The Massachusetts House and Senate agreed to extend the legislative session beyond the August 1st deadline. The decision came as several pieces of legislation were never resolved and await final passage.
The House and Senate have now passed very different transportation packages this year and both are problematic for small businesses. The House bill, passed in March before the pandemic, called for a 5 cent per gallon increase to the state gas tax.
The Senate version was a little more complicated as many Senators claimed it did not include a tax increase. But language within the bill permitted municipalities to authorize “regional ballots” to fund transportation projects. Residents of a municipality or group of affected municipalities would vote to increase those communities’ sales, excise, property or occupancy taxes to fund transportation projects. Senator Diana DiZoglio filed an amendment to strike this section but it failed to pass. Both bills now sit in a conference committee awaiting action from House and Senate members.
In January the Massachusetts Senate passed a bill to reduce emissions allowing for new carbon taxes, cap and trade policies and other fees to be levied on businesses, residents and vehicles.
During the last week of July the House debated its version of a carbon reduction bill. The House bill did not directly call for new taxes but allowed future administrations to determine whether carbon taxes were necessary. This is particularly troubling because it paved the way for legislative approval of Governor Baker’s Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI). TCI is estimated to raise fuel costs anywhere from 17-26 cents per gallon in Massachusetts. The House and Senate bills also include language to ban the sale or installation of certain appliances not in compliance with energy save standards.
The Legislature is still working to finalize healthcare related legislation and an economic development package. NFIB will continue to keep you updated as these bills progress through the Fall.