Government Affairs Update | Summer 2019

The Chamber continues to take an active role in advocating and engaging with policy makers on a variety of issues that impact businesses and the advancement of North Central Massachusetts. Below is an update on some of the more recent activities at the local, state and federal level.

Federal: The Chamber signed onto a letter from business and labor groups throughout the nation encouraging Congress to take action to address the long overdue issue of our nation’s infrastructure modernization. The Chamber also continues efforts to engage with our federal delegation, most recently hosting Congresswoman Trahan at a meeting where we discussed issues such as workforce development, transportation, international trade and immigration reform.

A delegation of Chamber staff and members met with Senate staff on Beacon Hill to discuss legislative priorities.

State Budget: The State House is in the midst of its annual budget process. As of this printing, the Governor, House and Senate have each released their versions of the budget with mixed results for North Central Massachusetts. Several priorities around regional economic development were included, while others were not. Key legislative language that we supported was also not included. A conference committee will be appointed by the House and Senate to work out the differences and come upwith a final budget.

Public Affairs Manager, Christopher McDermott, testifies before the joint Committee for Education at the Massachusetts State House.

Education Reform: The Chamber has taken a leadership role in advocating for meaningful education reforms at the state level that would align with the needs of employers and better prepare students for the workplace. The Chamber testified before the legislature regarding the need to ensure every student is exposed to career exploration and workforce readiness programming while in school. We have also partnered with other business groups to advocate for greater funding for industry credentialing courses in the state’s high schools.

Transportation: The Chamber has participated in several meetings of the Route 2 Taskforce that was formed by Senator Dean Tran. Transportation financing is shaping up to be a top issue for the legislature to address in this legislative session, so the meetings are timely and can help to better position the region for futureimprovements. The Chamber has also joined a coalition of business groups from throughout the state to engage collectively on the issue of improving our state’s transportation infrastructure.

Regulations: In addition to testifying, the Chamber also hosted a listening session on the new Paid Family and Medical Leave Act to provide local businesses an opportunity to voice any concerns they may have to state regulators. In related news, the Employer Medical Assistance Contribution (EMAC) assessment is scheduled to end on December 31, 2019 and the administration has indicated that they are not planning to extend it beyond 2019.

Local: Last month, the Chamber participated in ameeting of elected officialsfrom the tri-cities to discuss the importance of regionalism and economic development efforts. The Chamber has also been engaged in a number of issues in our local towns, most notably testifying in Sterling for proposed zoning changes that would help facilitate business growth. ◊

This update is from the latest Chamber Report