Since the pandemic began, communities such as Cambridge have made significant use of remote and hybrid technology. Pictured: Cambridge Deputy City Manager Owen O’Riordan (left) and City Manager Yi-An Huang participate in the Feb. 27 City Council meeting.

The House today passed a redrafted version of a $282 million supplemental 2023 budget bill filed by Gov. Maura Healey in January that includes a majority of her “immediate needs” bond bill, as well as extensions of pandemic-related authorizations related to public meetings and outdoor dining.

The House bill’s $585 million in bonding authorizations include $400 million for the MassWorks Infrastructure Program and $104 million for the Massachusetts Clean Water Trust.

The House included other MMA priorities — extensions to pandemic-related authorizations that were set to expire within the next month. The bill would:
• Permit remote and hybrid meeting options for public bodies through March 31, 2025
• Permit remote participation options for representative town meetings through March 31, 2025
• Permit reduced quorums for open town meetings through March 31, 2025
• Extend an expedited process for temporary permits for outdoor dining service and to-go cocktails through April 1, 2024

The House bill (H. 58) includes nearly $86 million to address the migrant housing crisis, a slight boost over Healey’s request. The funding would be used to expand shelter infrastructure and the provider workforce. It includes $41 million focused on communities with a large influx of school-aged children due to shelter placement.

The House bill includes Healey’s requested $65 million to extend the universal school meals pilot program, and $130 million for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Last month, the federal government announced an end to Extra COVID SNAP benefits, known as SNAP Emergency Allotments. The House bill would provide a supplemental SNAP allotment equal to 40% of the previous federal benefits for three months.

The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration and debate in the coming weeks.

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