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From the category archives: Government Affairs

Government Affairs

Beacon Hill Roundup: August 31, 2021

 

The Massachusetts legislature is in their fifth week of summer recess and will not reconvene until after Labor Day.

 

●      On Tuesday, August 24th, Representative Andy Vargas (D - 3rd Essex) announced plans to run for state Senate, launching a campaign for the seat currently held by Senator Diana DiZoglio (D - First Essex) who is running for state auditor.

 

●   Representative Brad Hill (R - 4th Essex), who has served in the Massachusetts House since 1999, was selected last week to serve on the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, and on Thursday, August 26th, the House set a special election for the House seat for November 30th. Primaries will be held on November 2nd, the deadline to submit nomination papers to municipalities is September 21st, and the last day to file nomination papers with the secretary of state is September 28th.

 

 

Boston Looking to Tighten Safety Rules After OSHA Says Company Involve in Fatalities Assumed New Name

  Boston officials are looking to revisit safety rules after OSHA found that Laurence M. Moloney, the owner of Atlantic Coast Utilities, formed a "successor company" that is doing business in the city. On February 24 of this year, Jordy Alexander Castaneda Romero and Juan Carlos Figueroa died after being struck by a dump truck and thrown into a nine-foot-deep trench on High Street in the Financial District, where Atlantic Coast was making emergency repairs to a sewer line. OSHA identified the successor company as Sterling Excavation LLC and said it shared responsibility with Moloney's other companies for $1.3 million the agency wants to impose for "willful, repeat and serious" workplace safety violations. OSHA also said it was inspecting Sterling Excavation after recently receiving a report about hazardous conditions at a job site in East Boston. A spokesman for Atlantic Coast Utilities said the company is not operating as Sterling Excavation or under any other name. Nual ...

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Braintree Middle School Bid Package Includes PLA

  The bid package for construction of the new Braintree South Middle School was released last week and includes a project labor agreement (PLA) that requires union-only labor.    There was little advance notice of the PLA, which ABC has learned was approved by the Braintree School Building Committee in September of 2020.   ABC attempted to meet with town officials to discuss the PLA, but we were told the decision had been made.   “PLAs effectively prevent open shop contractors from working on public projects due to their union labor requirement,” said ABC President Greg Beeman.  “Not only do they unfairly exclude the vast majority of the construction workforce, but they raise costs by reducing competition, and for no legitimate reason.”   Braintree recently released the list of prequalified bidders, and more than half are open shop, including three of the five prequalified general contractors and some 40 subco ...

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Apprentice Legislation Would Increase Problems with Restrictive Ratios

  Legislation requiring that apprentices be employed on all public construction projects in Massachusetts was recently heard by the Legislature’s Labor and Workforce Committee, and ABC MA submitted testimony noting that this proposal would only increase the existing problems posed by restrictive apprentice to journeyperson ratios that are a barrier to employment.      ABC’s comments pointed out that under MA prevailing wage law, apprentice to journeyperson ratios on public construction are based on those in union collective bargaining agreements, and these restrict apprentice employment based on the number of journeypersons employed.  In some trades, five journeypersons are required for each apprentice.  “At a time when the industry has a critical need to bring in new talent, these ratios are a huge barrier, and mandating  apprentices on public construction projects will only increase the problem,” said ABC MA President Gr ...

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Bills Dealing with Fraud in Construction Heard

  Bills dealing with the definition of fraud as it relates to construction were heard recently by the Legislature’s Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight.  ABC MA submitted testimony outlining its concern with legislation that seeks to create a unique definition of fraud that applies only to construction.   An Act Relative to the Definition of Fraud in Construction Bid Laws (House Bill 3142 and Senate Bill 2086)  seeks to add a new definition of fraud to the public biddings laws that is significantly different from the common law definition that now applies.  Under this proposed new definition, the fraud does not have to be relied upon and does not have to relate to a material, or substantive, fact.  This means that a contractor who submits information to an awarding authority or government entity with an unintentional minor mistake that had no bearing on a determination could be found to have committed fraud ...

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Shift in Health Licensing Boards Takes Effect; Licensing Agency Renamed

  From the State House New Service - July 15, 2021   With only one of the two branches of the Legislature weighing in within its allotted time, Gov. Charlie Baker's plan to transfer 13 health-related licensing boards and the 88,000 licenses they oversee from the Division of Professional Licensure to the Department of Public Health took effect on its own this past weekend.  The  changes also includes the renaming of the Division of Professional Licensure as the Division of Occupational Licensure. The Senate on Thursday adopted Baker's reorganization plan (H 3774), which was filed under Article 87 of the Constitution, but the House did not take the matter up before adjourning until Monday morning. Under Article 87, executive branch reorganizations require a legislative hearing within 30 days of being filed and a committee vote within 10 days of the hearing, deadlines the Legislature met with this latest plan. The legislative branch is given 60 days from ...

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ABC Meets with Boston Mayor Kim Janey

  ABC MA met with Mayor of Boston Kim Janey last week and discussed how the lack of opportunity for open shop construction in Boston exacerbates the city’s housing costs and closes off employment opportunities for Boston residents, including minorities.      ABC discussed recent data from a City of Boston disparity study that was presented by the chairman of Boston Employment Commission (BEC) at a recent oversight hearing of the Boston City Council. The data shows that between 2014 and 2019 the City of Boston spent $986 million on construction that was essentially all union, and of that only 11.8 million, or 1.2 percent, went to businesses owned by minorities.  In contrast, just three open shop projects during the same time (Olmsted Green, Granite Lena and Whittier II) spent $25.6 million minority contractors and related businesses.     “In other words, one or two non-union projects have directed the same amount of money to black and ...

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Politicians Attend Ceremonial PLA Signing for Vineyard Wind

  A number of local and national politicians appeared with the owners of Vineyard Wind and various  building trades unions for a ceremonial signing of the project labor agreement (PLA) for this offshore wind project last Friday in New Bedford.     Vineyard Wind is touted as the nation’s first large-scale offshore wind project.  The PLA was agreed to some time ago by the private owners, headed up by the Avangrid Renewables/Iberdrola Group and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, major European alternative energy companies.  Vineyard Wind, like many alternative energy projects, is a private development with government support.  The project was languishing but became an early priority of the Biden Administration.     “ABC’s view is that private owners should be free to make their own decisions on their projects.  With the current political climate and the union favoritism of the Biden Administrati ...

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Massachusetts Legislature Unanimously Passes $48.1B Budget

  BOSTON, MA. APRIL 27, 2021: The Massachusetts State House in Boston, Massachusetts. By STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE (Boston Herald)   PUBLISHED: July 9, 2021 at 9:04 p.m. | UPDATED: July 9, 2021 at 9:04 p.m.   More than a week into the fiscal year, the House and Senate agreed in bipartisan fashion to a $48.1 billion annual state budget and shipped the proposal to Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk. Both branches voted unanimously to approve the revised spending plan, which calls for permanently enshrining the state’s controversial film tax credit program, continuing to delay implementation of a charitable giving tax deduction, and setting aside $350 million to buttress a multi-year education funding reform law. House Ways and Means Committee Chair Rep. Aaron Michlewitz, who co-chaired the conference committee that resolved differences between the House and Senate budget proposals, said the vote will “mark a capstone to a volatile 16-month ...

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Draft Decision for Masonry Classifications Recognizes Open Shop Work Practices

  A draft decision regarding the prevailing wage work classifications for five masonry tasks has been issued by the MA Dept. of Labor Standards.  This work, which involves patching, cutting and cleaning brick and concrete, has been in question for a number of years, and was the subject on a hearing earlier this year.     “We commend the Baker/Polito Administration for putting a fair and open process in place for making prevailing wage classification decisions, and we believe this masonry decision is a major step forward in recognizing industry practices and not relying solely on union bargaining agreements,” said ABC MA President Greg Beeman.    The draft decision finds the both laborers/mason tenders and bricklayers can perform four of the five tasks: rubbing block walls; cutting joints; rubbing and cleaning bricks; and installing wall ties.  The decision holds that the fifth task, patching block walls, is classified as exclusively ...

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