MAA NEWS MAA NEWS Dec 18_w - Page 14

L E G I S L A T I V E U P D A T E The Beacon Hill Report by Stephen A.Boksanski MAA/GIA Legislative Agent 2018 ELECTION RECAP The mid-term and state elections have come and gone. While there was a big shift in the balance of power in Congress, the dynamics of the Massachusetts State House were barely changed at all. The Democrats picked up a seat in the Senate, increasing their majority to 34 of 40 members. They also picked up 3 seats in the House of Representatives to push their advantage to 129- 30 with one Independent. With no major changes in the makeup of the Legislature, we anticipate a similar environment heading into 2019 where the House will continue to be a more moderate/centrist body than the left-leaning Senate. With Sen. Karen Spilka beginning her first term as Senate President, it remains to be seen exactly how she will lead the body and what issues will emerge as priorities. We expect the budget and health care to be in the mix from the start. Charlie Baker and Karyn Polito won re-election convincingly, 67%-33%, and will continue to focus on sound budgeting, trans- portation improvements, substance abuse treatment/prevention and health care costs. Baker was never in real danger but a 2-to-1 victory for a Republican in MA is still impressive and reminiscent of Weld’s crushing defeat of Mark Roosevelt for his second term. 2019 LEGISLATIVE CALENDAR On the first Wednesday of January (1/2/2019), all newly and re- elected members of the House and Senate will take the oath of office and officially begin the new term. The first order of busi- ness for both branches is to elect their leaders: Speaker of the House and the Senate President. It is expected that Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop), the longest serving Speaker in the history of Massachusetts, will be re- elected for the 6th time. This is enough to get people talking about how long he will continue to serve. While he has shown no signs of slowing down and appears to very much enjoy the position, rumors continue to swirl about his impending exit. In the Senate, Karen Spilka (D-Ashland), will be elected for the second time in 6 months and will lead the body for the first time from the very beginning of the term. This will be her first oppor- tunity to structure her leadership team and set the tone for how the Senate will operate and which issues will receive the greatest amount of attention. The Speaker and Senate President traditionally announce their respective leadership and Committee rosters in February or March, as the bills that were filed get admitted and referred to the various committees. Once the 5,000-6,000 bills are processed and sent to committee, the Committee Chairs will proceed to establish rules and begin scheduling public hearings. 14 MAA NEWS / December 2018 All bills filed must have a public hearing and receive a recom- mendation from the committee; this is the first and most impor- tant step in the process, where bills are advanced or killed. Our Legislature uses Joint Committees for the vast majority of bills and has a House and Senate Chair. Joint Committees are structured in relation to the size of each body, giving the House 11 members and the Senate 6. This numerical advantage favors the House in terms of dictating what does and does not make it out of Committee and has been a source of contention between the two branches over the past few years. Senators want greater control over this process and have attempted to change the Joint Rules but the House has not budged, causing bad feelings and mistrust between the branches. With a new Senate President, it will be interesting to see how this relationship evolves and how the session will go. The lack of trust and willful collaboration between the House and Senate caused what many would characterize as an uninspired and achievement-deficient legislative session in 2017-2018. Whether that continues or whether a new era of cooperation develops remains to be seen. This dynamic, between a more progressive branch that wants to be very aggressive on policy (Senate) and a more moderate/centrist body that prefers a cautious approach (House), is similar to what the U.S. Congress is facing after the Democrats took over the House this fall. The difference here is that this philosophical rift exists among members of the same party; the Democrats enjoy super majorities in both branches yet have very different views on governing. This is the stuff that I get to pay attention to, analyze and discuss all day every day – for which I am very grateful. It has always been and will continue to be my passion. Elected officials repre- sent us and make the laws by which we live and do business. Many people and organizations are also actively engaged in advancing policies that may impact your livelihood and the way you operate your business. We need to be telling our stories and sharing our expertise. Without knowledge or perspective, we can’t expect our legislators to understand the real-life impacts of any proposal. We have to be engaged in the process and lend our voices or suffer the consequences of uninformed decisions. Happy holidays to all from BCB! The MAA is a proud member of the Green Industry Alliance along with the Massachusetts Association of Landscape Professionals, Massachusetts Association of Lawn Care Professionals, Irrigation Association of New England, and the Golf Course Superintendents Association of New England. Mike Lueders, MCA, MCLP serves as the MAA’s representative. If you are interested in becoming involved with the GIA legislative activities, please contact the MAA Office.