Who is a member?
Our members are the local governments of Massachusetts and their elected and appointed leadership.
When the Legislature convenes on Jan. 1 for the second year of its two-year session, there will be high expectations for work to be done before formal sessions end on July 31 and the countdown starts on the November election.
The fiscal 2021 budget will be the most important piece of legislation taken up this year, as the governor and the Legislature carefully draft revenue and spending plans to fund the new school finance law enacted in November as well as other state priorities while staying within the tight revenue forecast delivered at the consensus revenue hearing in December.
Increasing municipal aid next year is a top budget priority for local officials and the MMA, including increasing the Unrestricted General Government Aid account by the rate of growth in state tax collections. This has been the de facto revenue-sharing policy of the governor and the Legislature over the past several years.
With public hearings completed last year on hundreds of bills, there could be a lot of interest in attaching policy matters to budget bills as they move through the process. Addressing the needs of rural communities will be a priority this year.
Gov. Charlie Baker is due to file his fiscal 2021 budget recommendation by Jan. 22, and the House and Senate are expected to take up their versions in April and May, respectively.
There will also be a lot of interest in taking up a number of big public policy issues before the clock runs out on the session. These include housing production legislation filed by the governor that enjoys wide support and has just been released by the Housing Committee. Climate change legislation is expected to be taken up by the Senate early in the year.
Funding for the state’s ailing transportation network remains one of the biggest policy challenges of the session for the Baker administration and the Legislature. Gov. Baker has filed an $18 billion transportation bond bill that includes multiyear capital funding for transit and road and bridge projects. The governor’s bill would provide only one year of authorizations for the Chapter 90 local road program, however. Increasing the Chapter 90 authorization to three or five years and increasing the annual allotment remain a high priority for municipal officials and the MMA.
The House and Senate have also been working on transportation revenue plans that could result in legislation this year to increase taxes and other revenues to help pay for an ambitious reshaping of transportation systems in Massachusetts, including a focus on transit, reducing congestion, and sharply cutting greenhouse gas emissions related to transportation.
Economic development legislation is also expected to be taken up this year, with a bill from the governor anticipated early in 2020. Health care finance is another challenging topic that could be taken up before the session ends.
There are also dozens of smaller policy issues that will compete for attention, including a variety of environmental bills, such as the statewide plastic bag ban supported by the MMA.
There are also a wide variety of bills that would impose new obligations or costly new unfunded mandates on local government, which the MMA is tracking and will oppose.