As we head into spring, I wanted to check in and provide you with an update about what is happening in the House of Representatives.
The 192nd session of the Massachusetts General Court is already moving quickly, and within the first few weeks, a lot has happened. First of all, I am pleased to announce that I was appointed by Speaker Ron Mariano to serve on four joint committees for this session.
As a second term member on both Elder Affairs and Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture, I am excited to continue my efforts on these two committees. For my two new appointments, I am looking forward to learning more about these areas of policy and being an active participant in the committee hearings as we closely examine the proposed legislation that comes before them.
Join me for my next virtual office hours session! On Tuesday, March 9th, I will be talking to constituents like you from 5:00 - 6:00 PM. You can sign up and submit questions ahead of time here.
Hearing from you helps me do my job better, and your input and thoughts are critical to informing my work on Beacon Hill.
The bill filing deadline for this session recently passed, and although it was a race to the finish line, I filed a total of 17 bills this session covering a wide range of issues, including keeping seniors in their homes, transportation, waste reduction and recycling, the environment, Black history, progressive revenue, energy efficiency, and more.
HD.3648 An Act to generate revenue to expand transit options
This bill provides for Transit Improvement Districts (TIDs), which will generate revenue to establish public-private partnerships for first mile / last mile transit connections, such as small shuttle bus systems. Modeled off of the Business Improvement Districts statute, this mechanism would allow cities and towns to work together with the private sector and MassDOT to develop efficient transportation systems in their communities.
Next month, I will be presenting this concept at Town Meeting (Article 26) in order to establish a pilot program in Lexington. Before implementing TIDs on the state level, it is important to demonstrate the program’s mechanics at work in the community. Article 26 will seek approval for the Town to petition the General Court for a “Home Rule” to have the option to create TIDs. Ultimately, this pilot program would provide a dependable funding source for Lexington’s highly successful Rev Shuttle.
HD.1156 An Act establishing a tax revenue fairness and implementation commission
In 2013, the Tax Revenue Fairness Commission was charged with analyzing a broad array of the Commonwealth’s tax laws, focusing specifically on the equity of current tax policies. Ultimately, the Commission issued a comprehensive report with several recommendations. This legislation would reconvene a similar Commission to evaluate the status of the recommendations of the report and make further recommendations on implementation, while also examining our tax code in light of recent federal tax reform.
HD.324 An Act relative to taxes due upon the death of active duty personnel and the elderly
The Commonwealth provides qualified seniors the ability to defer part or all of their property taxes until such time as the title to the property is transferred. The interest rate on the deferred taxes is approved by the town and is capped at 8%. However, under the current law, if the person deferring the taxes passes away without a surviving spouse, the interest rate immediately goes to 16%, the same as if there were no deferral and the taxes had not been paid. This bill would provide a one year delay or grace period before the interest rate goes to 16% in order to allow time for the deceased person’s will to go through probate and allows the heirs to plan for the additional financial burden.
HD.3596 An Act to reduce single-use plastics from the environment
This bill includes a wide range of provisions to work toward eliminating single-use plastics, including the reduction of plastic straws, nips, water bottles, and polystyrene, among other provisions.
HD.3604 An Act to support restaurants and reduce single-use plastics in the environment
Also included as a part of HD.3596 and filed as a stand-alone bill, this measure requires that restaurants only provide customers with single-use utensils and other takeout materials (straws, stirrers, cup sleeves, condiment packets, etc.) if the customer asks for them. If customers request these materials, restaurants are then required to charge a small fee that the restaurant is then able to retain.
HD.3651 An Act to encourage plastic bottle recycling
This bill requires all plastic bottles to contain at least 30% true post-consumer recycled material by 2030, ramping up by smaller increments in the intervening years.
HD.2946 An Act to strengthen reuse, repurpose, recycle
Co-filed with Rep. Linda Dean Campbell, this measure creates a special legislative commission to make recommendations for how the Commonwealth can create a market to support a robust and competitive recycling industry in Massachusetts.
HD.2387 An Act providing for a corporate transportation excise tax - (Pending House Counsel Edits to last year’s bill and thus filed as a Placeholder)
This legislation will levy an annual progressive excise fee on corporations with 100 or more Massachusetts-based employees; raise up to a total of $300,000,000 annually; dedicate the funds to the Commonwealth Transportation Fund (the so-called "transportation lock box"); include non-profit and educational institutions in the requirement to pay the fee (hospitals, universities, and other large non-profits); credit corporations and institutions back for any transit subsidies provided by the employer to employees; and calculate the exact annual fee based on both the amount of levy in each tier and the annual number of employees in a given tier.
Based on Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development data from March of 2017, the fees will come out to approximately $101 per employee for companies ranging in size from 100-499 employees, $222 per employee for companies ranging in size from 500-999 employees, and $364 per employee for companies with 1,000 or more employees (approximately the monthly cost of a Zone 7 Commuter Rail pass). Companies with fewer than 100 employees pay no fee at all.
HD.3677 An Act relative to a resilient transportation system
This bill was developed in collaboration with MAPC and would direct MassDOT and the MBTA to assess and report on the cost of making its entire system climate resilient.
HD.3705 An Act relative to automated enforcement
This legislation allows cities or towns, in limited circumstances, to install an automated road safety camera system as a means of promoting traffic safety.
QUOCK WALKER DAY
HD.272 An Act designating July 8 as Massachusetts Emancipation Day a.k.a. Quock Walker Day
Filed as companion legislation to Senator Cindy Friedman's initiative in the Senate, this bill would designate July 8th as Massachusetts Emancipation Day a.k.a. Quock Walker Day. On that day in 1783, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the Constitution of the Commonwealth’s Declaration of Rights rendered slavery unconstitutional. Quock Walker, who was born to enslaved Black parents in Massachusetts, was the driving force behind this ruling. After being promised his freedom on multiple occasions, Walker self-emancipated, eventually being found a free man by a jury. This critical decision served as the precedent that ended slavery in the Commonwealth on constitutional grounds and led to Massachusetts becoming the first state in the nation to abolish slavery.
HD.1154 An Act relative to electric vehicle charging stations
This legislation prohibits a variety of organizations from forbidding or unreasonably restricting electric vehicle charging stations. It is modeled after approved Boston Home Rule legislation, which prevents condominium associations from outlawing charging stations. In addition, this legislation includes Historic District Commissions (HDCs) and Neighborhood Conservation Districts (NCDs) as entities that cannot unduly restrict this critical infrastructure.
HD.3466 An Act to establish a grant program for low noise, low emissions landscape maintenance equipment
This bill requires the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs to establish a grant program to provide incentive funds to cities and towns to transition municipal landscape maintenance equipment to low noise, low emissions equipment and encourages EOEEA to also develop a zero-interest loan program for landscape companies.
HD.3476 An Act establishing a Residential Property Assessed Clean Energy (R-PACE) Program in the Commonwealth
This legislation authorizes the Department of Energy Resources, in conjunction with the Massachusetts Development Finance Agency, to establish a residential sustainable energy program similar to the Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Program. Financing from this program would go to residential property owners for energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements.
HD.3501 An Act to expand eligibility for the Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Program
This bill redefines projects that are eligible for the Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Program. Eligible projects would include any new construction, renovation, or retrofitting of a qualifying commercial or industrial real property to reduce energy consumption, or installation of renewable energy systems to serve qualifying commercial or industrial property.
HD.1155 An Act regarding municipal master plans
This legislation would streamline the process for developing a master plan by reducing the number of required elements from nine to five. It would also modernize the process by adding concepts like climate mitigation and adaptation. By lowering the number of required elements, each municipality can choose the highest priority issues to address for their communities and a scope that is consistent with their situation (e.g., size, rural vs urban, etc).
Zero Waste Caucus
As you may know, Senator Jason Lewis and I co-founded the bi-partisan, bi-cameral Zero Waste Caucus last session, which drew over 30 members in just its first year. This session, we are looking forward to building on our strong start and continuing to advocate for laws and policies that reduce and eliminate solid waste in Massachusetts through legislative action, state and local collaboration, information gathering, education, and public outreach. We are partnering with the environmental community and working strategically to maximize our impact.
We had our first meeting last week, where Senator Lewis and I delivered remarks before we heard from our colleagues with bills pertaining to Zero Waste. I am extremely excited by the tremendous work being done by so many in the Legislature, and I look forward to continuing to grow the Caucus this session! You can view the full roster here.
While there is much to be done at the producer level to reduce the waste that we interact with as consumers, we can all do our part now as well. How are you reducing waste in your own life? Let me know by responding to this email, or you can also reach me on Twitter @mciccolo or tag me on Facebook @RepCiccolo using the hashtag #ZeroWaste.