Association Information

Governor signs workplace safety bill

Reprinted from the April 2018 Issue of The Beacon, with permission from the Massachusetts Municipal Association

March 14, 2018

Federal workplace safety standards will apply to all public sector workers in Massachusetts under a law signed by Gov. Charlie Baker on March 9.

The new state law, which takes effect on Feb. 1, 2019, applies standards set in the Occupational Safety and Health Act to all state and local government workers. The law expands the reach of a 2014 law that applied the OSHA rules to certain state employees.

The Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards will enforce the law, not OSHA.

The law requires the governor to appoint representatives from local governments and groups, including a representative from the MMA, to a 21-member occupational health and safety advisory board. The board will consult with the DLS to amend current regulations in order to include municipal employees.

The advisory board will also evaluate data on injury and illness, recommend training and implementation of safety and health measures, monitor the effectiveness of safety and health programs, and determine where additional resources are needed.

The MMA had worked with legislators to ensure that municipal management would be included on the board.

The Occupational Safety and Health Act, passed by Congress in 1970, created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and established standards to ensure safe and healthful working conditions by providing enforcement, outreach, training and compliance assistance.

Massachusetts joins 26 states that have statutorily extended OSHA standards to public employees.
Written by MMA Senior Legislative Analyst Lisa C. Adams

Chapter 90 bill is moving through the Legislature

Reprinted from the April 2018 Issue of The Beacon, with permission from the Massachusetts Municipal Association

March 26, 2018

A one-year, $200 million bond bill for the Chapter 90 local road and bridge program, filed by Gov. Charlie Baker on Feb. 13, is moving through the legislative process.

The Joint Committee on Transportation reported out the legislation in mid-March, after hearings on the bill (H. 4237) had to be cancelled due to weather.

In a letter to the Transportation Committee, the MMA urged legislators to pass a multi-year, $300 million Chapter 90 bond bill, and to do so “as soon as possible, so that the measure can be signed into law by the April 1 deadline, and cities and towns can begin the construction season on time.”

The MMA presented similar testimony at a March 22 hearing before the House Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets.

The Bonding Committee gave the $200 million bill a favorable report, and the full House was expected to take up the bill in the first week of April. The bill will then be sent to the Senate, which will have to pass it before it goes to the governor’s desk.

The MMA has long supported and advocated for a substantial increase in the Chapter 90 program, which helps cities and towns fund qualifying road and bridge maintenance projects that are key to economic development and quality of life.

Local officials argue that a multi-year Chapter 90 bill would allow communities to plan more effectively at the local level by bringing predictability and certainty regarding funding authorizations and timing. Communities are able to design multi-year projects and implement pavement management plans more effectively when they know what their Chapter 90 authorizations will be in future years.

A statewide survey conducted by the MMA in 2014 shows that cities and towns need at least $639 million per year in order to maintain roads in a state of good repair. Cities and towns are responsible for maintaining 30,000 miles of local roads.

Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito discussed the filing of the legislation at the Feb. 14 meeting of the Local Government Advisory Commission, saying that the request would bring the total amount of Chapter 90 funds released by the administration since January 2015 to $900 million.
Written by MMA Legislative Analyst Victoria Sclafani