Dear Friends and Neighbors,
On Tuesday, June 15, the Massachusetts COVID-19 “State of Emergency” came to an end. In the spirit of hope and resilience, we move forward carrying the insights and tools that have served us well and foster our healing. During the pandemic, many policies were instated to support cities, towns, businesses, and residents through these challenging times. These policies have proven to be assets for our communities and have use beyond COVID-19 times.
This week, I joined with my colleagues in the Legislature in voting in the affirmative on An Act relative to extending certain COVID-19 measures adopted during the state of emergency. This legislation temporarily extends critical policies and programs that have been lifelines for our communities as we evaluate how these policies can be utilized as permanent tools for our recovery.
Restaurants and small businesses in our communities have worked to provide safe services throughout the pandemic. With the restrictions on their businesses, many experienced economic losses through reduced hours and reduced capacity. To support these businesses in their recovery, this legislation extends to-go cocktails, beer, wine, and malt beverages until May 1, 2022 and allows municipalities to continue to approve requests for the expansion of outdoor dining until April 1, 2022.
Remote Public Meetings
During the pandemic, we have seen an increase in participation in our local meetings due to the increased accessibility through remote participation. While we can now come together, remote participation removes a barrier for those working non-traditional hours or who are unable to secure childcare. Consistent with the order governing open meetings throughout the state of emergency, this legislation permits, but does not require, public bodies to meet remotely until April 1, 2022. Further, it allows the Town Moderator to submit a written request to hold a remote Town Meeting until December 15. As the Legislature examines what pandemic-era policies should be made permanent, I have filed H.3152, An Act to modernize participation in public meetings, which would permanently allow for remote participation in public meetings, even if board or commission members opt to meet in-person.
Support for Caregivers
During the pandemic, many childcare centers across the Commonwealth closed permanently due to economic hardship. This, in addition to the already high cost of childcare, has made it difficult for families to find care for their children and often requiring a parent to continue to stay home. To support these caregivers, this legislation allows caregivers without childcare to collect unemployment.
Housing and Eviction Support
Having access to housing and staying home have been integral aspects to staying safe during the pandemic, but due to restrictions and other economic constraints from COVID-19, many individuals have experienced a loss of income. To protect these individuals from eviction, this legislation requires courts to grant a continuance on a nonpayment eviction, if it is due to COVID-19 related financial hardship.
In addition to what I have outlined above, this legislation also:
- Allows public corporations to conduct annual or special meetings of the shareholders remotely until December 15, 2021
- Allows the board of directors of a corporation to conduct meetings remotely until December 15, 2021
- Allows notarization of documents to be completed using electronic video conferencing until December 15, 2021
- Allows town, by vote of the select board, to reduce the number of voters necessary to constitute a quorum until December 15, 2021
- Allows health clinics to use space off premise to conduct COVID-19 testing
My Legislative District includes Needham (83%), Dover (86%) and Medfield (82%) and I am heartened by the large percentage of residents that are now vaccinated. Each day we are making many decisions as information continues to evolve and we need to be respectful of others and their decisions. In this spirit we can make this a time of hope, healing, and resiliency.
Yours in service,
13th Norfolk District