On Friday, May 28, Governor Baker signed into law House Bill 3702 (Chapter 16 of the Acts of 2021), legislation financing a program for improvements to the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund and providing relief to employers and workers in the Commonwealth. The legislation will allow businesses to avoid steep spikes in unemployment insurance taxes this spring and summer by spreading the cost over the next 20 years. It also creates a new $75 million emergency COVID-19 sick leave program offering workers up to one week of paid leave, capped at $850, to quarantine, recover from the virus, get vaccinated, or care for a sick family member.
The Massachusetts Legislature continued to consider what action to take relative to extending pandemic-era policies that are due to expire on June 15. The Senate Committee on Ways and Means, currently considering legislation filed by Governor Baker that looks to continue some of these policies beyond this deadline, solicited written public testimony on this bill through 5pm on Tuesday.
Also in Massachusetts, Governor Baker announced on Thursday that all seven of Massachusetts’ mass vaccination sites would close by mid-July and the state will focus efforts to target unvaccinated residents.
In Washington, D.C., the House Ways and Means Committee announced it will hold a hearing on Tuesday on President Biden’s proposed fiscal year 2022 budget, and the Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on the budget on Thursday. Both hearings include Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra. The full budget recommendations can be found online, here, and includes funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), health equity, community health centers, Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H), and the National Institutes of Health, among other health-related proposals.
In Massachusetts on Monday, the House and Senate leaders named their respective conference committee members to negotiate the final fiscal year 2022 budget ahead of the start of the new fiscal year on July 1. The committee includes: Representatives Aaron Michlewitz, Ann-Margaret Ferrante, and Todd Smola in the House, and Senators Michael Rodrigues, Cindy Friedman, and Patrick O’Connor, in the Senate.