State government continues to push through legislation to help towns and cities deal with disruptions to the municipal calendar posed by the COVID-19 emergency.

Spring Municipal Elections may be Postponed to June 30

The Governor signed an act authorizing towns and cities to postpone municipal elections scheduled between now and May 30 to a date not later than June 30. Postponing an election requires a vote by the select board, town/city council, or the board of registrars of voters, but not a court order.

Voter registration deadlines for postponed elections would be extended to 10 days before the new election date, but other deadlines (such as the submission of nomination papers) remain the same. Incumbents would remain in office as holdovers until their successors are elected and qualified.

Municipal Relief Bill Tolls Permitting Deadlines, Offers Tax Payment Extensions, Provides Flexibility to Rehire Retired Workers, and Allows Restaurants to Sell Take-Out Beer and Wine

Among the highlights of the new bill:

  •  Permit applications could be filed with the town/city clerk and by email or website upload, notwithstanding statutes or local rules to the contrary.

  • Various permitting deadlines would be extended until 45 days after the end of the Governor’s March 10 Declaration of a State of Emergency, such as:

  • The time to start a public hearing;

  • The time to act on a pending permit application; and

  • The time to act to avoid a constructive approval.

  • Permits would not lapse or expire during the State of Emergency, and deadlines for permit conditions would toll during the State of Emergency.

  • The deadline to record certain permits would be suspended while the registry of deeds is closed, and the failure to record would not prevent the issuance of a building permit.

  • Permits could not be revoked for failure to comply with a condition or commence work due to the State of Emergency.

  • Retired public employees receiving a pension could work for public entities during the State of Emergency, notwithstanding the ordinary restrictions on age, hours, and compensation.

  • Municipalities could extend upcoming property tax due dates to June 1 and waive late penalties for 4th quarter taxes.

  • Restaurants with on-premises alcoholic beverages licenses could sell beer or wine for off-premises consumption, provided the beverages come in original sealed containers and accompany a food purchase, with a limitation on quantity (1.5 liters of wine and 192 ounces of beer per transaction).

Some of the provisions in the Governor’s bill are addressed by other pending bills. Mirick O’Connell will continue to keep clients up to date on emergency legislation addressing the COVID-19 emergency.