Every year, the South Shore Coalition hosts a breakfast where local officials and municipal leaders are invited to have an engaged conversation with their state legislators. This year was no different. The SSC gathered for the annual event on the morning of Friday, April 27, at the Hearth N Kettle in Weymouth. Senator Patrick O’Connor hosted the event, and attendees heard from him, Senator John Keenan, and MAPC staff on a variety of local and state issues.
The breakfast came at the end of a busy week for members of MAPC’s Government Affairs team and the Massachusetts House of Representatives. The House had spent the week considering amendments to the House budget. MAPC Government Affairs Manager Lizzi Weyant kicked off the meeting by going over MAPC’s legislative priorities, including what budget priorities had made it into the final House budget.
In her brief overview, Lizzi Weyant touched on the Community Preservation Act, transportation funding, zoning reform and housing, and the environmental bond bill.
The CPA match this year, she mentioned, is estimated to be as low as 11%, which would represent the lowest match in the program’s history. However, there is still legislation filed separately that would increase the deed fee to provide communities with at least a 50% state match.
Ms. Weyant also mentioned two amendments that would make it easier for municipalities to raise money for transportation projects.
“All across the country, there are ways to fund transportation projects that [Massachusetts doesn’t have],” she said. “These are tools that we do not have in our toolbox.” Those tools are regional ballot initiatives and value capture. Both of these mechanisms allow municipalities to raise or capture funds that can then be dedicated solely for local transportation projects.
Weyant also asked attendees to pay attention to the zoning reform, housing choice, and environmental bond bills moving through the State House.
Senator O’Connor spoke next, introducing himself to the attendees and speaking briefly about why he had decided to go into politics in the first place.
“The best part of being a legislator,” he said, “is helping people who need to be helped and recognizing people who deserve to be recognized.”
He spoke about affordable housing, aging infrastructure, and adapting to and mitigating the effects of climate change as several of his biggest concerns and priorities. He also commended the Massachusetts State House as a bipartisan body committed to working together.
Senator O’Connor and Senator Keenan each outlined their legislative and budget priorities, and took questions from the audience on a variety of issues. Discussion focused on parking, the need for regional collaboration in the face of climate change, regional sewer infrastructure, infrastructure investment, and struggling to meet affordable housing requirements with inadequate utility infrastructure. The Senate is scheduled to release and debate their budget in May.
MAPC would like to thank Senators O’Connor and Keenan and everyone else who attended the event and participated in the thoughtful discussion!
Read the materials from the meeting below:
- Legislative Breakfast Agenda
- South Shore Coalition Annual Report
- South Shore Coalition DLTA Projects
- MAPC Legislative and Budget Priorities