The Honorable Danielle W. Gregoire, House Chair
The Honorable Marc R. Pacheco, Senate Chair
Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight
State House, Boston

Dear Chair Gregoire, Chair Pacheco, and Distinguished Members of the Committee,

On behalf of cities and towns across the Commonwealth, the Massachusetts Municipal Association is writing to offer our comments regarding several bills before your committee for public hearing today.

The MMA opposes H. 2667, An Act requiring municipalities to place insurance out to bid. The insurance procurement process involves significant discussion and negotiation between municipalities and carriers regarding the structure of insurance coverage, including attachment levels, deductibles, risk management and loss control training and assistance, the term/length of engagement, and many other factors, which is why insurance services are expressly exempt from Chapter 30B. Cities and towns are in the best position to assess their insurance needs, and to determine when and how to solicit proposals, negotiate and reach agreement with various carriers to meet their coverage needs at the best value. This bill implies that insurance products and coverage options are all structured the same, which is certainly not the case. H. 2667 would make insurance procurement more difficult and less effective for cities and towns, and create a process that would discourage creative and effective solutions for the particular needs of each community.

The MMA opposes H. 2691, An Act prohibiting certain business dealings with agents of foreign adversaries by the Commonwealth and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. This complicated bill would seemingly forbid a company based in the U.S. from receiving support from a “nonmarket economy company” which may include China. This would tie the hands of municipal officials from dealing with many U.S. based companies who use products from “nonmarket economies,” further limiting their ability to successfully bid out these contracts.

The MMA opposes H. 2699, An Act relative to timely public payments for work not included in original construction contracts. The review and approval process for change orders and/or scope expansion takes time and must follow a process to make certain that any payments are appropriate and justified. Further, this new requirement could further strain the administrative capacity of smaller communities and public entities.

The MMA supports H. 2714, An Act relative to Chapter 30B procurement. This bill would correct an unanticipated outcome from the Municipal Modernization Act of 2016, which eliminated the ability of a municipality to conduct an RFP process for purchases between $10K and $50K. The loss of this ability is critical for small projects, as it allows for a more thorough vetting of firms and suppliers and the consideration of quality along with cost. The Massachusetts Association of Public Purchasing Officials also strongly supports this bill.

The MMA opposes H. 2755, An Act to eliminate the MGL30B exemption for solid waste, recycling, etc. While some municipalities are moving in this direction, others are not. This bill would create a one-size-fits-all mandate that would force all municipalities to put out to bid these services. Municipalities who wish to use the bidding process are free to do so now, and this exemption from Chapter 30B should remain in place for those municipalities who wish to use their own successful procurement method.

The MMA opposes H. 2761, An Act to promote Massachusetts manufacturers. While we understand the importance of supporting Massachusetts businesses, in practice, this bill would create damaging limits on the competitive bidding process and reduce options for cities and towns, potentially driving up costs to taxpayers.

The MMA supports S. 1857, An Act relative to municipal procurement. This bill would remove the requirement for posting bids on COMMBUYS for public works construction projects estimated to cost between $10K and $50K. As there is already a requirement for the statewide posting of these bids on the Central Register, this requirement is redundant and time consuming, especially for small projects in small towns.

The MMA supports S. 1886, An Act relative to commonwealth building projects. This bill would raise the cost cap for projects exempt from the Designer Selection Board from those costing under $300,000 to those under $1,000,000. While there was a minor threshold increase which became effective in 2018, this bill would better reflect the reality of inflation and increase the cost cap accordingly.

The MMA supports S. 1913, An Act Providing for alternative delivery of infrastructure projects. This bill would create a new local option program whereby municipalities and other public project owners could use innovative public-private partnerships for water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure projects. This bill would provide communities with the flexibility to use private financing to pay costs associated with these projects. Currently there is a huge gap between traditional resources and the need for innovation in this important area of public health. This bill would close this gap and help to promote innovation.

Thank you for your consideration of the municipal perspective on these very important local government matters. We ask you to preserve and expand municipal flexibility, and to oppose new mandates or administrative requirements on cities and towns. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to have your office contact me or MMA Senior Legislative Analyst Brittney Franklin at 617-426-7272 or bfranklin@mma.org at any time.

Sincerely,

Geoffrey C. Beckwith
Executive Director & CEO