By Bob Katzen
The House 156-3, Senate 40-0 approved different versions of an economic development package. One of the major differences is that only the House version legalizes sports betting.
The packages include $20 million for financial and capital assistance grants to restaurants impacted by the 2019 novel coronavirus; $10 million for grants to promote marketing and advertising for in-state cultural and tourist activities during the reopening process; $40 million to redevelop blighted buildings; $50 million for local economic development projects; $10 million for climate-resilient affordable housing developments; and $15 million for community college high-demand workforce grants.
Other provisions authorize an additional 2800 megawatts of offshore wind development; extend the state and local permits held by a real estate developer unable to proceed with the project due to pandemic disruptions for one year; allow farmer brewers and farmer distillers to sell, and provide samples of their alcoholic beverages at agricultural events and farmers markets; mandate equitable opportunities in state contracts by expanding an affirmative marketing program that elevates hiring firms owned by women and people of color; loosen regulations for hair braiders; and exclude forgiven Paycheck Protection Program loans from Massachusetts taxable income for the purposes of personal income taxes.
“Since this crisis started, more than a million people have applied for unemployment assistance and our economy was put into a coma to stop the coronavirus,” said Senator Eric Lesser (D-Longmeadow), Senate chair of the Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies. “Half of low-income workers at our small businesses have lost their jobs and the challenges we have faced have been even more pronounced in our Gateway Cities and for our immigrant communities. This legislation gives us the opportunity to rebuild our economy from the bottom up, and from the middle out. It includes vital investments in small businesses, our tourism and cultural sectors, infrastructure, manufacturing, technology, education, and housing development. We need bold solutions that meet this moment and chart a path for a brighter, more inclusive future that works to benefit the entire commonwealth.”