MALSCE Government Affairs Update – April 2023
by Abbie Goodman, MALSCE Chief of External Affairs
Engineers & Land Surveyors @ the State House + Water's Worth It Day
May 11 at the Massachusetts State House: Register by May 1
We arrange appointments with your State Senator and State Representative
Healey-Driscoll Administration Appoints Phillip Eng as MBTA General Manager
On March 27, Governor Maura Healey announced the appointment of Phillip Eng as the new MBTA General Manager. As an engineer, a transportation professional for 40 years, and a commuter, Phil is prepared to take on the challenges & opportunities that come as MBTA General Manager. Phil was with The LiRo Group prior to his appointment; he has been active in ACEC/MA. We look forward to working with him to help with the issues facing the MBTA. In addition, Scott Bosworth has been appointed MBTA Acting Chief of Capital Programs; ACEC/MA worked with him in his prior role as MassDOT Undersecretary.
- FY2024 Budget Process: Governor Healey presented her FY2024 Budget Proposal on March 1, 2023. This budget bill is current known as H. 1
- Governor's FY2024 Budget Recommendation
- Healey Budget Shines Light On Transportation Agenda
- The next step in the FY2024 budget process is expected on April 12, when the House Ways and Means Committee releases its budget proposal. If they stick to their usual schedule, amendments to that budget will be due by April 14, with House debate during the week of April 24. The Senate Ways and Means Committee would then release its budget proposal in May.
- FY2023 Supplemental Budget Update: https://www.acecma.org/about/news/legislature-sends-1-1b-supplement-budget-proposal-to-governor-healey-4826
- Chapter 90: On March 30, the Senate passed its annual municipal roads and bridges funding bill which also includes $150 million in transportation-related infrastructure grants. Like House bill (H 3547), the Senate Ways and Means-authored proposal (S 2375) authorizes a one-year, $200 million injection for the Chapter 90 program that reimburses cities and towns for road and bridge maintenance, plus another $150 million for grant programs. Only $25 million of the $150 million is proposed to be spent differently than in the House bill. The House bill would add that funding into an existing grant program for work on "non-federally aided roadways, including, but not limited to, state numbered routes and municipal roadways." The Senate bill calls for that money to be prioritized for use by "municipalities low population density" -- an idea that Sen. Mark Paul, who represents one of the most rural parts of the state (Berkshire, Hampden, Franklin and Hampshire district), said reflects the unique needs of small communities. Senators rejected three amendments, including a Rep. Keenan amendment that would have committed Chapter 90 funding over two years. The House and Senate are expected to work out minor differences between the two bills in the next week or so.
- On April 11, 2023, the Massachusetts House unveiled a $1.1 billion tax relief package although the bill is not yet posted on the legislature’s website. The bill, which is scheduled to be voted on in the House on April 13, is expected to cost $654 million in FY24 and eventually rise to $1.1 billion annually by FY26.
The proposed tax changes, some of which include a phased-in implementation, include:
- Child and Dependent Tax Credit: combines the Child Care Expenses Credit with the Dependent Member of Household Credit, creating one $600 credit per dependent. The proposal would be phased in over three years and would be fully implemented by FY27.
- Estate Tax: increases the estate tax threshold to $2 million and eliminates the “cliff” effect.
- Senior Circuit Breaker Tax Credit: doubles the Senior Circuit Breaker Tax Credit from $1,200 to $2,400.
- Rental Deduction Cap: increases the rental deduction cap to $4,000.
- Short-term Capital Gains Tax: lowers the short-term capital gains tax rate to 5%, with a two-year phase-in.
- Singles Sales Factor Apportionment: establishes a single sales factor apportionment in Massachusetts, solely based on receipts.
- Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): increased the EITC to 40% of the federal credit.
- Chapter 62F: adjusts the credit to an equal amount per taxpayer.
- Stabilization Fund Cap: adjusts the Stabilization Fund cap to 25.5%.
- The timing is challenging for the week of April 10: with a House vote expected on April 13, this means that representatives will vote on the tax plan after House Democrats release their FY2024 budget proposal, which may need to account for the revenue impact of tax relief. Senate President Spilka has signaled she is interested in action, with a Senate proposal to follow soon.
Legislation to Watch in Other States - 2 articles courtesy of MALSCE's Shaine R. Bonin, PLS
New Hampshire Licensure under attack, including wetland and soil scientists, landscape architects
- On February 14, Governor Sununu released his recommended state budget. As part of that proposal, he released a Licensure and Regulatory Reform proposal that included eliminating 34 licenses and consolidated several licensing Boards. The 34 professional licenses include wetland and soil scientists, foresters, athletic agents, barbers and cosmetologists within an already licensed facility, landscape architects and “hawkers and peddlers.” The proposal would also get rid of licenses for certain medical occupations, including for licensed nursing assistants, medical technicians and various jobs related to medical imaging and radiology.
- Press release from Governor Sununu’s office: https://www.oplc.nh.gov/sites/g/files/ehbemt441/files/2023-02/oplc-press-release-governors-proposed-licensure-regulatory-reform-20230222.pdf
·The impact on New Hampshire would be:
- The Professional Engineers Board and the Land Surveyors board would be one joint board.
- The following licensees would be eliminated:
- Landscape Architect
- Wetland Scientist
- Soil Scientist
The budget was referred to the NH House Finance committee. Since then, this proposal has been severely cut back to only eliminating three licenses, for athlete agents, hawkers and peddlers, and itinerant vendors. The Board consolidations for PE and LS were also deleted by the Finance committee. On April 6, the full House did not reinstate Sununu’s licensing changes when it takes up the budget (highly unlikely). If it doesn’t, and instead sends the Senate a budget without those measures, senators could attempt to reinstate them as well. The Senate is more likely to resurrect than the House floor, but it’s less a 50% chance in ACEC NH Exec. Director’s view. The only thing still in play is the consolidation of the Boards. ACEC NH does not see the NH Senate agreeing to get rid of the scientists and even less likely is the landscape architects.
- Other states are reporting on attempts to eliminate licensure for some design professionals.
Division of Occupational Licensure: Board of Registration of Professional Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors
Next Board of Registration public meeting is listed as: May 25, 2023, on Teams. The Board of Registration plans to continue virtual meetings for now, as the Governor and Legislature have extended the law allowing virtual public meetings like this to continue through March 31, 2025. To connect to the meeting, go to this page and scroll down to the meeting listing to download the agenda with connection instructions.
Status of April 20, 2023 Board meeting: This meeting was cancelled due to a posting glitch at the Division of Professional Licensure as the public meeting agenda was not posted on the website 48 hours in advance as required by law. I am able to provide the March Board Meeting Draft minutes which have not yet been approved.
Highlights of the 3/23/2023 Board of Registration Meeting.
- NCEES Enforcement Exchange: Ten individuals with Massachusetts licenses appeared on the NCEES Enforcement Exchange list in the past month due to infractions in other states. Individuals are supposed to self-report to all boards in states where they are registered when this happens. Division staff is reviewing to see whether people have done the required self-reporting.
- Joint Professional Practice document: Awaiting Action on this draft from Board of Registration of Architects during their April 11 board meeting on this draft version: https://files.engineers.org/file/Updated-Draft-AR-EN-Prof-Practice-Guide-January-2023-002.pdf
- If the Board of Registration of Architects makes additional changes on April 11, this document will return to the PE and LS Board for another vote. Once the final document is approved by both boards, the document will then be reviewed by Division of Professional Licensure staff before it is issued to the public.
- Eventually, the Board of Registration is eager for ACEC/MA, BSCES, and MALSCE to assist in widely distributing this document to design professionals, state officials and municipal officials statewide.
- Draft Continuing Professional Competency Regulations are still in the Executive Office of Housing and Community Development. From there they would go to Executive Office of Administration and Finance.
- Help to promote STEM, especially engineering & land surveying careers, to K-12 students & Community College students. Ways for your firm to plug in:
- Classroom Visit Presentation Module to Promote #STEM Careers
- For Engineer Visits to Classrooms: As your firm explores STEM activities to provide for K-12 classrooms in 2023, check out this resource from ACEC/MA's Leadership Education Committee: a Module you can use for classroom visits in your community. More >
- For Land Surveyor Visits to Classrooms: MALSCE's PPT on the Land Surveying Profession - You can download this and adapt for school and college presentations. This is a large file that will take a minute to download.