ELM Priority Legislation – Unfinished Business
Below are bills ELM prioritized during the 2015-16 session. Thank you to the lead sponsors and we look forward to working to pass these bills in the next session.
An Act relative to Home Energy Efficiency (S1761)
Lead Sponsors: Senator Benjamin Downing and Representative Kevin Honan
Requires sellers of homes to complete a MassSave energy assessment and disclose an energy rating determined by the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) to potential buyers. The goal of this legislation is to make the energy costs of homes transparent to consumers and to empower homeowners to make cost-effective energy improvements.
● Status: Incorporated into the Senate version of the omnibus energy bill, but not included in conference committee report.
An Act Combating Climate Change (S1747)
Lead Sponsor: Senator Michael Barrett
Carbon pricing legislation would help the Commonwealth continue to lead in transitioning to a clean energy economy. This bill puts in place a fee and rebate system that would encourage residents and businesses to switch to less carbon intensive fuels. The bill would charge a fee to those who import fossil fuels into the state that would start low and ramp up over time. The fees likely would be passed on to residents and businesses. To help offset this increase in cost, the fees would be collected in a special fund and then sent directly on to residents and businesses, in the form of “rebates.” The less anyone spent on fossil fuels, the more of the rebates they would keep.
● Status: Did not get reported out of Committee
An Act Promoting the Planning and Development of Sustainable Communities (S2327)
Lead Sponsors: Senator Daniel Wolf and Representative Stephen Kulik
Updates our state’s outmoded zoning, subdivision, and planning laws. The bill encourages balanced development and land preservation that will meet the needs of the Commonwealth’s communities now and for the next generation. The legislation grants our cities and towns new planning and zoning tools; provides more certainty to property owners and developers; and supports better regional land use outcomes – jobs and homes in the right places, less spending on excess infrastructure, and important natural resources protected.
● Status: Passed Senate. Referred to Joint Committee on Rules. Not taken up by House.
An Act to Protect the Natural Resources of the Commonwealth/Public Lands Preservation Act (S402/H623)
Lead Sponsors: Senator Jamie Eldridge and Representative Ruth Balser
Many bills come before the legislature seeking to transfer public natural resource lands, protected by Article 97 of the Massachusetts Constitution, for other purposes. This legislation would help ensure no net loss of these protected lands by requiring that owners proposing changes in use or disposition of any Article 97 land provide information to the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs and, in most circumstances, provide replacement land. The Secretary would certify to the Legislature whether a proposed change in use or disposition meets standards ensuring consistency with Article 97.
Status: Voted favorably out of Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. Referred to House Committee on Rules.
An Act to Sustain Community Preservation Revenue (S1459/H2587)
Lead Sponsors: Senator Cynthia Creem and Representative Stephen Kulik
The Community Preservation Trust provides annual matching funds to all 161 municipalities that have adopted the Community Preservation Act. The Fund derives its revenues from fees collected at the Registries of Deeds. Due to the popularity of the Act, and the decline in real estate transactions over the past decade, the annual distribution for CPA communities is projected to drop to 19% in 2016 according to the Department of Revenue, a record low. This legislation will adjust the document recording fees at the Registries of Deeds in Massachusetts so that all municipalities will receive at least a 50% match. Since CPA was enacted in 2001, the recording fee has never been adjusted.
● Status: Reported favorably by Joint Committee on Revenue. Referred to House Committee on Ways & Means.
An Act to Explore Alternative Funding Sources to Ensure Safe and Reliable Transportation (S1851/H2984)
Lead Sponsors: Senator Jason Lewis and Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier
Establishes a pilot program to assess a user fee that is based on the number of miles traveled on Massachusetts roads in the state by drivers (as an alternative to diminishing gas tax revenues). The pilot would include at least 1,000 individuals and the program would test the reliability, ease of use, cost, and public acceptance of a user fee program.
● Status: Incorporated into transportation funding bill H4557, but vetoed by Governor.
An Act relative to Recycling (S2389)
Lead Sponsor: Senator Marc Pacheco
Establishes a solid waste performance standard for cities and towns of 600 lbs. of trash per capita and per year by July 1, 2016 and 450 lbs. per capita by July 1, 2021. Currently, 163 municipalities already comply with the 2016 performance standard and 84 meet both standards. Such a standard is projected to reduce trash by hundreds of thousands of tons per year, saving cities and towns millions of dollars while increasing recycling, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and creating green jobs in Massachusetts.
● Status: Passed Senate. Referred to House Committee on Ways & Means.