|Dear Neighbors and Friends,
Happy August! The Legislature has recessed for the month but prior to that we passed some critical legislation. I wanted to provide a quick update on those bills.
HOUSE LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
At the end of July the House passed two important pieces of legislation to address food insecurity and to preserve public land that now move to the Senate.
The first bill passed was An Act promoting student nutrition. This bill is critical to addressing food insecurity experienced by children and families. This bill will do the following:
Food insecurity has always been an issue in Massachusetts, and is something that I have worked to address in my years in the Legislature, but this bill was particularly critical to pass in the wake of the pandemic. The bill is now pending in the Senate.
- Schools with economically disadvantaged populations of 50% or more will implement the federal Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) to provide universal free breakfast and lunch to all students in those schools.
- Statewide protections will exist for students facing school meal debt in order to prevent embarrassment, stigma, and unjust punishments.
- It will help maximize federal funding for other programs tied to USDA’s Community Eligibility Program (or CEP) schools. The federal government often ties programs like Pandemic-EBT cards and others to schools that are enrolled in CEP.
Public Lands Preservation Act
The second bill passed was the Public Lands Preservation Act (PLPA). This is critical environmental protection legislation which strengthens Article 97 protections. The PLPA legislation does the following:
Once again this is a topic that has been of importance for many years but the pandemic truly shed light on the need for clean, open green space for all. Public parks and land were some of the most used spaces during the peak of the pandemic and we must continue to do what we can to protect those lands so communities can continue to enjoy them. This bill is now pending in the Senate.
- Requires that there be “no net loss” of protected space. This means that should protected land be considered for another use, it would have to be replaced with land in comparable acreage, fair market value, location and natural resource value. This would codify the current practice implemented by Governor Patrick and continued by Governor Baker.
IN THE DISTRICT
My two sons had a wonderful time birdwatching at Magazine Beach’s Summer Nights program: Nature Exploration with Mass Audubon. Mass Audubon provides an opportunity for kids to connect with nature through free drop-in activities featuring live wildlife, nature exploration, art-making and ice cream! The final opportunity is this Monday August 9th from 6-8PM when the program will have free teen kayaking.
Another Wednesday distributing food with Fenway CARES! Sign up here: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c0c44aaac2aa4fbc61-fenway The whole office joined - Sarah, Cassidy, and me - along with staff from Councilor Bok’s office.
Landmark Orchestra returns! My family and I enjoyed the opening of the Landmark Orchestra last night for its first free concert on the Esplanade since 2019. It is such a great experience to listen to the Landmark Orchestra in the beautiful outdoor setting of the Charles River and Esplanade. We had a great time. The concerts are free for anyone to walk up and enjoy. The concert series continues each Wednesday night at 7 PM through September 1st. Hope to see you there.
HEALTH CONNECTOR WEBINAR
The Health Connector is hosting a public webinar to share information about the program, the American Rescue Plan savings that are available and $0 ConnectorCare plans that are available this year to those who are receiving unemployment income or received unemployment income at any point in 2021.
What will be covered during this session:
- General information about the state’s Health Connector and the types of coverage available through MAhealthconnector.org
- An overview of how the American Rescue Plan helps to make coverage more affordable
- Tips when applying for coverage, including choosing a plan and enrolling
- How to get free help with this process
Title: Need health insurance? New savings are here through the Health Connector
When: Tuesday, August 10, 10:00–11:00 a.m.
Location: Zoom Webinar and/or Conference Call
For Registration & More Details: http://bit.ly/insurance-options-081021
UPDATED MASK GUIDANCE
As many of you may know the Delta variant has been spreading quickly throughout the country. While Massachusetts has more than 70% of adults vaccinated, we must continue to be vigilant and safe. Due to the spread of the Delta variant the CDC and the MA Department of Public Health have updated masking advisory to the following:
New Mask Guidance for Schools:
- Fully vaccinated individuals are advised to wear a mask or face covering when indoors (and not in your own home) if you have a weakened immune system, or if you are at increased risk for severe disease because of your age or an underlying medical condition, or if someone in your household has a weakened immune system, is at increased risk for severe disease, or is an unvaccinated adult.
- Masks are still mandatory for all individuals on public and private transportation systems (including rideshares, livery, taxi, ferries, MBTA, Commuter Rail and transportation stations), in healthcare facilities and in other settings hosting vulnerable populations, such as congregate care settings.
- DPH continues to encourage unvaccinated people to become vaccinated. Vaccinated individuals infected with the Delta variant typically suffer mild symptoms and avoid hospitalization. Unvaccinated individuals infected are significantly more likely to suffer serious symptoms that result in hospitalization.
Once the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that children in school be masked, I joined with a group of Senators and Representatives calling on the Governor to require masking in school for our youngest students who cannot be vaccinated. I am pleased that the state’s education officials have issued a new guidance, advising that all students grades K-6 wear masks indoors this fall.
You can find the guidance here:
Governor Baker also recently announced that all staff working in nursing homes and Soldiers’ homes are required to be vaccinated by October 10th.
If you have not gotten a vaccine yet I highly recommend you do. It is the best protection against the new Delta variant. To find a vaccine appointment use this link: https://www.mass.gov/covid-19-updates-and-information There are no longer lines to be vaccinated or required appointments. It has never been easier to secure a vaccine.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to my office with any questions or concerns.