Showing posts with label conference committee. Show all posts
Showing posts with label conference committee. Show all posts

Saturday, June 17, 2023

MA Senate Unanimously Approves Bill for Progressive Tax Relief

Provides Significant Housing, Dependent Care, and Estate Tax Assistance  

The Massachusetts Senate unanimously approved on Thursday (6/15/23) a $590 million Tax Relief bill which delivers support to low- and middle-income earners and chips away  at the headwinds that threaten Massachusetts’ competitiveness. Focusing on providing relief to residents across Massachusetts while upholding fiscal responsibility, the Senate's tax relief package will provide relief to renters, seniors, and parents struggling with high early education costs while also increasing much-needed housing production. With the recent passage of the FY24 budget last month, the Commonwealth is now poised to secure and strengthen its economic foundation to weather future uncertainty. 

“As I have said from the outset, tax relief should go to the workers, families, and elderly residents of the Commonwealth who need it most,” stated Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “Massachusetts doesn’t need just any tax relief; we need permanent, progressive, smart, and sustainable tax relief. Too many families have been caught between the rising costs of healthcare, housing, education, and basic goods. While we advance reforms to lower these costs and shore up our social services, meaningful tax relief is another tool in our kit to encourage people to live and raise their families in Massachusetts. I want to thank each of my Senate colleagues who contributed to this proposal, especially Senator Rodrigues and Senator Moran for their leadership in developing this strong package.” 

“While there has been calls for the Senate to act more swiftly on tax relief, my colleagues and I took a deliberative and practical approach to tax relief, centering our proposal on what we saw as major areas of concern to individuals and working families of the Commonwealth. Namely, providing critical housing assistance to the demographic that is most affected by housing instability and unaffordability; the 25-40 age group who are being priced out of the Commonwealth at an alarming rate. We need this group to remain in Massachusetts, put down roots, and buy a home of their own.” said Senator Michael J. Rodrigues, Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means (D-Westport). 

“Consistent with the views of the Senate membership, our Senate tax package is forward-looking, fiscally sustainable, comprehensive, and progressive. It puts money back into the pockets of our residents, providing permanent tax cuts for low-income workers, families, renters, seniors, persons with disabilities, while focusing on the largest issue that is undercutting our Commonwealth’s overall competitiveness – which is the affordability and availability of housing. Thank you to my colleagues in the Senate, especially my colleagues on the Committee, whose advocacy, collaboration, and dedication helped to inform and shape this comprehensive tax relief proposal. A sincere thanks to the Ways and Means staff, whose seamless transition from the budget to this tax relief bill was truly remarkable. Lastly, a very warm and genuine thank you to Senate President Spilka for her determined and compassionate leadership as we work together to rebuild our economy and bolster our state’s long-term economic health.” 

"Working families aren’t leaving the Commonwealth because of taxes on day-traders," said
Senator Susan Moran, Chair of the Joint Committee on Revenue (D-Falmouth). "They are leaving because they can’t find housing they can afford. This package aimed at growing housing will also grow our workforce and the Commonwealth’s competitiveness." 

This package includes a variety of initiatives as tax relief for the residents of Massachusetts.

The bill: 
  • increases the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which provides critical support to working families, from 30% to 40% of the federal credit   
  • merges existing credits into a new and enhanced Child and Dependent Tax Credit (CDTC), increases the amount of the credit from $180 to $310 per child/dependent, and eliminates the current cap of two children/dependents 
  • increases statewide cap for the Housing Development Incentive Program (HDIP) from $10 million to $57 million on a one-time basis and then to $30 million annually 
  • increases the cap on the rental deduction from $3,000 to $4,000 
  • raises annual authorization of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, which directly supports the production of affordable housing units across the Commonwealth, from $40 million to $60 million  
  • doubles the maximum senior circuit breaker credit, which supports elderly residents who struggle with high housing costs, from $1,200 to  $2,400  
  • excludes homes valued at under $2 million from the Estate Tax and eliminates the “cliff effect” by allowing a uniform credit of $99,600 for all estates 
  • triples the maximum credit under the Title V Tax Credit, which supports families who must replace failed septic systems, from $6,000 to $18,000, and lifts the amount claimable to $4,000 per year 
  • increases the statewide cap for the Dairy Tax credit from $6 million to $8 million 
  • expands eligible occupations for the Apprenticeship Tax Credit  
  • doubles the credit for lead paint abatement to $3,000 for full abatement and $1,000 for partial abatement 
  • expands the types of alcoholic drinks which qualify for a lower tax rate as part of the cider tax 
Notably, this legislation ensures that student loan payment assistance offered by employers will not be treated as taxable compensation. The bill also adds regional transit fares and bike commuter expenses to the allowable commuter expenses eligible for favorable tax status.  

To encourage affordable housing, the bill gives municipalities the option of adopting a local property tax exemption for real estate that is rented to a person below a certain area-dependent income level. 

Additionally, the bill also directs the following studies: 
  • A study by the Executive Office of Administration and Finance on the feasibility of making advance quarterly payments of the Child and Dependent Tax Credit 
  • A study by the Department of Revenue on the efficacy of an additional, elective entity-level tax of up to 4 percent on a portion of qualified taxable income in the Commonwealth, coupled with a refundable credit, for eligible pass-through entities 
As different versions of this legislation have passed the Senate and the House of Representatives, a conference committee will now be appointed to resolve differences between the two bills.  

MA Senate Unanimously Approves Bill for Progressive Tax Relief
MA Senate Unanimously Approves Bill for Progressive Tax Relief

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Beacon Hill Roundup: agreement reach on abortion legislation; some legislators called out for suspending rules

"WITH THE CLOCK ticking down on the Legislature’s two-year session, House and Senate leaders announced on Monday that negotiators have reached agreement between the two branches on a bill to strengthen abortion rights in Massachusetts. The push for enhanced abortion protections came in the wake of last month’s Supreme Court ruling overturning the landmark 1973 Roe v Wade decision that had established a constitutional basis for the right to obtain an abortion. 

The sticking point that held up passage of the new measure centered on when women would retain the right to abortion after 24 weeks of gestation. The House passed legislation in late June that would extend current protections, which allow such later-term abortions in the case of a fatal birth defect, to also permit abortion in cases of a “severe” fetal anomaly. The Senate balked at including that language in its bill and raised concerns that it could draw a gubernatorial veto. Disability advocates also spoke out against the House language."
Continue reading the article online

Boston Globe coverage of the conference committee agreement (subscription may be required)

"A CONSERVATIVE advocacy group on Monday called out a handful of Democratic lawmakers who in early 2021 voted for more time to study bills coming out of conference committees but last week voted to suspend the Legislature’s existing rules to take up climate change legislation immediately.

The joint rules of the Massachusetts House and Senate require conference committees to file their compromise bills with the clerk’s office by 8 p.m. in order to bring the legislation up for a vote the following day at 1 p.m."
Continue reading the article online

Note the "Conservative advocacy group" is Mass Fiscal Alliance, also noted for defying the Office of Campaign and Political Finance for not disclosing its dark money contributors. There is more than a little irony in this group calling out some legislators for lack of transparency. You can read all about this group at

Beacon Hill Roundup: agreement reach on abortion legislation; some legislators called out for suspending rules
Beacon Hill Roundup: agreement reach on abortion legislation; some legislators called out for suspending rules

Friday, July 22, 2022

Senate Passes Legislation to Promote Economic Growth and Give Residents Relief

$4.57 billion spending package includes tax relief, funding for health care, housing,
technology, tourism and other sectors strained by the COVID-19 pandemic

On Thursday (07/21/2022), the Massachusetts State Senate passed a $4.57 billion spending package to promote economic development in the Commonwealth and give relief to residents facing the continued effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic turbulence. The bill includes a broad-based tax relief package that will result in permanently lower taxes for many households and hundreds of thousands of residents receiving rebates from the state. The bill targets investment to sectors such as health care, housing, early education, agriculture, and tourism, which have been impacted by economic uncertainty. The bill also pursues economic growth by investing in climate resiliency, public lands, and clean energy.

"With this legislation, we are taking concrete steps to improve the quality of life for our residents, make Massachusetts more competitive nationally, tackle the dual threats of inflation and economic uncertainty, and build our economy of the future," said Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). "Our tax relief package will make a meaningful impact for many Massachusetts residents and working families, and the rebates continue our commitment to putting money back in residents' wallets. I'm particularly proud of our investments to stabilize the early education and child care sector, as well as the new funding we put towards higher education scholarships in high-demand fields like nursing, early education, special education, and cybersecurity. I would like to thank the entire Senate for their many contributions to this important legislation, especially Chairs Rodrigues, Lesser and Hinds."

"This comprehensive economic development package passed by the Senate is a thoughtfully crafted and multi-faceted proposal that further strengthens our Commonwealth's economic foundation as we emerge from the shadows of the pandemic during a time of uncertainty," said State Senator Michael J. Rodrigues (D-Westport), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. "Making an array of strategic investments to support critically important sectors like health care, housing, human services, early education, agriculture, and clean energy, while providing over $1 billion in targeted tax relief for middle class-households, low-income taxpayers, families with children and dependents, renters, and seniors, this bill will help our residents make ends meet, support the needs of our communities and build long-lasting economic security in all corners of the state. I want to thank Senate President Spilka for her leadership and steadfast support, Senators Lesser and Hinds for their meaningful contributions, and my fellow colleagues in the Senate for their input and efforts to further improve the bill."

"Massachusetts has so much to offer as an innovation hub and education leader in our country, but it's getting harder and harder to live and work here. Housing prices are skyrocketing, childcare costs are out of control, inflation is climbing, businesses everywhere are coping with supply-chain issues, and families know that their dollar is not going as far as it did only a few months ago," said Senator Eric P. Lesser (D-Longmeadow), Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies. "Today, we passed our economic development bonding bill and tax relief package to bring much-needed financial relief to residents here in Massachusetts. This legislation prioritizes housing, climate resiliency, childcare access, workforce development, downtown revitalization, and the worker of the future. As policymakers, we must be prepared to meet the moment ahead of us and ensure that our Commonwealth continues to be a great place to work and live."

"These crucial changes to our tax code will create much needed targeted relief to families across the Commonwealth grappling with how to make ends meet," said Senator Adam G. Hinds (D-Pittsfield), Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Revenue and Chair of the Senate Committee on Reimagining Massachusetts Post-Pandemic Resiliency. "As prices rise, we need to continue to invest in the people who need it most, including those who make our economy run."

Tax Relief

This legislation includes $501 million in comprehensive tax relief for lower-and middle-income families, children, seniors, and renters and $510 million in one-time payments to middle-income filers. Notably, $250 in direct relief payments, would be sent in September 2022 to all single-filing taxpayers who earned between $38,000 and $100,000 in 2021, and $500 would be sent to married couples who earned between $38,000 and $150,000 that same year. Businesses would see relief through an investment of $100 million in the state's Unemployment Compensation Fund.

The bill would further provide permanent tax relief by:

  • Increasing state matching of the earned income tax credit (EITC) from 30 per cent to 40 per cent of the federal credit, which supports low-income families
  • Increasing existing child and dependent tax credits from $180 to $310 per child or dependent and removing the cap on the number of eligible children and dependents
  • Increasing the rental deduction cap from $3,000 to $4,000, supporting renters
  • Increasing the senior circuit breaker tax credit cap from $1,170 to $2,340, supporting senior citizens and individuals who care for them
  • Increasing the Housing Development Incentive Program (HDIP) tax credit annual cap from $10,000,000 to $30,000,000, which helps Gateway Cities expand the diversity of available housing and promote neighborhood stabilization
  • Exempting estates valued under $2,000,000 from the estate tax and eliminating the 'tax cliff' by establishing a uniform credit of $99,600


The bill invests $965 million for health and humans services programs, including:

  • $400 million for hospitals that have become fiscally strained during the pandemic
  • $250 million for rate increases for human service providers
  • $195 million for nursing facilities and rest homes
  • $80 million for Community Health Centers
  • $22.5 million to reduce gun violence and related trauma throughout the Commonwealth, including:
    • $5 million for a grant program to support school safety infrastructure improvements
    • $2.5 million to provide behavioral health-related supports and resources in schools to reduce instances of gun violence
  • $17.5 million for reproductive and family planning services

It also invests $610 million for environmental and climate resiliency initiatives, including:

  • $150 million for the Massachusetts Clean Water Trust
  • $125 million for the conservation and improvement of publicly owned lands, and otherwise conserved lands
  • $125 million for the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center to accelerate the transition to and expansion of renewable energy
  • $100 million for ports and port infrastructure to support the clean energy economy
  • $100 million to promote and accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles, through the MOR-EV program as well as expanded electric vehicle charging infrastructure

It further invests $400 million for promoting the production of affordable housing, including:

  • $150 million to support the production of workforce housing
  • $150 million for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund
  • $100 million for the CommonWealth Builder Program

The bill also includes a significant investment of $150 million for early education and care providers through the continuation of the Commonwealth Cares for our Children (C3) stabilization grant program.

The bill also creates a new scholarship program, funded at $50 million, to promote the attainment of debt-free higher education for students pursuing careers in high-demand industries, such as health care, education, and cybersecurity.

Bond Authorizations

The bill authorizes $1.4 billion in capital expenditures, including:

  • $400 million for the MassWorks Infrastructure Program, which provides grants to municipalities and other public entities for infrastructure project
  • $373 million for the Massachusetts Technology Park Corporation (MassTech), which strengthens the competitiveness of the tech and innovation economy in Massachusetts by driving strategic investments and partnerships, including:
    • $75 million for a robotics capital program
    • $25 million for a program to support minority owned and operated start-ups
  • $268.8 million for housing related investments, including:
    • $95.2 million for housing authority capital improvements
    • $73.1 million for the Housing Stabilization and Investment Trust Fund
    • $29.5 million for the Housing Innovations Trust Fund
    • $11.7 million for the development of low- and moderate-income housing
  • $50 million for matching funds to improve broadband infrastructure
  • $50 million for a program to revitalize underutilized properties
  • $30 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
  • $24 million for the Scientific and Technology Research and Development Matching Grant Fund
  • $10 million for the Rural and Small-Town Development Fund
  • $10 million for Tourism Destination Development Grants
  • $5 million for community planning grants

Additional Policy Items

The bill also establishes the following new programs and institutions:

  • A Center for Employee Ownership within the Massachusetts Office of Business Development (MOBD), as well as an advisory board on employee ownership to advise the Governor and the director of the Massachusetts Center for Employee Ownership on issues and policy matters pertaining to employee involvement and ownership
  • A Cybersecurity Center and a Center for Advanced Manufacturing within the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative
  • A commission on agricultural equity to develop recommendations for supporting racially equitable investments, policies and practices for farmers
  • A trust fund for the Healthy Incentives Program (HIP), which codifies into law a program that allows people to use SNAP benefits to buy healthy, local fruits and vegetables
  • A program in the Department of Agricultural Resources to assist farmers and inform them about state programs and funding opportunities

The bill directs the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) to consider and develop plans for supporting agricultural, seafood and processed food production in its emergency preparedness planning efforts and also creates a study and report on the feasibility of the sale, lease, transfer or other disposition of the Hynes Convention Center.


A number of notable amendments were adopted during the floor debate, including those that would:

  • Assist small business owners by creating one simplified portal where businesses can apply for state grants
  • Provide Massachusetts consumers with a 'right to repair' their cell phones, by requiring manufacturers to make the documentation, tools, and parts needed to repair devices available to consumers and independent repair shops
  • Support the Commonwealth's veterans by increasing the annual payment for disabled veterans and their surviving families to $3,000  
  • Establish a Hunger-Free Campus Initiative to address food insecurity on college campuses
  • Support families that have experienced housing insecurity by allowing certain tenants who have been evicted to seal the records of their eviction case
  • Ensure students can obtain academic transcripts for the courses they have completed and paid for, rather than having their entire transcript withheld for outstanding fees
  • Expand the ability of homeowners to add accessory dwelling units to their property as an innovative way to address the housing crisis
  • Allow restaurants to offer 'happy hour' discounts on alcoholic beverages if a town approves this policy via local option
  • Allow state candidates for public office to use campaign funds for expenses related to child care services
  • Expand the ciders that are eligible for the reduced cider tax rate, by raising the ABV limit from six per cent to eight and a half per cent
  • Empower farmer distilleries to sell wine and distilled products

A version of this legislation having previously passed the House of Representatives, a conference committee will now be appointed to address any differences between the two bills.

Senate Passes Legislation to Promote Economic Growth and Give Residents Relief
Senate Passes Legislation to Promote Economic Growth and Give Residents Relief

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Conference Committee reaches agreement on climate bill

Statement of State Rep. Jeff Roy and State Senator Mike Barrett 

State Rep. Jeff Roy and State Senator Mike Barrett, chairs for their respective branches of a conference committee appointed to resolve differences between House and Senate versions of a new climate bill, announced today that a compromise has been reached. 

An Act Driving Clean Energy and Offshore Wind preserves the central ideas of bills that each branch had passed separately.  The compromise is expected to be filed tonight and to come before each legislative branch for final approval as soon as tomorrow, after which it will go to the Governor for his consideration. 

The chairs issued the following joint statement: 
“Massachusetts needs to open up huge new sources of green electric power if it’s to stay on course for reducing emissions. Today’s compromise aims to ramp up clean power, especially offshore wind but also solar, storage and networked geothermal, and run it through cars, trucks, buses, and buildings, the biggest sources of emissions in the state.  
“We thank President Biden for issuing a call to action to the entire country today,” the two continued. “Massachusetts legislators hear him, and we’re going all out.”
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, July 19, 2022

“We think that’s important to provide this tax relief immediately”

"THE MASSACHUSETTS SENATE released a $4 billion economic development bill on Monday that includes some key spending differences from a House bill in areas like education, human services, and housing. The House and Senate are largely in agreement on a $1 billion proposal to reduce a slew of taxes, but with two key differences, one related to the estate tax and another to the timing of when the tax breaks go into effect. 

The Senate plans to take up the bill Thursday, leaving just 11 days for the House and Senate to reconcile their differences and get a bill to Gov. Charlie Baker before the legislative session ends."
Continue reading the article online 
The legislation doc can be found ->

MA  Senate Passes Wide-Ranging Transportation Infrastructure Bond Bill
MA  Senate Passes Wide-Ranging Transportation Infrastructure Bond Bill

Sunday, July 17, 2022

The Conference Committee report on MA FY 2023 budget for your reading pleasure

"The House and Senate appoint three members each to a "Conference Committee" to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate proposals. One member of the minority party must be appointed by each branch. The Conference Committee reports a final compromise bill to the House and Senate for a final vote of acceptance in each branch."

From this link ->

You can download H.5050

11A Insides ->

11A Outsides ->

The Conference Committee report on MA FY 2023 budget for your reading pleasure
The Conference Committee report on MA FY 2023 budget for your reading pleasure

Friday, July 15, 2022

MA Senate Passes Wide-Ranging Transportation Infrastructure Bond Bill

The Massachusetts State Senate on Thursday passed legislation that authorizes more than $10.84 billion in bonds for a wide array of transportation infrastructure projects and initiatives to make the Commonwealth’s transportation system more modern, safe, environmentally sound, and accessible. An Act relative to Massachusetts transportation resources and climate, also known as MassTRAC, ensures that Massachusetts is well-positioned to compete for federal grant opportunities, particularly those dollars available from the federal bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.


“While repairs to our transportation infrastructure will be beneficial to many communities across the Commonwealth, this bill goes much further than merely repairing but will instead actively transform our infrastructure to be more modern, environmentally sustainable, and regionally equitable,” said Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “The support for electric vehicles, regional transportation authorities, low-income fares on public transit, expanded East-West connectivity, and many other initiatives included in this bill will bring benefits to residents, visitors and businesses throughout Massachusetts. I want to thank Senator Crighton for quickly and adeptly taking on the role of Transportation Chair and for collaborating with Senators Rodrigues and Collins as well as so many Senators to produce this comprehensive legislation.”


“Today’s passage of this multi-pronged $10.84 billion transportation infrastructure investment package builds on our longstanding commitment to ensure the Commonwealth’s transportation system is more equitable, reliable, safe and modern,” said Senator Michael J. Rodrigues (D-Westport)Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “Going far beyond just roads and bridges, the Senate’s transportation bond bill will stimulate our economy, increase accessibility for our residents, support local businesses, create jobs, and boost economies in all corners of our Commonwealth. Importantly, it also invests in public transit, electric vehicle charging infrastructure, regional transit authorities as well as emissions-free transportation options—like biking, walking, and multimodal investments—which are vital solutions to help us confront our climate challenges and achieve our 2050 net zero goals. I want to thank Senator Crighton for his leadership and hard work on all things transportation, Senator Collins for his meaningful contributions, and the Senate President for her continued vision, leadership and guidance.”

“This transportation bond bill provides Massachusetts with the key to unlock once-in-a-generation federal funding from the bipartisan infrastructure law,” Senator Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn), Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Transportation. “With these combined state and federal investments, we will be able to complete vital work on our highways, roads, bridges, and public transportation systems, improving mobility for all residents of the Commonwealth.”


“This legislation represents a collaborative effort centered on transportation safety, accessibility, and sustainability in a way that is fiscally responsible,” said Senator Nick Collins (D-Boston), Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets. “Due to smart planning and responsible budget management, we are not only positioning our state to remain competitive and prosperous post pandemic, we are able to do so in a way that continues to get a better rate for the taxpayer.”


The MassTRAC bill invests billions of dollars in improving, maintaining, and modernizing the Commonwealth’s bridges, roads, and other critical infrastructure, including sidewalks, curbs, parking spaces, and airport improvements. The legislation also takes crucial steps to make the state’s transportation system more environmentally sustainable and resilient to climate change by making investments in emission reduction, low or no emission vehicles for Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs), climate adaptations for Massachusetts roads, and support for multimodal transportation such as bike lanes alongside roads. Building on the Drive Act, passed by the Senate in April this year, the MassTRAC bill increases support for electric vehicles for personal, commercial, and governmental use, as well as for electric vehicle charging infrastructure.


The breakdown of the bond authorizations included in the bill is as follows:


  • $3.5 billion for discretionary federal grant projects
  • $2.8 billion for federal highway systems projects
  • $1.375 billion for Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) modernization
  • $1.27 billion for non-federally aided roads and bridges
  • $407.7 million for local and regional transportation projects
  • $400 million for MBTA safety projects
  • $275 million for the East-West rail project
  • $225 million for emissions reduction initiatives, including $50 million to support access to electric vehicle charging infrastructure
  • $114 million for airport improvements
  • $85 million for state-numbered routes road pavement improvements
  • $82 million for the industrial rail access program
  • $64.9 million for Regional Transit Authorities’ (RTAs) capital projects
  • $25.5 million for the mobility assistance program
  • $25 million for municipal road pavement improvements
  • $20 million for the Complete Streets program
  • $10 million for the public realm improvement program
  • $1 million for local and regional transportation projects


The legislation marks another step towards implementing East-West passenger rail in Massachusetts. In addition to the more than a quarter of a billion dollars that is granted for the project itself, this legislation creates a commission to investigate and report on creation of an East-West rail passenger authority. To promote regional equity and smart, sustainable financing of the transportation system, the bill creates a mobility commission to investigate, study, and make recommendations on the development of regionally equitable transportation pricing, roadway pricing and congestion pricing.


In addition to $1.375 billion for modernization of the MBTA, the bill authorizes $400 million for MBTA safety projects and tasks the MBTA with creating and annually updating safety improvement plans.


During the debate several notable amendments were adopted. Significantly, one amendment would create a low-income fare program to provide free or discounted transit fares to qualifying riders. Another amendment would require the MBTA to develop and implement short-, medium-, and long-term plans for electrifying the commuter rail fleet. Finally, an amendment was adopted to provide regulatory oversight for electronic bicycles, or e-bikes, to help spur their adoption.


A version of this legislation having previously been passed in the House of Representatives, a conference committee will now be appointed to reconcile any differences between the versions of this bill.

The legislation doc can be found ->

MA  Senate Passes Wide-Ranging Transportation Infrastructure Bond Bill
MA  Senate Passes Wide-Ranging Transportation Infrastructure Bond Bill

Thursday, July 14, 2022

MA Senate Passes Legislation Expanding Protections for Reproductive and Gender-Affirming Care

The Massachusetts State Senate on Wednesday 07/13/22) unanimously passed a bipartisan bill protecting providers, residents, and visitors to the Commonwealth who engage in legally-protected reproductive and gender-affirming health care.

An Act expanding protections for reproductive and gender-affirming care includes provisions preventing the Commonwealth's cooperation with 'bounty-style' anti-abortion and anti-gender-affirming care laws in other states, mandates health insurance coverage for abortion and abortion-related care with no cost-sharing, ensures access to emergency contraception, and provides confidentiality to providers of reproductive and gender-affirming care. Senate Bill 2996, filed by Senator Cindy F. Friedman, expands on her amendment to the Senate Fiscal Year 2023 budget, which was filed in response to the leaked U.S. Supreme Court opinion on Dobbs v. Jackson and adopted by the Senate in late May.

"We cannot let other states threaten Massachusetts pregnant and transgender people, or the providers who take care of them," said Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). "Massachusetts will not waiver in protecting our residents' rights. The legislature prepared for the end of Roe v. Wade by passing the ROE Act in 2020, which ensured the continuation of reproductive healthcare services when we could no longer count on the federal government. Now, we must prepare our Commonwealth for the potential further erosion of our rights and protections at the federal level. I want to thank my colleagues in the Senate for their swift and decisive action."

"The Senate has taken important steps to confront the threats posed reproductive and gender-affirming health care in our state posed by new, draconian laws being passed across the nation," said Senator Michael J. Rodrigues (D-Westport), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. "Though these changes are unprecedented, we in Massachusetts are continuing to demonstrate that we are prepared to defend the rights of all of our residents. Thank you for the hard work and collaboration of Senators Friedman, Lewis, and Jehlen, and the leadership of the Senate President."

"Passing this legislation is a monumental step forward in Massachusetts, as we are seeing increasingly more anti-abortion and anti-gender-affirming care legislation rise across the country," said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing and the lead sponsor of the bill. "We must do everything to protect the rights of our providers, patients, and visitors to the Commonwealth. As we further realize the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Dobbs v. Jackson in our Commonwealth, we will continue to fight these attacks on reproductive and gender-affirming care with meaningful action."

Under the legislation, physicians, nurses, physician assistants, pharmacists, psychologists, genetic counselors and social workers are insulated from legal action in Massachusetts courts as a result of providing health care services which are legal in Massachusetts. This language specifically protects reproductive and gender-affirming health care, which has been the target of 'bounty-style' laws passed in states like Texas and Oklahoma that seek to limit this critical care beyond their states' borders. This bill also allows anyone who faces abusive litigation in another state for providing legally protected reproductive and gender-affirming care services to sue in Massachusetts court to obtain a judgment, including actual damages, expenses, costs, and reasonable attorney's fees.

The Governor would be prevented under the legislation from extraditing someone to another state to face charges for an abortion, gender dysphoria treatment, or another protected service, except when required by federal law or unless the acts forming the basis of the investigation would also constitute an offense if occurring entirely in Massachusetts. Massachusetts law enforcement agencies would also be prohibited from assisting any investigation by federal authorities, another state, or private citizens related to legally protected reproductive and gender-affirming health care provided in the Commonwealth. Courts would similarly be barred from ordering anyone in Massachusetts to testify or produce documents for lawsuits involving those practices, and judges could not issue any summons in a case concerning those health care services unless the offense in question would also violate Massachusetts law.

An amendment was adopted during debate which requires public higher education institutions to work with the Department of Public Health (DPH) to create a medication abortion readiness plan which must provide medication abortion at a health center on campus or provide a referral to a nearby healthcare facility offering abortion health care. It also creates a trust fund for public higher education institutions to support the implementation of their medication abortion readiness plans.

"I was proud to join my Senate colleagues today in passing this critical legislation to further protect and expand access to reproductive healthcare in Massachusetts," said Senator Jason M. Lewis (D-Winchester), lead sponsor of the amendment to work with public higher education institutions to support medication abortion plans. "I am especially pleased that the bill includes expanding access to medication abortion services on our public college and university campuses to help students overcome the significant barriers to care that many face today."

In response to stories about women not receiving access to abortion care in Massachusetts currently allowed under the existing state law, an amendment was adopted to clarify the circumstances that treating physicians must consider when determining whether to provide later-in-pregnancy abortion care. The amendment requires such determinations to be made by the treating physician and patient. To ensure hospitals are complying with the law, the amendment also requires health care facilities providing these services to file their procedures and processes for providing services consistent with the law with DPH.

"Later in pregnancy abortions are extremely rare, but often occur because of devastating, heartbreaking circumstances, such as the inability of the fetus to survive outside of the womb," said Senator Patricia D. Jehlen (D-Somerville), lead sponsor of the amendment to clarify law on later-in-pregnancy abortion care. "So that no pregnant person is denied the reproductive care they may desperately need here in the Commonwealth, I was proud to sponsor this amendment, which strengthens and clarifies the language of the ROE Act, and makes sure that hospitals providing later in pregnancy abortions ensure that the physician and patient are able to make the determination about the best course of care."

Additional amendments would identify areas of the state with limited abortion access to increase care to those areas and allow pharmacists to prescribe and dispense hormonal contraceptive patches and self-administered oral hormonal contraceptives.

Senate Bill 2996 implements a statewide standing order to ensure that emergency contraception can be dispensed at any pharmacy in the Commonwealth. In addition, the legislation requires the Group Insurance Commission (GIC) and commercial health insurance carriers to cover abortions and abortion-related care and ensure Massachusetts patients are not charged a cost-sharing amount, such as deductibles, copayments, or similar charges, for such coverage. It also requires MassHealth to cover abortion and abortion-related care and ensures enrollees are not charged a cost-sharing amount for prenatal care, childbirth, postpartum care, abortion or abortion-related care.

The bill also allows individuals engaged in the provision, facilitation, or promotion of reproductive and gender-affirming health care to enroll in the Secretary of the Commonwealth's Address Confidentiality Program (ACP). This action will increase the safety of those who may face threats or violence outside of the workplace in their personal lives or at their residences.

With a version of An Act expanding protections for reproductive and gender-affirming care having passed both branches of the legislature, a conference committee will be appointed to resolve differences between the bill's two versions.

Find the text of S.2996 ->

MA Senate Passes Legislation Expanding Protections for Reproductive and Gender-Affirming Care
MA Senate Passes Legislation Expanding Protections for Reproductive and Gender-Affirming Care

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

MA Senate Passes Animal Welfare Legislation

Senate passes bills to prevent inhumane treatment of puppies and kittens, encourage adoption of research animals, and enforce hunting regulations for endangered and threatened species

The Massachusetts State Senate on Monday passed three bills which promote animal welfare. S.2994 An Act protecting the health and safety of puppies and kittens in cities and towns ensures the safety of puppies and kittens during breeding, sale, and boarding. S.2992 An Act Protecting Research Animals, previously passed by the Senate in 2018 and commonly known as the 'Beagle Bill', encourages research facilities that use dogs and cats to offer these animals up for adoption after finishing research, rather than automatically euthanizing them. Finally, S.2993 An Act further regulating the enforcement of illegal hunting practices takes measures to discourage the illegal hunting and sale of game animals, including endangered species. 

"As a lifelong animal lover and owner, I am acutely aware of the importance of protecting the Commonwealth's animals, whether in our homes, in kennels and shared facilities, or in nature," said Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). "I am also grateful for the advocates and Senators who worked to get these bills to the Senate floor. Thank you to Senators Chandler and Rodrigues for working to protect the puppies and kittens of the Commonwealth, to Senators Lovely and Tarr for continuing to lead on pushing for the Beagle Bill, and Senator Moore for your work to strengthen poaching regulations."

"The passage of these bills today is reflective of our commitment to ensuring animal welfare, protecting dogs, cats and consumers, and further regulating the enforcement of illegal hunting practices that threaten the welfare and conservation of native species important to our ecosystems and economy," said Senator Michael J. Rodrigues (D-Westport), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. "I want to thank the Senate President for prioritizing these bills, along with Senators Chandler, Moore, Tarr and others for their strong advocacy in support of protecting our animals and wildlife native to our Commonwealth."

"I am proud the Massachusetts Senate passed legislation prioritizing the protection of animals across our Commonwealth," said Senator Joan B. Lovely (D-Salem), Senate Chair of the Judiciary Committee. "The Beagle Bill will give research dogs and cats a second chance at life and bring Massachusetts in line with other states across our nation. We owe so much of human advancement to the service and sacrifice of these animals, and they deserve to be loved and cherished after a job well done. I am also pleased that the Senate passed bills that will protect local wildlife by preventing poachers from hunting, as well as to safeguard the health and safety of puppies and kittens in kennels and boarding facilities. Thank you, Senate President Karen Spilka, Chair Michael Rodrigues, Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, and President Emerita Harriette Chandler for taking a stand to protect and advance the well-being of beloved animals and pets throughout Massachusetts."

"This bill has the potential to truly protect the wellbeing puppies and kittens in the Commonwealth, who will otherwise suffer without clear, mandatory regulations on their purchase, storage, and caretaking. I am proud that the Senate passed this legislation," said Senate President Emerita Harriette L. Chandler (D-Worcester), lead sponsor of the bill on safeguards for puppies and kittens.

"The 'Beagle Bill' will facilitate new relationships between research laboratories and non-profit animal rescue organizations which in turn will give these creatures a chance of life after the lab with a Massachusetts family," said Senator Bruce E. Tarr (D-Gloucester), Senate Minority Leader and lead sponsor of the Beagle Bill. "The Senate has taken the humane and right actions on these animal welfare bills and I look forward to the Governor signing them."

"As a former Environmental Police Officer, protecting animals has been one of my life's missions. The passage of these three bills is great news for pets and wildlife in our state," said Senator Michael O. Moore (D-Millbury), lead sponsor of the bill on illegal hunting. "The strong language of my anti-poaching legislation will go a long way toward protecting the Commonwealth's wildlife, marine life, and ecological systems, while ensuring those who wish to do harm to these fragile populations face consequences regardless of their home state. The protections provided by the other two bills passed today will ensure cats and dogs are treated humanely at every stage of their lives here in Massachusetts. I want to thank my colleagues, Massachusetts Senate Leadership, and the countless dedicated activists and volunteers who made this huge step forward in animal welfare in the state of Massachusetts possible."

Protecting Puppies and Kittens

An Act protecting the health and safety of puppies and kittens in cities and towns addresses inhumane practices relating to the transfer of pets. As separating puppies and kittens from their mother and litter prior to completion of their eight-week developmental socialization stage prevents them from learning important behaviors such as bite inhibition and the development of proper social relations with other members of their species, this bill prohibits the sale of puppies and kittens under eight weeks of age. To promote continued wellbeing of puppies and kittens in group settings, this legislation tasks the Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) with creating Massachusetts' first state-wide oversight regulations and licensure requirements of breeders, doggie daycare, and boarding facilities. The bill also ends the sale of animals on roadsides, parking lots, flea markets, or in other public spaces.

Beagle Bill

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nationally more than 60,000 dogs, almost all beagles, and nearly 20,000 cats are used each year to advance scientific research and to test cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and other household products. Currently, many research labs choose to automatically euthanize these cats and dogs once their experiments are over. An Act Protecting Research Animals, commonly known as the 'Beagle Bill', facilitates a relationship between animal research laboratories and registered non-profit animal rescue organizations and requires that when these animals are no longer needed, the research facilities make every effort to place animals up for public adoption.

Illegal Hunting

Massachusetts is currently experiencing historically unprecedented losses of species diversity, with much of the state's wildlife increasingly vulnerable to human activities like climate change and illegal hunting.  An Act further regulating the enforcement of illegal hunting practices aligns Massachusetts poaching regulations with other states, to better protect fish, birds, mammals, and endangered or threatened species.  This bill also brings Massachusetts into the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact, which helps states to work together to prevent illegal hunting across state lines.

Having passed the Senate, An Act protecting the health and safety of puppies and kittens in cities and towns now goes on to the House of Representatives for further consideration. As An Act further regulating the enforcement of illegal hunting practices and An Act Protecting Research Animals have passed both branches of the legislature, a conference committee will be appointed to resolve differences between the bill's two versions, if any.




MA Senate Passes Animal Welfare Legislation
MA Senate Passes Animal Welfare Legislation