Legislative Update: Week of March 28, 2022

Mar 28, 2022


Moderna has requested FDA authorization for their COVID-19 vaccine for children from 6-months-old to 6-years-old. If emergency authorization is granted, the Cambridge-based biotech company will be the first to have a vaccine for that age group available for distribution in the U.S.

Ridership on the MBTA commuter rail has increased in March to 49 percent of pre-COVID-19 levels. The MBTA rapid transit system is currently at 46 percent of pre-COVID-19 levels across all lines. The uptick in commuter rail ridership may also be attributed to a combination of workers and students returning in person, increased traffic congestion, and rising gas prices. Commuter rail passengers can expect permanent availability of the 5-Day Flex Pass, which allows riders to take unlimited commuter rail rides for five days during a 30-day period. The 5-Day Flex Pass was launched by the MBTA in July 2020 and aimed to provide commuter options to hybrid workers.

The Baker Administration announced HireNow, a program designed to address the labor shortage by offering employers up to $4,000 per new worker. Employers can receive up to $400,000 through the program, which is supported using $50 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds. This new grant program aims to incentivize employers to hire workers who do not yet have skills in a new field and help defray the costs of onboarding workers.


On Monday, President Joe Biden released his budget proposal for fiscal year 2023. The President’s proposal includes investments to “bolster public health infrastructure” and “take on the invisible costs of the mental health crisis.” The budget makes investments in addressing the opioid crisis, supporting children’s mental health, supporting veterans, the Cancer Moonshot plan, which Biden highlighted in his State of the Union Address, and the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) that seeks “breakthroughs in cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and more.”

After last week’s hearings, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee meets on Monday and is expected to set April 4 as the date to vote on Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination to the Supreme Court. From there, should the vote pass the Committee, the entire Senate will vote on whether to appoint Jackson, the first Black woman, as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.

The Legislature’s Future of Work Commission meets on Tuesday to release their report. Lawmakers tasked the 17-member panel, which began its work amid the disruption to work and commuting patterns of the pandemic, with exploring the impacts of automation, artificial intelligence, global trade, new forms of data and other factors on the state’s workforce and businesses. The report could inform policy decisions during the last 4-months of formal sessions.

The Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on Health Care Financing has a Wednesday deadline to report on bills referred to the Committee before February 23. The Legislature’s Joint Rule 10 sets the reporting deadline for the Health Care Financing Committee later than for other panels, which had to report their bills by the first Wednesday in February.  As of Friday, the committee had 274 bills in its custody.

The Health Policy Commission Advisory Council meets on Wednesday. The agenda includes an update on agency activities and discussion around health care workforce issues stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, a topic lawmakers last year directed the HPC to review.

The MBTA holds a public meeting on Thursday on their five-year Capital Investment Plan, which sets the authority’s funding for planning, construction, and maintenance from 2023 to 2027. Members of the public can sign up to submit live or written testimony.

The Joint Ways and Means Committee announced it will continue to accept written testimony from the public on the Governor’s fiscal year 2023 budget proposal until Friday, April 1 at 5PM.

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