The House of Representatives passed a $55 million bill today that would supplement certain fiscal 2022 appropriations in response to the current phase of the COVID-19 public health emergency.

The bill (H. 4340) would provide $30 million to fund the expansion of COVID-19 testing, and $25 million for the procurement and distribution of high-quality face masks for students and faculty in elementary and secondary public school districts.

The bill includes the following pandemic-related provisions and authorizations related to public meetings, all of which are MMA priorities for early this year:
• Remote option for public bodies: The House bill would extend through July 15 previous authorization for remote public meetings, first enacted at the beginning of the pandemic in April 2020 and currently set to expire on April 1.
• Open town meeting quorums: The bill would allow select boards, in consultation with their town moderator, to lower quorum requirements 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 bill would allow representative town meetings to once again have the option to meet remotely, if approved by the select board and town moderator, as well as the town meeting when it meets.

The provisions related to open and representative town meetings would be available through July 15, 2022.

H. 4340 would also set the state primary date for Sept. 6, 2022.

The bill now heads to the Senate, which is expected to finalize its own version by early next week.

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