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Mayor Walsh's 2019 legislative agenda

January 10, 2019

Mayor's Office

Published by:

Mayor's Office

In January 2019, Mayor Walsh announced four legislative packages the City of Boston will be submitting to the Massachusetts Legislature: Housing Security and Economic Mobility, Environment and Transportation, Education, and Health and Public Safety.

Mayor Walsh's legislative agenda continues his administration's work to create greater opportunity for all residents, and serves all people of Massachusetts through its focus on equity and opportunity, ensuring Boston and Massachusetts' growth benefits all communities in the Commonwealth. You can learn more below:

Learn about the packages

About the packages

This 15-bill housing security and economic mobility package promotes equity, opportunity, and resilience through preserving neighborhoods, stabilizing vulnerable households, supporting small businesses, removing barriers that keep people in poverty, providing new pathways to good jobs, and continuing to leverage Boston's prosperity to build a more inclusive and equitable city.

You can learn more in the Housing Security and Economic Mobility press release.


An Act to Further Leverage Commercial Development to Build Housing, Create Jobs and Preserve Inclusionary Development

Presenter/Sponsor: Representative Kevin Honan

This Home Rule petition would adjust Boston’s Linkage Program. Linkage was created as a way for commercial development to contribute to the City’s needs for affordable housing and workforce development, mandating that a fee per square foot be directed to the Neighborhood Housing Trust Fund and The Neighborhood Jobs Trust, with the City being allowed to make a CPI adjustment every three years. However, given the cyclical nature of building booms, greater flexibility has proven necessary to share the benefits of our current economic growth with more residents. In order to provide Boston with the ability to make adjustments to the Linkage formula as needed, the bill would eliminate the restriction on making adjustments only once every three years, allowing the City to respond to market conditions in real time. This bill would also codify the City’s Inclusionary Development Program (IDP) into the Zoning Code, so that as the City upzones and more projects become as-of-right, the City does not lose its ability to collect IDP.


An Act To Sustain Community Preservation Revenue

Presenter/Sponsor: Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante and Senator Cynthia Stone Creem

This bill would protect the vital Community Preservation Act that more than 170 cities and towns depend on for the creation of affordable housing, open space, and historic preservation. It would adjust the surcharge on fees for recording deeds to increase the State CPA match. When municipalities voted to enact CPA, they did so with the promise of a substantial state match. This year, the match was just 19%, meaning that the CPA bill people voted for is no longer the same bill. This would help to bring CPA more in line with what voters agreed to.


An Act to Ensure Right to Counsel in Eviction Proceedings

Presenter/Sponsor: Representative Chynah Tyler and Senator Sal DiDomenico

This bill would provide any low-income tenant facing eviction with a court-appointed attorney for representation. The bill also creates a public task force to create an implementation plan, and delays implementation for two years. Though this will be a costly undertaking, it will save money in the long term as it will prevent people from entering the shelter system.


An Act to Guarantee a Tenant's First Right of Refusal

Presenter/Sponsor: Senator Brendan P. Crighton and Representative Daniel Cullinane

This legislation would provide a tenant or her non-profit designee the right of first refusal to purchase a property of more than five units being offered for sale. This is one of many tools the City of Boston could utilize to stem displacement.


An act relative to the just cause eviction of elderly lessees

Presenter/Sponsor: Representative Adrian Madaro

This proposal would prohibit no-fault eviction of people over 75 years of age. Landlords would be required to provide notice to the local community at the same time the eviction notice is served to the elderly tenant. Eviction would only be permitted for good cause such as failure to pay rent, damage to the property, use of the premises for illegal activities, etc. Rent increases would be limited to 5% per year to prevent landlords from using large rent increases to get around just cause protections. This would apply to all properties with four or more rental units.


An Act Establishing Tuition Free Community College in Massachusetts

Presenter/Sponsor: Representative Chynah Tyler

This legislation replicates Boston’s Tuition-Free Community College program and makes it available statewide. The need for education beyond high school is growing, as nearly two-thirds (65%) of all US jobs will require some form of postsecondary education or training by 2020. The Commonwealth would provide “last dollar” financial resources to eligible MA residents, which would complement the “Boston Bridge,” a partnership between the City and State that allows eligible students who graduate from a two-year community college to continue at a four-year college free of tuition and fees. This would increase opportunity to for residents of the Commonwealth by making college affordable and accessible.


An Act to Lift the Cap on Kids

Presenter/Sponsor: Representative Marjorie Decker

This bill would repeal a policy that denies critical resources to children conceived while, or soon after, a family is receiving benefits. Massachusetts is one of only 17 states that have a Cap on Kids or similar policy.


An Act to Promote Asset Building for Low-Income Residents

Presenter/Sponsor: Senator Sal DiDomenico

This bill would remove the cap on assets for families receiving temporary cash assistance. The current policy disincentivizes families to accumulate even moderate savings and makes it more difficult for them to access resources. Eight other states have enacted similar changes with positive results, spurring upward economic mobility for residents.


An Act Relating to Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces

Presenter/Sponsor: Representative Daniel Hunt

This legislation will require that all state contractors comply with all workplace laws, including health and safety standards, wage laws and civil rights laws before receiving any new contracts. The goal is to protect workers from wage abuse, workplace discrimination, and unsafe working conditions while ensuring a fair public contracting system. In Massachusetts, we know that pay transparency is critical to achieving pay equity.


An Act Improving the Earned Income Credit for Working Families

Presenter/Sponsor: Representative Marjorie Decker and Senator James Eldridge

This seeks to raise the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to 50% to return money directly to low- and moderate-income working families. The EITC is almost universally seen as a great program and it should be increased and marketed so that working families know they are eligible.


An Act to Create Economic Vitality in Boston Neighborhoods

Presenter/Sponsor: Representative Michael Moran

This Home Rule Petition would expand the number of liquor licenses in Boston and target them to neighborhoods that would greatly benefit with an influx of restaurants to drive economic activity. Restaurants are the lifeblood of neighborhood business districts, providing jobs and gathering spaces, and spurring other businesses to locate nearby.


An Act Promoting Pay Transparency and Pipeline Advancement

Presenter/Sponsor: Representative Liz Malia

This bill would require all companies with more than 100 employees to report the gender and race of employees holding specific management titles, and require the Office of Labor and Workforce Development to post anonymized data. Further, the Act would establish a fund to provide professional development services to employees who observe a disparity between the overall and their employer’s ratio, in order to help improve their employer’s rating.


An Act to Create a Boston Fire Department Cadet Program

Presenter/Sponsor: Representative Chynah Tyler

This Home Rule Petition would allow Boston to create a pipeline to good jobs in the Boston Fire Department for young people from the city, and help the BFD diversify its ranks with more women and people of color.


Resolve to Evaluate Existing Funding for the Promotion of, and Workforce Development in, Tourism, Arts, and Culture

Presenter/Sponsor: Representative Aaron Michlewitz and Senator Nick Collins

Massachusetts understands the importance of supporting industries that drive growth, create jobs and generate tax revenue for the Commonwealth. Tourism, bolstered by arts and culture, is one of the state’s largest industries. Investment in Tourism, Arts and Culture, used to promote the state, support institutions and build a more resilient workforce in the hospitality and creative industries would yield impressive dividends. This bill would establish a commission to explore ways to raise money for sustained investment in this sector.

This six-bill package will strengthen the Commonwealth's commitment to the goals set out in the Paris Agreement and the City's goals to be carbon neutral by 2050. Mayor Walsh's legislative agenda builds upon the work of the Administration to ensure equity, opportunity and resilience for all residents by strengthening current systems and creating new tools to adapt, mitigate and invest in local transportation and the environment.

You can learn more in the Environment and Transportation press release.


An Act establishing the commission for a climate-ready commonwealth

Presenter/Sponsor: Representative Adrian Madaro and Senator William Brownsberger

This bill would create a regional commission to determine which entity should lead major coastal and inland resiliency projects, how such projects might be funded and how those projects should be prioritized.


An Act to Modernize our Natural Gas Infrastructure/Reduce Gas Leaks

Presenter/Sponsor: Representative Edward Coppinger and Senator Michael Rush

This legislation would impose a fine on natural gas providers for the total volume of all gas leaks, incentivizing the utility companies to update their infrastructure and providing revenue for climate-ready municipal projects.


An Act Relative to Transportation Network Company Rider Assessments

Presenter/Sponsor: Representative Michael Moran and Senator Joseph Boncore

This legislation would add a charge to transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft operating during rush hours. This fee would be invested in local roads and transit, including improvements to bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. It would also reduce charges for pooled rides and the use of electric vehicles.


An Act relative to regional transportation ballot initiatives

Presenter/Sponsor: Representatives Andres Vargas and Adrian Madaro and Senator Eric Lesser

This bill would enable a municipality, or a group of municipalities, to raise local money through a ballot initiative for investment in priority transportation projects.


An Act Concerning Photo Enforcement of Certain Traffic Violations

Presenter/Sponsor: Representative David Biele and Senator Nick Collins

This legislation will allow for photo enforcement for speed violations and Blocking the Box traffic violations. The proposal would also enable school buses to be equipped with cameras to capture violations when the STOP arm is deployed. Together, these proposals will equip our cities and towns with the tools to make their streets safer, cut down on gridlock and congestion, and generate revenue to invest in local roads and transit.


An Act to Reduce Atmospheric Pollution

Presenter/Sponsor: Representative Jay Livingstone and Senator Joseph Boncore

This legislation would allow municipalities to add an assessment for private parking garages and lots to reduce pollution and fund bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure projects.

Together with our partners in the Legislature a coalition of cities and towns, Boston is joining together in proposing one comprehensive education finance bill to reform the Commonwealth's education funding formula so that it better serves all students throughout the state. Every student in Massachusetts deserves a 21st century education and should have the opportunity to succeed, no matter their talent or challenges, family income or background.

You can learn more in the Education legislative agenda press release.


The Education PROMISE Act (An Act Providing Rightful Opportunities and Meaningful Investment for Successful and Equitable Education)

Presenter/Sponsor: Representatives Aaron Vega and Mary Keefe, Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz

This bill builds upon the important work of the state-appointed Foundation Budget Review Commission by updating the state education formula to better reflect the reality of educating complex, high need students, like Boston. This proposal will equitably support the high needs of the student populations we educate and ensure baseline funding levels that guarantee a predictable funding stream after accounting for charter costs. This proposal provides certainty and sustainability that would enable districts to fund their education priorities, close persistent achievement gaps and provide a 21st century learning environment to all of Boston’s students.

This 10-bill package focuses on improving health and safety outcomes for communities in Boston, and across the Commonwealth. This legislative plan works to give families the helping hand they need, and creates safer communities across the Commonwealth. Together, Boston’s health and public safety bills work to build a more resilient, equitable city and state for all.

You can learn more in the Health and Public Safety legislative agenda press release.


An Act to Ensure Positive Transition for At-Risk Youth

Presenter/Sponsor: Representative Liz Malia

This legislation focuses on youth exiting juvenile detention, recovery, or foster care, and would require state-funded service providers to provide a comprehensive transition plan to help youth navigate housing and employment resources as well as social and emotional support systems.


An Act to Facilitate Re-entry

Presenter/Sponsor: Representative Liz Miranda

Moments of transition in life can be challenging to navigate without support. For individuals transitioning out of correctional facilities these challenges are particularly burdensome. This bill would require state correctional institutions to provide comprehensive discharge planning for individuals exiting the criminal justice system, helping them surmount the obstacles to a safe and healthy transition from one life stage to another.


An Act regarding Medicare savings programs eligibility

Presenter/Sponsor: Representative Steven Ultrino and Senator Jason Lewis

This bill would protect our older residents by increasing their access to affordable care. It would expand eligibility for the Medicare Savings Program to those at 200% of the federal poverty line and double the asset limit, extending affordable coverage to approximately 70,000 low-income older adults. It would also simplify the application process, cutting it from 28 pages to two pages.


An Act improving public health through a common application for core food, health and safety-net programs

Presenter/Sponsor: Representative Jay Livingstone and Senator Sal DiDomenico

This legislation would create a common application form for all health and safety net programs. This would help to eliminate the “SNAP GAP,” which is the estimated 680,000 MA residents who are eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), but not enrolled.


A Resolve to Better Prepare the Commonwealth for Climate Change Refugees

Presenter/Sponsor: Representative Liz Miranda

This bill would establish a commission to study the Commonwealth’s response to the displacement of people from Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, for the purpose of supporting potential points of intervention to improve our emergency response protocols for connecting evacuees with social services and emergency housing. Further, the Commission would explore the merits of creating a State fund or trust for supplemental aid to evacuees in the future.


An Act Relative to Diversion to Substance Abuse Disorder Treatment for Non-Violent Drug Offenders

Presenter/Sponsor: Representative Liz Malia

This proposal would provide individuals facing first and second time non-violent, drug offenses an opportunity to be evaluated by a licensed addiction specialist to determine if they are drug-dependent and would benefit from treatment. If so, the person can request assignment to a drug treatment facility. Their drug offense court proceedings would be stayed until the drug treatment program is completed.


An Act to increase access to health care in underserved areas of Massachusetts

Presenter/Sponsor: Senator Jason Lewis

Massachusetts is currently home to more than 8,000 foreign-trained health professionals, including doctors, nurses, pharmacists, physical therapists, and mental health professionals. More than 20 percent are unemployed or working in non-medical positions, often because of complex or costly licensing requirements, lack of information, or a lack of career services targeted toward professionals trained outside the United States. This bill would establish a commission to explore ways to reduce licensing and other barriers that keep these professionals from practicing in their field, enabling them to provide crucial healthcare services to underserved areas of the state.


An Act to Prevent Gun Violence

Presenter/Sponsor: Representative Jon Santiago

This bill would require medical professionals to ask patients about the presence of guns in their homes, with the goal of identifying red flags that could indicate risks related to suicide, domestic violence or child access to guns.


An Act Concerning the Reporting of Information Relating to Certain Firearms

Presenter/Sponsor: Representative Daniel Cullinane

This bill would require all Massachusetts police to enter ballistic information for every crime gun into the National Integrated Ballistics Information Network (NIBIN). Entering information on all crime guns into this database, following the lead of New Jersey and Delaware, would help law enforcement professionals spot patterns that would better help them prioritize investigations.


An Act Related to the Transportation of Illegal Firearms

Presenter/Sponsor: Representative Russell Holmes

This legislation would allow police to fine owners of vehicles found to contain illegal firearms, and impound those vehicles. Revenue produced by these fines would fund violence prevention measures in each municipality.