House Passes Legislation to Ensure the Fiscal Health of the Commonwealth
Records its first ever remote votes and speeches in the nearly 400-year history of the institution
MILTON, MAY 6, 2020 – Atop the Massachusetts namesake “Great Hill,” also known as Big Blue in the Blue Hills Reservation, State Representative Bill Driscoll, Jr. participated in the first ever remote voting formal session along with his colleagues in the House of Representatives to pass legislation that authorizes necessary state borrowing during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
“During this time of uncertainty, the House is focused on not only public health, but ensuring the financial health of o
ur Commonwealth,” said Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D – Winthrop). “I am grateful to Chair Michlewitz for his work to move this legislation forward and to the House COVID-19 Working Group that made this vote possible today.”
“I am honored to have participated in the House’s first ever remote voting formal session to cast my vote for a much needed bill that allows our state to borrow funds to cover the fiscal gaps that result from delaying the income tax filing deadline,” said Representative Driscoll (D – Milton). “After participating in today’s remote session, I wish to extend a special thanks to House Speaker DeLeo, Rules Chair Bill Galvin (D-Canton), House Counsel James Kennedy, and my colleagues on the House COVID-19 Working Group and their respective staffs for helping make remote voting a reality in the House.”
Driscoll and Leader Kate Hogan (D-Stow), members of the House COVID-19 Working Group, were the chief architects of the remote voting process. “The process was designed to be safe, secure and accessible and allow most members to dial-in via teleconference to the House Chamber while a limited number of legislators physically participate at the State House in Boston in order to facilitate the session and record votes,” Driscoll noted. The session was live streamed over the internet for members and the public to watch.
The legislation, An Act to Facilitate the Delay of the Income Tax Filing Deadline, authorizes the State Treasurer to borrow in anticipation of tax receipts by the end of Fiscal Year 2020 and to repay those sums by June 30, 2021. This action is necessary due to the delay in tax revenue as a result of the extended deadlines of income tax filings and payments to July 15, 2020, which were extended because of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
The session, which included remote voting, was the first held following the passage of Emergency Rules enabling Members to vote and debate safely in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rep. Driscoll watched the livestreamed session from a far and participated via conference call.
"In the immediate aftermath of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Legislature, working closely with the Baker Administration, passed legislation that moved the income tax filing deadline for residents of the Commonwealth. While this step helped thousands of people have more time to prepare their tax returns, it created a serious cash flow problem for the State,” said Representative Aaron Michlewitz, Co-Chair of the Joint Committee on Ways & Means (D-Boston). “By passing this legislation we will ensure that the fiscal health of the Commonwealth remains strong and that we are able to maintain the services that our constituents rely upon each and every day.”
The bill will now go to the Senate.