Mass. lawmakers ship COVID coverage compromise to Gov. Baker’s desk

State lawmakers on Tuesday night struck a deal and shipped Gov. Charlie Baker legislation to restore the lapsed authorization for remote public meetings, to-go cocktail sales and town meeting flexibilities, while leaving the future of other pandemic-era policy adaptations as a subject for future negotiations.

Baker’s COVID-19 state of emergency ended at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, without a law passed to prevent the expiration of certain orders and legislation linked to the emergency declaration.

After the Senate passed a post-emergency bill last week, the House approved an amended version on a 146-14 vote Tuesday afternoon, and both branches held their session open for the rest of the day to work out a deal.

Final procedural votes before 9 p.m. on Tuesday sent a bill to Gov. Charlie Baker that would restore the lapsed authorization for remote public meetings, to-go cocktail sales and town meeting flexibilities.

An agreement on some of the bill’s provisions emerged around 7 p.m., when a conference committee led by Ways and Means Chairs Sen. Michael Rodrigues and Rep. Aaron Michlewitz filed a partial report with the Senate clerk’s office.

“We remain committed to working with the House in the near term to resolve the additional policies that did not make it … into today’s conference report,” Rodrigues said before the Senate took up the compromise. “Given that the state of emergency has already expired, this partial report is especially necessary to ensure critical policies remain in place.”

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