COVID-19 Massachusetts State House Update 4-14-20

April 14, 2020

  • As of Monday night, DPH reported a total of 28,867 cases, more than double the 10,402 reported last Friday.  The state has now confirmed a total of 844 deaths from the virus.
  • High winds and heavy rain on Monday caused widespread power outages across the Commonwealth.
  • As of Tuesday morning more than 50,000 households still remain without power, down from over 100,000 on Monday.
  • At 10am Administration and Finance Secretary Michael Heffernan and the Joint Ways and Means Committee chairmen plan to connect with a group of economists and others involved with state budgeting to get a better idea of the ramifications that the shutdown of the economy in response to COVID-19 will have on state revenues and budget planning for next year, as well as effects this fiscal year.  The hearing will be livestreamed.
  • The Legislature had its first zoom committee hearing on Monday afternoon.
  • Lawmakers considered testimony on legislation that would boost cash benefits available to low-income residents at a Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities virtual hearing.
  • Governor Baker met remotely on Monday afternoon with legislative leadership.
  • The House and Senate both met on Monday and are scheduled to meet again this week.
  • The House is scheduled to be in session on Wednesday and the Senate on Thursday.
  • Governors from northeastern states joined together Monday in their own regional pact to focus on putting people back to work as it becomes safe to do so, mirroring a similar effort on the West Coast. Massachusetts was not included in the initial announcement, but New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said in an afternoon press release that Governor Baker would join him and other governors in the effort.  The states include MA, RI, CT, NY, PA, NJ and DE.
  • Candidates for public office in Massachusetts continue to juggle public health concerns with their own requirements as a bid to lower ballot access signature thresholds stalled Monday on Beacon Hill.
  • House leaders have not given any indication of where they stand on the issue, and a Senate bill lowering signature requirements for U.S. Senate, Congressional, Governor’s Council and many county offices failed to advance Monday in the Senate due to an objection from Senator Ryan Fattman (R-Sutton), who said senators had not adequately collaborated on the bill.
  • Senate President Karen Spilka hopes to get a housing security bill to Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk this week.
  • The House and Senate last week passed different versions of an eviction moratorium bill, which will now be reconciled via a conference committee.
  •  The Joint Committee on Financial Services is now accepting written testimony by email on a bill Governor Baker filed last week to provide additional liability protections to health care providers during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The bill, according to the Governor’s office, provides protections for workers staffing field hospitals, like those set up at the DCU Center and the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, and protects health care professionals from liability and lawsuits “when the care that they provide is impacted by the COVID-19 emergency.”
  • Massachusetts marijuana regulator Kay Doyle is stepping down from the Cannabis Control Commission for a private sector job, the agency announced Monday.

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