Revenue Reform, Environmental, & Good Government Initiatives Top Agenda

Budget/Revenue Reform

An Act to promote sales tax fairness for Main Street retailers – An effort to level the playing field between local retailers and online sellers by ensuring sales tax is collected on all purchases.

An Act relative to the tax expenditure budget – This bill requires a yearly review of the various sections of the TEB. It also establishes criteria for any newly proposed tax expenditures.

An Act to promote municipal efficiency and innovation through regional collaboration – This bill promotes existing regional opportunities while creating new regional solutions to help make municipal government more efficient at a time when many communities are strained financially.

An act relative to local tax expenditure transparency – Municipalities grant tax incentives and exemptions for businesses and other entities, often in an effort to promote growth and job creation. This bill would require municipalities to report the exemptions, deferrals or other reductions from locally assessed property taxes that are available to entities within cities or towns by special act or acceptance of a local option. Local assessors will be responsible for compiling such data and submitting to DLS.

An Act relative to access to tax expenditure information – Allows the state Auditor to access tax expenditure information in order to analyze and evaluate state tax expenditures. Allowed in at least 31 other states, this policy is consistent with the principles of the 2012 Tax Expenditure Commission report.

An Act requiring appropriation bills to include estimated amounts for the following fiscal year – Requires the Governor and Legislature, in most budget proposals, to provide estimated budget figures for the following fiscal year, to be used for planning purposes.

An Act to establish a Legislative Budget Office – Creates a Legislative Budget Office, a non-partisan office within the Legislature charged with providing independent, objective fiscal estimates to all legislators and staff upon request, similar to the federal Congressional Budget Office.

An Act relative to broadened eligibility for relief from disproportionate property tax burdens – The circuit breaker program, passed as part of the FY01 budget, provides a refundable state tax credit to qualified senior citizens whose property taxes exceed 10% of their income. The circuit breaker is designed to moderate the most regressive elements of the property tax. The new bill would expand the property tax circuit breaker to taxpayers regardless of age.

Environment

An Act for Healthy Families and Businesses – A wide array of toxic chemicals we use in our everyday lives are contributing to an epidemic of chronic diseases and disorders, including asthma, birth defects, cancers, developmental disabilities, diabetes, endometriosis, infertility, and Parkinson’s disease. The Healthy Families bill will establish a pragmatic approach to reducing health and environmental impacts from many of the toxic chemicals we are exposed to in everyday life. It creates a careful process to identify such chemicals for which there are economically feasible, safer alternatives, and then creates a program of transition from the dangerous to the safer chemical with technical and financial assistance available.

Health/Safety

An Act relative to student driver safety – Requires all student drivers with a Learner’s Permit to display a removable decal on their vehicle to indicate their student status. The decal will allow other drivers to identify student drivers on the road, and allow police to more easily enforce existing rules on permit holders. The bill is modeled on a 2010 New Jersey law, which has been shown to effectively reduce crashes and increase enforcement of student driver laws.

An Act to establishing a board of registration in naturopathy – This bill would regulate the practice of Naturopathy by establishing educational and testing standards for naturopathic doctors (NDs) and provide oversight by a state board of registration made up of both NDs and conventional medical professionals.

An Act requiring pain assessment and management in health care facilities – Adds to the Massachusetts patients’ bill of rights the right to the “assessment, management, and treatment of pain.” This is required by accrediting entities in most MA hospitals, but not all healthcare facilities.

An Act relative to state house fees – This bill would ensure that State House spaces are available for appropriate use by non-profit advocacy organizations at no charge.

Election Laws

An Act to ensure secure voting equipment – This bill would mandate that all electronic voting machines allow voters to verify his or her ballot before the vote is cast. The Secretary of State currently abides by this practice, but this bill would put that policy into statute.

Proposal for a legislative amendment to the Constitution relative to a vacancy in the office of Governor or Lieutenant Governor – This amendment stipulates that in the event of a vacancy in the office of Lt. Governor, a new Lt. Governor would be selected through nomination by the Governor and a majority vote of confirmation by both the House and Senate, as is done in the federal government. Currently there is no mechanism for filling vacancies.

An Act relative to voting by the instant runoff voting method – This bill would use the instant run-off voting method for state general elections. The instant run-off method of voting encourages fairer and more positive elections, and increases choice by enabling voters to rank candidates in order of preference. Instant runoff voting significantly reduces negative campaigning because candidates know that they may have to obtain the second or third choice votes of voters supporting other candidates.

An Act relative to voting by the instant runoff voting method in primaries – Same as above but for primary elections only.