Legislative Update: Week of February 21, 2022

Feb 22, 2022


The Massachusetts House of Representatives passed legislation allowing Massachusetts residents without proof of lawful presence to apply for a driver’s license; known as the Work and Family Mobility Act. The legislation passed the House with at least two-thirds of support from Representatives; a veto-proof majority should Governor Baker choose to veto the legislation. The bill now moves to the Senate, where Senate President Karen Spilka has indicated her support for the legislation.

The Massachusetts Senate members rise to leadership positions with updated Committee Chair assignments:

  • Senator Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn) is Chair of the Transportation Committee, a leadership position vacated by Joe Boncore’s departure from the Senate in September 2021 to become CEO of MassBio.
  • Senator Paul Feeney (D-Foxborough) is Chair of the Financial Services Committee.
  • Senator Senator Nick Collins (D-Boston) is Chair of the Bonding, Capital Expenditures, and State Assets Committee.
  • Senator Lydia Edwards (D-Boston) is Chair of the Community Development and Small Business Committee.
  • Senator John Keenan (D-Quincy) is Chair of the Senate Committee on Intergovernmental Affairs.
  • Senator Mike Rush (D-Boston) is Chair of the Senate Committee on Personnel and Administration, also made vacant by Boncore’s departure.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health updated their mask advisory, encouraging indoor mask use for those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and have a weakened immune system or are at risk of severe disease, due to underlying condition or age, and for those who live with someone with these conditions. DPH also encouraged indoor mask use for those who are not fully vaccinated and those who live with someone who is not fully vaccinated. This advisory comes on the heels of recent positive progress on COVID-19 indicators, including vaccination rates.

In Washington, the Senate confirmed Robert Califf as FDA Commissioner in a 50-46 vote. Califf briefly served as chief of the Food and Drug Administration during the Obama Administration. The FDA is responsible for regulating pharmaceuticals, food, and cosmetics.

Massachusetts State Representative Joseph Wagner (D-Chicopee), Second Assistant Majority Leader, announced that he will not run for re-election in November. Wagner, who was first elected to the House in 1991, serves as House Chair of the bi-cameral Biotechnology Caucus, has been a leader on the Life Sciences Initiative, and served as Chair of the Economic Development Committee.

Danielle Allen ended her campaign as Democratic candidate for Governor of Massachusetts. Two Democratic candidates for Governor remain, Attorney General Maura Healey (D-Charlestown) and State Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz (D-Boston). On the Republican side, Wrentham businessman Chris Doughty and former State Representative and Republican nominee for US Senate Geoff Diehl (R-Whitman) are seeking their party’s nomination. 

The mental health care workforce shortage persists in Massachusetts, according to results of a recent survey by the Association for Behavioral Health. The workforce shortage has left 67 percent of surveyed behavioral health care providers taking nine months or more to fill a psychiatrist position, and 14,000 individuals on waitlists to receive outpatient services.

57 percent of workers will look for another job if their company doesn’t offer a remote work policy, according to a BBJ/Seven Point survey of our 300 Boston-area business leaders. The survey, which asked long-term plans and workers’ preferences for in-person, remote, and hybrid work models, also found that over half of respondents would prefer to work in the office two or three days per week.


The Massachusetts State House reopens to the public on Tuesday. Visitors must wear masks and provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within 24 hours to enter the building.

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