Five Gateway City bills to watch this session
The Gateway Cities Journal
Last Friday was “docket day” on Beacon Hill, the deadline for filing legislation for consideration during the 2023 – 2024 session. The co-chairs of the Gateway Cities caucus presented five hefty bills. As a package, the complementary and commonsense policy proposals contained in these bills would offer a huge infusion of energy for Gateway City growth and renewal efforts. In the coming months, you’ll be hearing much more about each of these bills. Here’s a quick preview to whet your appetite:
- An Act Relative to the Housing Development Incentive Program (HD.3644/SD.2249): This bill increases the HDIP cap to $30 million annually. HDIP has been the number one priority for Gateway City leaders for several years running. Increasing the cap has become especially urgent, with thousands of units that could help ease the housing crisis in the queue and rising interest rates increasingly threatening the viability of these projects. Gateway City leaders are still holding out hope that this long-overdue increase will occur early in the legislative session.
- An Act to Promote Downtown Vitality (HD.3803/SD.2322): This bill would set aside 5 percent of online sales tax collections to provide matching funds for business improvement districts, cultural districts, and other entities helping to cultivate energy in downtown and main street commercial districts. A provision in last session’s inclusive entrepreneurship bill (which advanced through committee but did not make it to the finish line), it has been offered as a standalone policy proposal this session. Our hope is that this innovative concept will draw support from a cross-section of groups interested in building strong gathering places, coming out of the pandemic.
- An Act Relative to Public Procurement and Inclusive Entrepreneurship (HD. 3891/SD. 2270): This bill redoubles our efforts to spur regional economic growth by closing large racial and ethnic gaps in business ownership. The centerpiece is changes to state procurement law that would give Massachusetts municipalities the ability to implement supplier diversity practices that cities throughout the country have successfully employed.
- An Act Relative to Neighborhood Stabilization and Economic Development (HD.3728/SD.2270): With MassHousing’s Neighborhood Hub and Neighborhood Stabilization Program, efforts to help Gateway Cities acquire and rehab vacant homes are progressing. But cities still struggle with properties caught up in legal proceedings. Legal fees consume precious dollars that could go to making abandoned homes livable once again. This legislation would modernize state laws, borrowing from effective approaches to vacant property that other states have employed.
- An Act to Build Future-Forward Parking Structures to Promote EV Equity and Walkable Downtowns (HD.3910/SD.2239): Redeveloping Gateway City downtowns as mixed-use areas with a plentiful supply of both housing and office space will require thoughtful attention to parking. Surface lots must be replaced with structured parking facilities, and all of the parking in these areas must equitably anticipate the arrival of droves of electric vehicles. This new bond-funding program will provide matching funds to help Gateway Cities thoughtfully plan and build this critical infrastructure of the future.