Metropolitan Area Planning Council Announces Policy Priorities Ahead of 193rd Legislative Session
MAPC’s legislative priorities are rooted in the goals set in MetroCommon 2050 to create a more equitable, sustainable, resilient, and prosperous region and Commonwealth.
In December 2022, the MAPC Executive Committee approved a new package of policy priorities for the 2023-2024 legislative session. The Government Affairs team spoke with every department at MAPC, subregions, legislators, partner agencies and organizations, and other advocates to identify key continuing and new legislative priorities.
MAPC’s legislative priorities are rooted in the goals set in MetroCommon 2050 to create a more equitable, sustainable, resilient, and prosperous region and Commonwealth. They include policies that will improve public transit access, create more affordable housing, support the Commonwealth’s ambitious climate goals, invest in cultural assets, and ensure municipalities have the resources they need to support their residents.
MAPC’s Legislative Committee and staff will continue to work with partners to review the many bills that will be filed in the legislature over the two-year session, bringing them to the MAPC Executive Committee for their consideration. Read more about some of our priorities below, organized by MetroCommon themes, as the new legislative session kicks off.
Inclusive Growth and Mobility
- Means Tested Fares and Free Fare Transit: MAPC supports legislation that promotes fare equity, and in particular, a systemwide means-tested or free fare program.
- Regional Transportation Ballot Initiatives: MAPC continues its long support for legislation that would enable a municipality, or a group of municipalities as a district, to raise additional local money for transportation projects, operations, or transit-oriented development via ballot initiatives.
Equity of Wealth and Health
- SAPHE 2.0: Unlike most states, Massachusetts does not have a county or regional system for public health and instead has a system that differs across all of our 351 cities and towns. The SAPHE (Statewide Accelerated Public Health for Every Community) 2.0 Act’s legislative reforms would allow for these funds to affect more positive, lasting change for our local and regional public health systems than otherwise possible.
Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation
- Building Code and Building Decarbonization: MAPC continues to support legislation that will empower municipalities, building owners, and residents in reducing emissions from buildings. An Act relative to building energy and decarbonization filed by Representative Meschino and Senator Lewis includes reforms to the building code to address new construction and requires the creation of deep energy retrofits, the creation of a new tier of Green Communities focused on community emissions, and a requirement for building energy reporting and standards to better match incentives with the needs of the highest emission impact buildings.
Homes for Everyone
- Housing Data Improvements: This proposal would update housing data requirements to enable legislators and local policy makers to better understand and adapt to constantly changing local and regional housing contexts.
Dynamic and Representative Government
- Permanent Remote Meetings: MAPC supports a permanent extension to the remote meeting provisions established during the pandemic for both representative town meetings and those held under the open meeting law and an expansion to also include open town meetings. These provisions provide municipalities with the option to allow remote participation and maximize public participation.
- Online Legal Public Notices: Current law requires a variety of legal notices to be printed in local newspapers. An update to our public notice requirements to allow print or online notices would be easier and more cost effective for cities and towns to implement.
- Cooperative Purchasing: This proposal would clarify that cooperative purchasing agreement contracts can be awarded to multiple offerors through the request for proposal (RFP) process. This will help to ensure that individual municipalities and other buyers can select the best vendor for each project component, rather than forcing communities to settle for a single vendor more limited offerings simply because they provide all services detailed in an RFP.
District Local Technical Assistance (DLTA): DLTA is a statewide program that enables the 13 Mass. Regional Planning Agencies (RPA) to provide technical assistance to member cities and towns in a variety of areas. This is the single largest source of funding for technical assistance to cities and towns, so it is always a critical line item for MAPC and the other regional planning agencies in the Commonwealth. MAPC is pursuing an increase in funding for this program in the next fiscal year due to the increasing number of asks that RPAs are receiving for technical assistance and a wide array of needs for technical assistance.
Shannon Community Safety Initiative (Shannon Grant): The Senator Charles E. Shannon, Jr. Community Safety Initiative Grant Program supports youth and gang violence prevention initiatives statewide, including law enforcement, outreach, youth development, case management, mentoring, and employment. MAPC serves as program manager for a regional Shannon Grant serving eight Inner Core communities. Shannon was slow to recover from the cutbacks of the Great Recession, but after several years of increases, we are close to recovering the lost revenue and will continue with that high watermark as a goal.
Read our full list of priorities by new, continuing, and topics for further research: