Legislative Update: Week of November 1, 2021

Nov 01, 2021


In Massachusetts, the House passed a $3.82 billion ARPA spending bill, representing a $174 million increase from the House Ways and Means initial proposal. During debate, House members passed four consolidated amendments earmarking tens of millions for local programs and initiatives. Key funding areas of the legislation included support for small businesses, low-income essential workers, and unemployment insurance.

The Joint Mental Health, Substance Use, and Recovery Committee held a public hearing on Monday on legislation related to opioids; harm reduction for substance use disorders, treatment for opioid use disorders, and treating with opioids. Notable legislation included medication assisted treatment (MAT), medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD), and Narcan availability.

The Senate passed redistricting legislation, redrawing each of the 40 Senate districts and increasing the number of majority-minority districts from 3 to 6. Both new Senate and House maps are before the Governor.

UMass Lowell was awarded $3 million by HHS “to develop a new undergraduate public health pathway in health informatics and technology over the next year, as well as a new graduate program and graduate certificates for people already in the workforce.”

Massachusetts public school mask mandates will remain in public schools through January 2022, per guidance from DESE. A number of individual schools, where at least 80 percent of students and staff are fully vaccinated, have applied for exemptions to lift the mandate.

On Friday afternoon in D.C., the FDA granted emergency use authorization to the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, a significant step toward making the vaccine available to millions of school-age children.


In Washington, negotiations continue this week on the Build Back Better bill; President Biden’s $1.75 trillion spending package. Drug pricing measures may be included, as discussion in the Democratic caucus among moderates and progressives have resumed.

At the State House, the Massachusetts Senate Ways and Means Committee is likely to release their proposal for appropriating ARPA funds this week. With formal sessions coming to a close on November 17, the legislative branches have just a few weeks to both pass and compromise on legislation appropriating billions in federal relief funds.

Several cities and towns across the Commonwealth will be holding local elections on Tuesday. In Boston, voters will elect a new mayor in the race between current Councilors-at-Large Annissa Essaibi George and Michelle Wu.

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