COVID-19 Massachusetts State House Update

April 29, 2020

  • As of Tuesday night, DPH reported a total of 58,302 cases.
  • The state has now confirmed a total of 3,153 deaths from the virus.
  • Most public life in Massachusetts will remain shut down until at least May 18th, but the state could begin a cautious “phased reopening” after that point based on forthcoming recommendations from a new panel, Governor Baker announced Tuesday.
  • Governor Baker extended two executive orders, one requiring non-essential businesses to keep their physical businesses closed to workers, customers and the public and another prohibiting events with more than 10 people.
  • He also extended an advisory that residents stay at home for public health safety whenever possible.
  • Without action, the orders were set to expire on May 4th.
  • Lt. Governor. Karyn Polito and Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy will lead a new 17-member advisory board tasked with drafting the guidelines for reviving economic activity and easing stay-at-home recommendations.  This goal is to have the report in place for May 18th.
  • The Re-Opening Advisory Committee consists of the following members:
  • Aron Ain, CEO, Kronos Inc & Ultimate Software

 

  • Carlo Zaffanella, Vice President and General Manager, Maritime & Strategic Systems, General Dynamics Mission Systems

 

  • Corey Thomas, CEO, Rapid 7

 

  • Daniel Rivera, Mayor, City of Lawrence

 

  • Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, Massachusetts General Hospital

 

  • Girish Navani, CEO and Co-Founder, eClinicalWorks

 

  • Joe Bahena, Senior Vice President, Joseph Abboud Manufacturing

 

  • Kathryn Burton, Chief of Staff, City of Boston

 

  • Laurie Leshin, Ph.D., President, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

 

  • Linda Markham, President, Cape Air

 

  • Mark Keroack, President & CEO, Baystate Health

 

  • Monica Bharel, Ph.D., Commissioner, Department of Public Health

 

  • Nicole LaChapelle, Mayor, City of Easthampton

 

  • Pamela Everhart, Head of Regional Public Affairs and Community Relations, Fidelity Investments

 

  • Stephanie Pollack, Transportation Secretary and CEO

 

  • Steve DiFillippo, CEO, Davios Restaurants

 

  • Wendy Hudson, Owner, Nantucket Book Partners

 

  • House Democrats discussed the proposed rules package to allow for remote debate and voting that will be considered at the informal session this morning.  There was opposition from the House GOP and some Democrats and the original rules package is said to be revised before it is considered.

 

  • The House plans to take up a bill on Thursday that would allow the state to borrow money this fiscal year and not pay it back until June 31, 2021 as a means of bridging gaps in the state’s cash flow and tax collections.
  • House Minority Leader Brad Jones said that his caucus will not go along with the adoption of the original rules as proposed by DeLeo and his leadership team.
  • If the Republicans do delay adoption of rules, it could delay a planned vote on a bill (H 4593) that Governor Baker filed and said is needed to “protect the state’s budgetary and cash balances during the ongoing emergency” and “to relieve pressure on the taxpayers of Massachusetts.”
  • The House GOP leader said Republican concerns include the 10 a.m. deadline to sign up to debate, a limit on how many times a member can be recognized, and a change to the threshold needed to get a roll call vote.
  • When it comes to the fiscal year 2021 budget, the rules package would require that the House Ways and Means Committee report the fiscal year 2021 budget out by July 1, 2020, which is the first day of the new fiscal year.
  • The rules package also includes much of the language that is typically adopted as part of an order governing budget debate, like specific instructions for a consolidated amendment process.
  • House Speaker Robert DeLeo announced Tuesday evening that the new rules being considered by the chamber to allow for remote participation during the coronavirus pandemic will be altered to remove a provision that would have made it harder to ask for a roll call vote.
  • The House plans to meet next on Wednesday at 11 a.m. in an informal session.
  • MBTA officials signed off Monday on $212 million in added costs to the now-reset rollout of an automated fare collection system, finalizing plans to implement the technology.
  • Fiscal and Management Control Board members voted 4-0 to approve a contract amendment that raises the total project cost from $723 million approved under the initial contract to $935 million.
  • Lawmakers have two months to agree on the makeup of the entity to succeed the MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board, and if they do not, the existing Department of Transportation Board will automatically be granted governance powers, officials said Monday.
  • Under existing law, the five-member FMCB that Gov. Charlie Baker created in the wake of the disastrous 2015 winter and then extended will expire on June 30.
  • The SJC on Tuesday urged the Baker administration to consider how it could commute sentences, furlough prisoners or allow early parole to “mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth’s prison system,” but denied a request from defense attorneys to stay the sentences of non-violent offenders and those nearing the end of prison terms.
  • Congressman Stephen Lynch’s primary challenger Brianna Wu announced Tuesday that she would discontinue her campaign for Congress.
  • He still faces a primary challenge from two other Democrats, including Massachusetts General Hospital physician Robbie Goldstein, who just successfully sued to reduce the signature threshold to qualify for the ballot.
  • The industry group that represents convenience stores is asking the Legislature and governor to delay the implementation of restrictions on the sale of flavored tobacco products, including mint and menthol cigarettes.
  • A new executive order from Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera threatens a $300 fine for anyone older than 5 years old who does not wear a face mask or face covering in certain settings. Rivera’s announcement Tuesday, in conjunction with the Lawrence Board of Health, is a response to the city’s continually high coronavirus counts.

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