Friday, October 23, 2020

Senate Passes Legislation Ensuring Safe Patient Access to Emergency Care

The Massachusetts State Senate passed An Act to Ensure Safe Patient Access to Emergency Care, also known as “Laura’s Law,” in memory of Somerville resident Laura Beth Levis, who died in 2016 from an asthma attack just steps from an emergency-room door. 

Levis, 34, was a vibrant, Harvard University editor who walked to the emergency room of CHA Somerville Hospital before dawn one September morning but was unable to get inside. Her attack intensified, and she collapsed before help could arrive. Numerous safety failures at the hospital, including inadequate ER signage, lighting, and an abandoned hospital security desk, all played a role in her tragic death.

“Laura Levis' death was preventable, and this bill takes common sense steps to protect others in similar situations,” said Senate President Karen Spilka (D – Ashland). “Peter DeMarco’s efforts to share his wife’s story speak to his remarkable resolve and commitment to helping others. I am grateful to him, as well as Senators Pat Jehlen, Michael Rodrigues, and Jo Comerford for proactively leading the way to make sure that Laura's story is not repeated.”

“This is a commonsense bill that will save lives,” said Senator Michael J. Rodrigues (D-Westport), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “Access to emergency care starts with making sure emergency rooms are clearly identifiable and reachable for patients in crisis. I applaud Senator Jehlen for her hard work on this important bill and my colleagues in the Committee for advancing it to the Senate for consideration.”

“A well-placed sign with clearly understandable directions can not only prevent navigating a hospital campus from being a burden, it can save a life when time counts in an emergency,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R - Gloucester). “This bill will ensure that some simple and powerful tools are always at work when we need them to get access to care.”

Laura's story was chronicled in the Boston Globe story “Losing Laura,” written by her husband, Peter DeMarco, who has worked with Jehlen and Barber's offices on passing the bill.

“We assume that hospitals have proper signage and lighting and security, but Laura's death proves that isn't always true. The hospital where Laura went didn't even have something as simple as an illuminated Emergency sign above the right door for her to have used,” DeMarco said. “If Laura's Law had existed that sign would have existed. She would have walked through the door, and she'd be alive today.”

Under Laura's Law, the Department of Public Health would be required to create state standards for all hospital in Massachusetts to ensure safe, timely and accessible access to emergency departments.

According to DeMarco's Globe story, Laura chose a locked door to try to access the emergency room because the correct door was not properly marked. Though Laura was on surveillance video, the hospital security desk was left unattended all night, so no one saw her. When a nurse from the emergency department eventually looked out the door for Laura, she did not see her, as the spot where Laura collapsed was in near darkness.

“Laura lost every coin flip that morning. But If you're having an asthma attack, or a heart attack, or you are about to die from a drug overdose, a single impediment to getting inside an emergency room as quickly as possible can mean the difference between life or death,” DeMarco said. “I hope so much that through Laura's death, someone else's life will be saved. It's why this bill needs to pass.”

Laura's Law would not go into effect until after the governor's Covid-19 state of emergency has been lifted.

The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.


Thursday, October 22, 2020

Partnerships for Recovery, $774 Million Economic Recovery Plan

Today, the Baker-Polito Administration announced a $774 million plan to stabilize and grow our economy. The plan focuses on getting people back to work, supporting small businesses, fostering innovation, revitalizing downtowns and ensuring housing stability. Partnerships for Recovery begins today by directing $115 million in new funding to small businesses and Main Streets hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and for workforce training efforts. 

Additionally, the Administration is aligning multiple funding sources, both existing and proposed, to appropriately respond to the crisis. 

Partnerships for Recovery supports five key recovery efforts: 

  • Getting Massachusetts back to work 
  • Supporting small businesses 
  • Revitalizing downtowns 
  • Supporting housing equity and stability 
  • Fostering innovation 

You can learn more here -



Baker-Polito Administration Announces Partnerships for Recovery, $774 Million Economic Recovery Plan

Today, the Baker-Polito Administration announced a $774 million comprehensive plan to stabilize and grow the Massachusetts economy. The plan focuses on getting people back to work, supporting small businesses, fostering innovation, revitalizing downtowns and ensuring housing stability. Partnerships for Recovery begins today by directing $115 million in new funding to small businesses and Main Streets hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and for workforce training efforts. Additionally, the Administration is aligning multiple funding sources, both existing and proposed, to appropriately respond to the crisis.


Partnerships for Recovery supports five key recovery efforts:


  • Getting Massachusetts back to work


  • Supporting small businesses >Revitalizing downtowns


  • Supporting housing equity and stability


  • Fostering innovation


Governor Charlie Baker, Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy, Labor and Workforce Secretary Rosalin Acosta, and Administration and Finance Secretary Michael J. Heffernan joined Joe Kriesberg, President and CEO of the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations to announce the plan at the Gardner Auditorium.


“This plan represents a comprehensive strategy to get people back to work and to support the small businesses hit the hardest by the pandemic, putting the Commonwealth on a path to recovery,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “By leveraging existing tools and programs and implementing new ones this plan will allow us to make critical resources and assistance to those who need it most available now.” 


“While we continue to combat this pandemic, this plan takes an approach that addresses key needs of the businesses in downtowns and main streets, provides housing support for vulnerable families, and opens new doors for people seeking to return to work,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “While we acknowledge we still have a ways to go, this plan will help to jumpstart our innovation economy and position Massachusetts to be on a path for success.”


  • Putting $115 million to work right away for small businesses and workforce training, including more than $25 million to get people back to work;


  • Directing $323 million in existing capital programs as part of the response to continue doing more of what works;


  • Filing for $122 million through the Revised H.2 budget to supplement existing funding in support of struggling Main Street businesses and skill building for residents;


  • Steering $43 million in Federal, trust and other state funding toward our most critical needs; and


  • Committing $171 million to keep people safely housed during the pandemic.


Getting People Back to Work


In order to get people back to work, new investments are being made to build workforce skills, growing training programs and pathways, forging new partnerships between employers and workers, and supporting internet connectivity to facilitate remote work and online career advancement. The more than $25 million available now includes:


  • $10.4 million to engage Massachusetts employers by expanding workforce partnerships with large employers in target sectors to create aligned statewide training-employment pathways;


  • $9.2 million to subsidize internet for low-income populations, and to expand hot spots in unserved and underserved communities;


  • $3.2 million to modernize MassHire virtual pathways to assess and connect UI claimants to appropriate services and supports;


  • $2 million to bolster manufacturing training by purchasing a standardized virtual training program to increase workforce for the manufacturing sector; and


  • $300,000 to supplement $8.4 million toward Career Technical Institutes in H.2 to help close the skills gap for skilled technician jobs and align training to industry needs.


An additional $54 million is available to support workforce recovery efforts through existing programming such as the Skills Capital Grants program, the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund, and the Workforce Training Trust Fund.


Revised House 2 also proposes $17.9 million in workforce funding, including $8.4 million in funding to transform vocational high schools into Career Technical Institutes running three shifts per day. This initiative is designed to train 20,000 new workers over four years in skilled trades and technical fields including plumbing, HVAC, manufacturing, and robotics. This will consist of a combination of enrolling more high school students in high-impact vocational trade programs and expanding capacity for adults to earn industry-based credentials, aligned to apprenticeships and post-secondary degrees.


"These funds will provide critical re-employment services to our workforce, helping people make the transition from unemployment benefits to good paying jobs in some of the Commonwealth's key long term job growth sectors," said Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Rosalin Acosta.


Direct Support to Small Business and Main Street


To generate economic growth amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and support Main Streets across Massachusetts, the Administration is investing $322.8 million in direct support of small and diverse businesses and local communities. This funding includes grants (see details below) to the hardest hit small businesses, especially small businesses owned by women, minorities, veterans, or members of other underrepresented groups. These grant awards will allow small businesses to cover expenses such as rent, payroll, and utilities as they get back on their feet. Additional funding will support small businesses through hands-on and personalized technical assistance, including targeted support for women- and minority-owned businesses around digital and online technology as their business model pivots away from a brick-and-mortar location.


Many communities have seen their Main Streets and downtown districts hit particularly hard by the pandemic, and new funding aims to help cities and towns plan for short-term innovations and long-term recovery. A new $10 million round of the Shared Streets and Spaces Grant Program will continue to help cities and towns quickly implement or expand improvements to sidewalks, curbs, streets, on-street parking spaces and off-street parking lots in support of public health, safe mobility, and renewed commerce in their communities. Separately, local recovery planning grants will soon be available to cities and towns to assist with long-term planning for their business districts. A total of $10 million is available for this program.


To support the museums and other cultural facilities that have faced a particularly challenging reality this year, but remain a cornerstone of what Massachusetts offers to visitors, these institutions will be eligible for $10 million in Cultural Facilities Operating Grants. This funding will help these organizations to make safety improvements and other upgrades to allow them to continue to offer their unique attractions and exhibits.


As part of this recovery plan, the Governor’s recently filed revised budget proposal recommends over $100 million in additional funding for economic recovery and development efforts, including $35 million for community development financial institutions (CDFI) grants and loans, and $15 million for matching grants for capital investments by businesses with 20 or fewer employees. Additionally, more than $115 million in existing capital through programs such as MassWorks, and those in the MassDevelopment portfolio (Brownfields Redevelopment Fund, Site Readiness Program, Transformative Development Initiative, and Collaborative Workspaces), will be leveraged in support of economic recovery. This recovery plan complements the Administration’s $275 million economic recovery package, which was announced in June.


Small Business and Main Street Highlights (new funding):


  • $50.8 million in Small Business Grants to help the hardest hit businesses;


  • $10 million to continue funding the Shared Streets and Spaces Program;


  • $10 million for local recovery planning grants to support cities and towns;


  • $10 million to support cultural facilities such as museums;


  • $8.3 million in small business technical assistance to help businesses access grant programs and loans, as well as help build business management skills, resilience, and other support in navigating pandemic impacts;


    • Including $2.3 million to provide personalized technical assistance to woman- and minority-owned businesses;


“Our current circumstances call for a plan with the size and scope to match the urgency we need to address the most pressing challenges we now face,” said Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Mike Kennealy. “By targeting vital resources toward these key areas, this strategy will allow us to lay a solid foundation for our path to recovery.”


“During this unprecedented public health emergency, the Baker-Polito Administration is continuing to invest significant resources to support recovery and growth initiatives for small businesses and Main Streets across Massachusetts,” said Secretary of Administration and Finance Michael J. Heffernan. “Through close coordination with federal, state, and local partners – including our Legislative colleagues – we are proud to put forth a plan that thoughtfully invests funds from multiple sources to equip employers with the tools, resources, and supports to help navigate the new COVID-19 landscape.”


“We greatly appreciate Governor Baker’s sense of urgency to move these grant dollars now, while also working with the Legislature to secure additional funds in the state budget and the economic development bill,” said Joseph Kriesberg, President of the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations and Board Member of the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation. “Small business owners have sacrificed to help keep all of us safe and healthy.  This initiative is our opportunity to have their back.”


Additional Investments


In order to keep people safely in their homes during the pandemic and support small landlords with expenses, the Administration recently announced $171 million in support of the Eviction Diversion Initiative. This comprehensive strategy includes funding to help to cover housing costs such as rent and mortgage payments, invest in new programs around mediation and legal representation, and provide repaid rehousing when a tenant is evicted. Additionally, the Administration continues to invest in the Commonwealth’s stock of affordable rental housing with $121 million in direct subsidies.


Massachusetts has long been a hotbed of innovation and creativity in science and technology, and sectors such as the life sciences and advanced manufacturing are not only critical to the innovation economy, but also continue to contribute to the response to the coronavirus. To ensure we continue to lead in this space, $62 million in existing capital funding through the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, and MassVentures is available to support recovery and growth.


Small Business Grant Program Details


Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation (MGCC) is administering the Small Business Grants program, with $50.8 million available beginning today. Grant awards range between $25,000 – $75,000, and eligibility criteria and applications are available here.


As part of this grant program, preference is given to small businesses whose owners are women, minorities, veterans, members of other underrepresented groups, or focused on serving the Gateway Cities of Massachusetts, who have been unable to open and those most adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Preference is also given to applicants that have not been able to receive aid from other federal programs, including PPP and other relief related to COVID-19.


The program has two distinct funding “doors” based on business size, with different eligibility criteria, which is available online. Applicants must review the information to determine which program to proceed with applying.


Community Development Block Grant COVID-19 Microenterprise Assistance Program, Round II Deadline Friday

The Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation (MGCC) will be administering funds from the Community Development Block Grant COVID-19 (CDBG-CV) program to 23 municipalities for microenterprise assistance. 

These special CDBG-CV funds were appropriated through the CARES Act of 2020 and are being awarded to the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

CDBG-CV Microenterprise Assistance grant funding will support qualifying microenterprises adversely impacted by COVID-19, giving priority to minority status owned business (Minority, Women, Veteran, Disability, LBGTQ+).

APPLICANT ELIGIBILITY: · Business must have a physical establishment in one of the following cities/towns: Ashland, Beverly, Burlington, Canton, Concord, Dedham, Essex, Lexington, Manchester by the Sea, Marlborough, Melrose, Milton, Natick, North Reading, Norwood, Randolph, Reading, Sharon, Southborough, Stoneham, Watertown, Winchester or Woburn. · Business must be a microenterprise (a commercial enterprise that has 5 or fewer employees, 1 or more of whom owns the enterprise). 

· Business owner(s) must qualify under the Low-Moderate Income (LMI) Limited Clientele national objective criteria. All owners of the business must earn an annual income equal to or less than 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI) based on family size. · Business must be a for-profit entity (sole proprietorship, partnerships, corporations, or LLCs). · Business must provide goods or services to multiple clients or customers. · Business must be able to document a loss of income equal to or greater than requested assistance due to COVID-19. · Business must be currently in operation and have been established prior to 01/01/2019. · Business must be in good standing with the state and city/town: o Business must be current on all taxes due through 3/1/2020; and o Have active and valid state licenses/registrations, if applicable; and o Not a party to litigation involving the Commonwealth or municipality you operate in. · Ineligible businesses: o Real estate rentals/sales businesses; o Businesses owned by persons under age 18; o Businesses that are chains; o Liquor stores; o Weapons/firearms dealers; o Lobbyists; or o Cannabis-related businesses.

AMOUNT OF FUNDING: Up to $10,000 per business with demonstrated costs greater than or equal to the amount requested. Grants may be requested in increments of $5,000, $7,500 or $10,000.

For more information go to -


Governor Charlie Baker's Briefing Today at Noon

Today, Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito will join Secretary of Administration and Finance Michael Heffernan, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Mike Kennealy, and Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Rosalin Acosta to make an announcement relative to the Commonwealth’s economic recovery from COVID-19. A live stream from the State House will be available on my Facebook page at


Newburyport/Rockport Commuter Rail Line Changes at Salem Station This Weekend and Halloween Weekend

The MBTA has announced weekend Commuter Rail service changes at Salem Station on the Newburyport/Rockport Commuter Rail Line and at the parking facility at Salem Station this weekend, Friday, October 23 through Sunday, October 25, and Halloween weekend, Friday, October 30 and Saturday, October 31. These service changes and adjustments to operations at the Salem Parking Garage are being made in partnership with the City of Salem. 

The MBTA will bypass Salem Station as part of a coordinated effort with the City of Salem to discourage an influx of visitors during the Halloween season and to support the City’s coronavirus safety rules implemented earlier this month. 

All outbound Newburyport/Rockport Line trains originating from North Station will bypass Salem Station on the following days and times: 

Friday, October 23, trains departing North Station between 6 p.m. and 12 a.m. Train Nos. 121, 175, 123, 177, 125, 179, 127, and 181 will not stop at Salem. 

Saturday, October 24, trains departing North Station between 10 a.m. and 10:30 p.m. Train Nos. 1103, 1153, 1105, 1155, 1107, 1157, 1109, 1159, 1111, and 1161 will not stop at Salem. 

Sunday, October 25, trains departing North Station between 10 a.m. and 10:30 p.m. Train Nos. 2103, 2153, 2105, 2155, 2107, 2157, 2109, 2159, 2111, and 2161 will not stop at Salem. Friday, October 30, trains departing North Station between 6 p.m. and 12 a.m. Train Nos. 121, 175, 123, 177, 125, 179, 127, and 181 will not stop at Salem. Saturday, October 31, trains departing North Station between 10 a.m. and 10:30 p.m. Train Nos. 1103, 1153, 1105, 1155, 1107, 1157, 1109, 1159, 1111, and 1161 will not stop at Salem. 

Inbound Commuter Rail service on the Newburyport/Rockport Line will continue to operate as scheduled, including making all stops at Salem Station. The Salem Parking Garage will be closed to local traffic (open to MBTA Commuter Rail customers only) on the following days and times: Friday, October 23, 6 p.m. – 11 p.m. Saturday, October 24, 12 p.m. – 8 p.m. Sunday, October 25, 12 p.m. – 6 p.m. Friday, October 30, 6 p.m. – 11 p.m. Saturday, October 31, 12 p.m. – 11 p.m. 

MBTA customers are reminded that face coverings are required while onboard T vehicles and within the MBTA system, including stations and stops. Customers are also encouraged to practice social distancing. For more information, visit or connect with the T on Twitter @MBTA, Facebook /TheMBTA, or Instagram @theMBTA.


Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) Further Extends Designated Appointment Hours for Customers 75 Years of Age or Older

License renewal appointment hours for seniors will be available on Wednesdays in November and in December 

The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) is announcing that it is extending designated Wednesday appointment hours for customers 75 years of age or older through November and December. This new customer service option began successfully in early September at select RMV Service Centers, and is now offered at the following seventeen (17) locations: Brockton, Danvers, Fall River, Greenfield, Lawrence, Leominster, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, New Bedford, North Adams, Pittsfield, Plymouth, Revere, South Yarmouth, Springfield, Watertown and Worcester. 

The senior hours are held on Wednesdays (hours vary by location) for customers 75 years of age or older whose driver’s license or ID card expire in September, October, November and December including customers whose licenses / IDs were originally extended earlier this year and are expired. This new service option is being offered to provide customers with some flexibility while conducting transactions and to facilitate proper “social-distancing” protocols and procedures to keep customers and staff safe and healthy. Information regarding the new service hours and additional resources for seniors can be found at

Senior hours are by appointment only. Below are the options for seniors to renew by appointment: 

  • If you are a AAA member, you may make a reservation now to renew your driver’s license/ID at a AAA location. Visit to schedule your visit. 
  • If you are not a AAA member, visit Mass.Gov/RMV to make a reservation to renew at an RMV Service Center. Select the Seniors License Renewal option on the Make/Cancel a Reservation transaction. 
  • Email the RMV for assistance to renew at email address. 
  • Call the RMV at 857-368-8005. 

General appointments for license and ID renewals, as well as other essential in-person needs, are available to all customers at these locations throughout the business week. Select Renew My Driver’s License or Mass ID option on the Make/Cancel a Reservation at Mass.Gov/RMV to view availability and make a reservation at an open location. 

The RMV recommends that all customers get ready online before their appointment. Visit Mass.Gov/RMV and click on “Online Service Center,” select your renewal transaction (Driver’s License or ID), and then follow the prompts to verify your identity and start your transaction. 

The RMV is introducing these service channel alternatives in light of the COVID-19 public health emergency to encourage ‘social-distancing’ in its Service Centers and prioritize other essential in-person needs by appointment-only. All RMV customers are encouraged to visit www.Mass.Gov/RMV to complete one of over 40 other transactions available online, by mail, or by phone.