COVID-19 Massachusetts State House Update 3-20-20

March 20, 2020

O’Neill and Associates has assembled a package of federal and state guidance on COVID 19 are regularly updating on our site – please save this link and refer back for new information–

  • The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency at the Department of Homeland Security issued the attached guidance on essential infrastructure and workforce. The federal government stops short of making this a mandate, leaving the possibility for states and localities to make their own decisions.
  • The State House remains officially closed to the public.
  • There are no legislative sessions scheduled for today, both the House and Senate have informal sessions scheduled for Monday at 11am.
  • The sessions will be live streamed.
  • Legislative activity is expected to 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 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.
  • Legislators will accept written testimony only on bills for the near term.
  • Boston Mayor Marty Walsh is not yet ordering the city to shelter in place, but he left open the possibility of such an order.
  • Governor Baker called up the Massachusetts National Guard yesterday, activating 2,000 members to assist with the state response to the coronavirus.
  • House and Senate leaders plan to postpone the four special elections scheduled for March 31st and will pass legislation Monday to give cities and towns increased flexibility to delay local elections planned for the spring and allow for voting by mail.
  • Massachusetts is one of seventeen states with an active legislature still in session with response to COVID-19 dominating the near term agenda.

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