Volume 4, Issue 1 | January 28, 2022
Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I hope you have had an excellent start to the new year! This newsletter includes a public health update, legislative updates from Beacon Hill, and selected news from the district from December and January.

As always, constituent service is our top priority. In February, I will host office hours online. If you cannot attend scheduled office hours, you are welcome to contact my staff to schedule a meeting.

Please stay safe and warm this weekend as we prepare for Saturday's storm! Check out these safety tips from the Red Cross of Massachusetts, and know that my office is always open to you as a resource should you find yourself in need of assistance.

Very truly yours, Joan
Free COVID-19 Tests Now Available for Order
Every household in the U.S. is now eligible for free 4 at-home COVID-19 tests. After an order is placed, the test kits will ship between 7-12 days. Orders for the 4 free at-home COVID-19 tests can be placed on https://www.covidtests.gov.
If you need to place the order by phone, call the covidtests.gov helpline at 1-800-232-0233 (TTY 1-888-720-7489). Hours are between 8 am to 12 am Eastern time 7 days a week.
400,000 COVID-19 Tests to Be Distributed in Plymouth County
On January 21, 2022, Plymouth County Chair Sandy Wright notified Plymouth County legislators that approximately 400,000 COVID-19 antigen rapid tests have been allocated from the CARES Act to be distributed to Plymouth County municipalities. As demand for COVID-19 tests remains high, communities and residents in Hingham, Hull and Scituate will be able to obtain tests. For more information on the allocation of tests, view our press release here.

To find additional information on Tests, Boosters, and Vaccines in the 3rd Plymouth District Boosters, view our Special Edition Newsletter from mid-January here.
Update: COVID-19 Testing in Schools
The Administration recently announced updated testing options for schools K-12 in order to keep in-person learning operational. Together with the Department of Public Health, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education announced that schools will be able to receive at-home rapid antigen tests for staff and students for weekly use while simultaneously discontinuing contact tracing and the “Test and Stay” program. Additionally, the Administration announced the expansion of the “Test and Stay” program to early childcare centers.

To view the announcement of these updates, visit this webpage.
House Passes COVID-19 Spending Bill
In January, the Massachusetts House of Representatives passed legislation that calls for an increase the state’s capacity for testing, vaccination rates among children, and availability of high-quality masks. The $55 million COVID-19 spending bill tackles these issues by appropriating the following funds:
  • $30 million to establish and expand COVID testing sites, with at least $5 million dedicated to expanding vaccination rates among kids ages 5 to 11; and
  • $25 million to acquire and distribute high-quality personal protective masks for children and faculty in elementary and secondary public school districts.

Legislators also added several provisions, including flexibility for retired teachers and other public employees to go back to work to ease staffing shortages as well as an extension for remote public meetings, representative town meetings, notarizations, and reverse-mortgage counseling. Under the new legislation, authorization for remote public meetings, set to expire April 1, 2022, would be extended through July 15, 2022.

Shortly after the House passed its version of the bill, the Senate passed its own version with additional appropriated funds and policies. Differences between the Senate and House bills must now be reconciled in conference committee before the final bill is sent to the Governor.
From December: Governor Baker Signs ARPA Spending Bill
On Monday, December 13, 2021, Governor Baker signed An Act relative to immediate COVID-19 recovery needs (H.4269,) which allocates $2.55 billion in federal funding granted to the Commonwealth for COVID-19 relief from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and $1.45 billion in surplus tax dollars from fiscal year 2021. Advanced by the Massachusetts legislature in early December, the bill allocates $4 billion in critical investments to sectors including housing, health care, mental and behavioral health, climate preparedness, education, and workforce development.

The legislation includes several wins from my legislative agenda, including:
  • An Unemployment Insurance Overpayment Waiver Public Information Campaign: Scores of workers who are either currently unemployed or experienced unemployment during the pandemic have received notices from the Department of Unemployment Assistance about recouping large sums of money as a result of overpayments. Recipients of these notices were often issued overpayments by no fault of their own, and though they are able to request waivers for the requirement to repay benefits, many are unaware that they possess this right. This section of the legislation requires the Department of Unemployment Assistance to run a public information campaign, specifically targeting many of these beneficiaries, about the overpayment waiver program. This language stems from a bill I filed this fall, H.4202. For more information on the legislation, view this press release.
  • Funding for Supportive Housing: The legislation includes a $150 million allocation to build permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless individuals, families, youth and young adults, survivors of domestic violence, seniors and veterans. 
  • Funding for Community College Hunger Pilot: $2.7 million is included in the bill to establish a Massachusetts community college campus hunger pilot program to address student hunger and food insecurity as an obstacle to degree attainment. This language originates from a bill I filed (H.1350) with Senator Joan Lovely (D-Salem) (S.847). To read more about the legislation, view this press release.
Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy Holds Hearing on Offshore Wind Legislation
The Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy held a hearing on January 11, 2022, for bills dealing with consumer protection, environmental justice, public safety, security systems, siting, towing, and more. Among the bills heard was H.4204, An Act to power Massachusetts’s clean energy economy, regarding the offshore wind industry. This industry is critical to reaching our climate goals, as are our efforts to electrify our transportation and building sectors, to invest in grid modernization and battery storage, and to prioritize environmental justice.
Representative Meschino speaks during the January 11 TUE Hearing.
MassAccess Honors Rep. Meschino as Legislator of the Year
At MassAccess' Annual meeting on January 26, I received the organization's Legislator of the Year award for my work to support community media centers. I continue to advocate for H.130, An Act relative to a streaming entertainment operator’s use of the public rights-of-way, to be passed. H130 would assess a minor fee on streaming service providers to support local public programming. For more information on the legislation, you can our press release here.

Many thanks to MassAccess for the fantastic work that you do and for this wonderful honor!
Representative Meschino receives the Legislator of the Year Award from MassAccess.
Rep. Meschino Attends Rowing Event for Veterans Hosted by Hull Lifesaving Museum
On Saturday, January 22, I attended the Hull Lifesaving Museum’s successful veterans’ rowing event. Stay tuned for additional programming from the museum by visiting the museum's website.
Veterans row away from the shore at the veterans' rowing event hosted by the Hull Lifesaving Museum on January 22.
Mass Humanities Announces Smithsonian Exhibit Coming to Hull
This month, Mass Humanities announced that “Crossroads: Changes in Rural America,” a mobile exhibit by the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum on Main Street Program, will be coming to The Hull Lifesaving Museum from October 30 to December 10 of this year. As a host site, the museum will receive training from Smithsonian staff and a $10,000 grant from Mass Humanities for public events during the six weeks of the exhibit. Additional locations and more information on the exhibits can be found here.
From December: Representative Joan Meschino Visits Scituate Headquarters of NOAA's Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary (SBNMS)
Last month, I joined Captain Peter DeCola, Deputy Superintendent Ben Haskell, and SBNMS Advisory Council Member John Galluzzo for a tour of the Scituate Headquarters of SBNMS.

SBNMS covers an 842-square-mile marine protected area that stretches from 3 miles south of Cape Ann to 3 miles north of Cape Cod. Stellwagen Bank is one of 15 national marine sanctuaries that aim to conserve and enhance the wealth of biological diversity, natural resources, and cultural resources within each site.

To learn more about the sanctuary, visit this link.
State Representative Meschino and Captain Peter DeCola tour the Scituate Headquarters of SBNMS.
Announcing Office Hours

Constituent services are our top priority. My Legislative Aides and I continue to work remotely. However, I have returned to hosting in-person office hours in the district.

If you would like to reserve a time slot for virtual office hours or outside of the times listed, please call the office at 617-722-2320 or email my legislative aide.

  • Monday, February 7, 4:00 - 5:00 pm, Virtual Office Hours
  • Monday, February 14, 4:00 - 5:00 pm, Virtual Office Hours

To learn more about our constituent services, please visit our website.
General Resources

COVID-19 Vaccines

COVID-19 Tests & Cases
  • Find a COVID-19 Test Online
  • DESE's Report on the number of positive COVID-19 cases in schools

Town-Specific Information on COVID-19
Basic Needs
Constituent Questions | 617-722-2320 | Office Contact Information
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