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Government Affairs

Primary Election Review

  On Tuesday, September 6th, Massachusetts held its State Primary Election. On the ballot were Representatives in Congress, Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, State Treasurer, State Auditor, Governor's Council, State Senator, State Representative, District Attorney, Sheriff, and County Commissioner (only in certain counties).   The Winners for Statewide Executive Office Seats are: Governor: Maura Healey (D) Geoff Diehl (R) Lt. Governor: Kim Driscoll (D) Leah Allen (R) *Leah Allen leads Kate Campanale; however, as of this Wednesday morning, the race has not yet been called.* Attorney General: Andrea Campbell (D) Jay McMahon (R) Secretary of State: William Galvin (D) Rayla Campbell (R) Auditor: Diana DiZoglio (D) Anthony Amore (R)’   State Treasurer (Uncontested) Deb Goldberg (Incumbent)   Some Winners for Highly ...

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Beacon Hill Roundup - May 3, 2022

  Beacon Hill Roundup May 3, 2022   Overview On Thursday, April 28th, the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy filed an extension order through June 2nd for S.2226 - An Act providing for building justice with jobs, filed by Senator Pacheco (D - First Plymouth and Bristol), which contains a PLA provision. The Legislature tends to provide extension orders to give itself more time past the original deadline for joint legislative committees to report whether to advance or spike bills under their purview.   On Wednesday, April 27th, the House passed their $49.7 billion FY’23 budget proposal after three days of deliberations and added nearly $130 million in spending through seven mega-amendments. The 1,522 House amendments were categorized under certain topic headings (i.e., Labor and Economic Development, Housing, Transportation etc.), and the amendment categorization was part of the consolidation process that th ...

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SJC Holds That Parties Cannot Contract Away Willful or Knowing Violations of Ch. 93A

  By: Michael P. Dickman. Esq.             Earlier this year, the Supreme Judicial Court struck down a contractual limitation of liability provision as void against public policy.  In H1 Lincoln, Inc. v. South Washington Street, LLC, et al., the SJC held that contract waiver does not preclude multiple damages under the Massachusetts consumer protection statute (G.L. c. 93A) for willful or knowing misconduct. G.L. c. 93A, § 11 governs business-to-business disputes.  Section 11 authorizes a person engaged in trade or commerce to file an action for damages and equitable relief arising from unfair and deceptive acts.  If a violation of c. 93A is willful or knowing, a claimant may be entitled to recover double or treble damages.             In the underlying dispute, Alfredo Dos Anjos, the principal of the defendant entities, brea ...

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Beacon Hill Roundup - April 5, 2022

  On Monday, March 28th, the State House News Service noted that although the Baker administration did not include within their proposed state building code changes the ability for a municipality to require all-electric new construction, Attorney General Maura Healey has told the administration that it has the legal authority to propose such a policy. The administration's updates to the existing stretch code and its new net-zero specialized stretch code for cities and towns to adopt would hold gas-heated buildings to higher efficiency standards but would not allow cities and towns to eliminate their construction. On the March 18th deadline for public comments, Healey said her office had "filed comments with DOER confirming that it has the authority to create a special opt-in energy code under the Climate Act that will provide municipalities the opportunity to impose all-electric requirements."    On Wednesday, March 30th, Lowell city councilors voted 11-0 to give ...

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Beacon Hill Roundup - March 29, 2022

  On Wednesday, March 23rd, the Baker-Polito administration launched a new hiring and training employer grant program, “HireNow,” a $50 million grant program to incentivize hiring and help defray the costs of onboarding workers who do not yet have skills in a new field. Eligible employers can receive up to $4,000 per employee, capped at a total of $400,000 per organization, to cover training costs or signing bonuses. Any non-government employer in good standing with the state, including nonprofit and for-profit entities, can participate. Hires must be made after March 23rd, retained for at least 60 days, given at least 30 hours of work per week, and paid between $14.25 per hour and $42.50 per hour for a company to qualify for a per-employee grant. The $50 million program will be funded with American Rescue Plan Act funds the Legislature already approved to be spent on workforce development. The program is already accepting online applications from employers, and money will flo ...

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Beacon Hill Roundup - March 22, 2022

  On Wednesday, March 16th, MassDOT officials unanimously agreed to support a bid by two minority-owned developers seeking to construct a combination of laboratory space, housing, and retail options on a parcel of state-owned land in Boston. The project on the 1.4-acre "Parcel 25," which stands mostly vacant on Kneeland Street where the Leather District and Chinatown meet, would add 600,000 square feet of mixed-use development, overseen by companies with women and minority representation. While MassDOT in the past typically accepted the highest-paying bid, Undersecretary Scott Bosworth said the department this time around deployed the "Massport model," which equally weights four criteria: ground rent and finance; diversity and inclusion; a bidder's ability to execute a project; and exceptional design and public realm contribution, which includes affordable housing. Altogether, 100% of the project's development, financing, ownership, and operations would come from minorit ...

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Beacon Hill Roundup - March 15, 2022

    On Monday, March 7th, the Department of Energy Resources announced that comments on DOER's stretch code update and new municipal opt-in specialized stretch code will now be accepted until 5 p.m. on Friday, March 18th rather than the end of the day Wednesday, March 9th. Senators Michael Barrett (D - Third Middlesex) and Cynthia Creem (D - First Middlesex and Norfolk), chairs of the Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy Committee and Senate Committee on Global Warmingrespectively, last week wrote to DOER Commissioner Patrick Woodcock and, among other issues, said the way that DOER had scheduled the five required public hearings, including a Friday evening session, meant that "the Baker Administration is depriving the public of a full opportunity to participate." However, the agency said the decision to extend the comment period came in response to stakeholder requests.   On Wednesday, March 9th, Worcester Mayor  ...

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Beacon Hill Roundup - March 8, 2022

  On Friday, February 25th, for the second time in less than two years, Attorney General Maura Healey rejected bylaws approved by the Town of Brookline that place restrictions or prohibitions on buildings incorporating fossil fuel infrastructure. As she did in 2020, Healey expressed agreement with the intent of the proposed bylaws that were approved by town residents last year -- to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. But the attorney general, who is now a candidate for governor, said her statutory obligation to review the legality of bylaws prevents her from taking policy issues into account. She said her review concluded the bylaws were preempted by the state building code and a law that gives the Department of Public Utilities oversight of the sale and distribution of natural gas in Massachusetts. The decision comes as the Baker administration is proposing new building codes for the state. The proposal would not allow individual communities to ban fossil f ...

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Beacon Hill Roundup - March 1, 2022

  Overview On Wednesday, February 23rd the Office of State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump (OSA) released an audit that found inadequacies in the state’s Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM) processes to ensure equal opportunity staffing requirements of its contractors for women and minority participation. State guidelines say construction contracts should call for 6.9% of the construction hours to be performed by female workers and for 15.3% of the hours of construction work to be performed by minority workers. But Bump's office said that 120 of the 127 construction contracts active at DCAMM during her office's two-year audit period did not meet the women's workforce participation goal, including 78 projects that reported zero hours worked by women. Eighty-one of the 127 contracts did not meet the minority workforce participation goal and 36 of those projects did not have any hours worked by minorities. The audit, which reviewed th ...

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Beacon Hill Roundup - February 23, 2022

    Overview   On Tuesday, February 15th, Second Assistant Majority Leader Joseph Wagner of Chicopee announced he will not seek reelection this year, after representing his district for over 30 years. The announcement was made as nomination papers are becoming available, and Wagner said he hoped to give candidates time to make decisions and organize campaigns. Looking ahead to his final months in office, Wagner said he hoped to address impacts of inflation on the costs of housing, home heating and health care, particularly for seniors, as well as education funding.   On Tuesday, February 15th, Harvard professor Danielle Allen announced she will halt her bid for governor. Her announcement came one day after nomination papers became available to candidates running in 2022, which will require gubernatorial candidates to collect signatures from 10,000 registered voters. It also comes early in a weeks-long Democratic Party caucus season that carries ...

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