Volume 4, Issue 2 | February 25, 2022
Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I hope this finds you healthy and happy. This newsletter includes a brief public health update regarding the mask mandate in schools, state and federal highlights, legislative updates from Beacon Hill, and selected news from the district.

As always, constituent service is our top priority. In March, I will host one virtual office hour and three in-person sessions. If you cannot attend scheduled office hours, you are welcome to contact my staff to schedule a meeting.

Please stay safe and warm in today'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
School Mask Mandate to Lift Feb. 28
On February 10, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley announced that the statewide mask requirement for K-12 schools will be lifted on February 28. At that time, DESE and the Department of Public Health recommend students and faculty wear masks in certain scenarios consistent with DESE’s COVID protocols.

The lifted mask mandate coincides with a dramatic decrease in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations across the Commonwealth and the United States.
Getting vaccinated remains the most important thing people can do to protect themselves, their families, and the community. Vaccines are widely available in Massachusetts. To find more information on COVID-19 vaccines, boosters, tests, and other resources, view the Resource List section at the end of this newsletter.
Baker-Polito Administration Launches New $75 Million Small Business Relief Program
Earlier this week, the Baker-Polito Administration announced the launch of a new $75 million grant program to support Massachusetts small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The new program is part of the plan to spend $4 billion in American Rescue Plan funding that was signed into law by Governor Charlie Baker in December 2021. The program is modeled after Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation’s (MGCC) successful COVID-19 small business relief program. Under that effort, which became the biggest state-sponsored business relief program in the nation, MGCC oversaw the distribution of approximately $705 million to over 15,000 small businesses across Massachusetts.

For more information on the program, visit EmpoweringSmallBusiness.org.
Massachusetts State House Reopens to Public
As of February 22, the Massachusetts State House is again open for public visitation!

The building is open to the public from 9-5, and proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test/photo of negative rapid test from less than 24 hours prior is required. Masks must be worn in all of the State House’s common spaces. Children under 5 are exempt from these rules for masking and testing.

To take a virtual guided tour or learn more about tours, visit https://www.sec.state.ma.us/trs/tourinfo.htm. You can also call 617-727-3676 to schedule a guided tour.
The Rotunda inside the Massachusetts State House on reopening day.
Celebrating Black History Month
This February, we celebrate Black History Month. In honor of Black History Month, I'd like to share with you some information on an upcoming event. On Monday at 6:00pm EST, the MA Black and Latino Legislative Caucus is hosting Black Excellence on the Hill.

You are welcome to attend by registering at https://bit.ly/3swxZrb.
Mass Humanities Announces Grant Opportunities
Mass Humanities is launching four grant programs targeted towards arts and humanities-based organizations across the Commonwealth. These programs, listed below, hope to expand the reach of the humanities and provide opportunities for funding when it is most needed.

The deadlines for the grants are as follows:
  • Staff the Humanities Grant: April 4, 2022
  • Expanding Massachusetts Stories Grant (With an additional Advancing Equity Grant track): April 11, 2022
  • Reading Frederick Douglass Together Grants: Rolling application deadline
  • Bridge Street Sponsorships (for online and hybrid programming support): Rolling application deadline

To learn more and apply to any of the programs, see here: https://masshumanities.org/mass-humanities-announces-2022-grant-opportunities/
Representative Meschino's Bills Receive Favorable Reviews, Extension Orders
Following the recent Joint Rule 10 deadline by which most Joint Committees must issue their recommendations for the next steps of bills under their review, I am looking forward to continuing to pursue much of my legislative agenda.

Four bills I filed received favorable reports and will continue to move forward in the legislative process. Highlighting these successes is the Joint Committee on Housing’s favorable report of H.3838, An Act to create and implement a Massachusetts Flexible Housing Subsidy Pool Program to address the medically complex needs of disabled men, women, and children experiencing homelessness. This legislation will braid public and private funding to meet the needs of homeless individuals, families, and unaccompanied youth across the continuum of care.

Two of my bills before the Joint Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities also received favorable reports. An Act to provide notice to counsel of changes in a child’s or a young adult’s placement and other events (H.253) requires the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to provide notice to legal counsel in advance of proposed non-emergency placement changes and to provide prompt notice immediately following an emergency placement, and An Act relative to basing dispositional orders on a child’s best interest (H.3776) eliminates the requirement that a probation officer’s report is filed for every decision regarding placement orders. An Act relative to condominiums (H.3008), which would close a loophole that exempts from assessment land slated to be developed into condominiums, received a favorable report from the Joint Committee on Revenue.

Three of my priority bills received extension orders, allowing the Joint Committees extra time to review bills further before issuing their report. These include An Act to create access to justice (H.1792), which empowers individuals to seek redress against discrimination by government policies; An Act relative to a streaming entertainment operator’s use of the public rights-of-way (H.130), which ensures that local cable and community media centers continue to be financially sustainable by including streaming services among those entities assessed a fee for their use of the municipal public rights-of-way; and An Act relative to waivers for non-fault overpayments (H.4202), which expands and shapes the current criteria to evaluate a repayment waiver application and alleviates burdens on the Commonwealth’s residents and the department of unemployment assistance (DUA).  

For more updates on the rest of my legislative agenda, view our press release on the topic here.
House Passes Legislation Establishing Additional Protections for Veterans and Mandating Increased Accountability for Management of Veterans Homes
In an effort to ensure greater accountability on behalf of our veterans and their families, the Massachusetts House of Representatives passed legislation on February 10 that makes key reforms to the governance structure of the veterans’ homes. These include provisions that will ensure homes are federally licensed as health care facilities, mandate increased state management, and provide independent oversight and accountability of veterans’ homes management.

“An Act relative to the governance, structure and care of veterans at the Commonwealth veterans’ homes” (H.4441):
  • Requires home superintendents to be licensed as nursing home administrators and either to be a veteran or someone with experience managing veterans in a nursing home or long term-care facility.
  • Establishes a 17-member statewide Veterans’ Homes Council to manage and control the veterans’ homes, promulgate regulations to the local boards, and confirm and remove superintendents.
  • Preserves local, 5-member boards of trustees for the veterans’ homes in Chelsea and Holyoke with the authority to nominate candidates for superintendents of their respective veterans’ homes.
  • Establishes the Office of the Veteran Advocate, an independent office that will be led by a Veteran Advocate appointed by the Governor, Attorney General and State Auditor.
  • Requires the Veteran Advocate to submit an annual report, which will be made public, to the Governor and the Legislature with an analysis of the delivery of services to veterans and recommendations for changes in agency procedures.
  • Establishes the position of ombudsperson for each veterans’ home to advocate on behalf of the residents and staff at the home.
  • Requires the Department of Public Health (DPH) to conduct and report on inspections of veterans’ homes twice a year, or as often as they see fit, and establishes a maximum time of 30 days for a veterans’ home to correct any violation that DPH identifies.
  • Requires that all state-operated veterans’ homes adhere to the guidelines for trauma-informed care as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and be certified by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
  • Requires the Office of Veterans’ Homes and Housing to submit an annual report of findings that includes but is not limited to the quality of care provided at the homes and an analysis of activities of the Office and of the Veterans’ Homes Council.

The legislation is now before the Senate.
Rep. Meschino Joins Colleagues from TUE on Visit to New Bedford Marine Terminal
On February 7, I joined colleagues on the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, & Energy for a tour of Massachusetts Clean Energy Center's New Bedford Marine Terminal and a demonstration of VinciVR’s newest Virtual Reality experience: a day in the life of an offshore wind technician. Visit masscec.com for more information on the terminal and the work being done to support the development of offshore wind in the Commonwealth.

Thanks to Chairman Jeff Roy for organizing the trip and his leadership on this issue.
Rep. Meschino joins colleagues from the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy in New Bedford on February 7.
Hingham Public School District Secures $16,272 Grant to Support Language Learners
This week, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) announced that Hingham Public Schools was one of 22 districts that will receive an FY22 Proficiency-based Outcomes in Languages Other than English Grant. This competitive grant program is a way that DESE supports World Language (WL), Heritage Language (HL), Dual Language (DL) and English Language Learner (ELL) programs and districts in their efforts to support or improve such programs in pre-K, elementary, and/or secondary schools. 

For more information on the grant, view our press release here
Scituate Wins $1 Million Grant to Support Cole Parkway Marina Rehabilitation
At a Seaport Economic Council meeting earlier this week, Lt. Governor Karyn Polito announced approximately $1.8 million in grants for seven projects. The grant funding will support a range of initiatives including the design of upgrades to coastal infrastructure, the development of a harbor management plan, and funding to support commuter ferry facility maintenance.

The Town of Scituate received the largest of the awards with $1 million heading their way to complete Phase 2 of their Cole Parkway Marina Rehabilitation. This phase of the project includes replacing the existing deteriorating timber floating dock, the pump-out system, the potable water distribution system, and the electrical distribution system. In Phase 1 of the project, new steel mooring piles and an 80’ ADA compliant gangway were installed. The steel mooring piles will also be reused to moor the new floats.

More information on the award announcements can be found here.
Rep. Meschino joins Transportation Secretary to Discuss Safety at Scituate Intersection
On February 15, I met with officials from the Town of Scituate and MassDOT Secretary Tesler to discuss short term and permanent solutions to make the intersection of 3A and Booth Hill Road safer for our drivers.

I appreciate the productive dialogue and MassDOT’s willingness to work alongside Scituate to improve public safety.
Rep. Meschino joins MassDOT Secretary Tesler, Senator O'Connor, Rep. Kearney, Scituate PD Chief Thompson and Town Administrator Jim Boudreau on February 15.
Hingham Municipal Light Plant, CCO Holdings in Scituate Among Entities Receiving Awards for EV Fast-Charging Stations
In early February, the Baker-Polito Administration announced that $13.1 million in grants have been awarded to 54 government and private entities under the Massachusetts Electric Vehicle Incentive Program (MassEVIP) to install 306 Direct Current Fast Charging (DCFC) electric vehicle charging ports at 150 locations. According to J.D. Power, DCFC stations take between 15 and 45 minutes to charge most passenger electric vehicles up to 80%. 

On the South Shore, $344,000 has been awarded to public and private entities to install eight new electric vehicle charging ports. The Hingham Municipal Light Plant will receive four ports, the Blink Network in Norwell will receive two ports, and CCO Holdings in Scituate will receive two ports. All of the charging stations will be publicly accessible.

Additional information on these grants can be found here.
Announcing Office Hours

Constituent services are our top priority. My Chief of Staff, Director of Constituent Services and Communications and I continue to work remotely on Mondays and Fridays. On Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, a staff member will be present in the State House. I have also 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 Chief of Staff.

  • Monday, March 7, 4:00 - 5:00 pm, Virtual Office Hours
  • Monday, March 14, 9:00 - 10:30 am, Willcutt Commons, 91 Sohier Street, Cohasset
  • Monday, March 21, 10:00 - 11:00 am, Hull Council on Aging, 197A Samoset Ave, Hull
  • Monday, March 28, 4:00 - 5:00 pm, Scituate Library, 85 Branch Street, Scituate

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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