Legislative Team Update

Posted on Mar 9, 2023 | Legislative News

Prioritizing Our Support

The Legislative Team is working toward delivering a proposed list of legislation for ECA Mass to back in the current legislative session. The team plans on identifying bills across three tiers of support: top priority, priority, and endorsed. We will likely designate 1-2 bills as top priority, and they will receive the most energy and attention from ECA Mass. We may identify one (or two) in each sector, i.e., buildings, transportation, natural resources, green banking, as high priority and provide substantial support for those in collaboration with our key partners, such as the Zero Emission Vehicle coalition, Mothers Out Front, 350MA, etc. In the endorsed tier will likely be many bills that are important enough for us to put our name on a letter or that deserve other forms of limited support. With over 600 climate bills in the current session, our goal is to not spread ourselves too thin. More to come on this topic!

The Money Trail

Governor Healey released her proposed budget for FY24 last week, and it includes a number of new items to boost equitable climate change mitigation and adaptation as well as some significant increases in funding for key Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) departments and programs. The budget boosts funding for EEA by $105.2 million (24%) to bring it to 1% of the total budget, as Healey promised. The budget calls for the hiring of 240 new EEA staff (an increase of 8%) and includes funding for a new Office of Environmental Justice (EJ), along with $70 million for EJ initiatives (a 1000% increase). Healey also proposes funding for a “one-stop-shop” website for residents to identify resources for improving energy efficiency and decarbonizing buildings and transportation.

This routine annual budget typically focuses on operating expenses for all state administration and Medicaid spending, while future supplemental and economic development spending proposals will focus more on funding new programs. The budget ball now goes into the hands of the House Ways and Means Committee, where it often is dramatically revamped according to the wishes of the Committee chair and House leadership. Our Budget Working Group will be analyzing Healey’s proposal and tracking the budget process to recommend items and amendments we should support, as this critical annual ritual unfolds. Stay tuned for Action Alerts that will help you follow the money and make a difference.

Legislation 101: How a Bill Becomes Law

The Legislative Team will be giving an introduction on how bills become laws in Massachusetts at the March 20 New Members Orientation Meeting (see Save the Date above). We’ll give an overview of the process, how to work with your legislative representatives and how ECA Mass helps you advocate to pass critical climate legislation. The primary audience is new members, but everyone could likely use a refresher. The presentation will be recorded.

~ Roger Luckman and Jeff Clark