CORONAVIRUS / COVID-19 UPDATE #9
Friday, April 3, 2020
I hope you are staying well and practicing extensive social distancing.
Great news - the municipalities bill that I’ve been shepherding through the legislative process is now passed and signed into law! (Here’s the final language.) The bill does a whole bunch of important things to ensure our local and regional governments keep functioning and providing services to Bay Staters:
creates significant budget flexibility, particularly important for towns that can’t have Town Meeting right now to pass a Fiscal Year 2021 budget;
extends the time frame for holding Town Meetings;
grants extensions for permits, hearings, and other deadlines, including a temporary lift on any constructive approvals;
allows municipalities to extend the deadline for property taxes and waive penalties on any late payments of taxes or fees; and
contains an important equity provision that prohibits the termination of any essential municipal service – including water, sewer, and trash collection – for a resident who is unable to pay local taxes or fees. In this uncertain time of job loss and insecurity, the last thing our government should do is prevent vulnerable residents from washing their hands.
By the way, this bill also carried the income tax extension from April to July, and lets everyone order beer and wine as part of your takeout order from local restaurants! A great way to continue to help your local businesses stay afloat during these trying economic times.
In addition to my extensive and ongoing work as the Senate Chair of the Municipalities Committee, I’ve also been advocating for decarceration, a stay at home order (not an advisory), shutting down non-essential construction, medical privileges for clinicians licensed in other countries, robust protections for medical professionals and first responders who are fighting this thing on the front lines, and more. I’m hearing from constituents daily, and I am giving voice to our shared concerns and disappointment with the executive management of this crisis.
Here are the numbers, as of today, Friday, April 3:
Additional COVID-19 statistics are provided by DPH. These numbers are updated daily at 4pm.
Other important updates regarding COVID-19 in the Commonwealth:
Revenue: The coronavirus outbreak has hit our economy hard, and we don’t yet know the extent of the impact just yet. On Tuesday, April 7, at 10:00 a.m., the Chairs of the Senate and House Committees on Ways and Means, along with the Secretary of Administration and Finance, will host a virtual economic roundtable to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the fiscal health of the Commonwealth. All of our revenue forecasts need to be significantly adjusted.
Unemployment: A record 181,062 people filed unemployment claims in the last week of March. Currently, the Massachusetts state government awaits complete guidance on rolling out our allocation of the federal government’s $2 trillion stimulus package (the CARES Act). Although we are waiting for the executive branch, my team and I compiled resource pages on unemployment and support for small businesses.
Expanding Out of Hospital Births: We are experiencing an unprecedented demand for home births as pregnant people seek to reduce their exposure to COVID-19 in hospitals. I am working with my colleagues in the legislature and midwifery advocates to advance key provisions of my midwifery licensure bill quickly to expand access to home birth.
- Have you filled out the 2020 Census? The census count determines the amount of federal funding that Massachusetts receives to support so many important things: schools, roads, fire departments, hospitals, health care programs, and much more. Every person that isn’t counted translates to a loss of roughly $2,400 in federal funds, every year, for a decade. The COVID-19 pandemic negatively impacts our ability to collect accurate and complete census data, so If you haven't already, fill out the census for everyone in your household and remind your friends and family to do the same. Check out my #CensusDay2020 video here:
My team and I are all working overtime and are here for you. Call us at 617-722-1555 or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and one of us will get back to you as quickly as we can.
Wishing you and your families strength, health, and resilience.
Yours in service,
Senator Becca Rausch