The last two weeks of July, in even years, historically marks the end of a two-year legislative session. With the issues confronting our nation, this year’s pile of work was even more epic. State Representative Dan Ryan believes the Legislature has risen to the moment with a flurry of COVID-19 legislation, housing protections and public safety reforms. Another major part of the end of session equation amounts to legislative house-keeping, such as home rule petitions, which are municipal initiatives that by statute require legislative cooperation.
“These are important bills that are specific to each municipality or town. Legislative sign-off is built into the law to ensure consistency across the Commonwealth.” said Rep. Ryan “These bills are usually non-controversial, involving matters of land swaps, public facility usage and bridge & park namings, but still have to work their way through the process. The term ‘dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s’ comes to mind.”
“These bills also present an opportunity to work with my municipal colleagues such as the City Councilors, City Manager Ambrosino, Mayor Walsh and others in municipal government, as well as my partners in the Legislature, Representative RoseLee Vincent and Senator Sal DiDomenico,” continued Ryan.
Earlier this summer, the Legislature approved and the Governor signed a petition to name the playground at Mary O’Malley Park for Jack Fraser, a long-time park advocate, US Army Veteran and Chelsea resident. The most recent municipal initiative to make its way to the Governor’s desk was for the Innes Street Public Housing reconstruction. A similar petition for The Bunker Hill Housing development is still in progress, along with a couple other petitions for both Chelsea and Charlestown that need to be finalized.
“These bills are a compilation of 18 months, or sometimes years’ worth of work. They are not flashy or pretty. Taking steps in a process are not going to light up a Twitter or Facebook feed. Moving these bills is a lot of work, across legislative chambers and with municipal government. In the end, passing a home-rule for your locality is as gratifying and meaningful as passing sweeping landmark legislation,” Ryan stated.
Then he added, “This is an example of why the legislative recess is good. You need deadlines. Most jobs have deadlines. We can always come back and fix things, but some of these items need the finishing touch now.”
Some of the more sweeping referendums that the Legislature has taken up this past week include an Economic Development/COVID-19 Recovery package, A Resilience In Healthcare Act and a NextGen Climate Policy. As of this writing, these bills were still working their way between the House and Senate, but, thus far, have some good COVID-19 Recovery initiatives for the Commonwealth, as well as specific resources for both Chelsea and Charlestown. Representative Ryan also stated that COVID-19 and Economic Recovery have been the overwhelming theme since March.
“We are not out of the woods yet. But, I do believe Massachusetts answered the call better than most states, as we usually do. A tremendous amount of resources was deployed to the most heavily affected areas and populations, including Chelsea and parts of Charlestown. A full list of emergency COVID-19 related bills as well as other legislation from earlier this session are included here, some are still awaiting final passage.
- An Act making $15 million in Appropriations for the Fiscal Year 2020 to Provide for Supplementing Certain Existing Appropriations Relating to the Coronavirus (H.4561)
- An Act to Further Address Challenges Faced by Municipalities, School Districts and State Authorities Resulting from COVID-19 (H.4586)
- An Act to Address Challenges Faced by Municipalities and State Authorities Resulting from COVID-19 (H.4616)
- An Act Providing for a Moratorium on Evictions and Foreclosures During the COVID-19 Emergency (H. 4615)
- An Act Granting Authority to Postpone 2020 Municipal Elections in the Commonwealth and Increase Voting Options in Response to the Declaration of Emergency to Respond to COVID-19 (S.2608)
- An Act Authorizing Waiver of the One Week Waiting Period for Unemployment Benefits (S.2599)
- An Act to Facilitate the Delay of the Income Tax Filing Deadline (H.4677)
- An Act Providing Additional Support to Those Affected by the Novel Coronavirus Through the Unemployment Insurance System (4648)
- An Act addressing COVID-19 data collection and disparities in treatment (H.4672)
- An Act financing the general governmental infrastructure of the Commonwealth (H.4733)
- An Act Relative to Voting Options in Response to COVID-19 (H.4762) – [Mail-in ballots]
- An Act Relative to Long Term Care Facility and Elder Housing COVID-19 Reporting (H.4667)
- An Act addressing challenges faced by food and beverage establishments resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic (H.4767)
NON-COVID Related Bills from Earlier in Session
- An Act Relative to Educational Opportunity for Students (S.2412)
- An Act to Lift the Cap on Kids (H.3594)
- An Act to Support Improved Financial Stability in Higher Education (H.4099)
- An Act Requiring the Hands-Free Use of Mobile Telephones While Driving (H.4203)
- An Act Modernizing Tobacco Control (H.4196)
- An Act Relative to Abusive Practices to Change Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in
- An Act Relative to Children’s Health and Wellness (H.4210)
- An Act Relative to Campaign Finance (H.4223)
- An Act Relative to Strengthening the Local and Regional Public Health System (H.4503)
- An Act to reduce racial inequities in maternal health (H.4448)
- An Act Relative to Transportation Finance (H.4530)
- An Act Authorizing and Accelerating Transportation Investment (H.4506)
- An Act Relative to the Host Community Agreements (H.4367)
- An Act Relative to GreenWorks (H.3997)
- An Act Regarding Breakfast After the Bell (H.4218)
- An Act to Protect Persons with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities from Abuse (S.2367)