SUMMARY OF LEGISLATION FOR 07-08 TERM
Filed by Representative Matthew C. Patrick,Third Barnstable District
Phone 508-540-6308, email@example.com
1) ?The Energy, Climate and Economic Security Act?. This omnibus bill addresses more than twenty major energy policies under utilities, transportation and buildings. It emphasizes the use of energy efficiency and renewables and includes language that will remove the state statutory barriers that reduce the ability of our cities and towns to implement new energy projects. It also provides new incentives and funding.
2) ?An Act to Promote Renewable Electric Generation? makes three changes to the Restructuring Act of 1997. First it restores least cost planning (LCP) to the Commonwealth. LCP requires that all costs, financial, environmental and societal, are considered before a electric generation fuel source is chosen. This will stimulate the purchase energy efficiency and renewably generated electricity. The bill also amends the net metering rules to raise the threshold to two megawatts from 60 kilowatts and allows virtual net metering. Net metering allows a customer to install a photovoltaic system or wind turbine and sell excess electricity they can?t use back to the utility to erase kilowatt hours they previously used or bank them against future use. Finally, the legislation institutes adjustable rate caps (ARC) to decouple utility profits from the amount of electricity utilities sell removing the major disincentive to utilities that are asked to purchase renewably generated electricity or energy efficiency programs. These bills were also filed separately.
3) ?An Act Relative to Energy Efficient Vehicles? requires that any new state vehicles being purchased or replaced meet or exceed fuel efficiency standards established by the Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection. Currently, there are no standards and it is not uncommon to see state SUV?s on the road.
4) ?An Act Relative to the Renewable Portfolio Standard? directs the Dept. of Telecommunications and Energy to order electric utilities to procure certificates for renewable power or enter into long term contracts for renewable energy with developers. In 1997 the Restructuring Act Mandated the State to achieve a 9% minimum amount of Renewables by 2009, without some action we will not meet that minimum standard.
5) ?An Act Authorizing Contributions by Energy Company Consumers to Fund Municipal Renewable Energy Facilities? amends Section 1D of chapter 164 of the MGL to require that gas and electric companies include a space on their bills for customers to make a voluntary payment for the purchase of municipal renewable energy systems for public buildings and facilities. The funds would be paid to the city or town in which the customer is located. The contributions would be treated as charitable for tax purposes.
6) "An Act Relative to Setting Energy Efficiency Standards For Projects of the Department Of Housing and Community Development, the Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency, and the Massachusetts Home Mortgage Finance Agency" sets standards for the energy-efficiency of residential buildings financed in whole or in part by the Department of Housing and Community Development, the Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency or by the Home Mortgage Finance Agency.
7) ?An Act Establishing a Central Procurement Authority? creates a central procurement authority for buying certified renewable energy certificates. This bill also creates a Central Procurement Authority board of trustees, who will oversee the duties of the renewable energy procurement authority.
8) ?An Act relative to the renewable energy income tax credit? increases the renewable energy income tax credit to 50% of the cost of a solar system (maximum of $5,000). A preliminary study shows that increasing the tax credit as proposed in this legislation has a positive impact on the State?s economy. It shows that if just one thousand families participate in the first year there will be an increase of 44 jobs; an increase in the Gross Regional Product of 3.83 million dollars and income of 1.54 million dollars.
9) ?An Act authorizing the town of Falmouth to install, finance and operate wind energy facilities? authorizes the Town of Falmouth to design and install and operate a wind energy facilities at its wastewater treatment facility at Blacksmith Shop Road in Falmouth. It also authorizes them to issue bonds or notes in order to finance the project.
10) "An Act relative to HEARTWAP" will increase funding for the low income heating and weatherization program HEARTWAP by 20% for next five years. The Commonwealth needs more funding to prepare low income housing for the inevitable rise in the cost of fossil fuels and to minimize the growth in need for fuel assistance funding.
11) An Act Relative to Promotion of Energy Efficiency through dedication of funds from Natural Gas sales? will set up a systems benefit charge of three cents per therm that will be used to make gas heated housing stock more energy efficient.
12) An Act Relative to Promotion of Energy Efficiency through dedication of funds from Oil sales? will set up a systems benefit charge of four cents per gallon that will be used to make gas heated housing stock more energy efficient.
13) ?An Act relative to Exposures to Hazardous Materials by Certain Members of the National Guard? requires testing of Massachusetts National Guardsmen for the existence of radiation poisoning due to depleted uranium (DU) ammunition. It sets up a commission to consider other recommendations and provides for education of guardsmen before going into combat.
14) An Act relative to child safety will increase safety measures for young riders of ATV?s. The legislation promotes supervision of riders by their guardians and/or parents and requires training for children under 18. Registration of ATV?s and dirt bikes will be required to increase the ability of law enforcement to track stolen ATV/dirt bikes and to prosecute offenders
15) ?An Act Relative to breakdown lanes? disallows travel for any purpose in break down lanes.
16) ?An Act Relative to Emergency Planning? The Director of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, with the Assistance of the Department of Public Health, shall Commission a study to: 1) identify and assess all public buildings in Barnstable County suitable for use as shelters in a radiological emergency; and 2) review and evaluate the ?National Fallout Shelter Survey? to determine if the buildings surveyed continue to provide the sheltering protection factor and capacity listed in the NFSS.
17) ?An Act relative to automatic sprinklers? amends Section 26I of chapter 148 of the MGL by adding that inspections on sprinkler systems for new construction of dwellings for residential purposes be inspected once annually by the fire department instead of twice annually.
18) ?An Act Relative to Hospital Infections Disclosure? requires individual hospitals to collect data on hospital-acquired infection rates for the specific clinical procedures determined by the Department of Public Health.
19) ?An Act Prohibiting the Sale of Certain Over the Counter Medicines to Minors? makes it illegal to sell over the counter cough or cold remedies/medications containing alcohol, codeine or any substance to any person under the age of 18. It also requires a fine for those not adhering to the law.
20) An Act relative to Asperger?s Syndrome? The Department of Public Health will develop a public education program about Asperger's Syndrome in Adults. Serve as a resource to disseminate information, develop training programs for professionals, identify progress by creating voluntary registries and programs, study and evaluate the needs of families and caregivers of adults with Asperger's Syndrome and seek resources from the federal government for Asperger's Syndrome and related disabilities.
21) Children?s Mental Health Act To improve children?s social development and emotional development to improve school readiness and academic success. Untreated mental health problems in children have serious fiscal consequences for the State because they affect children?s ability to learn and increase their propensity for violence, alcohol and substance abuse, and other delinquent behaviors that are extremely costly to treat. Many mental health problems are largely preventable or can be minimized with promotion and early intervention services that have been shown to be effective and that reduce the need for more costly interventions. Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) based on Daniel Goleman?s book Emotional Intelligence, has helped students improve their emotional, social and academic skills.
22) "An Act relative to the prevention of domestic violence" amends Chapter 10 of the MGL to establish a Trust Fund for the Prevention of Sexual and Domestic Violence to be funded by a $20.00 increase of the fee for marriage license. The funds shall be available for expenditure by the Department of Public Health through a competitive grant process. The Department of Public Health will establish and chair an advisory board for the purpose of establishing priorities for the distribution of the funds.
23) ?An Act relative to the assessment of the real property of certain elderly persons? allows cities and town to choose to freeze the property tax of residents at the age of 65 or at the time of retirement. To qualify a resident would have to prove primary residency for 5 years or more, or a person who owns the same jointly with a spouse who is 65 years of age or over and who, during the preceding year had a gross income not exceeding 50% of the Commonwealth?s medium income.
24) ?An Act Further Regulating Long Term Care Facilities? terminates a resident?s contract with long term facilities at the time of death of a patient.
25) ?An Act relative to credit cards? regulates the percentage a credit card company can charge on late payments.
26) "An Act Relative to Home Owners insurance" makes it illegal to discriminate against insuring certain homes because of potential weather conditions and the history or probability of storms.
27) ?An Act relative to the sale of motor vehicles? seeks to prevent hidden commissions tacked on by the retailer. These charges are usually tacked on to loans for people that must use the retailer?s finance company because their credit history is not good.
28) ?An Act relative to condominium owner?s interest in common areas? allows associations to ?correct? apparent inequitable designations of units in the last phase of development as compared to the first phase without the necessity of a 100% affirmative vote of all the unit owners.
29) ?An Act relative to the taxation of condominiums? addresses a loop hole in the taxation of condominiums. In developments where the first phase of construction consists of only half a dozen units on a hundred-acre tract of land, the land value implicit in the reserved right to build new units may be much greater than the total market value of the units in the first phase. The land value of the development?s rights can escape taxation until the rights are exercised and additional units are created.
30) ?An Act relative to condominiums and homeowners associations? Limits the authority of these associations to levy fines and change by-laws.
31) ?Act relative to binding arbitration? or the Steamship Authority employees. Similar to the binding arbitration currently in place for the MBTA requires an up or down vote for binding arbitration. If each party negotiates in good faith, neither party should be afraid of binding arbitration.
32) Constitutional Amendment Ed Funding is legislative initiative to change the Constitution to increase the income tax by one percent. The revenues generated can only be used for educational purposes. To qualify to receive the funding a municipality will have to vote to reduce their property taxes dedicated to education. If the amendment passes the legislative process it will go onto the ballot as a referendum question in a state-wide election.
People often say, with pride, "I'm not interested in politics." They might as well say, "I'm not interested in my standard of living, my health, my job, my rights, my freedoms, my future or any future."-- Martha Gellhorn