The Packet Post Beacon Hill Update from Mass Access September 29, 2021

Beacon Hill Update from Mass Access September 29, 2021

by: Press Release

Tuesday, September 28, 2021:

As of Monday night DPH reported a total of 753,535 cases of COVID-19.
The state reported 4,095 new confirmed cases and 14 new deaths.
The state now has 18,168 deaths from the virus.
Masks will remain required in Massachusetts public schools until at least Nov. 1, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education said in guidance issued to districts and published Monday.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education in August authorized Commissioner Jeff Riley to require masks for students age 5 and up and school staff through at least Oct. 1, and Riley on Monday extended the requirement through at least Nov. 1.
The Legislature sent Gov. Charlie Baker a bill (H 4127) Monday extending emergency COVID-19 paid sick leave in Massachusetts until April 1, 2022.
The leave program was authorized under a law approved in May as a way to offer workers up to a week off to quarantine, recover, get vaccinated, or help a sick family member.
The program was scheduled to expire at the end of September.
Governor Baker tried to amend the sick leave program when it was first passed in May, although his edits were tossed aside by the Legislature and he ultimately signed the bill without any vetoes.
Governor Baker has 10 days to review bills sent to his desk but he is sometimes pigeonholed by last-minute legislating in the chambers.
The House and Senate don’t meet again until Thursday, the date the program is set to expire
The House also appointed members to its House COVID-19 Working Group established under an order adopted last week to help the branch implement a vaccine mandate and navigate reopening the State House.
The House also worked through local bills affecting Middleborough, Princeton, Plainfield, West Tisbury, Medway, Norwell, Westborough, Duxbury, Fairhaven, Chilmark, Sharon, Blackstone, Hopkinton, Framingham, South Norwood, Wellesley, Easton, Deerfield, and Hudson.
The House is back in session on Thursday at 11 a.m.
The Senate plans to gavel into a formal session without a calendar Thursday, when senators could possibly take up veto overrides.
The House initiated a series of overrides last week to enact certain outside sections from the fiscal 2022 budget notwithstanding the governor’s objections.
With people 65 and older and some other populations now eligible for COVID-19 booster shots if they received the Pfizer vaccine, Governor Baker said Monday that the state plans to make mobile booster programs available to people residing in long-term care and other congregate settings.
On Friday, the CDC recommended that people age 65 and up, people age 18 and older in congregate care settings, and people between the ages of 50 and 64 with certain medical conditions should get a booster shot at least six months after their second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
Adults between 18 and 49 years old who have underlying conditions or who face “increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting” may also get a booster if they have previously received the Pfizer vaccines, the CDC said.
First responders, educators and workers in grocery stores, public transit, the U.S. Postal Service, corrections, manufacturing, food and agriculture are all occupations the CDC considers at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission.
With less than a month until his vaccination mandate for state employees takes effect, Governor Baker said Monday he was not worried about creating staffing shortages at the State Police or other agencies where employees may decide not to follow the governor’s directive.
The Republican governor signed an executive order in August requiring close to 45,000 executive branch employees and contractors to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 17 as a condition of their employment.
Last week, a Superior Court judge denied a request by the State Police Association of Massachusetts to extend the deadline while negotiations between the union and the administration over the details of vaccine policy continue.
The Baker administration has not said whether it’s reached agreement with any other unions, though employees hoping to start a two-dose vaccine regimen in time to comply would have needed to receive their first shot of Pfizer by last Sunday.
SPAM President Michael Cherven said that “dozens” of State Police troopers had already submitted their resignations as a result of the policy, choosing to return to their municipal police departments where a regular testing and mask option was available to them.
Cherven said the State Police were “already critically short staffed,” requiring officers from special units that investigate homicides, terrorism and cyber crimes to be reassigned.
The economist who has been president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston for the last 14 years and has been under recent scrutiny for his pandemic stock trading, announced Monday morning that he will retire this week to tend to a medical condition that “significantly” worsened during the pandemic.
Eric Rosengren’s Sept. 30 retirement comes about nine months before his 65th birthday and therefore his mandatory retirement as head of the New England region of the nation’s central bank.
It will open up a powerful position that has been held by two people for nearly 30 years at a time when the Fed is engaged in steering the economy through a pandemic.
Boston hopes to finalize a plan in the next two weeks that would redraw precincts in seven of the city’s 22 wards for the first time in decades, evening out the populations in those voting areas in an effort to reduce wait times at polling places and cut down on the distance some voters must travel to cast their ballots.
Elections Commissioner Eneida Tavares presented the plan on Monday to reconfigure precincts in the wards covering large parts of downtown, Charlestown and the Seaport, as well as Chinatown, the South End and parts of Roxbury, Fenway and Kenmore.
The plan would cover roughly 131,000 registered voters living in Ward 2 through Ward 6, Ward 8 and Ward 9, or about 29 percent of the city’s electorate, officials said. It would take effect for the 2022 elections.

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