Water Infrastructure and Innovation:
Legislation Based on Recommendations of the Water Infrastructure Finance Commission
In the aftermath of dramatic decreases in federal and state funding for water infrastructure since the 1970’s, most states including Massachusetts have chronically underfunded improvements to our water infrastructure despite its importance to public health and our economy.
To clarify the scope of this challenge and provide recommendations for addressing it, our legislature established the Water Infrastructure Finance Commission in the FY10 budget. In the course of its work, the Commission heard testimony from cities and towns across the Commonwealth about challenges they face funding and maintaining their water systems. For more information about what towns provided testimony, please contact my office.
The following bills are based on the final recommendations of the Commission which were released in a report last February.
HD03103 An Act Relative to Municipal Assistance for Clean Water and Economic Development Infrastructure (new)
Authorizes creation of a 10-year Water Infrastructure Bond to fund local drinking water, wastewater and stormwater improvements. The bond would provide $200m in annual funding that would be directed as follows:
- 20% of the funds would be sent annually to every municipality, similar to Ch. 90 transportation funding. New funding would be restricted to water infrastructure.
- 40% to supplement the existing State Revolving Fund low-interest loan program administered by the Water Pollution Abatement Trust.
- 40% for grants to fund municipal water projects. This new grant program would be administered by the Water Pollution Abatement Trust. Grants would be allocated subject to the following:
- Qualifying municipalities must institute best management practices including adoption of a long-term asset management plan and full-cost pricing.
- Affordability factors, including existing local water rates, are considered when allocating funding.
- Up to 10% of the funds are set aside for projects using innovative or green technology.
HD02778 An Act Relative to Best Management Practices in Water (new)
Requires the Division of Local Services to define and establish guidelines for best management practices in long-term planning and financing for water infrastructure.
HD02926 An Act to Promote Innovative Water Management in the Commonwealth (new)
Requires the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center to develop a program for pilot testing innovative water technologies. There is a growing cluster of water innovation companies in Massachusetts developing new water technologies that can be marketed globally. This economic opportunity was highlighted during the recent state Water Innovation Mission to Israel. The proposed pilot initiative would support help bring new technologies to market and expand economic growth potential in this promising sector. The bill also requires DEP to create incentives through the Administrative Consent Order process for the use of innovative technologies.
HD02775 An Act Providing for the Establishment of Sustainable Water Resource Funds (new version of refile)
Codifies a recent court ruling that permits the use of municipal “water banking.” The bill allows cities and towns to collect a reasonable mitigation fee on new development to be kept in a separate account that can be used to reduce environmental impacts by promoting conservation and increasing system efficiency.
HD02925 An Act Relative to Implementing Watershed Based Permitting in the Commonwealth (new)
Requires the Department of Environmental Protection to conduct a feasibility study relative to implementing watershed based permitting. A watershed based permitting process enables long-term regional planning and prioritization of funding for projects that provide the greatest environmental benefit to the overall watershed.
Other Agriculture and Environment Legislation
HD01090 An Act Relative to Supporting Small Farms and Fisheries, and Promoting Clean Energy Production (refile)
Expands a 3% investment tax credit, currently available only to incorporated farms and fishing operations, to small farms and fishing operations. The credit can be applied to capital investments related exclusively to agriculture and fishing, including solar and wind projects that produce energy for agricultural purposes.
HD01207 An Act to Enhance Sustainability of Agricultural Businesses (refile)
Clarifies language relative to licensing and responsibilities of landscape architects, landscape designers and others in the landscaping industry.
HD01209 An Act Relative to the Protection of Open Space (refile)
Provides municipalities the right of first refusal to purchase land owned by non-profit organizations before it’s sold for development.
HD01345 An Act to Ensure Appropriate Regulation of Piggeries (new)
Clarifies existing regulations on the permitting of piggeries by specifying that guidance on nuisance impacts must be obtained from appropriate state and federal agencies.
HD02927 An Act Relative to Tuition and Fee Waivers for Armed Forces Reserves (new)
Extends tuition and fee waivers to include reservists of all branches.
The following three domestic violence bills are filed in cooperation with Middlesex DA Leone:
HD01147 An Act Providing Protection from Subsequent Restraining Order Violations. Currently, repeated violations of restraining orders are all treated as misdemeanors. This bill increases the potential penalty to 5 years if a defendant has previously been convicted for violating a restraining order.
HD01149 An Act to Permit the Setting of Both Cash Bail and Pretrial Conditions in Domestic Violence Matters (refile)
Currently, a prosecutor is forced to choose between addressing the defendant’s flight risk by asking for cash bail or addressing conditions of release that would protect the victim’s safety. This bill would allow the setting of both cash bail and conditions of release in domestic violence cases.
HD01154 An Act Relative to Protecting Domestic Violence Victims from Repeat Offenders (refile)
Currently, domestic assault and battery is a misdemeanor that carries 2½ years no matter how many times a defendant re-offends. This bill would increase the potential penalty to up to 5 years for repeat offenders. This enhanced penalty would be available immediately to protect domestic violence victims from an abuser who has already been convicted of other violent crimes. This bill also includes protection for a family or household member from an assault and battery committed in violation of a stay away order issued by the Court.
HD01852 An Act Adding Motorcycle Support to the Governor’s Highway Safety Committee (new)
Adds a member of the Massachusetts Motorcycle Association to the 11 member Governor’s Highway Safety Committee.
HD03074 An Act Defining Special Regulations for Vehicle Specific Checkpoints (new)
Clarifies that vehicle checkpoints cannot target a particular type of motor vehicle.
HD01089 An Act Supporting Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (refile)
Currently, researchers acknowledge that adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) experience medical problems more frequently than the general population and frequently visit emergency rooms for preventable medical conditions. This bill proposes that medical and nursing schools integrate training and exposure to I/DD and require EOHHS to evaluate and address I/DD health disparities.
HD02368 An Act Relative to Office-Based Surgery (new)
The number of procedures performed in office based surgeries, outside of highly regulated hospital settings, has increased significantly in recent years. This bill requires that any surgery or invasive medical procedure requiring sedation in these outpatient settings be accredited by a nationally recognized organization. A number of other states have recently instituted similar laws in response to medically transmitted hepatitis C in these facilities.
HD01087 An Act Relative to Medical Sharps (refile)
Requires pharmaceutical manufacturers to create a program for the safe disposal of medical sharps/syringes used legally for in-home treatment of diabetes and other illnesses.
HD01086 An Act Relative to Prevention and Control of Lyme Disease (refile)
The number of cases of tick-borne illness is rising in Massachusetts; from 1999-2009, the number of confirmed cases of Lyme disease in the Commonwealth grew by 500%. This bill will expand the powers of the existing Reclamation and Mosquito Control Board to work with municipalities to control the spread of tick-borne disease using Integrated Pest Management techniques. The bill also adds a representative of the Dept. of Fish and Game to the Reclamation Board.
Accountability and Transparency
HD01210 An act Relative to Improving Public Access to Statements of Financial Interest (refile)
Requires Statements of Financial Interest filed by candidates and elected officials to be available to the public online.
HD02781 An Act to Improve Management & Accountability in the Delivery of State Services (new)
Language being drafted by counsel. Bill will require UMass to develop a management training program for state employees, including guidelines on providing employee reviews. Also requires UMass to recommend a non-financial program to recognize outstanding service by state employees.
HD01088 An Act Relative to School Transportation (refile)
Eliminates state mandate requiring school districts to assess transportation fees based on the distance of the child’s residence from the school.
HD03093 An Act Relative to the Sudbury Watershed Advisory Committee (new)
Establishes a Sudbury Watershed Advisory Committee to advise DCR on recreational and environmental affairs within the watershed.
HD1346 An act relative to parking lots (new)
Requires the Department of Public Safety to establish regulations to require bollards when parking spaces are perpendicular to retail establishments. This bill intends to protect store patrons from vehicles that accidentally accelerate rather than brake when entering perpendicular parking in front of stores as we’ve seen several times in recent media.
HD01347 An Act Making Corrective Changes in Certain Laws Regarding the Taxation of Forest, Farm and Recreation Land (new)
Rectifies inadvertent omissions and makes technical or conforming amendments to the classified land statutes following amendments made in 2008.