Groveland residents attend their Town Meeting in spring 2020.

On Feb. 12, Gov. Charlie Baker signed a $101 million bill supplementing certain fiscal 2022 appropriations in response to the current phase of the COVID-19 public health emergency and extending certain authorizations related to public meetings.

The law extends pandemic-related authorizations related to public board and town meetings that either had expired or were due to expire soon. The following options are now available through July 15:
• Remote option for public bodies: The law extends authorization for virtual public meetings, first enacted at the beginning of the pandemic in April 2020.

• Open town meeting quorums: The law allows select boards, in consultation with their town moderator, to lower the quorum requirement for open town meetings to not less than 10% of the existing quorum level. The quorum provision includes a seven-day notification requirement before any select board vote.

• Remote representative town meetings: The law allows representative town meetings to have the option to meet remotely, if approved by the select board and town moderator, as well as the town meeting when it meets.

These extensions were priorities for the MMA in early 2022.

In terms of funding, the law includes $50 million for the expansion of COVID testing and $25 million to procure high-quality masks for students and faculty in elementary and secondary public school districts, early childhood centers, congregate care facilities, and home health care workers.

It also includes $25 million for the COVID-19 Massachusetts Emergency Paid Sick Leave Fund and $1 million for a public awareness campaign regarding unemployment benefit overpayments.

The law also sets the state primary date for Sept. 6, 2022.

Following negotiations between the House and Senate, the Legislature had sent a final bill (H. 4345) to the governor on Feb. 3.

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