ACEC/MA Government Affairs Update: September 2017

Type:  General 

ACEC/MA Government Affairs Update:  September 27, 2017

 

Next ACEC/MA Government Affairs Committee Meeting:  September 29, 2017

10 AM at Aldrich Center at The Engineering Center.

For call-in information, contact acecma@engineers.org

 

ACEC/MA Bill Tracking Report - September 27, 2017

 

 
MBTA To Issue First Tax-Exempt Sustainability Bonds
September 12, 2017: The MBTA is preparing to issue hundreds of millions of dollars in debt to finance its capital plans and T officials said they expect to be the first entity in the country to issue tax-exempt sustainability bonds.  On September 11, 2017, the MassDOT Board of Directors approved the issuance of up to $290 million in new money bonds tied to the T's sales tax receipts and the issuance of up to $315 million in bond anticipation notes (BANs). The T's Fiscal and Management Control Board had recommended the transactions.
 
An estimated $118 million of the new money bonds and all of the BANs will be issued as sustainability bonds, proceeds from which fund projects that have distinct environmental or social benefits.  The MBTA will apparently be the first to issue tax-exempt sustainability bonds. 
 
The new money bonds will fund $174M in FY2018 and FY2019 capital costs and a $100 million replenishment of the MBTA's commercial paper short-term financing program. The BANs are intended to fund the MBTA's work to comply with a federal mandate to have a positive train control safety system installed on the system by 2020. The bonds are expected to be priced Sept. 26 with the transactions scheduled to close the week of Oct. 9. 
 

 

Attorney General Maura Healey Certifies 21 Initiative Petitions on September 6, 2017

Next step:  gathering 64,750 additional signatures from registered voters by December 6, 2017.
On September 6, 2017, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey determined that twenty-one (21) initiative petitions, including proposals to raise the minimum wage and lower the sales tax, are one step closer to appearing before voters on the November 2018 state ballot. Link to list  (select tab "Petitions Filed") of initiative petitions filed with additional information.
 
Here is a list of petitions that were certified to move ahead in the ballot question process.  Below this chart is a list of petitions that were not certifed.
 
LIst of Petitions Filed: 
 
Certified Initiative Petitions

17-01: An Initiative Petition for a Constitutional Amendment

This proposed constitutional amendment would permit the state to exclude abortion services from state-funded health care.

17-02: Initiative Petition to fee disclosure for radiology and other imaging procedures.

This proposed law would require medical providers to affirmatively inform patients of the costs of all radiology and imaging procedures priced over $100, including fees for use of equipment, room, supplies, personnel, and other ancillary costs.  This proposed law would take the place of the current law requiring medical providers to disclose the costs of all medical admissions, procedures, or services within two working days of a patient’s request

17-03: Initiative Petition for a law relative to establishing a citizens commission concerning a constitutional amendment to secure government of the people.

This proposed law would create a citizens commission to consider and recommend potential amendments to the United States Constitution to establish that corporations do not have the same Constitutional rights as human beings and that campaign contributions and expenditures may be regulated.

17-04: An Initiative Petition for a Law relative to Fee Disclosure for Radiology and Other Imaging Procedures.

This proposed law would require medical providers to affirmatively inform patients of the costs of all radiology and imaging procedures priced over $100, including fees for use of equipment, room, supplies, personnel, and other ancillary costs.  This proposed law would take the place of the current law requiring medical providers to disclose the costs of all medical admissions, procedures, or services within two working days of a patient’s request.

17-05: An initiative petition for a law relative to the reduction in use of euthanasia in homeless animals.

This proposed law would require an animal shelter or rescue to hold lost, abandoned, stray, or surrendered animals and animals removed from the home for at least seven days before euthanizing, unless the animal is seriously or terminally ill.  This proposed law would require animal control officers and shelters to contact three state Department of Agriculture registered shelters or rescues two business days before euthanizing an animal to offer the contacted shelters or rescues the opportunity to take possession of the animal.

17-06: An initiative petition for a law relative to the use of so-called “Aversive Therapy”.

This proposed law would prohibit the use of any procedure that causes physical pain to a person with a physical, intellectual, or developmental disability for the purpose of changing that person’s behavior.  Such procedures, including hitting, pinching, and electric shock, would be prohibited in programs or facilities funded, operated, or approved by the state.

17-07: An initiative petition for a law relative to patient safety and hospital transparency Part A.

This proposed law would limit how many patients could be assigned to each registered nurse in Massachusetts hospitals and certain other health care facilities.  The maximum number of patients per registered nurse would vary by type of unit and level of care.

17-10: An initiative for a law restoring financial transparency in presidential elections.

This proposed law would require candidates for President and Vice President of the United States to submit to the Secretary of the Commonwealth complete copies of the candidate’s individual federal income tax returns filed in the prior six years.  It would also require the candidate to submit a written statement to the Secretary attesting to the tax returns’ completeness and consenting to redaction and required public disclosure of the tax returns by the Secretary.

17-13: An Initiative Petition Relative to Political Spending by Non-residents of Massachusetts.

This proposed law would impose limits on how much state, county, or local political candidates or ballot question committees could accept in monetary contributions from political action committees organized outside Massachusetts or from individuals residing outside Massachusetts. Under the proposed law, candidates could accept single contributions of up to $500 from political action committees organized outside Massachusetts or up to $500 per year in contributions from individuals residing outside Massachusetts.  The proposed law would impose an aggregate annual contribution limit under which individuals residing outside Massachusetts would be permitted to contribute a maximum of $1000 per calendar year to all Massachusetts candidates. Ballot question committees could accept single contributions of up to $15,000 from political action committees organized outside Massachusetts or single contributions of up to $500 from individuals residing outside Massachusetts

17-14: An Initiative Petition Relative to Political Spending by Non-residents of Massachusetts.

This proposed law would impose limits on how much state, county, or local political candidates could accept in monetary contributions from political action committees organized outside Massachusetts or from individuals residing outside Massachusetts. Under the proposed law, candidates could accept single contributions of up to $500 from political action committees organized outside Massachusetts or up to $500 per year in contributions from individuals residing outside Massachusetts.  The proposed law would impose an aggregate annual contribution limit under which individuals residing outside Massachusetts would be permitted to contribute a maximum of $1000 per calendar year to all Massachusetts candidates.

17-16: The Whale Safe Fishing Act.

This proposed law would prohibit the Director of the state Division of Marine Fisheries from authorizing or licensing the commercial use of fishing gear known to entangle whales or sea turtles.  The state Secretary of Environmental Affairs would be required to make an annual scientific determination whether any kind of fishing gear licensed by the Director would cause the entanglement of any whale or sea turtle.  The Director could license only fishing gear that has been determined not to cause such entanglements.  The proposed law would prohibit the Director from permitting the use of any type of gill net or other fishing gear that suspends a curtain of mesh material in the ocean to capture fish without being actively towed.

 
17-17: An Initiative Petition for a Law Raising the Minimum Wage.

This proposed law would raise the state’s minimum wage, which was $11.00 per hour as of January 1, 2017, to $12.00 in 2019; $13.00 in 2020; $14.00 in 2021; and $15.00 in 2022.  The proposed law would also raise the minimum cash wage that must be paid to tipped employees, which was $3.75 per hour as of January 1, 2017, to $5.05 in 2019; $6.35 in 2020; $7.64 in 2021; and $9.00 in 2022.

 
17-18: An Initiative Petition for a Law Establishing a Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program.

This proposed law would create a program to provide paid family and medical leave to Massachusetts workers. Beginning 18 months after the effective date of the proposed law, covered workers could take family leave to care for with a child after the child’s birth, adoption, or placement in foster care; to care for a seriously ill family member; or to address needs arising from a family member’s active duty military service.  Workers could also take medical leave to address their own medical conditions.

17-19: An Initiative Petition for a Law Reducing the Burden and Use Taxes and Requiring a Sales Tax Free Weekend – Version A.

This proposed law would reduce the state sales and use taxes from their current rate of 6.25% (as of September, 2017) to 4.5%.  It would make the same reduction in the rate used to determine the amount non-resident building contractors must deposit with the state Commissioner of Revenue as security for the payment of sales and use tax on goods used in carrying out their contracts.

17-20: An Initiative Petition for a Law Reducing the Burden of Sales and Use Taxes – Version A.

This proposed law would reduce the state sales and use taxes from their current rate of 6.25% (as of September, 2017) to 4.5%.  It would make the same reduction in the rate used to determine the amount non-resident building contractors must deposit with the state Commissioner of Revenue as security for the payment of sales and use tax on goods used in carrying out their contracts.

17-21: An Initiative Petition for a Law Reducing the Burden and Use Taxes and Requiring a Sales Tax Free Weekend – Version B.

This proposed law would reduce the state sales and use taxes from their current rate of 6.25% (as of September, 2017) to 5.0%.  It would make the same reduction in the rate used to determine the amount non-resident building contractors must deposit with the state Commissioner of Revenue as security for the payment of sales and use tax on goods used in carrying out their contracts.

17-22: An Initiative Petition for a Law Reducing the Burden of Sales and Use Taxes – Version B.

This proposed law would reduce the state sales and use taxes from their current rate of 6.25% (as of September, 2017) to 5.0%.  It would make the same reduction in the rate used to determine the amount non-resident building contractors must deposit with the state Commissioner of Revenue as security for the payment of sales and use tax on goods used in carrying out their contracts.

17-24: An Initiative Petition for a Law Relative to an Equitable Increase in Renewable Energy.

This proposed law would create and amend programs to govern and promote the use of electricity generated from renewable energy resources. This proposed law would raise the annual percentage increase of renewable energy use in Massachusetts, which is currently 1% per year, to 3% per year beginning in 2019, 4% per year beginning in 2023, and 5% per year beginning in 2028.  It would also require 17.5% of electricity used in Massachusetts to come from solar power by 2025 and 25% by 2030. 

17-25: An Initiative Petition for a Law Relative to an Equitable Increase in Solar Energy.

This proposed law would create and amend programs to govern and promote the use of electricity generated from renewable energy resources. This proposed law would raise the annual percentage increase of renewable energy use in Massachusetts, which is currently 1% per year, to 3% per year beginning in 2019.  It would also require 17.5% of electricity used in Massachusetts to come from solar power by 2025 and 25% by 2030.

17-26: An Initiative Petition for a Law Increasing Energy Production in the Commonwealth – Version A.

This proposed law would create programs to govern and promote the use of electricity generated from clean energy resources. This proposed law would require retail electric suppliers to provide at least 16% of the electricity used in Massachusetts from clean energy generating sources by December 31, 2019.  This required percentage of clean energy would increase by 4% each year until 2023, when it would increase by 5% each year until 2029, when it would increase by 6% each year.

17-27: An Initiative Petition for a Law Relative to an Equitable Increase in Solar Energy – Version B.

This proposed law would create programs to govern and promote the use of electricity generated from clean energy resources. This proposed law would require retail electric suppliers to provide at least 16% of the electricity used in Massachusetts from clean energy generating sources by December 31, 2019.  This required percentage of clean energy would increase by 4% each year until 2023, when it would increase by 5% each year until 2029, when it would increase by 6% each year.

15-17: An Initiative Petition for an Amendment to the Constitution of the Commonwealth to Provide Resources for Education and Transportation through an additional tax on Incomes in excess of One Million Dollars.

This proposed constitutional amendment would establish an additional 4% state income tax on that portion of annual taxable income in excess of $1 million. This income level would be adjusted annually to reflect increases in the cost of living by the same method used for federal income-tax brackets. Revenues from this tax would be used, subject to appropriation by the state Legislature, only for public education, public colleges and universities, the repair and maintenance of roads, bridges, and public transportation. The proposed amendment would apply to tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2019.

 

Not Certified

17-08: An initiative petition for a law relative to patient safety and hospital transparency Part B.

Description: There shall be a limit to the amount of patients for a registered nurse based on the patients’ medical situation. A patient acuity tool that determines whether the number of patients for a nurse is too much is also required in every medical facility.

 

17-09: An Initiative Petition for a Law to End All Tolling in Massachusetts

The Commonwealth will maintain the confidentiality of all information collected under the state’s tolling system, but not limited to, photographs or other recorded images and credit and account data relative to account holders who participated in its electronic toll collection system. Such information will no longer be a public record and would be used for enforcement purposes only with respect to former toll collection regulations. An account holder may, upon written request to the department, have access to all information pertaining solely to the account holder. The account holder may also, upon written request to the department, and upon the settlement of the account, have all such information pertaining solely to the account holder destroyed.

17-11: An initiative petition relative to corporate rights and political spending.

Description: An amendment to the Massachusetts Constitution shall be made making it legal that corporations do not have the same inalienable rights as a person and all political donations by corporations must be investigated.

 

17-12 An Initiative Petition Relative to Disclosure to Ensure No Foreign Influence on the Political Process

Description: To ensure that no foreign national or foreign government is influencing the political process in this commonwealth, the origin of donations for all political expenditures shall be available to the public through the Office of Political Campaign Finance. If any  political advertisement (television, internet, etc) is funded in any way by a foreign government it must disclose that information.

17-15: An Initiative Petition for Proposed Land Reform Law.
Description: The proposed law seeks to allow law abiding U.S. Citizens with the ability to purchase and own small buildable vacant land parcels for an affordable fair market value. The goal of the law is to prohibit rural and urban city/town jurisdictions from over assessing property values with “the greedy intent to only sell city/town owned buildable land parcels to wealthy real estate developers and politically connected non-profits”.

17-23: An Initiative Petition for a Law Raising the Minimum Wage.

Description: The proposal aims to raise the minimum wage for hourly workers to $15 and $5.30 for tipped cash wage work beginning January 1, 2019. It also requires the commissioner to adjust minimum wage every 12 months based on the cost of living, beginning January 1, 2020.

17-28: An Initiative Petition to Minimize Out-of-Pocket Expenses for Holistic Healthcare for Massachusetts Citizens.

Description: The proposal aims to require insurance providers to cover holistic medical expenses equivalent to standard medical expenses covered by a health insurance provider. The  proposal also establishes a new Licensing Board by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Division of Professional Licensure, called the Massachusetts Board of Holistic Practitioners, in order to certify practicing holistic health care providers, in order to qualify them for insurance payments.

 

 

The approved petitions cover 18 different topics, including clean energy, political spending and paid family and medical leave. Some groups filed multiple proposals on the same subject.
 
Attorney General Maura Healey's decisions are based on the requirements for ballot questions, laid out in the state Constitution, which specify that petitions cannot infringe on constitutional rights, specifically appropriate funds from the state treasury or deal with religion or the appointment of judges. Initiatives also cannot contain unrelated subjects or replicate measures on the ballot in the past two statewide elections.
 
The 2018 ballot will include races for governor and the seat now held by U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, campaigns that will be influenced by ballot questions.
 
The certified petitions include 20 proposed laws and one constitutional amendment, which faces a different process. The amendment, which would allow the exclusion of abortion services from state-funded health care programs, will appear on the 2020 ballot only if - following successfully signature drives - it is approved by at least 50 of the 200 state lawmakers next year and again in the 2019-2020 legislative session.
 
The initiative petition process in Massachusetts gives voters and advocates an opportunity to advance policies that have failed to garner the attention of lawmakers or failed to gained sufficient traction in the Legislature.
 
In 2016, only four of the 35 petitions filed ended up on the ballot, three of which survived court challenges along the way. Voters approved new laws legalizing adult use of marijuana and restricting the confinement of farm animals, and voted against proposals authorizing a new slots parlor and an expansion of charter schools.
 
Certification does not guarantee a slot on the ballot, nor does meeting the signature deadlines. In the past, the state's Supreme Judicial Court has ruled certain petitions as ineligible.
 
 

Board of Registration Votes on Continuing Education

Massachusetts Board of Registration of Professional Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors

 

Continuing Education Policy in 250 CMR:
August 17, 2017 PE and PLS (EN) Board of Registration Meeting
At the August 17 Meeting of the Board of Registration of Professional Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors, this motion passed by a 5 - 3 vote, with one board member recused (ineligible to vote & out of room) and another board member arriving at the meeting after the vote:
  • This is the motion that was approved: “that the Board adopt the recommendations of the CPC subcommittee subject to revision or comments on the committee’s proposed draft regulations by the full Board.”
  • This is a major step forward on the path to mandatory continuing education in Massachusetts, but there are many steps to follow.
  • The next step is for Board of Registration members to submit comments by September 7 to the Board's Executive Director, Clinton Dick

When the board concludes their discussion on the draft regulations, either on September 28 or at a future meeting, the regulations would then go through additional steps, as the continuing professional competency regulations would be amending 250 CMR.  Based on the past reviews of changes to 250 CMR and other licensing regulations, these steps will probably include:

  • Legal review by the Board’s Legal Counsel, Sheila York – including a discussion of small business impacts 
  • Review by Division of Professional Licensure Director Chuck Borstel
  • Review by the office of John Chapman, Undersecretary of Consumer Protection & Business Regulation
  • Review by the office of Jay Ash, Secretary of the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development 
  • Review by the office of Michael Heffernan, Secretary of the Executive Office of Administration and Finance – with a particular review on small business impacts
  • Review by the office of Secretary of State Bill Galvin for technical and formatting issues – including DPL filed review on small business impacts
  • Return to Board of Registration, which would then hold a public hearing and accept public written comments on the regulations after 30 days notice.  
  • The Board of Registration considers comments received and votes to modify or adopt.
  • Then, if there are no issues, the regulations would be officially promulgated by the Secretary of State’s office usually within 3 months.
Also at the August 17 Board of Registration meeting, the Board reviewed proposed dates for their 2018 meetings.  Assume that most meetings will be held on the 4th Thursday of the month, except for November, December and August.
Due to the date of the August 17 meeting, there were no updates on:
  • Policy Regarding Early Examination Takers
  • Policy Regarding the Use of the Title Engineer
  • In addition, during the public session, the board interviewed a candidate for the PE exam who has work experience doing engineering as an employee of a general contractor.  After several questions and discussion, the board voted to accept the engineering experience submitted and allow this candidate to sit for the PE exam.

 

Next Board of Registration Meeting 

The next meeting of the Board of Registration of Professional Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors is expected to be on September 28, 2017 at 9:30 AM. As noted above, this meeting is expected to include a detailed discussion very draft proposed regulations for mandatory continuing education in Massachusetts. TECET Webpage with more information.

 

Calendar of Board of Registration Meetings

 

 

Link to Minutes of past Board of Registration meetings

 

 

Governor Files $59.5 Million Spending Bill

Nearly $60 million in additional spending, mostly to cover already incurred snow and ice management costs, would be authorized for FY2017 (ended 6/30/17), under a bill Governor Charlie Baker filed on August 2. In addition to $50.4 million for snow and ice removal, the supplemental budget bill includes $3 million for a youth violence prevention program in cities, $4.7 million for National Guard tuition and fee waivers, and $427,000 for district attorneys. The Governor also called for the use of $1 million from the Marine Recreational Fisheries Development Fund to build a fishing pier at Deer Island and urged for the adoption of spending requests he made in February, such as $20.4 million for sheriffs, $2.2 million in Saltonstall Building lease costs, an additional $4 million in National Guard tuition and fee waivers, and $250,000 for contractually mandated human resources training. Governor Baker indicated that sufficient revenues are estimated to be available to fund the new spending. The bill also includes three sections making substantive changes to the new FY2018 budget that Baker describes as "authorizing a $5 million reserve for the implementation of an employer contribution to health care, advancing MassHealth savings by requiring commercial insurers to make more detailed certifications on the coverage of community-based behavioral and mental health services for children, and authorizing the [Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination] to spend $600,000 more from federal funds.

 

 -posted by Abbie Goodman, agoodman@engineers.org
 

 
 
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