Bills to Watch as Massachusetts Kicks off Legislative Session

Make sure your legislators are tackling these key issues this session.

The Massachusetts Legislature missed their chance to lead on energy today. Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Photo: Shutterstock

As Massachusetts legislators return to Beacon Hill for another two-year lawmaking session, many are grappling with how to protect their districts from perhaps the greatest problem facing our generation: climate change.

A report recently released by an international panel of scientists of warned that avoiding the worst effects of climate change worldwide will require nothing short of “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.”

That’s no small task, especially with our federal administration burying its head in the sand when it comes to climate action. But tackling climate change across communities, industries, and economies is a job to which our state legislatures are particularly well suited.

From cutting carbon emissions from power plants to electrifying our buses, cars, and trucks, CLF is working with Massachusetts legislators to protect the health and future of people in the Commonwealth.

Make Your Voice Heard on Legislation in Massachusetts

In any given legislative session, more than 6,000 bills are filed in the House and 2,000 in the Senate, which makes yours a critical voice for the bills you most care about. While the journey from filing a bill to getting it signed by the governor can be long and complicated, there are many opportunities for you to get involved along the way:

First, learn about CLF’s legislative work – learn about and track each bill through our blogs and via email so you can talk them up to your friends and family.

Second, tell them how much these bills mean to YOU – research shows that personal outreach and your unique perspective makes the most difference. Even letting a legislator’s staff person know how much you care about a particular bill or issue could affect its ultimate chance of passage.

Finally, spread the word! Alert your followers on social media or your networks via email about how these new laws can change the status quo; forward our action alerts and updates to those you think would be interested; and talk things up everywhere you go.

Now, more than ever, states have the opportunity and obligation to lead on the critical issues abandoned by the Trump administration. We need your voice to help Massachusetts take the helm.

CLF’s Priority Bills

CLF is focusing this session on five critical areas of groundbreaking, proactive legislation: cutting carbon pollution, boosting clean transportation, reducing plastic pollution in our environment, and preparing our cities and towns for climate change impacts. Underpinning our legislative agenda is our continued advocacy for a just transition to a clean and sustainable economy that allows all Massachusetts communities to achieve environmental and economic justice. Here are a few bills we are working with legislators to pass in 2019 and 2020.

Cutting Greenhouse Gas Emissions:
An Act to create a 2050 roadmap to a clean and thriving Commonwealth

Sponsor: Representative Joan Meschino

In 2008, the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) established Massachusetts as a leader in fighting climate change by committing the Commonwealth to cut its greenhouse gas emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. Now that we know we have to slash emissions even more than previously thought, we need a roadmap for how to make sure Massachusetts eliminates virtually all carbon pollution by 2050. This bill would create that roadmap and prompt action while protecting people and jobs across the Commonwealth.

More information about this bill is available here.

Reducing Carbon Pollution from Transportation:
An Act to promote the transition to clean transportation fleets

Sponsors: Representatives Jonathan Hecht and Christine Barber, Senator Joseph Boncore

Bill Summary: This bill would require all large-scale fleets of vehicles, both public and private, to go electric by 2035. Transportation is responsible for nearly half of Massachusetts’s climate-damaging  emissions. Electrifying these massive fleets of cars, buses, and trucks is a key step in cutting those emissions – along with harmful air pollution that impacts health across the state.

More information about this bill is available here.

Getting Rid of Toxic Waste:
An Act to save recycling costs in the Commonwealth

Sponsor: Representative Michael Day

This bill will save millions of taxpayer dollars, encourage less wasteful packaging, and increase the effectiveness of recycling in the Commonwealth. Right now, cities and towns have little control over the barrage of disposable materials created by companies that ultimately get recycled, but are responsible for managing recycling and disposal of those materials, which cost tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. This bill would put some of the financial responsibility for recycling those materials back on the companies that created them. That, in turn, would reduce the cost to taxpayers and incentivize those companies to develop more sustainable practices.

More information about this bill is available here.

Preparing for Climate Change:
An Act promoting sustainable investment, economic security and fiscal responsibility with respect to climate risks

Sponsors: Representative Sarah Peake and Senator Nick Collins

We’re already seeing the impacts of climate change in more frequent and intense storms, sea level rise, and erratic weather – along with their negative effects on neighborhoods and economies. Even though we know the costs of these impacts will only continue to rise, right now there are no requirements to consider these risks when planning new development in Massachusetts. That lack of planning could cost us billions of dollars and countless livelihoods (and, ultimately, lives). This bill, and its companion bill in the Senate (called “An Act promoting sustainable development across the Commonwealth”), requires the State to consider and address the risks of climate change in planning new development.

More information about this bill is available here.

Your Voice Counts, Early and Often

So please, get involved and make your voice heard. Your support – early and often! – for these critical legislative pushes can really make a difference. As we’ve noted, the process for getting a bill passed can be long and arduous, so we need you with us for the long haul. Be sure you’re signed up for CLF’s action alerts so you can stay up to date. Let’s make sure Massachusetts lives up to its reputation as a leader in protecting its people from the worst effects of climate change and pollution, and hold our elected officials accountable in doing so.

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Before you go... CLF is working every day to create real, systemic change for New England’s environment. And we can’t solve these big problems without people like you. Will you be a part of this movement by considering a contribution today? If everyone reading our blog gave just $10, we’d have enough money to fund our legal teams for the next year.