The House Ways and Means unveiled a $33.8 billion state budget proposal for fiscal 2014 last week, calling for a 3.9 percent increase in state spending that cuts $1 billion off Governor Deval Patrick’s proposed budget. Last Friday at 5:00pm all amendments to the budget were due. The House budget proposal and its amendments will be debated by the House beginning April 22, after school vacation week.
Following list of amendments may be of interest to the Chamber and our Members.
Amendment #11 (Rep. Christopher Fallon): Delay of the Gas Tax Increase: Establishes a special legislative task force to study cost-savings reform measures within the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. The Task Force must report results by Oct 1, 2013.
Amendment #36 (Rep. William Straus): Certain Tolls on the Mass Turnpike: Requires the Turnpike Authority to reinstate all tolls between interchanges 1 and 6 at amounts consistent with existing tolls elsewhere on the Turnpike; requires revenue from the reinstated tolls to be credited to the Commonwealth Transportation Fund.
Amendment #75 (Rep. Angelo Scaccia): Film Tax Credit: Amends several different provisions of General Law that have the cumulative effect of limit the cumulative amount of the film tax credit from all productions to $40 million in any given fiscal year; requires any motion picture production company seeking a credit for a productions that commences filming after 1/23/2013 to file a production notice providing enumerated information; a production company won’t allow a credit for a production commencing filming after /23/2013 unless filming commences 90 days after having received a favorable response.
Amendment #129 (Rep. Jason Lewis): Government Efficiencies Commission: Establishes a special commission to study functional overlaps and other redundancies among state agencies and opportunities to promote efficiency and accountability in state government.
Amendment #131 (Rep. Jason Lewis): Increased excise taxes on smoking tobacco and the Prevention and Wellness Trust: Adds a 110% of the wholesale price excise tax on all smoking tobacco and cigars above certain weights; directs that revenues from the new tax be deposited in the Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund.
Amendment #152 (Rep. Carlo Basile): Open Road Tolling Amendment: Prohibits MassDOT from implementing an open road tolling (ORT) program without first offering to train employees displaced by the ORT for new positions within DOT; requires DOT to give such employees preference in hiring; requires DOT to continue to recognize the employees’ collective bargaining representatives; creates an early retirement program for such employees.
Amendment #166 (Rep. Jonathan Hecht): Definition of Smokeless Tobacco: Adds new definition of smokeless tobacco to the Cigarette Excise Tax statute.
Amendment #168 ( Rep. Jonathan Hecht): Equalizing future OTP and cigarette taxes: Amends the cigarette excise by requiring that any future change to the state excise tax rate for cigarettes will cause a commensurate adjustment in the state excise tax for all other tobacco products.
Amendment #215 (Rep. Alice Hanlon Peisch): HOV Lane Revenue Collection: Allows use of the HOV lanes on I-93 by vehicles that do not meet the high occupancy criteria for a fee; requires revenue from such fees to be used to offset Big Dig debt.
Amendment #217 (Rep. Alice Hanlon Peisch): Congestion Tolling: Directs the Department of Transportation to implement a congestion fee structure to charge and collect tolls for transit on major roadways corresponding to the level of traffic; requires said fee structure not apply to roads entering or exiting Boston unless all such roads have said fee structure.
Amendment #230 (Rep. Josh Cutler): An Amendment to Reduce the Annual Filing Fee for Small Limited Liability Companies: Reduces the fee for filing the annual report from $500 over $250 for limited liability companies with five or fewer employees.
Amendment #238 (Rep. Tackey Chan): Employer Responsibility Trust Fund 1: Amends the bill by striking out Section 41 to preserve the current law requiring employers with 6 or more employees to pay an unemployment health insurance contribution based upon the wages of its employees.
Amendment #269 (Rep. Marc Lombardo): An Act Relative to Reducing the Income Tax to 5%: Reduces Part B income to a flat rate of 5% from the current rate of 5.3%.
Amendment #270 (Rep. Marc Lombardo): An Act Relative to Reducing the Sales Tax to 5%: Reduces the sales tax from 6.25% to 5%.
Amendment #279 (Rep. Josh Cutler): An Amendment Relative to a Meals Tax Break: Requires a suspension of the meals tax on every Sunday between June 1 and September 31 each year; all restaurant reporting requirements imposed by law will remain in effect throughout this time period, including days when the tax is suspended.
Amendment #308 (Rep. Geoffrey Diehl): Consolidation of Registrars: Establishes a commission to study the feasibility of consolidating the resources facilities and manpower is the State’s Registries of Motor Vehicles, Registries of Probate and Registries of Deeds.
Amendment #363 (Rep. Bradley Jones): Encouraging Competitiveness in the Mass Save Program: SECTION XX. Subsection (c) of section 19 of chapter 25 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2010 Official Edition, is hereby amended by inserting, in line 50, after the word “implementation” the following:- Any licensed Massachusetts independent contractor who meets the insurance, training, and certification requirements established by the program shall be able to independently contract with program participants, at a mutually agreed fair-market price, for the installation of program-approved measures, and offer all program incentives, including rebates and financing”.
Amendment #364 (Rep. Bradley Jones): 5% and 5% in 5 years: Representatives Jones of North Reading, Peterson of Grafton, Hill of Ipswich, Poirier of North Attleborough and deMacedo of Plymouth move to amend the bill by inserting after section 19 the following section: “SECTION XX. Subsection (c) of section 19 of chapter 25 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2010 Official Edition, is hereby amended by inserting, in line 50, after the word “implementation” the following:- Any licensed Massachusetts independent contractor who meets the insurance, training, and certification requirements established by the program shall be able to independently contract with program participants, at a mutually agreed fair-market price, for the installation of program-approved measures, and offer all program incentives, including rebates and financing”.
Amendment #365 (Rep. Bradley Jones): Internet Poker Licenses: “SECTION X. The first sentence of section 1 of chapter 23K of the General Laws, as appearing in section 16 of chapter 194 of the acts of 2011, is hereby amended by inserting after the words “gaming establishments” the following words:- and internet card rooms. SECTION X. Said chapter 23K is hereby further amended by inserting after section 1 the following section:- Section 1A. The General Court finds and declares that: (1) since the advent of the internet and despite the enactment of the federal law entitled Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (“UIGEA”), 31 U.S.C. §§ 5361-5367 (2006), hundreds of thousands of Massachusetts consumers have been playing internet poker through websites controlled by illegal off-shore businesses; (2) to the detriment of the commonwealth and its residents, these illegal off-shore businesses take tens of millions of dollars from residents on an annual basis, without paying any Massachusetts or federal taxes and without being subject to any oversight that would otherwise protect consumers from the dangers of underage gambling, compulsive gambling, cheating and swindling and unfair or deceptive acts or practices; (3) without regulatory oversight of internet poker, these illegal off-shore businesses will continue to harm the commonwealth and its residents, and public confidence in the integrity of legal gaming in the commonwealth will be critically undermined; (4) a rigorous regulatory and licensing scheme for internet poker will bolster the purposes of chapter 23K by providing millions of dollars in additional annual revenue and aid to local communities, creating over a thousand high-paying jobs in the technology sector, providing essential consumer protections to vulnerable individuals, promoting local business, enhancing the performance of the state lottery and aiding law enforcement; (5) pursuant to 31 U.S.C. § 5362(10)(B) (2006), this Act establishing limited internet gaming in the commonwealth constitutes a lawful exemption to the UIGEA, whereby the commission may authorize gaming licensees to conduct lawful internet gambling within the borders of the commonwealth; (6) pursuant to a formal opinion rendered by United States Department of Justice, Office of Legal Counsel, on December 23, 2011, the conduct authorized by this Act establishing limited internet gaming in the commonwealth is not proscribed by the Wire Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1084 (2006), because it does not relate to a “sporting event or contest;” and (7) the conduct authorized by the provisions of this Act establishing limited internet gaming in the commonwealth is not proscribed by any federal statute, including the following: the Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978, 15 U.S.C. 3001 et seq.; the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, 28 U.S.C. 3701 et seq.; the Gambling Devices Transportation Act, 15 U.S.C. 1171 et seq.; and the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, 25 U.S.C. 2701 et seq. SECTION X. Section 2 of said chapter 23K, as so appearing, is hereby amended by inserting the following seventeen paragraphs:- “Category 3 license”, a license issued by the commission that permits the licensee to operate an internet card room subject to the regulatory oversight of the commission under this chapter. “Domain name”, a name consisting of a sequence of letters, numbers and hyphens used to identify a website and locate the server hosting that website. “Internet”, the international system of interoperable packet switched data networks, including any additional electronic data
Amendment #379 (Rep. Brad Jones): Electronic Paperwork: SECTION 90A. Notwithstanding any general law or special law to the contrary, the secretary for administration and finance shall increase the efficiency of government through: (1) Reducing the use of paper through maximizing the available uses of information technology, including alternative information technologies to substitute for paper and increasing the use of electronic methods for the maintenance, submission, or disclosure of information, to improve data quality, agency efficiency and responsiveness to the public; (2) Eliminating costly and wasteful government publications through the expanded use of electronic methods for distribution of documentation throughout state government, where feasible and appropriate; (3) Increasing and maximizing the availability of online transactions; including statutorily and regulatory, required corporate filings and frequently transacted governmental business with the citizens of the commonwealth; (4) Maximizing the use and availability of electronic forms of payment and eliminating or minimizing any prohibitive fees associated with such transactions; and, (5) Eliminating duplicative permitting and paperwork requirements through implementing inter-agency file sharing technologies in order that electronically stored data can be viewed and routed, where appropriate, by multiple agencies. SECTION 90B. The secretary shall investigate any current statutory impediments for the reduction of the use of paper by state government and any impediments both statutory and technological, for more efficient electronic data storage and dissemination. The secretary shall submit his findings, along with any legislative recommendations to address those findings, to the house and senate clerks, and the joint committee on state administration and regulatory oversight no later than January 1, 2014. SECTION 90C. Notwithstanding any special or general law to the contrary, there shall be a special commission to investigate and make recommendations as to the feasibility of increasing electronic filings, records management and transactions within the judiciary. Said commission shall investigate the possibility of eliminating, or substantially reducing the utilization of paper filings in court proceedings. Said commission shall consist of twenty-five members, one member shall be the chief justice of the supreme judicial court, or her designee, who shall also serve as chair; one member shall be the chief justice of the appeals court, or his designee; one member shall be the chief justice for administration and management, or his designee; one member shall be the chief judge of the probate and family court, or his designee; one member shall be the chief judge of the land court, or his designee; one member shall be the attorney general of the commonwealth, or her designee; nineteen members shall be appointed by the chief justice of the supreme judicial court, provided that three members shall be district attorneys from diverse dispersed areas of the commonwealth, or their designees; provided further that three members shall be clerks of courts in the commonwealth, or their designees; provided further that two members shall be registers of deeds in the commonwealth, or their designees; provided further that two members shall be registers of probate in the commonwealth, or their designees; provided further that six members shall be selected from nominations provided by the Massachusetts Bar Association provided that such persons shall represent diverse practice areas and practice sizes; provided further that four members shall be experts in areas of information technology, data storage, security and privacy protection. Said commission shall submit its findings, along with any legislative recommendations necessary to address those findings, to the house and senate clerks, the joint committee on the judiciary, and the joint committee on state administration and regulatory oversight no later than February 1, 2014.”
Amendment #281 (Rep. Brad Jones): PPP Commission Minority Leader Appointment: move to amend the bill in section 96, in line 1483, by striking the figure “11″ and inserting in place thereof the following figure: – “13″; and further by inserting, in line 1488, by inserting after the word “house;” the following:- “1 of whom shall be appointed by the minority leader of the house of representatives; 1 of whom shall be appointed by the minority leader of the senate;”.
Amendment #404 (Rep. Angelo ‘Emilia): Sales Tax Holiday: Establishes a sales tax holiday for 8/10 through 8/11/13. The holiday does not include telecommunications, tobacco products, gas, steam, electricity, motor vehicles, motorboats, meals or a single item the price of which is in excess of $2,500.
Amendment #528 (Rep. Joseph Wagner): Special Commission to study the economic impact of the illegal tobacco market: Establishes a special commission to study and report on the illegal tobacco distribution industry in Massachusetts and the resulting loss of tax revenue to the Commonwealth.
Amendment #537 (Rep. Paul Frost): Anti-Big Brother Government: Declares it unlawful for a state or local authority or government body to regulate the size of soft drinks, or other beverages, or food portions sold at privately owned businesses, restaurants or stores, or to prohibit a privately owned business, restaurant or store from providing a toy or other legally acceptable promotion with the food or beverages sold.
Amendment #613 (Rep. Tom Sannicandro): Youth Tobacco Possession: Makes it illegal for anyone under eighteen years of age to knowingly purchases, possesses, transports or carry tobacco or cigarette rolling papers. Any juvenile found doing so will be required to enroll in a tobacco education and cessation program.
Amendment #672 (Rep. Peter Durant): Clarifying the use of medical marijuana: Amend the bill by adding the following section: “SECTION XXXX. Chapter 369 of the Acts of 2012 are hereby amended by striking paragraph (C) in section 2 and inserting in place thereof the following:- (C) “Debilitating medical condition” shall mean: Cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus, acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.
Amendment #676 (Rep. Denise Provost): Updating the Bottle Bill: Amended by striking out the definitions of “Beverage” and “Beverage container” and inserting in place thereof the following 2 definitions:- “Beverage”, soda water or similar carbonated soft drinks; beer and other malt beverages; non-carbonated soft drinks including but not limited to mineral water, flavored and unflavored water, spring water, fruit drinks, juice, sports drinks and other water beverages, coffee and coffee-based drinks; and all other non-alcoholic carbonated and noncarbonated drinks in liquid form intended for human consumption except milk and beverages that are primarily derived from dairy products, infant formula, and FDA-approved medicines; but shall not include alcoholic beverages other than beer and malt beverages as defined in chapter 138 or wine. “Beverage container”, any sealable bottle, can, jar or carton which is primarily composed of glass, metal, plastic or any combination of those materials and is produced for the purpose of containing a beverage, including containers of 2 gallons capacity or less for carbonated and malt beverages and less than 1 gallon for noncarbonated beverages. This definition shall not include containers made of biodegradable material.
Amendment #688 (Rep. James Lyons): An Amendment Relative to Rolling Back the Income Tax: Amend the bill by adding the following new section: “SECTION XX. Section 4 of Chapter 62 of the General Laws is hereby amended in the first line of subsection (b) by striking “5.3 per cent” and replacing it with “five percent”.
Amendment #690 (Rep. James Lyons): An Amendment Relative to Rolling Back the Sales Tax: Amend the bill by adding the following new section::”" SECTION XX: (a). Section 2 of chapter 64H of the General Laws, as amended by chapter 27 of the acts of 2009, is hereby amended by striking out, in line 3, the words “6.25 per cent” and inserting in place thereof the following words:- five percent. (b). Section 30A of said chapter 64H, as so appearing, is hereby amended by striking out, in lines 5, 7, 14 and 18, the figure “6.25″ and inserting in place thereof, in each instance, the following word:- five. (c). Section 2 of chapter 64I of the General Laws, as so appearing, is hereby amended by striking out, in line 6, the words “6.25 per cent” and inserting in place thereof the following words:- five percent. (d). Section 31A of said chapter 64I, as so appearing, is hereby amended by striking out, in lines 5, 7, 14 and 18, the figure “6.25″ and inserting in place thereof, in each instance, the following word:- five.
Amendment #707 (Rep. James Lyons): An Amendment to Establish a Commission to Study State Spending: Establishes a commission to investigate state spending in a number of enumerated categories, including the total amount of the state budget that is being used to fund individual, family, and other benefits or expenditures on behalf of citizens of the United States who are residents of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as opposed to those holding green cards or those whose residency cannot be established.
Amendment #744 (Rep. Shaunna O’Connell): Voluntary Registration of Independent Contractors: Amends provisions relative to independent contractors by providing that an individual will not be considered to be an employee if he or she has registered online with DOR and the registration is entirely voluntary, the individual is enrolled as a payroll-tax paying entity with the DOR, the individual is pursuing multiple client or customer relationships for the trade, occupation, profession or business; and the individual agrees to keep auditable records of client or customer relationships.
Amendment #762 (Rep. Keiko Orrall): Meals Tax Holiday: Authorizes a meals tax holiday from August 11-13, 2013.
Amendment #807 (Rep. Alice Hanlon Peisch): Background Checks Law Revisions: Makes amendments to various sections of the General Laws that have the general effect of requiring the use of the fingerprint-based checks of the state and national criminal history databases when conducting CORI background checks.
Amendment #813 (Rep. Thomas Conroy): Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund: Adds item 7002-1074 for the Workforce Competitiveness Trust, which provides education and skill development in high growth industry sectors for unemployed and underemployed persons, and funds the item at $5,000,000.
Amendment #815 (Rep. Chris Walsh): Regional Transportation Ballot Initiatives: Adds a new Chapter 65 to the General Laws that would regulate Regional Transportation Ballot Initiatives. Essentially, the chapter would grant a city or town the power to levy an additional transportation tax only after said tax has been approved by a ballot initiative.
Amendment #836 (Rep. Kay Khan): Increasing the Excise Tax on Alcohol: Raises the excise on alcohol from $3.30 to $6.60; raises a number of other excise taxes as well.
Amendment #877 (Rep. Denise Provost): Updated Bottle Bill: Inserting two definitions of beverage and beverage container. Beverage definition to include soda water or similar carbonated soft drinks; beer and other malt beverages; non-carbonated soft drinks including but not limited to mineral water, flavored and unflavored water, spring water, fruit drinks, juice, sports drinks and other water beverages, coffee and coffee-based drinks; and all other non-alcoholic carbonated and noncarbonated drinks in liquid form intended for human consumption except milk and beverages that are primarily derived from dairy products, infant formula, and FDA-approved medicines; but shall not include alcoholic beverages other than beer and malt beverages as defined in chapter 138 or wine. “Beverage container”, any sealable bottle, can, jar or carton which is primarily composed of glass, metal, plastic or any combination of those materials and is produced for the purpose of containing a beverage, including containers of 2 gallons capacity or less for carbonated and malt beverages and less than 1 gallon for noncarbonated beverages. This definition shall not include containers made of biodegradable material.