BOSTON – The Massachusetts 2023-2024 Legislature has approved and Governor Maura Healey has signed into law 108 bills out of the more than 6,400 bills filed for consideration. Of these, 16 bills have statewide implications, while the remaining 92 bills are local measures such as sick leave banks specific to individual cities or towns.
Among the statewide-related bills signed into law is the $56.2 billion fiscal 2024 state budget, which includes provisions for universal free school meals, support for free community colleges, and funding for clean energy infrastructure in public schools. The budget also includes allocations for education funding, special education, MBTA capital projects, MassHealth, and a provision allowing undocumented immigrants to qualify for in-state college tuition if they meet certain criteria.
Another approved bill is the $388.6 million fiscal 2023 supplemental budget, which includes provisions to support free school meals, expanded nutrition assistance, and emergency shelter assistance. The bill also extends pandemic-era programs, such as allowing restaurants to sell alcohol for take-out and expanding outdoor dining.
Additionally, a $375 million bill has been passed to authorize funding for the maintenance and repair of local roads and bridges, as well as several transportation-related grant programs.
The Legislature has also approved a tax relief package that aims to provide $561.3 million in tax relief in fiscal year 2024 and $1.02 billion per year in subsequent years. The package includes various provisions such as increasing the rental deduction cap, reducing the estate tax, and increasing the refundable tax credit for dependents.
In another significant move, the House and Senate have approved a proposal to provide free phone calls and video calls for all prisoners in Massachusetts starting from December 1, 2023. The vote on this bill mostly followed party lines.
Meanwhile, Governor Healey’s reorganization plan to split the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development into two separate cabinet level departments has been approved by the Senate.
Other legislative initiatives up for discussion on Beacon Hill include bills related to charitable donations, prohibiting “legacy” college admissions, creating an emergency disaster relief program, mental health awareness programs in state colleges, and a breakthrough treatments program for veterans and first responders.
The House and Senate sessions were short last week, with the House meeting for a total of 44 minutes and the Senate meeting for a total of 47 minutes.
As the legislative work continues, these bills reflect the efforts of lawmakers to address various issues affecting the state of Massachusetts.