Legislative Update – Week of September 19, 2022

Sep 20, 2022

Last week:

President Joe Biden was in Boston on Monday to announce his Cancer Moonshot initiative, where he also shared his plans to invest more than $2 billion in the biotechnology sector. Along with the funding, Biden introduced Dr. Renee Wegrzyn, as the first Director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H).

The Coalition for Health Advances and Research in Massachusetts, known as CHARM, officially launched last week. CHARM is a coalition of industry, government, hospitals, and higher education leaders working to promote Massachusetts as the best place to headquarter ARPA-H. MassBio CEO Joe Boncore shared with Axios, “what Massachusetts is known for is the small innovative companies that are taking on the hardest science and ultimately coming out with cures that will change the course of humanity, change health care and help patients.”

The Joint Committee on Transportation held its second oversight hearing of the MBTA last week. Betsy Taylor, the chair of the MBTA Board of Directors, underscored a need for long-term funding in her testimony. Meanwhile, the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) plans to double their staff working on MBTA oversight.

Massachusetts residents who paid personal income taxes in the 2021 tax year will receive refunds this fall from the state’s $2.9 billion in excess tax revenue. The refunds are triggered by a 1986 law, which requires excess tax revenue to be returned to taxpayers. The Baker Administration has launched a Tax Refund Estimator, with refunds expected to begin in November.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky testified that there is a decline in the growth of new monkeypox cases during a U.S. Senate hearing on the federal response to monkeypox.

This week:

The Orange Line is running on Monday following a month-long shutdown to allow for safety and infrastructure improvements. The MBTA worked “to replace track and signal infrastructure” on the Orange Line to comply with action required by the Federal Transit Administration. MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said these maintenance measures created “a faster, safer, more reliable Orange Line.”  Green Line service from Government Center north towards the Union Square extension also resumes on Monday. As the MBTA continues to provide infrastructure updates, Green Line commuters could face additional suspensions in service, including planned shutdowns on the Green Line D branch this fall. All service changes, including planned shutdownscan be found on the MBTA website.

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