Today we hit the one-week-to-go mark in the Senate, with just a few more days of formal sessions left until the Legislature breaks for the year. After midnight on July 31, the House and Senate will only meet in informal sessions until we return next January, which means any bill that is even remotely controversial must pass this week, or die until next session. (A single legislator can block the movement of any bill in informal session).
A week may seem like a short amount of time, but in fact an enormous amount of work traditionally gets done in this final week of session. We will likely be here late into the night several times, and conference committees will continue to meet and report out bills until the very end. As the old adage goes, “Nothing ever gets done until the last minute” – and that certainly is the case this time of year!
Here’s a brief summary of the bills I’m working to see passed in this final week:
Energy Bill: An excellent bill that improves and updates the Green Communities Act and calls for changes to make utilities more responsive to customers and price concerns passed the Senate earlier this spring. The final details are the bill are currently being worked out in a Conference Committee. I’m hoping to see this bill brought to the floor for final passage soon, and I’m advocating that it include “Net Metering” provisions passed by the House and Senate that would double the net metering cap and make it easier for residents and businesses to install solar panels by requiring utilities to purchase more alternative energy.
Foreclosure Bill: Another important bill currently in conference is anti-foreclosure legislation aimed at preventing unnecessary and unlawful foreclosures, reducing the number of abandoned properties across the Commonwealth and helping to remove one of the biggest remaining barriers to our ongoing economic recovery. In particular, I’m focused on making sure the final bill includes a provision from the Senate version that gives borrowers the right to go into mediation with lenders prior to foreclosure proceedings to work out renegotiated loan terms through a neutral third-party.
Citizens United: This Thursday, the Senate is scheduled to take up the resolution I’ve sponsored calling upon Congress to send to the states an amendment correcting the disastrous Citizens United decision (after several procedural delays from the Republican Minority Leader over the past few weeks).
I’m also still working to pass the Disclose bill (S304) I’ve filed that would increase disclosure of corporate political spending at the state level. That bill — which was just reported out of committee this afternoon! — has gained a significant amount of bipartisan support. I’m hopeful we can pass it and put the new disclosure rules in place in time for this fall’s elections so the public will know if a corporation decides to spend money to influence an election.
Election Reform: A few weeks ago the House passed an Election Reform bill that would allow for pre-registration for 16 and 17 year olds, put voter registration forms online in PDF format, and require regular randomized election audits to ensure the integrity of our voting machine and processes. I am a strong supporter of this bill and advocating for it the Senate to bring it up this week so it can be passed into law.
In addition to these priorities, two other important bills are currently in conference: the Health Care Cost Control Bill and the Jobs bill passed by the Senate last week. I’m hoping to see good bills emerge from both of those committees and be brought to the floor for passage by the end of session.