MALSCE Government Affairs Update - October 2020
by Abbie Goodman, MALSCE Chief of External Affairs
The next Board of Registration meeting will be on November 24, 2020 on GoToMeeting. Download the agenda with connection instructions. To connect to the meeting, go to this page on November 22 to download the agenda with connection instructions.
Link to October 22 Agenda: https://www.mass.gov/doc/notice-of-meeting-and-topics-105/download
Here are the August Board meeting minutes: https://www.mass.gov/doc/en-august-27-2020-meeting-minutes/download
The September 24, 2020 Board Meeting Minutes will be posted here soon.
October 22, 2020 Meeting: Agenda: https://www.mass.gov/doc/notice-of-meeting-and-topics-105/download
October 22 Board of Registration Meeting Highlights - these are not minutes, but a summary of what I heard during the meeting
Pre-meeting discussion I had with DPL staff: Exam Information: The PE, PLS, EIT and SIT Exams are being held October 22-23, 2020 at the Marriott Copley Boston. PCS had to find additional proctors as some proctors were not comfortable serving for this exam due to Covid-19. Approximately 200 people sat for 1 of these exams in Boston and about 60 people in Worcester, with about 10-12 candidates for the PLS (Principles and Practices Exam), between the two sites. NCEES lost Hartford location for January 2021; they are searching for new Northeast location and might explore Marriott Copley Boston. It usually takes 8-10 weeks after the exam to get paper and pencil exam results back.
This Board of Registration meeting was held by GoToMeeting. Some Board members and DPL staff were able to be seen during this virtual meeting.
The Massachusetts PE and PLS license renewal deadline was extended to October 1, 2020 under Governor Baker's issued COVID-19 Executive Order No. 41, rescinding the prior orders as of July 10, 2020.
Review / Approve Minutes for September 24, 2020 Public Session. They will be posted on this page after October 22.
-End of public session-
Dig Safe: :No change since March: Dig Safe Bills reported favorably in House and Senate, sent to respective Ways & Means Committees
FY2021 State Operating Budget: Legislature had approved a partial budget through October 30, 2020, which Governor Baker had signed. On October 14, Governor Baker filed a 1-month budget for state operations. He also submitted a revised Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) budget recommendation, for the remainder of FY2021 (through June 30,2021). This is a $45.5 billion proposal does not propose any new taxes. It does rely on $1.35 billion from the Stabilization Fund (rainy day fund), leaving the fund with a balance of approximately $2.21 billion. It also relies on $1.8 billion in federal funding relief. These two sources are being used to fill the loss of approximately $3.6 billion in anticipated tax revenue. The legislature is expected to act on the 1-month budget proposal quickly. They will hold a hearing on Baker's revised FY2021 budget on Wednesday at noon. With the elections coming up, the legislature is expected push all its remaining controversial and complex work off, including the budget, until after November 3.
Before the Legislature starts its lame-duck session after election day, they could act on a $424 million spending bill (H 5014), to close the books on FY2020, which could require a formal session unless Democrats can get complete buy-in from all House and Senate members and then approve during informal session. That supplemental budget relies on spending capital gains revenues rather than putting that revenue into the rainy-day fund.
On Monday, October 19, the MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board and Department of Transportation Board of Directors meet in a joint session at 12 noon. The agenda calls for discussion of the East-West Rail study, a status and scheduling update on the Allston Multimodal megaproject, workforce diversity initiatives, and economic scenario planning. FMCB members also plan to hear an update on the T's FY2021 and FY2022 budget outlooks. Gov. Charlie Baker's updated FY21 budget proposal would direct about $59 million more to the MBTA than the T anticipated in its own spending plan.
On Friday, October 16, I participated in a virtual briefing with MBTA GM Steve Poftak where he talked about the huge FY2022 budget deficit (estimated at $308 million) and their plans to reduce some service and move some capital budget funding to the operating budget. While the MBTA is still hoping for help through a federal bill, the T has to plan for no federal help, with severe drops in ridership, particularly on commuter rail and ferry service. Members of ACEC/MA’s MBTA Partnering Committee participated in this briefing and will be working on this issue.
Economic Development and Climate Change bills still in conference committees (as of 10/18/2020). Expect conference reports after the FY2021 budget is either partially or fully approved post-election. Both bills would impact our engineering and land surveying community.
Transportation Bond Bill – Bill still in conference committee (as of 10/18/2020): The Senate conference committee members are : Transportation Committee Co-chair Senator Joe Boncore, Ways and Means Committee Chair Senator Michael Rodrigues, and Fitchburg Republican Senator Dean Tran. The House conferees are: Transportation Committee Co-chair Representative William Straus, Revenue Committee Co-chair Representative Mark Cusack, and Lakeville Republican Representative Norman Orrall. The conference committee will reconcile an $18B House bill (H 4547) and a roughly $17B Senate bill (S 2836).
Negotiators will debate a Senate plan to empower communities to raise local taxes for transportation projects. Because the legislature has extended its formal session for this year beyond the normal July 31 deadline, due to COVID-19 and state budget issues, the conference committee has been working to resolve differences between the two bills. Bond bills require roll call votes that can only occur during formal sessions.
Transportation Finance Bill – no new action expected: House finalized their version of bill on March 4, with 5 cent gas tax, corporate tax, TNC fees.
Transportation Revenue Debate Summary - Debate on this bill, formerly H. 4508, concluded in the House on 3/5/2020. This bill is now in the Massachusetts Senate, where its fate is unknown due to the huge strains on the state's revenues because of COVID-19. The new bill is now H4530 and is in the Senate Committee on Ways and Means
A Bill We Oppose: Transparent Business bill sent to study as previously reported. With a formal budget process expected post-November 3, we need to watch out for this being filed as an amendment. We also expect to see a refile in January 2021.
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
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