Maybe it’s time for Beacon Hill to take a stand on nips, those little liquor bottles that many communities are coming to regard as a public nuisance.

Chelsea banned the 50 milliliter version last March, extended the ban to 100 milliliter bottles in August, and was thinking about going after the 250 milliliter flask-size when a group of liquor retailers appealed the ban to the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission.

Chelsea’s chief concern was public drunkenness, but Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll and the Salem City Council are more concerned about nips as litter. They urged state lawmakers on Thursday to expand the reach of the state’s bottle deposit law to nip liquor bottles, hoping the 5-cent charge will spur people to return their empties.

The problem isn’t going away. Evelyn Strawn, a volunteer clean-up coordinator in Plymouth, said her team picked up 500 nip bottles during two sweeps of a single street over a six-month period. “It’s not only environmental concerns; it’s a health concern, indicating the number of people drinking and driving,” she told the Plymouth Select Board in November.

Strawn estimated 68,000 nips are sold every day in Massachusetts, with about 25 million sold every year.

Maine, in its own convoluted way, has also been struggling with the issue. In 2017, state lawmakers in Maine voted to assess a 5-cent deposit on nips starting this year. Former governor Paul LePage vetoed the measure, but lawmakers overrode his veto. LePage then responded by vowing to ban the nips entirely as a public drinking danger. But that bid also failed when the Maine Liquor and Lottery Commission voted 4-1 to reject a nip ban.

The commissioners said they weren’t convinced nips were responsible for a small uptick in operating-under-the-influence convictions and didn’t want to undermine a Lewiston bottler who sells about half of the nips in the state.

Meanwhile, the debate rages on in Massachusetts. Brian Kyes, the police chief in Chelsea and the president of the Massachusetts Major City Police Chiefs Association, supports a ban. “They are sold for one simple reason — convenience. They can be conveniently secreted in one’s pants or jacket pocket, conveniently consumed in a moment’s notice, and conveniently discarded in the street when finished. There is no place for these containers on our city streets,” Kyes said.

Ben Weiner, the owner of Sav-Mor Spirits in Somerville and the president of the Massachusetts Package Store Association, said a ban on nips is bad public policy. “There are alternative means less harmful to businesses that achieve the same results,” he said.



Scot Lehigh pans the idea of a big new education funding bill with no strings attached to drive student improvement. (Boston Globe) Lawmakers unveiled the proposal on Wednesday, and the issue of whether reform conditions will be included in it may be the big point of contention. (CommonWealth)

Rep. Russell Holmes of Boston calls House leadership “a dictatorship” on the Horse Race podcast. (CommonWealth)

A Globe editorial criticizes the failure of a Beacon Hill commission to come up with recommendations for expanding the state’s public records law.

IBEW Local 103, frustrated with the (Democratic) Legislature’s refusal to act on measures important to the union, says it is returning to its members the $200,000 it planned to donate to lawmakers’ political campaigns. (WGBH)

Growth in the state payroll is “unsustainable,” says the Pioneer Institute’s Greg Sullivan. (Boston Herald)

The Patriot Ledger checks in with two South Shore freshman state reps, Republican Alyson Sullivan of Abington and Democrat Patrick Kearney of Scituate.


A new MassINC report spotlights urban blight in Gateway Cities. (WBUR)

The Treadmark building in the Ashmont section of Dorchester, which was destroyed by a fire just before it was about to open in 2017, is preparing to open a second time. (Dorchester Reporter) A developer is seeking to build a five-story building on a nearby Dorchester Avenue lot. (Dorchester Reporter)

Worcester lowers its estimate of marijuana tax revenue for this year. (Telegram & Gazette)


President Trump says he never meant Mexico would actually make a direct payment to build a border wall, but that is, in fact, what he said. (Washington Post) The Boston Herald editorial page may now lean Trump, but even it finds the idea of the president using emergency declaration powers to build his wall a bad idea.

Federal employees in the area are bracing for a Friday without a paycheck, including one TSA worker with an interesting profile: A Brazilian immigrant whose father initially entered the US illegally and who voted for Trump. (Boston Globe)

Margery Eagan says “extremists” like Elizabeth Warren and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are actually pretty in sync with the views of most Americans. (Boston Globe)

New York and California are moving ahead with near-universal health care. (Governing)

Massachusetts and Connecticut are among the 10 states that give more to the federal government than they get back. (Governing)


University of Massachusetts administrators are pocketing large bonuses in addition to hefty salaries. (Boston Herald)

A new program appears to be helping address chronic absenteeism in Lynn public schools. (Daily Item)

Quincy College, whose nursing program lost its state license last year, hopes to have the program approved to restart this fall. (Patriot Ledger)

A Haverhill High School history assignment dealing with President Trump and fascism causes a stir. (Eagle-Tribune)

The Massachusetts Board of Higher Education is considering using a stress test to determine the financial viability of private colleges in the state. (WGBH)


A Boston biotech startup is aiming to test a drug to treat schizophrenia, which would be the first big breakthrough in antipsychotic drug treatment in decades. (Boston Globe)


Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack announced she intends to rearrange the configuration of transportation assets on the elevated section of the Massachusetts Turnpike between BU and the Charles River. She wants to put commuter rail train tracks and the Pike at ground level and elevate Soldiers Field Road above, which should allow enough room for separate bike and pedestrian paths along the Charles. (CommonWealth)


South Shore officials are urging Gov. Charlie Baker to deny permits for a natural gas compressor station along the Fore River at the Weymouth/Quincy border. (Boston Globe)


The Massachusetts Gaming Commission pursues a two-track approach with the $2.6 billion Encore casino in Everett. The agency is preparing for the grand opening in six months while also waiting for a report that could determine whether Wynn Resorts gets to keep its casino license. As time ticks away, it would seem more and more difficult to take the license away. (CommonWealth) The Globe offers an explainer piece on the status of the Everett casino.

The Cannabis Control Commission expects to write new regulations for home delivery of pot and social consumption at cafes by this summer. (MassLive) The commission also voted to ask the Legislature to grant it more authority to police community host agreements with marijuana businesses. (Boston Globe)


A district court judge ruled that prosecutors in Massachusetts cannot use breathalyzer tests in drunken driving cases in most instances until the state shows that the lab overseeing their accuracy is likely to receive accreditation. (Boston Globe)