Senate Passes Bill to Promote Economic Growth

COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS
MASSACHUSETTS SENATE
STATE HOUSE, BOSTON 02133-1053

Senator Joan B. Lovely
State Senator
2nd Essex District

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

July 2, 2014

Senate Passes Bill to Promote Economic Growth

(Boston) – The Senate on Tuesday passed legislation 37-1 to promote economic development and provide incentives to create jobs and stimulate the Commonwealth’s economy, Senator Joan Lovely announced. The bill makes targeted investments in the state’s economic drivers including innovation and Big Data, workforce development, tourism and marketing.

“This bill looks to support our Commonwealth’s economy through workforce development, investments in innovative technology, and funding to spur economic growth in Gateway Cities like Peabody and Salem,” Senator Lovely said.

During debate, the Senate adopted an amendment that Senator Lovely proposed for a study to recommend a plan for water transportation alternatives in and out of the Boston Convention and Exposition Center. “Given its location, the Boston Convention Center and its recently approved expansion would create an exciting economic opportunity for seaport communities because it would give conventioneers an opportunity to visit sea-side communities outside of Boston,” said Senator Lovely. “With this amendment, the convention center expansion can help promote tourism-not just in Boston – but in many other seaport communities.” A similar amendment, filed by Rep. John Keenan, was adopted during House debate on this bill last month.

Innovation and Big Data are crucial to supporting job growth in the Commonwealth. The bill includes $100,000 for the Chief Information Officer in the Division of Information Technology to establish an online business portal, which provides a step-by-step guide to starting a business in Massachusetts and the tools needed to complete this process.

The bill also establishes the Big Data Innovation and Workforce Fund through the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative to bring together academic institutions, industry and public sector organizations to make recommendations on how to educate and prepare a workforce for careers in Big Data. It further outlines $2 million for the operation of the John Adams Institute within the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative and $1 million for the program to identify and promote regional e-health technology clusters.

To help students prepare for higher education after high school, the bill includes $750,000 for the Early College High School Initiative to allow students to enroll in college credit courses. It also requires the Department of Higher Education to assess stackable credentials programs offered at public higher education institutions in the Commonwealth to connect students with local businesses.

Many of the fastest-growing jobs in the Commonwealth are middle-skill jobs, which require more than a high school education but less than a 4-year college program. The bill includes $10 million for the Advanced Manufacturing and Information Technology Workforce Training Trust Fund and sets a goal of training 4,000 workers in 4 years. To further address this need, $2 million is allocated for the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund and $150,000 for an employment training program for unemployed young adults with disabilities.

In addition, the bill outlines investments to help promote job creation and economic growth in underserved or struggling communities. It includes $10 million for the Gateway Cities Transformative Development Fund to revitalize and support residential, commercial, industrial and institutional development and financial assistance to promote collaborative workspaces.

The bill updates the research and development tax credit for businesses. Additionally, it creates an alternative simplified credit as another option to encourage research and development in Massachusetts.

The Senate reformed the rules around employment non-competition agreements to provide reasonable protections for employees regarding duration of employment and geographical location, include notice and disclosure requirements, and preserve legitimate business interests. In addition, a noncompete provision cannot be enforced against an employee who is non-exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act, such as hairdressers, camp counselors and daycare workers.

The bill also removes the statutory limitations on the number of liquor licenses a local liquor authority can issue and places the authority in the hands of the municipalities.

To support tourism and marketing efforts, the bill includes $5 million for the Massachusetts office of Travel and Tourism to establish an International Tourism Marketing Campaign and replaces the current Massachusetts Tourism Fund Formula with a new formula at the recommendation of the Tourism Formula Commission, carrying an effective date of July 1, 2016.

The bill also does the following to promote economic development across the state:

  • Includes $10 million for the Brownfields Redevelopment Fund;
  • Increases the Housing Development Incentive Program’s annual cap from $5 million to $10 million through December 31, 2018 and eliminates the 50 unit cap on housing units;
  • Establishes a Financial Services Advisory Council within the Office of Housing and Economic Development and authorizes the Council to exchange ideas and develop strategies for business and government to work together to strengthen the Commonwealth’s financial services industry;
  • Requires the Commonwealth to adopt the Uniform Trade Secrets Act to further protect business intellectual property;
  • Creates a 2014 sales tax holiday for the days of August 9 – 10; and
  • Expands the Infrastructure Investment Incentive program by increasing the amount of total allowable program spending from $325 million to $600 million and raising the number of allowed projects in any municipality from 3 to 8.

The Senate bill and the House bill, passed June 11th, will now go to a conference committee to produce a compromise bill for final passage and consideration of the Governor.

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