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Date: 8/1/2016 7:58 AM EDT

Legislature wraps up 2-year session with marathon weekend

The Massachusetts House and Senate ran just beyond their self-imposed deadline to complete legislative work by midnight on July 31st.  After that date, they meet only in informal session, allowing members to spend more time in their districts in preparation for the election.  They were able to reach compromise on a number of high-profile bills, although not all of them will get to Governor Baker's desk this year.

Noncompete agreement legislation stalled when lawmakers were unable to reach a compromise, and will likely come up again when the Legislature reconvenes next January.

Here are a few of the big bills that went to the Governor before the session gaveled to a close:

Ride sharing:

Companies such as Uber, Lyft, and Fasten have been creating challenges for policymakers who had laid out very strict policies for taxis.  The taxi and limousine industry has been asking that these companies be regulated in much the same way.  In the final bill, however, ride share drivers will not be subject to fingerprinting as taxi drivers are, but will have to undergo background checks.  A 20-cent per ride fee will be divided among the municipality, the Mass. Department of Transportation and a fund establish to ease the burden on the traditional taxi industry.  They'll also be able to pick up at Logan and the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.

Renewable energy:

A compromise was reached on legislation that would increase the state's reliability on wind, hydro and solar power.  The final bill did not go as far as the Senate would have liked, mainly because it did not increase the state's renewable portfolio standard.  The House said increasing the standard could result in burdensome costs to consumers.  The bill also requires Massachusetts to come up with a plan to address gas leaks.  Lawmakers left open the possibility that the legislation can be revisited to adjust once the law is in place and there is an opportunity to measure the impact.

Economic development:

The economic development bill that was sent to Governor Baker around midnight on July 31st will not include authorization to establish an online lottery, nor will it include expansion of a tax credit for low-income workers.  Also dead for now is a tax on short-term rentals, as in those through Airbnb, and nonprofits will not be taxed on property they acquire under this legislation.  It does include investment in MassWorks, brownfields funding, and technical education.


Posted by Neponset Strategies, LLP

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