State Legislation Aims to Create Commission of Inquiry on COVID-19 Response, Recovery

BOSTON — State Sen. Eric Lesser and state Rep. Jon Santiago have filed “An Act Establishing the Commission of Inquiry on the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Response to and Recovery from the COVID-19 Crisis.” The legislation would task a commission with reviewing the Commonwealth’s response to the coronavirus outbreak and make recommendations on how Massachusetts can better prepare in the future.

Lesser is Senate chair of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies as well as a member of the Senate’s COVID-19 task force. Santiago is a member of the Joint Committee on Public Health as well as an emergency-room physician at Boston Medical Center.

“As we gain more insight into the spread of the coronavirus outbreak and its impacts on Massachusetts, it is vital that we establish a dedicated, non-partisan commission to evaluate the response to the crisis and ensure future preparedness,” Lesser said. “The unprecedented nature of COVID-19 has upended our way of life and has revealed pre-existing inequities in our system that needs to be evaluated and improved upon, especially as the threat of resurgence lingers.”

Added Santiago, “ensuring that we fully understand our response to COVID-19 is critical, particularly as we prepare for a potential second surge. The Commonwealth deserves a thorough, deliberate, and reflective inquiry of the actions taken to date. We owe it to the countless number of families who lost loved ones and to the many healthcare and essential workers who continue to risk their lives.”

Members of the commission must have expertise in professions such as economics; labor and workforce development; business and finance; public health; medicine, including epidemiology; healthcare; civil rights; law and governmental service; and emergency preparedness. The commission must be non-partisan and cannot include a current elected official, an employee of state or local government, a registered lobbyist, or an employee of a trade association or special-interest group. The chair of the commission will be appointed by a majority vote of the members. The commission will be required to hold public hearings and be given subpoena power to compel witnesses and produce documents during its investigation.

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