During the Feb. 11 meeting of the Local Government Advisory Commission at the State House, Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Katie Theoharides, the creator of the state’s Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness program, discusses the administration’s commitment to the 12-state Transportation and Climate Initiative, a regional effort to reduce carbon emissions caused by the transportation sector. TCI is one of several efforts developing at the state level to address climate change.

With pressure mounting for the Legislature to pass bold climate change legislation before the session ends in July, both the House and the Senate are considering proposals that take different approaches to addressing the crisis.

In late January, Senate President Karen Spilka unveiled a three-bill climate package, which the Senate debated and passed, with amendments, within a week.

The lead bill would require Massachusetts to reduce carbon emissions to “net zero” by 2050, with specified interim targets. It would also authorize the state to establish carbon-pricing mechanisms for the transportation sector and for commercial and residential buildings, with the details left up to the executive branch.

A transportation-focused companion bill would require the MBTA to purchase or lease only zero-emission vehicles by 2030 and to operate a fully zero-emissions fleet by 2040. The bill would not impose mandates on municipal fleets, but directs the state to develop resources to help municipalities transition to cleaner vehicle technologies.

The third bill in the package would update energy efficiency standards for a variety of household and commercial appliances and limit the sale of products that do not comply.

House Speaker Robert DeLeo’s 10-year GreenWorks bond bill, providing $100 million per year, would fund a range of climate adaptation and mitigation measures. The central feature is a new GreenWorks infrastructure and resiliency grant program for municipalities, modeled after the MassWorks economic development grant program.

The GreenWorks bill includes investments in microgrid technology and electrification of transportation fleets, as well as funding for sustainability coordinator positions within municipalities.

The MMA has testified in support of GreenWorks, and made suggestions to improve coordination across municipal lines and to limit duplication of efforts across related grant programs.

The GreenWorks bill, passed by the House last July, had not seen action in the Senate until a hearing was held on Feb. 25 before the Senate Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets.

The Baker-Polito administration continues to advocate for its proposal (S. 10), which would raise the excise tax on deeds by 0.2%, from $2 to $3 per $500 in real property value, with the additional revenue directed to the Global Warming Solutions Trust to fund the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness program and other climate resilience initiatives. Gov. Charlie Baker has estimated that the deeds tax increase would raise $137 million for the trust in its first year, and $1 billion over 10 years.

S.10 had its first legislative hearing before the Joint Committee on Revenue last June. In early February, the committee requested an extension to March 16 to make a determination on the bill.

With just a few months left in the 2019-2020 legislative session, it’s unclear whether the Senate will take up the House’s GreenWorks bond bill and whether the House will act on the Senate’s climate package. With the governor’s bill and the regional Transportation and Climate Initiative still in play, there are several approaches to be reconciled. One point of consensus among all parties: action on the climate crisis cannot wait.

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