New Legislature Seated for 2023 – 2024 Session
On January 4th the newly elected members of the Massachusetts Legislature were sworn into office to begin the 2023 – 2024 legislative session. 5 new Senators were sworn into the 40 member Senate and 22 new Representatives jointed the 160 member House of Representatives. The Democratic legislators will control the vast majority of the seats in both branches, and they enjoy the ability to override any vetoes by the Governor. These majorities provide them with significant powers over the drafting of new laws. House Speaker Ronald Mariano and Senate President Karen Spilka were reelected by the members to lead the House and the Senate. Over 4,000 bills have been filed for consideration by the 31 different legislative committees. The Legislature is expected to begin considering these bills beginning in March and will continue throughout the year. The House will debate the Annual State Budget in April followed by the Senate which debates their version in May. The final budget is required to be enacted before July 1st of each year.
Governor Signs Truck Safety Bill for State Contracts
Two days before leaving office, Governor Charlie Baker signed into law the legislation that will require companies that have contracts with the state to equip their vehicles with several safety devices in order to protect against accidents with bicycle riders. The bill does not apply to private contracts and only the vehicle that is used to deliver materials to a state construction project would need to have the required safety systems. The entire company fleet would not be subject to the new requirements. Several manufacturers advertise side guard systems that are easily removed with the use of a latch or hinge system.
The law will require side guards, convex mirrors, cross over mirrors and back up cameras on all trucks over 10,000 pounds that enter into a contract with the state after January 1, 2025. It does not provide a definition of what constitutes a contract with the state, but we believe they will follow the lead of the City of Boston which requires subcontractors to comply with their own truck safety ordinance.
The law directs the Registry of Motor Vehicles to promulgate regulations which will enable the Registrar to approve alternative approaches for the use of the mirrors and side guards. The RMV is not allowed to grant exemptions to the law. The penalty for a first offense violation will be not more than $500 and not more than $1,000 for a second or subsequent offense. MRLDA will continue to be involved in the regulatory process with the RMV and keep members abreast of all relevant information.
Governor Healey Lists Housing Construction as Priority Issue
On January 5th Attorney General Maura Healey was sworn in as our new Governor along with Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll as Lieutenant Governor. Shortly after assuming office, the new Governor announced that one of his first priorities will be to help increase the construction of new housing.