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Disagreement Forces Housing Security Bill to Conference

The Massachusetts Legislature is about to have its first conference committee of the COVID-19 era.


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Senate Session Summary - Thursday, April 9, 2020

The Senate passed two important COVID-19-related bills on Thursday, but only one of them - waiving MCAS testing requirements and easing other deadlines - made it to Gov. Charlie Baker's desk before the branches adjourned for the weekend. A bill to impose an evictions moratorium and other relief to renters and homeowners during the coronavirus emergency stalled out after the House did not agree to the Senate's language. In the upper branch, Sens. Brendan Crighton, Michael Rodrigues, and Bruce Tarr were appointed to negotiate with the House on that bill. The Senate adjourned in memory of Don Kelley, a North Shore community leader who died in March after battling COVID-19. The next sessions are scheduled for Monday at 11 a.m. - Sam Doran


House Session Summary - Thursday, April 9, 2020

In the midst of a pandemic when people are worried about losing their housing, the House and Senate have been unable to agree on a housing security bill and the House on Monday voted to stand up a conference committee to try to reach an accord with the Senate. The disagreement comes 18 days after House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Karen Spilka issued a joint statement higlighting their plans to work together on a bill to "provide a crucial safety net for renters and homeowners" during the COVID-19 crisis. The House and Senate did make progress on another issue, sending Gov. Baker a bill that would require Education Commissioner Jeff Riley to waive MCAS requirements for the current academic year. After a more than six-hour session Thursday, the House is off for the weekend and plans to return Monday. - Michael P. Norton and Chris Van Buskirk


State House Takeout Podcast

Unemployment System Catching Up To High Demand

More than 600 state employees are now working to field a record level of unemployment claims, and the administration will soon launch a Spanish-only application to remove language barriers some applicants face, Gov. Charlie Baker said Thursday.


Supports Expanded During Pandemic For Domestic Violence

Help and resources are still available for people experiencing domestic violence and sexual assault during the pandemic, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said Thursday.


Baker Open to Reducing Signature Threshold

With some campaigns turning to the courts for help as Beacon Hill drags its feet in weighing whether to relax ballot access rules, Gov. Charlie Baker said Thursday he would be open to reducing signature requirements to qualify for the ballot, particularly for county and federal office-seekers.


Gov. Charlie Baker said the COVID-19 surge in Massachusetts is on track to land somewhere between April 10 and April 20. [Photo: Sam Doran/SHNS]

New Orders Aim to Attract Staff for COVID-19 Surge

A trio of executive orders Gov. Charlie Baker signed Thursday aims to expand the health care system's capacity and ensure access to COVID-19 treatment, including in field hospitals.


Holyoke Soldiers' Home Superintendent Bennett Walsh spoke at the 2020 Iwo Jima Day ceremony at the State House. [Photo: Chris Van Buskirk/SHNS/File]

Suspended Super Says He Flagged Holyoke Home Problems

The suspended superintendent of the Holyoke Soldiers' Home, where more than two dozen veterans have died amid a coronavirus outbreak, pushed back Thursday on Gov. Charlie Baker's suggestion that the home did not properly inform his administration about the issues there.


Feds Eye More Cash, Borrowing Help for States

Talks between Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill about another "interim" COVID-19 relief package totaling between $250 billion to $500 billion fell apart on Thursday over the size and scope of the bill, but the Federal Reserve outlined $500 billion in new lending that could help Massachusetts and other states address potential cash shortfalls.


Logistical Hurdles Compound State Budget Challenges

In an alternate universe, Beacon Hill is anxiously waiting to see which direction the House will take when it rolls out its fiscal year 2021 budget next week and lawmakers are busy preparing hundreds of amendments for debate later this month.


New Orders Aim to Help Staff Up For Surge

[Story Developing] Gov. Charlie Baker on Thursday signed three executive orders intended to expand the state's health care capacity as it prepares for a coming surge in COVID-19 cases.


New Rule Extends Life of Uncashed Gaming Prizes

Massachusetts gaming regulators granted a reprieve Thursday to any gamblers whose unclaimed winnings are close to expiring.


Third Wave of Jobless Claims Crashes Nationwide

New unemployment claims remained at near-historic levels this week in Massachusetts and nationwide, and the Federal Reserve on Thursday morning took sweeping action to direct $2.3 billion in relief loans to help businesses and state and local governments address cash flow needs.


Spilka Still Seeking “Consensus” To Address Ballot Access Concerns

Senate President Karen Spilka has a BYOP policy for the nomination papers sitting on a table on her porch -- bring your own pen. Spilka, an Ashland Democrat, said she got many of the 300 voter signatures she needs to secure a spot on the September primary ballot before the coronavirus crisis hit Massachusetts.


New Mass. Jobless Claims 18 Times Higher Than Pre-Virus Level

[Story Developing] New unemployment claims in Massachusetts remained elevated but dropped from record levels last week, while federal officials reported nearly a repeat of the never-before-seen surge in demand amid the coronavirus outbreak, according to data released Thursday morning.


Uncaptioned image for story:Senate Bill Directs Waiver of MCAS Requirements

Senate Bill Directs Waiver of MCAS Requirements

[Coverage Developing] State Education Commissioner Jeff Riley would be required to waive MCAS requirements for the current academic year, under COVID-19 legislation that could emerge for a vote in the Senate on Thursday.


Culture Council Distributing $1 Mil in Emergency Funds

The Massachusetts Cultural Council will direct almost $1 million in emergency funding to nonprofits, cultural institutions and individual artists facing coronavirus-induced economic strain.


Gas Project Construction Continues in Weymouth

The construction of a major natural gas infrastructure project in Weymouth is one effort that hasn't been hindered by the coronavirus pandemic.


Seven Dead, Infections Widespread at Wilmington Home

Residents of a Wilmington nursing home that was targeted last week for a transition to COVID-19-only care have themselves become infected by the respiratory disease in large numbers, and seven have died.


"We see evidence that we're still on the upward slope of this pandemic," Gov. Charlie Baker said at his COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday. [Photo: Matt Stone/Boston Herald/Pool]

Mass. Still Climbing “Upward Slope” of Pandemic

With the surge of coronavirus infection weeks, if not days, away from washing over Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker on Wednesday said the state had not yet seen the peak and urged residents not to grow "complacent" as he announced a new mobile testing site in West Springfield and legislation to protect health care workers from lawsuits.