Last week, the Senate passed its version of the energy omnibus bill aimed at addressing our state’s pressing energy problems. The bill, entitled “An Act to Promote Energy Diversity” included some truly outrageous provisions.
First, the proposed law requires individuals selling houses to provide the results of energy audits to potential buyers. Proponents say it's like reporting miles per gallon on vehicles, but realtors around the state have quite a different opinion. The provision would create a brand-new level of bureaucracy, drive up costs, and add nothing to the already-common but optional home inspection process.
The Senate bill would also levy a 2.5 cents per gallon tax on home heating oil sales to pay for “energy efficiency measures.” You might remember, the legislature proposed a gas tax last session tied to the rate of inflation which was subsequently repealed by the voters. Thwarted only momentarily, Senate leaders are now pushing a tax on home heating oil.
In its unkindest cut of all, the Senate version of the energy omnibus bill allows Cape Wind to bid on offshore wind contracts. Cape Wind has in the past promised cheap, clean energy, while planning to sell almost 78% of it to power companies for roughly two times the average cost of power generated by U.S. suppliers. And, their advertised price of 18.7 cents per kilowatt hour was slated to increase by 3.5 percent in each year of its 15-year contract. The House bill rightfully froze them out of the bidding process. The Senate, apparently, decided to forgive and forget.
A conference committee has been organized between the House and the Senate to iron out differences between the two versions over the coming weeks. Let’s hope they have enough sense to leave out the unnecessary headaches for energy payers.
Some great news to report. After weeks of advocacy, yesterday the state senate passed legislation to regulate ride sharing companies like Uber, Lyft, and Fasten without the proposed ban for parts of Boston. As you may remember, the ban was passed in the House and was on its way to pass in the Senate. MassFiscal focused on the unjust ban and launched a campaign focused on the Seaport area of Boston. We mailed each residence and business likely to be impacted by the ban.
Hundreds of constituents responded and followed our instructions to contact their state senator, Linda Dorcena Forry. As we got closer to the expected release date of the legislation, we patched through calls from grassroots supporters to Forry’s office and the office of Senator Jamie Eldridge, charged with crafting the legislation. Hundreds of calls flooded their offices.
The campaign was waged on multiple fronts. Removing the ban wasn’t easy. Senator Eldridge is a proponent of big government regulation and is disinclined to allow the free market to solve economic problems. Both Eldridge and Forry publicly acknowledged the MassFiscal efforts as contributing to the final bill.
The Boston Business Journal story recapping the senate debate and quoting us, you may read it here.
The Senate voted on Amendment #49, which would strike down the new 10 cent per ride tax on each completed ride through companies like Uber, Lyft, and Fasten. The money collected from this tax would be distributed to cities and towns, proportional to where each ride originated. We believe this tax taxes innovation.
The efforts to strike down the tax failed, and the amendment did not pass. 31 senators voted for the tax, while only only 9 voted against it.
We would like to thank the following Senators for voting for against the tax:
Sen. Ryan Fattman (R)
Sen. Donald Humason (R)
Sen. Mark Montigny (D)
Sen. Brian Joyce (D)
Sen. Bruce Tarr (R)
Sen. Jennifer Flanagan (D)
Sen. James Timilty (D)
Sen. Richard Ross (R)
Sen. Patrick O'Connor (R)
You can view our Scorecard of each specific senator at: http://www.massfiscalscorecard.com/189th/votes/261. We’ll keep you updated as the House and Senate agree to their final legislation.
The MassFiscal team will be having its first Quarterly Quencher this Thursday. Every quarter MassFiscal gets our team of fiscally conservative individuals together to go out after work and have a few drinks. It is a great opportunity to take a load off and meet other like-minded people!
The event will be held at Envoy in Boston. Plan to meet at 5:30pm. For more information, click here.
21 and over only. The bar does I.D. at the door.