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Priority Bills as the End of the 2023-2024 Massachusetts Legislative Session Approaches

Priority Bills as the End of the 2023-2024 Massachusetts Legislative Session Approaches

July 9, 2024 - We are officially less than one month out from the end of the 2023-2024 Massachusetts Legislative Session with many important bills and fiscal priorities still on the table. The MAPC Government Affairs team has been hard at work talking to legislators, elected officials, advocacy partners, and legislative staff to advocate for our priorities as we approach the end of the session.

With so many important bills still at play, it is more important than ever that you reach out to your legislators and advocate for these bills. Our team has made it easier for you by creating templates for MAPC’s priority bills that you can use to contact your legislators.

Housing Bond Bill: The Affordable Homes Act

Both the House and Senate have voted on their final versions of the Affordable Homes Act and will now appoint three members each to a conference committee charged with reconciling the differences between the bills. These conferees will develop a compromise bill to return to both chambers for  a vote, where no further amendments will be accepted. The Senate has proposed $5.2 billion and the House  proposed over $6 billion in bonding authorizations, representing the largest housing bond bill seen in the Commonwealth. In addition to these authorizations, critical policy priorities are up for debate in the conference committee including: ADUs by right, Inclusionary Zoning by simple majority, the creation of an Office of Fair Housing, Eviction sealing, Tenant Opportunity to Purchase, and more. Unfortunately, the MAPC priority to allow Local Option Transfer Fees was not included in the House or Senate final bills, though a Commission to study this and other revenue raising options was included in the Senate bill.

Take Action: Contact the Conference Committee today to preserve all of these critical policy priorities and maximize bonding authorizations to address the Commonwealth’s housing crisis. Affordable Homes Act Template Advocacy Letter - Google Docs

Permanent Remote and Hybrid Meetings

MAPC and our municipalities have been deeply grateful to the Legislature for the pandemic era provisions that allow for remote, hybrid, or in-person meeting flexibilities during the pandemic, but these provisions are set to expire on March 31, 2025.

Take Action: Contact your legislators today and urge them to pass a permanent, flexible, open meeting law that will allow municipalities and public bodies to meet in the way that best supports the members and residents.  Permanent Remote and Hybrid Meetings Template Letter - Google Docs

FY25 Budget

The FY25 Budget is currently being debated in its appointed Conference Committee. Included in both the House and Senate final bills were District Local Technical Assistance (DLTA) level funding and the Shannon Community Safety Grant funding. Additionally, the Senate included funding for the Grant Assistance Program (GAP) and a technical amendment to the FY24 budget that would support GAP funding being utilized for state grant applications.

Economic Development Bond Bill:

On June 27, the House debated An Act relative to strengthening Massachusetts’ economic leadership, or “The Economic Development Bond Bill,” a $3.5b bond. The bill is fairly similar to Governor Healey’s original bill in that it provides $3.4b in bond authorization and $700m in various economic development tax incentive programs. The bill is now headed to the Senate for debate on July 11 before it goes to a Conference Committee and ultimately the Governor’s desk. The House version of the bill includes $400 million for the MassWorks Infrastructure Program, $100 million for the Rural Development Fund, $30 million for the Brownfields Redevelopment Fund, and $40 million for a new Underutilized Property Program. Additionally, there are policy provisions in the bill such as creation of physician licensure pathway for those trained outside of the US, project labor agreements for public agencies and municipalities, and a single procurement process for broadband design, installation, and service.

Energy and Siting/Climate Bill:

On June 25, the Senate debated An Act upgrading the grid and protecting ratepayers. This is a comprehensive climate bill that includes some of the recommendations from the recent Commission on Energy Infrastructure Siting and Permitting of which MAPC’s Deputy Director Lizzi Weyant was a member. Additionally, the bill includes provisions to support electric vehicle infrastructure and would ban competitive electrical suppliers from contracting with residential customers after 2025. MAPC endorsed both of these policies. This bill is now headed to the House for debate.

MAPC is working to ensure that many of our priorities make it to the finish line both as part of these omnibus bills and as standalone legislation. In addition to these, there is a large list of other bills still in play ahead of the July 31 deadline including health care financing, gun reform, maternal healthcare, substance use workforce development, and more.

If you have any questions about these bills or others, please reach out to the Government Affairs team.

Leah Robins, Director of Government Affairs, lrobins@mapc.org
Norman Abbott, Senior Government Affairs Specialist, nabbott@mapc.org
Georgia Barlow, Government Affairs Specialist, gbarlow@mapc.org
Matt Walsh, Policy Analyst, mwalsh@mapc.org