Beacon Hill Update September 8, 2021September 8, 2021
Wednesday, September 8, 2021:
Update provided by David Gauthier via MassAccess
• As of Tuesday night DPH reported a total of 720,175 cases of COVID-19.
• The state reported 5,484 new confirmed cases and 12 new deaths.
• The state now has 17,921 deaths from the virus.
• The House advanced bills concerning local issues in Boylston and Sudbury, and enacted legislation that names a Wilmington bridge after Trooper Thomas Devlin, who died at age 58, and the Amtrak platform in Northampton after Rep. Peter Kocot, a Northampton Democrat who died in 2018.
• A hearing is scheduled for Thursday on how to spend American Rescue Plan Act money, but the House will wait at least another week to return to formal sessions.
• The House will meet again Thursday morning for another informal session.
• The Senate on Tuesday admitted a new bill from Cape and Islands Rep. Dylan Fernandes that aims to combat ocean acidification by establishing a state “Blue Communities” program.
• The plan would “incentivize local action to reduce nutrient pollution and ocean acidification in the ocean, coastal waters, fresh waters, and watersheds,” according to the bill, by disbursing state grants and loans to qualifying municipalities.
• To be labeled a Blue Community, a municipality would need to adopt five out of nine recommended initiatives, which include a local bylaw restricting fertilizer use on grass, a plan to eliminate municipally-owned sanitary sewer or combined sewer overflows, and a program incentivizing use of residential rain barrels.
• The bill (HD 4379) is now in the custody of the Environment Committee chaired by Rep. Carolyn Dykema and Sen. Becca Rausch.
• Also Tuesday, the Senate sent to Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk the bill naming a Wilmington bridge after the late State Police Trooper Thomas Devlin and a Northampton train station after the late Rep. Peter Kocot.
• Planning to meet Thursday in its first formal session since the summer break, the Senate expects to hear a farewell speech from departing Sen. Joseph Boncore of Winthrop.
• As legislators sit on surpluses and federal aid tied to pandemic recovery, taxpayers last month delivered money to state government at an even more accelerated pace than last fiscal year when they contributed to a cash windfall on Beacon Hill.
• Department of Revenue officials late Friday afternoon reported that tax collections just two months into fiscal 2022 are up $639 million, or 15.6 percent higher than in the same two-month period of fiscal 2021.
• August collections of $2.49 billion were up by nearly 27 percent over August 2020.
• Income and withholding tax collections, the two largest pots of revenue, were up 25 percent and 20.5 percent, respectively, above August 2020 totals.
• Having risen to levels not seen since before the COVID-19 pandemic in June and July, business confidence took a step back in August as Massachusetts employers dealt with waves of Delta variant cases, worker shortages and supply chain disruptions, Associated Industries of Massachusetts said.
• On the zero-to-100 scale of AIM’s Business Confidence Index, the outlook among Massachusetts businesses dipped from 65.6 in July to 62 in August, putting employer sentiment just below its mark in January 2020 (62.3), just before the coronavirus sent the index spiraling to a low of 38.4 in April 2020.
• Still, last month’s confidence level was 15.7 points higher than it was in August 2020.
• U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi plans to visit a Worcester child care center that serves “highly at-risk children” Thursday and to hold a press conference with U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern to promote proposed investments in child care, universal pre-K and the extension of an expanded child tax credit.
• Pelosi and McGovern, who chairs the U.S. House Rules Committee, are scheduled to stop by the Rainbow Child Development Center at 9 a.m. Thursday to “learn about the center’s innovative work and meet with families whose children are currently enrolled in the center’s programs.”