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High speed Internet at a low price, court battle over a golf ball, more

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Chesto means business

An unlikely alliance: As a Republican, Governor Charlie Baker is often on the opposing end of the table from labor leaders. But Local 1199 of the SEIU health care union is now one of Baker’s biggest supporters — when it comes to his proposal to penalize employers that don't cover at least 80 percent of their workers.

The stated goal: to spur employers to improve their insurance options to prevent more people from joining the MassHealth plan, which accounts for about 40 percent of the state budget. But Baker’s legislation sets a high bar for companies to avoid getting whacked.
 
Business groups rained down criticism after the proposal’s January unveiling, saying well-meaning employers could be punished if many employees are insured through a spouse or parent. (One estimate shows Baker's plan eventually could cost more than $700 million a year.)

The health care union last week sent a letter to the Legislature’s top budget writers to push for Baker’s proposal. SEIU lobbyist Tim Foley says there’s no special reason why the union waited this long. The main motivation, he says, is to revive the idea of “employer responsibility,” a reference to a much less expensive fee imposed under Romneycare that is no longer in effect.

The real power here rests with House Speaker Bob DeLeo and his team as they prepare to release a new state budget next month. They’re not showing their hand. But they also remember the tech-tax disaster of 2013, when lawmakers passed a tax on software services and then promptly repealed it. They don’t want to make the same kind of mistake again.

 Jon Chesto is a Globe reporter. Reach him at jon.chesto@globe.com and follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.

Executive summary

Advertisement

Need for speed: This is exciting news for consumers looking for faster Internet that won’t break the bank. Well, at least in the 18 communities served by RCN Corp. in and around Boston.

RCN plans to offer 1-gigabit-per-second Internet for $69.99 per month. To put that in perspective, other high-speed services offered by Comcast and Verizon cost more than double that. To put it in even more perspective, the service would give a customer the ability to stream up to 200 high-definition movies simultaneously.

Faster and cheaper? That doesn’t happen very often and could very well ignite some Internet pricing wars in communities where the RCN competes with Comcast and Verizon.

California dreaming: A Waltham-based biotech has decided to cut staff and merge with a San Diego company.

From the Boston Business Journal: Cerulean Pharma is joining forces with Daré Bioscience and will operate under the Daré name and be listed on Nasdaq. Cerulean stock was down nearly 62 percent by 2 p.m. with shares selling at $1.27. It closed at $1.25. 

Cerulean is cutting its staff from 19 employees to 8 and is selling its lead cancer drugs to NewLinks Genetic Corp. in Iowa, and its platform technology to its research partner, Novartis. All of this after a significant setback in August when Cerulean's lead drug, a treatment for liver cancer, failed in a Phase 2 study. At the time, the company cut its staff from 55 to 23 employees.

A trailblazing woman: Irma Mann is being remembered as a pioneer for working mothers in business. Mann was hired by Sonesta in 1974 as a vice president for marketing after she wrote a letter to the company about her stay suggesting detailed changes the hotel could make.

Mann died from cancer on Feb. 14 at the age of 83.

Prior to joining Sonesta as an executive, Mann was music critic for the Newton Times, an associate producer at WGBH, and served as a speechwriter and aide for Governor Francis S. Sargent. She was remembered by her daughter for inspiring “so many people and young women especially.”

Wait, Costco sells the hottest golf balls?: It's true and now the warehouse giant is attempting to protect itself by suing Massachusetts-based Acushnet Holdings, parent company of Titleist golf brand, saying its golf balls don’t infringe on a patent rights owned by Acushnet.

From the Wall Street Journal: This is all about Costco selling what is the hottest golf ball on the fairways. The balls, which are sold under the Kirkland Signature brand, are cheap at $29.99 for two dozen and perform like higher priced balls.

The suit, filed Friday by Costco in US District Court in Seattle, seeks declaratory judgment against Acushnet. Acushnet has accused Costco not only of patent infringement, but also false advertising.

Super mystery solved: The case of the stolen Tom Brady jersey from Super Bowl LI has been solved with the help of the FBI. Apparently, the investigation also turned up the jersey worn by the New Englad Patriots quarterback during his previous Super Bowl win over the Seattle Seahawks two years ago.

The jerseys were allegedly taken by a credentialed member of the international media and were located in Mexico.

A tip from an informant helped lead Houston police, where the Super Bowl was held, to the recovery of the high-priced Brady memorabilia. The value of Brady’s Super Bowl LI jersey has been estimated at anywhere between $500,000 and $1 million.

No word on whether either jersey has been washed.

Trending pick

Last of a breed: David Rockefeller, who at 101 was the world's oldest billionaire, died Monday.  Rockefeller was the chief executive at Chase Manhattan Bank  during the height of its power and was known for his philanthropy.

Line items

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Growing tensions over trade:
China imposes hefty tax on American-made cars -- New York Times

Scandal hits Wells Fargo hard:
New credit card and checking accounts are on the decline -- Bloomberg

Hits penetrate Under Armour:
Brand not 'cool' enough, faces uphill run for urban market -- Business Insider

The race to a safe space:
Space tourism groups will have to write their own safety rules -- Quartz

ICYMI

Putting a dent in your checkbook: If you live in Massachusetts, it's a pretty safe bet that your auto insurance premium is about to go up even if you haven't been in a crash. 

As reported in this morning's Globe, an increase in crashes because of distracted driving (read: people who just can't live without  their smartphones for a few minutes) and more expensive technology in vehicles like computers and senors are driving up the costs.

Some companies have been given approval to raises rates an averae of 3 to 6 percent. The state's biggest insurer, Mapfre USA Corp. (aka Commerce), is boosting premiums average of 4 percent.

This all comes after a pretty good period for consumers in Massachusetts where the top insurance companies have been dropping rates in the hopes of luring new customers.

Apparently, the honeymoon is over.

This Talking Points newsletter is compiled by George Brennan. Follow George on Twitter at @gpb227If you liked what you've read, please tell your friends to  sign up.
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