On Friday, Governor Baker signed into law the $1.6 billion fiscal year 2022 supplemental budget, passed by the Senate and House last week. The funding package includes $10 million to resettle Ukrainian refugees in Massachusetts and instructs the state pension fund to divest from Russian state-owned businesses. The bill also extends COVID-19 era measures, including outdoor dining and the sale of to-go cocktails.
Congress passed legislation ending the federal classification of marijuana as a controlled substance and decriminalizing possession, allowing states like Massachusetts who have already passed laws to regulate cannabis to avoid federal interruptions. The bill now moves to the Senate where it is unlikely to be passed.
The Massachusetts House of Representatives passed annual $350 million transportation funding package, known as the Chapter 90 bond bill. The legislation puts $200 million towards local road and bridge projects in each municipality across the state, and $150 million towards statewide initiatives, including bus and commuter rail infrastructure.
The Massachusetts Senate approved an internal rules extension that will allow Senators to cast their votes on major pieces of legislation remotely through the end of the formal session that ends on July 31.
The Committee on Health Care Financing, chaired by Representative John Lawn and Senator Cindy Friedman, proposed extending to June 1, 2022, the deadline by which the Committee will need to report on most of its bills. The House adopted an extension order (H 4639) on Thursday and is now before the Senate for consideration.
The Massachusetts Future of Work Commission, co-chaired by Senator Eric Lesser (D-Longmeadow) and Representative Josh Cutler (D-Pembroke), released their report. Findings from the report include a need to re-skill and up-skill workers, affordable childcare, affordable housing stock, and a more diverse and equitable workforce. During a hearing last week, members of the Commission underscored the need for workforce training programs to address the skills gap in Massachusetts.
Public health data indicates a rise of COVID-19 variant BA.2 in Massachusetts. Health officials are encouraging the public to get a third COVID-19 vaccine/booster.
The Massachusetts Public Health Council meets Wednesday. The meeting will include an update from Public Health Commissioner Margret Cooke and discussions on proposed hospital licensure regulations and local public health initiatives related to the COVID-19 pandemic.