Hello again from the Legislature. As I write this, we are hopefully just hours away from adjourning for the summer, presumably by the time you read this. We have done a lot this year. This session I’m on the House Commerce committee, so the bills I have been dealing with more closely are those related to our economy and our workforce.
This has been a very interesting committee to be on as we try to position the state for success in our recovery. We focused our efforts on bills related to the unemployment insurance system and workforce development programs. We also talked a lot about Tax Increment Financing districts, but that bill appears to be languishing and no longer on the road to pass this year.
This time at the end of session gets very convoluted and can be hard to follow. As I’ve said in past years, with regards to legislation, a lot of the disagreements end up being less between the political parties and more between the House and the Senate. We also often colloquially say at this time of year that bills and policies are either “hostages” or “Christmas trees.” In this sense, a “Christmas tree” is a bill that one chamber adds other “smaller” bills or policies to, which would be the “ornaments.” And a “hostage” would be a bill or policy that one chamber or committee knows the other likes, so delays passing it to get something from the other body.
To come back to my committee, on paper we will likely end this biennium having passed only three bills, but those bills were “Christmas trees,” in ways containing the language from as many as five other bills, depending on how you count. Those bills are far-reaching. Most recently, we have been working on S.62, which started as a bill that codified the governor’s remote worker program and added a provision to help pay moving expenses for employees relocating from one part of the state to another.
But when it passes, the bill will contain a lot of language about our Unemployment Insurance system, making changes so that employers will not face as severe taxes on unemployment than they otherwise would have because of how much the system was used this past year. We have a healthy UI Trust Fund, even now, because of difficult decisions made by the Legislature 10 years ago, and this will ensure we continue to move forward. It also adds a supplemental $25 benefit to those collecting unemployment for 10 years after the current federal $300 benefit expires.
I will go into more detail in my aforementioned End of Session Report on the bills my committee worked on and others from around the Statehouse. I am also planning to resume my Legislative Coffee Hours soon and hopefully will be able to set some dates and times next month!
As always feel free to give a call on this or anything else.
Rep. Logan Nicoll
Ludlow, Mount Holly, Shrewsbury