Building upon a successful 2022 legislative year, Mayor Michelle Wu today announced the City of Boston’s 2023-2024 state legislative agenda with priority bills focused on improving the lives of Boston’s residents. These proposals would amend state laws that impact the City’s housing, transportation, early education, climate, and planning and development policies.
“These legislative proposals would address very urgent issues in the lives of our residents,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “We are excited to partner with our colleagues on Beacon Hill to ensure Boston and the Commonwealth move forward on these shared priorities.”
Real Estate Transfer Fee and Senior Tax Relief Home Rule Petition
The City of Boston will re-file its home rule petition to allow the City to levy a fee of up to 2% on real estate transactions above $2 million. The proposal would also increase a tax credit for Boston senior homeowners. The fee would generate nearly $100 million annually to create and preserve affordable housing in Boston and reduce property taxes for qualified low-income senior homeowners. This proposal has been filed as HD.3016.
Boston Seat on MBTA Board of Directors
Boston residents, Boston Public Schools (BPS) students, and commuters throughout the City make up the core of the MBTA’s ridership. The City will again pursue legislation to add a Boston seat on the MBTA’s Board of Directors. The proposal will build on support garnered last session when former Governor Baker, Senate, and House leadership supported the proposal to add a Boston seat to the Board. This proposal has been filed as HD.451 and SD.563.
MBTA Commuter Rail Fare Equity
This proposal would make all single ride fares from commuter rail stations in Boston the same price as a single trip on the T, currently $2.40, significantly expanding access to stations in Roslindale, Hyde Park, Readville, and West Roxbury, which are currently priced at $6.50 or $7.00 per ride. Increased commuter rail ridership during the Orange Line shutdown demonstrated that residents can be incentivized to ride the commuter rail and help ease some regional congestion. This proposal has been filed as HD.1303 and SD.1242.
At a time of rising energy costs, this legislation would ban predatory competitive electric supply companies that trap unsuspecting residents into high electric bills. Extensive investigations by the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office have documented the ways that Massachusetts residents, particularly low-income residents and people of color, are targeted by these companies. The City of Boston’s municipal aggregation program, Boston Community Choice Electricity (BCCE), offers rates that are half the price of Basic Service. This proposal has been filed as HD.3214 and SD.648.
Currently, families who become unhoused must go through a lengthy process to receive state vouchers for childcare, cutting off families from care when they need it most. This legislation would close the gap so that unhoused families would immediately receive childcare vouchers. Last year, the City was grateful to receive $1 million from the federal government through the support of Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley to support families in this time of need. This legislation would also automatically qualify unhoused children ages 0-3 for early intervention services for one year after becoming unhoused. This proposal has been filed as HD.3061.
Boston plans to file a home rule petition this year that will protect families from rent gouging and displacement as Boston continues to grow. This proposal builds on Mayor Wu’s ongoing initiatives to address housing affordability in Boston. To date, that includes signing an Executive Order designed to speed up affordable housing production, signing an Executive Order relative to affirmatively furthering fair housing, hiring the City’s first Chief of Planning, announcing an action plan to best utilize the City-owned land described in the Public Land for Public Good: Citywide Land Audit, and launching Welcome Home Boston, a historic investment in affordable homeownership in Boston.
Given the upcoming expiration of a dozen urban renewal plan areas across Boston, the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) and the Wu administration will seek to amend the decades-old state law that governs Urban Renewal in Boston to remove and modernize antiquated structures which would allow Boston to better meet the needs of current and future Boston residents. The City will be filing a home rule petition with the Boston City Council soon.