Passing an economic development bill, H.4887, An Act enabling partnerships for growth, has been a top priority of mine this legislative session, especially in light of the pandemic. This sweeping economic development bill allocates $372 million for capital investment in housing, community development, job creation, and business competitiveness. It also contains key language from Governor Baker’s Housing Choice bill to reduce the number of votes needed to make changes to local zoning ordinances and spur new housing production. 

As part of this bill, I filed an amendment establishing a 21st Century Farms Commission. This commission is charged with investigating the needs of agriculture in the 21st century – including the viability, efficiency, and climate change resiliency of our family farms as they face the inevitability of climate change. The goal of the commission will be to provide family farms with educational resources, technical assistance, and energy needs so that they may remain resilient as our economy and climate continue to change. Additionally, this amendment greatly simplifies the grant application for farm grants overseen by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources by creating a single form for all grants administered by the agency, as well as an office within DAR to assist farmers in the application process. This amendment allowed me to bring back one of my favorite phrases that rings true now more than ever: NO FARMS, NO FOOD.

The economic development bill now goes to a conference committee where three members of the House and three members of the Senate will work to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill. This bill is one of the priority bills that will be voted on when the House returns to formal votes in the fall.