State Legislative Updates

Elections

S2653 - An Act relative to voting by mail and early voting

Unemployment

S2618 - An Act providing additional support to those affected by the novel coronavirus through the unemployment insurance system

Municipal Relief

 

H4598 - An Act to address challenges faced by municipalities and state authorities resulting from COVID19

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

H4616 - An Act to further address challenges faced by municipalities, school districts and state authorities resulting from COVID-19

Housing

H4615 - An Act providing for a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures during the COVID-19 emergency

Notaries

S2645 - An Act providing for virtual notarization to address challenges related to COVID-19

Public Assistance

S2647 - An Act providing assistance to vulnerable populations during the COVID-19 emergency.

Elections

S2653 - An Act relative to voting by mail and early voting

Text of Bill

Will protect our communities and the right to vote by allowing every eligible voter in Massachusetts the option to request a mail-in ballot during the state’s early voting period. These mail-in ballots would be accepted by the town clerk up until polls close on Election Day this November. Also expands early voting opportunities to include the State’s primary election, while also maintaining the ability to vote in person at the polls with appropriate public health protocols.

Unemployment

S2618 - An Act providing additional support to those affected by the novel coronavirus through the unemployment insurance system

Text of S2618

The components of the bill are as follows:

 

Lifting the Cap on Dependency Allotment.  This bill eliminates the 50% cap for the dependency allotment providing additional benefits to low-income families. This increase will be in addition to the $600 per week benefit add-on provided for in the CARES Act for all workers eligible for state or federal benefits.

 

Currently, UI recipients are entitled to an additional $25 per week for each child in the family, capped at 50% of a recipient’s base allotment. The result is that workers with particularly low allotments, such as low wage workers, can easily be capped out of receiving these additional amounts.

 

Non-Profit Contribution Grace Period.  Presently, many non-profits self-insure for unemployment claims. This means that when layoffs in the sector occur, non-profits pay the cost of those benefits dollar for dollar at the next billing period. This bill provides a 120-day grace period for non-profits to make these contributions. This delay will allow the state to review additional changes that are warranted to mitigate the impact on non-profits. The CARES Act provides 50% reimbursement for self-insured benefit payments during the Coronavirus crisis.

 

Protection for Employers.  Employers who participate in UI pay contributions based on their layoff experience. Like other forms of insurance, employers that are more likely to have workers use unemployment compensation are asked to pay more in the system. The system does not anticipate a situation where employers across a number of sectors have been forced to significantly reduce their workforces due to situations outside of their control. This bill prevents layoffs related to coronavirus from negatively impacting employer’s future UI contributions.

 

Extending Unemployment Benefit Period.  The number of weeks of unemployment compensation available in Massachusetts is tied to unemployment rates around the state. This trigger did not anticipate a situation, however, in which unemployment grows rapidly in a very short period of time. This bill ensures that the 30-week benefit period is triggered by a significant uptick in weekly unemployment claims.

Municipal Relief

 

H4598 - An Act to address challenges faced by municipalities and state authorities resulting from COVID19

Summary of H4598

Text of H4598

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

The legislation includes guidelines for public notification of rescheduled election dates, voter registration deadlines, absentee ballots processing, and the display of sample ballots. The legislation:

  •  Allows municipal governments to postpone caucus or certain elections scheduled before May 30, 2020 and reschedule the caucus or elections to a date prior to June 30, 2020.

  • Allows any eligible voter to vote early by mail for elections occurring before June 30, 2020.Full

See Full Text

H4616 - An Act to further address challenges faced by municipalities, school districts and state authorities resulting from COVID-19

The State Legislature passed, and the Governor signed, key legislation providing cities and town with direction and relief from certain State education requirements.  The bill allows the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to modify or waive high school graduation competency requirements and requires the Department to waive MCAS requirements for the 2019-20 academic year.  It also authorizes the certification of a 1/12 local school budget if the full budget is delayed past June 30, and extends the deadline for school districts to submit their plans to address educational disparities.  

 

See Full Text 

Housing

H4615 - An Act providing for a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures during the COVID-19 emergency

The State Senate bill adopted on April 9th prohibits most evictions and foreclosures during the declared public health emergency to ensure that people are able to stay safely in their homes for the duration of the crisis.  Two key components include placing a moratorium on all stages of the eviction and foreclosure processes for 120 days, and requiring mortgage lenders to grant a forbearance of up to 180-days if a homeowner demonstrates a significant financial impact from COVID-19. The bill now goes to a Conference Committee to resolve differences with a recent House bill.

See Full Text

Notaries

Remote notarization of business and real estate documents will be allowed under legislation passed this week. The bill, S2645, authorizes a notary public to utilize electronic video conferencing in real time instead of appearing in person. Transactions, including real estate, documents and wills, will now be able to be completed remotely.

Public Assistance

Many families need additional assistance as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.  The Senate passed legislation this week that would assist families seeking emergency assistance through TAFDF or EAEDC by allowing assistance even when "countable resources" exceed current limits.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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