Legislative Update: Week of June 20, 2022

Jun 21, 2022

Last week:

The Massachusetts House unanimously passed legislation intended to improve access to mental and behavioral health services. The House’s vote Thursday comes after the Senate unanimously passed a bill last November aimed at knocking down barriers to mental health care. The two bills (H 4879, S 2584) would require insurers to cover an annual mental health wellness exam. They each include measures aimed at ensuring compliance with existing mental health parity laws, though the bills differ in their approaches to doing so. A conference committee of both House and Senate members will be appointed to iron out these differences.

The question on benefits for drivers for companies including Uber and Lyft will not be on the Massachusetts ballot this fall, according to a decision by Supreme Judicial Court Justice Scott Kafker, who ruled that the question had “confusingly vague and open-ended provisions.” The proposed ballot question was around whether to continue classifying these drivers as independent contractors.

The MBTA announced a reduced weekday service on the Red, Orange, and Blue Lines. The announcement comes on the heels of the Federal Transit Administration’s safety review of the MBTA. Staffing requirements will result in trains running less frequently.

The Massachusetts Legislature passed a voting reform package that ensures mail-in voting and early voting provisions used during COVID-19 remain in place through state law. The legislation is now before Governor Baker for his consideration.

This week:

On Wednesday, the Health Policy Commission’s Advisory Council meets to review data and to discuss the agency’s upcoming report on the utilization and cost of telehealth, which the Legislature directed the HPC to conduct.

On Friday, the joint legislative committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets will hold a virtual public hearing on the proposed $1.2 billion economic development bill.

The MBTA will host a virtual public hearing on Thursday to discuss a two-year pilot making bus service free of fares on the Routes 23, 28 and 29 in Boston.

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