Massachusetts Governor Extends COVID Emergency Measures

BOSTON, MA (STL.News) Governor Charlie Baker will file legislation to extend certain emergency measures currently in place via executive orders that are set to expire on June 15 when the State of Emergency will be rescinded.  Most restrictions, including limitations placed on businesses, will be rescinded effective May 29 as Massachusetts nears the goal of vaccinating four million residents.

This legislation proposes to extend measures providing for a temporary suspension of certain open meeting law requirements, special permits for expanded outside dining at restaurants, and billing protections for COVID-19 patients.  When the State of Emergency ends, these orders will expire, and temporarily extending these measures will allow for time to transition.  Extending these measures, which were instituted by executive order, requires legislation.

To allow public bodies to safely meet during the pandemic and ensure public access to meetings, Governor Baker issued an Executive Order in March 2020 allowing these bodies to meet quorum requirements even if meetings were held remotely through electronic means as long as measures were taken to ensure the public with electronic access to the proceedings.  The bill filed by Governor Baker today will extend these provisions related to the Commonwealth’s Open Meeting Law until September 1, 2021, which will allow additional time to consider possible permanent changes to the open meeting law to provide for greater flexibility in conducting open meetings through reliance on electronic streaming and similar measures.

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