Chamber News

July 14, 2020 Likes Comments

Fuller grants a reprieve

Yesterday afternoon Mayor Ruthanne Fuller scrambled to do what municipal leaders in 138 other communities across the state also have to -- or should do -- this week.

She granted Newton merchants and shoppers an extension, to Sept. 1, to comply with the city ordinance that bans plastic bags.
 
Fuller rushed to put in place the extension after a statewide COVID-19 order regarding plastic bags was rescinded by the Baker Administration on Friday.
 
State Commissioner of Public Health Monica Bharel surprised just about everyone when she quietly ended three orders dating back to March 25:
  • Banning reusable shopping bags
  • Overriding any local ordinance that bans plastic bags
  • Banning charging a bag fee
“Recognizing that there was no advance notice of the statewide order rescission, the City of Newton will delay enforcement of its plastic bag and polystyrene ordinances until Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020, to give retailers time to adjust to this change,” read a statement released by Fuller.
 
Reusable tote bags brought by customers are allowed again effective immediately, the mayor added.
 
 
Boston took a similar action yesterday, extending its deadline to Sept. 30, the Globe reports.
 
The chamber is grateful to Mayor Fuller for responding quickly. Without the action, our merchants would not have had a chance to use up their stock of existing plastic bags, or a chance to stock back up on paper bags.
 
But it could have all been avoided with a little advance notice from the state.
 
Jon Hurst, president of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts told CommonWealth that he worries there will now be a “crazy quilt” patchwork of regulations and enforcement from municipality to municipality.
 
Car repair data battle on November ballot
 
A measure to amend the state’s car repair law will go before voters this fall, Secretary of State William Galvin announced Monday.
 
The right-to-repair question would require car makers to make more telematic data available to independent repair shops. Supporters say the law will give consumers more repair options. Opponents say making the data more available will create privacy concerns.
 
Galvin also approved the placing the ranked-choice voting question on the November ballot.
 
Congressional candidates forum announced
 
The eleven candidates running for the seat in Congress currently held by Rep. Joe Kennedy, will participate in a forum on Aug. 5, at 3 p.m., co-hosted by the Leagues of Women Voters of Brookline, Needham, Newton, Sharon-Stoughton and Wellesley.
 
Nine Democrats and two Republicans are on the primary ballots. Register here to view via Zoom. Or watch the live stream here. The primary election is on Sept. 1.
 
Local biotech ready to go public
 
Watertown biotech Pandion Therapeutics announced Monday that it plans to raise $94 million when it goes public on the stock market. That’s up from the $75 million offering the startup first mentioned in a June 26 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Globe reports.
 
Located on Coolidge Ave., Pandion develops treatments for disorders related to the immune system.
 
PPP insurance?
 
The forgiveness rules for the Paycheck Protection Program are, and actually continue to be, confusing, such as concerns about penalties, including criminal, under some conditions.
 
 
But some experts urge caution. Here’s the BBJ’s take.
 
Meanwhile, the Greater Boston Chamber is calling on State Department of Revenue to conform to the federal income exclusion for PPP loan forgiveness outlined in the CARES Act.
 
Do you still have PPP questions? Don't forget to register for our chamber's latest PPP webinar on July 21.
 
Keeping standards up
 
The state has published information for reporting businesses that may not be complying with the state’s mandatory workplace safety standards or with their sector-specific protocols.
 
Curtatone: Face masks build consumer confidence
 
Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone wants the state to issue tougher rules on face masks.
 
“Currently, we have a toothless order that gets interpreted differently by each community. Having a new set of rules every time you cross a city or town line creates the disordered conditions this disease needs to thrive,” Curtatone wrote in an oped for CommonWealth, that also criticized Gov. Charlie Baker’s reopening priorities.
 
“...We’ve all seen videos of aggressive customers insisting they do not need to cover up. If it’s a clear and enforced state mandate, that ends the argument. It removes chaos from our response. The state, not some lone waitperson or bus driver, must bear the weight of ensuring compliance," he added.
 
Curtatone cited a report by economists at Goldman-Sachs who believe a nationwide face covering requirement would salvage $1 trillion in economic activity.
 
“It would create consumer confidence that we’re currently lacking. We can declare things reopened all we want, but few will go if they worry their health is only as secure as the least responsible person around them. When everyone is in face coverings, people are better protected and feel more confident conducting business.”
 
Have a great day!
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
617-244-1688
Your chamber is here when you need us.

 

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