New Legislative Session Opportunities for Positive Change


By Senator Katy Ives – February, 2015

As I begin my second term as State Senator and a new two-year legislative session, I have filed a cross section of bills that will directly benefit constituents, municipalities and small businesses in my district. I filed 33 bills in total and also co-sponsored a number of important bills. The legislation below highlights a number of bills I filed. Complete descriptions of the comprehensive list of legislation I filed, as well as bills I filed on behalf of constituents can be found on the Massachusetts State Senate website:

An Act Relative to Fair Access to Surplus State Equipment

As the former Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development, I know how important this industry is to our economy. Arts stimulate the economy by drawing businesses and re-vitalize communities. In order to support these businesses and to continue to draw tourists, I have proposed legislation to promote the sales of original works of art, by allowing no sales tax to be charged for original works of art in a principal place of business situated in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts of individual original works of art of not more than $5,000. This includes a painting, drawing, print, photograph, limited editions lithograph, graphic design or other like picture; a work of sculpture, etching, ceramic, clay, glass, fiber, leather, metal, wood, mixed media, or silk screen, as well as crafts, made by the hand of the artist or under the artist’s direction which is not intended for mass production.

An Act Relative to Fair Access to Surplus State Equipment

Municipalities with limited budgets deserve opportunities to purchase state equipment useful to DPWs. Although, MassDOT currently contracts with an outside party to auction off surplus property, municipalities should be given priority because they are operating with decades old equipment while the state sells surplus equipment to third parties. I filed a bill that would give cities and towns the opportunity to purchase any surplus vehicles and equipment that the Department of Transportation would otherwise put in an auction. MassDOT would create a system of notifying municipalities and establishing a 14-day window for an exclusive sale to purchase.

An Act Relative to Tax Abatements for Deaf Residents

Currently, municipalities may give a tax abatement to any resident who is blind but abatements are not available for residents who are deaf. This bill will allow municipalities to opt-in to this option.

An Act Relative to Public Records Request

Government should have transparency and accountability and the only way to ensure that this is occurring is to have access. Under Chapter 66 Section 10 of Massachusetts General Laws, a custodian has 10 days to comply with a request for public information. However, there are no significant penalties for non-compliance with this law. This bill would implement fines on the custodian of public records for failing to comply after 30 days and until compliance occurs. In addition, a non-compliant custodian would be responsible for any court costs incurred after 60 days of the original request. In the previous legislative session, this bill was incorporated into a larger public records bill and was given a favorable recommendation from the Joint Committee on State Administration. I re-filed the bill in this new session with the goal making further progress so these provisions are passed into law.

An Act Creating a Commission to Study the Effects of Unfunded Mandates on Municipalities and An Act Related to Unfunded Mandates on Public Schools

The challenge of unfunded mandates burdens our municipalities and school districts. I filed two bills in response to mounting unfunded mandates. The first would establish a commission to review unfunded mandates on municipalities and the second bill would require the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to conduct an analysis of all new state laws, regulations, or administrative directives; including: the cost these laws and directives have on school districts and its employees and, the impact they have on time on learning in the classroom and overall impact on improving student achievement.

An Act to Prohibit Misleading Telemarketer Calls to Consumers

As a standing member of the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure, I review many bills that affect consumers. It is becoming more common for telemarketers to mask their telephone numbers with the phone number of the person they are calling by using a device to change the name or telephone number on a caller identification display. I filed a consumer protection bill which would prohibit that practice.

An Act Relative to Access to Housing for First Responders

First responders often can’t find housing that’s affordable in the city or town where they work. I filed legislation that would allow MassHousing to create a special home loan program for first responders required to live within a minimum distance from the municipality they serve. Those eligible for this program would be required to meet program income limits and live in the eligible home as the primary residence for the term of the loan and meet those additional requirements required by MassHousing.

An Act Relative to School Bus Safety

At the beginning of this school year, two students in Methuen were struck by a vehicle that ran through a bus stop and left the scene. This bill would allow a municipality to install and operate video camera monitoring systems with audio recording capabilities on the outside of school buses, solely for the purpose of ensuring the safety of bus passengers and drivers.

Senator O’Connor Ives can be reached at KATHLEEN.OCONNORIVES@MASENATE.GOV