The Packet Post Update from Massachusetts State House via MassAccess November 29, 2022

Update from Massachusetts State House via MassAccess November 29, 2022

by: Press Release

David Gauthier
Tuesday, November 29, 2022:

On November 23, 2022, DPH reported there were 4,425 new, confirmed cases reported during the past 7 days, bringing the total to 1,929,736 total confirmed cases of COVID-19.

On November 22, 2022, there were 179 patients primarily hospitalized for COVID-19-related illnesses and 562 total patients hospitalized with COVID-19.

There were 64 patients in ICU and 18 patients were intubated.

There were 64 new confirmed deaths reported during the past 7 days. There have been 20,833 confirmed deaths in total.

Back from a five-day Thanksgiving break, the Senate handled three local bills over the course of a 13-minute session Monday. Senators approved a measure naming a Route 28 bridge in the Cape Cod town of Orleans after U.S. Coast Guard Seaman Norman Wood Finch, who was killed in action during World War I.

The Senate also approved a new beer-and-wine license authorization for Constandinos Giokas’ “Charlie’s Mini Mart” in Milford and enacted a maximum age exemption for someone to take a firefighter civil service exam in Haverhill.

Sen. Nick Collins led a moment of silence for two longtime Boston community advocates – Helen Allix, former chair of South Boston Against Drugs, and Thelma Burns, a former METCO director, and ABCD board member.

Local matters took up all 12 minutes of the House’s informal session Monday morning as a handful of representatives kept legislation of importance to Haverhill, Williamstown, Rowley, Franklin, Leominster, and other Massachusetts communities moving.

The last session of November is also the first of the holiday season, a time when activity generally dies down at the State House save for the scrambling to get certain bills – leadership priorities, non-controversial local matters, and mundane tasks like approving new liquor licenses or sick leave banks – done in the roughly five weeks that remain of the 192nd General Court.

The House will be back in action Thursday morning for another informal session

Significant turnover is on the way for the Legislature as election season gives way to the next two-year term and more than two dozen newly elected lawmakers to prepare to take the oath of office.

Five new senators will join the 40-member chamber in January, while the 160-member House will feature either 21 or 22 first-time representatives depending on how a pair of unresolved recounts play out.

Newcomers head to Beacon Hill from a range of personal and professional backgrounds. Many already hold elected office at the local level, and some worked as aides to current or former lawmakers.

And 2023 will be the most common first year for representatives when the new term begins. Twenty-three current lawmakers joined the House in 2019, which according to records kept by the House clerk is the highest share of any year at the start of the 2021-2022 session, but several of those representatives opted not to seek reelection.

Not every member of the incoming class is truly a newcomer to Beacon Hill. A trio of sitting representatives will move across the hall next session to join the Senate after each won a race for an open seat in that chamber.

Most of the waste generated at the biggest events held in Boston is not being recycled. Called together Monday by the Boston City Council, representatives of major venues and city officials held the first of several discussions about ways to improve recycling and reduce the amount of waste that ends up flowing to landfills and incinerators.

“I think the amount of waste that’s being generated is a big concern,” said City Councilor Liz Breadon. “It’s a huge cost to the environment and it’s a huge cost to the city, and to the organizations that generate all this waste as well.”

Tossing soda cups, hot dog trays, and popcorn containers into the 150 trash and recycling bins around Fenway Park, the people who attend home Red Sox games and the nearby MGM Music Hall only recycle about 25 percent of what they throw away, said facilities planning and services manager for the Boston Red Sox Robyn Pacini.

Massachusetts has only six landfills – and almost all are due to reach capacity by 2030. Chair of the City Services and Innovation Technology Committee, which held Monday’s hearing, Councilor Kenzie Bok said one method these companies could use to reduce waste is to control what products are coming into their venues.

Though incoming gubernatorial candidate Maura Healey does not mention waste reduction or recycling in the climate section of the campaign priorities listed on her website, she did sign on to a letter to the federal government in September in her capacity as attorney general about reducing single-use plastics.

Gov.-elect Maura Healey was back at the State House Monday for a sitdown with House Speaker Ronald Mariano, whose chamber she’ll be filing her first budget bill with by March 1.

It’s the latest in a series of customary visits for a newly-elected governor. The new executive usually meets with the outgoing governor, as Healey did with Gov. Charlie Baker on Nov. 9, followed by chats with legislative leadership.

A Healey spokeswoman confirmed it was the pair’s first one-on-one meeting since Election Day, and said they were joined in the speaker’s office by Lt. Gov.-elect Kim Driscoll. Healey and Driscoll met with Senate President Karen Spilka early last week, the Healey spokeswoman said.

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu said Monday she still has not held an in-depth meeting with Healey since the Democrat cruised to victory nearly three weeks ago, though they have exchanged “a lot of messages back and forth” and appeared together at events.

Massachusetts communities will “need to be ahead of the curve” to absorb an influx of asylum-seekers and other migrants expected to continue in the coming months, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu said Monday.

Boston has welcomed hundreds of new arrivals recently, Wu said, adding that many advocates warn the steady flow of migrants will continue for the next few months. She praised the state’s response as “great and amazing,” describing a “real acceleration” in standing-up housing.

“Over the summer, our hospitals were absorbing much of the intake, and community organizations were absorbing much of the intake, connecting people to various shelter options or housing,” Wu told WBUR’s Radio Boston. “When those frontline organizations reached capacity, then I think we saw the state really step into leadership on this.”

Gov. Charlie Baker has been pressing for more help from the federal government to support arriving migrants, and he filed a $139 million spending bill on Nov. 18 that would fund more than 1,300 temporary shelter units and cover the costs of shelter provider rate increases, a temporary central intake center, and placing new students in local schools.

Top Democrats on Beacon Hill have not mirrored Baker’s urgency, sending the legislation to the House Ways and Means Committee for review one week ago and otherwise offering no indication of how or when they plan to act.

Across the state’s southern border in Connecticut, Eversource has agreed to work with state officials on immediate relief for high winter electricity bills.

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont announced Monday that the utility, which is also a major provider in Massachusetts, will file a motion in Connecticut on Monday to establish bill credits that fast-track the return of long-term power contract earnings to all customers starting Jan. 1.

The plan will provide Eversource customers with a credit of about $10 per month for the peak winter months stretching from January through April.

According to Lamont’s office, Eversource and United Illuminating have also agreed to seek approval to accelerate a discount for low-income hardship customers, and Eversource’s “customer relief plan” for Connecticut customers includes a $10 million outlay to assist moderate and middle-income customers.

The Lamont administration said the near-term actions are due in part to benefits from long-term clean energy power contracts signed to help secure the future of the Millstone nuclear power plant and other carbon-free generation resources.

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