With time running out in the legislative session, the MMA is continuing its meetings with House and Senate members to urge passage of Gov. Charlie Baker’s redrafted housing production bill (H. 4290), which has been before the House Committee on Ways and Means since March.

In contrast to previous legislative proposals, the governor’s bill would not require cities and towns to adopt any particular zoning scheme, but instead would reduce the two-thirds vote threshold to a majority threshold for approval of particular zoning bylaws and ordinances focused on housing production. This is seen as a balanced tool that would let cities and towns move forward more effectively on local housing initiatives while retaining community participation in the process.

At the Local Government Advisory Commission meeting at the State House on June 12, MMA Board members from the towns of Arlington, Sherborn and Winchester and the City of Newburyport expressed support for the governor’s bill and its targeted approach to solving housing production shortages. They each used specific examples to demonstrate barriers to reaching the required two-thirds majority and said meaningful change could be accomplished by reducing the vote threshold to a simple majority.

As part of an unprecedented coalition, the MMA joined the Greater Boston Real Estate Board, Home Builders and Remodelers Association of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Association of Realtors, and NAIOP – The Commercial Real Estate Development Association in sending a letter to all Massachusetts House and Senate members on June 21 to express support for the governor’s bill.

“In its current form,” the letter stated, “this important bill is a unique opportunity to increase the much-needed supply of housing in Massachusetts. … H. 4290 represents an unprecedented consensus by the major stakeholders to advance housing development policy. This narrowly tailored bill advances the state’s need for housing while respecting the important role municipalities play in regulating new housing production. It does so by eliminating one barrier to housing production – the need for a supermajority vote of Town Meeting or a city council to approve zoning changes for housing and smart growth planning.”

The coalition argues that, after more than 20 years, practical legislation must be passed in order to solve this pressing issue – and any additions that may make this proposal controversial, such as state-mandated zoning schemes, must be avoided, as they may once again lead to no action at all.