Volume 4, Issue 4 | April 29, 2022
Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I hope this finds you healthy and well. This newsletter includes an update on the FY23 budget passed this week by the House of Representatives, as well as updates on relief for unemployment claimants, ferry service, and key transportation maintenance legislation. Selected news from the district, including a visit from U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, is also included below.

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

Very truly yours, Joan
Expanded Relief to Unemployment Claimants Announced
On Thursday, April 14, expanded relief to unemployment claimants with overpayment obligations was announced. I filed An Act relative to waivers for non-fault overpayments (H4202) in the fall of 2021 to address the overly-complex waiver process, and I’m encouraged that our work on this issue and with this legislation has spurred action by the administration.

DUA has committed to three important measures:
  1. Writing off $475 million in state and federal benefits on overpaid claims with identity verification issues; 
  2. Filing emergency regulations to expand criteria for waivers to cover as much as $782 million in overpayments that were not eligible under USDOL’s decision; and
  3. Enacting operational changes that will make it smoother and quicker to move through the waiver process. These changes will include a pre-qualification step that will generate a “one-click” option to be granted a waiver. Claimants who are eligible for this opportunity will be contacted directly by DUA beginning this week, and they should look out for communication from DUA.

For more on the announcement, view our press release here. View the official announcement here.
House of Representatives Passes $49.7 Billion FY23 Budget
Late Wednesday night, the House of Representatives passed a $49.7 billion fiscal 2023 budget that addresses the needs of residents and makes targeted investments to support families in the Commonwealth. This budget continues our strong commitment to cities and towns, and it includes significant investments in health care, education, housing, and workforce development, among other priorities. 

I was able to secure funding for several key priorities for the 3rd Plymouth District, including full funding for state aid for public libraries and increased funding for the Division of Ecological Restoration. I also advocated for and was able to secure $75,000 for Hingham and Cohasset to establish a new regional sustainability officer position, which will guide a regional approach to sustainability and assist each town in coordinating its own efforts to achieve its climate goals.

In addition, I filed three additional amendments to secure funding for projects on the South Shore. These included a request for $300,000 for the redesign of Manet Community Health Center’s Hull facility, a request for $225,000 for the Department of Conservation and Recreation to conduct a condition assessment of the Point Allerton seawall in Hull, and a request for $500,000 to conduct a multiyear corridor study on the possibilities of double-track rail implementation along the Old Colony Line. Though funding for these projects was not secured in this budget, I remain committed to seeking other avenues for funding these projects.

The Senate will now take up the budget, and following its passage out of the Senate, a House-Senate Conference Committee will work out the differences between the two versions.

A comprehensive breakdown of the funding in this year's budget can be found in our press release at this link. You can also visit https://malegislature.gov/Budget/FY2023/HouseDebate.
Legislation Funding Key Local Transportation Maintenance and Repairs Passed by House of Representatives
On March 30, I joined colleagues in a vote to pass a $350 million spending bill that adds $200 million to the Chapter 90 program to fund local road and bridge repairs and calls for an additional $150 million to be spent on other municipal transportation efforts. The Chapter 90 Program grants municipalities annual funding to improve and invest in local transportation networks. The $200 million allocation in the legislation will be added to the Massachusetts Transportation Trust Fund and subsequently distributed to each municipality.

For a more comprehensive breakdown of the Chapter 90 funding, view our press release here.
Representative Meschino Hosts Legislative Breakfast for MAPC's South Shore Coalition
This morning, I joined the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) to host the South Shore Coalition's annual legislative breakfast. Alongside colleagues and local leaders, we discussed regional economic development and ways the Legislature can assist MAPC's efforts to promote regional cooperation. 

These conversations are critical as we strive to foster innovation that spurs the growth of our workforce, and supports our small businesses and main streets.
Representative Josh Cutler, Senator Susan Moran, Senator Patrick O'Connor, Senator John Keenan, Lizzi Weyant (MAPC) and Representative Meschino share remarks at MAPC's South Shore Coalition legislative breakfast on April 29.
U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren Visits Hull
Last week, I joined Senator Warren and local officials for a roundtable discussion, focusing primarily on the impacts of climate change in Hull. Many thanks to Senator Warren for making the trip out to Hull!

For more information on the discussion and the Senator’s visit, click on this link.
Rep. Meschino joins U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (left) and local officials (right) on April 21.
Representative Joan Meschino Hosts Chairs of Joint Committee on Housing to Discuss CHAMP with Housing Authorities
On Tuesday, April 12, I hosted the Chairs of the Joint Committee on Housing, fellow legislators, and Housing Authorities in Cohasset for a meeting to discuss experiences with the Common Housing Application for Massachusetts Programs (CHAMP). During the meeting, Housing Authorities presented challenges and concerns about CHAMP as it currently exists. The Housing Authorities and the legislative delegation in attendance remain dedicated to improving CHAMP in ways that benefit both applicants and Housing Authorities.

For more information on the meeting and outcomes, view our press release here.
Rep. DeCoste, Chairman Keenan, Chairman Arciero, Rep. Meschino, Taffy Nothnagle, and Sen Patrick O'Connor gather
Hingham/Hull Ferry Service Restored
As of April 1, additional service has been restored to and from Boston Logan Airport on the Hingham/Hull ferry. The 7 added departure and arrival times and a full schedule 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, May 2, 10:00 - 11:00 am, Linden Ponds for Linden Ponds Residents
  • Monday, May 2, 4:00 - 5:00 pm, Hingham Library, 66 Leavitt Street, Hingham
  • Monday, May 9, 9:00 - 10:30 am, Willcutt Commons, 91 Sohier Street, Cohasset

To learn more about our constituent services, please visit our website.
Federal Mask Requirement for Transit Updated
As a result of a court order, effective April 18, 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) January 29, 2021 Order requiring masks on public transportation conveyances and at transportation hubs is no longer in effect. The CDC will no longer enforce the order; however, the CDC continues to recommend that people wear masks in indoor public transportation settings at this time. Except for on The RIDE, riders are no longer required to wear a mask while on the T. Find more information from the FTA here and from the MBTA here.
Federal Administration Launches New One-Stop-Shop COVID Website
On March 30, the White House launched COVID.gov, a website meant to be a one-stop-shop for everything from locating free, high-quality masks and COVID treatments to viewing local transmission levels. The website also provides information on test & treat locations, ordering free antigen tests, and where to find vaccines in your community.
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
  • Tool to find healthy foods
  • Free outdoor Wi-Fi map through the public libraries
  • Eviction Diversion Initiative website with resources for tenants, landlords, and others needing housing assistance
  • SafeLink 24/7 Crisis Hotline for Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault: 877-785-2020
  • Mental Health Resources:
  • MassSupport for free mental health support resources
  • HandholdMA.org for parents of school-aged children in Massachusetts concerned about their child's mental health
  • 24-hour Parental Stress Line at 1.800.632.8188, offered through Parents Helping Parents
  • Utilities
  • The winter moratorium on utility shutoffs ended on April 1. The AGO website has a utility FAQ page and consumer flyers with details about available programs to manage bills and prevent shutoff
Constituent Questions | 617-722-2320 | Office Contact Information
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