Showing posts with label House Speaker Mariano. Show all posts
Showing posts with label House Speaker Mariano. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

CommonWealth Magainze: "in informal sessions, ... a single lawmaker can put off action on a bill"

"THE LEADERS of the House and Senate met for the first time in three months with Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday to discuss a handful of issues left over from the legislative session, but it appears little progress was made in finding a way forward.

The three leaders emerged from their meeting in the governor’s office and reported little progress on economic development legislation that passed both branches but stalled at the end of the formal legislative session on August 1 amid concerns about whether the state could afford the bill’s $4 billion price tag and also return $3 billion to taxpayers under a tax cap law triggered for the first time since 1987.

The economic development bill contained $500 million in one-time cash rebates for residents, $500 million in permanent tax credits, as well as funding for climate change efforts, water and sewer infrastructure, and a host of other initiatives.

House Speaker Ron Mariano indicated in August that he might lead an effort to reshape the tax cap law, but subsequently backed off that stance and now says he is supportive of “what’s written in the law.”

Continue reading the article online
House Speaker Ronald Mariano and Senate President Karen Spilka answer questions from the press after a Monday afternoon meeting with the governor and other officials. [Sam Doran/SHNS]
House Speaker Ronald Mariano and Senate President Karen Spilka answer questions from the press after a Monday afternoon meeting with the governor and other officials. [Sam Doran/SHNS]

Saturday, May 28, 2022

“We are a nation of immigrants. We all benefit from increased public safety."

"One day after state legislators approved a bill to allow undocumented immigrants to get driver’s licenses in Massachusetts, Governor Charlie Baker vetoed the measure, saying it poses a risk to election security.

In a letter rejecting the legislation late Friday afternoon, Baker said the bill requires the Registry of Motor Vehicles “to issue state credentials to people without the ability to verify their identity” and “increases the risk that noncitizens will be registered to vote.”

He also expressed concern that the identification wouldn’t distinguish an undocumented person from a documented one."

Continue reading the Boston Globe article online (subscription may be required)

CommonWealth Magazine coverage

A Pass the Work and Family Mobility Act Rally was held on the steps of the Massachusetts State House on July 29, 2021. (Photo by Rose Lincoln)
A Pass the Work and Family Mobility Act Rally was held on the steps of the Massachusetts State House on July 29, 2021. (Photo by Rose Lincoln)

Friday, May 27, 2022

MA House Passes Legislation to Address Teen Sexting and Image-Based Sexual Assault

The Massachusetts House of Representatives today (05/26/22) passed legislation addressing teen sexting and image-based sexual assault, commonly referred to as “revenge porn.” 

“I’m proud the House today passed a bill consistent with our intent during criminal justice reform to provide intervention through diversion instead of incarceration for minors,” said House Speaker Ronald J. Mariano (D-Quincy). “Additionally, the bill criminalizes image-based sexual assault by adults and affords victims of this crime protections, including the opportunity to get a harassment prevention order against their perpetrator.”

L-R: Speaker Marino, Lt Reilly, St Rep Roy
L-R: Speaker Marino, Lt Reilly, St Rep Roy
“This bill prioritizes survivors of revenge porn by unlocking resources for them while, at the same time, closing a loophole in our criminal harassment statute that will serve to deter and punish those who engage in these horrific acts,” said State Representative and Judiciary Chair Michael S. Day (D-Stoneham). “From providing access to victim witness advocates and direct input on criminal dispositions to enabling survivors to pursue civil remedies against their perpetrators, this approach will empower survivors to reclaim their lives in addition to providing clearly enforceable punitive measures for these crimes.”

“Under current law, when faced with an incident of sexting among teenagers, the police are forced with either charging them with a felony or doing nothing,” said State Representative Jeffrey N. Roy (D-Franklin). “The bill passed today provides law enforcement officers with a middle ground that will allow them to educate kids about the consequences of their actions without ruining their lives. It will have a tremendous impact on people who have become entangled in the web and transmittal of images that can cause traumatic and lifetime harm through a diversion program that will educate them about the legal and personal consequences of “sexting.”

Currently, minors who possess or share explicit photos of themselves or other minors are charged with violating Massachusetts child pornography laws and are required to register with the Sex Offender Registry. “An Act relative to transmitting indecent visual depictions by teens and the unlawful distribution of explicit images” (H.4498) allows minors to be diverted to an educational program established in the bill prior to delinquency proceedings.

The educational diversion program, to be created by the Attorney General and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), would provide teenagers with information about the legal and nonlegal consequences of sexting, which would be made available to school districts. DESE should also encourage districts to implement media literacy programs in their schools as a prevention measure. 

A district attorney, however, is allowed to petition the court to bring criminal charges in extreme cases. The bill creates a new misdemeanor offense specifically for minors who possess or disseminate explicit images.

In addition to teen sexting, the bill addresses the nonconsensual distribution of explicit images by adults by establishing a penalty in the existing criminal harassment statute, including prison time and/or a monetary fine for first and subsequent offenses. Under this bill, a victim may also petition the court for a harassment prevention order against a person who has violated this statute.

“An Act relative to transmitting indecent visual depictions by teens and the unlawful distribution of explicit images” (H.4498) passed the House of Representatives 154-0. It now goes to the Senate for their consideration.

State Representative Jeff Roy's floor remarks can be found in this PDF

Sunday, May 1, 2022

State Representative Jeff Roy shares an update on the House FY 2023 budget

"The House of Representatives passed its Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) budget this week. This budget responsibly responds to the needs of residents and makes targeted investments to support families in the Commonwealth. 

Funded at $49.73 billion, the House’s FY23 budget continues its strong commitment to cities and towns, and includes significant investments in health care, education, housing, and workforce development, among other priorities. It also includes a number of amendments I sponsored, including $500,000 for the Genocide Education Trust Fund and a one-year extension of funding for the Electric Vehicle Incentive Programs. 

Locally, Franklin and Medway received funds (highlighted in the graphic below) to help with substance use disorder, food insecurity, economic development, mental health screenings in schools, and voter enhancement. 

Many thanks to Speaker Ron Mariano and Ways & Means chair Aaron Michlewitz for their leadership in getting this budget finalized."

Shared from Facebook: 

State Representative Jeff Roy shares an update on the House FY 2023 budget
State Representative Jeff Roy shares an update on the House FY 2023 budget

Saturday, March 5, 2022

Massachusetts House Passes Legislation To Boost Offshore Wind Development, Reduce Carbon Emissions

In an effort to meet the Commonwealth’s climate goals of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, the House of Representatives today (03/03/2022) passed legislation to further develop the offshore wind industry in Massachusetts. The legislation will also modernize Massachusetts’ electrical grid and energy storage infrastructure, and create thousands of new jobs. 

“I’m immensely proud of the steps that the House took today to ensure Massachusetts remains at the forefront of renewable energy development,” said House Speaker Ronald J. Mariano (D-Quincy). “Not only will this legislation help us reduce our carbon emissions and combat climate change, it will also spur economic development, modernize our energy infrastructure, and create thousands of new jobs in the process. I want to thank Chairman Roy for his hard work in advancing this legislation, as its passage today was undoubtedly a critical step in the right direction.” 

“I am thrilled that today the House passed legislation crucial to the development of a strong offshore wind industry in Massachusetts,” said Representative Jeffrey N. Roy (D-Franklin), House Chair of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy. “Massachusetts waters have the greatest offshore wind potential out of the contiguous U.S., and this legislation will ensure that the Commonwealth is prepared to harness that energy while also creating a just and robust local economy, educational opportunities for our residents, and critical upgrades to our energy infrastructure without causing undue harm to our coastal habitats or maritime industries.”  

“An Act advancing offshore wind and clean energy” (H.4515):  (

  • Makes the Massachusetts offshore wind bidding process more competitive by removing a current price cap that requires bids to be less expensive than previous procurements that has deterred companies from participating in the procurement process. Future procurements would now include economic development, employment, and environmental and fisheries mitigation benefits. 
  • Invests hundreds of millions of dollars over the next decade in infrastructure, innovation, job training, supply chain capacity, and transmission upgrades. The legislation consists of tax incentives, grants, loans, and other investments.  
  • Requires utility companies to proactively upgrade the transmission and distribution grid to improve reliability and resilience and accommodate the anticipated significant shift to renewable forms of energy. 
  • Invests in long-term energy storage to help the Commonwealth’s transition to renewable energy.
  • Provides thousands of good-paying jobs with a focus on ensuring access and opportunity for everyone.  
  • Creates a DESE high school offshore wind credential training pilot program through which DESE would reimburse school districts for each student that obtains the credential.

The legislation creates parity between electric and natural gas, imposing a charge for natural gas consumers to support renewable energy, similar to the charge electric customers currently pay. At a little over $1 a month for the average customer, this is estimated to collect $23 million a year over the next 10 years to support the Commonwealth’s transition to clean energy. By diversifying Massachusetts’ energy portfolio, Massachusetts will become more energy independent and less reliant on imported natural gas that is susceptible to volatile price spikes, thereby helping to stabilize ratepayer bills in the long term. 

“An Act advancing offshore wind and clean energy” (H.4515) passed the House of Representatives 144-12. It now goes to the Senate for their consideration.  

Link to the legislation ->

Links to coverage of this legislation:
Massachusetts House Passes Legislation To Boost Offshore Wind Development, Reduce Carbon Emissions
Massachusetts House Passes Legislation To Boost Offshore Wind Development, Reduce Carbon Emissions

Thursday, March 3, 2022

"The benefits of this investment will not be confined to just offshore wind"

From the Boston Globe - an editorial written by: Ronald J. Mariano, who represents the Third Norfolk District, is speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. Jeffrey N. Roy represents the 10th Norfolk District and is House chair of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy. 

"In November, voters in Maine approved a ballot measure that blocks plans to develop a transmission line to deliver hydroelectric power from Canada to Massachusetts and the rest of the region. 
Two months after that vote, Massachusetts was hit by a powerful “bomb cyclone” that brought 70-mile-per-hour gusts, more than 30 inches of snow, mass power outages, and school and business closures. It ranked among the top 10 storms with the highest snowfalls to hit the Boston area since the National Weather Service began keeping such records in the late 1800s — seven of which have occurred just within the last two decades. 
These two events, occurring in short succession, demonstrate both the perils of climate change and just how fragile that state’s existing plans are to combat it."
Continue reading the editorial online (subscription may be required)

Deepwater Wind's turbines off Block Island, R.I., as seen in 2019.RODRIQUE NGOWI/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Deepwater Wind's turbines off Block Island, R.I., as seen in 2019.RODRIQUE NGOWI/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Joint Statement on Opening the State House Effective Feb 22, 2022

Statement From Senate President Karen E. Spilka and House Speaker Ronald Mariano

"We are pleased to announce that the State House will be opened to the public, Monday through Friday, as of Tuesday, February 22, 2022. Masks will be required, as well as proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test from no more than one day before entry. With public health data constantly evolving, we will review these requirements on a weekly basis. We look forward to seeing the public in the State House."


Joint Statement on Opening the State House Effective Feb 22, 2022
Joint Statement on Opening the State House Effective Feb 22, 2022

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Legislature Approves Nero’s Law

Today, the House and Senate passed An Act allowing humane transportation of K9 partners, also known as Nero’s Law, which would ensure law enforcement officers’ K-9 partners receive life-saving medical attention and transport if injured in the line of duty. The bill responds to the tragic events that took the life of New Bedford-native and Yarmouth Police K-9 Sergeant Sean Gannon and severely injured his K-9 partner, Nero.

“Providing emergency medical services to police dogs injured in the line of duty is both compassionate and appropriate, especially in light of what we're asking them to do,” said Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “Service dogs play a necessary role in effective law enforcement operations, and they deserve our support. I want to thank Senator Montigny for his hard work and attention to this issue, Chair Rodrigues, and Senators Timilty and Cyr for their advocacy and collaboration on this legislation, as well as Speaker Mariano and my colleagues in the House for getting this important bill to the governor’s desk.”

“K-9 police dogs provide several indispensable services to the Massachusetts police force, and the Commonwealth as a whole. Given the sometimes dangerous jobs that police dogs are asked to undertake, providing them with any necessary emergency medical care is our moral responsibility,” said House Speaker Ronald J. Mariano (D- Quincy). “I want to thank Chair Michlewitz, Chair Gonz├ílez, and Representative Xiarhos for the efforts they made to ensure the passage of Nero’s Law, as well as Senate President Spilka and my colleagues in the Senate for advancing this critical legislation.”

In April 2018, Sergeant Gannon was shot and killed while serving a warrant in the Town of Barnstable. Despite the multiple empty ambulances on site, Nero, who had been shot and severely injured, had to be rushed to the animal hospital in the back of a police cruiser. Current Massachusetts law prohibits emergency medical personnel from treating and transporting animals. Fortunately, Nero survived his injuries, but the inability to transport him showed that reform was needed to honor working dogs who risk their lives every day to serve the Commonwealth. 

Nero’s Law would authorize emergency medical service personnel to provide emergency treatment and transport of K-9 partners. This includes basic first aid, CPR, and administering life-saving interventions such as naloxone.

“K9 officers like Nero are selfless heroes who endure extreme danger in order to keep us safe,” said Senator Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford), lead sponsor of the bill. “We must honor their loyalty and service by ensuring EMS personnel can provide basic treatment and transport should they sustain serious injuries. As a native son of New Bedford, Sergeant Gannon, and by extension his K9 partner Nero, is forever a beloved part of our community. The Gannon family has been a tremendous force in ensuring this bill got done, inspiring myself and others to fight for this legislation every day.  We hope this law helps honor their son’s legacy,” said Senator Mark Montigny, lead sponsor of the bill.”

“I’d like to thank Speaker Mariano, Ways and Means Chair Michlewitz, Public Safety Chair Gonzalez, and Minority Leader Jones for their leadership in getting this bill passed in the House this session,” said Representative Steve Xiarhos (R–Barnstable), who sponsored Nero’s bill in the House. “As a former Deputy Chief of Police who was there on the day K9 Nero was shot, I know personally how important this legislation is. We need to send a clear message to first responders throughout the Commonwealth that we support them and their mission.”

“Sergeant Sean Gannon was a dedicated officer of the Yarmouth Police Department known for his restraint and his quiet but firm sense of right and wrong. His tragic murder — and the life-threatening injuries sustained by his canine Nero — left the Cape and Islands in shock and grieving,” said Senator Julian Cyr (D-Truro). “We rely on canines to serve alongside police officers to go where we cannot, seek out what we cannot detect, and search for the vulnerable in their most trying moments, yet existing law prohibits emergency responders from treating and transporting police canines like Nero when they are most in need. I’m proud that the Legislature is honoring Sergeant Gannon’s legacy and his example by protecting our canine friends who have been our companions and partners in public safety and so much more.” 

“I am grateful that Nero’s Law has been enacted. Each and every day, law enforcement professionals, including police canines, put their lives on the line to protect the citizens of the Commonwealth. It is crucial that our first responders are given the ability to treat them when they are wounded in the line of duty. Our first responders are now able to provide emergent care to wounded police canines as a result of this legislation,” said state Senator Walter F. Timilty (D-Milton), Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security. “Listening to heartfelt testimony during our public hearings on this bill, I was reminded of the important, unique, and strong bond between a police officer handler and his or her police canine. This is a great day for the law enforcement community.”

"Thanks to the Speaker and members of the Public Safety Committee for advancing Nero's Law to the Governor,” said Representative Carlos Gonz├ílez (D-Springfield), House Chair of the Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security. “Our K-9 officers are heroes, and today we honor all those who have been injured or have lost their lives in the line of duty to protect the public. A special gratitude to Denise and Patrick Gannon for their dedication and advocacy."

Nero’s Law now advances to the Governor’s desk for consideration. 

Legislature Approves Nero’s Law
Legislature Approves Nero’s Law

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Legislature Passes American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), FY21 Surplus Spending Bill

Legislature Passes American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA),

FY21 Surplus Spending Bill

Investments focus on communities hard hit by COVID-19 and supporting the ongoing economic recovery

Today (Dec 3, 2021), the Massachusetts Legislature advanced a $4 billion bill to the governor's desk that directs federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) surplus funding to assist the Commonwealth's ongoing economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. With a focus on making equitable investments and prioritizing communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, the legislation delivers targeted supports to workers and businesses, and the critical sectors of housing, health care, mental and behavioral health, climate preparedness, education, and workforce development.

"The one-time investments made in this bill address evident needs across all Massachusetts communities and sectors of the economy, particularly those who were disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic," said House Speaker Ronald J. Mariano (D-Quincy). "The Legislature engaged in a hearing process before appropriation, and informed by the public's feedback, this bill will help the Massachusetts economy strongly recover. I thank chairs Michlewitz and Hunt, members of the House, Senate President Spilka and our partners in the Senate, as well as all stakeholders and residents for their input throughout this process."

"While the Commonwealth's history of saving for a rainy day allowed us to hold steady during the immediate shock of the COVID-19 pandemic, the road to full economic recovery will be long," stated Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). "Rather than going 'back to normal,' to an inequitable status quo, the Senate was intentional in using both our American Rescue Plan and Fiscal Year 2021 surplus funds for transformational change to allow us to go 'back to better.' The plan passed today sets forth bold investments in housing production, public health, small business and workforce development, climate change mitigation, and many more areas, all while ensuring that the benefits are distributed equitably in every community across our state. I am particularly proud of the significant investments we have made in our mental health care system that will begin to address the growing need for access to care across the Commonwealth. with the goal of transforming the delivery of mental health care in our state—a need felt in every corner of our Commonwealth. I am grateful for the many contributions from my colleagues in the Senate, Speaker Mariano and our partners in the House, and the many members of the public who provided input to shape this first phase of implementation of the American Rescue Plan in Massachusetts."

Earlier this year, the Massachusetts Legislature voted to transfer the state's $4.8 billion allocation from ARPA, which must be allocated by 2024, into a separate fund to ensure stakeholder and resident engagement in a public process. Following six public hearings and more than a thousand pieces of testimony received, the House's and Senate's spending proposals were unanimously approved by each chamber, resulting in the comprise bill which advances to the Governor's desk today. This bill utilizes $2.55 billion in ARPA funds and $1.45 billion in FY21 surplus funds.

"This spending package makes significant, targeted investments into areas such as affordable housing, workforce development, and boosting our health care system that will give a much-needed boost to our residents who were hit the hardest by this pandemic," said Representative Aaron Michlewitz (D-Boston), House Chair of the Committee on Ways and Means. "Throughout this legislation, the needs of communities that were disproportionally affected by the pandemic are prioritized. By doing so, the Legislature has passed a truly equitable spending plan."

"With the passage of this important bill today, we mark another important milestone in our efforts to shape our post-pandemic future, while taking advantage of this historic opportunity that the American Rescue Plan Act funds represent to support an equitable recovery and those hit the hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic — our residents, essential frontline workers and small businesses," said State Senator Michael J. Rodrigues (D-Westport), Senate Chair of the Committee on Ways and Means. "Ensuring every voice across Massachusetts had a chance to engage and be heard, this conference committee report makes it very clear - we heard the call for equitable investments in mental health, public health, workforce development, and so many other critically important areas with the goal of improving the lives of our residents and helping those disproportionately impacted during these difficult last two years. I thank Senator President Spilka, my fellow conferees, Senator Friedman and Senator O'Connor, my colleagues in the Senate, the members and staff of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, our partners in the House, Speaker Mariano and Chair Michlewitz, and the many members of the public who provided invaluable input to help us put these funds to work for our communities and support our Commonwealth as we recover from this ongoing pandemic." 

"This strong spending package is the result of many months of a robust public process as well as tireless work and collaboration with colleagues, stakeholders and residents across the state," said Representative Daniel J. Hunt (D- Boston), House Chair of the Committee on Federal Stimulus and Census Oversight. "I am grateful to Speaker Mariano and Chair Michlewitz for their diligent work to deliver legislation that will help our Commonwealth recover stronger and equitably."

Notable investments included in the bill are as follows:                         

Economic Recovery and Workforce Development

  • $500 million for premium pay bonuses for essential workers, up to $2,000 per worker
  • $500 million for the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, providing necessary relief to business
  • $100 million for vocational school infrastructure and capacity building needs
  • $37.5 million for the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund to support organizations working with people displaced from jobs during the pandemic, historically underserved populations, and individuals reentering their communities from the corrections system
  • $50 million for equitable and affordable broadband access and infrastructure improvements to close the digital divide
  • $135 million for Mass Cultural Council to support the cultural sector 
  • $75 million for small businesses, including $50 million for direct grants to historically underserved populations and minority-owned, women-owned, and veteran-owned small businesses and $25 million for nascent businesses
  • $15 million for regional high-demand workforce training at community colleges 
  • $25 million for the expansion of Career Technical Institutes
  • $24.5 for workforce development and capital assistance grants to the Massachusetts Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs and the Alliance of Massachusetts YMCAs, as well $4.5 million for the YWCAs
  • $20 million for the resettlement of Afghan evacuees and Haitian evacuees
  • $15 million to enhance and diversify the cybersecurity sector with partnerships between public higher education institutions and private businesses 
  • $14 million for agricultural economy supports
  • $10 million for regional tourism councils

Affordable Housing and Homeownership

  • $150 million for supportive housing, including $65 million for the chronically homeless population, and $20 million to increase geographic equity and accessibility related to the continuum of long-term care services for veterans not primarily served by the Soldiers' Homes in Chelsea or Holyoke
  • $150 million for public housing authorities to maintain and upgrade existing infrastructure 
  • $115 million for the CommonWealth Builder Program to support housing production and promote homeownership among residents of disproportionately impacted communities
  • $115 million for affordable rental housing production and preservation for the workforce and low- and moderate-income individuals
  • $65 million for homeownership assistance tools, including down payment assistance, and mortgage interest subsidy supports

Mental and Behavioral Health, Public Health and Health Care

  • $400 million in mental and behavioral health supports, including $122 million for workforce loan repayment programs for behavioral health and substance use professionals
  • $300 million for the Home and Community-Based Services Federal Investment Fund to address workforce needs for those caring for vulnerable populations
  • $200.1 million to support the state's local and regional public health infrastructure  
  • $260 million for acute hospitals impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic
  • $44.8 million for food security infrastructure, including $17 million for the Greater Boston Food Bank for regional food security network improvements across the Commonwealth, $5 million for the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, $2 million for the Massachusetts Food Trust Program to provide loans, grants and technical assistance in a regionally equitable manner to communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, $1.92 million for Project Bread to better connect eligible unenrolled residents with federal nutrition programs statewide and $1 million for the Massachusetts Military Support Foundation, Inc. for the operation of empowerment centers and to support the distribution of food to veterans in need
  • $30 million to support a robust and diverse home health care and human service workforce through recruitment, retention, and loan forgiveness programming
  • $50 million for nursing facilities, including $25 million for capital support to increase the quality of patient care and $25 million for workforce initiatives
  • $25million for youth-at-risk supports and grant programs for community violence prevention and re-entry organizations, focused on communities disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic
  • $25million for youth summer and school-year jobs
  • $5 million for Health Care For All to conduct a community-based MassHealth redetermination and vaccination outreach, education, and access campaign targeted in communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic
  • $5 million for the Disabled Persons Protection Commission to study and review the interrelationship between service-providing agencies for individuals with disabilities within the Commonwealth and to design and implement a system for an interconnected network that will provide a continuum of care for those individuals
  • $2 million for unreimbursed COVID-19 costs for Early Intervention providers
  • $500,000 to establish transportation services for participants in the Massachusetts Veterans' Treatment Courts

Climate Preparedness

  • $100 million for water and sewer infrastructure investments through the Clean Water Trust  
  • $100 million for environmental infrastructure grants, including the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) program 
  • $90 million for marine port infrastructure investments focused on the promotion of offshore wind development
  • $25 million for Greening the Gateway Cities program to support tree planting
  • $15 million for parks and recreational assets 
  • $7.5 million for community colleges to help train underserved populations for green jobs
  • $6.5 million for clean energy retrofitting in affordable housing units
  • $5 million for the advancement of geothermal technologies 


  • $100 million to improve indoor air-quality in schools and support healthy learning environments for grants to public school districts with high concentrations of low-income students, English language learners, and communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19
  • $75 million for capital and maintenance projects for higher education
  • $25 million for the Endowment Incentive Program at the University of Massachusetts, state universities and community colleges
  • $20 million for special education, including $10 million for workforce development
  • $10 million for programs focused on recruiting and retaining educators of color

Accountability and Oversight

To support communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and prioritize historically underserved populations, the bill establishes an equity and accountability review panel for federal funds to track in near real-time the amount and percentage of ARPA funds spent in these communities and awarded to minority-owned and women-owned business enterprises. The bill also takes steps to ensure minority-owned and women-owned business have fair participation on procurements issued under the act. 

Having passed the House and Senate, the compromise legislation now advances to the governor's desk for consideration.

Boston Globe coverage (subscription maybe required)

 The legislation itself can be found online ->

he Massachusetts State House, still closed and mostly inactive.EPA
the Massachusetts State House, still closed and mostly inactive.EPA

Friday, August 20, 2021

Legislative Statement on Emergency Paid COVID Leave

Statement on Emergency Paid COVID Leave 


"The evidence is overwhelming: receiving the COVID-19 vaccination is the best way to keep our residents safe, end the pandemic in Massachusetts, and ensure we can continue the process of building a robust and equitable economic recovery. In order for the Governor's vaccine mandate to be successful, the Legislature will work to extend emergency paid COVID leave in the Commonwealth past the September 30, 2021 deadline and ensure that all workers have the opportunity to take time from work to receive the vaccine if and when they can." 


Senate President Karen E. Spilka 

Speaker of the House Ronald Mariano 

Senator Jason Lewis 

Representative Paul Donato 

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Massachusetts House, Senate Passes $261.6 Million FY 2021 Supplemental Budget

Massachusetts House, Senate

Massachusetts House, Senate Passes $261.6 Million FY 2021 Supplemental Budget

Today, the Massachusetts Legislature passed a $261.6 million supplemental budget for Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) that addresses time-sensitive deficiencies, extends expanded voting options, provides supports for the implementation of the 2020 landmark police reform law and makes investments to support the Commonwealth's continued recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As we continue to pave the way to an equitable recovery, the supplemental budget passed today includes $191 million to provide support and stability for our early educator workforce, $27.9 million for one-time economic relief payments to families on transitional assistance, and $12.5 million for costs associated with the implementation of last session's landmark police reform bill.

"As we carefully emerge into a post-pandemic world, we must continue to keep a close eye on areas which are critical to our Commonwealth's wellbeing," stated Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). "This supplemental budget provides us additional tools to ensure such areas as voter access, early education, public health, veteran and family services and transportation remain resilient as we get back to better. I want to thank Chair Rodrigues, his team at Senate Ways and Means, Speaker Mariano, Representative Michlewitz, their staffs and my colleagues for their work and collaboration on this important legislation."

"This supplemental budget continues to support the critical needs of those most impacted by the pandemic and includes many of our shared priorities, such as child care, voting, transportation and the implementation of our police reform law," said Speaker of the House Ronald J. Mariano (D-Quincy). "I would like to thank Chair Michlewitz and his team, as well as Senate President Spilka, Chair Rodrigues and their teams for their work as we position our Commonwealth towards a strong recovery."

"This budget allows us to pay our bills and address time sensitive needs, while meeting the immediate challenges facing our Commonwealth by investing in our early educator workforce, helping vulnerable families, and fulfilling our funding obligations to ensure timely implementation of the police reform law. I am also glad that this budget will close the loophole in line of duty death benefits so the families of fallen police officers can get what they are owed," said Senator Michael J. Rodrigues, Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways & Means (D-Westport). "Thank you to Senate President Spilka for her steady leadership and continued support and to my colleagues in the House and Senate for their tireless work to aid Massachusetts' equitable recovery and set the state on the path toward a new better."

"This supplemental budget includes a number of critical investments crucial to the Commonwealth's future such as funds for early education, police reform, and increased aid to families in need" said Representative Aaron Michlewitz, Chair of the House Committee on Ways & Means (D-Boston). "This legislation also provides much needed clarity on the future of the MBTA's governing structure and extends our meaningful voter access laws for the reminder of the year. I want thank Speaker Mariano, Senate President Spilka, Chair Rodrigues, and all my colleagues in the Legislature for their tireless work and advocacy on these issues."

Notable components of the funding package include:

Extended Voting Options

The legislation passed today allows for the popular practice of voting early by mail to continue through December 15, 2021, giving eligible voters the ability to exercise their right to cast a ballot while protecting their health and safety. The bill further allows cities and towns the ability to offer early in-person voting for such elections.  The extension of these additional voting options come as the Commonwealth continues to grapple with COVID-19 and its related variants and on the heels of elections in 2020 that saw record participation using these same methods.

"Passage of the Supplemental Budget today with provisions to extend mail-in and early voting options sends a strong message that both the Senate and the House are committed to ensuring that all voices are heard in our democracy. This is particularly critical in light of recent laws passed by many states to restrict voter access," said Senate Majority Leader Cindy Creem (D. Newton). "In addition, today's action providing for a temporary extension of these provisions, provides the Legislature with the opportunity to take up more comprehensive voting reforms later this session, and I look forward to that debate." 

'The voting provisions put forward in the supplemental budget will allow cities and towns to offer safe, accessible election options this fall while we continue to work on their permanency. I thank Speaker Mariano for his commitment to expanded voting access," said Representative Dan Ryan, House Chair of the Joint Committee on Election Laws (D-Boston). "I congratulate Chairman Michlewitz and the Ways and Means Committee on a thoughtful supplemental budget."


The supplemental budget passed today establishes a new seven-member Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) Board of Directors. The new oversight body, which takes the place of the Fiscal Management and Control Board, will comprise of seven members and consist of the Secretary of Transportation, serving as ex officio; five members appointed by the Governor; and one member appointed by the MBTA Advisory Board. The bill requires that one of the Governor appointees to the board be a rider that is a resident of an environmental justice population. Of the seven members, the bill also requires a board seat be given to a member of the labor community.

Child Care

To support early educators who have been on the front lines throughout the pandemic, the supplemental budget invests $131 million of federal Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) funding for early educator stabilization grants, workforce supports and system-wide technology upgrades. Additionally, the bill directs $60 million from Early Education and Care (EEC) COVID-19 Stabilization and Workforce reserve established in the FY21 General Appropriations Act for direct grants to state-subsidized providers.

Safety Net Supports

In addition to supporting early educators, the supplemental budget takes meaningful action to combat the lingering effects of the economic crises the Commonwealth has faced over the last 15 months and ensure families receive the economic supports they need to live, work and provide stability for their children. To that end, the budget passed today invests $27.9 million to provide for one-time payments to families that receive Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC) benefits, totaling $525 to $580 per child.

Public Safety

Additionally, the supplemental budget provides $12.5 million to cover costs related to the implementation of last session's landmark police reform bill. These funds will be used to support bridge academies for reserve officers and special state police officers previously not subject to the same training requirements as the general law enforcement population, to support the first diverse state police cadet class, and to meet municipal police training requirements on mandatory training on de-escalation, use of force, and school resource officers. The bill also includes $5 million to stand up the Peace Officer Standards & Training (POST) Commission.

The legislation will also allow the pension of a police officer who dies while performing their duties in certain emergencies to be paid to their surviving spouse. This change, which closes a loophole, was made to honor the service of Officer Manny Familia, a Worcester police officer who died in June while heroically attempting to save a 14-year-old boy from drowning.

Other notable highlights of the FY 2021 supplemental budget include:

  • $31.9 million for the Medical Assistance Trust Fund;
  • $13 million for National Guard activations, including pandemic-related work;
  • $11 million for the Department of State Police for pandemic-related costs;
  • $9.9 million for increased COVID-19 costs at the Department of Public Health
  • $7.8 million for home health aide rate increases;
  • $5.4 million for the Chelsea and Holyoke Soldiers' Homes for pandemic-related costs.
  • $1 million for the Supplier Diversity Office.

The legislation now moves to the Governor's desk for consideration.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

CommonWealth Magazine: "Baker signs budget, takes different tack on tax policy"

"GOV. CHARLIE BAKER on Friday signed into law a $47.6 billion state budget for fiscal 2022, which began two weeks ago. 

While he let most of the budget become law, Baker, who has line-item veto power, had multiple disagreements with lawmakers over tax policy. He vetoed a delay in the implementation of a state tax deduction for charitable giving. He also vetoed lawmakers’ attempts to eliminate two tax credits aimed at specific types of businesses and haggled with them over the details of a new corporate tax benefit. "

Boston Globe coverage

The full budget summary details

CommonWealth Magazine: "Baker signs budget, takes different tack on tax policy"

Friday, July 16, 2021

MA Legislature Passes Bill Authorizing $350 Million in Funding for Transportation Infrastructure

MA Legislature Passes Bill Authorizing $350 Million in Funding for Transportation Infrastructure



Massachusetts Legislature Passes Bill Authorizing $350 Million in Funding for Transportation Infrastructure

The Massachusetts Legislature on Thursday passed a bill that will invest $350 million in municipal transportation and selected statewide transportation infrastructure projects.

The bill, An Act financing improvements to municipal roads and bridges, authorizes $200 million for municipal roads and bridges through the chapter 90 program and $150 million to support statewide projects to address congestion, support electric vehicle infrastructure, prioritize bus infrastructure, and improve public transit.

"As travel returns to pre-COVID levels, our transportation system has a vital role to play in getting us back to better," stated Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). "The Chapter 90 proposal advanced by the Senate and House today authorizes $200 million for roads and bridges across our state and makes additional investments in emerging electric vehicle infrastructure which will greatly benefit the Commonwealth's residents. Passage of this legislation is critical to maintaining a transportation system that is sustainable, reliable, accessible and climate resilient. I am grateful to Senators Rodrigues, Boncore, and Feeney as well as Speaker Mariano, Rep. Michlewitz, Rep. Straus, Gregoire and their staffs for their collaboration."

"I would like to thank Chairs Michlewitz, Straus and Gregoire, as well as Senate President Spilka and her colleagues, for their work on the Chapter 90 bill," said Speaker of the House Ronald J. Mariano (D-Quincy). "This bill not only authorizes $200 million for roads and bridges but advances our priorities by investing in projects that municipalities will use to improve our transportation system, such as increased access to transit and specifically buses."

"As we continue building back to our new better, Chapter 90 funding remains an important mechanism through which the state can directly support cities and towns in Massachusetts," said Senator Michael J. Rodrigues (D -Westport), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. "Thank you to Senate President Spilka and Senators Boncore and Feeney for their leadership, and to my colleagues in the Legislature for their urgency to direct funding to projects that will make a real difference in their communities and strengthen our local infrastructure across the Commonwealth." 

"These critical funds will ensure that our transportation needs are addressed all across the Commonwealth" said Representative Aaron Michlewitz, Chair of the House Committee on Ways & Means (D-Boston). "I want to thank the Speaker, Chairs Straus and Gregoire, and our colleagues in the Senate for the hard work they put into this legislation, and for continuing to prioritize out transportation system". 

"Public transportation is a public good. The $350 million investment is among the largest Chapter 90 bond bills to date and represents the Legislature's commitment to safe roads, reliable bridges, and modernized transit infrastructure," said Senate Transportation Committee Chair Joe Boncore (D-Winthrop).  "In addition to funding shovel-ready projects, the Chapter 90 bond bill makes statewide investments support public transit, address traffic congestion, and advance electric vehicle infrastructure and fleets." 

"This legislation recognizes that in addition to the backlog of local roads in need of repair, there is an unmet need  for local projects that benefit all modes of transportation, and I am pleased that the legislature was able to provide municipal assistance for road work and expanded funding for towns and cities to advance public transit and reduce congestion," said Rep. Bill Straus (D-Mattapoisett), House chair of the Joint Committee on Transportation. 

"The funding provided through this critical legislation allows our cities and towns the ability to move forward on the necessary repairs and improvements to keep our roads, bridges and infrastructure safe for the residents of our communities," said Representative Gregoire, co-Chair of the Joint Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets . "I am grateful to Speaker Mariano for the opportunity to play a small part in its passage."

"Today's final enactment of $350 million in Chapter 90 bond authorizations is a smart investment for the Commonwealth," said Senator Paul R. Feeney (D-Foxborough), the Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets. "There is no question our local infrastructure is in dire need of repairs and upgrades. As we recover from the pandemic and businesses and offices re-open, more people are hitting the roads and commuting once again. This comprehensive investment in our transportation infrastructure will put people to work and allow our city and town officials to forge ahead with the critical projects necessary to keep our communities moving along safely."

"The members of the Senate Republican Caucus are pleased to join with our colleagues in passing Chapter 90 legislation that will provide valuable resources to our cities and towns to construct and maintain the roads and bridges all of us depend on every day. Road paving, bridge construction and repair, and similar projects are important to our economy, our safety, and our quality of life, but their costs can be a major challenge for municipal budgets," said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R- Gloucester). "The spending authorizations contained in this bill will provide the resources and support needed urgently to respond to that challenge and make those projects possible this year."

"The long-standing state-municipal partnership established under the Chapter 90 program is critical to helping cities and towns meet their transportation infrastructure needs. Today's agreement continues the House and Senate's ongoing commitment to support this important road and bridge program. Combined with the funding increases for targeted municipal transit-related grants, this bond bill will allow cities and towns to focus on addressing some of their most critical transportation needs," stated House Minority Leader Brad Jones (R-North Reading).

The bill includes the following components:

  • $200 million in chapter 90 funding for cities and towns for projects to maintain, improve, and repair roadways, bridges, sidewalks, and bikeways.
  • $25 million for the Municipal Small Bridge Program to support replacement or preservation of structurally deficient local bridges critical to local communities and not eligible for existing federal aid programs.
  • $25 million for the Local Bottleneck Program to address localized traffic bottlenecks and invest in infrastructure to reduce congestion, improve traffic flow, and reduce idling and greenhouse gas emissions.
  • $25 million for Electric Vehicle (EV) infrastructure to support municipalities and regional transit authorities in their efforts to install EV infrastructure and purchase EVs and zero-emission vehicles. 
  • $25 million for Transit-Supportive Infrastructure to create dedicated bus lanes, enhance bus stops and train stations, support passenger safety, upgrade technology and modernize infrastructure to meet demand and increase frequency of public transit services, and improve access to public transit.
  • $25 million for Bus Prioritization and Enhancement Projects to support municipalities in their efforts to create bus rapid transit lanes, construct catenary wires for electric trolley buses, purchase equipment for transit signal prioritization, and make improvements at bus stations and stops.
  • $25 million for Enhancements at Transit and Commuter Rail Stations to support municipalities in their efforts to construct parking lots and structures, drop-off and pick-up zones, electric vehicle charging stations, park-and-ride locations, bicycle parking or bicycle cages, and accommodations for micro-mobility devices.

The bill also includes language clarifying that transportation infrastructure projects are an allowable use of American Rescue Plan Act funds, consistent with U.S. Treasury guidelines. Having been passed by the House and Senate, the legislation now goes to Governor Baker for his signature.