02/07/2019

Jamie’s 2019-2020 Legislation

Agriculture

SD887 – An Act expanding the sale of products by farmer breweries and pub brewers

This bill would allow a farmer-brewer to obtain a license from the local licensing authority to sell beer at indoor or outdoor agricultural events such as fairs or recognized farmer’s markets.

Banking

SD861 – An Act establishing the Massachusetts infrastructure bank

This bill would create the Massachusetts Infrastructure Bank, a state-chartered financial institution, to supplement the currently available sources of infrastructure grants, bonds, and loans to meet the urgent infrastructure and safety-related needs of commonwealth cities, towns and state agencies by offering stable, competitive financing, improved transparency, and timely public input, thereby enabling on-going, accurate and cost-effective planning by municipalities. The Bank would be able to accept deposits from public and quasi-public entities, accept, keep safe, and pay interest on deposits, and make loans and float bond issues to protect and expand the quality of life and economic prosperity of all Massachusetts residents.

SD871 – An Act modernizing the Credit Union Laws

This bill would provide technical and structural changes to modernize legislation governing Credit Unions, including internal governance, voting at annual meetings, annual reports, rules for merger and consolidation, and expanding partners for loan participation.

Civil Rights

SD926 – An Act to protect the civil rights and safety of all Massachusetts residents (The Safe Communities Act)

This bill would establish basic due process rights for people detained in state and local facilities for civil immigration violations, prevent law enforcement from asking people about their immigration status, and bar official collaboration agreements that deputize local law enforcement as federal deportation agents.

Consumer Protection

SD865 – An Act relative to commonwealth automobile reinsurers

The bill would remove the requirement that 2 of the 6 insurance producers on the Commonwealth Automobile Reinsurers (CAR) Governing Committee be those who write automobile insurance exclusively through the MAIP. Since the changes to the insurance market in 2009, this requirement has become obsolete.  Today, the number of agents who write automobile insurance exclusively through the MAIP is negligible, meaning that only a handful of agents are eligible for these two seats while thousands of agents compete for the remaining four.

Criminal Justice Reform

SD879 – An Act relative to equity in suicide prevention

Massachusetts has one of the highest rates of prisoner and correctional officer suicide in the country. This bill would create a commission to study and make recommendations on how we can prevent suicides in Massachusetts correctional facilities.

SD881 – An Act prohibiting the participation of health care professionals in the torture and abuse of prisoners

This bill will ensure that MA-licensed health care professionals will not be involved in torture, abuse, or direct interrogation of prisoners or detainees. It would impose civil sanctions on health care professionals who participate in torture, abuse, or direct interrogations, require professionals to report torture or abuse, and provide protections to whistleblowers.

Economic Development

SD893 – An Act providing municipal control of liquor licenses

This bill removes the arcane quota system imposed by previous state law and allows municipalities to make a local decision on the number of liquor licenses they would like to allow. This bill will not be applicable to liquor stores.

Economic Justice & Poverty Elimination

SD857 – An Act establishing a special commission on two-generation approaches to childhood education

Various programs in Massachusetts assist parents or children to achieve economic security, but studies have shown that approaches that simultaneously address the needs of both parents and children yield more effective results. This bill would create a Special Commission on Two-Generation Approaches to study and make recommendations concerning the implementation of two-generation systems.

SD859 – An Act relative to fairness in debt collection

Nearly one in four Massachusetts residents with credit reports has a debt in collection. This bill will raise the garnishment threshold, shorten the statute of limitations for debt collection, and restrict the use of imprisonment as a punishment for non-payment.

SD863 – An Act improving the earned income credit for healthier families

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is the single most effective anti-poverty program in the country. This bill increases the Massachusetts EITC to 50 percent of the federal EITC. This tax credit is a crucial investment that provides economic security for hardworking families across Massachusetts at a time when their wages haven’t caught up with the rising costs of food, housing, and health care.

SD873 – An Act relative to credit building

This bill requires the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development (EOHED) to administer a three year pilot program to record and report timely rent payments of tenants to participating credit bureaus. Access to credit is integral to financial stability and asset-building, but low income families and individuals have few credit-building options available to them, making it difficult to obtain employment, purchase a home, and other basic life necessities.

SD894 – An Act promoting financial stability and asset development

Low-to-moderate income families often face substantial barriers to gaining and keeping employment and to building the assets necessary to achieve financial stability. This bill takes necessary steps to build support networks by encouraging families to develop modest savings by removing the asset limits for the TAFDC and EAEDC programs. Up to $10,000 can be saved and used for debt reduction, job training, transportation, and housing. The bill also supports individuals’ transition into employment by increasing the TAFDC work expense deduction from $90 to $250.

SD1846 – An Act relative to universal basic income

This bill would establish and implement a pilot program to demonstrate the individual, family, and community economic impacts and state-level cost savings of a universal basic income of $1,000/month/individual for three years. Up to 300 individuals in economically diverse cities or towns, including rural, would participate in the pilot, and in return would agree to fully participate in the research plan. 

Elections

SD889 – An Act relative to fair elections

This bill would establish a public financing system for candidates for elected office in Massachusetts. To qualify for public financing, a candidate would need to collect a specified amount of low dollar contributions. Once a candidate has qualified, they would be eligible to receive public matching funds at a 4:1 ratio for additional donations received from supporters.

SD891 – An Act relative to corporations, shareholders, and political expenditures

This bill would require that corporations carrying on business in Massachusetts take a shareholder vote and receive a majority affirmative vote before making a campaign contribution of any kind to a state or federal election in Massachusetts.

SD1732 – An Act establishing Massachusetts Freedom Day

This bill would eliminate Columbus Day as a public holiday, and replace it with Massachusetts Freedom Day, which would fall on Election Day of every year.

Environment & Energy

SD860 – An Act mitigating water resource impacts

Water banking at the local level has proven to be an effective tool for mitigating the impacts of water withdrawals on both the natural environment and local and regional water infrastructure systems. This bill would give political subdivisions the authority to collect a reasonable fee to be used to remedy/offset impacts that water withdrawals and discharges have on the natural environment.

SD862 – An Act protecting the natural resources of the commonwealth

Article 97 protects the natural resources of the Commonwealth. This bill clarifies and regularizes the process used to evaluate proposals for the Commonwealth and/or municipalities to take parcels out of conservation protected status (so-called Article 97 lands) in order for them to be used for other purposes, either public or private.  It ensures mitigation of or “no net loss” of the release of protected land in the Commonwealth.

SD877 – An Act encouraging municipal recycling and composting

This bill requires cities and town to establish recycling programs. All such programs must require that all residents, schools and businesses separate recyclable materials from their solid waste.

SD886 – An Act improving municipal water infrastructure

This bill will fund the maintenance, repair, or installation of water infrastructure is an increasing financial challenge for cities and towns. This local option bill allows municipalities to assess an impact fee on new development. Fees are kept in a separate account dedicated to drinking water, wastewater or stormwater infrastructure.

SD896 – An Act reducing plastic bag pollution

This bill would reduce the number of plastic bags used in Massachusetts each year by banning single-use plastic checkout bags and creating a uniform standard for plastic bag bans.

SD1361 –  An Act authorizing municipalities to expend certain funds for the acquisition of land to be used for rail trails

This bill expands the Communities Preservation Act to allow municipalities to purchase land intended for rail trails.

SD1366 – An Act protecting pollinators by eliminating harmful products

This bill would introduce common-sense restrictions on unlicensed use of harmful pesticides called neonicotinoids, which peer-reviewed scientific studies have shown to negatively impact pollinator health.

SD1376 – An Act relative to solar power and the green economy

This bill would establish a Commonwealth Solar program to continue the development of solar photovoltaic technology throughout all sectors of the Commonwealth through an acceleration of the renewable portfolio standard and elimination of the net metering caps for all technologies. Additionally, the bill would establish a statewide solar target of 25% by 2030.

SD1384 – An Act ensuring access to solar energy for all communities

This bill would ensure that all communities and households in Massachusetts, including low-income communities and individuals that live in communities that have been traditionally underserved, will be able to participate in and benefit from the transition to a renewable energy future.

SD1532 – An Act increasing solar rooftop energy

This bill will mandate all new building to be built to accommodate solar panels. This bill will mandate solar panels on most new residential and commercial buildings.

SD1625 – An Act transitioning Massachusetts to 100 percent renewable energy

This bill would require the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) to set binding targets for renewable energy growth in all major sectors of the economy, and issue regulations to ensure that Massachusetts stays on track towards 100 percent renewable energy by 2045.

 

SD1810 – An Act relative to ensuring gas safety and consumer fairness

This bill strengthens state law concerning the repair of gas leaks including leaks near school zones and leaks which create a serious environmental impact. Gas companies are required to do “winter patrols” when the temperature fluctuates around freezing and greater transparency is mandated for both gas companies and the Department of Public Utilities. The bill requires that gas companies inform fire departments and law enforcement when leaks are identified, and the bill also disallows gas companies from charging ratepayers for lost and unaccounted for gas.

SD1824 – An Act relative to environmental justice and toxics reduction in the Commonwealth

This bill better defines “Environmental Justice” and “Environmental Justice Populations” to protect all people from pollution and environmental discrimination. The bill establishes an Environmental Justice Advisory Council to make recommendations to the Governor and Secretariats on critical issues and needs of environmental justice populations.

Government Accountability &Transparency

SD876 – An Act expanding access to public records

This bill defines records within administrative offices of the courts – including Probation and the Office of the Chief Justice for Administration and Management – as public records subject to freedom of information requests. It does not apply the public records law to confidential criminal justice records or other court records.

SD878 – An Act establishing a legislative fiscal office

This bill would establish a legislative fiscal office to research, review, and analyze the cost of proposed legislation upon request. An independent legislative fiscal office would benefit both branches and make the process of determining the cost of proposed legislation more transparent.

SD858 – Resolutions for a United States Constitutional Amendment and a limited amendment proposing convention

This resolution calls on Congress to propose an amendment to the Constitution that would affirm that corporations are not individuals protected by the Constitution and that would place limits on political contributions and expenditures.

SD883 – An Act relative to the effective enforcement of municipal ordinances and bylaws

This bill would allow municipalities to seek the imposition of civil penalties in court when they obtain equitable enforcement of a local law or regulation. Local municipal boards, including conservation commissions, are vested with the authority to administer a variety of important land use and other bylaws, ordinances and regulations, and need adequate tools to enforce these bylaws.

SD895 – Proposal for a legislative amendment to the Constitution establishing an independent redistricting commission

This constitutional amendment would create an independent redistricting committee appointed by sitting legislators, the governor, the attorney general, and the secretary of state, to update districts for the General Court and U.S. Congress. A nonpartisan redistricting commission would increase transparency and replace elected officials with more objective members.

SD1177 – An Act relative to the divestment of state pension funds from nuclear weapons

This bill would divest state pension funds from corporations involved in the manufacture or maintenance of nuclear weapons.

Net Neutrality

SD1871 – An Act to ensure a free and open internet in the commonwealth

The Internet Freedom Act would assert the Commonwealth’s authority to require ISPs to treat all online traffic equally, and prohibit ISPs from blocking, manipulating, or otherwise discriminating against legal Web content.

Health Care

SD884 – An Act ensuring access to medications

Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBM) have wide discretion in determining what is a “specialty drug” and from what pharmacy a patient can obtain them. This bill would create a state definition for specialty drugs and prohibits insurers from restricting consumer access to those medications.

SD2062 – An Act establishing Medicare for All in Massachusetts

This bill would transition the Commonwealth to a single-payer healthcare system by removing profit-driven health insurance companies as the barrier between patients and providers, and instead allow the government to reimburse health care providers directly.

Education

SD1415 – An Act to guarantee debt-free public higher education

This bill would create state grant program tasked with covering tuition and mandatory fees for all students admitted or enrolled in a Massachusetts public college or university, or at a certificate, vocational, or training program at a public institution.

Housing

SD864 – An Act relative to the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program

This bill creates a statutory framework for MRVP by requiring DHCD to establish, administer, and regulate the program. It sets basic eligibility requirements at 50% of the area median income and caps income paid towards rent at 30-40%. It also requires DHCD to promulgate regulations and implementation guidelines.

SD875 – An Act preventing unnecessary vacancies in foreclosed homes

This bill would allow homeowners and their families, if they fulfill the responsibilities of tenancy, to remain in their homes and pay rent after foreclosure under limited circumstances and for a limited period of time. The Foreclosure Impacts Task Force, commissioned by the Legislature in 2012, heard evidence indicating that it was feasible for large lenders and servicers to implement rental programs that would allow former homeowners to stay in their homes until they are sold. Allowing former homeowners to remain in their foreclosed homes as tenants will help reduce the number of unnecessary vacancies in our communities.

SD1173 – An Act creating affordable housing in every community

This bill would provide a capital outlay of $500 million, with at least half distributed to public housing authorities, to increase production of affordable housing units in the commonwealth.  An additional $10 million would incentivize cities and towns to facilitate affordable housing production. 

Revenue

SD872 – An Act closing the single sales factor tax loophole

This bill would close the single sales factor (SSF) tax loophole for mutual fund corporations to raise an estimated $143 million in revenue annually. The SSF loophole was created in 1996 for mutual fund corporations, and sold as an economic development incentive that would protect existing jobs and stimulate the creation of new ones. Unfortunately for our economy and for Massachusetts workers, this corporate tax break does not require businesses to create a single new job or make even one dollar’s-worth of new investment to reap the benefits of the tax cut. As a result, companies can lay off employees and still get tax savings. And in Massachusetts, that’s exactly what happened. Mutual fund corporations have laid off thousands of workers since 1996.

Workers’ Rights

SD1182 – An Act protecting injured workers

The bill would increase injured workers’ access to medical care by having the expenses of the interpreter and transportation be under the responsibility of the insurer. It would also provide information in the Notice to Employees be in languages other than English and be given by hand to the employee. This bill will also increase workers’ compensation benefits by having the insurer and judges take into account Massachusetts minimum wage and overtime laws when making the Average Weekly Wage (AWW).

SD930 – An Act relative to death benefits to surviving spouses of call and volunteer firefighters

This bill closes an important gap in the protections provided to the families of call/volunteer firefighters who may be killed in the line-of-duty in Massachusetts. It provides that a call/volunteer firefighter’s surviving spouse and minor children will be eligible for group health insurance through their city or town in a similar manner as the dependents of career firefighters killed in the line-of-duty and retirees.