BOSTON – State Representative Jeffrey Sánchez (D-Boston) filed new legislation for the 2009-10 legislative session that reflects the economic challenges facing Massachusetts, and indicated that he will be wary of any new bills involving new state spending.
“I know these are tough times for everyone, so I’m not filing anything that will cost the state more money,” said Sánchez. “We need to do some belt-tightening in state government, and I wanted my legislation this year to get that message across.”
Among the legislation filed by Sanchez are:
- A bill aiming to provide a set number of housing authorities throughout the state increased budgetary flexibility with the state housing funds they receive
- A bill expediting the sale of state-owned land, establishing local input and transparency requirements, and requiring comprehensive oversight for the disposition of the surplus land
- An act establishing a commission to examine the state’s wastewater and water infrastructure
- A re-file of legislation preparing Chinese and Vietnamese bilingual ballots, with transliteration of candidates’ names. This retooled version has a sunset clause that expires in 2013
- Legislation creating a special commission charged with evaluating the water and wastewater crisis facing Massachusetts as a result of our antiquated water infrastructure The commission would be charged with developing a comprehensive, long-range water infrastructure finance plan for the Commonwealth and its municipalities
- A bill promoting English Language Learner program flexibility, while increasing accountability, improving quality instruction, and increasing the role of parents so that all ELLs can become proficient in English and perform at the level of their native English speaking peers
- A bill mandating health care providers cover the costs of preventive medicine for asthma patients, including in-home interventions and patient education
The legislation regarding state-owned land is a prime opportunity to promote important priorities such as job creation, increased housing options, and protecting sensitive environmental areas. The bill includes a municipal right of first refusal to purchase a parcel within its jurisdiction at 80% of its appraised value, and a smart growth review for larger parcels to help plan for the best use of the parcel.
“We have land that is just sitting there, not bringing in revenue for the state,” said Sánchez. “I think it’s our duty as state legislators to get these properties on the market in order to spur economic growth and increase our revenue base.”
A similarly efficiency-minded bill, allowing budgetary flexibility for housing authorities, would redevelop existing state public housing and enhance housing opportunities by maximizing the efficient use of funds received by housing authorities.
Sánchez sees the bill regarding water infrastructure as another economic development issue. The Commonwealth’s antiquated infrastructure has created a wastewater and water infrastructure crisis. “We cannot afford to lose businesses due to aging, failing, infrastructure”, Sánchez noted. “Especially in one of the only industries where we are outpacing the rest of the nation in job growth: the biotech industry, which requires a structurally sophisticated water system in order to manage their intake and output of a large volume of water.”
As the Vice Chair of the House Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies, Sánchez is focused on supporting legislation from his colleagues in the House that will address the challenges the economy is facing.
“It’s no secret that the economy is reeling right now. I think this legislative session has to be all about recovery: helping to create an economic climate where investment is welcomed, and helping people who are out of work to find their footing,” he said.
These bills will begin the legislative process in mid-January, when they will be assigned to specific committees to be studied and will receive formal hearings. The Mission Hill Democrat, entering his fourth term as a state Representative of the Fifteenth Suffolk-Norfolk district (Mission Hill, Jamaica Plain, Roslindale and Brookline), is well aware of the challenges ahead.
“I’ve seen a lot of good bills die in the State House, but I’ve also seen my hard work and the hard work of others pay off, and it’s well worth the effort,” Sanchez said.