Legislative Update – Week of March 6, 2023

Mar 07, 2023

Last week:

President Biden nominated Julie Su as U.S. Secretary of Labor. If confirmed, Su will be the first Asian-American cabinet official in the Biden Administration.

The U.S. Senate voted to confirm the first Hispanic judge to U.S. District Court for Massachusetts. Judge Margaret R. Guzman was nominated to the Massachusetts Trial Court by Governor Deval Patrick in 2009, where she served until 2017, when she became the first justice for the Ayer District Court.

The Healey Administration announced a group of public policy initiatives that included a tax relief and reform plan unveiled Monday, which includes an apprenticeship tax credit that aims to improve access to apprenticeships for workers by expanding the list of occupations that qualify for employer tax credits and doubling the statewide cap on credits to $5 million. On Wednesday, the $55.5 billion the fiscal year 2024 state budget was filed, and a separate piece of legislation to create a standalone housing secretariat. The next step in the budget process is for the House to file its version of the budget in April, followed by the Senate in May, with the goal of finalizing a budget before the start of Massachusetts’ fiscal year on July 1, 2024.

The Governor also filed legislation to create a standalone housing secretary in her executive branch. The governor’s bill (H 43) will create a Secretary of Housing and Liveable Communities, which Healey on Wednesday said: “will bring urgency and intentionality to driving up production and driving down costs.”

Auditor Diana DiZoglio announced that her office will launch an audit of MBTA performance in March. Her probe will “follow the money” and examine if the T steered money toward safety initiatives. Investigators with the Federal Transit Administration completed their own safety management inspection of the MBTA last year, finding major problems that agency officials are still working to address through multiple corrective action plans.

This week:

In Massachusetts, the Joint Committee on Ways and Means holds its first hearing on Governor Maura Healey’s proposed fiscal year 2024 budget proposal. The hearing will cover the Executive Office of Administration and Finance, the Executive Office of Technology Services and Security, the Inspector General’s Office and constitutional offices. The gathering will be a chance for Administration and Finance Secretary Matthew Gorzkowicz to make his case for the Governor’s vision of state spending and tax relief, and legislators will have the opportunity to probe areas where they might differ, or prefer alternative approaches. Auditor Diana DiZoglio will also testify. This is the first of eight budget hearings that will take place over the next month and into early April, before the House files its version of the fiscal year 2024 budget.

Also on Tuesday, MassBio’s CEO Kendalle Burlin O’Connell headlines a “Central Mass. Life Sciences Forum” hosted by MASSterList, the State House News Service, and the Worcester Business Journal. Held at the DCU Center in Worcester, two panel discussions will zero in on the advantages of Central Mass. as a place for doing business in the life sciences sector, and on the real estate situation in the middle of the state.

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