As protests engulf the nation and Boston, some turning violent, much of the focus early in the week will be on response and reaction. Attention will shift away from business re-openings, planned legislative action, and election matters like tonight’s scheduled debate between Senator Ed Markey and Congressman Joe Kennedy III.
- Boston Mayor Marty Walsh details recommendations for business reopening today at his noon press conference
- On Saturday, Governor Charlie Baker will announce phase two reopening details which hinge on this week’s COVID-19 data.
- Democratic caucuses planned Tuesday for both Massachusetts legislative branches; House plans formal session on Wednesday
- Three virtual hearings this week: The Joint Committees on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, Health Care Finance and Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities
- Rent control bill is on the move in the Legislature
- Ban on menthol and other flavored tobacco goes into effect today
Reopening the Commonwealth:
- Face coverings, socially distanced workspaces, limited elevator use, and one-way foot traffic could all be common sights under Mayor Walsh’s detailed recommendations for commercial spaces opening in Boston today. As offices slowly begin to repopulate and commuters fearful of COVID-19 surges on public transit, will Boston’s traffic get worse than ever? Watch Mayor Walsh’s noon press conference to hear more.
- The data from this week will determine if the reopening will proceed to phase two next week. The Baker Administration will announce Saturday when/if phase two will actually begin.
At the State House:
- BREAKING: The Joint Committee on Housing voted late Friday to recommend passage of a bill allowing cities and towns to impose rent control and other tenant protections, effectively undoing a 1994 ballot measure that banned rent control in Massachusetts. While there are many additional legislative hurdles the bill needs to clear before becoming law, it’s the furthest a rent control measure has advanced on Beacon Hill in years. While Governor Charlie Baker was opposed to this bill when it was first filed, housing advocates believe the committee’s vote signals legislative support.
- The Massachusetts House of Representatives plans to debate an expansive voting options bill that was released by The Joint Committee on Election Laws late Friday. Among other provisions, the bill directs the Secretary of State to mail an application by July 15 to every registered voter so they can choose to request a ballot for both the September 1 primary and November 3 general elections as well as create an online portal for registered voters to request a mail-in ballot to be sent to their homes. There were more than 4.58 million residents registered to vote in the March presidential primary.
- The Senate does not currently have a formal session scheduled for this week.
- Today: The Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy is hosting a virtual hearing and will accept only written testimony on Senator Pacheco’s gas infrastructure and public safety bill as well as several land transfers.
- Tuesday, June 3: The Joint Committee on Health Care Financing will accept testimony on a COVID-19 MassHealth expansion bill filed Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa (D-Northampton) until 4 p.m. Interested parties may submit testimony. The bill would allow for MassHealth coverage for anyone who has qualified for unemployment benefits and anyone directly impacted by COVID-19 state of emergency declarations.
- Friday, June 5: Beginning at 3 p.m, The Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities will hold a virtual hearing on a bill filed by Rep. Mindy Domb (D-Amherst) to create a COVID-19 local food access emergency fund. The bill would direct the Department of Transitional Assistance to administer a $50 million emergency fund to provide financial assistance to food pantries severely affected by COVID-19.
BAN IN EFFECT:
- In November 2019, Massachusetts became the first state in the country to prohibit the retail sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol and mint cigarettes; the ban takes effect today.