191st Session Bills (2019-2020)
H.2873 An Act promoting zero-emission vehicles
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 practical, affordable ZEVs to market. This legislation spurs this trend by funding the state’s ZEV rebate program and requiring time-of-use rates to incentivize off-peak EV charging; EV license plates to inform first responders; and EV-ready wiring in new construction.
H.2869 An Act relative to a clean transportation future
One of the key findings of Governor Baker’s commission on the Future of Transportation is that in order to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 we must transition our transportation sector away from fossil fuels. To this end, this bill requires that all new motor vehicles registered in Massachusetts after 2038 be zero-emission vehicles. This date accounts for the typical life-span of a car (8-12 years) and also for the expected emergence over the next 20 years of a robust market for zero-emission vehicles (including used cars).
H.2872 An Act to promote the transition to clean transportation fleets
Transportation is the only sector in Massachusetts that has higher emissions today than in 1990. Vehicle emissions include pollutants that cause or worsen serious health conditions, such as asthma, heart disease, and cancer. This bill mandates complete electrification of large public and private fleets by 2035, including all vehicles owned or leased by the Commonwealth, quasi-public agencies and municipalities as well as taxi and limousine fleets and other commercial motor carriers. The bill includes enforceable interim requirements.
H.3118 An Act to reduce traffic fatalities
In an era of increasingly multi-modal transportation, this bill is designed to make road usage safer for all. The legislation establishes a safe passing distance when overtaking a pedestrian or cyclist; establishes a uniform reporting tool for crashes involving a pedestrian or cyclist; establishes a process to lower the default speed limit to 25mph on state highways and parkways in thickly settled or business districts; requires bicyclists to have red rear lights when riding at night; and requires side guards on state-owned and state-contracted trucks.
H.3040 An Act relative to electric kick scooters
Data from across the country is showing that electric scooters are connecting people to public transit and replacing short car trips. When thoughtfully integrated into our transportation network, e-scooters have the potential to meaningfully reduce congestion and transportation-related greenhouse gases. This bill legalizes e-scooters so municipalities can begin pilot programs to allow shared, dockless scooter systems in a smart, safe way.
H.3014 An Act relative to electric bicycles
Electric bicycles are a clean, efficient, and green transportation alternative that are often underutilized due to a lack of consistent regulation and oversight. This bill creates a 3-tiered system for electric bicycles (similar to that in California and others states) based on speed and motor capability. The bill regulates e-bikes separately from motorized transportation while preserving a local option for cities, towns, and local authorities to meet the distinct needs of their communities.
H.3038 An Act relative to the transportation impacts of new developments
This bill aims to reduce traffic congestion and pollution associated with large, new developments. It would amend the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) 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.
H.3039 An Act to promote transportation demand management
This bill amends the municipal master planning process to include a transportation demand management (TDM) element which studies how TDM programs and collaboration with a transportation management association (TMA) can reduce congestion and improve mobility within a community.
H.799 An Act to update the Massachusetts Rideshare Program
The state’s rideshare program, instituted in the 1970s, needs updating to realize its potential for reducing congestion, pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions. This bill directs the Department of Environmental Protection to update the current rideshare regulations to expand its scope, integrate ridesharing with transportation management associations, and strengthen reporting requirements.
H.2871 An Act regarding net metering for low income and other small facilities
This bill would exempt projects under 60 kW from the net metering caps, removing one of the major barriers to installing small solar projects on affordable housing complexes, schools, libraries, town halls, and other public and private buildings.
H.2870 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.798 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.797 An Act to require producer responsibility for collection, reuse and recycling of discarded electronic products.
This legislation requires manufacturers to pay for and collect e-waste recycling to relieve the stress on municipal budgets. It also incentivizes manufacturers to re-design products to be less toxic, more durable, and easier to recycle.
H.1793 An Act to update the public shade tree law
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.
Electoral Reforms and Good Governance
H.667 An Act to establish citizens’ initiative review
Citizens’ Initiative Review seeks to address the confusion and misinformation that often surround ballot questions. It puts voters back in control by providing them clear, trustworthy information prepared by their fellow voters. Under CIR, a citizen panel representative of the overall voter population conducts in-depth deliberations on a ballot question and issues a one-page Citizens’ Statement outlining the key facts and arguments on both sides. CIR has been successfully piloted twice in Massachusetts — in 2016 on the marijuana legalization question and again in 2018 on nurse safe staffing. Independent evaluations of the two pilots, including their impact on voters, can be found at www.cirmass.org. This bill would institutionalize CIR as part of our biennial electoral process and require publication of the Citizens’ Statement in the red voter guide.
H.666 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.2661, An Act creating a legislative research bureau
This bill establishes the Joint Legislative Research Bureau to provide the General Court and its members with independent, nonpartisan, fact-based research, analysis and recommendations on legislative and fiscal matters of the Commonwealth.
H.1911 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.1995 An Act relative to improving asthma in schools
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.249 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 to charity.
H.3037 An Act to protect motorists from excessive EZ-Pass fees and fines
MassDOT has a policy that EZ-pass account holders remain liable for all incurred tolls, fees and fines, almost regardless of circumstance. A variety of situations can lead to missed payments, which in turn lead to fines that accumulate rapidly. For example, a customer may mistype their license plate number when signing up, move without immediately updating the RMV, become temporarily homeless, or forget to update their credit or debit card information with EZ-pass after a card expires, is stolen, or frozen after a data breach. Because of electronic tolling, drivers no longer see a yellow or red warning light when something has gone wrong. This bill requires that MassDOT take a more proactive, customer-oriented approach in helping drivers who have over $100 in outstanding EZ-pass fees and fines remedy their balances.
Children and Families
H.3445 An Act relative to Caregiver Authorization Affidavits
Massachusetts law currently allows parents to appoint, by affidavit, a “temporary caregiver” for minor children when the parent anticipates being absent from the home. This affidavit is very much like a power of attorney for dealing with the daily needs of minor children. Especially helpful for single parents, the caregiver affidavit allows parents to designate other adults to act in their stead, in their children’s’ school and healthcare settings. This bill augments the existing statute by allowing parents to delegate to caregivers clear authority to deal with daycare providers; sports and other afterschool activities, etc. It also allows parents to prepare affidavits which will “spring” into effect, just as a springing power of attorney would, if the parent is called into active military service, hospitalized, incarcerated, detained, deported, or otherwise required to be absent from home and children for some period of time.
H.1794 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.1278 A Resolve relative to housing visitability
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 to best encourage production of housing in the Commonwealth that meets the “visitability” standard.
H.2074 An Act promoting responsible investment and the prevention of genocide
This bill would prohibit the state pension fund from investing in corporations that sell or manufacture weapons or other military hardware in countries where genocide is occurring (and in banks that lend to such corporations). It also 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.2868 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.3036 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 mandates that local police departments may only use this data to be matched with criminal databases, not to monitor individuals’ movements without probable cause. Departments would delete collected data on vehicles that did not match with a violation or alert after 14 days, and may be preserved beyond this time only with a valid warrant.
H.2490 An Act simplifying the tax treatment of individual retirement accounts
This bill makes state tax law treatment of Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) consistent with federal law, thereby eliminating the need for burdensome record keeping and encouraging more saving for retirement.
H.2287 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.