March 16th Information &
Resource Update
Bill Summary: Unemployment, PPP Tax Change,
Paid Sick Leave Legislation

Last week, the state House of Representatives passed H.90, An Act Financing a Program for Improvements to the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund and Providing Relief to Employers and Workers in the Commonwealth, legislation intended to provide unemployment insurance rate relief, and exempt from state taxes the forgiven portion of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans for certain small businesses. The state Senate is expected to take up the measure this week. 

Among other provisions, the legislation as it is currently written:


  • Excludes forgiven federal Paycheck Protection Program loans, advance Economic Injury Disaster Loans and payments made under the federal Small Business Debt Relief program from gross income for the purpose of personal income taxes in taxable year 2020

Unemployment Insurance 

  • Freezes experience rates for employer unemployment insurance contributions at Schedule E for calendar years 2021 and 2022

  • Extends the temporary federal matching for extended unemployment benefits to weeks of unemployment beginning before March 13th, 2021

Unemployment & Taxation

  • Excludes $10,200 of unemployment compensation received by a taxpayer with a household income of less than 200% of the federal poverty level from gross income in taxable years 2020 and 2021

  • Requires the Department of Unemployment Assistance, in conjunction with the Department of Revenue, to establish a public awareness campaign about the income exclusion of unemployment compensation for households with an income less than 200% of the federal poverty level

  • Prohibits the Department of Revenue from imposing a tax penalty in taxable year 2020 solely for failure to remit personal income taxes due on unemployment compensation

Paid Sick Leave 

  • Establishes a COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave Fund to be administered by the Executive Office for Administration and Finance for the purpose of reimbursing eligible employers for providing employees with COVID-19 emergency paid sick leave

  • Requires employers to provide COVID-19 emergency paid sick leave to employees for certain COVID-19 related absences, including for self-isolation, quarantine or caring for a family member who is self-isolating or in quarantine 

  • Requires the Executive Office for Administration and Finance to reimburse eligible employers from the COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave Fund within 30 days of a reimbursement request for the cost of providing COVID-19 emergency paid sick leave to an employee

  • Excludes qualified sick leave wages paid by an employer that are eligible for the tax credit under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act or subsequent extensions from eligibility for reimbursement from the COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave Fund

  • Requires an employer to provide an employee who works 40 hours or more per week to provide 40 hours of COVID-19 emergency paid sick leave or for an employee who works less than 40 hours a week or on a variable schedule, an amount corresponding to hours worked

  • Caps the amount of COVID-19 emergency paid sick leave at $850 per week

  • Allows an employee to use COVID-19 emergency paid sick leave on an intermittent basis and in hourly increments

  • Directs the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development to develop and implement a multilingual outreach program to notify employees, parents and persons who are under the care of a health care provider about the availability of COVID-19 emergency paid sick leave

  • Requires COVID-19 emergency paid sick leave to be available to an employee until:
  • money in the COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave Fund is no longer available
  • the Executive Office for Administration and Finance notifies employers that it reasonably anticipates funds will no longer be available for reimbursement
  • OR September 30th, 2021, whichever is first

If the legislation is amended by the Senate, any differences would need to be reconciled with the House version, with a final bill needing approval by each chamber before proceeding to the Governor for his signature or veto. Click here to access the full text of the legislation, along with its legislative history
Mass. Taxpayers Foundation Analysis of Discretionary Funding for State & Local Governments Through ARPA

The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation released their initial analysis of the American Rescue Plan, a federal stimulus bill signed into law by President Biden on Thursday, March 11th, which elucidates key provisions and corresponding spending estimates.  

The report, in part, summarizes discretionary funding made available for state and local governments, and indicates that Massachusetts is estimated to receive $4.5 billion dollars in federal aid. Funding will be distributed through the Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund (CLRF) to municipalities and counties into three buckets: 

  • 37 municipalities are expected to receive $1.71 billion under the Community Development Block Grant Entitlement Program. This program provides annual grants on a formula basis to entitled cities and counties to develop viable urban communities by providing decent housing and a suitable living environment, and by expanding economic opportunities, principally for low- and moderate-income persons

  • 314 municipalities are expected to receive $367.9 million

  • Massachusetts counties are expected to receive $1.3 billion. For counties that are not units of local government, these awards will be distributed to the municipalities in the county based on population

Congresswoman Trahan to Host Tele-Town Hall on Federal Stimulus

Congresswoman Lori Trahan will host the next of her tele-town hall series on the coronavirus pandemic this Wednesday, March 17th at 5:00pm. This session will focus on the American Rescue Plan, the recent federal stimulus legislation signed into law last week.

Congresswoman Trahan will be joined on the call by John Silva, President and CEO of Greater Lawrence Family Health Center, and Gardner Mayor Michael Nicholson to discuss investments made via the American Rescue Plan and answer questions about the bill.

MBTA Virtual Public Meetings:
Fare Transformation, Future Retail Locations

The MBTA will be hosting three virtual public meetings later this month to raise awareness about their Fare Transformation program and to solicit feedback on identifying future retail locations for purchasing Charlie Cards. 

Starting in 2021, the MBTA will consistently collect fares using transit gates for Commuter Rail trips originating at terminal stations. By 2024, the Charlie Card will be operable across all MBTA modes. 

In the future, riders will be able to purchase their MBTA fares and passes online, via their smartphones, and with contactless credit/debit cards. The MBTA is also expanding acceptance of cash by building a larger network of retailers, in-station fare vending machines, and new streetscape fare vending machines at bus stops and Green Line stations across the network.

The MBTA has conducted a Point of Sale Distribution and Equity Analysis to identify where new sales locations should be added. Now, the MBTA is seeking public input to ensure their analysis did not miss critical locations.

Interested participants should register for the date of their choice using one of the links below:

Accessibility accommodations and language services will be provided free of charge, upon request, as available. Such services include documents in alternate formats, translated materials, assistive listening devices, and interpreters (including American Sign Language).
Westborough, Natick Seeking Business Community Input
on Draft Climate Action Plans

Westborough: The Westborough Climate Action Plan Task Force has released a draft of the Westborough Climate Action Plan, and is requesting feedback from business stakeholders in Westborough. The plan will be dynamic, and will be updated based on experience, new state programs, and the evolution of technology. The draft Westborough Climate Action Plan, along with a comment form, can be found here. The Task Force welcomes feedback at any time, and is willing to engage with business leaders one-on-one as desired. Comments submitted by March 26th can be taken under advisement prior to the target publication date in mid-April.

Natick: The Natick Sustainability Committee is inviting the business community to comment on its Draft Net Zero Action Plan. The Plan was developed in response to a resolution adopted at Natick's 2018 Annual Fall Town Meeting, and proposes 21 actions the Town should pursue in the next five years to support its goal of achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Input can be provided via email to Jillian Wilson Martin, Natick's Sustainability Coordinator, at Natick's Draft Net Zero Action Plan can be found here.
Shrewsbury Seeking Developers for Town Center Zoning District

The Town of Shrewsbury's new Town Center Zoning District was approved at the 2020 Annual Town Meeting, and the Town is actively seeking innovative and enthusiastic developers to bring forward their ideas for the area. The Town Center Zoning District seeks to create vibrant mixed-use development, walkable areas, and adaptive reuse.

Interested developers should contact the Planning and Economic Development Department for the Town of Shrewsbury via email at

Click here to review additional details about the Town Center Zoning District, and click the image below to view a short video prepared by the Town.
Upcoming Partnership Events

All Partnership events and committee meetings are being held virtually, via Zoom, at present. Committee meetings are open to all interested persons with advance registration.

  • Housing Committee Meeting: Thursday, March 25th at 8:30 AM. The Housing Committee will host its first meeting on Thursday, March 25th at 8:30 AM. This session will feature two presentations: Amy Dain of Dain Research, and author of The State of Zoning for Multi-Family Housing in Greater Boston, will present on the current state of housing in our region; and Chris Kluchman, Deputy Director of the Community Services Division at DHCD will present an overview of the state’s new Housing Choice legislation. Click here to register for the meeting.

  • Water Resources Committee Meeting: Tuesday, March 30th at 8:30 AM. The Water Resources Committee will host a presentation from the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) and the MWRA Advisory Board on Tuesday, March 30th at 8:30 AM. The presentation will focus on MWRA’s activities and services in the Partnership’s service region, and will be followed by a Q&A. Click here to register for the meeting.
As always, please do not hesitate to reach out if the Partnership can be of any assistance to you:
Jason Palitsch, Executive Director
(774) 760-0495 x105

Thank you for your continued commitment to strengthening our region.