Gun shop debate is a duel over two ways to achieve the same end

So now, we're just four days away from the full reopening of the Massachusetts economy and three weeks away from the lifting of Gov. Charlie Baker's state of emergency (more on that below).
 
Since last Friday we’ve been surveying chamber members about several recovery related issues. We’re keeping the survey open for the rest of this week but I took a peek last night and wanted to share early results for two questions.
 
First, our employers are, so far anyway, evenly divided -- just under one third each -- when asked if they’ll require face masks in their place of business after most mandatory restrictions are lifted on Saturday. The remaining one-third plus are undecided about mandatory masks.
 
Second, we're asking if companies will mandate vaccines for employees: So far 20% say they will require shots for workers and 35% say vaccines won’t be required. The rest, about 45%, were not sure/undecided.
 
If you have yet to respond to these and other questions, please take our survey here before Friday. One lucky participant will have a chance to win a $100 gift card from a chamber member of their choice.
 
 
And let’s TALK about reopening too!
 
We’re going to try something tomorrow (Thursday) we haven’t tried before.
 
From noon to 1 p.m. I’m going to host an open discussion via Zoom about reopening. There will be no presentations, no PowerPoint, just a chance to share your thoughts, hopes and concerns with fellow chamber members.
 
I’ll be joined by the economic development liaisons from Newton, Needham and Wellesley. But mostly we want to hear from you. Members only.

 
Gun shop debate is a duel over two ways to achieve the same end
 
Newton’s City Council will meet at 6:30 tonight to consider a proposal to ban the sale of firearms anywhere in Newton.
 
This proposed ban is different from one favored by Mayor Fuller and most city councilors, who support a super restrictive zoning policy that effectively bans gun sales by making it difficult to locate a shop anywhere in Newton.
 
The proposed zoning creates a buffer that prevents firearms businesses from being near a school, library, church or other religious use, child-care facility, park, playground, recreational area, liquor store and more.
 
In fact, the proposal is so restrictive that there are literally only three possible locations that qualify, which can be seen on this map.
 
You may need to squint to see the red and purple spots on the very top left of the map. Both are along the Waltham line and are generally not well-constituted for a gun retailer.
 
The third spot (the red area on the lower right, just above the compass) is The Street at Chestnut Hill.
 
Fears of a firearms store at The Street is one of the things those who support a ban, rather than zoning, say they're worried about.
 
Except Alana Stein, GM at The Street says you can rule her property out as a ever hosting a gun shop too.
 
“The Street Chestnut Hill strives to partner with businesses that meet the daily needs and wants of our family-centric customer base,” Stein said in a statement. “As such, we have no interest in leasing to a gun shop at The Street now or in the future.”

 
So what should it be, zoning or a ban?
 
Insiders say Fuller's zoning solution has 15 council votes. But it needs 16 to pass.
 
But the ban doesn't have 16 votes either, in part because some councilors (correctly, I think) note that they've taken an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution and a ban violates the Second Amendment.
 
Still, unless some councilors change their position, neither may pass and a planned shop on Washington Street could proceed.
 
Seems to me (and note, the chamber's board has not met to discuss either option) that The Street’s statement should put to rest any concerns keeping the zoning from passing.
 
Doing so might eliminate a potential Second Amendment legal battle over a ban.
 
And with the currently configured Supreme Court, who knows what would happen from there?
 
 
Baker seeks to continue outdoor dining, remote meetings
 
Gov. Charlie Baker has proposed extending some pandemic-era policies that would eventually expire after the state of emergency ends on June 15.
 
One key part of his proposal would allow municipalities to continue offering outdoor dining through Nov. 29 (as opposed to Aug. 15).
 
Baker would also allow local governments and others to continue holding public meetings virtually until Sept. 1. And he'd like to keep a ban until Jan. 1 on medical providers billing patients for COVID-related care above the costs paid by insurers.
 
Meanwhile Needham Rep. Denise Garlick and Sen. Jason Lewis of Winchester have filed legislation that would permanently require all public meetings to offer virtual options. Their proposal has the support of the ACLU.

 
Workers: Cut my pay, just don't make me go back to the office full time
 
Last week I noted a survey by Blind, showing that 64% of workers at America's biggest tech companies would take permanently working from home over a $30,000 raise. 
 
Now come a separate survey from the University of Chicago showing many workers would be willing to take an average pay cut of 7% to work from home two or three days a week.
 
That desire to continue working from home is nearly universal, cutting across age, education, gender, earnings and family circumstances, notes  Andy Medici for the BBJ.
 
 
Paid family leave numbers low so far
 
Participation so far in Massachusetts new Paid Family Medical Leave program has been lower than anticipated. That could be good news for employers who could be asked to pay more into the system if needed, reports Greg Ryan at the BBJ.
 
Workers can take up to 20 weeks for their own health condition or 12 weeks following the birth, adoption or foster placement of a child.
 
The state's Labor and Workforce Development office has received about 40,000 claims so far for the program which began Jan. 1, fewer than many expected.
 
But that could change starting July 1, when workers can also take up to 12 weeks to care for a family member with a health condition.
 
One explanation for the low number of claims may be the number of employers who chose private policies over the state program.
 
GBH News reported that more than 1 million people in Massachusetts work for companies that have opted out of state paid-leave.

 
Riverside Line track work (finally) fast tracked
 
Sometimes it feels like the MBTA has been working on the D-Line tracks since the Clinton administration.
 
It’s actually only been since 2018.
 
But now, thank goodness, the T is going to expedite the project, just as it has done on three other Green Line branches.
 
The T will halt all train service on the D Branch during two separate nine-day stretches in June.
 
Trains will be replaced by buses from Riverside to Kenmore between June 12-20. Regular train service will return for a few days, then go offline again from Thursday, June 24 - July 2, writes Chris Lisinski at State House News.
 
"These accelerations are focused on shortening the construction timeframe and delivering benefits to our riders sooner, particularly as we expect ridership to continue to rise over 2021," says MBTA GM Steve Poftak.

 
Teeth whitener is the new hand sanitizer
 
Remember back in the old days when hand sanitizer and toilet paper were the hard-to-score shopping items?
 
Now it’s teeth whitener and deodorant.
 
The surge in grooming products, travel gear and other personal care products is, of course, attributed to everyone wanting to look and smell our best as we reenter civilization, reports the Wall Street Journal.
 
And, it seems, we don’t want to miss a minute either: Walmart says alarm clock sales doubled in April.
 
Sales of sexual health products, including condoms, were up 32% for the week ended May 1 compared with a year ago, according to NielsenIQ data.
  
And that’s today’s Need to Knows -- unless…you need to know that Wegman’s in Westwood appears to be selling the wrong mayonnaise.
 
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
617-244-1688
 
Your chamber is here when you need us.

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