House Passes Legislation to Address Challenges Faced by School Systems and Vulnerable Residents

On April 2, House Speaker Bob DeLeo and Rep. Joseph McGonagle, along with their colleagues in the House of Representatives, passed legislation to provide support to school systems and those persons experiencing homelessness, and to prevent the shut-off of essential municipal services amid the COVID-19 public health emergency.

“This public health emergency is a stark reminder that we must lift up the most vulnerable among us,” said Speaker DeLeo (D – Winthrop). “This legislation provides emergency funding for the homeless and prevents shut-offs of essential services for residents. I thank Chair Michlewitz for his work to move these vital provisions forward.”

“A pandemic and crisis calls for unprecedented measures in protecting the people of the Commonwealth,” said McGonagle. “I’m thankful to Speaker DeLeo, Chair Michlewitz and all my colleagues for identifying these critical needs and addressing them properly. This legislation is crucial for protecting our people.”

The legislation includes the following provisions.

•Repurposes existing homelessness funds that currently support services that can’t be provided due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The legislation redirects funding to address immediate and critical homelessness needs resulting from the public health emergency.

•Extends deadlines for schools filing reports under the Student Opportunity Act to May 15 or a later date as determined by the Department of Early and Secondary Education (DESE) Commissioner, provides the DESE Commissioner the authority to waive or modify the administration of the MCAS testing, and gives regional school authorities budget flexibility during the public health emergency.

•Prevents the shut-off of essential services at municipal level due to an inability to pay due to the public health emergency. The bill will now go to the Senate.

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