The House and Senate today enacted a $261.6 million supplemental budget for fiscal 2021 and sent it to the governor, who has 10 days, until July 31, to sign, veto or return provisions to the Legislature with suggested amendments.

Outside sections of the bill include five provisions to extend early voting through Dec. 15, 2021.

The bill would:
• Extend no-excuse absentee voting for all elections through Dec. 15, 2021
• Authorize in-person early voting for any regular or special municipal preliminary, primary or general election on or before Dec. 15, 2021
• Authorize early voting by mail for any regular or special or state preliminary primary or general election on or before Dec. 15, 2021
• Extend the right of voters ordered to quarantine to select an alternative location for delivery of ballots for annual or special municipal or state primary or election held on or before Dec. 15, 2021
• Allow a select board, board of selectmen, town council or city council to — after a public hearing and by recorded and public vote at least 45 days prior to the date of an election — opt-out of allowing early voting by mail for any annual or special municipal preliminary or municipal election

These COVID pandemic-related changes to election procedures, initially made in spring 2020, were extended by three months in March, but the extension ended on June 30. The extension through Dec. 15 would cover city elections set for this fall.

The supplemental budget bill includes $12.5 million for implementation of the December 2020 police reform law, with a specific focus on de-escalation training, use of force training and school resource officer training, as well as $5 million for initial costs associated with the newly created Massachusetts Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission.

The bill involves a range of additional spending for the fiscal year that ended on June 30, including $131 million to help stabilize the early education and care sector.

Lawmakers and the governor have expressed support for easier access to mail-in voting and expanded early voting. Legislative leaders have signaled that they intend to take up a more comprehensive election reform bill this fall.

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