From responding to the public health crisis to tackling major reforms that impact various sectors and industries, the 192nd Session saw no shortage of legislative action. Significant accomplishments of the legislature can be found below, sorted by theme and featuring notable bills. Included in the recap are significant wins for the 3rd Plymouth District. Please enjoy reading, and do not hesitate to contact my office with any questions you may have on any of the information below.
Energy & Environment
In March of 2021, the Next Generation Climate Roadmap was passed by the Legislature
and subsequently signed into law, overhauling the state’s climate laws, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, advancing the clean energy industry, and prioritizing and protecting environmental justice communities. In mid-August of this year, we built upon the outline created by the Roadmap and passed An Act driving clean energy and offshore wind
(H.5060). While focusing on investment in the offshore wind industry, this legislation aims to bolster green transportation, green buildings, and clean power production, while creating thousands of new jobs and economic benefits in the process.
Important provisions in An Act driving clean energy and offshore wind (H.5060) relate to promoting zero-emission vehicles and fleets and decarbonizing buildings. The legislation draws from elements of bills I filed this session, including:
- Cessation of in-state sales of non-zero-emission vehicles by 2035 (H3541),
- Electric vehicle incentive programs, rebates, and rebate programs (H3347),
- Electric vehicle infrastructure planning and the inclusion for EV charging standards by the Board of Building Regulations and Standards (H3347),
- Transition fleet vehicles to electric (H3255), and
- Climate, environmental, and equity goals and standards as well as reforms to Mass Save (H3350), and more!
Transportation and Infrastructure
The legislature passed an annual road-funding bill including millions in funding for the Chapter 90 program, which finances necessary repairs to municipal roads and bridges.
We also passed two major bond bills, a transportation and climate bond bill (H5151) and a general government infrastructure bill (H5065).
In the Transportation Bond Bill (H5151), I initially proposed an amendment for to examine the feasibility and cost of creating a Massachusetts Water Regional Transit Authority. The final legislation ultimately included $28,000,000 to be spent on an intracoastal water-based transportation pilot program that will run for 3-5 years and will include facilities in Gloucester, Salem, Lynn, Winthrop and Quincy and the East Boston, North End, and South Boston waterfront sections of Boston. A huge thank you to House Chair Bill Strauss!
In the transportation bond bill, I also secured $500,000 for a multiyear corridor study that will identify the possibilities for implementing a full double-track commuter rail between Braintree Station and South Station along the Old Colony Commuter Rail Line tracks, aiming to improve commuter-rail capacity.
In the General Government Bond Bill (H5065), I secured an additional $250,000 for the double-track rail study, as well as $500,000 for air handlers in Cohasset school buildings and $500,000 for DCR to conduct an assessment of the Point Allerton seawall revetment in Hull, including the long-term impacts of sea level rise, storm surge, and extreme weather, and to develop both a short-term stabilization plan and a long-term remediation plan for the repair and upgrade of the failed revetment.
*A note: When money for a project is included in a bond bill, it is an "allocation." This is just the first step. Next, we must with work the Administration to appropriate the money for the intended purpose.
I am looking forward to working closely with the administration and my colleagues and residents to advocate for the release of the funds and to get these projects started.
Budgets & Spending Bills
For FY23, the Legislature passed fiscally responsible, comprehensive budgets that make targeted investments in education, housing, substance use disorder services, health care, the environment, and other areas as the state continues to pursue an equitable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the FY23 Budget (H5050), I secured $75,000 for a new shared position, a Regional Sustainability Officer, to guide Hingham and Cohasset in the towns' efforts to achieve climate goals. In addition, I was able to successfully advocate for increased funding for the Division of Ecological Restoration (DER) and robust funding for library technology and resource sharing. My advocacy to fully fund these two line-items was also successful in the FY22 Budget. You can read more about the FY23 budget here
In An Act Relative to Immediate COVID-19 Recovery Needs
(H4269,) the first round of ARPA spending that was passed
by the legislature this winter, I was able to secure $150,000 to rebuild A Street Pier in Hull. Also included in this legislation was $2.7 million to fund a community college campus hunger pilot program, the language for which drew from a bill I filed alongside Senator Joan Lovely; a public information campaign for waivers for overpayments, which drew from a bill I filed last fall; and $150 million to build new permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless individuals, families, youth and young adults, survivors of domestic violence, seniors and veterans. Initially, the language regarding the $150 million did not include families, youth and young adults as potential beneficiaries of this flexible housing fund, but an amendment I filed brought about this important addition.
The legislature passed An Act relative to establishing representative districts in the General Court
(H4217). The redistricting process brings a little change to the 3rd Plymouth District for the next 10 years until the 2030 US Census. 3rd Plymouth now includes all of Cohasset, Hingham, and Hull. After January 3, 2023, Scituate 3rd will be part of the 4th Plymouth District.
Seniors and Veterans
Toward the end of the session, the legislature worked collaboratively to pass two bills relating to our military community members: An Act relative to the governance, structure and care of veterans at the Commonwealth’s veterans’ homes
(H5106) and An Act relative to military spouse-licensure portability, education and enrollment of dependents
(S3075). The legislation relating to soldiers’ homes makes
key reforms to the governance structure of the state’s veterans’ homes, ensures that both homes are federally licensed as health care facilities, mandates increased state management, and provides independent oversight and accountability of veterans’ homes management. The bill relating to military spouse-licensure overhauls aspects of professional licensing procedures, extends in-state tuition rates at public colleges and universities to military members stationed in Massachusetts and their families, includes a tax credit for small businesses that hire members of the National Guard, and requires the governor to annually recognize the founding of several branches of the military.
As we approach the two-and-a-half-year mark of living with COVID-19, the legislature continues to be responsive to residents in relation to recovery from the public health crisis. Bills that have served to meet and support residents through the pandemic include measures that extended emergency COVID-19 paid sick leave in Massachusetts, which was originally set to expire in September of 2021, until April 1, 2022 (H4127) and extended the expiration of the provisions pertaining to the Open Meeting Law to March 31, 2023 (S2985).
The pandemic served to emphasize the absolute necessity of investing in our public health systems. In response, the legislature passed a bill (H5104) that, if signed into law, would have strengthened local and regional public health systems and ensured that every resident would have access to foundational public health services. A substantial amendment that would change the intent and impact of the bill, introduced by Governor Baker, has unfortunately caused the legislation to stall.
The legislature also addressed mental health this session by passing the Mental Health ABC Act,
legislation that continues the process of reforming the way mental health care is delivered in Massachusetts, with the goal of ensuring that people get the mental health care they need when they need it. You can find our press release on the initial legislation passed by the House of Representatives here
Finally, following the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling this summer, the Legislature passed H4954 to further protect and expand reproductive health care and gender-affirming services in the Commonwealth.
In addition to the significant investments made in the budgets passed during this session, the legislature passed important bills in the education space. In October of 2021, legislation (H3999) was signed into law, requiring schools where a majority of students come from low-income families to enroll in federal programs allowing them to provide free breakfast and lunch to all students. Another bill (S2557) signed into law in December of 2021 requires students in Massachusetts middle and high schools to learn about the history of genocides around the globe in their curriculum.
Lastly, I'd like to share that this year’s legislative session saw the naming of the official dinosaur of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the podokesaurus holyokensis