Legislators had two weeks to sign onto bills filed in the new session, a process known as cosponsorship. Over that period, a host of bills addressing climate change and promoting clean energy received a lot of attention, with multiple lobby days and cosponsorship drives hosted by interest groups. With cosponsorship over, we now have a sense of which bills will have the most support in each chamber, and so are likely receive a lot of attention in the next two years.
Climate & Energy Bills with Large Numbers of Cosponsors
1 Carbon Pricing
A pair of bills (HD.2370/SD.1817) sponsored by Rep. Benson and Sen. Barrett have gained the most cosponsors of any climate change legislation filed this session. Combined, the bills received 97 cosponsors in House and 24 in the Senate. In the House, which did not support carbon pricing last session, 76% of House Democrats signed on to cosponsor carbon pricing this session.
Both bills seek to put a price on carbon pollution in Massachusetts, with a particular focus on the transportation and heating sectors. They also direct part of any revenue from a price to fund local clean transportation, climate resiliency, and renewable energy projects. [Factsheet]
2 Environmental Justice (EJ)
A set of bills focusing on strengthening the role of environmental justice in clean energy and climate policy have also gained a large number of cosponsors. Bills filed by Rep. Madaro & Sen. DiDomenico (HD.3878/SD.1885), as well as ones filed by Rep. DuBois, Rep. Miranda, and Sen. Eldridge (HD.3523/SD.1824) have collectively gained 81 cosponsors in the House and 17 in the Senate.
Among other things, these bills (1) require the state to consider the impacts on EJ communities when siting energy projects, (2) mandate multi-lingual outreach and consultation for projects proposed in EJ communities, and (3) create new funding for environmentally beneficial projects in communities with EJ populations. Full factsheet here.
3 Clean Energy Roadmap
An overhaul of the previously filed “Global Warming Solutions Implementation Act” filed by Rep. Meschino (HD.3577) gathered 55 cosponsors in the House and 4 in the Senate. Known as the “2050 Clean Energy Roadmap” the bill would establish a sustained, accountability-driven, and data-based framework for carbon reduction in Massachusetts. More information on the concept of a “2050 roadmap” can be found here.
4 100% Renewable Energy
A set of renewable energy bills filed by Rep. Decker, Rep. Garballey, and Sen. Eldridge (HD.3092/SD.1625) gained 89 cosponsors in House and 24 in the Senate. The bills establish an ambitious goal to equitably reach 100% renewable electricity by 2035 and 100% renewable energy for heating and transportation by 2045. Read the factsheet here.
5 Regional Transportation Initiative
A pair of bills to encourage a ‘RGGI for transportation’ were filed by Rep. Ehrlich and Sen. Lesser (HD.3009/SD.1541) and gathered 61 cosponsors in the House and 11 in the Senate. The bills seek to increase legislative input in Governor Baker’s current attempt to establish a regional cap-and-trade program for transportation. Announced in December, the program is currently in a year-long public comment phase.
6 Comprehensive Clean Energy Bill
A re-file of a bill from last year, the An Act to secure a clean energy future, also known as the “Comprehensive Clean Energy Bill” was filed this session by Sen. Pacheco and Rep. Balser (HD.1248/SD.757). It includes over two dozen provisions that collectively intend to reduce the Commonwealth’s reliance on fossil fuels by promoting solar, offshore wind, storage, and other clean energy technologies.
The bills have gained 52 cosponsors in the House, and 25 in the Senate. This factsheet on last session’s bill gives you a sense of the what the bill includes.
7 Appliance & Energy Efficiency
A broad coalition of consumer, utility and clean energy advocates are pushing for a pair of bills which update water and energy efficiency standards for a range of consumer and commercial appliances. Filed by Rep. Cutler and Sen. Lewis (HD.580/SD.767), the bills have gained 75 cosponsors in the House, and 10 in the Senate.
Of course, these bills are not the only ones we will be following.
On top of other these seven bills a number of others are likely to move forward this session. These include (but are not limited to):
- Green Communities Plus: Sponsored by Sen. Lewis and Rep. Dykema (SD.1710/HD.3103), this set of bills would expand the already successful green communities program to allow participating cities and towns to fund climate change mitigation efforts.
- Expanding Commercial PACE: Similarly, a set of bills filed by Rep. Cusack and Sen. Crighton (HD.3854/SD.1246) would expand the existing commercial property assessed clean energy (C-PACE) program to include microgrids, heating/cooling, and energy storage. This would help commercial property owners to switch to clean energy and enhance their businesses’ resiliency.
- Nature Based Solutions: Sponsored by Reps. Peake and Jones, as well as Sen. Tarr and Pacheco, this set of bills (HD.1963/SD.1409) seeks to encourage the use of old growth forests in the Commonwealth to store existing carbon.
- Plastic Bag Ban: Filed by Sen Eldridge and Rep. Ehrlich (SD.896/HD.134) this bill bans single-use plastic shopping bags statewide and requires sustainable alternatives.
- Climate Adaptation & Real Estate Taxes: Governor Baker announced in January that he seeks a big real estate sales tax hike to fund climate adaptation programs.
On Beacon Hill, high cosponsorship doesn’t necessarily translate into the passage of a bill. All legislation still needs the blessing of the leadership in each chamber to move forward through the committee process, and make it to the floor for a vote. But having a large number of cosponsors on a bill does signal support for it from activists and rank-and-file lawmakers, something leadership can’t ignore.
The next step for all bills is to be assigned an initial committee, and to receive a hearing in that committee. The vast majority of these bills will likely be assigned to the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy (TUE). Expect hearings to begin this coming summer, which will afford an opportunity for members of the public to voice their opinion on these and other bills.
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