Friday, March 23, 2023
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I want to share some of my work this week in working on and voting for a supplemental budget bill. The bill invests $388.6 million to address several time sensitive needs for an array of programs relied on by some of the most vulnerable residents of the Commonwealth, including $130 million for SNAP food assistance benefits to provide a path for families who were receiving enhanced SNAP benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic, $68 million for the Early Education C3 stabilization grant program, $65 million for the continuation of free school meals, $45 million for emergency shelter assistance, and over $40 million to support affordable housing for immigrants and refugees. Other measures funded in the bill include:
- $2 million for the preparation and execution of the 114th National NAACP conference, which is taking place in Massachusetts in 2023
- $1 million for a public awareness campaign to educate the public about the misleading tactics of so-called crisis pregnancy centers and their lack of medical services
- $250,000 for Reproductive Equity Now’s free abortion-related legal hotline.
The bill also authorizes $740.3 million in capital expenditures to support economic development projects. Notably, these include $400 million for the MassWorks Infrastructure Program, which provides grants to cities, towns, and other public entities for infrastructure projects, and $125 million for state matching funds to compete for federal grant opportunities, including those funded through the CHIPS and Science Act, which encourage innovation in Massachusetts.
Recognizing the societal shifts that have taken place during the pandemic, the bill also addresses several pandemic-era related measures, including:
- Permanently allowing public corporations and nonprofits to hold certain meetings by means of remote communication
- Permanently allowing notaries public to conduct remote online notarization using communication technology
- Extending the ability of graduates and students in their last semester of nursing education programs to practice nursing in accordance with guidance from the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing
- Extending popular pandemic-related provisions including outdoor dining services, and beer, wine and cocktails to-go for a year
- Extending the ability of public bodies to allow remote participation by members in public meetings
- Extending flexibilities given to municipalities to allow for representative town meetings to be held in hybrid or fully remote capacities and that authorize reduced in-person quorum requirements
- Extending the ability of nurses employed by assisted living residences to provide skilled nursing care in accordance with valid medical orders, provided the nurse holds a valid license to provide such care.
The supplemental budget includes the following provisions related to the end of the public health emergency on May 11, 2023:
- Temporarily extending flexibility on ambulance staffing
- Temporarily extending the ability of staff of a community program to administer prepackaged medications if in compliance with DPH guidance
- Temporarily extending staffing flexibilities related to dialysis providers.
Having been passed by the Senate and the House, the supplemental budget now goes to the Governor for her signature.
Yours in Service,