State Legislature Wraps Up 2017/18 Session
The Massachusetts State Legislature wrapped up the 2017/18 legislative session on July 31 and in the final flurry of activity, there was some good news for community developers and some disappointing news. On July 27, MACDC sent a letter to legislative leaders requesting action on six items.
- The legislature overrode the Governor's Veto of the so-called Chapter 206 money that provides grants to CDCs and others for home-ownership education and foreclosure prevention. This action fixes the language that defines the program and provides $2.05 million for the line-item, a $500,000 increase over last year.
- The legislature enacted language to exempt bona fide nonprofits from the onerous and unnecessary Mortgage Loan Originator (MLO) licensing requirements. This was an issue of great concern to many MACDC members that operate home-ownership programs such as down-payment assistance and lead paint abatement loans. TO make this happen, we worked closely with our impacted members, CHAPA, Habitat for Humanity, the Division of Banks and the Mass. Mortgage Bankers Association.
- The legislature authorized $1.25 million in capital funds for CDFIs that lend to small businesses. We had hoped to secure $5 million, but this will still provide important capital to many of our members.
- The Governor's Housing Choice bill did not pass. The House and Senate could not agree on a path forward regarding zoning and housing production. The House wanted to pass the Governor’s bill. The Senate wanted to add some zoning reforms for which we had advocated. They could not reach an agreement. This is very disappointing as so many people worked so hard over the past two years to enact meaningful housing production and zoning reform.
- Legislation to enable the creation of Community Benefit Districts also did not pass. MACDC has worked with the Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance for four years to get this bill enacted so this too was disappointing.
- The Legislature did not act on the Governor's Supplemental Budget request which included $10 million in CPA matching funds. That could still be done in informal session later this year.
The Legislature also adopted strong legislation to regulate and tax Short Term Rentals, like Airbnb. We are urging the Governor to sign this into law. The legislature also created an economic mobility commission that will look at best practices for helping affordable housing residents gain economic stability.
Considering that MACDC had already won our three top policy priorities for the year we are very pleased with what has been accomplished over the past two years (the Community Investment Tax Credit legislation, the Affordable Housing Bond Bill and restored funding for the Small Business Technical Assistance program).
MACDC is thankful to our members for the calls, emails, and visits that they made to advocate for this agenda. We are grateful to have so many amazing partners like CHAPA, the Mass. Smart Growth Alliance, and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council with whom we work closely. And, of course, we have many friends in the House and Senate – far too many to list here – that do the hard work inside the building to turn good ideas into law.