‘Nips’ talk makes its way into the State House
“Nips” — the small liquor bottles that some see as an inexpensive blessing while others deem a public health issue and litter nuisance — have found their way into discussions at the State House.
While one Massachusetts community has gone as far as to ban the sale of nips, a legislative committee heard testimony yesterday on a bill that would add a 5-cent deposit on the tiny liquor bottle. Supporters of the bill, introduced by Republican Rep. Randy Hunt of Sandwich, say adding a deposit on nips would cut down on litter. They point to the success of a similar measure passed in Maine in 2017.
Robert Mellion, executive director of the Massachusetts Package Stores Association, told lawmakers that liquor store owners would likely offer “a lot of opposition” to the bill as drafted because of frustrations over existing recycling processes.
Falmouth-based litter volunteers told legislators they documented every piece of trash they could find on the town’s roadways over six months, and found a third to be nips.
Hunt originally introduced the bill back in 2017 after a constituent reached out to him about litter. The legislation has 81 co-sponsors and bipartisan in both chambers, but it stalled last year in House Ways and Means.
Concern about nips appears to be picking up at the local level.
In Bourne, residents discussed the impact of nips on the environment and public safety at a Board of Selectmen meeting earlier this month, with one resident saying a local ban would stop people from drinking on the road. “It is litter and alcoholism and that culture,” said board chairman Judith Froman, according to the Cape Cod Times.
Chelsea has gone the furthest of all, creating a bylaw in 2018 that bans nip bottle sales altogether from liquor stores in the city.
Since the ban was imposed on 50-milliliter bottles of hard liquor, public drunkenness has declined, alcohol-related ambulance responses are way down, and there has been a reduction in the number of people taken into protective custody in the city for alcohol intoxication.
“It’s been over a year since that ban was put in place and the results are in – the impact of the ban is overwhelmingly positive,” Chelsea City Councilor Roy Avellaneda said in August. “Just look at the numbers.”
Mellion, the package store association director, said last summer that the Chelsea ban was ill-conceived and that the real problem was alcoholism. “If the argument put forward is that the sale of 50- or 100-milliliter bottles is directly connected with alcohol addiction – if that’s true, all you’re doing is driving an individual to purchase a 200-milliliter item,” he said. “It’s a false narrative. If the goal is to end public drinking, the real way is to convince people not to drink, not remove a specific bottle size.” Otherwise, he said, people could just “walk over to Everett” to purchase nips..
In the meantime, in additional to Bourne, other communities on Cape Cod, including Mashpee, Eastham, and Falmouth, are considering adopting local measures to ban the sales of nips.
In his budget proposal for the coming fiscal year, Gov. Charlie Baker proposes a $135 million increase in funding for the MBTA paid for in part by a sharp boost in fees collected on ride-hailing trips. The fee is going from 20 cents per ride to $1 per ride. (CommonWealth)
Baker also proposed an all-new board to oversee the MBTA that will meet 12 times a year, one-third as much as it does currently. (CommonWealth)
Northampton’s Board of Health rejects a bid to ban cigarette sales in convenience stores. (Daily Hampshire Gazette)
A new report on MetroWest finds rising poverty and income inequality. (MetroWest Daily News)
Lead House impeachment manager Adam Schiff, kicking off formal arguments in the Senate trial of President Trump, repeatedly charged that Trump attempted to “cheat” in the 2020 election through his dealings with a foreign power, conduct that was exactly what the framers of the Constitution had in mind in crafting the remedy of impeachment. (New York Times)
Rep. Ayanna Pressley says she has introduced 30 bills since entering Congress, more than any other freshman, and cosponsored almost 330. She said she has also authored and passed 10 amendments. (Dorchester Reporter)
Bernie Sanders is surging in New Hampshire, according to a new WBUR poll conducted by the MassINC Polling Group. (WBUR)
Deval Patrick, who is struggling to gain traction as a late entrant to the presidential race, swatted down questions from the Boston Herald that he could be positioning to be tapped for a cabinet post or as a vice presidential running-mate.
The number of million-dollar earners in the state rose by 12.5 percent last year. (Boston Globe)
Jon Hurst of the Massachusetts Retailers Association credits the retail fairness of taxing internet sales for soaring sales tax revenues. (CommonWealth)
Nonprofit Cape Abilities is one step closer to turning an Orleans property into affordable housing after an Affordable Housing Trust Board meeting this week. (Cape Cod Times)
Boston developer Don Chiofaro filed plans with the city for a 600-foot tower where the Boston Harbor Garage now stands, finally fleshing out details of project he’s been angling to launch for years. (Boston Globe)
Academics, free-speech advocates, and prominent authors are coming to the defense of a former Babson College adjunct professor who was fired because of a Facebook post saying Iran’s leader ought to “tweet a list of 52 sites of beloved American cultural heritage that he would bomb,” a satirical jab, the professor said, in response to President Trump’s talk of targeting Iranian cultural sites. (Boston Globe)
About a dozen students whose families fled the recent earthquakes in Puerto Rico have begun to enroll in New Bedford public schools. (Standard-Times)
Eleven Boston police officers assigned to the city’s public schools began wearing body cameras this week as part of an effort the department hopes will improve trust between the police and community. (Boston Globe)
Four swastikas were found in the stairwells of an Emerson College dormitory. (MassLive)
A former official at Brewster Ambulance Services has sued the company, accusing it of defrauding Medicare by charging for unnecessary ambulance rides to dialysis appointments. (Patriot Ledger)
Mark Volpe, who tripled the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s endowment during a 22-year run as its president and CEO, announced he’ll step down next year. (Boston Globe)
Putting some DC clout behind state Sen. Eric Lesser’s push for Springfield-to-Boston rail service, Rep. Richard Neal, chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, will press the case when Gov. Charlie Baker visits Springfield tomorrow. (Boston Globe)
Gov. Charlie Baker’s top energy aide calls his net-zero-by-2050 target the most aggressive in the world. (CommonWealth) But Craig Altemose of 350 Massachusetts for a Better Future calls the target incremental, business as usual. (CommonWealth)
MEDIADanielle Johnson is launching Spark FM, a Boston-based digital radio station catering to the black community. (Daily Free Press)
Newspapers in North Carolina are working together to cover the news. (Poynter)