Economic Development Legislation

The Massachusetts Legislature in passing $627 million in funding for a sweeping economic recovery and development bill which will provide much-needed support to businesses, investments in infrastructure, and
creation of new jobs in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill was signed into law on January 14, 2021

With the passage of this legislation, we are responding to our rapidly growing housing crisis, providing COVID-19 relief, helping small businesses, and making infrastructure improvements in the Commonwealth. We were able to secure authorizations to directly support Arlington, which the Governor may fund at his discretion. These authorizations include:
• $1 million for the town of Arlington for the redesign of the Arlington Heights Commercial Corridor;
• $500,000 for the town of Arlington for improvements to Arlington center and Whittemore park;
• $500,000 for the town of Arlington for the Arlington workforce training program;
• $56,000 for the Arlington Historical Society.

The bill also includes the following bonding authorizations and policy changes.
COVID-19 PANDEMIC RELIEF AND RECOVERY
Bonding Authorizations
● $30 million for the state’s COVID-19 Payroll Protection Program
● $20 million for restaurant COVID-19 recovery grants
Policy Changes
● Limits fees charged by third-party delivery services for restaurants to 15% during the COVID-19 state
of emergency and prohibits third-party delivery service companies from reducing rates for delivery drivers
or garnishing gratuities as result of the limitation
● Creates a commission to examine and make recommendations on addressing the recovery of the cultural
and creative sector, including the arts, humanities, and sciences, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic


HOUSING
Bonding Authorizations
● $50 million for transit-oriented housing developments
● $40 million for a program to redevelop blighted buildings
● $10 million for climate-resilient affordable housing developments
● $5 million for a Gateway Cities housing program
Policy Changes
● Implements a zoning reform to help cities and towns approve smart growth zoning and affordable housing
by lowering the required vote threshold for a range of housing-related zoning changes and special permits
at the local level from a two-thirds supermajority to a simple majority
● Requires designated MBTA communities to be zoned for at least one district of reasonable size, in which
multi-family housing is permitted as of right and requires such housing to be suitable for families with
children
● Increases the state low-income housing tax credit program cap from $20 million to $40 million


EMPLOYEE PROTECTIONS, BUSINESS GROWTH, AND EQUITY
Bonding Authorizations
● $35 million for a Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation matching grant program to community
development financial institutions for small business loans and grants
● $27.7 million for a new Employment Social Enterprise Capital Grant Program
● $20 million for a Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation small business grant program
● $14 million for travel and tourism grants
● $10 million for regional and community assistance planning grants


Policy Changes
● Enables, via local option, the creation of tourism destination marketing districts (“TDMDs”), made up
of hotels, motels, and bed and breakfasts, for the purpose of generating local revenue dedicated solely for
the promotion and marketing of specific regions of the Commonwealth
● Amends the statutory definition of wait staff employee to include a person in a quick service restaurant
who prepares or serves food or beverages as part of a team of counter staff
● Provides that the taking of family or medical leave shall not affect an employee’s right to accrue vacation
time, sick leave, bonuses, advancement, seniority, length-of-service credit or other employment benefits,
plans or programs
● Exempts natural hair braiding from the definition of hairdressing, and exempts natural hair braiding
from rules and regulations pertaining to aesthetics, barbering, cosmetology, electrolysis, hairdressing, and
manicuring
● Encourages the PRIM Board to use minority investment managers to manage PRIT Fund assets, where
appropriate, and to increase the racial, ethnic, and gender diversity of Fund investments
● Establishes a commission of experts, industry members, academics, and elected officials to research and
propose policy solutions that ensure the future and sustainability of local journalism in Massachusetts


STUDENT PROTECTIONS
● Establishes a Student Loan Borrower Bill of Rights regulating the licensing and operation of student
loan servicers by the Commissioner of Banks
● Creates a Student Loan Ombudsman within the Office of the Attorney General for the purpose of
receiving, reviewing, and assisting in the resolution of complaints from student loan borrowers and
authorizes the Ombudsman to assist with repayment options, applying for federal loan forgiveness
programs, ending wage and tax refund garnishments, resolving billing disputes, and obtaining loan details


AGRICULTURE AND RURAL SUPPORT
Bonding Authorizations
● $20 million for rural community development and infrastructure grants
● $2 million for an urban agriculture grant program
Policy Changes
● Expands the Food Policy Council to include an expert in healthy soil practices and codifies the definition
of ‘healthy soils’
● Gives the Commission for Conservation of Soil and Water the ability to establish a Massachusetts Healthy Soils Program and Fund


TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION
Bonding Authorizations
● $52 million for the Technology Research and Development and Innovation Fund
● $15 million for lottery IT infrastructure
● $10 million for the expansion of the Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative (M2I2)
● $5 million for the Massachusetts Broadband Incentive Fund


Policy Changes
● Creates a special commission on the future of work to conduct a comprehensive study relative to the impact of automation, artificial intelligence, global trade, access to new forms of data and the internet of
things on the workforce, businesses, and economy
● Clarifies that carsharing platforms may obtain insurance coverage from non-admitted carrier and that
carsharing platforms do not need their own insurance-producer or broker licenses to offer or maintain insurance policies for carsharing vehicles or drivers


Other bonding authorizations include:
● $102.3 million for local economic development projects;
● $20 million for Mass Cultural Council cultural facilities grants;
● $15 million for vocational technical school expansion grants;
● $15 million for higher education workforce grants
● $15 million for trial court virtual mediation services;
● $12.5 million for the Commonwealth Zoological Corporation;
● $6 million for Massachusetts Cultural Council grants; and
● $5 million for Mass Cultural Council public school grants.

Tagged with: , ,
Posted in Op Eds

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

Subscribe to my monthly email newsletter

* indicates required
Contact Dave

Please never hesitate to contact me for any reason.

Phone: 617-722-2637
Email: dave.rogers@mahouse.gov
Mail: State House Room 544, Boston, MA 02133