Viewpoint: Charter Expansion Key to Winning Tech Talent

By Christopher Anderson, President of the Massachusetts High Technology Council

The high quality of Massachusetts’ workforce, with the highest percentage of bachelor’s degrees of any state and one of the nation’s highest ratios of tech employment to total employment, is well-documented.  Less well-known, however, is that Massachusetts remains one of the most difficult places to hire technology talent, according to the Massachusetts Technology, Talent and Economic Reporting System.  The reason: demand for talent is far outstripping supply. If Massachusetts can’t meet the growing demand for talent our tech employers need, our prospects for economic expansion could be threatened as jobs that would otherwise be created here are placed in other states.

To ensure the commonwealth’s tech employers can access a sufficient supply of skilled workers, it’s crucial that we optimize every potential source of talent.  Our state’s public schools which, on the whole, are among the best in the nation remain our primary source of opportunity.  Unfortunately, access to excellent schools in Massachusetts remains uneven and unequal.  According to data from Great Schools Massachusetts, some 250,000 children in the commonwealth are at serious risk of landing in a failing school. Continue reading

“Big Three” Look Back on Failed Talks Over Non-Compete Bill

By Katie Lannan

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, AUG. 2, 2016…..Reiterating his support for the bill as it passed the House, Speaker Robert DeLeo on Tuesday said it was unfortunate that legislation to limit the use of non-compete agreements in Massachusetts did not reach Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk.

A conference committee of six House and Senate lawmakers failed on Sunday to reach a deal on the non-compete bill, one of six major pieces of legislation Baker had identified as a priority for the end of legislative session.

“We felt very strongly, after spending hours discussing this with all parties, that all parties came together and supported the House legislation,” DeLeo said during an interview on Boston Herald Radio. “Things changed, you know, in terms of what had happened in the Senate, and unfortunately, at the end of the day, we weren’t able to get it done.” Continue reading

DeLeo: Charter Proposal Never Should Have Reached Ballot

By Katie Lannan

House Speaker Robert DeLeo said Tuesday he regrets not getting a charter school bill done and thinks the complex and controversial education policy issue shouldn’t have been left to be settled at the ballot box this November.

Question 2 on November’s ballot will ask Massachusetts voters whether to allow state education officials to approve up to 12 new charter schools or enrollment expansions per year. A heated campaign is underway, with charter supporters saying the schools provide critical education opportunities to students who would otherwise lack them while opponents say they drain resources away from traditional public schools that serve a much larger portion of the state’s students.

“I felt very strongly that this is something that should never have been to the ballot box. This is something we should have been able to debate,” DeLeo said during an interview on Boston Herald Radio. Continue reading

Empty-Handed Again, MA Noncompete Reformers Seek More Progress

By Jeff Engel

That was a step too far,” says Mark Gallagher, executive vice president of public policy and communications for the Massachusetts High Technology Council. “There were legitimate business interests that needed to be protected.”

But Gallagher emphasizes the council’s willingness to “not just assent to additional restrictions,” but actually support them. “We moved a long way from where we were a year or 18 months ago,” Gallagher says of his organization and other business groups that have resisted significant changes to Massachusetts noncompete laws.”

After another Massachusetts legislative session ended without passage of noncompete reform, stakeholders on both sides of the issue expressed disappointment that a deal didn’t get done.

It’s not the outcome anyone wanted—or so they say—but that alone is evidence of how the debate shifted during the latest attempt to make changes to the state’s rules on employment noncompete agreements. Continue reading

Here Are Some of the Boston Tech Cos. Supporting the Campaign Against Noncompete Reform

By Dylan Martin

“Mark Gallagher, executive vice president of public policy and communications for the council, told us in an email, “There are a variety of views among our individual members. The Council’s position reflects a balancing of those viewpoints.””

Two days before the Massachusetts Senate approved a bill last week that would nearly eliminate most noncompetes, a coalition that included the Massachusetts High Technology Council made it clear it wasn’t happy with the legislation.

“We continue to believe that there is little evidence that the use of noncompete agreements harms Massachusetts’ position as a globally recognized leader in innovation,” the coalition wrote in a letter to the Senate on July 12. “… Employers believe selective use of noncompetes protects the significant investments that allow their companies to be global leaders in their industries and to create jobs in the commonwealth.” Full text of the letter is here. Continue reading

The House has Unanimously Passed Legislation that Seeks to Reduce the Wage Gap Between Men and Women

By Lauren Dezenski

“The Massachusetts High Tech Council says it prefers the House language but remains opposed to any legislative measures.

“The House bill is a significant improvement over the bill passed by the Senate. But the Council cannot support any version of legislation that would create a presumption that any pay differential between employees of different genders is the result of discriminatory action by an employer,” said Mass High Tech Council executive vice president Mark Gallagher.”

The House has unanimously passed legislation that seeks to reduce the wage gap between men and women.

The measure passed by a vote of 158-0 and would make it illegal for employers to pay employees different wages because of their gender or pay employees less because of their gender. Continue reading

Senators Try to Tack Fantasy Sports, Tax Credits, Alcohol Laws onto Economic Development Bill

By Shira Shoenberg

Massachusetts senators are poised to consider 283 amendments as they debate an approximately $915 million economic development bill on Thursday.

The bill, H.2423, considered a must-pass piece of legislation before the session ends July 31, has become a vehicle for lawmakers to tack on local projects and consider policy changes that never made it through the legislative process this session.

In the House, 183 amendments were introduced, although only a small number were actually adopted. In the Senate, proposed amendments relate to everything from tax credits to daily fantasy sports to brewery laws.

A group of associations representing technology-related businesses, including the Massachusetts High Tech Council, MassChallenge Boston and others signed a letter urging support for an amendment sponsored by state Sen. Ben Downing, D-Pittsfield, that would create a commission to explore regulating daily fantasy sports and clarify that daily fantasy sports are legal. Daily fantasy sports are online games based on the performance of real athletes. Continue reading

Equal Pay Bill Takes Another Step Toward Passing

By Michael Bodley

“While several other business groups have backed pay-equity legislation, the Massachusetts High Technology Council remains opposed to both versions.

“The council cannot support legislation that would create a presumption that any pay differential between employees of different genders is the result of discriminatory action by an employer” said Mark Gallagher, the council’s executive vice president, in a statement. “Such a presumption would impose unfair, unnecessary and significant new risks on Massachusetts employers acting in good faith and would damage the Commonwealth’s competitive environment.””

The latest effort by Massachusetts lawmakers to close the gender gap in pay forged enough middle ground to win over at least one opponent in the business world.

On Tuesday, leaders in the House of Representatives pushed legislation that would require companies to pay female employees the same as male employees who perform comparable work. The thrust of the bill is similar to legislation passed by the state Senate earlier this year, but differs in several key areas. Continue reading

Mass. Bill to Close Gender Pay Gap Picks Up Steam

By Katie Johnson

“The Massachusetts High Technology Council is committed to addressing gender-based wage gaps,” Mark Gallagher, executive vice president of the trade group, said in an e-mail. “But we believe real and meaningful solutions to gender pay differentials cannot be limited to public policy and must include broader initiatives beyond statutory and regulatory changes.”

With House Speaker Robert DeLeo throwing his weight behind passing the pay equity bill, the legislation is gaining momentum with less than five weeks before the formal session ends.

The bill, intended to close pay disparities between men and women, passed the Senate unanimously in January and is currently in the House Committee on Ways and Means.

After meeting with Senate President Stanley Rosenberg and Governor Charlie Baker on Monday, DeLeo said he was in talks with a number of groups and aimed to have it passed by the end of July. Continue reading

State Capitol Briefs – Afternoon Edition: Support Voiced for Outsourcing at the MBTA

By Andy Metzger

A week after union officials urged MBTA overseers not to outsource work currently performed by public employees, a series of residents encouraged the T to consider privatization. Representatives from NAIOP, the commercial real estate developer organization, and the Massachusetts High Tech Council joined others on Monday advocating for privatization. Douglas Ciampi Jr., a 20-year-old from Westminster, said that if the National Aeronautics and Space Administration can privatize rockets, the T should “give the free market a chance.” Ciampi also said it took him less time to travel by train between Denmark and Sweden than to travel from Worcester to Boston. After lawmakers last year passed a three-year suspension at the T of the Pacheco law, which requires government agencies to submit privatization plans to the state auditor for approval, leadership at the T has advanced plans to privatize cash handling, inventory and maintenance of fare gates. Members of the audience wore stickers from the Fix Our T coalition that said, “Thank you for suspending the Pacheco law.”