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Will Massachusetts lawmakers finally get tax reforms done?

Chairperson, Joint Committee on Ways and Means, Senator Michael Rodrigues and Sen. President Karen Spilka answer reporters questions at the Statehouse in Boston.
State House News Service
Chairperson, Joint Committee on Ways and Means, Senator Michael Rodrigues and Sen. President Karen Spilka answer reporters questions at the Statehouse in Boston.

Fewer than two months remain in Massachusetts legislative year. Will lawmakers finally get tax reforms done?

Massachusetts lawmakers huddling on Beacon Hill have less than two months before the date they have scheduled to wrap up for the year. Before that, there are a number of matters leaders have indicated are top priorities. For Senate President Karen Spilka, that's tax reform. Chris Lisinksi of the State House News Service explains the latest developments.

Chris Lisinski, SHNS: We are still waiting, as we have been for months, for tax relief to emerge from a private committee of House and Senate negotiators who are trying to overcome some pretty big differences between what the House wants to do on tax relief and what the Senate wants to do on tax relief.

The biggest point of divergence is probably on how business friendly this package should look. There is a lot of agreement and overlap on what to do for families and residents, less so when it comes to some more business friendly changes.

It's been months with that bottled up. We are still waiting and hopefully based on the signals we are getting; it looks like lawmakers are aiming to have this finished before they have to wrap up all formal business for the year by mid-November.

Carrie Healy, NEPM: What has House Speaker Ron Mariano put on the record as his priorities?

Similarly, he has also said tax relief. Beyond that, we don't know a ton about what the House's priorities are.

There was that omnibus sweeping gun reform bill that Speaker Mariano floated over the summer, you might recall, and he wound up backing down from that and saying he hoped to circle back to it in the fall. But we haven't heard a ton about just how certain that fall timeline is.

Something else we know that the House has been looking at is reform to the long-term care sector to put some more oversight and regulations there. But once again, there's no definitive timeline attached to that one either.

Extreme weather events are getting more common as the effects of human caused climate change impact historic weather patterns in the region. People are cleaning up from the aftermath of Hurricane Lee. Are lawmakers considering any new climate related legislation?

Yeah, we haven't heard anything like we have the past couple of sessions where we've seen some really major landmark climate bills come through the Legislature and make it into law; setting a net zero carbon emissions target by 2050, laying out a broad stretch of reforms, trying to get us to that using clean energy and increased offshore wind investment. There's still time, of course! We're not even halfway through the two-year session, and something as big as that is probably going to come together closer to the summer 2024 wrap up. But right now, I'd say it's a bit of a question mark, what lawmakers want to do on climate this time around.

Switching gears, as the Massachusetts Democratic Party prepares for their convention this coming weekend, the state Republican Party is looking at raising money, facing legal debt and a decline in donations. The Super Tuesday ballot is going to be their fund-raising mechanism. What are Republicans planning to do?

The state Republican Party is seeking to impose a fee of $20,000 per candidate to get onto the Super Tuesday ballot here in Massachusetts. That could be less. You'd only have to pay $10,000 if you're a Republican candidate who stops here in Massachusetts to stump alongside Massachusetts Republicans. They can also get on by collecting signatures or some other fees. But this is a way that state Republicans are looking at trying to bring in some funding, which they desperately need...those are the words of Republican National Committeeman Ron Kaufman, given how much debt the Mass. GOP is facing.

Do Massachusetts Democrats do anything similar, and what are they expected to tackle at the convention?

I don't believe that Democrats have a similar fee to get onto the Super Tuesday ballot right now, at least as far as I know. They, of course, are planning to meet on Friday for their convention in Lowell. This is an off-cycle convention, so, this one's going to be more about the party platform, and official positions of the Massachusetts Democratic Party rather than candidates for president or candidates for any of the statewide offices, which is what we saw last year.

Carrie Healy hosts the local broadcast of "Morning Edition" at NEPM. She also hosts the station’s weekly government and politics segment “Beacon Hill In 5” for broadcast radio and podcast syndication.