COVID-19 Massachusetts State House Update 6-3-20

June 3, 2020

  • As of Tuesday night, DPH reported a total of 101,163 cases of COVID-19.  The state has now confirmed a total of 7,085 deaths from the virus.
  • Governor Baker will make an additional announcement on the timing of the implementation of Phase 2 on Saturday, June 6th.
  • There were large protests last night in Boston but they remained peaceful.
  • Protests in Brockton were more tense with protesters and police exchanging fireworks and tear gas.
  • The Massachusetts National Guard said Tuesday that it has placed a soldier on inactive status and is investigating claims that he posted to social media that he “can’t wait to shoot” rioters.
  • The Office of Campaign and Political Finance has been without a permanent director for over five months, despite this being an election year.
  • A spokeswoman for Secretary of State Bill Galvin said that since the shutdown of the State House on March 16 the committee has been unable to meet to conduct interviews, but plans to do so as soon as that becomes possible again.
  • In the meantime, the staff of OCPF has been working remotely under the supervision of division heads.
  • The Senate adopted a new version of the municipal governance legislation, S.2733, which now goes back to the House.
  • The legislation would ease restrictions on certain special municipal funds, allow the state education commissioner to issue emergency educator licenses, and allow municipal elections originally scheduled before June 30 to be rescheduled past July 31.
  • Representative town meetings would also be able to institute reduced quorums, something originally only applied to open town meetings.
  • The Tuesday Senate session was scheduled at the last minute on Monday, after the upper chamber sent the House a new draft of the municipal bill.
  • The Senate gave final approval Tuesday to a bill providing for insurance benefits for surviving spouses and dependents under 26 of Boston firefighters who are killed or die from injuries or illness received in the line of duty (S 1483).
  • The next session is scheduled for Thursday morning.
  • The House on Tuesday advanced legislation addressing early voting and voting by mail, as well as restaurant operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The House Ways & Means committee has changed the vote-by-mail bill released last week by a joint committee, adding a measure requiring pre-paid postage on return envelopes that would be provided to registered voters so that they wouldn’t have to pay to return their applications for a ballot or to vote by mail in the September and November state elections.
  • The House Ways and Means Committee released an amended version of the bill (H 4762) for members to vote on Tuesday morning in preparation for an expected debate on Wednesday afternoon.
  • The committee is still working on cost estimates for its bill.
  • Restaurants would be able to sell cocktails with to-go orders and the fees third-party delivery services charge restaurants would be capped under an industry relief bill that began moving in the House on Tuesday.
  • It includes a provision waiving late fees and interest on delayed meals tax payments and language around municipal approval for outdoor dining and alcohol service.
  • Restaurants and bars, which are already allowed to sell limited quantities of beer and wine with takeout and delivery food orders during the COVID-19 state of emergency, would also be allowed, to sell mixed drinks to go, in sealed containers and with customers limited to 64 ounces of mixed drinks per transaction.
  • The bill would bar third-party delivery services from charging restaurants a fee per online order that exceeds 15 percent of the order’s purchase price.
  • The House meets next in a formal session on Wednesday at 11 a.m.
  • Legislation standardizing immunization requirements and monitoring in Massachusetts cleared a hurdle last week by earning the support of the Public Health Committee.
  • The legislation would authorize the DPH to set an immunization schedule for all child care, K-12 schools, summer camps and higher education, shift responsibility for managing medical or religious exemptions from districts to the DPH, call for collection of statewide data, and require covered programs to inform families whenever rates fall below a herd immunity level.
  • In the special legislative election to replace the Republican Taunton Mayor Shaunna O’Connell in the House, Democrat Carol Doherty bested Republican Kelly Dooner. In the other House special election to replace former Rep. Jen Benson, Democrat Danillo Sena beat Republican Catherine Clark.

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