Legislature Extends Remote Public Meeting Options and other COVID-19 Implemented Measurers
BOSTON – Monday, July 25, 2022 – Recently, the legislature passed legislation to extend the authorizations for remote public meetings and other measurers that were implemented during the pandemic. These authorizations allow additional means for community members to make official decisions and carry-out other typical responsibilities. This legislation was passed, and signed by Governor Baker prior to any break in remote authorizations, allowing remote meetings to be held as scheduled.
These authorizations were previously implemented in order to continue regular business when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and it was safer for individuals to self-isolate. Extending them allows continued flexibility for individuals who prefer to avoid large crowds during the current and future phases of this pandemic. We have experienced unpredictable surges and could potentially undergo more as a result of new, intense variants, and these authorizations provide municipalities with the ability to meet with remote options as well as provide flexibilities pertaining to quorums. These adaptations have allowed for safer practices and have been utilized throughout or at various points since March of 2020.
The ability for public bodies to hold virtual public meetings has now been extended through March 31, 2023. Along with this, the authorizations will allow for quorum flexibilities and remote options for open town meeting. There will also be remote options available for public notarization, mortgage counseling, and public corporation meetings.
Additionally, a tenant protection established during COVID has been made permanent. This protection requires a landlord to provide their tenant with a written notice of eviction for nonpayment of rent, before an eviction proceeding is undertaken. Within the notice, the landlord must provide information related to federal or state restrictions on eviction, as well as information on rental assistance programs.
Lastly, this legislation extends staffing requirement waivers for assisted living facilities until March 31, 2023. Also, it will repeal a clause that allows the Commission of Public Health to penalize for non-compliance with required disclosure of certain healthcare and insurance costs during the scheduling of medical procedures, which will be effective starting January 1, 2025.