COVID-19 UPDATE: Critical End of Pandemic Extensions Enacted; Baker-Polito Administration Releases New Guidance for State Permits
On June 15, the Massachusetts Legislature struck a deal and passed a final version of An Act Relative to Extending Certain COVID-19 Measures Adopted During the State of Emergency. The legislation was signed by the Governor the morning of June 16.
The final bill includes several key provisions related to NAIOP’s pandemic policy making, including, but not limited to:
- An extension of remote public meeting legislation, which expired at 12:01am on June 15. This extension, which will sunset on April 20, 2022, preserves the ability of state and local entities to conduct remote public meetings. Importantly, the final bill also included critical language from an amendment proposed by Representative Alice Peisch (found in section 20f) that states if the law does not take effect until after the emergency’s end “a public body may provide for remote meetings as specified in this section and any action taken thereof shall be ratified, validated and confirmed as if this section had been in place.” NAIOP is grateful for the Legislature’s action on this issue, and looks forward to continuing to work with policymakers and the Massachusetts Municipal Association to ensure a permanent extension of these policies.
- An extension of the remote notarization procedures as allowed by Chapter 71 of the Acts of 2020 through December 15, 2021. These provisions were set to expire three days after the end of the State of Emergency. There is legislation pending before the Legislature to change the remote notarization process and make it permanent. NAIOP is tracking this proposal with interest and plans to submit testimony when it is brought for public hearing.
- An extension of the current residential evictions procedures, as required by Chapter 257 of the Acts of 2020. These extensions include:
- Through April 1, 2022: Provisions requiring a court having jurisdiction over an action for summary process under said chapter 239, including the Boston municipal court department, shall grant a continuance for a period as the court may deem just and reasonable if, either at the time the answer is timely filed or on the date the trial is scheduled to commence: (i) the tenancy is being terminated solely for non-payment of rent for a residential dwelling unit; (ii) the non-payment of rent was due to a financial hardship related to or exacerbated by the COVID-19 emergency; and (iii) the defendant demonstrates, to the satisfaction of the court, a pending application for short-term emergency rental assistance.
- Through January 1, 2023: The landlord notification requirements relating to the issuance of a Notice to Quit found in Section 1 of Chapter 257 of the Acts of 2020, including electronic reporting requirements to the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development. Additionally, the Department of Housing and Community Development will continue to submit a report to specified committees in the Legislature detailing all activities of the Governor’s Eviction Diversion Initiatives from the previous month thru January 1, 2023.
- An extension of special permits related to outdoor dining through April 21, 2022.
- An extension of to-go wine, beer and cocktail sales through May 1, 2022. Additionally, all takeout and delivery drinks must be sold at the same price as those consumed on-site.
While the Legislature did not include third-party delivery fee caps in this bill, both House and Senate Leadership have indicated that they are committed to working on addressing outstanding issues in the near-term. NAIOP will continue to monitor all legislation relating to the end of the State of Emergency and keep our members advised of any movement.
Additionally, following the declaration of the State of Emergency in March 2020, and in response to NAIOP’s advocacy, Governor Baker issued COVID-19 Order No. 42, Order Resuming State Permitting Deadlines and Continuing to Extend the Validity of Certain State Permits. This order expired at 12:01a.m. on June 15, 2021. Accordingly, and in direct response to NAIOP’s concerns, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development have issued guidance based on Order 42 to ensure clarity as to how Order 42 will apply to state permits after the end of the State of Emergency. Please review this Guidance and email NAIOP’s Vice President of Policy & Public Affairs Anastasia Nicolaou if you have questions, or experience issues related to the implementation of this guidance as the State moves out of the State of Emergency.
While the State of Emergency has ended, NAIOP’s Advocacy Team continues to work closely with the Administration, Legislature, and other organizations on numerous initiatives to address issues affecting the industry. NAIOP continues to focus our advocacy on policies, Executive Orders, dockets and legislation that have the potential to impact real estate and overall economic development here in the Commonwealth.
NAIOP’s team could not have made it through the past year and a half without the input, feedback and expertise of our members. We are incredibly grateful for your continued support and look forward to this new chapter for the industry and the Commonwealth.