Legislative Update – July 18, 2022

Jul 18, 2022

Last week:

The Massachusetts Senate passed their version of the $10.84 billion transportation infrastructure bond bill, which built on the $9.7 billion version of the bill filed by Governor Baker in April. The Senate included $275 million to advance East-West rail, $400 million to address safety concerns on the MBTA, and requires the Authority to launch a free or reduced fare program. The House of Representatives passed their own version of the $10.4 billion bond bill last month.

The Boston Public Health Commission is encouraging indoor masking as COVID-19 positivity rates increased by nearly 40 percent in the past week, and hospitalization rates for COVID-19 increasing 25 percent in the past week.

Massachusetts currently faces a shortage of more than 5,000 registered nurses in acute care hospitals. According to a new study by the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association, temporary nurses are filling some of the vacancies, but not enough to address the growing shortage. Vacancy rates for hospital nursing staff are currently more than double the pre-COVID-19 level.

Harvard’s proposal to develop a cumulative 900,000-square-feet of offices and labs, residential, and commercial space in Allston moved forward last week. The Boston Planning and Development Authority (BPDA) approved plans for Harvard’s Enterprise Research Campus with an agreement that at least 25% of on-site residential units will be affordable – nearly double the 13% citywide minimum for affordable housing and the largest percentage ever agreed to by a private developer

This week:

Massachusetts legislative leaders reached a compromise on the $52 billion fiscal year 2023 (FY23) budget. The bill is expected to pass the Senate and House of Representatives on Monday and includes an extension to the copay assistance sunset, a critical cost-saving program which allows Massachusetts residents to use prescription drug coupons. The current law is due to sunset on January 1, 2023. Additionally, the FY23 budget increases state revenue by $2.66 billion and includes $266 million for safety measures on the MBTA.

On Monday, the Massachusetts Joint Transportation Committee holds an oversight hearing about the recent Federal Transit Administration report on MBTA safety. Transportation Secretary Jamey Tesler and MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak are expected to testify. Livestream the hearing here.

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