Markey, Legislature Pass Economic Development Bill
Focuses on emerging industries, invests in workforce and regional development.
(BOSTON) – Representative Christopher Markey (D-Dartmouth) joined his colleagues in the Legislature to pass a comprehensive economic development and jobs bill that aims to further strengthen Massachusetts’ innovation industries and position the state as a global leader both economically and culturally. The legislation focuses on emerging industries, investments in workforce development and education, and promoting targeted regional growth.
“Since becoming Speaker in 2009, growing our economy has been my top priority,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop). “We’ve worked to strengthen all areas of our economy – from blue collar jobs to the innovation economy. Thanks to our efforts, we’ve made unprecedented gains. This bill extends that focus to ensure that residents, businesses and communities are able to compete and excel in a dynamic, global economy. I’m particularly proud and encouraged by the initiatives that will broaden the circle of economic prosperity beyond Greater Boston to all regions of the Commonwealth.”
"If the Commonwealth is to remain competitive in the world economy, then it is important that we capitalize on our state's existing and developing industries," Senate President Therese Murray (D-Plymouth) said. "This bill makes many investments in our emerging industries, like Big Data and advanced manufacturing, as well as programs to strengthen our growing educated workforce. Through our efforts to build a cutting-edge economy, we are directly helping many residents to succeed."
"This bill demonstrates a commitment by the Legislature to a robust economy that stretches across Massachusetts,” said Representative Joseph F. Wagner, Chair of the Committee on Economic Development & Emerging Technologies (D-Chicopee). “Through strategic investments and policy initiatives, we aim to encourage private sector investment, strengthen the innovation economy, support the manufacturing sector, and provide workforce training to help meet the critical needs of Massachusetts employers."
“Whether it’s with investments in the Tech Sector, tax incentives for research and development, building materials in Designated Port Areas, a Middle Skills Job Training Bill, or renewed investment in our manufacturing sector, this economic development legislation addresses our present needs but, more importantly, primes this Commonwealth for a bright future,” said Markey, who represents all of Dartmouth and portions of New Bedford. He added, “With this economic development bill, conditions will be improved for job creation and strengthening and expanding existing businesses.”
The legislation invests $1.5 million in MassCAN, a partnership founded by a coalition including Google, Microsoft, Mass Business Roundtable, Mass Tech Collaborative, Massachusetts Competitive Partnership and Mass Tech Leadership Council, to establish widespread, progressive computer science education in public schools. Upon implementation, Massachusetts will be the first state in the nation to offer a dollar-for-dollar match with private industry for computer science education.
It also creates and provides $2.15 million for the Big Data Innovation & Workforce Fund to promote the big data and analytics industries, provide tools for related career development and explore how analytics can help address problems of public concern like transportation, energy and public health.
The legislation takes multiple steps to further develop talent and keep students, employees and companies in Massachusetts, including a $2 million investment in the Talent Pipeline initiative. The program, which has won national praise since its creation through the 2012 economic development law, encourages students and young innovators to get a head start on their futures by matching stipends for interns at innovation start-ups, and providing mentoring opportunities for new entrepreneurs. The bill also establishes a 3-year global entrepreneur-in-residence program at UMass Lowell and UMass Boston administered by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative to help start and grow businesses and jobs that will stay in Massachusetts.
To help students prepare for higher education after high school, the bill includes $750,000 for the Early College High School Initiative that encourages partnerships between regional school districts and institutions of public higher education to allow students to work on the completion of a high school diploma while simultaneously earning free college credits towards an associate degree. The bill also funds a statewide college readiness program that includes diagnostic and college placement tests, and implements and promotes stackable credentials programs at public higher education institutions.
Recognizing the unique role that start-ups and early-growth companies have in revitalizing the economy, this bill includes numerous provisions to support the innovation ecosystem including:
• Builds on a successful program that would allow the pension fund (PRIM) to invest at least $150 million in institutions that make capital available to small business and early stage companies;
• Provides $1.5 million for MassVentures, an organization that supports the innovation economy by funding early-stage, high-growth startups in Massachusetts as they move from concept to commercialization;
• Includes $100,000 for the Chief Information Officer in the Division of Information Technology to establish an online business portal, which provides a step-by-step guide to starting a business in the Commonwealth;
• Creates the Angel Investor Tax Credit to incentivize investment and foster growth in newly formed start-ups in Massachusetts. Investors are eligible for a 20 percent credit of the qualifying angel investment, 30 percent if the recipient business is located in a Gateway City;
• Updates the research and development tax credit for businesses. Additionally, it creates an alternative simplified credit as another option to encourage research and development in Massachusetts; and
• Includes $2 million to establish the Innovation Commercialization Seed Fund to provide opportunities to test business ideas in the marketplace. The fund will function as a competitive grant program for researchers and students at the University of Massachusetts and other public and private research universities in Massachusetts.
Since the 2008 economic downturn, the Legislature has strategically targeted economic sectors that will provide sustainable jobs for workers of all skill levels across a variety of industries. The 2014 economic development legislation establishes the Middle Skills Job Training Grant Fund, funded at $12 million, to provide grants to vocational-technical schools and community colleges that will support advanced manufacturing, technology and hospitality training. The fund seeks to train 4,000 workers in the next four years to meet the talent needs of Massachusetts employers. The legislation also funds a matching grant program for small manufacturing companies to provide technical assistance and avert layoffs and closures and provides $2.5 million for the Workforce Competitive Trust Fund.
To support tourism and marketing efforts, the bill includes $5 million for the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism to establish an International Tourism Marketing Campaign and replaces the current Massachusetts Tourism Fund Formula with a new formula at the recommendation of the Tourism Formula Commission, effective July 1, 2016. To support the Commonwealth’s fishing industry, the bill creates a seafood marketing program and establishes a Massachusetts Seafood Marketing Program Fund within the Division of Marine Fisheries to benefit the Commonwealth’s fishing and seafood industry. Additionally, Representative Markey’s amendment to provide grant funding for the development of a livestock processing facility in underserved areas will, according to Markey, “help create jobs but also continue to support Buy Local efforts by allowing locally-raised livestock to be sold closer to its source. It will increase accessibility for these products, as well as safety, and decrease the carbon footprint made by shipping out of state or to Western Massachusetts.”
While the Greater Boston area has shown strong signs of economic recovery, regions like the South Coast and Greater New Bedford still face recession-like conditions. This bill lays the groundwork for regional renewal through numerous initiatives, including the creation of the Transformative Development Fund which will support residential, commercial, industrial and institutional development in Gateway Cities. The legislation provides an initial $16 million investment, a portion of which will support the creation of collaborative workspaces in Gateway Cities to spur innovative and creative business growth.
The bill also authorizes increased spending for the Infrastructure Investment Incentive (I-Cubed) Program from $325 million to $600 million, and raises the number of allowed I-Cubed projects within any community from three to eight.
In addition, the bill improves two existing housing programs, the Housing Preservation & Stabilization Trust Fund through a $3 million investment, and the Housing Development Incentive Program (HDIP) which provides developers with tax credits for mixed-income, market rate projects. This bill eliminates the cap on the number of units permitted per HDIP development and doubles the amount of existing tax credits to $10 million for the next four years. Other regional advancement provisions include:
• Invests $1.5 million in the Working Cities Challenge, a public-private initiative in partnership with the Boston Federal Reserve Bank, to advance cross-sector collaboration and create lasting economic improvement;
• Provides $10 million to the Brownfields Redevelopment Fund to encourage development of currently vacant and underutilized properties across the Commonwealth and provides $2.5 million for the Brownfields Redevelopment Access to Capital (BRAC) which offers low-cost environmental insurance to help mitigate risk; and,
• Creates a Job Creation Incentive which will allow businesses to receive a tax credit up to $1,000 per job created, or up to $5,000 per job created in a Gateway City such as New Bedford, capped at $1 million per project.
Representative Markey is pleased with the bill as a whole. “I have worked hard to make sure that the Greater New Bedford area isn’t forgotten, as have my colleagues from the local delegation. This legislation is the result of that hard work,” said Markey. “It will benefit the people of New Bedford, Dartmouth and the Commonwealth as a whole, both in the short term and in the long term.”
Dartmouth YMCA's Farm to Table Dinner
Next Saturday, July 26 is the Dartmouth YMCA's Farm to Table Dinner! It's a fantastic night that supports local agriculture and educates on sustainable farming, and of course there's some GREAT food and live music! Head over to http://www.ymcasouthcoast.org/Locations/Dartmouth/FarmtoTableDinner/tabid/1216/Default.aspx for more info.
House Passes Markey’s High Speed Chase Legislation
Bill Establishes Increased Jail Time and Fines
(BOSTON) – On Wednesday, the Massachusetts House of Representatives passed State Representative Christopher M. Markey’s bill regarding high speed chases. H1500, “An Act relative to high speed chases”, was filed by Markey, who represents all of Dartmouth and portions of New Bedford, in an effort to increase public safety on the Commonwealth’s streets, roads and highways. It also would serve to more significantly punish those who willfully endanger law enforcement and other citizens on the road.
The bill, which moves on to the Senate for further consideration, would create a new penalty of up to five years imprisonment and a $1,000 fine for any driver who “willfully ignores” a police officer’s signal to stop and then speeds 20 miles per hour over the limit. “When a state trooper or police officer signals for you to pull over, it certainly isn’t always possible to stop at that moment,” said Markey. “However, when you speed up and turn a routine stop into a chase, you have, by your actions, signaled your intent to flee. This escalation endangers the lives of everyone involved, and any innocent motorists or pedestrians in the area as well.” In order for charges to be brought, the chase has to last one mile as outlined by the bill.
Markey filed the bill after having conversations with many law enforcement officials on the state and local level who outlined that high speed chases were becoming increasingly more common. “I hope that the bill is a deterrent to anyone who has any ideas to be reckless but, at the very least, it will allow law enforcement and district attorneys to levy more sufficient charges that underscore the seriousness of the offense,” he added.
Markey, House Pass Gun Bill
Legislation Makes Strides for Public Safety, Ensures Rights of Lawful Gun Owners
BOSTON – In the wake of school shootings and public outrage over gun violence, the call for a legislative response that would increase public safety grew louder. On Wednesday, State Representative Christopher M. Markey (D- Dartmouth) joined his colleagues in the House of Representatives in passing H4278, "An Act relative to the reduction of gun violence". The bill outlines increased penalties for the misuse of and illegal possession of firearms, and institutes safeguards for school safety.
When the first version of the bill (H4121) was released, it immediately raised red flags, according to Markey, who represents all of Dartmouth and portions of New Bedford. “I absolutely understand people’s desire to change the law to protect innocent people but, as it was previously written, that bill would have no measurable effect on public safety,” said Markey. He added that “on the contrary, it would only work in limiting the rights of law-abiding citizens. Something needed to be done, and this was the start of the conversation, but many of my colleagues and I have been working to find a better solution.”
Markey, who is House Vice Chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary, had concerns and conveyed them to the crafters of the final bill. “I think that legislators from all corners and all political parties were very helpful in coming to the ultimate version of the bill. Our concerns were addressed,” he added. Concerns Markey raised included the suitability and the discretion of the licensing authority and how the Massachusetts State Police can best be used with regard to gun violence. “Shifting the burden of suitability onto the licensing authority to prove an individual threat to public safety is a significant and positive change, as is having a specialized unit of the Massachusetts State Police focused entirely on guns used in crimes,” said Markey. “During my years as a prosecutor, I was always frustrated by the lack of sufficient data regarding stolen firearms, lost firearms, and firearms used in multiple crimes by multiple persons (ie, community guns). That specialized unit can now focus on compiling and utilizing that important data,” he added.
After the vote, Markey said he received calls and emails of thanks from both opponents and proponents of the original bill. “It’s gratifying to know that people, no matter what their position is, understand how carefully we deliberate these matters,” said Markey. “When it comes to individual rights and public safety, we have to be even more thorough. I believe that this bill is the culmination of those efforts. It strikes a balance of protecting Second Amendment rights while focusing appropriate resources toward illegal gun use, mental health issues and school safety.”
The bill now goes to the Senate for further consideration.
Free Fun Fridays!
Be sure to take advantage of a couple of these museums and cultural venues open for free on Fridays this summer! Great opportunity to make some lasting memories with your families!