Showing posts with label MA House of Representatives. Show all posts
Showing posts with label MA House of Representatives. Show all posts

Saturday, May 25, 2024

Representative Roy: "Massachusetts House Passes Landmark Veterans Legislation"

Rep. Roy was honored to join his colleagues in passing legislation that honors veterans in Massachusetts by broadening the definition of a veteran, increasing tax credits and state benefits that they are eligible for, and modernizing the services that they rely on. “An Act honoring, empowering, and recognizing our servicemembers and veterans (HERO Act),” will impact hundreds of thousands of veterans living in Massachusetts.

“Massachusetts has the most generous veterans benefits in the nation,” said Rep. Roy. “And, as a matter of fact, I am not in the Franklin chamber tonight because I just left the House floor where we voted unanimously on a bill to further expand veterans benefits here. “Today’s bill combines spending, policy and tax initiatives aimed at expanding access by veterans to health care, increasing financial benefits to former servicemembers, and ensuring that women, disabled and LGBTQ+ veterans have equal access to supports. I am honored to support the expansion of benefits to those who gave greatly to support freedom and democracy and to make sure our veterans and their families have access to the benefits, resources and support they deserve.”

Read Rep Roy's full article -> https://jeffreyroy.com/2024/05/23/4767/?

Full text of the HERO Act legislation -> https://malegislature.gov/Bills/193/H4671
Representative Roy: "Massachusetts House Passes Landmark Veterans Legislation"
Representative Roy: "Massachusetts House Passes Landmark Veterans Legislation"




Monday, April 29, 2024

State Rep Roy on the MA House Budget passing (video)

Via our State Representative Jeff Roy

"The House concluded budget deliberations on the FY25 budget last night (4/26/24).
I was proud to deliver local aid to Franklin and Medway that will assist the Franklin Food Pantry, the Medway Village Food Pantry, the Franklin Performing Arts Company, the SAFE Coalition, the Franklin Downtown Partnership, and the Medway Community Farm. I was also happy to file an amendment that added $500,000 to the Genocide Education Trust Fund.  
In the video below, I highlight all of the environmental and energy provisions in the budget. It was an amazing budget in challenging times and I am grateful for the leadership of Speaker Ron Mariano and Ways & Means Chair Aaron Michlewitz for making it all happen. "

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Episode 42 starts with eclipse highlights and legislative seminar before discussing headlines (audio)

FM #1176 = This is the Franklin Matters radio show, number 1176 in the series. 


This session of the radio show shares my conversation with Ted McIntyre, Franklin resident and climate activist. We met to record in the Franklin TV & Public Radio studio on Tuesday, April 16, 2024.  

We continued making sense of climate on an almost extemporaneous discussion similar to what we recently had. Starting with highlights from Ted’s experience of the eclipse, and with my highlights from the Citizen Legislative Seminar where I spent 2 days in State House.



This discussion continues our journey understanding the MA roadmap toward net zero and while it helps me “make sense of climate”, we hope it helps with your understanding as well. 

If you have climate questions or Franklin specific climate questions, send them in and we’ll try to answer them in a future session.  

The conversation runs about 43 minutes. Let’s listen to my conversation with Ted.

Audio link ->  
https://franklin-ma-matters.captivate.fm/episode/fm-1176-making-sense-of-climate-42-04-16-24


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** See the page that collects all the “Making Sense of Climate” episodes -> https://www.franklinmatters.org/2022/02/making-sense-of-climate-collection.html 


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We are now producing this in collaboration with Franklin.TV and Franklin Public Radio (wfpr.fm) or 102.9 on the Franklin area radio dial.  


This podcast is my public service effort for Franklin but we can't do it alone. We can always use your help.


How can you help?

  • If you can use the information that you find here, please tell your friends and neighbors

  • If you don't like something here, please let me know


Through this feedback loop we can continue to make improvements. I thank you for listening.


For additional information, please visit www.franklin.news/ or  www.Franklinmatters.org/ 


If you have questions or comments you can reach me directly at shersteve @ gmail dot com


The music for the intro and exit was provided by Michael Clark and the group "East of Shirley". The piece is titled "Ernesto, manana"  c. Michael Clark & Tintype Tunes, 2008 and used with their permission.


I hope you enjoy!

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You can also subscribe and listen to Franklin Matters audio on iTunes or your favorite podcast app; search in "podcasts" for "Franklin Matters"


Episode 42 starts with eclipse highlights and legislative seminar before discussing headlines (audio)
Episode 42 starts with eclipse highlights and legislative seminar before discussing headlines (audio)


Sunday, March 24, 2024

Migrant crisis: State Senate votes to limit time in family shelter

"As the state burns through the hundreds of millions already set aside to fund Massachusetts’ emergency shelter system, the state Senate late Thursday voted to inject millions more into the system, and limit the amount of time homeless families, including migrants, can stay.

The 32-8 vote, which happened shortly after 9 p.m. Thursday night, sets the stage for what will likely be a contentious debate with the House, which passed its own version earlier this month.

The proposal is part of a spending bill meant to buoy the strained shelter system through the end of the fiscal year, and help fund it into 2025. While the Senate proposal diverges from the House’s bill on some key details, both chambers are now united behind the concept of restricting, for the first time since the inception of Massachusetts’ right-to-shelter law, how long the state should provide a place to sleep for homeless families."

The Senate legislation differs in many ways from the House’s proposal
The Senate legislation differs in many ways from the House’s proposal

"As Massachusetts struggles to find housing for an influx of migrants, a Globe analysis of state data finds that few wealthy communities are hosting emergency shelters for homeless and migrant families while the bulk are in middle-income cities and towns.

Of the 94 communities hosting emergency shelters, more than half have a median household income below $100,000, while just nine of those communities — including Acton, Concord, and Lexington — have household incomes above $150,000.

The state says its process for placing shelters is driven by the availability of space and factors such as their proximity to critical services such as public transportation.

But many communities say they are having trouble providing all the resources people need, such as transportation and translators, and worry the strain on their limited resources will reach a breaking point."
Buried within the Globe article above was this piece which I missed while I was away in February (subscription maybe required) ->   https://www.bostonglobe.com/2024/02/09/metro/boston-migrants-globe-analysis/


Friday, January 12, 2024

Massachusetts House unanimously passes bill to prevent abuse and exploitation, enhance protections for survivors (video)

The Massachusetts House of Representatives today (Wednesday, January 10, 2024) passed legislation that combines several separate legislative initiatives into one bill that will help to prevent abuse and exploitation, while also enhancing protections for survivors. The legislation addresses teen sexting and image-based sexual assault, commonly referred to as “revenge porn;” expands the definition of abuse to include coercive control for the purposes of obtaining a restraining order; and extends the statute of limitations for certain domestic violence offenses from six years to 15 years.

“This legislation modernizes our criminal laws by ensuring that those who share explicit images of others without their consent face punishment, while also educating minors on the dangers of sharing explicit images of themselves rather than imposing some of the criminal justice system’s most severe consequences,” said House Speaker Ronald J. Mariano (D-Quincy). “I’m also incredibly proud of this legislation’s bolstered protections for survivors, including the added consideration of nonphysical forms of abuse for those seeking restraining orders from their abusers. I want to thank Chairman Day and the Judiciary Committee, along with each bill sponsor and all my colleagues in the House for prioritizing this vital legislation.” 

“The House has heard the urgent call of survivors to enhance protections and ensure that our laws keep up with technology. But the House doesn’t just listen, we act,” said Representative Michael S. Day (D-Stoneham), House Chair of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary. “It’s critical that these reforms pass into law quickly so that victims of coercive control, adolescent sexting and revenge porn aren’t left without relief.”

Currently, minors who possess, purchase, or share explicit photos of themselves or other minors are charged with violating Massachusetts child pornography laws and are required to register as sex offenders. The legislation passed today instead authorizes commitment to the Department of Youth Services (DYS), but also allows minors to be diverted to an educational program in lieu of criminal punishment. A district attorney, however, is allowed to petition the court to bring criminal charges in extreme cases. 

The educational diversion program, to be created by the Attorney General in consultation with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), DYS, and the District Attorneys Association, 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.  

“This legislation represents a coordinated effort and a holistic approach to address an increasingly prevalent behavior and provides mechanisms to protect individuals victimized by those who threaten, intimidate, and harass the subjects of these images,” said State Representative Jeffrey N. Roy (D-Franklin), a lead sponsor of the bill. “The sexting provisions provide 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 this behavior.”

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 up to two and a half years of prison time and/or a monetary fine of up to $10,000. The bill increases the upper limit of the fine for criminal harassment from $1,000 to $5,000. Under this bill, a victim may also petition the court for a harassment prevention order against a person who has violated this statute. 

The bill passed today also adds coercive control to the definition of abuse. Coercive control is a nonphysical form of abuse which includes a pattern of behavior, or a single act intended to threaten, intimated, harass, isolate, control, coerce or compel compliance of a family or household member that causes the family or household member to fear physical harm or to have a reduced sense of physical safety or autonomy. Examples of coercive control include threating to share explicit images, regulating or monitoring a family or household member’s communications and access to services, and isolating a family or household member from friends or relatives.

"Protecting victims is the driving force behind these efforts and I am pleased we are giving prosecutors more tools to deal with these disturbing and dangerous situations. Thank you to Speaker Mariano, Chair Michlewitz, Chair Day, and the advocacy groups who recognize how important it is that we further protect victims by updating our criminal laws," said Representative Richard M. Haggerty (D-Woburn), a lead sponsor of the bill. "By defining coercive control as abuse and closing revenge porn consent loopholes, this law protects against the severe emotional harm too often inflicted through non-physical tactics, sending a clear message that revenge porn, coercive control, and criminal harassment have no place in Massachusetts.” 

“Far too often, our legal system has failed victims of domestic violence who are subjected to the unseen tortures of psychological and emotional abuse,” Representative Meghan Kilcoyne (D-Clinton), a lead sponsor of the bill. “I am so grateful that with this piece of legislation, we will be giving our law enforcement and judiciary the necessary tools to ensure those subjected to both physical and emotional abuse are protected. I am thankful to the Speaker and Chairman Day for their leadership. “With this bill, we can make sure victims of coercive abuse will no longer suffer in silence.” 

The legislation passed today also extends the statute of limitations for assault and battery on a family or household member or against someone with an active protective order from six years to 15 years. This change brings the Massachusetts statute of limitations for these domestic violence offenses in line with the statute of limitations for rape, assault with intent to commit rape and sex trafficking. 

“Massachusetts can and should be granting restraining orders for coercive control, but we know that for so many survivors, their emotional and psychological trauma is not given the same seriousness as physical violence. And the reality of that barrier can be deadly,” said Representative Natalie M. Higgins (D-Leominster), a lead sponsor of the bill. “I am incredibly grateful to the Speaker and my House colleagues for taking a critical step forward in protecting our neighbors by codifying coercive control in the Mass General Laws and extending the statute of limitations so that survivors of domestic violence can build more safety and supports to come forward and report domestic abuse to law enforcement.”

“Domestic violence is not always physical violence, sometimes it’s much more insidious. During my time as a legal services attorney, I represented many survivors who suffered emotional trauma and financial devastation through fear and manipulation. Survivors and the courts need our help to update our laws to make it clear that coercive control is a type of domestic abuse that will not be tolerated,” said Representative Tram Nguyen (D-Andover), a lead sponsor of the bill. “I want to thank Speaker Mariano, Chair Michlewitz, and Chair Day for advancing this transformative and bipartisan legislation. I am also grateful for the partnership of Rep. Higgins, who co-filed this legislation with me, and the survivors and coalition advocates who spoke up for the thousands of women, men, and children in our Commonwealth who would be better able to take back control of their future if this bill is signed into law.”

“An Act to prevent abuse and exploitation” (H.4241) passed the House of Representatives 151-0. It now goes to the Senate for their consideration. 


John F. Keenan (@SenJohnFKeenan) posted on Thu, Jan 11, 2024:
The Revenge Porn bill has passed the House! Now what? Well, the Senate has to vote, then @MassGovernor @maura_healey will need to sign it into law. Thank you to Rep. @jeffroy for all your hard work! #MAPoli https://t.co/BV4WV0UEQV  (Follow link to view video)
Shared from -> https://twitter.com/SenJohnFKeenan/status/1745543605391909036

SenJohnFKeenan & Rep.  @jeffroy
SenJohnFKeenan & Rep.  @jeffroy


Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Via CommonWealth Beacon: State budget for FY 2023 completed (finally); Revenues down for November and YTD

"Mass. tax revenues take dive in November" 

"MASSACHUSETTS TAX REVENUES took a dive during November and are running 4.3 percent below forecasted levels through the first five months of the fiscal year, reinforcing concerns that state government needs to slow its pace of spending.

The Department of Revenue reported on Tuesday that tax collections in November totaled $2.25 billion, nearly 11 percent below the state forecast and 5.5 percent less than last year. Through the first five months of the fiscal year, revenues are running $627 million below the forecast used to draft this year’s budget and 1 percent more than the same period last year.

Adding to concerns, the state’s tax revenues in November were not affected by the passage of a major tax cut in October. That tax cut should start having an impact on state tax revenues starting in December or January, officials said."

Continue reading the article -> https://commonwealthbeacon.org/government/state-government/mass-tax-revenues-take-dive-in-november/ 

"Dems return to Beacon Hill in force, pass stalled spending bill"

"Instead of using parliamentary rules to block or delay action on the bill, as Republicans in the House did, the Senate Republicans struck a deal with Democratic leaders. In return for the Republicans agreeing not to delay action on the bill, the Senate Democrats supported a Republican motion to suspend the Legislature’s joint rules so the bill could be taken up in a formal session and be debated. The motion wasn’t embraced by the House, so it didn’t go anywhere, but it was a moral victory for the Senate Republicans and it allowed the bill to move quickly to enactment, which is what the Democrats wanted. 
Senate President Karen Spilka called it a “win-win for everybody.” 
The end result was the long overdue spending bill was sent to Gov. Maura Healey, who signed it immediately. All the parliamentary maneuvering didn’t change anything, but it captivated Beacon Hill for nearly a week in the middle of a holiday recess. The drawn-out process was mostly about optics and placing blame for delays that held up raises for public sector unions, disaster relief, and funding for the stretched-thin emergency shelter program."


The H4204 legislative details can be found online ->   https://malegislature.gov/Bills/193/H4204

The golden dome of the State House. (Photo by Andy Metzger)
The golden dome of the State House. (Photo by Andy Metzger)

Friday, September 29, 2023

MA House & Senate send FY 2024 tax relief bill to Gov Healey

"The House and Senate have passed a compromise tax relief bill that would provide $561 million in tax breaks and credits this year, with the value growing to approximately $1 billion once the law is fully implemented in 2027.

The House overwhelmingly approved the bill on Sept. 27, and the Senate did the same on Sept. 28. The governor, who has 10 days to review and sign the bill, has indicated her strong support.

Provisions that would affect municipalities include property tax relief and housing incentives. The bill would:
• Increase the maximum annual property tax deduction for seniors who provide volunteer services to a municipality from $1,500 to $2,000
• Increase the maximum available “senior circuit breaker” property tax credit from $750 per year to $1,500 per year, prior to adjusting for inflation
• Create a local-option property tax exemption for residential properties that are rented to households earning no more than 200% of area median income, and allow municipalities to determine the amount of the exemption and adopt ordinances and bylaws implementing these provisions
• Increase the cap on Housing Development Incentive Program tax credits from $10 million to $30 million annually and allow for the distribution of any portion of the annual cap on credits that were not authorized in previous years, or of any credits that were returned"

Continue reading the article online at MMA -> https://www.mma.org/house-senate-send-tax-relief-bill-to-governors-desk/ 

Boston Globe coverage (subscription maybe required) ->   https://www.bostonglobe.com/2023/09/28/metro/massachusetts-tax-relief-deal/ 

For the actual legislative language visit this page ->     https://malegislature.gov/Bills/193/H4104

FY 2024 Final Budget
https://malegislature.gov/Bills/193/H4104

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

How late is the State budget? Really? What is in the state budget is the more important question!

Chris Lisinski (@ChrisLisinski) tweeted on Mon, Jul 31, 2023:
Just how late was the annual state budget lawmakers sent to Gov. Healey on Monday?

Only three other budgets since FY2000 have been completed later, one of which was in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic upended everything, per @masstaxpayersfd data. #mapoli  
https://t.co/MjQF0gjlqs 

What is in the state budget is the more important question!
What is in the state budget is the more important question!

Shared from Twitter -> https://t.co/ypnCUKs33L

"Less than 24 hours after negotiators inked a compromise on a $56.2 billion annual spending plan, House and Senate lawmakers, with little debate, voted Monday to send the fiscal year 2024 package to Governor Maura Healey.

The chambers’ action on the budget legislation, representing a record level of spending, came nearly a month after the July 1 deadline for the start of the new fiscal year.

The budget is now in Healey’s hands for the next 10 days, and what happens next remains to be seen. Lawmakers used the governor’s budget proposal as a roadmap in crafting their own, but she could seek to further shape the spending plan, the first of her term in the corner office."
Continue reading the Boston Globe article (subscription may be required)

The Conference Committee report on the FY 2024 budget can be found ->

The link to the actual legislation document H 4040 ->    https://malegislature.gov/Bills/193/H4040

The continuation legislation to fund August in lieu of the final budget. Signed by Gov Healey on July 31, 2023 -> https://malegislature.gov/Bills/193/H4022


What is in the state budget is more important - 1
What is in the state budget is more important - 1

What is in the state budget is more important - 2
What is in the state budget is more important - 2


What is in the state budget is more important - 3
What is in the state budget is more important - 3

What is in the state budget is more important - 4
What is in the state budget is more important - 4

Saturday, July 29, 2023

MA budget to the Governor next week finally, maybe??

"After weeks of negotiations and two stopgap spending bills, state House and Senate Democrats announced Friday afternoon that they finally reached an agreement on the state budget for the fiscal year that started July 1.

While they did not announce any details, budget leaders said they are confident they will be able to vote on the budget on Monday.

“Our respective teams are actively engaged in ironing out the details and working diligently to finalize the agreement,” Senator Michael J. Rodrigues and Representative Aaron Michlewitz, who serve as budget leaders in their respective chambers, said in a statement. “We are confident that the Conference Committee Report will be filed in the coming days, ensuring that both the House and Senate will take up the report on Monday in formal session.”
Continue reading the Boston Globe article (subscription may be required)
https://www.bostonglobe.com/2023/07/28/metro/massachusetts-house-senate-budget-vote-late/


Michael J. Rodrigues, the Senate Ways and Means Chair, speaks to reporters in the Massachusetts State House on August 1, 2022.CARLIN STIEHL FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE
Michael J. Rodrigues, the Senate Ways and Means Chair, speaks to reporters in the Massachusetts State House on August 1, 2022.CARLIN STIEHL FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE

Thursday, May 18, 2023

CommonWealth Magazine: "Split-in-two committee to hold dueling hearings this week"

"Those interested in testifying on bills dealing with offshore wind and energy storage may have to do double-duty this week.

The feuding House and Senate chairs of the Legislature’s Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy Committee are splitting the panel in half, with the House members taking testimony on bills dealing with offshore wind and energy storage on Thursday and Senate members holding their own “parallel hearing” on the same bills on Friday.

The two feuders – Rep. Jeffrey Roy of Franklin and Sen. Michael Barrett of Lexington – both say they are acting on principle in a fight about the rules that govern their legislative committee.

Roy said his concerns trace to the end of the legislative session last year, when Barrett used the powers provided under the rules to control which bills were released from committee. He said action on major energy legislation was delayed and hundreds of other bills were blocked, which means they ended up with the label “ought not to pass.”

Barrett said he is refusing to engage in any legislative business with Roy until the House chair either agrees to new rules or abides by the rules that were in force last year, which require the consent of both chairs to schedule a hearing or an executive session where legislation is acted on."

Continue reading the article online ->  https://commonwealthmagazine.org/economy/split-in-two-committee-to-hold-dueling-hearings-this-week-2/ 

The golden dome of the State House. (Photo by Andy Metzger)
The golden dome of the State House. (Photo by Andy Metzger)

Friday, April 14, 2023

CommonWealth Magazine: "Mass. House approves unaltered tax plan"

"THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to pass its $1.1 billion tax relief bill exactly as pitched earlier this week. A provision that would adjust an obscure tax giveback law dominated most of the tax plan debate but ultimately made it through to the final bill unchanged.

The mid-afternoon vote, which approved the package, 150-3, advances a measure that top House Democrats say will bolster the state’s competitiveness and affordability and bring tax rates in line with those in other states. Its top-line features are cuts in the short-term capital gains tax from 12 percent to 5 percent and raising the estate tax exemption from $1 million to $2 million, along with tax deductions targeting parents, caregivers, seniors, and lower income renters. 

“Let’s hope it makes us more competitive and people will hesitate before moving,” House Speaker Ron Mariano said earlier in the week about the tax package. “We don’t want you to leave. We want you to stay here.”

The tax debate will now move to the Senate."
Continue reading the article online at CommonWealth Magazine -> 

The legislation text can be found online ->  https://malegislature.gov/Bills/193/H3770

CommonWealth Magazine: "Mass. House approves unaltered tax plan"
CommonWealth Magazine: "Mass. House approves unaltered tax plan"

Thursday, April 13, 2023

The MA House Ways & Means budget: via Commonwealth Magazine, Boston Globe, and direct link to budget

Via CommonWealth Magazine: What follows is an explainer about what’s in the House Ways and Means budget proposal for fiscal 2024.

"How big is the House Ways and Means budget?

It comes in at nearly $56.2 billion, and that’s before lawmakers start adding earmarked spending during the budget debate that starts April 26. The budget is about $170 million higher than Gov. Maura Healey’s proposal because the governor wants to give more money back in the form of tax relief while the House would phase in many of its tax breaks over time, allowing the branch to spend more money now.

That spending total seems like a lot of money.

It is a lot. For perspective, the state budget in fiscal 2016 was $38.4 billion. Over the last eight years, the state budget has grown by $17.8 billion, or 46 percent."
Continue reading the article online ->

Boston Globe coverage on the budget -> 

The House Ways & Means budget can be found online -> 

MassBudget provides a budget browser to view comparisons between and among categories and years  https://massbudget.org/budget-browser/

The MA House Ways & Means budget: via Commonwealth Magazine, Boston Globe, and direct link to budget
The MA House Ways & Means budget: via Commonwealth Magazine, Boston Globe, and direct link to budget

Sunday, April 9, 2023

"The site operates as 'a nonpartisan, open source, and nonprofit project;”

"ONE OF THE most well-worn complaints among political watchers in Massachusetts is that the government can be, well, hard to watch. The state Legislature is one of the least transparent lawmaking bodies in the country – exempt from public records laws, with decisions often made in closed committee sessions with little revelation about who voted for or against a given piece of legislation.

Being generally outraged about local government on Twitter, Facebook, or other social media sites may be cathartic, but is perhaps not the most efficient way to push for change. Now a team of volunteers is taking a swing at making online engagement with the Legislature feel a bit more civil, structured, and achievable for individuals and organizations.

The website MAPLE (the Massachusetts Platform for Legislative Engagement) launched this month, focused on encouraging and facilitating public testimony on legislation. The Legislature does collect and post some public testimony already, but the MAPLE group is trying to improve what they see as an imperfect system. A motivating question for the co-creators was whether the online spaces where the public gathers to express views online could “be designed better to allow us to channel our energy for productive improvements for the communities that we touch?”
Continue reading the article online at Commonwealth Magazine ->

Check out the MAPLE site yourself here ->  https://www.mapletestimony.org/
 
"The site operates as 'a nonpartisan, open source, and nonprofit project;”
"The site operates as 'a nonpartisan, open source, and nonprofit project;” 

Saturday, March 25, 2023

MMA: "Legislature passes supplemental budget with pandemic-era extensions, key investments"

The House and Senate both passed a compromise supplemental 2023 budget bill today that includes a majority of the governor’s proposed “immediate needs” bond bill as well as extensions of pandemic-related authorizations related to public meetings and outdoor dining.

The bill was originally filed by Gov. Maura Healey in January, and both chambers had passed slightly different versions earlier this month.

The final bill (H. 47) includes extensions to pandemic-related authorizations that were set to expire next week.

The bill would:
• Allow remote and hybrid meeting options for public bodies through March 31, 2025
• Allow remote and hybrid participation options for representative town meetings through March 31, 2025
• Permit reduced quorums for open town meetings through March 31, 2025
• Extend the expedited outdoor dining permit process through April 1, 2024

The legislation started as H.47 and ended up on the Governor's desk as  H.58 -https://malegislature.gov/Bills/193/H58

MMA: "Legislature passes supplemental budget with pandemic-era extensions, key investments"
MMA: "Legislature passes supplemental budget with pandemic-era extensions, key investments"

Friday, March 10, 2023

Senate Passes $368.7 Million Supplemental Budget; now to Reconcile Cmte before going to Governor Healey

Bill funds essential services relied on by vulnerable populations, extends COVID-era measures, authorizes public works bonding to support cities and towns

The Massachusetts State Senate on Thursday passed a $368.7 million supplemental budget for Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23). The legislation funds vital services that support vulnerable populations and address food insecurity, housing instability, the state's long-term COVID-19 response, economic development, essential support services for incoming immigrants and refugees, and more. Notably, the bill extends initiatives first implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as outdoor dining, remote public meeting access, and support for assisted living residences. The bill further authorizes $814.3 in bonding to bolster the Commonwealth's clean water and other public works projects for cities and towns, as well as to support the Commonwealth's ability to compete for competitive federal grant funds. 

"This supplemental budget ensures that our Commonwealth continues to support the most vulnerable among us while also building on the lessons we learned during the COVID-19 pandemic," said Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). "I'm proud to say that this body has proven once again that it has the courage to chart a course that leaves no place or person in the Commonwealth behind. As I have said since the start of the pandemic, we must go 'back to better,' not 'back to normal.' With today's supplemental budget, I am pleased to see the Senate take one more step toward this goal. I would like to thank my colleagues, especially Chair Rodrigues and his dedicated team at Senate Ways and Means, for their hard work and contributions to this supplemental budget."

"As we continue to emerge from the pandemic, the Legislature has taken the necessary steps to keep the economy of the Commonwealth on a firm footing. The passage of this supplemental budget today utilizes robust tax revenues to its fullest effect, making substantial investments in economic development, housing, education, and the social service safety net. Those investments, along with a forward-thinking long-term bond authorization, will keep Massachusetts as a leader in the key economic sectors for decades to come," said Senator Michael J. Rodrigues (D-Westport), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. "Thanks to the strong leadership of Senate President Spilka, and the commitment of my colleagues in the Senate, we sent a clear message to the people that we will always look to protect our marginalized communities, support our education and health care workforce, and invest in local infrastructure as the Commonwealth continues to recover from the impact of the pandemic."

The bill invests $368.7 million to address several time sensitive needs for an array of programs relied on by some of the most vulnerable residents of the Commonwealth, including $130 million for SNAP food assistance benefits to provide a glide path for families who were receiving enhanced SNAP benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic, $68 million for the Early Education C3 stabilization grant program, $65 million for the continuation of free school meals, $45 million for emergency shelter assistance, and over $40 million to support affordable housing for immigrants and refugees. Other measures funded in the bill include:

  • $8.3 million for judgments, settlements, and legal fees
  • $7 million for coordinated wraparound services for incoming immigrants and refugees
  • $2 million for the reimbursement of SNAP benefits for victims of benefit theft
  • $2 million for the preparation and execution of the 114th National NAACP conference, which is taking place in Massachusetts in 2023, which was adopted via an amendment from Senator Liz Miranda
  • $1 million for a public awareness campaign to educate the public about the misleading tactics of so-called crisis pregnancy centers and their lack of medical services
  • $250,000 for Reproductive Equity Now's free abortion-related legal hotline

The bill also authorizes $814.3 billion in capital expenditures to support economic development projects. Notably, these include $400 million for the MassWorks Infrastructure Program, which provides grants to cities, towns, and other public entities for infrastructure projects, and $200 million for state matching funds to compete for federal grant opportunities, including those funded through the CHIPS and Science Act, which encourage innovation in Massachusetts. Other bonding items authorized by the bill include:

  • $104 million for the Clean Water Trust Fund
  • $34 million for a program to revitalize underutilized properties
  • $30 million for state matching funds to compete for federal broadband expansion grants and improve state broadband infrastructure
  • $15 million for the Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative, which supports innovation within the state's manufacturing industry, including by offering technical assistance to manufacturers and attracting talent from outside of the state
  • $14 million for the Massachusetts Manufacturing Accelerate Program
  • $9.3 million for broadband middle mile supports
  • $8 million for the Smart Growth Housing Trust Fund

Reorganizing the societal shifts that have taken place during the pandemic, the bill also addresses several pandemic-era related measures, including:

  • Permanently allowing public corporations and nonprofits to hold meetings by means of remote communication
  • Permanently allowing notaries public to conduct remote online notarization using communication technology
  • Extending the ability of graduates and students in their last semester of nursing education programs to practice nursing in accordance with guidance from the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing
  • Extending the ability of municipalities to allow outdoor dining services
  • Extending the ability of public bodies to allow remote participation by members in public meetings
  • Extending flexibilities given to cities and towns that allow for town meetings to be held in hybrid or fully remote capacities and that ease the threshold for a quorum
  • Extending the ability of nurses employed by assisted living residences to provide skilled nursing care in accordance with valid medical orders, provided the nurse holds a valid license to provide such care

Senator Liz Miranda (D-Boston) and Senator Robyn K. Kennedy (D-Worcester) both gave their inaugural Senate speeches during consideration of the supplemental budget. Senator Miranda spoke on behalf of her amendment for $2 million to support the NAACP's 114th national conference, which will be taking place in Massachusetts in 2023. The amendment was subsequently unanimously adopted. Senator Kennedy highlighted how the supplemental budget's $68 million investment in C3 early education grants will provide crucial stability to the early education sector.

As a previous version of this legislation has passed the House of Representatives, the two branches will now reconcile the differences between the bills.


As near as I can tell, the House version is H.58 -> https://malegislature.gov/Bills/193/H58

and the Senate version (as per this press release) is S.23 ->  https://malegislature.gov/Bills/193/S23


Senate Passes $368.7 Million Supplemental Budget
Senate Passes $368.7 Million Supplemental Budget