COVID-19 Massachusetts State House Update 4-18-2020

April 18, 2020

UPDATED SBA Assistance and Relief Post

Leave Provisions in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

  • As of Friday night, DPH reported a total of 34,202 cases.  The state has now confirmed a total of 1,404 deaths from the virus.
  • The House and Senate both met in session on Friday.
  • Legislation placing a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures during the state of emergency (H 4647) is heading to Governor Baker’s desk on Friday after several delays.
  • House lawmakers also enacted legislation (S 2640) that would provide liability protections for health care workers and facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Final enactment votes in Friday afternoon’s Senate session sent Governor Baker a pair of bills related to COVID-19.
  • One (H 4647) establishes an eviction on moratoriums and foreclosures during the public health crisis, and the other (S 2640) provides new liability protections to health care professionals, including those working in the handful of field hospitals that have been set up around the state.
  • It appears highly likely that he will sign both bills into law, Governor Baker has previously indicated that he was supportive of the evictions legislation and the liability legislation closely mirrors the language his administration filed this week.
  • The SJC issued its ruling one day after hearing oral arguments in a lawsuit brought by three candidates running for offices with the highest and lowest requirements for collecting the signatures of voters.
  • The decision, written by Chief Justice Ralph Gants, ordered that requirements for all candidates seeking to appear on the Sept. 1 primary ballot be reduced by 50 percent in order to ensure easier access to the political process for office-seekers struggling to collect signatures from voters during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The court also extended the deadline for candidates for state and county offices to submit signatures to local election clerks from April 28 until May 5, and will allow for some use of electronic signatures.
  • The new May 5 deadline is consistent with the deadlines for candidates running for federal office.
  • Boston Marty Walsh said that a decision on whether to keep Boston’s schools closed through the end of the academic year should come “in the next few days” and could parallel a statewide announcement.
  • Under Governor Baker’s current order, Massachusetts districts must stay closed through at least May 4 to limit the spread of COVID-19.
  • Mayor Walsh said Friday that his office is still engaged in conversations with Baker about lifting or extending the order.
  • The House and Senate will both meet again in informal sessions on Tuesday after the Patriots Day holiday.

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