Climate Change Legislation, S.9
Yesterday, the House passed S.9, An Act creating a next-generation roadmap for Massachusetts climate policy, a strong, progressive climate change bill that makes Massachusetts a leader among its peer states. As you may be aware, this is a bill that was vetoed by Governor Baker at the end of last session. Determined to pass meaningful climate legislation, the Legislature sent the same bill back to the Governor again in January, which Governor Baker then returned with modifications instead of outright vetoing. While there were some small positive tweaks offered by the Governor that the Legislature accepted, including improvements to the Environmental Justice language, we rejected the vast majority of his inexplicable attempts to weaken key provisions of the bill. Most importantly, we maintained the requirement to have a 50% reduction in emissions by the year 2030. I am proud of the efforts of my Lexington colleague Senator Mike Barrett, who, as the Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, played a key role in authoring the bill and shepherding it through the conference committee. This was a joint effort on the part of the full House and Senate, and I am grateful to the leadership and dedication of all of my fellow Representatives and Senate colleagues who worked tirelessly to get this bill back on Governor Baker’s desk. I urge him to sign it quickly.
Vote by Mail Extension Legislation, H.73
Last week, the Legislature passed and the Governor signed H.73, An Act further providing for early voting by mail. This legislation extends mail-in voting and early voting options for elections held through the end of June 2021, which is essential to ensuring the health and safety of voters as the pandemic continues. Our vote-by-mail system is an accessible and secure method for Massachusetts residents to exercise their right to vote, and it ensures that all of our residents can perform their civic duty. I look forward to continuing to advocate for making vote by mail a permanent option for voters in the Commonwealth to cast their ballots.
Unemployment Insurance and PPP Loan Legislation, H.89
Last week, the House also passed H.89, An Act financing a program for improvements to the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund and providing relief to employers and workers in the Commonwealth. This bill would exclude the forgiveness of federal Paycheck Protection Program loans from Massachusetts personal income tax for taxable year 2020; create a tax credit for unemployment compensation received by taxpayers whose household income was 200% or less of the federal poverty level; provide COVID-19 emergency paid sick leave that may be taken by an employee who needs to miss work due to pandemic illness; and freeze employer unemployment tax rates, among many other actions. It is a terrific bill that will help both workers and small businesses alike. You can read more about the measure here and below. It passed the House overwhelmingly, and the Senate passed it yesterday with some changes, including pushing the tax-filing deadline to May 17th. The two chambers must now work quickly to come to an agreement and get this important, necessary legislation onto the Governor’s desk.