With just over a week to go until the COVID-19 state of emergency is set to end, the Senate appears poised to act this week to extend some pandemic-era policies that would otherwise expire with the emergency.
The Senate on Monday teed up legislation dealing with the emergency’s end for a Thursday debate, with amendments due to be filed by Wednesday. The bill is slated to emerge Tuesday from the Senate Ways and Means Committee, and while its specific provisions are not yet clear, the Senate indicated it will be based on both Gov. Charlie Baker’s bill (S 2452) that would extend measures around outdoor dining, virtual public meetings and medical billing for COVID-19 care, and a Sen. Will Brownsberger bill (S 27) around municipal elections and town meetings.
Last week, the committee received about 380 pieces of written testimony on the pair of bills. Some of the comments spoke specifically to the components proposed by Brownsberger and Baker, while others offered broader thoughts on other temporary measures, including greater flexibilities for physician assistants and the authorization for restaurants to sell cocktails to-go.
Whatever bill the Senate takes up this week may not be the only venue for extending COVID-19 adaptations longer-term. The House in late May formed a working group to develop legislative recommendations, and bills on topics like remote town meetings are pending before joint committees.
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