April 23, 2020
SENATE LEGISLATIVE ACTION
The Senate enacted S.2645 – An Act providing for virtual notarization to address challenges related to COVID-19
The Senate enacted H.4503 – An Act relative to strengthening the local and regional public health system
The Senate engrossed S.2647 – An Act providing assistance to vulnerable populations during the COVID-19 emergency. A summary of this legislation is as follows:
- For the period of time from the passage of this act until 120 days after the passage of this act, or later if postponed by the Governor, or 45 days after the termination of the governor’s March 10, 2020 declaration of a state of emergency, whichever is sooner:
- Prohibits the Department of Transitional Assistance from denying a family assistance under Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children solely because the family’s countable resources exceed $5,000; and
- Prohibits the Department of Transitional Assistance from denying a person assistance under Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled and Children solely because the person’s countable resources exceed the allowable limit.
- Authorizes the Governor to postpone the expiration of this act in increments of not more than 90 days; provided that any extension shall not extend past 45 days after the termination of the state of emergency.
This bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Federal Government Updates
Disaster Recovery Information
On March 27, the President declared a Major Disaster Declaration for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts related to the COVID-19 pandemic response. Through this declaration, federal aid will be made available to cities and towns, state agencies, and certain non-profits in all Massachusetts counties to help pay for emergency protective measures (response costs) related to the COVID-19 pandemic. MEMA’s Recovery Unit has developed a website with information and guidance regarding the disaster declaration, eligibility criteria, and the application process.
Federal disaster aid information can be found here: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-federal-disaster-declaration
Coronavirus Relief Package Passes Congress
WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress delivered a nearly $500 billion infusion of coronavirus spending Thursday, rushing new relief to employers and hospitals buckling under the strain of a pandemic that has claimed almost 50,000 American lives and one in six U.S. jobs. Read article.
Baker Administration Updates
Health Connector Enrollment Update
If a constituent does not have health insurance, or if they have health insurance that was bought somewhere other than the Health Connector, now is a good time to look at options to see if they can find a more affordable plan. The extended enrollment period continues through May 25 for people to apply for health insurance, without needing a qualifying event, and April 23rd is the payment deadline for May 1 coverage. Constituents can learn more at http://MAhealthconnector.org
Updated Information and FAQs on Pandemic EBT
The Department of Transition assistance provided updated information and frequently asked questions regarding the pandemic EBT program. That information can be found here: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/pandemic-ebt-p-ebt
Food Security Task Force Launched
Secretary Sudders announced today that the Baker-Polito Administration, though the COVID-19 Command Center has launched a Food Security Task Force today with membership from state agencies, the Legislature and other partners such as Greater Boston Food Bank, Project Bread, MA Restaurant Foundation, the Shah Foundation, and representatives from communities of faith. The task force will work to coordinate resources and communication across sectors, stakeholder group, and government at all levels to ensure food insecurity and issue related to the food supply chain are addressed.
The Goals of the panel are to:
- Identify immediate needs to be addressed across the state
- Maximize nutrition program access, enrollment and participation
- Create and implement plans that address all regions of the state and their unique challenges in the food supply chain, short and long term
- Explore creative partnerships to maximize resource available in the Commonwealth
The Task Force will present their recommendations to the Governor by the end of this month.