How MAPC’s Priorities Fared
On Tuesday night, the 191st General Court concluded its legislative session. While the legislature took a long break from advancing significant legislation, the past several days saw a flurry of activity, moving climate legislation, a transportation bond bill, and an economic development bond bill in the final days of the session. During this unprecedented session we are grateful for these important pieces of legislation.
MAPC appreciates the hard work done by the Legislature, and in particular the leadership of Senate President Spilka, House Speaker Mariano, former Speaker Deleo, Senate Ways & Means Chair Rodrigues, and House Ways & Means Chair Michlewitz in advancing meaningful and impactful policies that will advance the Commonwealth.
As Massachusetts’ legislative session drew to a close in the early Wednesday morning hours, many of MAPC’s legislative priorities were advanced by the legislature.
We respectfully ask the Governor to quickly sign all of these bills and advance so many of the priorities we have been working on this session.
While several of our important priorities were not included in the final bills, we look forward to working with the 192nd General Court to promote and facilitate an equitable economic recovery for our Commonwealth.
Climate Roadmap Bill
The legislature’s Climate Policy Roadmap legislation sets the Commonwealth on a strategic and tactical path toward carbon neutrality by 2050. We are grateful for the leadership of Senate President Spilka, Speaker Ron Mariano and the conferees, Representatives Thomas Golden, Patricia Haddad and Brad Jones and Senators Michael Barrett, Cynthia Stone Creem, and Patrick O’Connor for bringing the bill forward.
The bill not only provides new tools for municipalities and agencies, but also ensures that environmental justice and greenhouse gas emissions reductions are centered in the work of the Commonwealth, from pipeline safety and construction to energy supply and workforce development.
Transportation Bond Bill
The five-year $16.5B transportation bond bill authorizes significant funding that will expand mobility options and improve transit accessibility across the Commonwealth. There are also a number of policy items that will help build a more equitable transportation system. While the bill does not lay significant new revenue for transportation as we had hoped at the start of the session, it lays important groundwork for continued action to raise broad-based revenue.
Two of MAPC’s priorities around Regional Ballot Initiatives and micro-mobility provisions were not included in the final bill. We will continue to work with the Legislature next session to ensure transportation investments are a core component of an equitable economic recovery.
Economic Development Bond Bill
This five-year $626M bill authorizes significant funding for business development and assistance, economic development planning funds, support, and meaningful housing
MAPC applauds the Legislature for including the Housing Choices language, proposed by the Governor, in this bond bill. Housing Choices has been a top priority of the Agency for the past three years. This language eliminates barriers to building new housing by reducing the voting threshold on specific zoning practices from 2/3 supermajority to a simple majority. MAPC believes that these modifications in state law, coupled with Governor Baker’s dedication of planning resources, technical assistance, and capital dollars, will help up us to address our regional housing challenges. The bill includes language requiring multi-family zoning around MBTA stations. Unfortunately, the final bill did not include inclusionary zoning as part of the new Housing Choices changes.
We are also glad that these changes will be in effect before upcoming Town Meetings, where many important housing and zoning proposals are usually taken up. This is a meaningful reform to Massachusetts’s outdated zoning.
We recognize the challenges in crafting this economic development bond bill, given the unique circumstances stemming from the COVID pandemic. This bond is a critical step in providing assistance to small businesses and laying the foundation to retrain workers and bring them back into the workforce. These funds and programming will help set up the next iteration of relief and recovery.