Legislative Briefing

Government Affairs Update

In February, the Chamber hosted a legislative briefing for members of the North Central Massachusetts legislative delegation. Pictured left to right: Nolan King, Aide to Representative Jon Zlotnik; Elizabeth Kazinskas, Aide to Representative Ferguson; Travis Condon, Chamber Public Affairs Manager; Representative Margaret Scarsdale; Representative Meghan Kilcoyne; Senator John Cronin; Representative Kimberly Ferguson; Senator Jamie Eldridge; Representative Michael Kushmerek; and Representative Danillo Sena.

As the Massachusetts Legislature settled into the new session with a new administration, the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce continues to advocate and strengthen our relationship with the region’s delegation on behalf of our members. Letters were sent to each of the newly elected officials in the region and statewide offices as well as those reelected. Chamber President and CEO, Roy Nascimento, also penned an open letter that was picked up by multiple media outlets thanking the Baker-Polito administration for their partnership and extending a welcome to the new administration. The letter included eight strategic recommendations for consideration to advance the region and the Commonwealth. The Chamber is closely monitoring the executive offices, and we expect more transitions and appointments in the early days of Governor Healey’s new administration.

While Beacon Hill prepares their priorities for the FY24 budget, the Chamber gathered the region’s delegates from the House and Senate at the Chamber office for our annual Legislative Briefing in February. This marked the first time the event has been held in person since the start of the pandemic, and there was a strong showing from the North Central Massachusetts delegation. The Chamber gave an overview on successes in the past year and outlined our priorities for FY24 from the public policy agenda in the areas of small business support, tourism and education and workforce. We also provided an update on progress made on a number of initiatives contained in our One North Central plan.

When it comes to the One North Central plan, the Chamber continues to work towards a number of initiatives from the plan including the implementation of a regional land bank. On this front, the Chamber worked closely with our delegation during the last session on a bill to extend the sunset date of the Fitchburg Area Economic Development Corporation (FAEDC) which expired in 2021 by another 50 years to 2071. The FAEDC was a predecessor to the NCMDC and the Chamber intends on using it as a vehicle for this land bank initiative. Special thanks to Senator Cronin and Representative Kushmerek for sponsoring the legislation. We would also like to extend our thanks to Representatives Zlotnik and Higgins for their support.

One big topic of conversation during the prior legislative session and election cycle was the topic of tax reform. Despite releasing plans last summer, Beacon Hill opted not to enact any major tax reforms. During her campaign, Governor Maura Healey did indicate she would pursue permanent tax relief measures, and the Chamber will monitor this situation and its potential impact on the area’s business community. When it comes to taxes locally, Mr. Nascimento, and Travis Condon, our Public Affairs Manager, attended the most recent tax classification hearing in Clinton. A 2018 recommendation by a select board committee had advocated for shifting towards a single tax rate, a shift that was paused during the pandemic. Mr. Nascimento testified for the continued move towards a single tax rate, but multiple board members first made a motion to increase the split which was defeated. A similar motion to decrease the split also failed before members voted in favor of maintaining the current split. While this is not the outcome we had hoped for, we did reach out to thank the Select Board members who voted for the reduction, and we will continue to advocate for reducing the split in the coming years.

The Chamber is also working to continue to build our relationships with the towns throughout the region and we have spent time since the beginning of the year meeting with various town administrators and economic development committees to discuss ways to strengthen our partnership and remind them that the Chamber is available as a resource.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact Travis Condon, the Chamber’s public affairs manager, at 978.353.7600, ext. 224; or via email at tcondon@northcentralmass.com.