MALSCE Government Affairs Update - January 2021
by Abbie Goodman, MALSCE Chief of External Affairs
Governor Baker Appoints Jamey Tesler Acting DOT Secretary Following MassDOT Secretary Stephanie Pollack’s Appointment to the Federal Highway Administration
MassDOT Highway Issues 2021 Standard Specifications
On 1/26/21 the MassDOT Highway Division issued the 2021 Edition of the Standard Specifications for Highways and Bridges.
This edition combines the previous (2020) edition with all supplemental specifications issued by MassDOT during 2020. The 2021 Edition of the Standard Specifications includes an appendix that provides a full accounting of the changes to the previous (2020) edition.
The 2021 Edition of the Standard Specifications for Highways and Bridges will be referenced in contract documents for all projects advertised beginning this week. No changes are required for any projects already advertised or under construction. For more information, refer to Engineering Directive E-21-001
Division of Professional Licensure / Board of Registration of Professional Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors
The next Board of Registration meeting will be on February 25, 2021 on Microsoft Teams. To connect to the meeting, go to this page on February 23 to download the agenda with connection instructions.
January 28 Board of Registration Meeting Highlights - these are not minutes, but a summary. This Board of Registration meeting was held on Microsoft Teams. Some Board members and DPL staff were able to be seen during this virtual meeting.
Review / Approved Minutes from December 22, 2020 Public Session
- Next Meeting Date – February 25, 2021
- Board also announced that March meeting is now confirmed for March 25, 2021
- Chair Safety Protocols / Remote Meeting Protocols: Continue to maintain Covid-19 safety protocols
- NCEES MBA (Member Board Administrators) Meeting and Board Presidents' Assembly will be held virtually on 1/29/21
- Typically held in Atlanta, will be held remotely
- Matt, Eric, Paul and Azu will attend virtually
Board Counsel Legal Report:
- Status update on proposed Continuing Professional Competency (CPC) regulations
Consumer Affairs has regulations under review, nothing new to report
- Joint Policy on Professional Practice: the Board is still awaiting input from the Board of Registration of Architects, expected in January 2021. The Board Counsel for the Board of Registration of Architects will reach out to Sheila York with some edits (Lynn Reid)
- Local Registered Engineering Licenses: This is the Town of Swansea issue reported last month. Board Counsel Sheila York is seeking permission from the DPL General Counsel to contact the Town of Swansea Board of Health about the matter. No update on this issue.
- Hearing Date 3-16-21: This will be a sanctions hearing; will be online on Microsoft Teams
Executive Director Report:
- NCEES Enforcement Exchange: Matt Keigen reported on this
- The Board received an updated Case status report
Review of Applications:
- Board members will receive a report about the applications
- Application Review Report: Board approved application report
- Good Moral Character (GMC) Discussion – will be in executive session
None reported for this meeting
Public section concluded at approximately 10:15. The Board reconvened in Executive Session regarding some complaints against licensed professionals.
- End of public session of Board of Registration -
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Robert DeLeo stepped down as Speaker of the House and Ron Mariano became the new Speaker in early January. This will result in a reshuffling of House leadership of committees.
Legislature ended its 2019-2020 session at 4:42 AM on 1/6:
- passing a $16.5B Transportation Bond Bill [ACEC/MA's Resource Page] and a $626M Economic Development Bill [ACEC/MA's Resource Page]. The 2021-2022 legislative session started on January 6, 2021.
- For TBB: The Governor did a pocket veto reducing the Transportation Bond bill by $30,000,000 and struck "language that specifies an annual amount for a program, and language that imposes unworkable restrictions on program administration" in item 6621-2117, pocket vetoed wording that "will impair the Commonwealth’s ability to secure federal funding" in items 6621-2108, and struck language that "uses capital funds for an operational purpose" in item 6921-2116, pocket vetoed all of items 6720-2127 and 6921-2110, pocket vetoed sections 4, 8, 9, 10, 11, 20, 27, 30, 31, 46 and 47, and approved the remainder of the bill.
- For the Economic Development bill: He also did some pocket vetoes, but left in authorization for zoning rule changes to be made by a majority vote of local boards rather than a two-thirds vote.
- On January 6, very early in the in the morning, the legislature passed a major Climate Change Bill [ACEC/MA's Resource Page]. The Governor vetoed the bill the next week. Since this bill was passed at the end of the 2019-2020 legislature session, when the Governor vetoes a bill, the legislature cannot override the veto and must file a new bill for the new legislative session.
Legislature started its 2021-2022 session at about 10 AM on 1/6/21
- 1/19/2021: Sen. Michael Barrett and Rep. Thomas Golden refiled the Climate bill for the new legislative session. The House and Senate voted on 1/28/21 to pass this new bill and sent it Governor Baker, who now has 10 days to review and issue vetoes. The House and Senate both passed the bill with a veto-proof majority, so stay tuned.
- The bill, which was negotiated last session between the House and Senate over five months of private talks: Link to S9
- Among other measures, the bill would lock the state into its goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, set interim emission reduction targets, establish appliance energy efficiency standards, authorize additional purchases of offshore wind power and codify protections for environmental justice communities.
- Rep. Thomas Golden and Sen. Michael Barrett refiled the bill this session. The two Democrats led the five months of negotiations that produced final legislation last term.Craig Gilvarg, a spokesperson for the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, said the Baker administration "believes the legislature's quick work to refile the bill is an opportunity to craft the best possible legislation." "The Administration looks forward to engaging in productive discussions with lawmakers and stakeholders to ensure the bill reflects analysis completed through the two-year 2050 Net Zero planning process, achieves climate goals in a manner that is cost-effective and equitable, and builds upon the Commonwealth’s longstanding, bipartisan leadership on climate change," Gilvarg said in a statement.
- Baker has said that if he had time he would have rather returned the climate bill with recommended amendments instead of vetoing it, so amendments are expected to flow from the Corner Office. Another sticking point has been the Legislature's emissions reduction target for 2030, set at 50% below 1990 levels.
- If Governor Baker ends up vetoing the bill again, both branches appear poised to surpass the two-thirds threshold required for an override. The House passed the bill on a 144-14 vote. While the Senate on 1/28/21 took voice votes, where individual senators' positions are not recorded, it passed last session's bill 38-2 and there are only two new senators -- Gomez and Sen. John Cronin -- who did not cast votes last cycle. The House's 144-14 vote on Thursday compares to its 145-9 total last session but still represents support from more than 90% of the 159 current representatives. Among the new representatives who were not in House for the last vote, all 15 Democrats voted for the bill. The two new Republican lawmakers, Reps. Kelly Pease and Steven Xiarhos, voted against it. Three House Republicans who had backed the bill last session voted in opposition this time -- Reps. David DeCoste, Norman Orrall and David Vieira.
In other legislative news for the 2021-2022 Legislative Session:
- On 1/27, Governor Baker filed his administration's proposed budget for FY2022. Massachusetts government is funded on a fiscal year basis. Fiscal Year 2022 runs from July 1, 2021 - June 30, 2022.
- The Baker Administration also filed a $200M Chapter 90 bill for FY 2022. The bill, currently HD 499, is among the first filed this session and will ultimately be heard by the Joint Committee on Transportation and other committees as it makes its way through the legislative process. In filing the Chapter 90 bill, Governor Baker offered: “Investing in local roads and bridges helps connect residents with jobs and opportunities across the Commonwealth, and promotes economic growth and development. We are pleased to continue providing support and resources to cities and towns throughout Massachusetts, and ensuring municipalities have the flexibility and resources to address their unique needs.”
- The bill filing deadline is 2/19/21 for this session. House and Senate leadership have not yet named committee leaders or general committee assignments have not been made. Once those appointments have been made then the committees will be able to begin scheduling hearings and the legislative process on thousands of bills can begin.
Massachusetts Clean Energy and Climate Plan for 2030: Statewide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions limit of 45% below the 1990 GHG emissions level for the year 2030:
On 12/30/20: Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides released the 2050 Decarbonization Roadmap and the Interim 2030 Clean Energy and Climate Plan, along with a Letter of Determination
The Clean Energy and Climate Plan for 2030 (2030 CECP) provides details on the actions the Commonwealth will undertake through the 2020s to ensure the 2030 emissions limit is met. The 2030 CECP is prepared in coordination with the development of the Decarbonization Roadmap to 2050 such that the actions and policies set forth in the 2030 CECP will also work to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
No change since March: City of Boston Municipal Lobbying Registration
Two current city councilors, Michelle Wu and Andrea Campbell, both recently announced their intentions to run for Mayor of Boston in 2021. Mayor Walsh has not yet announced his plans. As a result, we are unlikely to see any effort to fix the problem our members can face with the current wording of the lobbying ordinance: Design professionals attending meetings with clients on development projects with city of Boston will probably have to register as lobbyists if expressing an opinion that could be construed as advocating for or against a project
See Updates on this issue on the ACEC/MA Website page on the Boston Lobbying Ordinance
People can email their own questions about their own individual work to firstname.lastname@example.org
Opportunities to Serve on Boards and Commissions - Gubernatorial appointment requests: