13, 2021
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker.
State House News Service

By 2030, Massachusetts could need up to 200,000 more housing units and a "large influx" of child care workers, office real estate demand could fall by as much as 20 percent, and hundreds of thousands of people could need to transition into new jobs or occupational categories, according to a new state report.

Our "Monday Conversation" is with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ben Downing. Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder will talk with the 5-time state senator from Pittsfield on his background and why he decided to run for Massachusetts governor after taking time away from politics. Downing will also breakdown his recently released child care and infrastructure plans.

COVID-19 Cases On The Rise In Massachusetts

Jul 13, 2021
A packaged COVID-19 test at the Urgent Care Center of Connecticut in Bloomfield on March 25, 2020.
Joe Amon / Connecticut Public / NENC

Though the metrics remain near their recorded low points, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are rising in Massachusetts as the Delta variant continues to spread.

Pittsfield native Ben Downing is one of a handful of candidates who has announced their run for Massachusetts governor. Ben served five terms as state senator representing what would become the Berkshire, Hampshire, Franklin and Hampden district, before deciding not to run for re-election in 2016 and joining a renewable energy company. 

This is the full conversation with Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder from the Monday's show. Ben Downing explains why he's getting back into politics after time away and his plans for housing, child care, transportation and more if elected governor.

A child receives a vaccine.
James Gathany and Judy Schmidt / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Massachusetts lawmakers held a hearing Monday on a number of bills focused on vaccines. One would eliminate the religious exemption for childhood vaccinations to attend school. 

The Massachusetts Statehouse in Boston.
Jesse Costa / WBUR

Some states, like Connecticut and Vermont, have already decided how they'll spend their share of American Rescue Plan Act money. For Massachusetts, about $5 billion of it is still sitting in the state's piggy bank. 

Springfield Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood.
Hoang "Leon" Nguyen / Springfield Republican /

The Springfield, Massachusetts Police Department announced it is eliminating the controversial narcotics unit and starting a new firearms investigation unit.

Massachusetts Lawmakers Pass A $48.1 Billion Budget

Jul 9, 2021
The Massachusetts State House.
File photo / State House News Service

More than a week into the fiscal year, the House and Senate agreed in bipartisan fashion to a $48.1 billion annual state budget and shipped the proposal to Gov. Charlie Baker's desk.

Three Biz Groups Take Sides in Debate Over App-Based Drivers, Benefits In Massachusetts

Jul 9, 2021
Nancy Creed delivers a speech at a Springfield Regional Chamber's annual meeting.
File photo / MassLive /

A trio of regional business organizations in Massachusetts threw their support behind gig economy giants in the growing debate over pay and benefits for the state's more than 200,000 app-based drivers.

Massachusetts Part Of Purdue Pharma Resolution

Jul 8, 2021
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announces a settlement that resolves Massachusetts' lawsuit against Purdue Pharma at a press conference Thursday afternoon.
Chris Van Buskirk / State House News Service

After holding out for almost two years and securing additional commitments, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and her counterparts in 14 other states agreed this week to resolve their lawsuits against OxyContin manufacturer Purdue Pharma as part of a deal in which Massachusetts is expected to get $90 million to combat the ongoing opioid crisis.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cases of the coronavirus Delta variant has been reported in all 50 states. Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder will talk with Dr. Matilde Castiel, Commissioner of Health and Human Services for the city of Worcester about the variant gaining momentum in Massachusetts.

Expert Recommends Blood Testing for Chemical Contaminant

Jul 7, 2021
Water running from a faucet.
Skitterphoto / Creative Commons

Offering blood testing for people in areas exposed to PFAS, additional funds for statewide research, education, and surveillance, and passing laws restricting the use of certain firefighting foam and food packaging were all part of a set of recommendations a top academic expert offered this week to a state task force investigating the impact of the chemicals in Massachusetts.

Baker Continues Push for Big Housing Investments

Jul 7, 2021
Massachsuetts Gov. Charlie Baker.
Chris Van Buskirk / State House News Service

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker visited the Boys and Girls Club of Springfield on Wednesday to celebrate the growth of a program that provides night and weekend activities for youth during the summer, but the Republican also pitched spending federal stimulus on homeownership in cities like Springfield.

On June 23, Massachusetts senator Sonia Chang-Diaz announced her bid to join the gubernatorial race. Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder will talk with the senator about her background as a school teacher, lessons learned from her immigrant father and how these experiences sets her apart from the handful of candidates vying for the position.

Military Licensing Reform May Boost Westfield Base Prospects

Jul 7, 2021
A plane sits on a runway at the 2010 Westfield International Air Show held at Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield, Massachusetts.
LEONARDO DASILVA / Creative Commons / leonardodasilva

With support for military families among the criteria the Department of Defense uses in base selection, the Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs is considering legislation that would streamline the professional licensure process for military spouses and support the education of children of service members.

House Set to Debate Rules, Extend Emergency Measures

Jul 7, 2021
The Massachusetts State House.
File photo / State House News Service

All House sessions would permanently be livestreamed, committee chairs would have discretion to hold hybrid-format hearings, and published committee votes would not require the disclosure of how any individual lawmakers voted, under a proposed House rules package teed up Tuesday for debate in less than 24 hours.

Traducido en español por El Planeta Media.

Mateo Mejia arrived with a smile on his face for a recent shift as a server at a French bistro in Chestnut Hill. He’s new to the job, and it pays so well he’s been able to cut back his hours to spend mornings at home with his young daughter.

A coalition of First Nation tribes in Quebec is filing suit against the provincial government to stop construction of a controversial powerline that would bring electricity from government-owned dams through Maine into the New England grid.

Ballot Campaign Taking Shape In Massachusetts For Voter ID Proposal

Jul 6, 2021
An example of a Massachusetts Driver's license.
Mass DOT / MassLive /

Massachusetts voters would be required to present identification to prove their identity at polling places, under an initiative petition that the head of the state Republican Party hopes to place on the 2022 statewide ballot.

Diehl Joins Massachusetts Guv’s Race, Creating Potential For Baker Primary

Jul 6, 2021
Geoff Diehl in a file photo from 2017.
State House News Service

The first Republican candidate for governor in 2022 is former state Rep. Geoff Diehl, who announced his plans at a festival in western Massachusetts on Saturday by questioning Gov. Charlie Baker's approach to pandemic management and pledging to counter "the impact of over-taxation and reckless spending by government."

The first Valley Flyer train arriving in Northampton, Massachusetts, on Friday, August 30, 2019.
Alden Bourne / NEPR

Western Massachusetts train service that was cut back because of the COVID-19 pandemic is scheduled to resume in a few weeks.

Massachusetts State Auditor Suzanne Bump.
File Photo / Daily Hamphire Gazette /

The Massachusetts state auditor said public safety officials need to do a better job getting the word out about a feature available on 911 calls.

The outside of the mass vaccination site at the Eastfield Mall in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Adam Frenier / NEPM

After distributing more than 178,000 doses, the mass vaccination site at the Eastfield Mall in Springfield is closing Tuesday. The state plans to take a more targeted approach to COVID-19 shots. But mall management and some tenants say having the clinic there provided a much needed boost to business.

This Fourth of July holiday is seeing some form of normalcy returning in terms of in-person celebration.

Stephen Pelkey, CEO of New Hampshire based Atlas PyroVision and Entertainment, talks with Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder on how his professional fireworks display and retail business acclimated to the challenges stemming from a pandemic year.

Massachusetts Fire Marshall Peter Ostroskey will discuss the crackdown on illegal fireworks crossing into the state and the safest way to celebrate.

The yearly citizen naturalization ceremony returns at Old Sturbridge Village. Rhys Simmons - Director of Interpretation, explains how the museum is pulling out all the stops for the in-person celebration.

In Hartford, Taneisha Duggan explains how this year's new Hartford Bonanza, will be more vibrant than past celebrations.

The Senate Chamber at the Massachusetts Statehouse.
S M / Creative Commons

Massachusetts lawmakers have called it quits ahead of the holiday weekend without passing a full-year budget or election reforms.

Ranked choice voting is a voting process that allows registered citizens to rank candidates by their choice. Last year, this initiative was defeated on the Massachusetts state level, however in Amherst, more than three quarters of its residents voted in favor. Now, Amherst is pushing to approve ranked choice voting in time for November elections. Dara Kennedy and Maya Shwayder will explore the pros and cons of ranked choice voting. 

Tanya Leise, a professor of mathematics at Amherst College and former chair of the Ranked Choice Voting Committee, explains in detail what ranked choice voting is and how the town could implement it.

Anthony Amore, former 2018 Secretary of State candidate, discusses the pitfalls ranked choice voting presents.

Amherst City Councilor-at-large Mandi Jo Hanneke will talk about the impending deadline for the town to adopt ranked choice voting for elections this fall.

Hundreds of people filled the town green in Winthrop on Thursday evening to remember two of their own who died in what authorities describe as “an execution” that may have been motivated by hate. Both victims were Black.

Police say 28-year-old Nathan Allen gunned down David Green, a 58-year-old former State Police Trooper, and Ramona Cooper, a 60-year-old Air Force veteran, last Saturday in a brutal attack that shocked and terrorized this small, tight-knit community just north of Boston.

A box of joints branded as Dogwalkers are sold at Rise, a marijuana medical dispensary in Amherst, Massachusetts.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPM

Massachusetts marijuana stores are expecting an uptick in business, now that it's legal to possess in Connecticut.

Massachusetts House Votes To Overturn Baker Veto Of Soldiers' Home Labor Agreement

Jun 30, 2021
The Soldiers' Home in Holyoke, Massachusetts.
Miriam Wasser / WBUR

Massachusetts House Democrats ignored the warnings of Gov. Charlie Baker and overrode his veto Wednesday of legislation requiring a new Holyoke Soldiers' Home to be built under a project labor agreement, a move designed to ensure that union labor will be used for the construction of the $400 million facility.