COVID-19: Massachusetts State House Update 3-19-20
- The State House remains officially closed to the public.
- The House and Senate are both scheduled for informal sessions at 11am today.
- Informal sessions are being live streamed.
- Legislative activity is expected to continue and possibly be active in coming days, we continue to be on regular contact with legislative leadership on behalf of clients via phone, email and text.
- Additionally both the House and Senate have established working groups to continue to identify legislative priorities dealing with the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak.
- House Speaker DeLeo sent an email to representatives and staffers yesterday to let them know that a House employee who last worked in the State House on Thursday had since tested positive for COVID-19.
- Lawmakers finished work on Wednesday on legislation to waive a one-week waiting period for people affected by COVID-19 and the related state of emergency to apply for unemployment benefits, and the governor quickly signed it into law.
- Massachusetts residents filed nearly 20,000 new unemployment claims on Monday, topping the total from the entire month of February.
Please see the links at the bottom of this email for direction on unemployment and SBA loans in MA & CT.
- House Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Aaron Michlewitz is preparing the FY 21 state budget acknowledging it is unlike any other and that maintaining the traditional schedule is highly unlikely.
- Options reportedly being considered include settling an new revenue estimate, pre-conferencing or partially pre-conferencing the budget so that leaders in both branches are in broad agreement before it goes to the floor of either branch, or having the governor file a one-month spending extension now to keep government running through July to give legislators more time to adjust and plan for an uncertain future.
- The governor held a press conference yesterday at the State House announcing that all early education and child care centers in Massachusetts must close by March 23, and that the state will instead open emergency child care programs with priority access set aside for workers “critical” to fighting the pandemic.
- Baker also announced relief for small businesses, especially those in the restaurant and hospitality industries, by postponing sales, meals and room occupancy tax due dates until June 20 for those who paid less than $150,000 in those taxes.
- Legislators will accept written testimony only on bills they plan to move this week, including several proposals from Gov. Charlie Baker to allow workers to begin collecting unemployment aid without a one-week waiting period.
- Boston Mayor Marty Walsh is not yet ordering the city to shelter in place, but he left open the possibility of such an order.
- The state’s Medicaid program is in line to receive an additional $1.08 billion under a coronavirus relief package that cleared Congress on Wednesday.
- The more than $1 billion in increased reimbursements would pad a budget of a more than $16 billion at an agency that provides health coverage to nearly 2 million low-income and disabled residents. The federal share of the MassHealth budget is typically over $8 billion.
Federal COVID 19 Activity
Massachusetts Unemployment insurance info specific to COVID 19—
Connecticut Unemployment insurance info specific to COVID 19—
Massachusetts SBA loan information and portal
Connecticut SBA loan information and portal