Massachusetts

Mass. Lawmakers Push to Keep COVID-Era Policies as Emergency Order Set to Expire

Governor Charlie Baker's emergency order is set to expire at midnight on Tuesday, meaning a lapse in the policies enacted under the order.

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With hours remaining before Massachusetts' coronavirus state of emergency declaration expires, some state lawmakers are working to keep some of the pandemic-related policies that have been in place over the past year.

Gov. Charlie Baker on May 17 announced his plans to end the state of emergency that's been in effect since March 2020, and said his timeline would give Beacon Hill a few weeks to sort through emergency orders and figure out which policies to keep.

Decision-making in that area is now in the hands of the House, after the Senate on Thursday passed a package of changes, which representatives plan to amend during a Tuesday formal session.

Lawmakers are looking to extend several of the more popular pandemic policies including outdoor dining, cocktails to-go, and unemployment benefits for those with childcare restrictions.

Many have also praising government-related changes such as remote access to public meetings. Last week, the state Senate voted to also keep health care flexibilities, eviction protections, and mail-in voting.

The House and Senate both adjourned for the day late Monday morning, leaving the fate of pandemic policy extensions in doubt with the COVID-19 state of emergency set to expire at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.

On Monday morning, House leaders quickly moved a bill out of its Ways and Means Committee but the House adjourned for the day after giving that bill a vote of initial approval. Progress on the bills could occur behind the scenes Monday, and in connection with a conference call meeting that legislative leaders and Baker planned to hold.

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The House will be back in session Tuesday at 11 a.m. Some emergency allowances could lapse until there's a deal in place.

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