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  • Friday, February 25, 2022 3:20 PM | Anonymous

    Sweeney Departing After Seven Years at Lottery’s Helm

    Top Exec Oversaw Record Profits, Modernization Efforts

    Colin A. Young2/25/22 10:31 AM

    FEB. 25, 2022.....The executive director who has steered the Massachusetts Lottery through its most profitable years and pushed to modernize the agency is departing next month for a job in the private sector.

    Michael Sweeney, who has led the Lottery since 2015, informed Treasurer Deb Goldberg in a letter this week that he intends to resign from his position effective March 8. He told the News Service that he has accepted a new job, but did not say where or what position he would hold.

    "Seven years is long enough for one individual to lead a major public agency, particularly given the organizational transformation of the Massachusetts State Lottery over that time period," Sweeney wrote in the letter. "The current Lottery is strong, modernizing and positioned for future growth. With 70% of the current fiscal year completed, the Lottery is on track to once again set records for overall sales and profits."

    Before 2016, Sweeney said, the Mass. Lottery had never turned a profit of $1 billion or more for the Legislature to dole out as aid to cities and towns across Massachusetts. But since fiscal year 2017, the Lottery has set and broken numerous sales and profit records and has topped the $1 billion mark three times. The agency is expected again to generate at least $1 billion for local aid this fiscal year.

    "I want to thank Michael for his countless contributions to the Massachusetts State Lottery over the last seven years, and am grateful for his prior service at the State Treasurer's Office," Goldberg, who oversees the Lottery, said. "I wish him well in all his future endeavors."

    Goldberg said she has appointed Mark William Bracken to serve as interim executive director of the Lottery as she begins a search for a more permanent leader for the agency. Bracken has worked in the Treasury since 2011. He is currently an assistant treasurer and director of the state's Unclaimed Property Division.

    During his time leading the Lottery, Sweeney oversaw the move of the Lottery from its longtime headquarters in Braintree to Dorchester, the retirement of the large old blue Lottery terminals and the installation of more than 7,500 new retail terminals, the adoption of new policies meant to crack down on ticket cashers who help winners avoid tax or child support payments, and the implementation of a ticket scanning and prize claiming app, which Sweeney said was "the most significant lottery advancement since the introduction of instant tickets in the 1970s."

    Sweeney was not able as executive director to secure the authorization for the Lottery to sell its products online, something he and Goldberg have vocally advocated for years. At various times, Sweeney compared the Lottery without an online presence to an old rotary phone -- "revolutionary in its time" but also "a little bit clunky" -- and to the Titanic -- "We have been doing very well, but what I like to remind people is that the night before the Titanic hit the iceberg, it was setting a new record for crossing the Atlantic Ocean."

    Before joining the Lottery, initially as an interim executive director who was to assist with the search for a permanent leader, Sweeney had served as deputy general counsel for the Massachusetts State Treasury since 2010. He previously worked as planning director in Lawrence, where he also served on the city council. Sweeney is a Lawrence native and is an alumnus of the University of Massachusetts Amherst and City University of New York Law School.


  • Friday, February 11, 2022 1:19 PM | Anonymous



    February 10, 2022

    Martignetti Companies, New England's leading distributor of wines and spirits, today announced the formation of a new Corporate Fine Wine Division that will focus on expanding the Company's fine wine business across Massachusetts. This expansion allows us to take a more specialized approach with our portfolio and offer more consultative services for our customers and supplier partners.

    This new division will be led by the newly promoted Corporate Fine Wine Director, Dennis Gilligan, who brings more than twenty years of industry experience to the position. Reporting to Dennis will be three Corporate Fine Wine Specialists, Jessica Brennan, Ashley Kompass, Lois Leonard, and Brad Fichter, Corporate Wine Educator. Gilligan will report to Michael Martignetti, Senior Vice President, Wine.

    The new team will engage and support our fine wine supplier partners. With a strategic focus on the corporate fine wine portfolio, our fine wine suppliers will gain enhanced access to fine wine customers and, thus, will be well positioned to meet their needs. 

    "Focusing on Fine Wine is of the highest priority at Martignetti Companies, this new team is evidence of our strong commitment to the future growth for our fine wine business and support for our fine wine supplier partners and customers," said Chris Conrad, President, Sales and Marketing.

    "We are thrilled to announce the additional support and investment into our fine wine business," said Michael Martignetti, Senior Vice President, Wine. "The foundation of Martignetti Companies lies in our fine wine portfolio. This new team is a strategic effort to enhance our focus both for our supplier partners and statewide customers."

    The members of the Corporate Fine Wine Division will be integral to our internal wine education programs. They will work closely with all wine divisions and our suppliers to further increase their knowledge of fine wines and develop customized training programs for our customers. Our goal is to continue to offer our customers insight into the world of fine wine and support their journey to continue to grow and thrive as the demands of the marketplace change.

    About Martignetti Companies

    Established in 1908, Martignetti Companies is the leading distributor of wines and spirits in New England and the 6th largest in the country. Based in Taunton, Massachusetts, the Company currently operates in five New England states: Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine.

    For more information, visit www.martignetti.com



  • Thursday, January 27, 2022 8:04 AM | Anonymous
  • Tuesday, December 21, 2021 11:53 AM | Anonymous

    Beverage alcohol sellers are required to verify the age of consumers to ensure alcohol doesn't fall into the hands of minors, and states are on the lookout for businesses that fail to verify age in the proper way.

    Age verification requirements for direct shippers are set by each state, yet only about seven states have explicit requirements for verifying age for direct-to-consumer (DTC) sales. The remaining states prohibit sales of alcohol to minors but may not have explicit guidelines detailing how direct shippers must verify the age of consumers.

    When a transaction takes place face to face, it's easy to ask for the consumer's identification. Verifying age is more difficult for online sellers, but there are four key age verification processes available for direct shippers:

    1.    Affirm the age of the consumer before they shop by restricting access to digital content

    2.    Collect the purchaser's date of birth, which is required on some returns

    3.    Verify the purchaser's age

    4.    Require the deliverer to inspect identification and obtain a signature at the point of delivery


    The following states have clear age verification guidelines for direct shippers of alcoholic beverages.

    Arizona. Licensees must verify the purchaser is at least 21 years of age by obtaining a copy of a valid photo identification as prescribed in section 4-241, subsection K. Alternatively, a licensee may use an age verification service.

    Georgia. Licensees must require the person placing the beverage alcohol order to "state affirmatively that he or she is of the age required by Code Section 3-3-23" and verify the age of the orderer either by physically examining an approved government issued form of identification or by using an approved online age and identification service.

    Indiana. Licensees must obtain proof that the consumer is at least 21 by checking a state or federal government issued identification card. If in-person verification isn't possible, a photocopy or facsimile copy that's mailed or electronically transmitted is acceptable, as is a computer scanned, electronically transmitted copy. Alternatively, the licensee may use an age verification service. Direct wine shippers must tell carriers to verify the recipient of an alcohol shipment is at least 21 as well. Records must be maintained for two years.

    Kansas. Licensees must require the person placing the order to "state affirmatively that he or she is 21 years of age or older." Additionally, the licensee must verify the age of that person "either by the physical examination of an approved government issued form of identification or by utilizing an internet based age and identification service approved by the director of alcoholic beverage control, or the director's designee." Kansas provides a list of approved internet-based age and identification service providers.

    The carrier is responsible for obtaining the signature of an adult who is at least 21 years of age "as a condition of delivery."

    Michigan. Licensees must verify the age of the individual placing the order by obtaining a copy of a photo identification issued by this state, another state, or the federal government, or by using an identification verification service (several have been approved by the Michigan Liquor Control Commission). Michigan also requires the person receiving and accepting the order on behalf of the qualified retailer to record the name, address, date of birth, and telephone number of the individual placing the order on the order form or other verifiable record of a type and generated in a manner approved by the commission and provide a duplicate to the commission. For alcohol deliveries, recipients must show identification verifying their age and sign for delivery.

    Oklahoma. Licensees must require consumers to verify, "by electronic means or otherwise," that the consumer is at least 21 years of age. Direct wine shippers must ensure the deliverer or common carrier obtains the signature of a person aged 21 or older.

    South Dakota. Direct shippers must verify the age of the person placing the order by obtaining a copy of the person's valid age-bearing photo identification document issued by this state, another state, or the federal government, or by using an age verification service. The direct shipper must also record the name, address, date of birth, and telephone number of the person placing the order on the order form or other verifiable record. Finally, the direct shipper must notify the person placing the order that the recipient is required to show a valid age-bearing photo identification document issued by this state, another state, or the federal government upon delivery.


    Failure to confirm the age of customers is risky for businesses.

    States periodically engage in sting operations to determine whether beverage alcohol sellers are checking identification as required. The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control runs a well-publicized Minor Decoy Program to "reduce the number of licensees who sell alcohol to minors and reduce youth access to alcohol." For the first offense, a business can be fined or have its license suspended. The license is automatically suspended after a second offense and may be revoked after a third offense. The Oregon Legislature is looking to require the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission to develop uniform standards for a similar minor decoy program.

    The South Dakota Department of Revenue is required to penalize businesses that sell alcohol to minors, with penalties ranging from $500 to $2,000 and/or suspension of license. Recently, the state sent emails to direct shippers reminding them to renew their licenses, register all products, and verify the age of consumers. It advised direct shippers to either obtain a copy of every customer's identification at the point of sale (and retain it for three years) or use an age verification program to ensure customers are actually of age. The department also warned that failure to verify age as required could lead to a $1,000 fine per shipment - a penalty the department issued a few times in 2021.

    In a nutshell, direct shippers must do more than ask customers to check a box stating they're 21 or older.

    Similarly, the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission recently issued warning letters to some licensees. The letters explain that Massachusetts prohibits sales of alcoholic beverages to persons under 21 years of age under M.G.L. c. 138 §19F, and that the commission could impose the following penalties:

    ·         First violation: 180-day suspension of the direct shipper license or a fine of $1,000, or both

    ·         Second violation: 1-year suspension of the direct shipper license or a fine of $2,000, or both

    ·         Third, or subsequent violations: 2-year suspension of the direct shipper license or a fine of $5,000, or both

    The commission then encouraged recipients to ensure their company accepts orders and payment for alcoholic beverages only from persons who are 21 years of age or older.

    One way to ensure age verification is to contract with a third-party age verification service provider.


    The fact that age verification is required puts direct shippers in a tricky spot because verifying the age of the consumer generally requires a transfer of sensitive personally identifiable information, such as a driver's license or passport. As Avalara for Beverage Alcohol General Manager Jeff Carroll notes, copies of these documents must then be maintained for up to four years for audit purposes - and protected.

    Using an age verification service like Avalara Age Verification for Beverage Alcohol allows you to obtain the information you need to verify the age of consumers without the added burden of storing that information in your business systems. Visit Avalara for Beverage Alcohol to learn more.


  • Friday, December 10, 2021 8:12 AM | Anonymous
  • Monday, December 06, 2021 11:49 AM | Anonymous

    Massachusetts minimum wage is increasing in January; And another raise is coming in 2023

    Updated: Dec. 03, 2021, 12:59 p.m. | Published: Dec. 03, 2021, 12:56 p.m.

    By Heather Morrison | hmorrison@masslive.com

    In less than a month, the Massachusetts minimum wage will be increasing to $14.25.

    In 2021, the minimum wage in the commonwealth was $13.50, which had increased from 2020′s wage of $12.75.

    The consistent yearly increases will continue through 2023 when the minimum wage will be $15.

    “Minimum wage will go up in steps to reach $15 per hour in January 2023,” the Massachusetts government website states.

    Tipped minimum wage, however, is different.

    Currently tipped employees minimum wage is $5.55. It was increase in January to $6.15.

    “This rate will go up in steps to reach $6.75 per hour in January 2023,” the website states.

    A tipped employee is considered anyone who makes more than $20 a month in tips. However, they must receive at least the overall minimum wage, which is currently $13.50, when tips and wages are combined.

    “If the combined wages and actual tips do not at least equal the regular minimum wage, the employer must pay the employee the difference,” the state said.

    The federal minimum wage is much lower than the commonwealth’s.

    Currently, the federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, which began July 24, 2009.

    Certain businesses have also begun raising their own minimum wages.

    Costco increased its minimum wage from $16 an hour to $17. Bank of America raised its minimum hourly wage to $21 with a plan to go to $25 per hour by 2025. CVS Health is also increasing its minimum hourly wage to $15 an hour starting July 2022.

  • Wednesday, December 01, 2021 10:47 AM | Anonymous

    Baker and Polito Both Pass on 2022 Guv Race

    Campaign for Corner Office Wide Open with 11 Months to Go

    Matt Murphy12/1/21 10:11 AM

    STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, DEC. 1, 2021.....Gov. Charlie Baker, a two-term Republican who at his peak was one of the most popular governors in the country, will not seek a third term, throwing wide open the 2022 race for the state's top political office after close to two years of managing through a global pandemic.

    Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, who was widely considered to be the heir to the Baker political legacy, has also decided against a run for governor in 2022, dramatically reshaping the contest on the Republican side and, perhaps, clearing a path for Attorney General Maura Healey to enter the race on the Democratic side.

    "After several months of discussion with our families, we have decided not to seek re-election in 2022. This was an extremely difficult decision for us. We love the work, and we especially respect and admire the people of this wonderful Commonwealth. Serving as Governor and Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts has been the most challenging and fulfilling jobs we've ever had. We will forever be grateful to the people of this state for giving us this great honor," Baker and Polito said in a joint statement.

    Baker began telling friends and allies of his decision over the past 24 hours, and informed his Cabinet during a meeting Wednesday morning. The governor and lieutenant governor, in their statement, cited the need to focus on building an economic recovery as Massachusetts emerges from the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    "We have a great deal of work to do to put the pandemic behind us, keep our kids in school, and keep our communities and economy moving forward. That work cannot and should not be about politics and the next election. If we were to run, it would be a distraction that would potentially get in the way of many of the things we should be working on for everyone in Massachusetts. We want to focus on recovery, not on the grudge matches political campaigns can devolve into," Baker and Polito said.

    Republican Geoff Diehl, a former state lawmaker, has already entered the race for his party's nomination with the endorsement of former President Donald Trump, and three Democrats -- Harvard professor Danielle Allen, former state Sen. Ben Downing, and Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz -- are also running.

    Healey, the popular Democratic prosecutor, is also weighing a bid and could be more inclined to enter the fray with Baker out of the running. She has previously said she hoped to make a decision about her political future this fall.

    In addition to the polarized political environment, both Baker and Polito said the pandemic helped them realize the importance of taking time for family and friends after the grind of eight years leading the state.

    "Done right, these jobs require an extraordinary amount of time and attention, and we love doing them. But we both want to be there with Lauren and Steve and our children for the moments, big and small, that our families will experience going forward," the pair said.

    Recent polling has suggested that Baker could fair well in hypothetical matchups against the Democrats running or thinking about running, but he would also face a potentially bruising Republican primary as his relationship with the base of his party has frayed in the Trump era.

    Baker did not support Trump during either of the former president's runs for the White House, and Baker's approval ratings are stronger among Democrats and independents than with voters in his own party.

    Though it has been suggested in some political circles that Baker could run as an independent in 2022, the governor has brushed that notion aside, professing a belief in his brand of Republicanism molded under his political mentors former Govs. Bill Weld and Paul Cellucci.

    "We are determined to continue to put aside the partisan playbook that dominates so much of our political landscape – to form governing partnerships with our colleagues in local government, the Legislature, and the Congressional delegation. That bipartisan approach, where we listen as much as we talk, where we focus our energies on finding areas of agreement and not disagreement, and where we avoid the public sniping and grandstanding that defines much of our political discourse, allows us to make meaningful progress on many important issues," Baker and Polito said.

    Baker would have been the first governor in recent memory to run for three terms. The last governor to serve three four-year terms was Democrat Michael Dukakis, though his terms were non-consecutive.

    [This is a developing story.]



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