The Senate yesterday passed a $1.64 billion fiscal 2022 supplemental budget bill that includes funding for repairing winter road damage and an extension of rules for expanded outdoor dining and takeout cocktails, all important priorities for the MMA this spring.

Most of the spending bill is dedicated to COVID-19 pandemic response and recovery efforts, including expanded testing, vaccination sites and workforce development.

The Senate bill (S. 2776) largely mirrors a House version (H. 4532) passed earlier this month.

Both bills would provide $100 million for the rehabilitation, reconstruction, resurfacing or preservation of local roads. The funds could also be used to repair or replace traffic control devices, signage, guardrails, and storm grates, as well as road striping or painting.

Both bills would also extend deadlines for expanded outdoor dining under rules initially created in response to the public health emergency. Under an executive order issued in 2020, municipalities were permitted to use an expedited process to approve temporary permits for new or expanded outdoor dining and alcohol service. The rules had been extended by legislation, but are currently set to expire on April 1. The House and Senate bills would extend the rules through April 1, 2023.

Similarly, an emergency provision allowing restaurants to sell beer, wine and cocktails to go, set to expire on May 1, would be extended through April 1, 2023.

Neither the House or Senate bill included two other municipal priorities that were in the original version of the bill, filed by Gov. Charlie Baker in February: a $100 million one-time supplemental appropriation for the Chapter 90 local road and bridge program, and $150 million for environmental initiatives, including the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Program.

The House and Senate will need to reconcile differences between their respective proposals before sending a final bill to the governor for his consideration. House and Senate leaders said they expect action next week.

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