COVID-19 End of Week Update 6/21 + Step 2 of Phase II of Reopening, Court Decisions, Juneteenth, Police Certification, SNAP & WIC, Unemployment, Arborway Improvements Project

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

 

Consistent with public health data and trends, Step Two of Phase II of Reopening Massachusetts is set to begin on Monday 6/22. For more details, read the Phase II Executive Order here.

 

 

In case you missed it on Friday 6/19, watch Boston Globe editorial page editor Bina Venkataraman interview Dr. Ibram X. Kendi about how to build an antiracist movement — and about his appointment to lead a new antiracism research center at Boston University, scheduled to open July 1.

 

Happy Father's Day, 

Liz 

 

Liz Malia, 11th Suffolk 

State Representative 

617-722-2380

liz.malia@mahouse.gov

 

Federal Updates

 

6/18 - The Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that the Trump administration unlawfully ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. This decision nullifies the rollback of the program and will potentially allow new applicants to apply for DACA. 

 

6/16 - The Small Business Administration reopened the Economic Injury Disaster Loan and EIDL Advance program portals to all new applicants. Additional small businesses and nonprofits will now be able to apply for long-term, low-interest loans and emergency grants provided by the SBA.

 

6/15 - The Supreme Court ruled federal civil rights law protects gay, lesbian and transgender workers. This means federal law will now protect employees from firing and adverse employment decisions made on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

 

6/15 - The Supreme Court also declined to take up petitions from ten challenges to state laws established to limit the availability and accessibility of some firearms. One of these cases was a challenge to a Massachusetts state law involving bans on certain semiautomatic firearms and high capacity magazines. This is one positive step toward ensuring common-sense gun safety across the country. 

 

State Updates 

 

6/19 - Governor Baker issued a proclamation declaring June 19, 2020 as “Juneteenth Independence Day” in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

 

6/19 - Governor Baker announced that step two of phase two of the Commonwealth's four-phase reopening plan will begin this Monday 6/22. Indoor table service at restaurants, close-contact personal services (with restrictions), retail dressing rooms (by appointment), and offices at 50% capacity will be allowed to reopen.

 

6/18 - Governor Baker did not hold a press conference today.

 

6/18 - Sales, meals and room occupancy taxes for businesses that paid less than $150,000 in regular sales plus meal taxes or less than $150,000 in room occupancy taxes last year will not be due until September. Those who wait to pay these taxes until then will not face any penalties or interest. 

 

6/17 - The Registry of Motor Vehicles will exempt Massachusetts residents who renew their license or ID before 8/12 from the $25 fee to upgrade to a REAL ID next year. The RMV is not currently accepting appointments that are necessary to upgrade to a REAL ID. The federal government has pushed back the deadline for requiring a REAL ID to fly until Oct. 1, 2021. 

 

6/16 - Governor Baker did not hold a press conference today.

 

6/16 - The Department of Conservation and Recreation announced it opened agency-managed spray decks, playgrounds, and fitness areas for public use in accordance with safety standards issued by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

 

6/16 - Attorney General Maura Healey and 38 other attorneys general sent a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Apple CEO Tim Cook to flag concerns that there are contact-tracing apps available on Android and Apple devices that fall short in protecting personal information and asked the CEOs to remove contact tracing apps not linked to government or health officials. 

 

6/16 - The MA Association of Community Action, the Boston Tax Coalition and Code for America are piloting a virtual VITA program to provide free tax prep assistance online. The Red Cross of MA set up a Virtual Family Assistance Center that provides virtual programs, information, referrals and support services for those who have lost a loved one to COVID-19.

 

6/15 - Governor Baker announced there will be more than 50 pop-up COVID-19 testing sites available on Wednesday 6/17 and Thursday 6/18. Those who have recently participated in large gatherings were urged to get tested. Testing was free and open to everyone, including those who are not showing symptoms.

 

Legislative Updates

 

This Wednesday 6/24, the MA House meets in a full formal session to consider H4707, An Act making appropriations for the fiscal year 2020 to authorize certain COVID-19 spending in anticipation of federal reimbursement, a roughly $1 billion supplemental budget filed by Gov. Baker in May. Once passed, this spending bill will enable the Administration to seek money available from federal pools to cover COVID-related expenses. 

 

6/19 - Governor Baker filed a $5.25 billion interim spending bill that approves funding expenses to cover the month of July at the same funding level that was approved for FY2020.

 

6/18 - I cosponsored An Act to make Juneteenth Independence Day a State Holiday filed in the House by Reps. Maria Robinson, Bud Williams, Mindy Domb and Chynah Tyler, and in the Senate by Sens. Brendan Crighton, Sonia Chang-Diaz and Jo Comerford. Juneteenth commemorates the emancipation of enslaved people in the United States. 

 

 

I also signed onto A Resolve Establishing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, offered by Senator Collins and Representative Miranda, which would create a commission of experts to investigate and study race relations in Massachusetts, including but not limited to slavery and interactions with slave fueled-industries and institutionalized racism. The commission would also be charged to put forth legislative solutions, including ameliorative race-based policies and racial justice initiatives.

 

6/17 - Governor Baker introduced legislation that would create a licensing system for police and other law enforcement officers. This legislation would require officers to get certified every three years and would create a process for decertification that involves community input and immediately decertify officers that use a chokehold or excessive force. It would also create incentives for training programs. MA is one of four states without such a system. 

 

Last week, I co-sponsored An Act to Save Black Lives by Transforming Public Safety. Filed by Representative Liz Miranda and Senate Majority Leader Cynthia Creem, the proposal takes important steps in the direction toward equity and justice. 

 

The bill seeks to set new standards for police conduct, end dehumanizing police practices, add public accountability where none existed, and ensure robust oversight and implementation of lawful consequences for the breach of public trust. Additionally, it would prohibit the use of choke holds, eliminate no-knock warrants, and create an affirmative duty for any officer to intervene when they observe unnecessary force.

 

So far, these requirements have gained broad support as important minimum standards. Many additional reforms will be implemented by cities and at the federal level; this bill addresses important interventions at the state level, particularly around the use of force limits, standards and data collection, and reporting requirements.

 

Food Security Working Group

 

INDIVIDUALS: SNAP & WIC 

 

Help get the food you need - 1 out of 9 people in Massachusetts receive SNAP benefits. 
Apply for SNAP in 20 minutes or less or call Project Bread’s Food Source Hotline at 1-800-645-8333 (M-F from 8am-7pm & Saturday from 10am-2pm.) 

 

The WIC (Women, Infants, & Children Nutrition) program provides families with healthy foods, nutrition education, breastfeeding support, and referrals to healthcare and other services for families. 

Apply for WIC

 

TIPS:

Apply BEFORE you begin receiving unemployment.

As of 5/29, you can use your EBT card to order food online (via Walmart or Amazon, so far, delivery fees not covered). For your questions, read the FAQ.

PROGRAMS: Food Insecurity Grant Program & Healthy Incentives Program

(6/11 - $41M to address food security)

 

The goal of the Food Security Infrastructure Grant Program is to ensure that individuals and families throughout the Commonwealth have access to food, with a special focus on food that is produced locally and equitable access to food. The program also seeks to ensure that farmers, fisherman and other local food producers are better connected to a strong, resilient food system to help mitigate future food supply and distribution disruption.

 

Link to RFR: https://www.mass.gov/doc/fy21-food-security-grant-program-rfr/download

 

Eligible grantees include entities that are part of the Massachusetts local food system including production, processing and distribution, the emergency food distribution network, Buy Local, community and food organizations, school meal programming (including summer meal sponsors), urban farms and community gardens, non-profits, and organizations that provide business planning, technical assistance and information technology services. Applications will be evaluated on a rolling basis through September 15, 2020.

 

Eligible proposals include, but are not limited to, projects seeking to:  

  • Increase capacity for food direct delivery;

  • Increase capacity of food banks and food pantries;

  • Increase capacity of local food distribution partners;

  • Offer innovative solutions to enable those receiving SNAP and WIC benefits to receive food more easily;

  • ​​​​​​​Offer innovative solutions for urban farming and;

  • ​​​​​​​Help farms, retailers, fisheries and other food system businesses adapt to the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and to allow them to provide greater access to local food.

 

In addition to the Food Security Infrastructure Grant Program, the Administration also announced $5 million in new funding for the Healthy Incentives Program (HIP). To leverage this state funding, a Notice of Opportunity has been released to allow new agricultural vendors to apply to participate as HIP vendors.

 

Eligible vendors include farmers’ markets, farm stands, mobile markets, and community-supported agriculture farm share programs. Applicants will be evaluated on their ability to respond to the needs of communities and populations impacted by COVID-19, establish HIP access points in areas with limited existing HIP access points or other food access barriers, distribute food in ways that limit the transmission of the novel coronavirus while reaching vulnerable populations, and a demonstrated capacity and commitment to serve SNAP clients in culturally appropriate ways. Applications can be submitted through Wednesday, July 1, 2020.

 

Unemployment

 

The international/national fraud scheme caused many folks receiving benefits since March and April to suddenly and inexplicably get cut off or their account to become frozen. If you're not receiving the benefits you're due, please send me an ema