February 2017 Government Affairs Update
NAIOP FILES NEW LEGISLATION FOR 2017-2018
The new legislative session in Massachusetts began on January 4, 2017 and runs through July 2018. Each session, NAIOP works with legislators to file bills that aim to eliminate barriers to growth and encourage economic development. NAIOP filed a number of new bills this session and will work throughout the legislative session to advance this agenda.
GOVERNOR RELEASES BUDGET: FUNDING FOR NPDES INCLUDED
Last week Governor Baker released his $40.508 billion budget for FY2018 (House 1). Included in the budget was $1.4 million for MassDEP to administer the first year of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program in Massachusetts, which is now administered by the EPA. A NPDES permit is required for any discharges of pollutants from a point source into navigable waters of the US. As required by law, EPA or the state must set limits on the amount of pollutants that facilities may discharge into a waterbody. To date, 46 states have been authorized to administer the federal NPDES program. Massachusetts is just one of four states in the nation (along with Idaho, New Hampshire, and New Mexico) where the federal government is in charge of the permit issuance, compliance and enforcement.
NAIOP believes MassDEP is better equipped than EPA to concentrate on Massachusetts specific issues and develop permits with a more complete understanding of local conditions. Having MassDEP as the sole permitting authority, with EPA limited to an oversight role, would result in a more efficient permitting process. NAIOP strongly supports this funding as well as the passage of legislation that would provide MassDEP with this authority.
GOVERNOR PROPOSES RESTRUCTURING OF PUBLIC SAFETY AGENCIES
Last week, Governor Baker also filed legislation that would restructure state government by eliminating the Department of Public Safety and creating a new office to take over some of its functions (An Act to Reorganize the Department of Public Safety – H.68).
The reorganization plan establishes an Office of Public Safety and Inspections to be housed within the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development's Division of Professional Licensure (instead of the Executive Office of Public Safety). If passed, the new Office of Public Safety would oversee the state's elevator inspections, building code, construction-related permitting, and more. A legislative hearing is required within 30 days of filing, and must receive an up-or-down vote from the Legislature, without amendment, within 60 days or the action takes effect.
NAIOP and a coalition of trade groups have expressed support for consolidating licensing functions under one roof instead of across several secretariats (as exists under the current structure). NAIOP is currently reviewing the specifics of the proposal and is expected to testify in support of the proposal at the hearing. NAIOP believes the restructuring will lead to increased efficiencies and improved (and expedited) customer service.
STATE AUDITOR RELEASES REPORT ON MUNICIPAL WATER INFRASTRUCTURE NEEDS
Auditor Suzanne M. Bump’s Division of Local Mandates (DLM) recently
released a report on the status of municipal water systems in the Commonwealth, which found that communities report total unmet water system spending needs of at least $17.8 billion over the next twenty years. NAIOP supports increased investment in water infrastructure and believes this investment is a shared responsibility among the public and private sectors as well as new and existing users. Water infrastructure is key to economic development and this will continue to be a priority for NAIOP.
GOVERNOR SIGNS ZERO EMISSION VEHICLE LEGISLATION: ALLOWS FOR REGULATIONS TO REQUIRE ZEVS AT RESIDENTIAL AND COMMERCIAL PROPERTIES
Governor Baker recently signed a law that was passed by the House & Senate in the final hours of 2016 - S.2505, An Act Promoting Zero Emission Vehicle Adoption. While much of the bill focuses on encouraging the use of zero emission vehicles through increased access to electric vehicle charging stations or modifications to local zoning to allow for certain areas to be restricted for the use of ZEVs, Section 3 of the bill provides the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) and the Board of Building Regulations and Standards (BBRS) with the authority to adopt requirements for residential and commercial buildings for electric vehicle charging. NAIOP opposed similar language that was debated by the BBRS last summer, but was not adopted as part of the building code.
While NAIOP is not opposed to electric vehicles, the building code is not the place to encourage the growth of specific sectors of the economy. This language gives preferential treatment to certain technologies and will have no impact on the health, safety or security of the occupants or users of the building. NAIOP believes it should be up to the developer or owner, not the Commonwealth, to determine the best way to achieve energy efficiency.
NAIOP GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS ADVOCACY: LEARN MORE, GET INVOLVED
Interested in NAIOP’s government affairs agenda? Check out the Member-Only Top Issues section of the NAIOP web site for issue briefs, comment letters, and additional resources. Would you like to get involved in shaping NAIOP’s advocacy efforts? We value your input! NAIOP’s government affairs committees are a great way to stay informed on the important issues affecting the industry. Due to security restrictions, you must RSVP to attend any upcoming meetings. New members are welcome (and encouraged)! Contact Tamara Small, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs, at (781) 453-6900 ext. 5 for more information.