MASSACHUSETTS SHOWS HOW GOVERNING IS DONE

Baker signs housing bill

^ Governor Baker signs $ 1.8 billion dollar housing bond bill

—- —- —-

The year’s legislative session ends soon. What session it has been ! A list of the laws enacted completes just about everybody’s bucket list of priorities:

— $ 15/hour minimum wage, in steps, of course, but getting there by 2023. Along with this reform comes a reduction in the sales tax from 62.5 percent to five percent as well as elimination of time and a half pay for overtime.

— paid family leave

— the “Red Flag” law by which a person shown to be dangerous can be denied possession of weapons. (this has already been a feature of c. 209 A restraining orders)

— so-called “conversion therapy’ banned (conversion is a kind of angst and intimidation by which gay kids are supposedly shocked to become “straight”)

— addition of an “X” gender option to the state’s driver license. (still pending in the House)

— a $ 1.8 billion dollar bond bill to fund workforce and affordable housing construction : you can read the entire story here : https://www.mass.gov/news/governor-baker-signs-18-billion-affordable-housing-bill-to-increase-housing-production

— a $ 2.2 billion bond bill to fund climate adaptation :

$2.2 BILLION FOR CLIMATE ADAPTATION AND ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION (H 4599) —House 143-3, approved a bond bill allowing the state to borrow up to $2.2 billion for climate change adaptation, environmental and natural resource protection, and investment in recreational assets.

— a Clean Energy Bill, enacted by the Senate (note : Governor Baker has his own proposal, which I will post below):

CLEAN ENERGY (S 2545) — Senate 35-0, approved and sent to the House a clean energy bill that supporters say will prepare Massachusetts for the inevitable problems that will come with climate change.

Provisions include increasing the percentage of renewable energy that must be purchased by retail electric suppliers from an additional 1 percent annually to 3 percent annually; requiring the state to adopt statewide greenhouse gas emissions limits for the years 2030 and 2040; helping the state achieve its greenhouse gas emission by establishing compliance mechanisms for the transportation, residential, commercial and industrial building sectors; lifting the cap on solar net metering; authorizing additional hydropower and offshore wind; and implementing statewide energy storage goals.

— a major Criminal Justice Reform bill : https://www.masslive.com/politics/index.ssf/2018/04/gov_charlie_baker_signs_landma.html

Criminal Justice reform

Final enactment of the state’s FY 2019 budget remains: the legislature has its budget ( https://malegislature.gov/Budget/FY2019/FinalBudget ) and Governor Baker has his : http://budget.digital.mass.gov/bb/h1/fy19h1/ The two budgets aren’t the same, as one would expect, and reconciliation may take up all of this session’s remaining time. I shall discuss the budget in my next column.

Almost all of the above reforms were approved unanimously or by overwhelming, bipartisan numbers. Even the conversion therapy ban, which I expected would arouse controversy, was approved 137 to 14 by the House and will surely be enacted at least that overwhelmingly by the Senate. As for the “Grand bargain” bill that included the $ 15/hour minimum wage and sales tax reduction, it was voted 119 to 24 in the House and 30 to 8 in the Senate. Let’s note that this is no new development. Since Governor baker’s election, almost all major legislature has been enacted by nearly unanimous numbers. Consensus governance, it is.

Consensus government works. Reforms enacted by all or almost all concerned tend to last , which is what one wants reforms to do. A reform isn’t much good if it’s enacted narrowly over the objections of a large number who oppose it. It’s all too easy for reforms enacted thus to be overturned when the objectors come to power. We see the consequences of narrowly enacted reform in what’s been happening in Washington since the Obama years. It is imperative that reforms win the approval of more than a bare majority. In Massachusetts we have that. It’s highly unlikely that the reforms enacted during this legislative session — or the three before it — will be overturned. People who live in Massachusetts can plan their lives accordingly without worry that tomorrow everything will change.

I mentioned above that Governor Baker has his own clean energy initiative going on. He has plenty of other initiatives in place, for example these : workforce development in “gateway” cities; workforce housing all across the state, from Amherst to Lynn; SkillsCapital initiatives at all levels of education, awarded to communities all over the state; incentives for our biomedical and biotechnology industry; upgrades to the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation. Then there’s this:

Massachusetts is proud to be the 2nd state to join ’s network, and our bill will help to ensure that our seniors who have raised families + contributed in so many ways here are able to live out their years in the communities that they know best.

Baker in Lynn

^ Governor Baker at the completion of Gateway North Apartments in Lynn. Mayor Tom McGee on the left.

And finally, this : extension of the Green Line, long promised, finally begun. The ground-breaking photos you can see here : DgkD8woW4A

Finally, there’s this : the Governor’s clean energy and electricity rate reform bill : https://www.mass.gov/news/baker-polito-administration-files-legislation-committing-over-14-billion-to-climate-change

If you the reader are saying to yourself, “wow, he makes the Governor look awfully good,” my answer is “no. It’s not i who are doing this, it’s the legislature. By enacting the legislation it has, and by overwhelming margins, the legislature has made it easy for Governor Baker to put his signature to these bills and to “look good,” because he knows that the vast majority of voters like the bills he is signing and therefore like him. Baker is, of course, a politician. He depends upon voters to re-elect him. It is common sense that he would sign legislation that a strong majority of voters like. And isn’t that what governance by electeds is about ?

There are some activists who are impatient with , or dissatisfied by, consensus reform. I get that, and so do our electeds. Neither they nor i have any problem with activists pushing for even further reform. Someday those reforms may attract majority support and amend to meet objections. that’s what democratic government is about. Yet for now, the consensus that we in Massachusetts enjoy is worth celebrating.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

 

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