Franklin, State House, and Beyond

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FRANKLIN WEEK AHEAD

Monday, December 6

4:30 PM Franklin HOusing Authority, 1000 Central Park Terr. community room

7PM Planning Board

Tuesday, December 7

7:00 PM Design Review Meeting

7:00pm Community Preservation Committee Meeting

Wednesday, December 8

5 PM Board of Health Meeting

6:30pm Finance Committee Meeting

Thursday, December 9

10 AM Board of Assessors

7 PM Conservation Commission Meeting

7:30pm ZBA Meeting

STATE HOUSE AND BEYOND

Gov. Charlie Baker has built a dedicated team in his administration and their loyalty will be put to the test over the year ahead now that the governor has revealed that he's leaving the office for good after 2022. A brain drain from the administration looms as a new threat for the governor as he focuses on the important work ahead in 2022 and members of his team begin to think about what they will do for work come 2023. Baker himself also faces new considerations in dealing with Democratic legislative leaders, who are now mindful of his new lame duck status and the changed dynamic of dealing with a governor who will not be on next year's ballot and no longer needs to weigh political considerations when making decisions in his day job. The governor starts the week with legislation he has long desired finally on his desk. The House and Senate on Friday shipped to Baker a $4 billion spending bill (H 4269) that exhausts the state's bulging fiscal 2021 budget surplus and allocates a chunk of the federal economic recovery aid awarded to Massachusetts under the American Rescue Plan Act. A bill-signing could be in the works, and everyone is on the lookout for vetoes, especially since lawmakers loaded the legislation up with pet projects in their districts. The governor is readying his final state budget proposal for release in January, following a planned Dec. 21 gathering to hear about revenue forecasts for fiscal 2023. Baker's big decision this week shifts the spotlight to Attorney General Maura Healey, who would enter the governor's race field as a strong contender but one who is mindful of a string of previous AGs who ran for governor and came up short. Beacon Hill Republicans, and others from Baker's moderate wing of that party, are under pressure now to decide whether to come up with a new candidate or get behind former Rep. Geoff Diehl, whose support for President Donald Trump could serve up headwinds for Republican legislative candidates in 2022 elections. - Michael P. Norton

Storylines In Progress

... COVID-19 infections are rivaling last winter's numbers already and federal officials on Friday reported the seven-day average of daily deaths stands at about 860 per day ... It's the last full week of campaigning in the special election contest between Revere School Committee member Anthony D'Ambrosio and Boston City Councilor Lydia Edwards. The winner of their Dec. 14 Democratic primary faces no additional opponents leading up to the Jan. 11 special election ... The U.S. Senate is moving forward with Suffolk DA Rachael Rollins' nomination as U.S. attorney for Massachusetts, while Reps. Claire Cronin of Easton and Maria Robinson of Framingham await news on when they might be able to give up their current jobs to join the Biden administration as U.S. ambassador to Ireland and assistant secretary in the Department of Energy's Office of Electricity, respectively. Robinson is waiting for her hearing in front of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and hoping it will be held early next year. Cronin did not respond to an email inquiry ... The unemployment insurance system remains the focus of a lot of attention as the Baker administration for months has not provided an update on its fiscal health and employers wonder how much borrowing they might be on the hook for in the wake of the massive 2020 joblessness spike ...

Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021

PINDELL ON 4: Boston Globe reporter James Pindell talks with Jon Keller about the 2022 gubernatorial race and Gov. Baker's decision not to seek reelection. (Sunday, 8:30 a.m., WBZ-TV Ch. 4)

Monday, Dec. 6, 2021

SJC DECEMBER SITTING: Supreme Judicial Court sits to hear oral arguments in six cases including one between the Springfield City Council and Mayor Domenic Sarno regarding the reorganization of the Springfield Police Department. More information on the cases being heard in December can be found on the SJC's calendar. Oral arguments begin at 9 a.m. (Monday, 9 a.m., Livestream)

DTA BENEFITS HEARING: Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities Committee convenes a virtual hearing about bills related to Department of Transitional Assistance benefits. The agenda lists 16 bills, including a Sen. Eldridge proposal (S 102) that would prohibit DTA from reducing benefit amounts or closing a case during a state of emergency, among other program reforms. Diapers feature as a topic in several other bills, including legislation to launch a pilot program providing diapers to low-income families with young children. (H 206 / S 125). Auditor Suzanne Bump will testify in support of a bill (H 236) that would require an "electronic backpack" for every child in foster care, containing the child's educational records, including grade-level performance. (Monday, 10 a.m., More Information)

"FIRESIDE CHAT" WITH MASS GENERAL BRIGHAM CHIEF: Mass General Brigham President and CEO Dr. Anne Klibanski is the guest in the New England Council's next "Inside the Corner Office" virtual event. Klibanski will participate in a "fireside chat" with NEC President and CEO Jim Brett about how residents can protect themselves against the Omicron COVID-1 variant as well as MGB's work on health equity and mental and behavioral health care. Press should RSVP to eheisig@newenglandcouncil.com to receive Zoom access. (Monday, 10 a.m.)

HUMAN SERVICES HIRING CRISIS: Community nonprofit providers from Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island hold a virtual forum to discuss the human services hiring "crisis" that providers of frontline human services are facing. The forum will feature providers who contract with the states to provide mental health and addiction services, day and residential programs for people with developmental disabilities, domestic violence and homeless shelters, and programs for people who are involved with the criminal justice system. "The human services sector was experiencing a workforce crisis before COVID-19 and this crisis has only been exacerbated since the pandemic. Alarming statistics from a recent survey done by the Association of Developmental Disability Providers that looked at day services providers showed that nearly one-third of day habilitation providers said that they have a staff vacancy rate of over 40 percent and more than 80 percent of the same respondents said they're maintaining a program waitlist due to the inability to hire staff," Sen. Cindy Friedman said last month. (Monday, 10 a.m., RSVP to sgeller@providers.org)

FUTURE OF WORK COMMISSION: The Legislature's Future of Work Commission hears invited and public testimony as it continues its exploration of how employment dynamics are shifting during the pandemic. Co-chair Sen. Lesser will livestream the virtual hearing, rescheduled from Friday, on Facebook. (Monday, 11 a.m., More Information)

HOUSE AND SENATE: Both branches meet in informal sessions. (Monday, 11 a.m.)

BLOCKCHAIN CAUCUS HUDDLES WITH INDUSTRY REPS: The House Blockchain Technology Caucus, newly launched to explore the public policy impacts of the digital ledger technology, plans to convene its second meeting. Lawmakers will hear presentations from Boston Blockchain Association Interim Chair Lynne Marlor and Head of Partnerships Mike Wise. Caucus Co-chair Rep. Cutler's office said event attendance is limited to legislators and staff. (Monday, 12 p.m.)

ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT TRUST FUND: Economic Empowerment Trust Fund Board meets via conference call. The agenda calls for discussion of the BabySteps Savings Plan program, grant and budget reports, and approval of a community engagement pilot. Treasurer Goldberg chairs. (Monday, 1 p.m., Call 617-367-9333, Ext. 613 for access)

POWER GRID WINTER OUTLOOK: Gordon van Welie, president and CEO of ISO New England, will virtually brief reporters on the grid operator's New England 2021/2022 winter outlook, which will be issued via press release earlier in the day. ISO officials said that van Welie will discuss the three variables that could lead to challenging operating conditions this winter: pipeline natural gas availability, the availability of other fuels and weather conditions. On Nov. 3, ISO-New England issued its 10-year regional power plan.

Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021

MOVING TOGETHER CONFERENCE KICKOFF: MassDOT and the UMass Transportation Center host a welcome session to kick off the first day of the virtual 2021 Moving Together Conference that will highlight public transit, bicyclist and pedestrian infrastructure topics and feature virtual site visits. MassDOT Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver delivers the morning keynote address and Bicycle and Pedestrian Program Coordinator Pete Sutton serves as master of ceremonies. The Barr Foundation also plans to release a new report online examining the impact of shared streets projects alongside the conference's first day. (Tuesday, 8:45 a.m., Registration and Event Schedule)

HYBRID WORK DISCUSSION: As part of its "Future of Work" series, Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce hosts a virtual discussion on designing a sustainable hybrid workforce and workplace. Event features Ocean Spray's Sarah Evans, Accenture's Pallavi Verma, James Linehan of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Proverb's Daren Bascome and Robert Kennedy of Fidelity Investments. (Tuesday, 10 a.m., Registration)

FEMA PUBLIC ASSISTANCE PROGRAM: Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency holds first of two webinars for nonprofits and government agencies on how they may be eligible to recoup costs related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the COVID-19 federal disaster declaration for Massachusetts was announced, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has made changes to the Public Assistance Program, expanding the type of costs eligible for reimbursements. The fund is available to reimburse 100 percent of all eligible COVID-19 related expenses from Jan. 21, 2020 to April 1, 2022. (Tuesday, 10 a.m., Registration)

JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Joint Committee on the Judiciary holds a hearing to accept testimony on dozens of bills that deal with sex offenders and domestic violence. Rep. Blais proposes (H 1471) requiring the screening of prospective school employees for prior investigations into child abuse or sexual misconduct, Rep. Chan has a bill (H 1491) that would further regulate sex offender registration by collecting the offender's electronic aliases, addresses and domains, and Rep. Higgins has a bill (H 1644) to establish a bill of rights for survivors of sexual assault. At least two bills on the docket -- H 1667 from Rep. Howard and H 1909 filed by Rep. Uyterhoeven at the request of a constituent -- deal with non-consensual condom removal. Middlesex District Attorney Ryan will testify in support of H 1660/S 1073 relative to the protection of vulnerable adults from sexual assault committed by mandated reporters, persons in a position of trust and providers of transportation, in support of H 1661/S 1134 criminalizing sexual assault by fraud by a medical professional, and in support of H 1743 to define abuse and neglect of a child. (Tuesday, 10 a.m., More Info)

TELECOMMUNICATIONS, UTILITIES AND ENERGY: Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy holds a virtual hearing dedicated to solar legislation, like Rep. Connolly's bill (H 3278) that calls for all new buildings to be constructed "to accommodate the installation of a solar energy system on their roofs" and requires certain new buildings to include a solar energy system. Rep. Mark has a bill (H 3342) that would require state agencies that initiate construction of new facilities or renovation of existing facilities to install solar energy systems on or near such facilities, and Sen. Feeney proposes (S 2174) to add new requirements before any large-scale solar energy installations could be installed on agricultural land or recreational land. Rep. Dooley has a bill (H 3291) that would create a commission to investigate the advertising practices of the solar energy industry. (Tuesday, 1 p.m, More Info)

GOLDBERG, BAKER MEET: Treasurer Goldberg and Gov. Baker conduct their monthly meeting in private. (Tuesday, 1 p.m., Room 360)

NATURAL RESOURCES COMMITTEE: Joint Committee on the Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture holds a hearing focused mostly on forestry and "administrative infrastructure." Rep. Fernandes' bill (H 4102) would create a "Blue Communities Program" to incentivize local action to reduce nutrient pollution and ocean acidification. The program, which was recommended by the Legislature's own Special Legislative Commission on Ocean Acidification, would function largely the same way the state's Green Communities Program rewards cities and towns for taking climate-friendly steps. Rep. Ehrlich and Sen. Creem have legislation (H 905 / S 504) to establish a municipal reforestation program within the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, and Sen. Hinds proposes mandating that the state assess its old growth forests and establish old growth forest reserves (S 557), and ordering (S 558) a study of "public and private woodlands and woodlots in the Commonwealth to measure the aggregate amount of carbon sequestered in said woodlands and woodlots in the trees, roots and soil." (Tuesday, 1 p.m., More Info)

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE: Joint Committee on Community Development and Small Businesses holds a hearing on nine pieces of legislation dealing with economic development. On the docket is Rep. Gonzalez's bill (H 289) to direct the state to "endeavor to participate in state grants each year that provide, in the aggregate total not less than 15 per cent of the total state grant committed by the commonwealth in that year, to minority communities and minority businesses whose board has more than 50 per cent of its members as minorities." The committee will also take testimony on a Rep. Ciccolo bill (H 283) relative to municipal master plans and Rep. Williams' bill (H 302) to establish the Western Massachusetts Balanced Sustainable Development Commission. (Tuesday, 2 p.m., More Info)

SOUTHERN NEW ENGLAND TRUNKLINE TRAIL: Department of Conservation and Recreation presents "near final design" of an accessible, shared use 10-foot-wide paved pathway, with a side path to accommodate equestrians, for the Southern New England Trunkline Trail. The project's length runs about 6 miles, from the Connecticut state line and the 55-mile Arline Trail through Douglas State Forest to Depot Street Trailhead near the Uxbridge line. The presentation will be available after the meeting here. (Tuesday, 6 p.m., Registration)

Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021

MOVING TOGETHER CONFERENCE DAY TWO: MassDOT and the UMass Transportation Center host the second day of the virtual 2021 Moving Together Conference. Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute in British Columbia, Canada delivers the morning keynote address. (Wednesday, 8:45 a.m., Registration and Event Schedule)

SJC DECEMBER SITTING: Supreme Judicial Court sits to hear oral arguments in five cases including one between Dhananjay Patel and 7-Eleven, Inc. regarding the classification of franchisees as independent contractors. More information on the cases being heard in December can be found on the SJC's calendar. Oral arguments begin at 9 a.m. (Wednesday, 9 a.m., Livestream)

PUBLIC HEALTH COUNCIL: Public Health Council meets remotely, with an agenda that includes updates from Acting Public Health Commissioner Margret Cooke, an update on overdose prevention and harm reduction efforts, and new results from the COVID-19 community impact survey. At November's council meeting, after reviewing statistics showing a preliminary total of 1,613 opioid overdose deaths in the first nine months of 2021, members asked for a presentation on the future on state efforts to address overdoses, including Narcan distribution, needle-exchange programs and other practices, along with more information on the state's role in responding to the addiction and homelessness crises at Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard in Boston. (Wednesday, 9 a.m., Agenda and Access Info)

MASSDOT FINANCE AND AUDIT COMMITTEE: Department of Transportation Board of Directors Finance and Audit Subcommittee holds its monthly meeting virtually. The agenda will be posted online before the meeting. (Wednesday, 9:30 a.m.)

MASSDOT CAPITAL PROGRAMS COMMITTEE: Department of Transportation Board of Directors Capital Programs Subcommittee holds its monthly meeting virtually. The agenda will be posted online before the meeting. (Wednesday, 10:30 a.m.)

PATHWAY TO CITIZENSHIP: U.S. Sen. Markey and immigration advocates hold a virtual press conference to "ensure that a permanent pathway to citizenship is included in the final Build Back Better legislation," an advisory said. Additional speakers include Heloisa Maria Galvão of the Brazilian Women's Group, Geralde Gebeau of Immigrant Family Services Institute, Gabriel Camacho of UFCW 1445, and Joel Rivera of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition. (Wednesday, 11 a.m., Registration)

VOTES ACT BRIEFING: Rep. John Lawn and the Election Modernization Coalition host an open press, House legislative briefing on the VOTES Act, a bill that features voter registration reforms, permanent vote-by-mail authorization and early voting, jail-based voting, and other reforms. The briefing will feature Jen Benson from the Alliance for Business Leadership, Emily Rodriguez from the Pioneer Valley Project, and Tatishe Nteta and Jesse Rhodes from UMass Amherst Poll. The bill (S 2554) has cleared the Senate and is before the House Ways and Means Committee. Current vote-by-mail and early voting laws are scheduled to expire Dec. 15. (Wednesday, 11 a.m., Registration)

GOVERNOR'S COUNCIL: Governor's Council meets, and could potentially vote on Gov. Baker's nominations of James Manitsas to the Superior Court bench and Christine Anthony to the Probate and Family Court bench. (Wednesday, 12 noon, Council Chamber | Livestream)

BALSER TALKS PRIORITIES WITH JCRC: Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston holds a one-on-one conversation with Rep. Balser and Council Director Jeremy Burton on the representative's priorities and how her Jewish identity informs her work. (Wednesday, 12 p.m., Registration)

CORE QUARTERLY MEETING: Treasurer Goldberg chairs the CORE Plan Defined Contribution Committee's quarterly meeting. The ??agenda calls for discussion of third quarter investments as well as social media marketing and outreach strategy. (Wednesday, 1 p.m., WebEx access)

MBTA ACCESSIBILITY HEARING: Retired Superior Court Judge Patrick King hosts a semi-annual public hearing virtually to discuss how the MBTA has progressed toward implementing accessibility improvements as part of the transit authority's 2006 settlement in a class-action lawsuit. The meeting will focus on bus, subway and Commuter Rail accessibility but not the RIDE paratransit service. (Wednesday, 1 p.m., More Information)

RESTORATIVE JUSTICE & THE COURT SYSTEM: U.S. District Court of Massachusetts holds a virtual discussion on the relations between restorative justice and the court system with U.S. District Judge Leo Sorokin, Assistant U.S. Attorney James Herbert, Probation Officer Maria D'Addieco, and two former participants in the court's RISE program. Discovering Justice Matt Wilson moderates. The panel discussion will be held in person with the opportunity to watch on Zoom. (Wednesday, 4 p.m., Registration)

TYLER FUNDRAISER: Rep. Tyler holds holiday party-themed fundraiser with Suffolk County DA Rollins and Boston City Councilor Campbell. (Wednesday, 6 p.m., Registration)

MBTA SERVICE CHANGES MEETING: MBTA staff on the Service Planning team host a virtual public meeting to discuss subway and bus frequency changes set to take effect Dec. 19. The winter schedule will boost weekend frequency after 11:30 p.m. on the Mattapan Line and decrease the line's weekday frequency in the morning and afternoon. More than a dozen bus routes will also see shifts in frequency. (Wednesday, 7 p.m., Zoom)

Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021

REAL ESTATE TECH: Charles River Regional Chamber holds a virtual discussion with Steve Weikal of MIT Center for Real Estate on future technology in the real estate industry. The event is free for members and $20 for nonmembers. (Thursday 9 a.m., Registration)

SCHOOL BUILDING AUTHORITY - ADMIN AND FINANCE COMMITTEE: Massachusetts School Building Authority Administration, Operations, and Finance Subcommittee meets virtually with Treasurer Goldberg as chair. Agenda information was not available on Friday. Email Maria.Puopolo@MassSchoolBuildings.org for access information. (Thursday, 10:20 a.m.)

HOUSE AND SENATE: House and Senate both plan to hold informal sessions. (Thursday, 11 a.m., House and Senate Chambers)

FINANCIAL SERVICES COMMITTEE: Joint Committee on Financial Services holds a virtual hearing on legislation dealing with auto and health insurance. Forty-seven bills are on the agenda, several of which concern health insurance coverage for specific needs such as hearing aids (S 681) and Alfi's syndrome (H 1113). A bill from Rep. Blais and Rep. Lewis seeks to require health insurance coverage for gender-affirming health care (H 4079). Several other proposals aim to increase transparency from health insurers and providers. (Thursday, 11 a.m., More Information)

TESLER CLOSES OUT MOVING TOGETHER CONFERENCE: Transportation Secretary Jamey Tesler delivers a keynote address to cap off MassDOT's three-day virtual 2021 Moving Together Conference. The final day of events will begin at 8:45 a.m. with a keynote address from PeopleForBikes Director of Local Innovation Sara Studdard followed by several breakout events. Tesler is scheduled to speak at 12 p.m., and officials will also present awards to the winners of a Safe Streets/Smart Trips high school video contest. (Thursday, 12 p.m., Registration and Event Schedule)

MILITARY SUPPORTS PRESENTATION: American Red Cross, Sen. Velis, Rep. McMurtry and the Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs hosts a presentation on support services for veterans, active military members, reservists and their families that are provided from deployment onward. (Thursday, 1 p.m., Registration)

FEMA PUBLIC ASSISTANCE PROGRAM: Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency holds the second of two webinars for nonprofits and government agencies on how they may be able to recoup costs related to the pandemic. Recent changes to the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Public Assistance Program have expanded the type of costs eligible for reimbursements. (Thursday, 1 p.m., Registration)

MBTA AUDIT AND FINANCE COMMITTEE: An audit and finance subcommittee of the MBTA Board of Directors meets virtually. The new MBTA board features several subcommittees focused on specific topics. The agenda will be posted online before the meeting. (Thursday, 2 p.m., Livestream)

GREATER BOSTON ECONOMIC OUTLOOK: Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce holds a virtual discussion on Greater Boston's economic outlook for 2022, how various industries may fare, and what indicators business professionals are watching. Panelists include Roland Fryer of Harvard University, Mike Meyran of Massachusetts Port Authority, Gordon Reid of Stop & Shop, and Penni McLean-Conner of Eversource Energy. Bloomberg's Janet Wu moderates. (Thursday, 2 p.m., Registration)

MBTA SAFETY, HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENT: A safety, health and environment subcommittee of the new MBTA Board of Directors convenes its first meeting virtually. The MBTA Board features several subcommittees focused on specific topics. An agenda for the Safety, Health and Environment Subcommittee, chaired by former MBTA deputy chief of staff and current board member Scott Darling, will be posted online before the meeting. (Thursday, 4 p.m., Livestream)

DEDHAM BRIDGE REPLACEMENT MEETING: MBTA staff host a virtual public meeting to discuss a project to replace the bridge that carries the Franklin Line over East Street in Dedham. (Thursday, 6 p.m., More information)

ABC HONORS BIG THREE: A Better City presents its Norman B. Leventhal Excellence in City Building Awards for 2021. Gov. Baker, Senate President Spilka and House Speaker Mariano will receive the award in the environment category, which Spilka's office said recognizes passage of this year's climate roadmap law. Vivien Li, past president of The Boston Harbor Association, receives the City Builder award, Stull and Lee President M. David Lee is recognized for land use, and Mary Skelton Roberts, an Energy Foundation senior vice president, is honored for transportation. (Thursday, 6 p.m., Boston Harbor Hotel, 70 Rowes Wharf, Boston)

Friday, Dec. 10, 2021

SJC DECEMBER SITTING: Supreme Judicial Court sits to hear oral arguments in two cases focused on appeals of previous judgements. More information on the cases being heard in December can be found on the SJC's calendar. Oral arguments begin at 9 a.m. (Friday, 9 a.m., Livestream)

SENATE POST AUDIT COMMITTEE - UI OVERSIGHT HEARING: Senate Post Audit and Oversight Committee convenes a virtual hearing to examine how the state's unemployment insurance system, including the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, fared during the COVID-19 emergency. The panel, chaired by Sen. Moore of Millbury, will explore the UI system after a surge of claims depleted its balance earlier in the pandemic and as lawmakers move to spend $500 million in federal relief and surplus tax money to bulk up the fund's balance. Speakers will include Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Rosalin Acosta, First Assistant Inspector General Natalie Monroe, and representatives from Greater Boston Legal Services, the AFL-CIO of Massachusetts, the National Federation of Independent Business of Massachusetts, and the Retailers Association of Massachusetts. (Friday, 1 p.m., More information)

Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021

CANNABIS SCIENCE FAIR: MCR Labs, one of the state's cannabis testing laboratories, partners with the Cannabis Center of Excellence and Boston University to host a "Cannabis Science Fair" to showcase evidence-based cannabis information with an aim to help the public see beyond the stigma around cannabis use. Dr. Peter Grinspoon of Harvard Medical School and MGH will give a keynote address. Other presentations will focus on the testing of vapor products for heavy metals and more, organizers said. "This event will bring universities, hospitals, researchers, chemists, and medical practitioners together for an evening of cannabis science exhibition and exploration that will fuel collaboration and shine a spotlight on our expanding knowledge and understanding of cannabis," MCR Labs said. Register (Saturday, 1 p.m., Boston University BUild Lab, 730 Commonwealth Ave., Brookline)

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