January marked the beginning of a new two year legislative session at the State House. Issues such as education reform, health care costs, sports betting, transportation, and climate change are expected to be the hot button issues that will be dealt with during this session. As legislators took their seats, the Chamber worked to ensure the region’s priorities were recognized. Just a week after they had been sworn in, we held our annual legislative briefing with the North Central Massachusetts Delegation, highlighting our State House goals for 2019. The topics discussed included economic development, regional planning, support for the tourism and manufacturing industries, and education reform. Before the month was out, the Chamber rallied support behind three bills which address several of these issues. These included legislation focused on industry certified credentialing in high schools and two bills which support the region’s growing visitor industry.
In other news, the Chamber also recently testified at a public hearing on the proposed regulations associated with the new Paid Family and Medical Leave Law. Once codified, these regulations will guide how the recently established Department of Family and Medical Leave enforces this law. Having reviewed the current draft, we attended a public listening session in Worcester and voiced concerns over the administrative burdens for small businesses and a lack of clarity regarding approval of private, alternative plans. The Chamber will also host a public session with the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development on March 8, providing local businesses an opportunity to testify or ask questions about the regulations.
To raise awareness of the recommendations from our recent report Build North Central Massachusetts: Promoting the Industrial Heart of Massachusetts, we also organized editorial meetings with regional press outlets and conducted outreach to legislative leaders. The Chamber hopes that the report will help inform and motivate public policy leaders as they begin the dialogue around education reform.
The Chamber will continue to monitor these vital issues and ensure that the needs of the North Central Massachusetts Business Community are not ignored by Beacon Hill. If you run a business in the region and want to make your voice heard on these or any other issues, please contact the Chamber’s public affairs manager, Christopher McDermott, at (978) 353-7600 ext. 224 or firstname.lastname@example.org.