2017-2018 Legislative Priorities

These are the Massachusetts Sierra Club's legislative priorities for the 190th session of the Massachusetts General Court.

Energy  |  Transportation  |  Environmental Justice  |  Land Protection  |  Solid Waste & Plastic Pollution  |  Respect for Native Peoples  |  Protect Wildlife  | Transparency/Governance

Review a compact, downloadable and printable version here.

If you are interested in helping lobby for passage of any of these bills, contact us to get involved.


An Act to increase the renewable portfolio standard and ensure compliance with the Global Warming Solutions Act
H.2700. Sponsor: Rep. Kay Khan. Would increase the rate of increase in the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), a legal mandate setting the lower limit of renewable energy that electric utilities are required to purchase. It currently increases 1% a year, this bill would boost that to at least 2% a year, and require municipal electric utilities – currently exempt -- to begin complying with the RPS.
Background Materials HERE

An Act Creating 21st Century Massachusetts Clean Energy Jobs
S.1880. Sponsor: Sen. Marc Pacheco. This "omnibus" energy bill would create an Oil Heat Fuel Energy Efficiency Trust Fund, establish a Nuclear Power Station Post-closure Trust Fund, establish and make public a home energy rating and label, establish an Energy Plan Advisory Committee, require interim 2030 and 2040 emissions limits for the Global Warming Solutions Act, the development and adoption of a climate adaptation management action plan, boost the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) annual increase to 3%, end the municipal utility exemption from the RPS, enable community empowerment contracts, prohibit a pipeline tax, and more.

An Act transitioning Massachusetts to 100% Renewable Energy
S.1849. Sponsor: Sen. Jamie Eldridge. Would set goal of 100% renewable energy economy-wide by 2050 and 100% renewable electricity by 2035.

An Act relative to protecting consumers of gas and electricity from paying for leaked and unaccounted for gas
H.1845. Sponsor: Sen. Jamie Eldridge. Would prohibit utilities from charging ratepayers for the cost of lost gas.

An Act to Promote Green Infrastructure, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and create jobs [Carbon Pricing]
H.1726 Sponsor: Rep. Jen Benson. Would introduce a price on carbon dioxide pollution, with 20% of the revenues dedicated to green infrastructure, and the rest rebated according to progressive formula.

An Act clarifying authority and responsibilities of the Department of Public Utilities [Pipeline Tax Prohibition]
S.1847. Sponsors: Rep. Stephen Kulik, Sen. Jamie Eldridge. Would enhance the review of pipeline capacity contracts and address other needed reforms identified over the course of previous and ongoing proceedings related to gas infrastructure projects. This legislation would codify the SJC’s ruling prohibiting electric ratepayer financing of gas pipelines; ensure the public’s ability to intervene at the DPU; protect ratepayers against self-dealing by energy conglomerates; enhance protections for landowners and conservation areas; and hold gas utilities to high standards regarding the capacity they are allowed to contract for.

An Act relative to solar power and the green economy
H.2706. Sponsors: Rep. Paul Mark, Sen. Jamie Eldridge. Would set goal of 17.5% of Mass. electricity from solar by 2025, 25% by 2030, and eliminate net metering caps. Would also boost Renewable Portfolio Standard (similar to Khan bill above).

An Act relative to public investment in fossil fuels [Divestment]
H.3281. Sponsors: Rep. Marjorie Decker, Sen. Kenneth Donnelly. Would require immediate divestment of Mass. state pension funds from holdings in coal.

An Act relative to home energy efficiency
HD 1839. Sponsors: Rep. Paul Donato, Sen. Kenneth Donnelly. Would require home energy audits and sharing of energy performance labels ("MPG stickers" for homes) with buyers prior to home sales.

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High-speed rail between Boston and Springfield
S.1935 Sponsor: Sen. Eric Lesser. & H.3429 Sponsor: Rep. Peter Kocot. To study the feasibility of improved rail access between Springfield and Boston.

Tracking and reporting requirements for Massachusetts transportation fuels and associated greenhouse gas emissions
S.477. Sponsors: Rep. Frank Smizik, Sen. Marc Pacheco. Would require Mass. Dept. of Environmental Protection to track carbon intensity of transportation fuels entering Mass.

Promoting zero-emission vehicles
H.2699. Sponsor: Rep. Jonathan Hecht. Would codify $2,500 EV rebate program, direct electric utilities to establish “time of use” electricity rates, and more.
Background Materials HERE

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Environmental Justice in Siting
H.1739. Sponsor: Rep. Michelle Dubois. Would lower barriers to public participation in energy project siting decisions and help ensure dirty polluting projects are not disproportionately located near minority or low income communities.

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Public Lands Protection
H.2108, S.419. Sponsors: Rep. Ruth Balser and Sen. Jamie Eldridge.  Would help protect public parks, conservation land, forests, beaches, and other natural resource land (Article 97 land).

Article 97 of the Massachusetts Constitution requires a two-thirds vote of each branch of the legislature for disposition or change in use of public natural resource land.  Every legislative session sees passage of 50 to 100 bills disposing of or changing the use of these lands. Scrutiny of the bills is generally scant in the legislature and often occurs only after the bill reaches the executive branch. The Public Lands Protection Act (PLPA) would set standards requiring replacement land (that is, "no net loss") in most cases, and public and executive branch review of the bills before they are filed in the legislature. The PLPA would shed light on the disposition process, and save time and money for municipalities and the EOEEA by having homework done before the bills are filed rather than having to play catchup after bills have been filed or passed. Of importance for combating climate change, the PLPA would help preserve public water retention land, which is increasingly important with variable weather and rising sea level. (The senate draft has a difference on Article 97 land; otherwise the drafts are identical).

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These bills build on the more 80 municipal plastic laws here in the Commonwealth that have passed in the last 5 years.

Plastic Bag Reduction
H.2121 / S.424 Sponsors: Rep. Lori Ehrlich, Sen. Jamie Eldridge. Would ban single-use plastic shopping bags statewide and require that the alternatives be more sustainable (such as, paper bags must have at least 40% minimum post-consumer content).

To learn more about plastic bags, bans, and alternatives, please see:
Plastic Bag Fact Sheet 
Compare Massachusetts Plastic Bag Municipal Laws 
Designing and Implementing Bag Laws

Polystyrene Food Ware Ban
H.3252 Sponsors: Rep. Frank Smizik, Sen. Michael Barrett. Would ban the sale of polystyrene foam food containers and their use by food establishments.

Sustainable Food Service Ware Act
H.412 / S.408 Sponsors: Rep. Mike Connolly, Sen. Cynthia Creem. Would require all retail food establishments to use food ware that is biodegradable, compostable, recyclable, or reusable for any food prepared or packaged on premises. This bill will reduce solid waste and litter, and save municipalities money.

Public Water not Bottled Water
H.3451 Sponsor: Rep. Chris Walsh. Stipulates that state funds shall not be used to purchase bottled water for use in facilities that are served by public water supplies or potable well water, except when required for safety, health or emergency situations. This bill will save the Commonwealth money, and reduce solid waste and litter.

H.3927 Sponsor: Rep. Dylan Fernandes. Empowers cities and towns to protect their environment and residents from harmful pesticides.

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Commission on State Seal
H.1707. Sponsor: Rep. Byron Rushing. Would establish commission to make recommendations for state seal to replace current seal, which is patently offensive toward Native Americans. (Click here for an Yvonne Abraham column)

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An Act regulating the enforcement of illegal hunting practices
H.3021. Sponsor: Rep. Cory Atkins. Would modernize penalties for poaching -- the illegal killing and harming of wildlife -- and enter Massachusetts into an interstate law enforcement network, ending our status as a poacher’s paradise and protecting wildlife, tourism, and business.

An Act relative to ivory and rhino horn trafficking
HD 419. Sponsors: Rep. Lori Ehrich, Sen. Jason Lewis. Would crack down on the illegal trafficking of wildlife by banning the sale of elephant ivory and rhino horn in the Commonwealth.

An Act to protect Massachusetts pollinators
H.2113. Sponsor: Rep. Carolyn Dykema. Would place bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides only in the hands of those trained to use them. It would also place limits on the timing of use and set up parameters for education and training of licensed users in recognition of the significant drops in the populations of honeybees and other native pollinators in recent years and the growing scientific consensus around the harmful effects of neonicotinoid pesticides.

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An Act automatically registering eligible voters and enhancing safeguards against fraud
HD 2091. Sponsor: Rep. Peter Kocot. Would shift voter registration from opt-in to opt-out system.
Background Materials HERE

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Energy  |  Transportation  |  Environmental Justice  |  Land Protection |  Solid Waste & Plastic Pollution  |  Respect for Native Peoples  |  Protect Wildlife  | Transparency/Governance

Review a compact, downloadable and printable version here.