Council in the News
Gov. Maura Healey returns from her second trip to Washington this week, where she spoke at the SelectUSA Investment Summit.
Noon | Higher Ed for All Coalition lobby for the so-called CHERISH Act (S 816 / H 1260) and Debt-Free Bill (S 823 / H 1265), calling for debt-free public higher education, increased student supports, better wages and working conditions for educators, and green buildings. State House steps.
Noon | Congressman Jim McGovern announces over $2 million in federal funding to renovate and preserve Jones Library in Amherst. | 43 Amity St., Amherst
4:30 p.m. | Gov. Maura Healey speaks at the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation Annual Meeting.
The Legislature, sensing it could lose a legal battle, has options to unravel a controversial tax rebate law.
A House plan to dole out equal rebates under Chapter 62F is under fire, deemed “unconstitutional” by business groups in a recent letter to Democratic leaders.
But lawmakers have other mechanisms at the ready that could keep them out of the courtroom.
Several bills filed this session would repeal 62F entirely (H2744, S1797). Another would establish a commission to study 62F (HD4119). Both options would not violate the state constitution, Elizabeth Mahoney, vice president of policy and government affairs for the Massachusetts High Technology Council told MASSterList.
The House could also opt to change the formula that caps the allowable state tax growth to make it more or less likely that 62F would be triggered.
The High Tech Council — the same business group behind a successful lawsuit that derailed a 2018 attempt to pass the millionaire tax voters just approved last year — would oppose any change made “without public debate,” Mahoney said.
Lawyers say the current House plan effectively creates different tax rates in violation of the flat income tax rate spelled out in the state Constitution.
Budget watchdog Doug Howgate of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation said it’s becoming “increasingly unlikely” 62F will even be triggered this year as collections have slimmed, but told MASSterList that “the jury is still out.”
The 1986 voter-approved referendum mandates refunds when tax revenue collections exceed an allowable threshold tied to wage and salary growth.
The House’s 62F shakeup is an attempt to make refunds “fairer” in a state facing an affordability crisis, Speaker Ronald Mariano told reporters following its approval by members in its annual budget. Recent studies name Massachusetts as the third most expensive state to live in.
The proposed change still needs agreement from the Senate and a signature from Gov. Maura Healey to take effect.
It’s something opponents are trying to avoid altogether.
“We hope the Senate understands the constitutional concern and does not include this provision in any bill that they do,” Mahoney said, noting that was the goal of the council’s warning letter.
A Senate Ways and Means Committee spokesman said Wednesday the annual budget release and a tax relief bill would come “soon” but declined to lock down a timeline.
Send tips to Erin Tiernan Editor@MASSterList.com. For advertising and general inquiries, contact Dylan Rossiter: Publisher@MASSterList.com. Click here to post a job on the MASSterList Job Board. Follow @MASSterList on Twitter. Did someone send you this edition? Subscribe here!
Healey makes pitch for massive offshore wind farm
State officials want to make a splash with the next offshore wind project, seeking a company to build a new farm that could produce more than a quarter of Massachusetts’ annual electricity demand, reports Chris Van Buskirk for The Boston Herald. The push for a wind energy project that would be New England’s largest is backed by Gov. Maura Healey who said the state is “all-in on offshore wind and ready to be the industry’s hub.” Not everyone is happy.
No surprises: Boston special elections primaries mark decision for open House seats
Primaries in special elections will presumably be the end for two Boston races. The 9th Suffolk District seat went to John Moran with 1,751 votes, or 85 percent of the ballots cast, according to unofficial election results posted on the city’s website, reports The Boston Globe. The 10th Suffolk District will go to Bill MacGregor of West Roxbury, former chief of staff for former Boston city councilor Matt O’ Malley, who placed first in a three-way race. The primary contests were held to fill the vacancies of former Representatives Jon Santiago and Edward F. Coppinger, with special general elections to follow on May 30.
No extension on health insurance enrollment deadline despite cyberattack disrupting website
Health insurance for roughly 460,000 state workers is in the crosshairs of a cyberattack on Harvard Pilgrim Health Care’s website. Officials tell Cassie McGrath of the Boston Business Journal that the deadline for open enrollment period will not be extended past Wednesday for employees looking to make changes to their benefits for fiscal 2024, which begins on July 1.
Massachusetts could take economic hit from Hollywood writers’ strike
A strike by 11,500 film and television writers in Hollywood seeking better pay and working conditions will deal a likely blow to the Massachusetts economy, writes WCVB. The state has benefited from a 2006 tax incentive made permanent in 2021 that is designed to attract film projects. State estimates show in 2020 it generated $171.5 million in new spending. At least three projects are currently filming and five others recently wrapped.
New Bedford lawmakers won’t back mayor’s plan to sue MBTA over land takings
State lawmakers are “concerned” over the New Bedford mayor’s threats to sue the MBTA over land takings for the South Coast Rail project, reports Kate Robinson for WBSM. Mayor Jon Mitchell supports the project that will extend commuter trains to his city but claims the T did not fairly compensate taxpayers for municipal-owned land seized through eminent domain, putting pressure on the embattled agency to pay up.
Birthday bash for Bellotti in Quincy
Frank Bellotti, the former three-term attorney general and onetime lieutenant governor who became an icon from Quincy gets a birthday bash for the ages, turning 100, reports Joe Dwinell for The Boston Herald.
Former US Marshal John Gibbons dies
John Gibbons, a former United States Marshal for the District of Massachusetts, has died, reports WWLP. Gibbons retired in August of 2021 and was the first African American U.S. Marshal for the District of Massachusetts. He had been appointed by President Barack Obama in December 2009 and sworn in on January 13, 2010.
Fall River weighs charter changes that would raise bar for recall elections
A committee reviewing Fall River’s charter is considering tweaks to the recall election process, but likely won’t make it significantly harder for voters to put mayors on the ballot again before their terms end. Fall River has seen two mayoral recalls since 2014 but as Jo Goode of the Herald-News reports, the charter review committee has so far been lukewarm toward proposals to make it dramatically harder for voters to prompt such elections.
Ignoring legal advice, Sheffield town meeting bans 5G cell towers
Setting aside a stern warning from counsel that the move would likely attract lawsuits, voters at Sheffield town meeting approved a citizen petition article that would ban 5G cellphone towers from being built in the community. Scott Stafford of the Berkshire Eagle reports the meeting also approved funding to hire an “odor-control expert” to help ensure cannabis growers are complying with local regulations.
Going big: New developer of Worcester’s Table Talk building proposes 4 times more apartments
Less than a week after buying the former home of the Table Talk pie company, a Worcester developer is telling the city he will ask for permission to build 58 apartments, nearly four times the number under consideration by the previous owners. The Worcester Business Journal’s Timothy Doyle has the details.
Just short: Wellfleet voters narrowly defeat proposal to use CPA funds on housing specialist
A proposal to create a housing specialist position in the Wellfleet town government funded with Community Preservation Act funds fell 17 votes short of approval at Monday’s town election. Town leaders say they’ll likely try again, saying the position is “sorely needed.”