190th Session Bills

190th Session Bills (2017-2018)

H.160 An Act to increase transparency and trust in charitable solicitations 

Contrary to consumer expectations, professional fundraisers making solicitations on behalf of charities often retain a large share of the funds donated (sometimes as much as 85%). This legislation would require fundraisers soliciting on behalf of charitable organizations to disclose that they must answer all questions fully and accurately and to provide a website and telephone number where prospective donors can confirm what percentage of the funds raised will actually go charity.

H.1087 An Act to ensure adequate handicapped parking

Shortage of accessible parking restricts mobility and quality of life for persons with disabilities. Consistent with emerging federal guidance under the Americans with Disabilities Act, this legislation would require municipalities to designate no less than five percent of their on-street parking spaces as “handicapped parking.”

H.368 An Act to create a citizens’ initiative review commission, filed with House Assistant Minority Leader Brad Hill

This past August, as part of the Massachusetts Citizens’ Initiative Review (CIR) pilot project, 20 Massachusetts voters spent four days conducting an in-depth deliberation on the marijuana legalization ballot question.  The panel was formed from a random sample of 10,000 Massachusetts voters and balanced to reflect the state’s voting population along demographic lines.  Members of the panel came from every congressional district, from urban areas and small towns.  The oldest member of the panel, at ninety-one, was seventy years older than the youngest.  Some had left school after high school; others had graduate degrees.  They included women and men, racial and ethnic minorities, and Democrats, Republicans, and unenrolled voters in the same proportions as the electorate as a whole.

Over the course of the four days, the citizen panel heard from the campaigns for and against marijuana legalization, questioned independent policy experts, and deliberated amongst themselves.  As a final product, the panel wrote a one-page citizens’ statement summarizing the key facts that voters should understand about the ballot question and the strongest and most credible arguments for and against it.

Subsequent independent evaluation by researchers from Penn State University found that Massachusetts voters considered the citizens’ statement quite helpful in understanding the complicated marijuana legalization question.  In focus groups held among progressive, moderate, and conservative voters across the state, clear support emerged for making CIR a regular feature of the election system in Massachusetts.  In addition, many of the members of the citizen panel described their participation in the pilot project as their most meaningful experience in politics; some even expressed that it had restored their faith in the political process.

This legislation would institutionalize the CIR system in Massachusetts.  Under HD1052, a citizen panel, representative of the overall electorate, would examine at least one statewide ballot question per election and produce a citizens’ statement to be included in the voter guide.

To learn more about the CIR system, the pilot project, and the Penn State evaluation, please go to cirmass.org.

H.2086 An Act to promote transparency in municipal ballot questions

Under current law, if a state ballot question committee receives and deposits a donation of over $500 dollars within 18 days of the election, it must report that donation within 72 hours. This legislation would extend that reporting requirement to municipal ballot question committees.

H. 430 An Act to reduce solid waste, increase recycling and generate municipal cost savings 

Massachusetts currently recovers less than 50 percent of its solid waste, well behind states such as Oregon and California. The resulting trash—4.7 million tons each year—poses serious environmental and economic consequences, including significant burdens on municipal budgets. This legislation would set specific municipal recycling performance targets, strengthen oversight and enforcement of waste bans, bolster regulation of waste haulers, and improve the collection and reporting of solid waste data.

H.1088 An Act to update the public shade tree law, filed with House Minority Leader Brad Jones

This legislation would update and strengthen the law protecting public shade trees by: 1) specifying professional qualifications for tree wardens; 2) expanding their power to enforce prohibitions on cutting or otherwise damaging public shade trees; and 3) authorizing the State Forester to promulgate regulations for implementation of the law. It was drafted in collaboration with the Massachusetts Tree Wardens and Foresters Association, which represents the tree wardens in cities and towns across Massachusetts.

H. 1750 An Act to allow equal access solar net metering projects

Under current Department of Public Utilities (DPU) rules, only one solar net metering facility is allowed per parcel of land. For those that co-own, co-tenant or have multiple utility accounts associated with a single parcel of land, which includes many condominium owners, small businesses, farmers and public housing authorities, this DPU rule can make it prohibitively burdensome to install solar projects. This legislation would allow an exemption to the “single parcel rule” for small net metering projects, creating greater access to solar for more low-income residents, middle-class homeowners and small businesses.

H.3403 An Act relative to low income solar, filed with House Global Warning and Climate Change Chairman Frank Smizik

This bill would help to equalize access to solar for low and middle-income residents. It would allow municipalities and government entities to distribute net metering credits to publicly assisted housing or its residents and still retain full retail rate net metering credit value, exempt low-income ratepayers from any ratepayer minimum monthly reliability contribution, and exempt from the net metering caps municipal and government projects that distribute 100 percent of their net metering credits to publicly assisted housing or its residents.

H.667 Resolve providing for an investigation and study by a special commission relative to the need for accessible homes for the elderly, returning veterans with disabilities, and families that include persons with disabilities 

There are currently 650,000 Massachusetts residents, including veterans, persons with disabilities and many seniors, facing mobility limitations that make it difficult, if not impossible, to access and occupy housing that lacks three basic features, collectively known as the “visitability” standard: a no-step entry, a doorway at that entry wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair, and a bathroom on the entry floor. This legislation would create a special commission to study how best to encourage production of housing in the Commonwealth that meets the “visitability” standard.

H.1267 An Act promoting responsible investment and the prevention of genocide 

This bill provides that the legislature will not consent to any trade agreement with a country within whose boundaries genocide is occurring, as declared by the legislature, the United States or the United Nations.

H.1749 An Act relative to double poles

This legislation would direct the Department of Public Utilities and Department of Telecommunications and Cable to issue regulations to reduce the number of double utility poles in the Commonwealth. (These occur when a new pole is installed next to a weakened or broken one but the process of relocating the wires and removing the old pole is not completed.) The regulations would be based on an assessment of the Pole Lifecycle Management (PLM) system and other current measures and on the recommendations of an advisory commission representing municipalities, utility companies, and other stakeholders.

H.1842 An Act to regulate license plate tracking

Automatic license plate readers (ALPRs) are currently being used in many cities and towns, but with little, if any, regulation. ALPRs can be important tools in helping police locate suspects or missing children. But indefinite stockpiling of data on the locations and personal habits of law-abiding citizens holds the potential for abuse. This bill would limit the length of time such information can be stored, keep it from falling into the wrong hands, and prevent unnecessary intrusion into individual privacy rights.

H.835 An Act requiring child-resistant packaging of nicotine liquid containers 

This legislation would codify regulations that require that e-cigarette nicotine liquids sold in Massachusetts be contained in child-resistant packaging. A recent CDC study found a dramatic increase in the number of calls to poison centers involving e-cigarette nicotine liquids, rising from one per month in September 2010 to 215 per month in February 2014. More than half of the calls involved children under the age of five.

H.2475 An Act relative to improving asthma in schools, filed with Representative Dave Rogers 

Nationwide, asthma accounts for the loss of 10 million school days each year. This legislation would require schools with high rates of asthma among schoolchildren to create an indoor air quality plan and recommends that such schools form environmental health committees, while also requiring public schools to use cleaning products that meet certain environmental standards.

H.2461 An Act relative to the public health benefits of expanding access to drinking water in public places

Research has shown the critical links between adequate hydration and a host of health benefits, including cognitive function in children.  The same research, however, shows that many people do not drink enough water, in part because of lack of access to water in parks, playgrounds, schools, and other public places. To begin to tackle to this problem, this bill would institute a commission to examine the availability of water in public places in the Commonwealth and make recommendations to expand access.

H.2555 An Act relative to creditable service for certain state contract employees

This legislation would allow certain long time state employees to count up to 10 years of their service as contract employees for purposes of the state employees’ retirement system.

H.1529 An act relative to the taxation of unearned income

This legislation would increase the state tax on capital gains, interest and dividends to 8.95% and create a new exemption for low- and moderate-income taxpayers. 90% of the increased taxes would be paid by taxpayers with annual incomes over $200,000.

H.2877 An Act to reduce traffic fatalities, filed with Representative Dave Rogers

In an era of increasingly multi-modal transportation, this bill is designed to make road usage safer for all: those in cars, those on bikes, and those on foot. Amongst a comprehensive suite of policies, the legislation establishes a safe passing distance to be observed by motor vehicles when overtaking a pedestrian or cyclist; establishes a uniform reporting tool be used by first responders on the scene of a crash involving a pedestrian or cyclist; requires bicyclists to place a red rear light on their bike when riding at night; requires hands free usage of mobile devices when driving; and allow municipalities to operate limited automated camera traffic enforcement systems with appropriate safeguards to protect privacy and prevent speed traps.

H.2699 An Act promoting zero-emission vehicles, filed with House Global Warming and Climate Change Chairman Frank Smizik

The transportation sector is by far the largest source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Massachusetts.  To meet its legally required GHG reductions, Massachusetts needs a large-scale transition to electric and other zero emission vehicles (ZEVs).  The auto industry is responding to this need by bringing exciting, practical ZEVs to market and at the end of our last session we adopted path breaking legislation to promote development of electric vehicle charging infrastructure.  This legislation would build on this progress by institutionalizing the state’s electric vehicle rebate program, direct DOER to establish an electric vehicle charging station rebate program, and require the utilities to file with the DPU proposals to offer time of use rates for electric vehicle charging.

H.1843 An Act to promote transportation demand management, filed with Representative Sean Garballey

This bill aims to reduce traffic congestion and pollution associated with large, new developments.   It would amend the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) process to include a requirement that any proposed building or development that generates more than 1,000 daily commuter trips or results in the construction of 300 new parking spaces must participate in a transportation management association (TMA), if one exists in the area.  TMAs provide a range of transportation demand management services, including shuttles, public transit incentives, ridesharing, parking management, flextime scheduling, and bicycle facilities.