October 29, 2020
As I mentioned last week, I continue to be concerned about the rising COVID-19 case levels in Massachusetts. I strongly encourage everyone to wear a mask whenever in public, practice physical distancing, and limit social engagements to small groups, held outdoors. We should all take advantage of any remaining days of Fall in New England before the freezing temperatures arrive.
The most recent data report from the Department of Public Health indicates that many of the municipalities in our district experienced notably increased levels of COVID-19 infection. You can find more information in the weekly and daily reports available at the Department of Public Health's COVID-19 dashboard.
Since my last news letter, my legislative colleagues and I acted on two critically important bills. The first bill would increase unemployment benefits for 17,000 people in Massachusetts who narrowly missed qualifying for the federal Lost Wages Assistance Grant due to a restrictive Trump Administration Rule. Some people missed the cutoff by a dollar. Our legislation closes that hurtful loophole by ensuring all unemployment recipients receive a minimum of $100 weekly, thereby making them eligible for additional financial support totaling as much as $1,800 each. I am proud that we acted swiftly to fix this and that the financial relief will be applied retroactively, providing a much needed boost to our neighbors most in need.
Also, my Senate colleagues and I passed Laura's Law in memory of Laura Levis, who died mere feet from an emergency room due to dim lighting and the lack of signage outside a Boston-area hospital. This bill requires hospital emergency departments to have lighting and visible signage on their premises and to monitor all emergency access points to prevent another tragedy like this from happening in our Commonwealth. I am deeply proud of the Senate's commitment to Laura's legacy, and I now urge my House colleagues to take swift action to pass Laura's Law and send it to the Governor's desk.
I anticipate a number of important legislative actions in the coming weeks as well. First, after several economic roundtables and fiscal forecasting by the Chairs of Ways and Means, the Baker administration, and other financial experts, I expect we will finalize the state budget for the current fiscal year. Unfortunately, we must do this without any further federal fiscal relief. Second, I hope to see conference committee reports on a number of bills currently under negotiation between the House and Senate, including important legislation to improve police accountability, a major investment in the Commonwealth's economic development, next-generation climate action policy, and expanded coverage of telemedicine services.
Budgets and major bills are statements of our values; I will continue to advocate for our shared values of justice, fairness, equity, and service, as I have done throughout my tenure in the Senate. Consistent with the clear wishes of the majority of my constituents, I will also continue to push to pass the ROE Act, ever so much more pressing now that Roe v. Wade is all but certain to fall at the federal level.
As always, if you or any of your loved ones in my district have fallen on hard times, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office. My office line is 617-722-1555 and my email is email@example.com. We are here to help. You can also find robust resources to help you navigate through COVID-19 on my website.
Wishing you and your families strength, health, and resilience.
Yours in service,
Senator Becca Rausch