Representative Haggerty’s Legislative Update Fall-Winter 2023

I hope this update finds you all well! With the holidays upon us, I hope you and your loved ones have been able to come together and enjoy the festivities. I want to provide you all with another update on some of the actions taken by my colleagues and myself at the state level as I continue to work on your behalf.

LEGISLATION

Tax Relief Bill Passed

In October, I was proud to support the largest comprehensive tax package in a generation with the goal of providing financial relief to families and businesses, while making Massachusetts more competitive with other states. This important tax relief package will help lift some of the financial burden felt by hardworking families and seniors, as well as our businesses, in our districts, and across the Commonwealth. House Bill 4104, An Act to improve the Commonwealth’s competitiveness, affordability, and equity, phases in a series of tax reforms projected to yield $561 million in taxpayer savings during the current fiscal year. By 2026, when these reforms are fully implemented, the savings are projected to be $1.02 billion.

Through the expansion of tax credits for families and seniors, estate tax reform, and tackling our housing challenges with tax credits, exemptions, and a raised rental deduction cap, coupled with reduced rates for short-term investments, this package puts money back in people’s pockets during a time of increasing costs.

The compromise bill includes the following tax changes:

• Child and Dependent Tax Credit – Increases the refundable tax credit for a dependent child, disabled adult, or senior from $180 to $310 per dependent in FY2023, and then to $440 FY2024 and beyond, while eliminating the child/dependent cap. This will help over 565,00 families;
• Estate Tax – Reduces estate tax for all taxpayers and eliminates tax for all estates under $2 million by allowing a uniform credit of $99,600;
• Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) – Increases the refundable Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) from 30% to 40% of the federal credit, benefitting nearly 400,000 taxpayers with incomes under $60,000;
• Senior Circuit Breaker Tax Credit – Doubles the refundable senior circuit breaker tax credit, from $1,200 to $2,400;
• Senior Property Tax Volunteer Program – Provisions allowing municipalities to provide up to $2,000 in property tax reductions  for older residents participating in the senior work-off program, which is currently capped at $1,500;
• Rental Deduction Cap – Increases the rental deduction cap from $3,000 to $4,000, which will assist approximately 800,000 renters;
• Short-Term Capital Gains Tax – Reduces tax on short-term capital gains from 12% to 8.5%;
• Commuter Transit Benefits – Makes public transit fares, as well as ferry and regional transit passes and bike commuter expenses, eligible for the commuter expense tax deduction;
• Local Option Property Tax Exemption for Affordable Housing – Permits municipalities to adopt a local property tax exemption for renters whose income falls below a certain level set by the community;
• Student Loan Repayment Exemption – Ensures that employer student loan payments are not treated as taxable compensation; and
• Apprenticeship Tax Credit Reforms – Expands the occupations for which this workforce development credit is available;

Supplemental Budget Passed

In November, I voted in favor of a $2.8 billion supplemental budget to close the books for Fiscal Year 2023, including funding to support the Commonwealth’s response to the ongoing humanitarian crisis and influx of families seeking emergency assistance. This legislation dedicates critical funding to support municipalities by covering the costs of special education and flood relief, public worker raises, sustaining our Emergency Assistance program, and specifically directing $75 million to communities helping supplement school district costs associated with additional student enrollments.

Reading Home Rule Petition

I was happy to sponsor House Bill 2072, An Act relative to the Board of Health in the town of Reading. The bill was enacted in both legislative branches back in November and has been signed by Governor Maura Healey. The bill expands the Reading Board of Health from three to five full voting members appointed by the Select Board while retaining the board’s two existing associate non-voting members.

Voting Bill Passed in the House, Awaiting Senate Approval

I was pleased to join my colleagues in the House to pass House Bill 4217, ‘An Act protecting the right to time off for voting,’ an important piece of legislation that aims to provide employees the opportunity to vote on Election Day in state and municipal elections without interference. This legislation advanced by the House is an important step towards empowering Massachusetts voters. By ensuring all eligible voters have the time they need to vote on Election Day, free from work obligations that may interfere, we are helping to guarantee that every voice can be heard at the ballot box. I thank the many businesspeople across our district who already grant time to their employees to vote knowing it’s the right thing to do. I’m proud to support efforts that protect voter participation in our elections and codifies this common-sense measure.

Charter School Legislation

In December, I filed legislation aimed at protecting school districts from unwanted Charter School Expansion. The bill states that if the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) rejects a charter school’s request to expand into a local school district, then DESE shall require a three-year waiting period before the charter school may file another request to amend its charter for the purposes of expanding into the school district.

Legislation to Improve Quality and Oversight of Long-term Care Sector

I was proud to join my colleagues in the House to unanimously pass 4178, ‘An Act to improve quality and oversight of long-term care,’ an important piece of legislation that aims to take a comprehensive approach towards reforming the long-term care industry by supporting and expanding the workforce, enhancing oversight of facilities, and ensuring greater access, all while prioritizing quality of care. I believe our most vulnerable residents deserve access to high-quality long-term care.

Wage Equity Legislation

I was pleased to support, along with my colleagues in the House, Frances Perkins Workplace Equity Act. This important piece of legislation aims to close the gender and racial wage gap in the Commonwealth. The passage of this legislation is a very important step towards rectifying the persistent gender and racial wage disparities in our state while at the same time not overburdening small businesses with less than 25 employees.

SPECIAL CONGRATULATIONS

My office extends a sincere congratulations to all the newly elected Woburn officials! Mayor-Elect Mike Concannon, Councilor-At-Large Elect Rob Toro, and Councilor-Elect Bill Pappalardo, as well as School Committee Members-Elect, Jessie Wetzel and James Austin. Special shoutout to all the returning members as well. We appreciate your service!

As he departs Reading and heads back to his hometown, I want to thank Reading Town Manager Fidel Maltez for his service to the community and wish him well. We are grateful for your good work in town and wish you and your family all the best!

JANUARY COMMUNITY OFFICE HOURS

I am happy to announce that my community office hours will be held on Friday, January 12, 2024. The office hours will take place from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM at the Woburn Public Library, and at Café Nero, 676 Main Street, Reading from 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM.

During these times, myself, or a member of my staff, will be available to speak with constituents on a first-come, first-serve basis and voice any questions or concerns they may have. I welcome Reading and Woburn residents to visit during our designated hours if they have any concerns or queries related to legislative matters and government services. It’s always our pleasure to offer help and to serve the community in any way I can. If constituents are unable to attend any of these sessions, they can contact my office by reaching out to Legislative Aide/District Coordinator, Zack Dhaliwal, directly at Zack.Dhaliwal@mahouse.gov or by calling (617) 722-2080.

FINAL THOUGHTS

There is still plenty of work to be done, and my office stands ready to continue working hard on behalf of the residents of the 30th Middlesex District. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to my office by phone at (617) 722-8000 or email my Legislative Aide, Nicole Redigan, at Nicole.Redigan@mahouse.gov.