COVID-19 Massachusetts State House Update 5-5-20

May 5, 2020

  • As of Monday night, DPH reported a total of 69,087 cases of COVID-19.
  • The state has now confirmed a total of 4,090 deaths from the virus.
  • Since its formation last week, the reopening advisory board has received more than 475 submissions of written testimony and spoken with representatives from 23 different industry groups and community coalitions, which together represent more than 100,000 businesses and more than 1.4 million workers.
  • Fields represented in the conversation so far include retail, the high-technology sector, life sciences, restaurants, travel, tourism and lodging, banking, construction and recreation.
  • The panel plans discussions in the coming days with representatives from labor, gaming, museums, cultural organizations and sports organizations.
  • The advisory board has also met virtually with the Black Economic Council, the NAACP and the Latino Chamber of Commerce.
  • The governor said child care and transportation will be “key enablers” of a safe and successful reopening, and the board is developing next steps for those sectors as well.
  • The state’s public transit system has been operating during the pandemic, but not at its full scope, and non-emergency child care programs in Massachusetts are closed until June 29 under a Baker order.
  • House Republicans and Democrats on Monday reached a breakthrough in negotiations and adopted rules allowing for remote formal sessions, the first of which is scheduled for Wednesday.
  • The proposed compromise rules are attached.
  • Monday’s session also featured the announcement of eight division monitors who will help orchestrate remote sessions from within the House chamber.
  • Lawmakers also advanced a version of Governor Baker’s H. 4593, which the House is expected to further consider during Wednesday’s formal session at 11 a.m.
  • Roll call votes begin at 1 p.m.
  • The Senate on Monday approved a coronavirus-response bill that would allow for quorum reductions at such gatherings, enable representative town meetings to meet virtually, and permit town meetings to take place outside the municipality’s geographic borders.
  • The bill, S 2673 now moves to the House.
  • House and Senate lawmakers have until the end of Tuesday to take up four proposed laws submitted through the initiative petition process.
  • If they do not act, which appears to be the likeliest outcome, campaigns pushing for the laws will need to collect 13,347 signatures by July 1 to force November ballot questions.
  • Tuesday is also the new deadline for a range of candidates to file nomination signatures needed to ensure access to the Sept. 1 primary ballot and Nov. 4 general election ballot.
  • On Tuesday, the Judiciary Committee is accepting written testimony from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on five bills related to the COVID-19 pandemic and a Sen. O’Connor domestic violence prevention bill (S 2571). The COVID-19 bills address topics including decarceration (H 4652), price gouging (H 4664) and protections for institutions that provide emergency aid (H 4659, S 2644). The committee is also accepting testimony on a Rep. Frank Moran bill (H 4658) that would authorize remote notarizations, an issue addressed in a law Gov. Baker signed on April 27.
  • Both the Gaming Commission and the Cannabis Control Commission meet remotely on Thursday.  Agendas to be announced.
  • U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said he hoped the so-called “Phase Four” relief bill would be ready for consideration in the House next week, despite the White House’s top economic advisor over the weekend talking about the administration’s desire for a “pause” on stimulus spending.
  • Congress has already approved roughly $3 trillion in spending to support states, hospitals, businesses and families hurt financially by the measures taken to control the spread of the coronavirus. Still, states are bracing for an unprecedented decline in tax revenues as a result of widespread business closures.
  • The Massachusetts roadway fatality rate doubled in April, officials said Monday as they described a “disturbing trend” of increased driver recklessness on streets where congestion has evaporated during the pandemic.
  • Department of Transportation officials counted 28 deaths across local roads and highways in Massachusetts last month, one more than the 27 fatalities in April 2019 despite 50 percent fewer vehicle miles traveled.
  • Investigators believe speed or distraction were involved in most of the fatal crashes.
  • While the data are preliminary, officials believe more motorists are driving unsafely because they are now “seeing an open road.”
  • Bristol Sheriff Thomas Hodgson’s office said a group of 10 Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees refused to get tested for COVID-19 despite reporting symptoms, then “rushed violently” at the sheriff and damaged their unit.
  • Groups including the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition have called for an investigation into the incident that resulted in the hospitalization of three detainees.
  • Delaying the implementation of a new school funding law and reducing a planned boost in state pension system contributions are among the ideas that the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation is proposing to help the state deal with budget stresses.  Their letter is attached.
  • A group of protestors, mostly not wearing any face coverings, gathered outside the statehouse yesterday to voice their opposition the public health measures implemented by the Baker administration.
  • Super Happy Fun America, the group behind the 2019 Straight Pride Parade that drew more counter protesters than participants, identified itself as one of the rally’s hosts.
  • Other participants included that relative or high school classmate you already blocked on Facebook and a bunch of middle age guys with facial hair.

Share This