December 2018 Government Affairs Update
NAIOP Represents Industry on Gas Moratorium Crisis
As you know, the gas moratorium in effect in half of the state has brought development to a screeching halt. NAIOP Massachusetts has been the voice of the industry on this issue with National Grid, the Department of Public Utilities, Governor Baker’s office, Secretary of Energy & Environmental Affairs Matthew Beaton, and the Attorney General’s office.
NAIOP submitted a detailed letter on the impact of the lockout, met with numerous officials, and is in frequent contact with regulators. Based on a survey of NAIOP members, thousands of units of housing (including affordable units) cannot be occupied due to the moratoriums. This is in addition to the safety risks posed by a lack of heat, increased costs to provide diesel generators, and an inability for tenants to move into commercial or residential space and the ripple effect it has on other properties. (If you have not done so already, please fill out this survey to add your project to the list of projects affected by this crisis.)
While waivers are being granted in communities served by Columbia Gas, no waivers will be granted in National Grid communities unless it is an emergency situation. Legislation was filed two weeks ago by Governor Baker that will require engineers to review and sign off on “serious work” done by gas companies to prevent future disasters. This would apply to all gas companies. While we do not want additional delays added to the development process, this was something recommended by the National Transportation Safety Board during its review of the Merrimack Valley explosions. As noted above, this would only apply to “serious work” – not every single gas connection (details will be determined through regulations following passage of the law).
NAIOP is urging the legislature to pass this emergency bill so that public safety can be ensured and the moratoriums can be lifted as soon as possible. A hearing on the bill has not yet been scheduled and, since the legislature is in informal session until January, it would only take the vote of one legislator to block the bill’s passage. NAIOP will continue to advocate for the moratorium to be lifted as soon as possible and, when the lockout ends, for the Baker Administration to ensure adequate workers are available to address the significant backlog that has been created over the past five months. Please contact Tamara Small if you have any questions.
DOER Hosting Webinars on Energy Code Changes
The International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) is updated every three years. Massachusetts legislation requires the Commonwealth to adopt the latest version of the IECC within a year of its publication. NAIOP attends the monthly Board of Building Regulations & Standards (BBRS) meetings and frequently weighs in on any changes affecting the CRE industry.
The BBRS is actively reviewing the 2018 IECC with an eye to adopt it in the first half of 2019. This means there will be a new statewide energy code and a new stretch energy code in stretch communities. The MA Department of Energy resources will be hosting a webinar on at 1 pm, Wednesday, December 19, to provide a look ahead to the 2018 IECC by highlighting significant changes from the 2015 IECC. There will be two parts to the webinar, addressing proposed residential energy code changes first, followed by proposed commercial code updates. Click here to register.
NAIOP Prepares for 2019-2020 Legislative Session
The new legislative session begins in January 2019 and runs through July 2020. Each session, NAIOP works with legislators to file bills that aim to eliminate barriers to growth and encourage economic development. This fall we are meeting with NAIOP members and working with NAIOP’s government affairs committee and subcommittees to develop our legislative agenda. We will then work with legislators to file bills by mid-January. Is there an issue that needs a legislative fix? Let us know.